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Title: The World's Debt to the Catholic Church
Author: James J Walsh M. D., PH. D., Sc. D., ETC.
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 1100451h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: May 2011
Date most recently updated: May 2011

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The World's Debt to the Catholic Church



M. D., PH. D., Sc. D., ETC.



Boston, Mass.

Published September, 1924

Second edition December, 1924

Third edition March, 1925

Printed in United States of America


For some nineteen hundred years the Church established by Christ when He said, "Go teach all nations," has stood for all that is best in human life. The very fact that it has endured the cataclysmic changes from Roman Empire through Middle Ages and Renaissance down to modern times singles it out as a unique institution in the history of humanity. During all these profoundly trying vicissitudes of the race the Church has fostered the sense of beauty and the sense of duty. These are the sources of happiness for mankind more than any other factors. Architecture, painting, sculpture, music, poetry and the arts and crafts are indebted to the Church for constant inspiration, for the subjects that have touched men most deeply and for the opportunity to display art for the benefit of the mass of the people--the artist's greatest stimulus to achievement. The arts have been re-created over and over again, poetry provided with lofty motives and the drama reborn in the service of the Church.

"Art sees as God sees" would seem to have been the aesthetic criterion of churchmen. Besides, the Church has fostered and encouraged education, feminine as well as masculine, provided a vocation for the woman who felt that she was not called to matrimony and has cultivated all the fruits of the deeper thinking, philosophy, ethics, science. Men who have not studied the history of science as we now have it doubt this last but the revolutionizers of science all down the centuries, Roger Bacon, Copernicus, Vesalius, Galileo, Morgagni, Mendel, were all faithful sons of the Church, three of them indeed churchmen. The supposed persecution of some of these proves to be largely but another example of the myth making tendency in mankind when religious feelings are involved.

Christ came to give men life and give it more abundantly--not the life of the body but of the spirit. The history of His Church is the story of the spiritual life among men. Of divine origin, its members are human and it would be futile to expect perfection. Among Christ's own chosen Apostles, one betrayed and one denied, so that the Church would not be following in its Founder's footsteps--would not be Apostolic--unless there were a fair proportion of very human elements in it even among the leaders. The Church has stood for all that is best in human life as no mere human institution has ever done. "The witchery of trifles that obscures good things" is still active and will be so long as this stage of humanity lasts. But the Church has by its cultivation of the sense of duty made life significant by distracting human attention from self to our fellows. It is only when its achievements are all gathered together even in the inadequate fashion possible in a brief volume of this kind, that it becomes easy to realize that here is the supernatural in the world.


Chapter Page
I Introduction 1
II Architecture 18
III Painting 32
IV Sculpture 49
V Arts and Crafts 65
VI Music 85
VII Poetry 103
VIII Education 124
IX Feminine Education 141
X Science 161
XI Philosophy 192
XII Ethics 212
XIII Helping the Helpless 233
XIV Helping Men to Help Themselves 258
XV The Life of the Spirit 284

Notes 303




The subject of this book is, in brief, the contribution of the Catholic Church to civilization. Civilization is the process by which men come to be more interested in their minds than in their bodies. In order to go on living we have to be reasonably interested in our bodies. It is very easy to be more interested in them than is necessary or even good for them. There is a constant tendency gripping us to be occupied more with our bodies than with our minds, that is to devote ourselves to the seeking of the satisfaction of the body either present or prospective rather than the satisfaction which comes with the cultivation of the mind. Every man must care properly for his body, because otherwise his mind will not function as it should and he will inevitably be diverted from the intellectual and the spiritual life by the insistent claims of a neglected body.

Every attention to our physical being beyond what is necessary to keep it in good condition just takes away that much time which might be spent in developing the mind and making life mean more. We all want to have life and have it more abundantly. That was what Christ said He came to bring to men. The Christian Church has been the supreme bearer of good tidings in this regard, the evangelist of the higher, better, nobler life.


We all realize that the formula for life that is worthiest of man as a rational being is "Plain living and high thinking." By plain living we mean taking such simple food, securing such proper exercise and obtaining the amount of sleep necessary to keep the body in health while working so as to make a suitable living, taking such recreation as will prove appropriate diversion and leave all the rest of the time for occupation of the mind with thoughts that lift us above the sordid round of life. Men do not readily follow such a program however. The body has many temptations for indulgences of one kind or another that are being constantly put forward. Cultivating the mind is not of itself an easy nor always a satisfying occupation. The medieval philosopher said that "Knowledge makes a bloody entrance," and while this may not be literally true and some knowledge comes with comparative ease, there is no doubt at all that the intellectual life for the great majority of people requires such self-control and self-discipline, as well as quite definite persistence of character, as cannot be expected of the great majority of men unless their emotions are deeply stirred or their hearts are deeply touched and they have therefore other than selfish motives.

Nature has so constituted the body that it is not only easy but even pleasant and often very alluring to occupy one's self with the satisfaction of its desires. This condition of human life was necessitated by the fact that the individual had to be very definitely committed to self-preservation even under the most trying circumstances and inclined to self-propagation in order to {3} secure the continuance of the race. In the scheme of things as they are in this little world of ours the conditions of human life are so arranged that it is, as it were, assumed that the mind will through its power of reasoning be quite capable of and deeply intent on taking proper care of itself and its development while the body needs instincts and natural tendencies of many kinds to secure its healthy persistence. Our intellectual curiosity is a very strong impelling motive, and yet it has nothing like the influence over us nor the power to get us to do things which is bound up so forcibly and almost compellingly with the various physical tendencies which we have inherited with our bodies and which constantly manifest themselves.

Unfortunately, while the mind ought to be thoroughly capable of organizing life so as to secure proper development and cultivation and thus enable its possessor to live a life that will be more abundant in the things of the spirit, it too needs allurements to secure its proper co-operation in making life fuller. The great source of these allurements is the sense of beauty which all genuinely intellectual people possess. This sense of beauty gives a satisfaction that is higher and more amply complete than any of the pleasures of the body. All men have some of it. It is not necessarily associated with education and even the child possesses some hints of it. Very well informed people who think themselves educated and who perhaps have received some academic stamp that would seem to indicate the possession of mental development may have very little of it. The savage may have a rather keen sense of it. He {4} may even try to express it in some extravagant fashion, and so we have such expressions as "barbaric splendor", which indicate a striving after beauty that is carried to excess because it is not according to the canons of good taste. Any man who has a sense of beauty to a marked degree and the power to express it is an artist, and the artist and the poet are the highest products of our civilization such as it is. [Note 1]

Civilization, then, is the process by which man's sense of beauty is aroused and trained and satisfied. What the Catholic Church has done for civilization has been the stimulating of the sense of beauty and the affording of opportunities for its expression with the preservation of the results of this, so that they may continue to be a joy to mankind and a further stimulus to the development of the sense of beauty. In thus diverting man from over attention to his body to definite cultivation of his mind and the recognition of the beauties of the world around him and the creation of beautiful things, the Christian Church has accomplished more than any other agency and has indeed been the one institution which all down the centuries has constantly and consistently lifted man up to what is highest and best in him. While its main purpose was to prepare men for happiness in another world than this, it thus afforded the greatest possible help to making the life of every individual happier in this world just in proportion to the faculties that he possessed. Without art man would be little better than the savage. By art we mean the expression of man's thoughts in a beautiful enduring way that will enable him to enjoy himself and {5} permit others to enjoy what would otherwise be but fleeting emotions within himself.

Men who have a strong sense of beauty need no special stimulation but make opportunities for themselves to express their thoughts in some enduring fashion. The cave man, the earliest man that we know anything about, used the flat surfaces of his cave home to paint pictures of animals. This was thousands of years ago, and it would probably be expected that his art would be extremely crude and altogether primitive. Primitive it is, but like the primitives in art generally, vigorous and vivid. It lacks all the modern technique of art that has come as the result of practice, but it is as finely artistic as anything could well be. Modern art critics have not hesitated to say that there is no animal painter alive today who can make such vivid, vigorous pictures of animals as the cave man did. He painted them at rest and in action, both in quiet and vehement action, and above all he painted them with every muscle tense just preparing for action though not as yet moving, thus accomplishing one of the most difficult feats an artist can perform. He painted in oil colors after having drawn his lines with a piece of flint and often filled them with carbon from the by-products of his fires, so that they are eminently enduring and have lasted down to our time; otherwise we would not have believed the possibility of the cave man ever having produced such veritable triumphs of art.

The feeling of anthropologists now is that the cave man made these pictures as a sort of religious exercise. A man who could see so clearly and then reproduce {6} his vision for others so exactly, who could invent oil painting because he wanted to reproduce the animals exactly in the colors that he saw, was evidently in no sense of the word a being lower in the scale than we are ourselves. Indeed, one can scarcely help but have the feeling that if the legend of the seven sleepers were to come true and some of the cave men's children who had been shut in behind a fall of rock in the long ago were to be awakened and sent to school in our time, these children of the artist inventor of oil painting would rather be ahead than behind our children in school work.

This man could manifestly think clearly, and he seems to have thought, that if he could make a very lifelike picture of an animal, he was its superior and should be its master, and that there was a being that somehow beholding this relationship between him and the animal through the evidence of the picture, would give him the victory over it in hunting. The cave man buried his dead, perfectly sure that they were still alive, though their bodies were already beginning to decay, so that it is easy to understand the religious elements that entered into his life and his belief in a world of spirits and a Supreme Spirit who ruled the destinies of things. After all we have never found a tribe of savages, no matter how low in the scale of mentality, who did not have such religious ideas. They represent our intellectual instincts.

All forms of religion since the cave man's time have had this tendency to art expression very definitely present in them. The arts have come into existence {7} very largely in association with religious services. Is it any wonder that the churches became treasure houses of masterpieces of painting? Music and song were born in men's hearts when their aspirations to serve the Deity in some way properly came home to them. It has been the custom among certain classes of scholars to say that sex was the beginning of art and even to suggest that religion itself was very largely confounded with sex feelings. As more and more investigation and research have been made, however, this has been seen to be a very partial view due to certain extravagant sex interests of the last generation or two and certain reactions against religion which led men easily to accept anything that would in any way discredit its manifestations. The first great poems that have been preserved for us, the Book of the Dead in Egypt, the Upanishads and the Rig-Vidas, Homer's Iliad among the Greeks, have very large religious elements in them. Indeed, it has often been said that Homer was the Bible of the Greeks and had more to do with keeping the old Olympian mythology alive and an influence in men's minds than any other single factor. The great dramatic poems of Aeschylus and Sophocles and Euripides were written in honor of Dionysos, the Greek god of inspiration, and were composed for use in religious celebrations with plots founded on the stories of the gods and their interventions in human affairs.

Indeed, dramatic literature came into existence twice in the world's history, as a development out of religious ceremonials and celebrations. This happened once in Greece in the fifth century before Christ and {8} then in modern Europe in the later Middle Ages, when the mystery and morality plays gradually evolved from the ceremonials in the Church. Rhyme was first used in lyric poetry in hymns written by the Irish not long after their conversion to Christianity in the fifth or early sixth century. The Oratorio from which developed the opera in Italy was at the beginning an extension and elaboration of the musical services of the Church. The opera came into being with sacred stories for plots.

Deep religious feeling has always exhibited a very definite tendency to express itself in poetry and supremely great poetry has nearly always had an element of profound religious inspiration in it. This is very well illustrated in the Old Testament and also in many places in the New Testament. Job is one of the greatest dramatic poems ever written. It has been said that there are five supremely great poems in the history of literature that have for themes the problem of evil in the world; that is, they are written round that great natural mystery as to why, though man wants so much to be happy, so much of unhappiness comes here below to most men and even to the best of men. These five poems, Job, Aeschylus' Prometheus, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Calderon's El Magico Prodigioso and Goethe's Faust, are all of them deeply religious in temper even though they also express something of that skepticism which comes inevitably to the human mind in the face of the evil around us, particularly when it affects ourselves deeply. Of these five the first one written, Job, is usually said to be the greatest. The poetic ideas in {9} it come from eighteen hundred years before Christ, though the literary form as we have it now was probably given to these ideas more than a thousand years later. The Psalms rise to lyric heights in the expression of the emotions of mankind that are unsurpassed. The Canticle of Canticles, as construed by the mystical poets and the saints who have been particularly favored, has proved a wonderful excursion in symbols of earthly love into what Coventry Patmore in our time so well called "The Unknown Eros."

The new dispensation has complemented the old in its influence upon poetry and the arts quite as much as it has fulfilled the law and the prophets. Christianity has taken the arts and given them inspiration for marvelous development and has stimulated men to the making of things beautiful that in the words of our ill-fated young English poet were to be "a joy forever." Without the inspiration afforded by Church architecture and the opportunity to build "Houses of the Lord," how little would be known of man's power to conceive and execute beautiful buildings that are of such size that it seems almost impossible that this puny creature man should have made them? These buildings are often so charming in their lines, so delightful in their decoration, that it is no wonder that they have always lifted men's minds up to higher interests, above the trivial things of life and the sordid cares of the body. It has been very well said that you cannot enter a Gothic church without having your eyes and your mind and your heart lifted up. Goethe, who was far from medievally minded and who had a distinct penchant for {10} the old pagan mythology, in his Dichtung und Wahrheit tells the story of his first entry into the Strassburg Minster:--"I seemed suddenly to see a new revelation; perception of beauty in all its attractiveness was impressed on my soul." Goethe, as pointed out by De Wulf, from whose Philosophy and Civilization in the Middle Ages the quotation is borrowed, "had been educated in the traditions of classicism, 'among the detractors of Gothic architecture,' as he phrases it himself." In spite of that, the great Gothic church was a revelation.

No wonder that they talk of the "dim religious light" of these Gothic churches. What Longfellow calls "the gloom of these long aisles" has in it more of "the light that never was on land or sea" than is to be found anywhere in all the world. They tempt to the mood in which man thinks deep thoughts and feels profoundly, as nowhere else, about the mystery of existence and something at least of the only satisfying solution of it. To be for any length of time in one of these Gothic churches, especially if alone, is to find the awakening of religious emotion that lifts one up to higher things. Longfellow, after spending so many years in translating Dante until surely, if anyone ever had done so, he had come to feel as the great poet himself had felt in the poem now acknowledged as the greatest that ever came from the mind of man, could find nothing more appropriate as a metaphor for the Divine Comedy than a Gothic cathedral. His three beautiful sonnets, very probably the most beautiful sonnets ever written in this country, are {11} simply the poetic summing up of the religious effect of a great Gothic cathedral.

Is it any wonder that these marvelously beautiful structures tempted men to make every portion of them beautiful? As a result of this over-powering temptation the arts and crafts, the making of simple useful things beautiful, developed during the Gothic period as never before. Everything about the cathedral was made beautiful. The hinges on the doors, the locks, the keys, the latches, the woodwork, all were fashioned into lines of beauty, the books were illuminated until they became precious treasures, the vestments represented the most beautiful textiles and needlework ever made. The stained glass in the windows was such a triumph that it has been the despair of glass makers ever since. And the bells were so beautiful that they have made the standard for all after time. The very utensils of the altar, the cruets for the wine, the dish in which the priests' fingers were washed, the candlesticks and above all the candelabra, were all handsome in their way. The censers or thurifers, the incense boat, the lamp of the sanctuary, none of these were neglected, but like the altar railing and the pulpit and the chairs and benches were all beautifully designed and executed. The churches became veritable museums of things of beauty; and indeed, our modern museums are crowded with objects from the churches whenever these are no longer needed in the service of the church, or when, sad to say, for some lamentable reason, they have been removed from the church to which they belonged. Mr. Yeats, the Irish poet, once said, "There is {12} no culture in the hearts of a people until the very utensils in the kitchen are beautiful as well as useful." However that may be, one thing is perfectly sure, that the people of the Middle Ages, under the inspiration and the protection of the Church, made nothing for their churches that was not beautiful as well as useful.

Sculpture is one of the major developments of the arts and crafts which came to occupy a very prominent place in connection with the Gothic churches. The portals supplied an opportunity for sculptured figures that were eminently decorative and yet beautifully expressive of great religious truths as illustrated in the lives of the saints and the Lord Himself. There used to be the feeling that these figures followed the lines of the architecture so closely, acquiring a certain obvious stiffness and cramped air in the process, that they were not to be considered as artistic sculpture in any proper sense of the word. We have changed our minds on the subject in recent years, and now the sculptors of the Middle Ages are looked upon as having done supremely beautiful work and achieved, as almost never was done before, that supreme triumph of art, the purpose of fitting their ideas appropriately into their surroundings. François Millet, our greatest modern painter, once declared that the best definition of beauty that we have is "suitability to the conditions around." For a gnarled oak may be beautiful and a stiff and formal figure under certain circumstances is eminently decorative. No matter what the theory, sculpture has always been beautiful down the ages under the inspiration and in the service of the Church.


Painting has been even more beautiful under the same stimulus and incentive. How the history of painting would dwindle to nothingness without the religious paintings which make so large a part of its material! The churches were the museums; and as the people were required to go to church all the Sundays of the year, and between the holy days of obligation and their own devotion attended at least fifty days more, painting and sculpture and the arts and crafts had an audience of the whole people, such as our museums cannot command to anything like the same degree, and that aroused the sense of beauty and the artistic talents of all, even of those without formal opportunities for education. Church music sublimely beautiful and the great Latin hymns, poetry such as only Dante and Shakespeare might have written and no one has ever excelled, completed the round of the arts in the highest intellectual sense of that word and stirred deeply every possible taste for beauty and intellectual faculty that people might possess.

These great Christian Churches constituted a liberal education in themselves for all those brought in intimate contact with them; but, besides, they became centres of the intellectual as well as of the moral and spiritual life of the people. The earliest Christian schools were founded in connection with the churches and the first teachers were the priests and their clerical assistants. After a time the monastic schools came into existence, but the centre of interest in them, too, was the church of the monastery, and the religious orders prided themselves on the beauty of their churches, {14} though also on the charm of the sites which they selected for their monasteries. Often these were bare enough and quite unpicturesque until the labor of the religious turned them into places of beauty and appropriate settings for the beautiful church, the chapter house, and other monastic buildings. When the first universities came into existence they were scarcely more than advanced cathedral schools with the chancellor of the cathedral as the rector of the university and with the cathedral property as the home at least of the administrative officials, and the cathedral chapter houses and even sometimes the cathedral itself or the open space in front of it as the place for the holding of university exercises. Most of the cathedrals had a group of canons whose ecclesiastical duties took but three or four hours a day and who were quite willing to devote the rest of their time to the education of all who had the talent and the desire for intellectual development.

The greatest triumph of Christianity, however, was in leading and inspiring a certain number of men and women to make their lives a thing of beauty, a great poem, a work of highest art in the sublimest sense of that word. In that striking passage of the tenth chapter of St. Mark Christ meets the young man who ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, "What shall I do that I may receive life everlasting?" Christ said to him, "Thou knowest the commandments." And the young man replied, "Master, all these things I have observed from my youth." Jesus looking on him, loved him and said to him: "One thing is wanting unto thee: {15} go sell whatever thou hast, give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come follow me."

In Matthew's Gospel the phrase is, "If thou wouldst be perfect, sell all thou hast and give to the poor and come and follow Me." Literally many many thousands of men and women have taken this injunction, and under the aegis of the Church have striven to be perfect even as Christ suggested to the young man that he should. Unfortunately, the young man himself to whom that injunction was given found it too hard a saying and "went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions." Many others down the centuries since, who have had great possessions either of money or of talents or of power, have found this saying too hard and have turned away even though the Lord had looked on them and loved them and suggested to their hearts that they should make what was highest and best out of their lives. They have made "the great refusal."

There has always been the open opportunity for men and women to lead this perfect life in Catholic Christianity, and the religious men and women, using religious in the sense of those who had re-obligated themselves to the highest aims for religious motives and services, have counted up in the many millions. Not all of them have been worthy representatives of the striving after the perfect life. They were human, and to err is human. The vast majority of them, however, have followed this injunction of Christ and not only found happiness for themselves but have also helped others to happiness through it. Many many thousands have deserved to have their names inscribed high on {16} the scroll of humanity's greatest men and women and have had their lives written in many generations because of the appeal and the inspiration that their mode of living made for others even in the long subsequent time. Among them are St. Francis of Assisi, "the little poor man of God," as he loved to call himself, "the greatest Christian since Christ's time" as he has been called, of St. Teresa, perhaps the greatest of intellectual women, of whom more lives has been written than of any other except the Mother of the Lord, of St. Vincent de Paul, founder in modern charity, of St. Francis de Sales, "the gentleman saint," of St. Catherine of Sienna, the most influential woman of her time, and almost it might be said of all time, of St. Ignatius of Loyola, knight for Christ, of St. Benedict, whose life and rule probably brought more happiness to a greater number of individuals than that of any other mere man who has ever lived, of St. Scholastica his sister, who did as much for the women of many centuries as her brother did for the men, of St. Antony of Padua, beloved of mystical souls, of St. John of the Cross, the divine lover, of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, queen and mother, the apotheosis of charity, of St. Brigid of Ireland, whose name is in benediction, the "Mary of the Gaels," whom they honor so highly a millennium and a half after her death, of St. Hilda of Whitby, patroness of our first great English poet Caedmon, of St. Margaret of Scotland, wife and mother whose molding of the character of her son, St. David, meant so much for Scotland, of St. Louis of France, greatest of monarchs who ever ruled a people, one of {17} the most beautiful of characters and yet with a family resemblance in every way to his cousin-german St. Ferdinand of Castile,--and so through a list that would make a volume in itself.

In a word, what the Catholic Church has done for men and women is to afford them an opportunity to express in their lives and in their sense of duty to themselves and to others, the sense of beauty they possessed in the arts and even in the crafts. Blessed is the man who has found his work is the supreme natural beatitude. This the Church has constantly and consistently fostered, making men blessed in the midst of a trying world as no other institution has ever done it. No wonder that it has been said that if there had been no Christian Church it would have been necessary to invent one for the sake of the benefits it brings to man in a worldly way. Man wants happiness more than anything else. The Church points how he can secure it by living a life worthy of his better nature.




The greatest contribution that the Church has made to civilization, that is to the human cult of the beautiful, is in architecture. "A thing of beauty is a joy forever," is thought a modern culture formula but Church edifices all over the world, whenever the Catholic Church has been free to express herself, have been an exemplification of this and have lifted people up by the beauty that they expressed. This was all the greater because the people felt that these beautiful edifices belonged to them; indeed, at the time of their erection, they knew that their fellow citizens, often their relatives, sometimes those who were very close to them, had labored in the production of all this beauty. They themselves had by their contributions of money, or, oftener still, of labor or of materials, made possible the erection of these wonderful structures. No wonder then that they had a definite sense of ownership which made them appreciate the splendor of the churches and helped to arouse in them a taste for what was fitting and to develop a sense of beauty which is almost the highest faculty that man has. Besides, the Church by providing manifold opportunities for the exercise in handiwork of any and every kind for all those who had the talent or the power to produce the beautiful, was lifting people above the sordid round of every day life. {19} There is probably nothing which reacts more for the happiness of mankind and for the development of the best that is in man than an opportunity of this kind.

The beautiful buildings which were erected for Church purposes thus became themselves an important source of education in so far as one extremely significant part of that is the training of taste and the development of the sense of beauty. Christianity did not stop with the Church beautiful. Besides churches, monasteries, convents and schools, guildhalls and hospitals were made beautiful architecturally and were studiously fitted with appropriate decorations, interiorly and exteriorly, and thus of themselves were a very valuable educational feature. Contact with these beautiful structures and with the painting, the sculpture and the fine arts and crafts products so patiently and genially made for them, was of itself an education, a liberal education, that counted for much in the genuine cultivation of the human intellect in its taste for beautiful things. This is the sort of education that cannot be tested by examinations nor measured by rules of thumb, but it is very real and extremely significant. We are gradually working back in this generation to a recognition of what was accomplished in this matter, and we too are making our school buildings beautiful and decorating them as finely as possible, because we appreciate how much this means for education. When we do so, we go back for our models to the time when the Church was the beneficent patron of education and wished to educate not only the mind but also the heart and the soul in the sense of developing a love for {20} beauty and a desire for the bringing out of what was best in man. All this is quite intangible and incommensurable according to material standards; but then, most of the things in the world that are really worth while are quite intangible.

Just as soon as the Church was free through the edict of Constantine to come out of the catacombs into the open, her beautiful churches began to appear. Indeed, even in the catacombs, as archaeological investigations during the past generation have made very clear, there was a definitely successful attempt to employ all the charms of beauty consistent with the situation as an appropriate setting for divine worship. Some of the decorative effects on walls and ceiling and the sacred vessels and various utensils employed in the services were made beautiful as well as useful. From very early days the textiles employed as altar cloths and the garments worn during the sacred ceremonials were distinguished for their beauty and finish. Very early in Church history the Mass books and other volumes employed in the services of the Church were the subjects of devoted artistry and the Scriptures themselves were written out with a loving devotion that made these books much more than mere useful articles, as is very well illustrated by the fact that the Book of Kells comes from one of the early centuries of the Middle Ages and must have represented the culmination of a tradition in this matter which had been in existence from early Christian history.

Under Constantine the Christians adopted and adapted the plan of the basilica which had been in use {21} in Rome for centuries for their place of worship. The name "House of the King" suited them exactly because of their belief in Emmanuel, God With Us, and they proceeded to modify the basilica, as it had been used for public halls and courts of justice, for the purpose of public worship. The old construction of the basilica with an apse was particularly adaptable to the services of the Church. Two rows of columns dividing the main hall into a nave and ambulatories allowed for some circulation of the people even during services or in the midst of preaching. A transept was added after a time in order to give more room and also because the cruciform shape of the church then became symbolic of the Cross, the basis of Christianity. These early basilicas, of which examples may still be seen in Rome, as for instance San Lorenzo, built originally during the first half of the fourth century, and St. Paul without the walls, erected in the second half of the same century, furnish the best possible idea of how beautiful these churches might be. They were very simple and yet were marvelously effective in their construction and gave abundant opportunity for decorative effects of many kinds.

With the introduction of the arch the beginning of the Romanesque style is seen, and the use of what was known as the arch of triumph, which represented the opening of the nave into the transept, was particularly striking, and the space above this arch was used for decorative purposes. The next development was the erection of the dome at the crossing, and this was first exemplified in the great city which was built at {22} Byzantium by Constantine to be his capital city and which came to be called after his name, Constantinople. Santa Sophia, the first of these great buildings, is a veritable triumph of architecture. It has been suggested that there are three supremely beautiful buildings that are the product of the religious spirit: Santa Sophia in Constantinople, the Cathedral of Chartres and St. Peter's in Rome. All of these represent developments of the devotion of the Christian people as displayed in architecture.

The dome of Santa Sophia was so marvelously set upon its pillars that it was said that it seemed as though it must be suspended from Heaven by chains. Santa Sophia still remains as it was thirteen centuries ago, as an index of what the Christian spirit could accomplish. It is still the admiration of mankind; and though it has now been so long the mosque of Omar and has deeply influenced the building of many mosques, there has been the fond hope in the Christian heart of the world that sometime or other this wonderful old Church with its marvelous beauty of construction would be returned to its pristine use as a Christian temple to the Most High.

When Ravenna became the capital of the Exarchate, the Eastern Empire headquarters in Italy, a series of Byzantine churches under Romanesque influence were erected there. Such churches as San Appollinare Nuovo or San Appollinare in Classe or San Vitale, all of them in Ravenna, have been a source of pleasure for visitors and a subject for study on the part of architects and artists ever since. They were beautifully {23} decorated with mosaics, and while unimposing from the exterior are wonderful examples of effective devotional church architecture. The tomb of Galla Placidia at Ravenna, which is, as so many of them were, a chapel tomb, is one of the most beautiful things of its kind in the world. It shows how beautifully these Christians of the earlier Middle Ages could build under the influence of religious feeling. When in the modern time the French wanted to honor Pasteur, the man who saved more lives probably than any other who has ever lived, they built his tomb beneath the main door of the Pasteur Institute in Paris in imitation of the tomb of Galla Placidia. They went back nearly twelve hundred years at the end of the nineteenth century, which was so proud of its accomplishment, to find a model for a monument that would in some way serve to honor worthily a great modern man of science. No one who sees that tomb of Pasteur's will be disappointed, for the beauty of the design is such that everyone comes away with a feeling that the architect displayed excellent judgment in his choice of a model.

The culmination of this Byzantine style is to be found in St. Mark's in Venice. That is so beautiful and has attracted so much attention that very little need be said about it here. It is quite literally one of the most interesting churches in the world. What needs to be recalled particularly however, is that it was built not long after the year 1000. Those years are sometimes said to be the Dark Ages, when men had reached their lowest ebb in the power to think and in their interest of the things of the intellect. Yet here is a great {24} church, one of the most beautiful of all time, the structure of which at least comes from this period and shows very clearly that the men of this generation had taste and a sense of beauty and an artistic discrimination and a power of accomplishment in structural work and a talent for solving architectural and engineering difficulties, all of which indicate developed intelligence of the highest order. Such a church would never have been built except that there were people in that time capable of appreciating it, able to achieve the work on it, ready to make sacrifices of time and money and energy in order to build it. It is a monument to their culture no matter what may be thought of them from other standpoints.

So far from this Byzantine style being outworn or suited only for people of much more primitive tastes in architecture than our generation, it is well to note that two of the great churches of recent years, Westminster Catholic Cathedral in London and St. Louis Cathedral in St. Louis, Mo., were designed by architects after the Byzantine. Their impressiveness makes it very clear that here is a great mode of construction that can be used to the very best advantage in modern times with wonderful effectiveness. In England it probably seemed better to the architect of Westminster not to try to rival the great Gothic churches which had been built in the flourishing Gothic period, and many were inclined to think that he made too great a sacrifice for this purpose. Even a short visit is likely to disabuse one of that opinion and to show {25} very clearly that the Byzantine style can still be wonderfully impressive. What these devout Christians of an older time worked out as worthy of their basilicas, their houses of the King, are not mere passing fancies but enduring modes of what is highest in human expression in structural work.

Then came the great development of the true Romanesque which gave us the beautiful cathedrals of Aix and Spire and Mainz. There are some who affect to consider this style as representing a transition between the Byzantine and modern Gothic and as scarcely worth recording as a definite achievement in architecture. It was, however, ever so much more than that. Anyone who has been near the Cathedral at Mainz, not merely for a passing visit, but in intimate association with the old church, will realize how wonderfully impressive it can be when familiarity has bred, not contempt, but ever increased admiration. The fact that the most fashionable church in Boston, Trinity Church, was built at the end of the nineteenth century in this style shows how thoroughly modern architects have appreciated its structural value. Originally the cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York was to have been built in the Romanesque, and there is no doubt at all that the round arches and the dome of the style would have been very impressive on Morningside Heights, even though it is possible that the reconstructed design which will give us a great Gothic fane at the highest point of the city may prove even more charmingly beautiful. It will {26} require all the resources of a great architect, however, to accomplish this, for the Romanesque is not an unworthy rival of the Gothic even at its best.

After the Romanesque came the development of Gothic and the erection all over the north and west of Europe of the great Gothic cathedrals and abbey churches. There are many, whose years of study and whose tried experience and cultivated taste give them a right to an opinion in the matter, who declare that these are the most beautiful church buildings in the world. Undoubtedly some of them are. It would be very hard to make a choice among them. No two of them are alike. Indeed they are almost infinitely diversified and yet the souls of the builders have gone into them and they represent no mere copying but the individual expressions of cultivated human hearts. Even when there are mistakes in the structure design, still the churches are beautiful. It has been said of St. Stephen's in Vienna that an architect could scarcely have made more mistakes, or at least more departures from a formal Gothic plan, in the building of the cathedral. And yet St. Stephen's is indeed beautiful and grows on one as all of us who made our medical studies in Vienna learned to know; and architect visitors have declared that the man who built it was a poet working in stone as a medium and has put his soul into it and that it will always continue to be interesting in spite of the fact that on first visiting it nearly everyone who has definite structural interests is {27} inclined to think that he would like to have the chance at bettering it.

This Gothic architecture came to be applied not only to the churches but also to the abbey buildings, to the guild halls, the chapter houses, and public edifices of various kinds. Developed by the Church and under the emotion associated with religious feeling this style came to play a wonderful part in making the towns of the Middle Ages beautiful. It influenced not only the structural work but also the furniture and the fittings, the carvings of various kinds and the wood and stone, the hammered iron work and the stained glass. It provided large window spaces for the display of transparencies which under the influence of the sense of beauty of the time became great art. These window spaces were needed in the dark and northern countries where they have so much less sunlight than we are accustomed to. New York after all is on the latitude of Naples, and England and northern Germany approach the latitude of Newfoundland and Labrador and light is a great desideratum. But a utility that arose from imperious necessity was changed into a thing of beauty unsurpassed. These churches were immense in size, even though built in what we would think very small towns. Cities of six to ten or twelve thousand people had a cathedral that would accommodate four or five thousand people. This seems entirely too large and many in the modern time have felt that the erection of such buildings was mere bravura and a matter of boastful {28} rivalry with neighboring towns. It must not be forgotten that there was but one religion in these towns and most of the population wanted to attend the principal service on the great feast days of the year and room had to be provided for them, and then, besides, the country people crowded in from miles around in order to share in the celebration of the feast days in the great cathedral. As a matter of fact most of these churches were crowded to the very doors a number of days in the year.

The influence of the Church on architecture can be very well appreciated from the fact that, as the result of the religious disunion in civilization since the religious revolt of the sixteenth century, in spite of all our ardor in the building line, there is not a new idea in architecture for the last four hundred years. The nearest thing to a new idea that we have is to be found in the Franciscan Missions in California. There the Franciscans in the later eighteenth century, taking Indians who are said to have been among the lowest savages in mentality in this country, transformed them in the course of a single generation into builders of beautiful structures that have been the source of admiration and amazement to our generation. We really did not appreciate these properly until we ourselves began to be cultivated to such an extent as to look for beauty in the structures in our cities and in the furnishings in the houses that we lived in. Then the mission style and mission furniture and fittings became fashionable. Of the beauty of these Missions {29} nothing need be said here; they are the enduring witnesses themselves of their worth and charm. Where they are still in reasonable preservation, as at Santa Barbara or Los Angeles, they constitute an unending source of surprise as to how the friars ever succeeded in training the Indians to do such building. Not only the structural work is beautiful, as we have already suggested, but the Mission furniture and furnishings that went with it, the iron and wood and tile work and all the rest--singularly attractive as well as eminently useful and enduring. The spirit of the old Church was still able, in distant western America, some 1800 years after the Lord's death, to take the most ordinary of mortals and convert them in their hour of devotion to religion into artists who could raise enduring monuments of beauty that would quite literally be joys forever.

With the Renaissance and renewed interest in the classics it is not surprising that the architecture of Greece and Rome came to be studied very deeply once more and there was a revival of it. Brunelleschi started it all when, after studying the Pantheon and the other great buildings left by the Romans, he was given the commission to finish Santo Spirito and conceive and design the great dome. Leon Baptista Alberti built the beautiful little church of San Francesco at Rimini and the classic type came into vogue. A series of extremely beautiful churches were built and the Renaissance ideas dominated architecture for centuries after. {30} St. Peter's at Rome, designed originally by Bramante whose plan would, if followed, have prevented many of the faults that subsequent architects permitted to creep in, is the outstanding monument of this structural mode. Raphael, Sangallo, Baldassare Peruzzi, carried on Bramante's work, and then came Michelangelo to finish it, and above all to add that great dome which seems more like the work of the Creator than of a mere creature. Ferguson, severe in criticism, did not hesitate to say, "In spite of all its faults of detail the interior of St. Peter's approaches more nearly to the sublime in architectural effect than any other which the hand of man has executed."

Besides Church buildings many other beautiful structures were designed and built as the result of the Renaissance influence. Everywhere in Europe where the Renaissance spirit and the Church conspired, magnificent structural results were achieved. One of the most striking examples is the monastery of the Carthusians known as the Certosa, not far from Pavia. The university of Alcalá in Spain, at the other end of Europe, shows how this influence was diffused, and the cloister of Lupiana, the Alcazar in Toledo, the Giralda Tower, simply confirm this expression. At Rome there was the Sistine Chapel, and at Oxford and Cambridge some of their most beautiful buildings, while in Louvain there was the library and the hotel de ville. The palaces of bishops and archbishops often became the models on which public buildings of various {31} kinds or the homes of the nobility were erected. Down in Italy particularly the library of St. Mark's in Venice, as well as the Palace of the Dumani, are the demonstration of the fine spirit of magnificent architecture that was abroad. Palladio at Vicenza erected buildings that have been the admiration and sometimes the despair of architects ever since. Genoa was the city of palaces and of beautiful churches until the old city well deserves the name of "Genoa the Magnificent."




According to a very old tradition, St. Luke, who wrote the third Gospel, was a painter and a physician. In the last generation the authenticity of the tradition of St. Luke's having been a physician was very seriously doubted and indeed it was thought for a time that the Higher Criticism had completely contradicted the idea. Harnack, however, following Ramsay, has written very positively with regard to Luke during the present century, emphasizing the fact that he was beyond all doubt a physician, and now the idea that he was also a painter seems to be confirmed by historical researches. Certainly his Gospel is full of scenes and events that are word pictures of the most complete and beautiful description. His second chapter has furnished artists almost innumerable with ideas for pictures of the Annunciation that have made a wonderful chapter in art history. Such stories as the raising to life of the son of the widow of Nain or of the raising of Lazarus from the dead could only have been done by a man of artistic eye and spirit, and one can scarcely think of their emanating from one who had not done some painting. It is Luke above all who has given us striking detailed pictures of the miracles of the Lord and it {33} must not be forgotten that, as Harnack and Ramsay point out, he has taken the stories told by the other evangelists and has put them in medical terms so as to give exactly the diagnosis and therefore makes the miraculous cures all the more certain. These miracles particularly have supplied subjects for Christian artists ever since. Every story in Luke's Gospel is a picture in simple beautiful words inviting its reproduction with the brush.

Under the circumstances it is not surprising that from the very beginning painting has been used by the Church for the decoration of ecclesiastical buildings of all kinds in order to attract and hold the attention and arouse the religious emotions. Excavation of the catacombs has revealed, during the past generation particularly, a whole series of paintings which indicate very clearly that the symbolism of the Church in art dates from the first and second century. Pictures of the Lord Himself, of the Lamb, of the Crucifixion, and of the Apostles, come from the very earliest Christian time. The fact that in the ruins of the palace of the emperors on the Palatine Hill there was found, sketched rudely on the wall with a stylus or nail, a caricature of the Crucifixion in the shape of an ass nailed to a cross, is of itself a definite indication that the Christians must have been using very commonly a figure of the Crucified One as the most striking symbol of their religion. This early art is primitive, and yet it has a spirit and a vigor and vividness that give it a place in the history of art and {34} that set it above ever so much of modern art that represents merely a copy of what someone else has done, with but very little, if any, meaning for the artist himself.

This is what has characterized Christian art all down the ages. The artist had his heart in the work, saw things for himself and expressed them with an ardent individuality that makes for true art. When the Church came out from the Catacombs the walls of the basilicas afforded abundant opportunity for decoration, and painters availed themselves of it very well. There may still be seen on the walls of San Lorenzo in Rome and of St. Paul's without the walls, exemplifications of the artistic work of this kind that was employed. The original paintings have themselves long faded or been destroyed by the vicissitudes of fire and water and the crumbling hand of time, but the renewal of them only served to emphasize the fact that painting had been looked upon as a valuable handmaid of the Church from very early times. Indeed not a few of the early heresies were founded on the refusal of some people to think that art ought to be used this way in the service of the Creator, for they feared that it would lead to idolatry. It is surprising how often it happens that people themselves who have no sense of art fail entirely to understand the fine effect that art has on others and how the emotions it produces can be used to lift up the heart and mind for the highest purposes of worship. In the modern time we have found that the Quakers, {35} who count it a fault in men to dress in anything but simple gray or to use decorations of any kind in their meeting houses, are in very large proportion color blind and therefore fail entirely to understand the extremely interesting effect produced on those possessed of color vision by the colorful beauties of the world around them.

The first great period of artistic decoration of churches was characterized by mosaics which had all the attraction of color and the enduring quality of resistant substances. These mosaics have come down to us in all the beauty of the original quite unfaded. The mosaics in St. Mark's, nearly a thousand years old, are almost the same as up at Ravenna where they are a thousand five hundred years old and are still beautiful. It has often been said that these Byzantine decorations were stiff and formal, but it is marvelous how decorative they were. In recent years, when the decorative sense has come back to us once again we have learned to esteem ever so much more the solid colors and the straight lines of these Byzantine decorators. Occasionally they combined raised work with plane and this was deprecated by the critics of a generation ago, but Sargent in the Boston Public Library has come back to this mingling of the low relief plastic and the smooth colored surface with marvelous effectiveness. These old artists were right and the modern critics were wrong, and it is only because our artists had not had enough experience in doing this kind of work under the inspiration of {36} religious motives and the patronage of churchmen, who were willing to spend money freely to secure decorative effects, that the mistake was possible.

It was not until after the Byzantine period that the supreme efflorescence of art took place. Cimabue was the first to depart from Byzantine formalism and to paint pictures that were not part of the decorative scheme but were just human beings as he saw them. His motifs were always taken from religious subjects. There has been some confusion as to whether Duccio did not paint some of the pictures that have been attributed to Cimabue and the two are now rivals in prestige, but both of them painted great religious art. It is the custom to speak of these artists as primitive, and to many people the word primitive means crude or even lacking in true artistic power, but almost needless to say, that is not the way that great critics have characterized the art of these men. Of the Madonna of the Ruccellai Chapel attributed to Cimabue and later to Duccio, W. J. Stillman, writing on Italian artists in The Century, said, "Like all the work of its time it has a pathos which neither the greater power of modern art nor the enervate elaborateness of modern purism can ever attain. Something in it by an inexplicable magnetism tells of the profound devotion, the unhesitating worship of the religious painter of that day; of faith and prayer, devotion and worship, forever gone out of art."

The old tradition is that when this picture was carried through the streets of Florence word had {37} gone abroad that one of their artists had painted a marvelous picture of a Mother and Child so true to nature that it would seem almost as if they could speak. So the Florentines gathered on the streets to see it during its transport from studio to chapel and they were so taken up with it and they crowded around it so much that business was stopped for the afternoon. And then when the transfer had been completed and they had gazed at the Madonna and Child where it still hangs in the chapel of Santa Maria Novella, where Dante saw it and "it is still one of the chief objects of pilgrimage, of lovers of art who go to Italy," (Stillman) they were so proud of it, so touched by it, so carried away by this new spirit that had entered into the art of their time that they made the day a holiday and kept it so gloriously that that quarter of the city in which the picture had been painted was ever afterwards called Borgo Allegro, the Joyful Quarter of the city. Think for a moment of what would stop business in one of our modern cities in that same way. It would surely not be a picture and above all not a picture of a Mother and Child and surely not a religious picture. I have been told when I asked the question, a heavyweight champion coming in to town or the Giants after winning a new pennant might have such an effect, for now the multitude thinks in terms of the body rather than of the mind and the soul.

And then came Giotto, that marvel among painters. Is there anyone who thinks of Giotto as a {38} primitive? Well, it was Giotto and Giotto's masters who were the only ones who deeply influenced the greatest painter of our time, François Millet, painter of The Angelus. Giotto's religious pictures are among the most wonderful creations in the world. It was the very spirit of Catholic Christianity that animated him in the wonderful paintings which have been the delight and the admiration and the despair of modern painters. Our own great artist Timothy Cole, sketching for his series of reproductions in wood-cut that were the delight of the past generation in The Century, said, "I am here in the Arena Chapel, and am at last confronted by Giotto. How brilliant, light and rich the coloring is! It quite fulfills all that I had read or thought of Giotto. I am conveniently located and the light is good, but it is hard to keep at work with so many fine things above one's head. I can scarcely escape the feeling that the heavens are open above me, and yet I must keep my head bent downward to the earth. Surely no one ever had a more inspiring workshop."

But I would have to make this chapter a catalog of painters' names if I were to try to enumerate all those who in Italy alone, inspired by religious reverence and awe, pictured to themselves the doctrines and the mysteries of their religion and then reproduced them on canvas. I remember once wandering around Florence with a man who had no religion and to whom much that he saw was absolutely novel, for he was following the guide {39} books and seeing the churches and the picture galleries. He was lighting candles everywhere and he was taking great interest in Madonnas. At the end of two days he said that he thought he must have seen thousands of Madonnas already and he wondered if there were any more. Of course there were ever so many more to see and when I told him that every other city in Italy was like Florence in proportion to its population in the possession of pictures of the Madonna he could scarcely understand what it was all about. When he learned that these pictures, in spite of their abundance, were considered extremely valuable and that many of them would easily command if they were for sale not tens of thousands but hundreds of thousands of dollars he began to have some faint inkling of what wonderful things these old painters had done. And yet there are scores of subjects besides the Madonna, all of them inspired by Christian doctrine and belief and all of them capable of arousing the creative spirit of the artist as no other motif in the world can do it. For religion is the very soul of great art, a fount of inspiration for great artists who believe.

Besides Cimabue, Duccio and Giotto in the later Middle Ages there were Taddeo Gaddi and Orcagna and Fra Angelico, Fra Bartolomeo, Fra Lippo Lippi and Benozzo Gozzoli and Gentile da Fabriano, Andrea del Sarto and ever so many others. Modern artists know their value, some of them are highly praised by such men as Raphael and Michelangelo, {40} who were their pupils--men like Perugino, Penturicchio, Signorelli, all of them did wonderful work in religious painting.

And then came the Renaissance with the three supreme artists, Raphael, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Of Raphael a great French artist once said, "Two men seem to have had a glimpse into heaven, so marvelously do they paint the inhabitants of heaven. One of these is Raphael the Italian, the other Murillo the Spaniard, and of these two by far the greater is Raphael." Many who have a right to an opinion do not hesitate to declare that he was the greatest artist who ever lived. Certainly no one has painted what is so close to the human heart as he. One bit of evidence for that is the fact that copies of his works are found more widely distributed than those of any other artist of all time. There is scarcely a hamlet of one hundred inhabitants that has not in it, if it has books or pictures at all, a copy of Raphael's Sistine Madonna. See the original at Dresden and then you can appreciate the reason. It is placed in a room by itself because interest in it would kill any other picture placed near it. People enter on tiptoe, speak in whispers as if they were in the presence of a personage and not a picture, and usually back out of the room reverentially with face to the picture.

One of Raphael's major pictures, though not a large one, the Cowper Madonna, changed hands a few years ago and the price paid for it was $725,000.00. The canvas is only seventeen by {41} twenty-four and it is marvelous to think that a man of about thirty should take a piece of canvas of this size and by spreading a little paint over it make it worth this amount of money four hundred years after it was originally done. And these pictures were hung in the churches in suitable environment and produced their effect in the silent hours of recollection and devotion. They were not meant to be hung, as unfortunately we hang them, in the glare and the bustle of a modern museum with distracting pictures all around them and constant movement near them, and yet in spite of all this handicap we appreciate something of their wonderful beauty. Leonardo da Vinci painted Madonnas almost equal to the greatest of Raphael's and some of them better than many of those that Raphael painted. And Michaelangelo painted Madonnas and painted many other religious subjects, and achieved veritable triumphs of art. All three of them are among the greatest geniuses the world has ever known. Men of wonderful versatility. Raphael was much more than a painter, he was an architect and an archeologist. Leonardo was one of the greatest engineers that ever lived and yet left in his will a legacy for candles to be burned at the shrine of the Blessed Virgin where he prayed as a boy, and Michelangelo did everything well, painting, sculpture and architecture and poetry. He has written sonnets that are equalled only by Dante and Shakespeare and have never been excelled by anyone. And one of those sonnets is to his Crucified God and in it he asks {42} pardon of Him if at any time he should have employed his great talents, of which he could not help but be aware, for his own glory and not for the glory of God from whom he received them. When we look around us in our time and see the little whippersnappers who do trivial things in art or in science and how conceited they are about them and how they lay the flattering unction to their souls that they must be wonderful fellows and then think of Michelangelo in reverent spirit asking pardon of his God for anything like conceit, we appreciate what the spirit of religion is and we feel that it is no wonder that it enables men to achieve or at least arouses, incites, stimulates them to accomplish so much.

But to delay among the Italians would take a volume. Think of having to leave them without mentioning Botticelli and his great Magnificat, or Correggio and the picture of the Holy Night, or Fra Angelico and his angels, or Titian's glorious Madonnas; but if we cross Europe over to Spain we find another series of supremely great artists doing work of the highest type and the most enduring significance under the spell of Catholic Christianity. There is Murillo, whom we have already mentioned and whose Madonnas are so charming, but whose pictures of Biblical scenes and their significance have meant so much and have always had such an attraction for men; and Velasquez, whose pictures of the Madonna are among his great works and who painted for the gloomy Philip II some noble {43} pictures of the Passion and especially the Crucifixion; and then Ribera, whose greatest pictures are religious and El Greco whose canvases were for so long unappreciated but now are coming into their own of praise because men have come to understand them and who as a result is now looked upon as one of the artistic geniuses of the world. How much religion meant for these men in the exercise of their talents and what an opportunity was afforded them because churches and the rich and the monasteries and the nobility and the king demanded religious pictures and they were afforded the chance to paint them!

Over in the Low Countries it is the same story. The Van Eycks who invented oil painting did their greatest work on religious subjects. Still men go to see in the Cathedral at Ghent the wonderful work of these artistic geniuses now more than five hundred years old and yet marvelously preserved, beautiful in the brilliancy of color, still an object of devotion on the part of the people. All over the Netherlands it is the same thing. For two centuries men did wonderfully beautiful art in the service of the Church under the inspiration of their religious beliefs. Copies of these paintings are to be seen all over the world because they are so attractive in their simple humanity and yet there is something divine which shines out from them and draws the heart and produces emotion such as modern art fails to evoke.


The marvelously beautiful pictures painted in the Netherlands during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were mainly of subjects inspired by abiding faith and Catholic Christianity. We are likely to think of Madonnas as Italian or Spanish in origin but some of the most beautiful pictures of Mary as the Mother of God were painted by the artists of the Netherlands. Some of Roger Vander Weyden's are extremely attractive but are excelled by those of Memmling whose exquisite pictures in the hospital of St. John at Bruges, done just about the time of the discovery of America in the generation before Luther's time, show clearly how deep was the devotion to the Blessed Virgin in the Teutonic countries. So far from being solitary examples, these are but two of many. Quentin Matsys and Dirk Bouts are other genius artists of this period who painted pictures of the life of the Lord in which His Mother was the centre of attention, and these pictures have continued to hold the admiration and reverence of people ever since. And then there was Albrecht Dürer, some of whose pictures of the Madonna are among the most charmingly human, with something of divine shining out of them, that have ever been painted. Even Holbein following the old tradition and with the old faith still in him painted a very beautiful picture of the Burgomaster Meier with his wife and children in prayer before the Blessed Virgin. Few pictures are more impressive than this.


Albrecht Dürer is a typical example of the inspiration that the Church proved to be to great painters before the unfortunate religious revolution in Germany spoken of as a reform. Trained under great masters in Germany itself but deeply influenced by Mantegna, living in Venice for some years he became a very great painter. He was an intensely practical genius, the inventor of etching and a marvelous designer of woodcuts. Practically all of his etchings and woodcuts represent religious themes. The Greater Passion and the Lesser Passion have fifty topics in all. His Apocalypse in sixteen subjects is a work of genius. His copper plates which now command high prices in the auction rooms are nearly always on religious subjects. The Little Passion, as it is called, is among the greatest of these. Such subjects as St. Jerome in his Study, Death and the Devil, are very well known. Among his paintings are the well known Adam and Eve in Florence, the Four Apostles in Nuremburg, the Adoration of the Trinity in Vienna. Like the other great Renaissance artists and especially the Italians he made important contributions to other subjects besides art and was an engineer as well as a wood engraver, etcher and painter. It is for men with a breadth of genius like this that religion means most as an incentive to great work.

A hundred years after Albrecht Dürer came Peter Paul Rubens, educated by the Jesuits, deeply influenced by the Italians, spending five years in Italy and a year in Spain where he came under the {46} influence of Velasquez. He was a great collector of art, most of his collection being of religious subjects. A great many of his paintings are to be found in churches where they properly belong, for they are on deep religious themes. The titles of his chief works, "The Descent from the Cross," at Antwerp, which is undoubtedly a masterpiece, the "Elevation of the Cross" and "Fall of the Damned," which are to be seen in Munich, demonstrate very clearly how much religion meant as an inspiration and incentive for his greatest art. Rubens was in his day very probably the best known and most appreciated artist in Europe. Everywhere he was received with admiration and respect. He was invited to France to decorate the Luxemburg, was sent to Spain on a diplomatic mission, went to England and was given a degree by the university, and a commission to decorate Whitehall, yet without religion as an incentive it is hard to conceive of him rising to great heights as a painter.

With the disturbance of religion produced by the religious revolution of the sixteenth century came decadence in painting. This was noticed particularly in the Protestant countries, though the political dissensions consequent upon religious disaffection hurt art everywhere. It has often been said that in modern times it is the lack of the inspiration afforded by deep religious feeling that more than anything else has kept us from having great painters. Portrait painting seldom proves an incentive to great art and may serve from merely sordid {47} motives to lower artistry. Historical painting has an appeal to the mind that may be an impulse to artistic achievement but can scarcely prove an inspiration to really great art. When personal patriotism serves to point the significance of historical scenes in the painter's native country there may be some hope of the creative expression of truth touched with emotion such as would constitute great art. But this combination of influence seldom obtains. Mythological subjects may catch the attention and may serve to stimulate the fancy but they do not touch the heart of either painter or beholder. Sentimental subjects are a pitfall to the painter as they have been to the poet and the litterateur. These two latter themes represent scarcely more than exercise in the technique of art but make no call upon the deeper feelings which must be aroused if great art is to be done.

Hence in our time we have conventional artists of excellence, often exquisite technicians in landscape art or in portrait painting, but we can scarcely expect to reach any great art in these modes. If we were to have a revival of religious feeling accompanied by the profound beliefs of the older times then once more we might look for supreme artistic achievement. We are paying a high price for our free thinking, as we call it, in religious matters in the exclusion of supreme spiritual motives and profound religious emotions that it brings with {48} it. What Gerhard Hauptmann said of sculpture (see end of chapter on sculpture) might well be repeated here of painting.




At the beginning of Christianity there seems to have been some little feeling of suspicion as to the employment of sculpture in Church decoration and some discouragement of its use in connection with religion. The Jews who had been converted to Christianity still retained the objection that had been created in them by the prohibition of graven images, while pagan converts were deterred by their remembrance of the use of sculpture in their temples and the abuses connected with the worship of these. Recent research, however, has revealed the fact that in the East much more than in the West sculpture was cultivated in connection with Christianity, though unfortunately the iconoclastic movement of the early Middle Ages destroyed many precious monuments of this kind which would have served to illustrate the influence of Christianity on the sculptors of the early Christian time. There are but few examples of the statuary of the first two or three Christian centuries, but among these are a really beautiful Pastor Bonus which may be seen in the museum of the Lateran and a "Christ" in Berlin. Sculptured works in relief, however, were very common, especially in connection with sarcophagi, and a number of these in {50} the fourth and fifth centuries show that Christianity was not only not discouraging but on the contrary was affording opportunity for the development of sculptural genius. The sarcophagi of Ravenna are particularly interesting in this regard and very definitely related to Byzantine art.

While life size sculpture did not flourish to any extent in early medieval Western Christianity, the artistic carving of smaller objects in other materials besides stone or bronze was cultivated very interestingly under the influence of the Church. Sculpture in wood is illustrated in the doorway of the basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome, and there were a number of book covers, book stands and other objects in connection with Church services that were beautifully carved. Ivory came to be a favorite material for sculpture in the earlier Middle Ages and flourished particularly in France. The use of the precious metals for the making of altar vessels afforded another opportunity for plastic art that was taken very finely. Collections of Merovingian art work show that some of the best specimens were made for Church purposes and that there was a real artistic spirit manifested in their creation. The French sculpture in ivory was declared by Kleinschmidt to "approach the creations of the early Renaissance in delicacy of execution, in rhythm of line and in well considered observance of the laws of composition."

With the beginning of the second millennium of the Christian era, and in connection particularly {51} with the development of Romanesque architecture, there was an important evolution of sculpture in bronze in Germany at Hildesheim and at Magdeburg in the eleventh century and in Belgium in the twelfth century. The famous baptismal font at Liége, resting upon twelve bronze oxen, the date of which is the early twelfth century, the work of Renier de Huy, is a striking example of how men were inspired to do work of artistic character and at the same time most difficult performance in connection with the Church. Carving in stone during this period was subordinated to architecture, but some of it as done for churches was extremely interesting and artistic. Stone reliefs, which served as decorations of baptismal fonts, portals and choir screens, are still visited very often by architects in search of ideas and not a few of them have been copied in plaster to find a place in the modern museums. Our own Metropolitan Museum in New York shows some striking examples of twelfth century stone carving and relief which find a place there only because they represent extremely important steps in the history of art.

With the beginning of what is known as the earlier Renaissance, at the end of the twelfth and the early years of the thirteenth century, Gothic sculpture as it was called flourished very strikingly and came to occupy a place in the history of art that has probably never been excelled. The statue of Christ over the main portal of the Cathedral of Amiens is an interesting example of this. It was {52} finished not long after the middle of the thirteenth century. It has often been said to be perhaps the most beautiful presentation of the human form divine ever made in stone. It is really a marvelous piece of sculpture. The people of Amiens did not call it in the old fashioned way Le Bon Dieu, but because of its beauty, Le Beau Dieu, the beautiful God. Amiens was not ahead of other cathedrals except in this one specimen and the cathedrals at Chartres, at Bourges and Le Mans surpass most of the work of northern France because they "achieve an imposing: effect by reason of their solemn dignity and silent repose." The Gothic cathedrals presented abundant opportunities for the exhibition of sculpture and these opportunities stimulated churchmen to patronize sculpture and provided men who had any tendency in this direction with occupations that afforded them pleasure in their work and a living wage while they were executing beautiful things that gave them a joy that could be secured in no other way.

The extent to which sculpture developed in the Gothic period in France is very well illustrated by the fact that in the Cathedral of Rheims there were about two thousand five hundred statues altogether. Some of them were gems of artistry. Whenever any of them were destroyed during the war there was always the feeling that no one in our generation could ever hope to equal the sculptured beauty that modern chemistry in its development of high explosives had enabled us to break up so easily. [Note 2] {53} From 1150 at Chartres through St. Denis in the beginning of the thirteenth century down to the statues of the twelve apostles in the Ste. Chapelle in Paris at the end of the thirteenth century there are some wonderful examples of how men may express the deepest thoughts and the moods of humanity in stone. Everywhere the impetus to this form of art spread because of the stimulus of the churchmen and their liberal patronage. In Burgundy and in the Netherlands a whole series of artistic triumphs in sculpture were erected in the churches during the fifteenth century. This was all under the influence of the Gothic and had nothing to do with the Greek and Roman remains which had been unearthed and were so deeply influencing the latter part of this period down in Italy.

After the great Gothic sculpture of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries came the glorious renascence of sculpture under the influence of restored interest in Greek and Roman models in the Renaissance time. The group of names in connection with that movement is the best known in the history of sculpture. It begins with Donatello and includes Leopardi, Verrocchio, Leonardo da Vinci, the Della Robbias, Benvenuto Cellini, Michelangelo and John of Bologna. Practically everyone who has any pretense to education anywhere throughout the world knows these names. But there are other sculptors of such distinction as Mino da Fiesole, the two Rossellinis, Benedetto da Maiano in Florence alone and the rivals and imitators of Michelangelo, Baccio {54} Bandinelli, Giacomo delia Porta, Montelupo, Ammanati, and Vincenzo di Rossi who are very well known by everyone really interested in sculpture or art. These sculptors of the second rate in the Renaissance are probably greater than any sculptors of the modern time, yet their names are quite unfamiliar to even the educated public because the ordinary memory refuses to hold more than a certain number of names and Italy had too many geniuses at this time for them all to be recalled.

All these men did their work under the inspiration of Catholic Christianity and under the patronage of the ecclesiastics of the Catholic Church. Only that heads of religious orders and the hierarchy and those responsible for the decoration of cathedrals and abbey churches had the good taste to employ really great sculptors, there would have been comparatively little opportunity for these men to display their genius. Does anyone think for a moment that at a time when there were so many great men there were not a whole host of smaller men who were constantly being "boosted" and with regard to whom political and family influence of one kind or another was constantly being used so as to secure them commissions? It would have been cheaper, doubtless, though money meant very little for the work of this time, to have employed the smaller men. Many of them would doubtless have been much more obsequious in following out ideas presented to them and pretending that patrons had artistic sense enough and a sense of beauty to enable them {55} to dictate the composition of art subjects. These men would have been much more ready to flatter their patrons than were the really great sculptors, but we have as the result of the taste of the churchmen of the time a wonderful treasure of artistic achievements in sculpture during this period.

The subjects for most of these great works were suggested, even inspired, by the teachings of the Church. Donatello's great statue of St. George outside the church of Or San Michele at Florence, is a typical example. Critics consider that it is surpassed only by some of Michelangelo's work and that of the Greeks. We have in the Metropolitan Museum in New York his Boy St. John the Baptist, which is one of the treasures of the museum. There were many other saints done evidently with the heartiest of religious feeling by Donatello.

Michelangelo was a deep believer and a faithful follower of Church tradition. Probably nothing illustrates this so well as his famous group known as La Pietà, which may be seen at St. Peter's in Rome. Executed when Michelangelo was less than twenty-five years of age, it has come to be looked upon as one of the greatest sculptures of the world. Only a man with deep belief in the doctrine that Mary was the Mother of God could have made this wonderful group in which the dead Savior taken down from the cross is lying across His Mother's knee. Some critics objected to the youthfulness of the Mother's face and even in Michelangelo's time this was commented upon. His famous reply, all the {56} more interesting in these days of discussion of the Virgin birth, was, "Don't you know that chaste women keep their youthful looks much longer than others? This is much more true in the case of a virgin who had never known a wanton desire to leave its shade upon her beauty!" Michelangelo's next important work was his David, a copy of which is the crowning feature of the hill above Florence. After this work Michelangelo was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II and commissioned to make that great tomb which occupied so much of his attention for the next quarter of a century. Unfortunately, owing to political and other disturbances, he was never able to finish it and he was called away to do the less congenial but triumphant work of decorating the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The figure of the Moses and other details of the tomb show how much the commission stimulated him. His statue of Christ, executed in marble,--and the difference between the marble and the bronze David in Florence shows how much more suited marble is to bring out the feeling of humanity,--is another of these wonderful triumphs of Michelangelo's genius. It well deserves to be placed beside even the statue of Christ over the centre portal at Amiens and there is the same almost worship of it by the ordinary citizens of Rome who come visiting it in the church. The Amiennois called their statue of Christ, as we have said, Le Beau Dieu, the beautiful God. At Rome they have had to protect Michelangelo's Christ from having {57} its foot all kissed away,--after sad ravages had all ready been made on it,--by shielding it with a sandal made of bronze. Unthinking people may talk of such customs as superstition, but when they bring the men and women into intimate contact with beautiful works of art such as this while all the time fostering a strong sense of personal relationship, they are marvelously productive of that elusive quality we call culture.

There are men whose names are scarcely known outside of Italy and surely not known outside of intimate art circles who did art work in the service of the Church that is simply exquisite. Take for instance the sculptor, or perhaps the series of sculptors whose names we are not sure of, who decorated the façade of the Certosa of Pavia. This was the Carthusian monastery three miles outside of the city of Pavia that has been for nearly five centuries now a place of pilgrimage for art lovers because of the beautiful things made for it. The Carthusian monks kept perpetual silence, never ate meat, never went outside of their monasteries, took a shovel full of earth out of the grave that they were to lie in and meditated on death every day, but they made a beautiful edifice as a home for Emmanuel and themselves; and people who came to visit it learned to know that a thing of beauty is a joy forever and that the most beautiful things in the world were associated with religious ideas. Or take the beautiful work done by Giralamo Lombardo and his sons who wrought the magnificent bronze gates of the {58} Holy House of Loretto and the sculpture on the western façade of the church of the same place. It was one of the delights of pilgrims to Loretto before the fire ruined some of it to find how charmingly the little old house which, according to tradition, was the home of Christ and His Mother while He was on earth, is here enshrined. It adds a new item of proof, as it were, and creates a willingness to believe the legend.

Even in such apparently unsuitable material as terra cotta these Renaissance Italians did some marvelously beautiful sculpture. Luca Della Robbia, after having made the beautiful angels of the choir gallery at Florence and ever so many other charming things in marble, set himself the task of making equally beautiful things in terra cotta and accomplished his purpose so marvelously that replicas of his work have ever since been favorite bits of adornment for drawing rooms and living rooms all over the world. His brothers and a sister and his nephews also became interested in the work and now we are not always able to decide how much of Luca's work is in these pieces. We have some striking examples at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Luca liked above all to make terra cottas of the mysteries of the Rosary. the events in the life of the Blessed Virgin, the Annunciation, the Visitation of St. Elizabeth by the Blessed Virgin, the Nativity. He had a wonderful charm in the plastic reproduction of children. His putti in marble are famous and the bambini, little babies wrapped {59} in swaddling clothes, usually in white on a blue circular ground or blue on white, were exquisitely done. They were made for the decoration of the Hospital of The Innocents, which was the gracious name that the Florentines had for the foundlings instead of the rude betrayal term that we employ. These are favorite subjects for reproduction and copies of them are probably to be found in more homes than of any other piece of sculpture in the world. It was Luca's studies of the Christ Child that led up to these.

There were other great sculptors who drew their inspiration from religious subjects. Antonio Begarelli of Modena, who died just about the end of the Renaissance (1565), was enthusiastically admired by Michelangelo. His Descent From the Cross in San Francesco at Modena shows how much can be accomplished by a genius in producing great sculpture even in so complicated a composition as this, and justifies Michelangelo's admiration fully.

After this comes decadence. Bernini was the greatest sculptor of the seventeenth century. In his younger years his Cain and Abel under Church influence represent really beautiful sculpture. Later came his classical period and deterioration. He was probably more admired than any sculptor has ever been in his own time and he deserved it least, though he was a man of artistic genius or at least of supreme talent and in a better environment would surely have accomplished some wonderful work. His contemporary, Stefano Maderna, under {60} the influence of religious feeling produced the really very beautiful statue of St. Cecilia lying dead, the figure which under the high altar of her basilica at Rome attracts so much admiration and copies of which are to be seen all over the world. The sculptor has caught with marvelous realism the pose in death of the martyr and his treatment of the drapery shows positive genius for plastic art.

It was not alone in Italy, however, that religious inspiration led to the making of supremely great sculpture during this Renaissance time. The Germans were famous as wood carvers and an immense number of carved altars, pulpits, choir screens, choir stalls, tabernacles and church furniture of many kinds, as well as church fittings of nearly every description and of very great elaborateness and usually fine artistic quality, were produced. One of the first of the great German wood carvers, Jörg Syrlin, executed the famous choir stalls of Ulm cathedral, so richly decorated and ornamented with statuettes and canopies. His son of the same name did the great pulpit in the same cathedral and the elaborate stalls in Blaubeurn church. These works were finished within a few years of the discovery of America. Veit Stoss was another of these skillful artists in church woodwork and he was invited to many parts of Europe, to Cracow, to do the high altar and the tabernacles and the stalls of the Frauenkerchen. His masterpiece is the great wooden panel, nearly six feet square, carved toward the end of the fifteenth century with an immense {61} number of scenes from Bible history,--which is now among the treasures of the Nuremburg town hall. And yet one will hear it said that they were keeping the Bible away from the people at this time.

Albrecht Dürer, the great painter, with Renaissance versatility took up sculpture and did not despise even the humble medium of wood in the service of the Church. As might be expected, he could execute beautifully and artistically even in this mode, and as an act of pious devotion he executed a tabernacle with an exquisitely carved relief of Christ on the cross between His Mother and St. John, which still may be seen in the chapel of the monastery in Landan.

Then came the work of Adam Kraft and the Vischer family for three generations in bronze, though at the beginning the influence of wood carving can be seen. These men, too, took their inspirations from Catholic Christianity, and how much that could mean as a stimulus to a great artist is seen very well in the magnificent masterpiece of the Vischers, the shrine of St. Sebald at Nuremburg. There is a copy of this to be seen in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The original is a wondrous shrine to which many visitors of the modern time turn their steps with very little thought of the religious elements represented by it yet attracted by the marvelous artistic value. It is a veritable triumph of plastic art, admired and reverenced by the people of that time very highly, and modern critical appreciation of it has completely {62} corroborated contemporary admiration. Its details are a never ending source of interesting study. Some of the statuettes of saints attached to the slender columns of the canopy are among the most beautiful examples of their kind extant. They have grace and dignity as well as fine expressiveness. They could have come only from a man who believed thoroughly and heartily in the doctrine of the communion of saints. Faith alone could have given such a supreme stimulus to expression.

No wonder that Gerhard Hauptmann, the world known German dramatic poet to whom the Nobel prize for literature was awarded not long before the war, said after praising the tomb of St. Sebald as a veritable stroke of genius: "I as a Protestant have often had to regret that we purchased our freedom of conscience, our individual liberty at entirely too high a price. In order to make room for the small, mean little plant of personal life we destroyed a whole garden of fancy and hewed down a virgin forest of aesthetic ideas. We went even so far in the insanity of our weakness as to throw out of the garden of our souls the fruitful soil that had been accumulating for thousands of years or else we plowed it under sterile clay."

And then he added, "In my workroom there is ever before me a photograph of St. Sebald's tomb. It seems to me one of the most wonderful bits of work in the whole field of artistic accomplishment. The soul of all the great medieval period enwraps this silver coffin, giving to it a noble unity, and {63} enthrones on the very summit of Death, Life as a growing child. Such a work could only have come to its perfection in the protected spaces of the old Mother Church."

Modern sculpture has deteriorated to a very great extent, and while there are occasional pieces of sculpture that represent a worthy striving after the expression of emotional truth in plastic mode, there are very few critics who are ready to admit that our sculpture in any way compares with that of the Renaissance or of the Greeks. Especially the Renaissance sculpture, that was done under the influence of religious motives and with the definite purpose of finding its place in a church or religious structure of some kind where it would be the admiration of the people, proved to be wondrously beautiful. Many of those who know most about sculpture are quite ready to confess that in our time the great lack of the sculptor is not so much talent as the depth of feeling which comes so readily in connection with religion and the incentive to do the best that is in one when one feels that it is being accomplished not merely for selfish ambition and still less for sordid gain but as an act of worship of the Creator or of reverence for some favorite saint. It is deep emotion that our artists and poets lack. Poetry is truth touched with emotion and sculpture is plastic art similarly touched. Without the profound emotional element in it the sculpture is commonplace almost inevitably. The Church has ever provided not only the opportunity to house {64} great sculpture suitably where it would be admired, but has also been the medium to arouse the profound emotion that the artist needs.



Arts and Crafts

The making of the various adjuncts that were employed in religious services provided the greatest stimulus for the movement known as the arts and crafts, that is, for the making of things beautiful as well as useful, that has ever been known. Man is differentiated from the animals even more by his sense of beauty than by his reasoning power. From the very beginning man has exhibited a cult for beauty that has characterized him very definitely as separated by an almost infinite distance from the animals whose body he shares. Even the cave man made all his utensils and also his tools beautiful as well as useful. He shaped them prettily and then engraved figures on them. He then proceeded to make his home beautiful by painting pictures on the walls of it, and in order to do so he invented oil painting; and while his pictures are primitive, they are so vivid and vigorous that a good critic has said that there is no animal painter alive today who can paint such life-like pictures of animals as the cave man made. Good anthropologists have declared that the cave man had a religious motive in this. He had come to the idea that if he could paint an animal to the life so as to demonstrate as it were his mastery of it, the {66} spirit who ruled the world would give him power to hunt it successfully. As he buried his dead, confident that they were alive in another world than this,--for he interred with them some of their implements and utensils which had often been made at great expense of time and labor, and this in spite of seeing their bodies putrify and disappear,--the idea of a great spirit overruling things must have come very definitely to him.

Ever since, in connection with religion, art which means etymologically only something made with hands has been invoked as an auxiliary to worship and a symbol of reverence. All the ancient religions inspired people to the making of beautiful things. The temples of Assyria and Babylonia and of old Egypt are the witness to this, and when the Greeks came with their wonderful burst of intellectuality, religion proved the source of motifs not only for art of all kinds but also for literature in its various modes. The Romans, following the Greeks in this, not only built beautiful temples for their gods, but also made charming adornments for them and exhausted their cult of beauty in the production of furnishings of various kinds and of objects of worship in grove and field and temple. Even among the nations that we know as barbarous, as for instance among the Mayas and Aztecs in America, there had been similar manifestations and the most wonderful remains that we possess from them are as a rule concerned with the religion of these old time people. As their art vied even with the {67} Greeks it is easy to understand how much inspiration their religion gave them.

It is not surprising, then, that when Christianity came with its belief in a very intimate relationship with a personal God Himself there was a magnificent outburst of art impulse which manifested itself in everything in any way associated with the service of religion. The churches were beautiful and painting and sculpture lent their charms to render the interiors and exteriors even more attractive than the artistic lines of the buildings made them originally, while the arts and crafts made even the smallest accessories beautiful as well as useful. The result was a simply astounding production of art objects which served to show very clearly how much of charm man can lend to the simplest materials, even when they are being used for what seem to be very humble purposes, if only he has the inspiration of feeling that somehow these purposes are associated with the worship of the Deity.

The furniture of the churches came before very long to be of fine artistic quality. The seats in the choirs represented very practical needs for those engaged in the service; though they might have been the merest stools or benches, they came to be extremely beautiful objects of art that now are admired for themselves. In an immense number of churches throughout Christendom the wood carving for these was so exquisite that it has been the subject of study ever since and of reverent emulation though often without the slightest hope of {68} being able to rival it. Other wooden furnishings took on the same character. Vestment cases, sacristy fittings, the altar itself of course, whenever it was made of wood, the stations of the cross, the people's benches and even the movable seats of various kinds, all were beautiful, made with patience, devotion, and an artist's heart in them, so that they have been quite definitely joys forever. Nothing was ever made merely useful; in the house of God everything had to be beautiful, and when in some dark corner one finds a particularly beautifully finished bit of stone or wood or an elaborately finished piece of some other kind and asks why it was placed there and why, as it were, so much of beauty is thus hidden away, the answer of the sexton will probably be, "God sees everywhere." Above all there was no shame or pretense about the churches. Things were what they seemed. They were honest-to-God churches.

What was true of wood, comparatively so easily worked, was quite as true of the refractory metals like iron or equally refractory materials like stone or glass. The Angel Choir at Lincoln was so beautifully carved that an old tradition declared that it did not come from the hand of man but was made by the angels, and as Dr. Osler said not long before his death, it is probably one of the most beautiful pieces of work that ever came from the hand of man. It is surrounded by an iron grille which was meant to have a very definite protective purpose. On the important Church feast days it must have {69} often happened that the cathedral at Lincoln was jammed to more than its capacity. On certain of the great festival days not only everybody in town wanted to be present at the ceremonial but people came in for miles from the country around, and it was extremely important to keep the crowd from interfering in any way with the services. Nothing could have been more effective in this regard than the wrought iron grille work which surrounds the choir and it would make the most serviceable kind of protection for the window of a bank or an open work partition in a banking interior, and yet it is so beautifully hammered that it looks like a piece of lace and after seven centuries is still as beautiful and as secure as it ever was.

Hinges and latches and locks for doors and keys were all hammered out of wrought iron in marvelous beauty of line. I have seen on a single occasion artists from places so distant from each other as Australia, Russia and United States sketching a hinge of the door of the cloister at York. It was so beautiful that they wanted to have a copy of it in their notebooks. It had been made by a small town blacksmith seven centuries before. The bill for it is extant, I believe. It still swings that heavy English oak door as satisfactorily as at the beginning. Its arborizations spread out over the door and hold the planks of it very firmly together. There is no doubt at all about its usefulness, yet its beauty has an appeal that has lasted all down the centuries and now was to influence distant nations {70} in the modern time, because, though it was only wrought iron, a man had put a bit of his soul into it. No wonder that when pieces of this kind are no longer to be used for the churches they find their way into the museums, for they are real works of art.

The churches were quite literally full of such specimens of the arts and crafts. The stained glass windows were so beautiful that they have been the admiration and the despair of those who tried to imitate them ever since. There does not seem to have been any common centre for the making of them. Each little town made its own, and the marvel is that they succeeded in doing such beautiful work; but there it is as the proof of the artistic excellence of the religious inspiration that created them. It happens that at Lincoln (England) there is on one side of the church a set of modern stained glass windows which were, I believe, ordered at great expense from somewhere on the continent a generation ago when England was making no stained glass. On the other side, some of the glass from the thirteenth century which furnished the windows of Lincoln is to be seen, and thereby hangs a tale. When in the Parliamentary time the stained glass in the Cathedral was stoned out by Cromwell's soldiers because the figures on it represented to them definite tendencies to idolatry and the forbidden worship of images, the old sexton, who as man and boy had gazed reverently at the beautiful old stained glass windows for more than seventy {71} years, was heartbroken over the devastation. He gathered up into bags the broken fragments of the jewel-like glass which had been made more than four hundred years before, and deposited them in the crypt. When two generations ago they set about the restoration of Lincoln this old glass was found; and though of course it was only a mass of sad fragments, the coloring of it was so beautiful that they resolved to patch it together and make use of it. The result is to be seen in the windows on one side of Lincoln. After gazing at this lovely play of color the visitor has so little of patience with the modern expensive stained glass at the other side made with a commercial motive instead of with the deep religious inspiration that influenced the old workmen, that he scarcely deigns to give it a second glance.

What Lincoln's windows might have been if preserved in their original beauty is very well illustrated by York's treasures and especially by the famous Five Sisters window. York was more fortunate than Lincoln. General Ireton who commanded the Cromwellian troops before York, was a friend of the Yorkites and his influence saved York's windows to a great extent, though not entirely. In those that are left is to be found some of the most beautiful stained glass in the world.

The missals, or Mass books that were used on the altar, the office books that were used by the monks for the singing of the office, are all of them so beautiful that it is not too much to say that they {72} are the most beautiful books ever made. They are charmingly decorated, illuminated with loving care, gilded with the most meticulous attention and the gold is burnished and has not faded after many hundreds of years, though when we try to do similar work the burnishing fades in a generation. All the colors were displayed on the beautiful pages of these books and the blues have not faded in spite of the lapse of time, though our blues of the modern day are so prone to fade when we use them in similar fashion. Their respect for the Scriptures is finely illustrated by such specimens of their work as the Book of Kells to be seen in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. This is probably the most beautiful book ever made. It was made in the eighth century in Ireland and owes its preservation to the devotion of the Irish. To study all the charm and detail of its decoration we have to use a magnifying glass in modern time. How the artist ever made it without a glass is almost impossible to understand. It has curves of all kinds, spirals of every sort, and all of them without a break in their regularity. It must have meant almost a life work for one or perhaps for several artists and supreme depth of devotion and sublime height of religious inspiration must have conspired for its production. If we did not actually possess it, no one could ever be persuaded for a moment to believe that such a book could have been created in the Ireland of the eighth century, or anywhere in Europe at that time.


Not only the larger office books of the churches and the monasteries but also those of smaller size that were in private hands for personal devotion partook of this beauty of book making. Ladies delighted to have dainty volumes for their devotions, and the taste thus cultivated spread to include other books of theirs. As a consequence, just before printing came in, a great many extremely beautiful books were made. The substantial tribute of our time to them is to be seen in the immense prices which they command in the auction rooms. No wonder that about the time of the invention of printing some of the well-known book collectors of the day refused to have anything to do with these new fangled mechanically made books that were coming in. Their discrimination had been cultivated to such a degree in the handling of beautiful books that anything less than very high artistic quality in a book seemed to them almost a desecration. As one of the well-known Italian collectors said, "As long as I have my own beautiful hand made books why should I care to possess any of these cheap machine made volumes?"

As the result of the veritable climax of beautiful book making which had come in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and especially just before the invention of printing, the printers had before them book models which they could not hope to emulate but from which they did not dare depart very far lest they might not secure the patronage of their wealthy artistic patrons who were accustomed to {74} handle the beautifully illuminated books of the earlier period. Hence it is that the very first generation after the invention of printing had the opportunity to purchase some of the most beautiful printed books that had ever been made. The "incunabula," as they are called, that is, the books printed during the fifteenth century down to the year 1500, command high prices in the auction rooms because they are "cradle books," as the Latin word incunabula implies, and are comparatively rare, for first editions were usually small in number, but they deserve the price very often not so much for their rarity as because they are such beautiful specimens of the printer's art. The Bible was the first book printed. It was followed by many books written by the priestly scholars of the older time or by books that had a special interest for churchmen. The churchmen were the great patrons of the new art, the customers of the early printers for whom the beautiful books were made. [Note 3]

Even the perishable textile materials that were used in connection with the church services, the vestments and hangings, the altar linens and laces, were made so beautifully that they represented works of art. Some of these which now get to the auction rooms because of the suppression of monasteries or come into the market because of serious political disturbances in countries which have led to lootings, or sometimes are offered for sale as the voluntary sacrifice of beautiful things in order to keep orphans or members of communities, especially the old and feeble, {75} alive in the midst of the hardships of Europe,--quite as St. Lawrence in the early days of Christianity thought that church treasures must come after the poor in preciousness,--have commanded prices that have sometimes been simply astounding. One instance will illustrate this very well. Some years ago Mr. Pierpont Morgan, Sr., bought the cope of Ascoli and paid, it was said at the time, $60,000 for it. The cope which is the outer garment worn by the priest in Church processions, had been made at a little convent of North central Italy toward the end of the thirteenth century. The experts consulted by Mr. Morgan assured him that it was probably the most beautiful piece of needlework in the world, hence his willingness to pay this high price in spite of the fact that the precious stones which had adorned it originally had been removed. The cope was in this country for a while and through Mr. Morgan's kindness I had the privilege of seeing the painting that was made of it for him when it was found that he would have to part with the original. For after a while it was discovered that the cope had been stolen from the little convent and so Mr. Morgan returned it, though not to the little convent but to the Italian government, which I believe did not give it back to the nuns because it was considered a national treasure to be preserved henceforth in a national museum. The nuns had made it and guarded it faithfully for six hundred and fifty years but now must be without it for reasons of state.

This cope of Ascoli is scarcely more beautiful than the almost equally famous cope of Syon which was made in England in the early fourteenth century and {76} is on exhibition now at South Kensington Museum in London. The fact that at points so distant from each other in Europe as England and Italy, the nuns of two different orders should have been able to do such beautiful work during almost the same generation is quite definite evidence that there must have been a very general tradition of beautiful needlework. As a matter of fact the opus Anglicum, or "English work" as it came to be called,--a particular style of needlework from this period,--is usually considered to be one of the most effective employments of needlework in connection with textiles ever invented. Everywhere vestments, especially those for the use of the clergy on the great festival days, were quite literally works of exquisite art. This tradition is being revived in this century, as anyone who has been in touch with the movement for more beautiful vestments knows. Those who have had the privilege of seeing the beautiful vestments made by St. Hilda's Guild in New York or the very attractive vestments made by some of the contemplative religious orders which are modeled on the examples of the older time, will appreciate very readily what a right to the term "artistic triumphs" such materials merit. Religious inspiration aroused devotion in the making of beautiful things which lifted even the apparently transient textile materials into enduring monuments of artistry in the past and does so in our day still.

Every phase of material adjunct to church service was lifted onto the same high plane. The linens for the altar, the hangings for the tabernacle, the antependium of the altar were beautifully made. Even {77} the cruets for wine and water were beautiful and of course the vases and the candlesticks for the altars shared the artistic inspiration. It is not surprising then that the sacred vessels, the chalices, the ciboria and the ostensoria were exquisitely beautiful works of art. The chalice of Ardagh, which dates from sometime after the Book of Kells in Ireland, simply serves to show how long ago this tradition of exquisite artistry had its beginning. There have been times down the centuries of course when the degradation of taste has served also to make even religious articles of various kinds not so admirable as they might have been, but even at these times the effort to make things beautiful has never ceased, only the underlying principles were wrong and men could not lift themselves above their times unless they were geniuses or artists so highly talented as to appreciate what ought to be the real principles of art as applied to such objects as these. Sometimes even articles that might be considered as scarcely deserving of the ordinary craftsman's attention have been lifted up to the plane of exquisite artistry, as of course those who are at all familiar with this phase of art history appreciate very readily.

I remember once seeing a thurible, or censer, being sold in an auction room in New York just about the beginning of the war. It was one of our most important auction rooms and therefore the large audience present who were very ready to pay high prices for beautiful things were all the more surprised to hear the auctioneer say, that while it was the custom of the house not to permit an "upset" price to be placed {78} on objects offered for sale, they had made an exception to that rule with regard to this particular object, because experts had declared that it was the most beautiful thing of its kind in the world. It was of bronze, scarcely more than a foot high, and while manifestly very beautiful when closely examined, it would easily have escaped notice as of any special value unless one were particularly interested and expert with regard to such things. The upset price announced was $55,000, and unless a bid to that amount were received the thurifer would not be sold. The auctioneer had barely finished the announcement when someone very calmly bid $55,000. Scarcely a moment passed before another voice said $60,000, and then while the audience gasped a bit, two gentlemen proceeded to outbid each other at $5,000, a raise until $75,000 was reached. Then the next bid was $76,000 but after that now with raises of $1,000 each time the bidding proceeded to $80,000. Manifestly one of the gentlemen had reached his limit at this price, the next bid promptly given was for $81,000 and after due delay the auctioneer declared it sold.

As the newspapers announced the next day the thurifer or censer was "knocked down" at $81,000. I suppose that most of us breathed a sigh of relief that it was not "knocked down" on us at $81,000, and, yet the gentleman who bought it seemed to feel that he had secured a prize and apparently there were not a few others present who envied him the treasure that he had succeeded in securing. The thurifer had been made not by one of the greatest of the sculptors but by a {79} disciple of Leonardo da Vinci and was thought to have some of the conception of the great sculptor, painter, engineer, in its lines. It was just an example of some of the Renaissance work in bronze made for the churches of Italy during that precious 150 years from 1450 to 1600 when the patronage of churchmen and especially of monasteries gave to the great artists of that time the opportunity to express themselves in some of the most beautiful things that have ever been made. Without the enlightened admiration of the Churchmen of the time it is very hard to understand where the artists would have received the orders which encouraged them to take up such artistic work. While they were not money seekers they needed the stimulus of set tasks to evoke inspiration and to give them the feeling that their work would have a place before the public such as it deserved. To have beautiful arts and crafts develop there must not only be the artistic talent for the purpose but there must also be the buyers whose taste for the beautiful will appreciate the best and foster its production. This was the secondary role played by the Church. Its primary role was that its teaching provided the designs and inspirations.

Anyone who thinks that such an account of the beautiful things in the old churches is exaggerated or at least magnified by love for the medieval and partiality for Church influence should read some of the documents in the matter. We have room here for excerpts from but one, but that is official and should be convincing. When not long before the beginning of the war a commission was appointed by the French {80} Government, one member of which was an American artist, to make a catalog of the beautiful things from the older times to be found in the churches of northern France, the American artist, writing a magazine article on the subject, declared that these were so numerous as to be almost beyond belief. There were villages of three hundred inhabitants and sometimes less which possessed treasures in their little parish churches that were veritable museum pieces of great value. The commission found it impossible to make anything like an adequate catalog of all the beautiful things that were scattered here and there throughout a part of France which is usually considered not to have been in any sense a peculiarly great artistic centre, nor at all the home of the greatest art impulses, but only a type of old-time interest in beautiful things for religion's sake. His article in Scribner's Magazine, giving some of these details, must have been astounding to those who are inclined to think that it was only in the larger cities, or at least in certain very important places, that such art treasures came into existence and gradually accumulated from generation to generation. The experiences of our auction rooms and the high prices that have been bid for objects from comparatively obscure places ought to have been a lesson in this matter and should have served to make it very clear that the art education afforded by such frequent contact indeed almost daily with beautiful things had had the educational effect which might have been expected. Unfortunately this war, as so many others before it in that very neighborhood close to what has been called the {81} cockpit of Europe, destroyed ever so many objects of beauty which are absolutely irreplaceable. No one in our time could ever be expected to execute them. [Note 4]

It is easy to understand how extremely valuable for the education of popular taste and the arousing of a sense of beauty, intimate contact in the churches with such beautiful things must have been. In the Middle Ages people were required by Church laws to go to church much oftener than at the present time. Besides the fifty-two Sundays of the year there were actually some two score holy days of obligation, in some places even more, on which attendance at Mass was obligatory unless there was some very good excuse. There were, besides, certain days of devotion on which many people went to church, and as Cardinal Gasquet has pointed out in his account of the medieval parish, in many places very large numbers, sometimes half the adult members of the congregation, went to Mass nearly every day in the year. This brought them once every three days or oftener into the presence of the beautiful art of the churches, their pictures, statues, decorations, the fine examples of the arts and crafts, vestments, books, ironwork, precious metal work and all the rest, so that if they had any sense of beauty it was thoroughly cultivated. When nearly a hundred times every year everyone is required, though they are very willing to fulfil the requirement, to spend nearly an hour close to such beautiful things as were in the churches, they cannot help but have their taste refined to the highest possible extent and they are given, just as far as they are capable of experiencing it, that joy in beauty which {82} our modern English poet so emphatically declared to be enduring. After all it is the sense of beauty that with the sense of duty in mankind represents its highest qualities. Kant's two great mysteries, the starry heavens without and the moral law within, illustrate these. Art is the climax of our civilization. We are reasoning animals with a superadded sense of beauty that lifts us as far above the animal as heaven is from earth. It was this faculty that the beautiful things in the churches cultivated so marvelously. [Note 5]

In the modern time we are striving to foster, one might almost say to create, this sense of beauty among our people, especially in the cities. We are founding and endowing and organizing museums. In the larger cities of the world immense sums of money have been expended on these museums. In spite of this it is extremely difficult to get the great mass of people to go to them. Here in New York, where our Metropolitan Museum is one of the greatest museums of the world, probably giving an outlook on supremely great art of all the schools better than almost any other, we are very glad to have scant one in ten of our people go once a year to see its treasures. As a matter of fact probably one half at least of those who visit the Metropolitan come from outside the city. It is perhaps a jest, but surely it is more than half in earnest to say that at least half the time when a New Yorker goes to either of our great museums it is because there is some friend visiting in the city who wants to go and he or she goes with the visitor. It is extremely doubtful if more than one in fifty of our population goes spontaneously from {83} love of art once a year to see the Metropolitan. Those who go are repeaters and usually make several visits a year at least. Besides, the attendance lists are largely increased by those who attend lectures and go for school purposes and the like. In other cities the situation is no better with perhaps one or two exceptions like Boston or Philadelphia, where there is less absorption in material things and an older cultured class. In most of our American cities conditions with regard to museum attendance are very much worse than in New York. In cities of the middle class with populations of half a million or less the museums, if they exist at all, are scarcely known outside of a very small circle of art devotees.

Contrast with this state of affairs the compulsory church attendance in Catholic countries nearly one hundred times a year for all the people and recall that the churches were veritable treasure houses of beautiful art. In our modern museums so many objects of so many different kinds are gathered that there is distraction of mind. In the churches people stayed in one place with certain beautiful things before them for an hour or more and were in the state of mind where they had dismissed most distracting thoughts and were therefore in particularly susceptible mood. The art objects, and above all the paintings and statuary, represented subjects with which their thoughts were naturally engaged and profoundly touched at the moment. Under such circumstances beautiful things were likely to be supremely effective in fostering the sense of beauty if there was even the slightest trace of {84} it in the individual. Young folks, for children from the age of seven came under the law of required church attendance, must have been especially affected very deeply. What this frequent contact with great art means all of us acknowledge. What it did for really artistic spirits in awakening them to all the possibilities of creative impulse can be understood from the fact that in ever so many small towns the medieval and Renaissance peoples found the artist workman who could make these beautiful things. Men were seldom sent for from a distance but each town found its own creators and proceeded to encourage them, to foster their inspirations and their powers of achievement so that everywhere there was a marvelous wind of the spirit of art blowing where it listed and accomplishing marvels.




Music is one of the arts of life which the Church has used constantly and consistently in her services from the very earliest times. As with all the other arts music owes ever so much more to the Church however than is the Church's debt to music. Indeed the Church has enriched music to such an extent as the consequence of the devotion with which the art has been cultivated for the worship of the Most High that practically all the great developments in music have come as the result of effort made by Churchmen to enlarge musical modes for the ceremonial uses of the Church.

Of music in Greek and Roman days we know almost nothing. Undoubtedly the beauty loving Greeks had a magnificent development of music, but it was lost. Music as we have it in modern times may well be declared to be little more than the result of the evolution of the use of melodious and harmonious sounds for Church purposes. The original musical mode of the Christian Church came to us from St. Ambrose. The tradition in this matter has been doubted in some regards, but there is universal agreement that between the fourth and seventh centuries a series of great new developments in music took place in connection with the Christian ceremonials. The most noted example of this was the establishment of antiphonal singing at {86} Milan by St. Ambrose, bishop of that city, toward the end of the fourth century. This fact St. Augustine, a contemporary, mentions in his Confessions. After this a musical system called the Ambrosian sprang up. Four authentic scales, the basis of the medieval musical system, have been attributed to St. Ambrose, but like many of the hymns also declared his, they were probably rather the development during succeeding centuries of the needs of the Church ceremonial and were due to many minds.

Antiphonal psalmody after the model of that in Milan was introduced into Rome by Pope Celestine I about the end of the first quarter of the fifth century. This was the signal for the foundation of the first Christian singing school, and after this the development of musical liturgy went on apace until St. Gregory's time. As with regard to St. Ambrose, there is also a doubt as to whether St. Gregory, that is Pope Gregory I, the Great, really invented or arranged out of preceding musical elements the Gregorian music or Plain Chant which now goes under his name. One thing is sure, however, that this mode in the musical liturgy as it exists today was essentially completed not long after the year 600 and during the next two centuries a series of magnificent developments of the music associated with the Church ceremonial followed each other.

This time saw, beginning with St. Ambrose, the writing of a series of hymns of beautiful rhythm and of a depth of poetic meaning which tempted musical genius to give them an appropriate setting in music. It has been said of some of these hymns that they must {87} be counted among the most sublimely beautiful wedding of sense and sound to be found in the whole body of human literature. It is easy to understand then how appropriately beautiful musical numbers would naturally be found for them by the musical geniuses of the time. During the course of the following centuries of the early Middle Ages many thousands of hymns were written and many thousands of variations of musical settings were composed. Musical history continued its development along these lines all during the medieval period. Probably no greater poetry has ever been written and no greater hymns than those which are to be found in the later Middle Ages, and therefore it is not surprising to learn that the musical settings for them also were marvelously effective and worthy accompaniments.

The Plain Chant which came into vogue at this time achieved veritable triumphs of musical composition, though in the very simplest form. Mr. Rockstro, in his article on Plain Chant in Grove's Dictionary of Music, does not hesitate to say that probably no greater or more beautiful expression of grief in single notes in succession has ever been written than the chant used by the Church in the services of Tenebrae, the Lamentations for Holy Week; and no more joyous succession of single notes has ever been arranged than that of the chant for the Exultet on Holy Saturday. These chants came later in the history of hymnody and music, but the fact that the Church should have had the wonderful good taste to select in poetry the magnificent hymns that have been chosen as the sequences and that are {88} the most frequently used, and should have preserved for us the melodies or chants that were of such supreme quality, shows how much music owes to the Church and the churchmen of this time.

In the first century of the second Christian millennium Guy of Arrezo or Guido Aretina or Fra Guittone as he is variously called reformed musical notation. He was a teacher of music among his religious brethren, the Benedictines, at the monastery of Pomposa in the Duchy of Ferrara. A number of inventions and discoveries in music have been attributed to him that evidently are not his, for some of them existed before and some of them came in only after his time. There seems no doubt, however, that Guido invented the principle on which the construction of the staff is based and the old F and C clefs. He probably did not invent the complete five line staff itself. On the other hand, solmisation, that is, the process of using certain syllables to name or represent the tones of the scale is almost surely his invention. He also invented the hexachord and probably introduced the use of the syllables, ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, from the initial syllables of the lines of a hymn to St. John beginning "Ut queant laxis" to designate the tones of each of the hexachords then recognized. Guido is also said to have called the seven notes of the musical scale after the first seven letters of the Alphabet down to G, when the name Gamma taken from the last of the series, came to be applied to the whole scale as gamut, the syllable ut at the end perhaps being added because of the use of "ut" {89} for the first note in the named notes, which has since been changed to "do."

The next great development of music came in the Renaissance time. The beginning of it came in the Netherlands in the latter half of the fifteenth century, two generations before the Reformation so called was thought of, and at a time when the Netherlands was distinguished for initiative of high order in all the arts, above all in painting and architecture, and when a great wind of the spirit of genius must have been blowing in the Low Countries. The first of their great musical geniuses was Ockeghem, or Ockenheim, as he is variously called, of Hainault in Flanders, who during the latter half of the fifteenth century came to be looked upon as probably the greatest musical teacher of the time in Europe.

Authorities in music and especially in the history of the art, while emphasizing the originality of Ockenheim's genius, declare that he was surpassed in fame by his pupil Josse Despres, usually known by the name, familiarly used among his friends, of Josquin, who was also a native of Hainault. Henderson declares that "in technical skill no master has ever surpassed Ockeghem; and all that he knew he taught Josquin, who made it the outlet for his real musical genius." Luther said of him, "They sing only Josquin in Italy; Josquin alone in France; only Josquin in Germany; in Flanders, in Hungary, in Bohemia, in Spain, it is always only Josquin." From this testimony and the otherwise well-known popularity of this composer's music, it is probable that there has never been a great European {90} musician who, in his own time, has gained more universal acclaim among music-lovers than Josquin. There is no doubt at all of the merit of his work. Arcadelt, who was Palestrina's teacher at Rome and himself a distinguished musician of this time, said of him: "Other composers make their music where their notes take them, but Josquin takes his music where he wills." His musical compositions were nearly all made for use in connection with Church services. After all that is not surprising since religion meant so much to people and they went so often to Church--at least 100 times a year. And this was the easiest way to get vogue for music,--and what composer does not desire that?

Arcadelt was the next of these great musical geniuses from the Netherlands during the Renaissance period. It would have been distinction enough for him to have been, as we have already said, Palestrina's teacher at Rome, but he was much more than merely a teacher. Perhaps the most notable feature of his musical genius is the fact that it anticipated centuries of development, so that there are compositions of his which are still used in Church services and notably an Ave Maria by him which is still often sung.

It was with the rise of the great Roman school of music in the second half of the Renaissance that musical development came to a climax, and indeed there was a culmination of musical achievement that places this among the greatest musical epochs of the world. Rome owed its musical incentive and teaching to a Fleming, the first great master was Claude Goudimel, who is said to have been born at Avignon but who was {91} educated in Flanders and who is known as a Fleming. Among his pupils at Rome, where he opened a school, are the most famous musicians of the sixteenth century and some of the most famous of all time. Among others, probably, were Palestrina, the supreme master of modern church music, though the old tradition of Goudimel's great influence over him is now denied; the brothers Animuccia, one of whom was the penitent and intimate friend of St. Philip Neri, the founder of the Oratory, after which the Oratorio is named, and the brothers Nanini, who contributed so much to Italian music before the end of the sixteenth century. Another of his pupils was Orlando di Lasso, known as Lassus or Latres of Mons, who was one of the greatest and most popular of the musicians of his time. He was known in many countries and popular in all of them. To him we owe the definite attempt to make words and music run along in such harmony as would emphasize and thoroughly co-ordinate the meaning of both. An abuse had been growing for a considerable period by which prolix florid passages of music were written for single syllables. Even Josquin had indulged much in this vicious mode. After Orlando di Lasso's reformation, the practice was to come back again in the fiorituri of the opera composers, especially the Italians of the early nineteenth century, which was to be combated by Wagner. There is little in the revolution effected in music by the modern German composer, in this regard at least, that was not anticipated by his great predecessor, Orlando, full three centuries before. Orlando di Lasso was known, moreover, for {92} the sweetness, beauty, as well as the great number and variety of his works. Some of his part songs have been pronounced the most charming part songs in existence.

Lassus (di Lasso) tried every form of music at this time, but devoted himself chiefly to musical compositions for church purposes. We have from him psalms, hymns, litanies, magnificats, motets, as well as more lengthy musical settings for religious services. Bonavia Hunt, the Warden of Trinity College, London, and lecturer on musical history, in his "History of Music" declares that Lassus' settings of the Seven Penitential Psalms for five voices are among his best works. They contain elements that have made them a favorite study for students of music even in our time. Lassus introduced such musical terms as Allegro and Adagio into music and brought chromatic elements into musical composition. He was very greatly appreciated in his own day and was called Princeps Musicae, "the prince of music." He received as much honor from statesmen as Palestrina did from churchmen, and the story of the honor paid to both of them by their own generation is the best possible tribute to the musical taste of the time. Lassus was made a Knight of the Order of the Golden Spur.

The greatest development in music was yet to come and was to be directly connected with Church influences and accomplished mainly by churchmen. The greatest musician of this Renaissance time, probably indeed the greatest of all times, was Palestrina, who in 1551 was appointed the musical director of the Julian Chapel in the Vatican with the definite hope that he would {93} reform the evils that had crept into music and were making the art in its most recent development so unsuitable for religious purposes. The Council of Trent, whose sessions were being held with interruptions at this time, had to legislate so as to secure suitable music for the Mass. Ornamental passages of all kinds, or at least what were supposed to be such, had been introduced into church music, until finally it was almost impossible to follow the words of the service. As Cardinal Borromeo said, "The singers counted for their principal glory that when one says Sanctus another says Sabbaoth and a third gloria tua and the whole effect of the music is little more than a confused whirling and snarling, more resembling the performance of cats in January than the beautiful flowers in May." He was one of the committee who insisted at various sessions of the Council of Trent on musical reform, and while their work has sometimes been falsely represented as hampering the development of music itself, all that the Council wished to accomplish was to secure intelligibility of the words, and as a matter of fact their insistence on the simplification of music led to a magnificent new development in the art.

It has sometimes been said that Palestrina's work represented a revolution in the music of his time. This is not true, however, for his great Mass music was only an evolution in the hands of the great master of the musical movement that had preceded his time. The story of his having been commissioned to write music very different from that which had been in immediate use before this time in order that music in its latest {94} development might be arranged for Church purposes and figured music be thus still employed in ecclesiastical services, has been discredited by recent historical research. At the end of what is known as the Renaissance a climax in musical expression had been reached which Palestrina represents and which marked an epoch in the history of music. The abuses that had crept in were quite apart from the genuine evolution of music. Henderson, in his "How Music Developed" (New York: Stokes, 1898, page 73), has told the story:

"The mass of Marcellus was not written to order, and there was nothing new in its style. The mass is simply a model of all that was best in Palestrina's day. It embodied all that was noblest in the polyphonic style developed by the Netherlands school. Its melody is pure, sweet and fluent, and its expressive capacity perfectly adapted to the devotional spirit of the text. Palestrina's contemporaries, such as Lasso and some of his predecessors, wrote in the same style. Lasso's 'Penitential Psalms' are much simpler in style than this mass. Its apparent simplicity lies in the fact that its profound mastery of technical resources conceals its superb art. The polyphonic writing is matchless in its evenness; every part is as good as every other part. The harmonies are beautiful, yet there is apparently no direct attempt to produce them. They seem just to happen. But above all other qualities stands the innate power of expression in this music. It is, as Ambrose has hinted, as if the composer had brought the angelic host to earth."


Mees, in his "Choirs and Choral Music," has outlined what the place of Palestrina's music in church services is, and made it very clear how helpful it is for devotion instead of suggesting distractions, as modern music is almost sure to do. Dickenson, in his "Study of the History of Music," says, that in "comparing a mass by Palestrina with one of Schubert or Gounod he (the hearer) will perceive not only a difference of style and form, but also one of purpose and ideal. The modern work strives to depict the moods suggested by the words according to the general methods that prevail in modern lyric and dramatic music; while the aim of the older music is to render a universal sentiment of devotion that is impersonal and general. Music here conforms to the idea of prayer. There is no thought of definite portrayal; the music strives merely to deepen the mystical impression of the ceremony as a whole."

Mees has emphasized the influence of the Church for over one thousand years for all that was best in music. Palestrina represented only a climax of the musical expression which the Church tried to cultivate from the beginning.

"Palestrina's conception of what the music of the Roman church should be was in perfect accord with the principle held by the early church; that the music should form an integral part of the liturgy and add to its impressiveness. . . . No sensuous melodies, no dissonant tension-creating harmonies, no abrupt rhythms distract the thoughts and excite the sensibilities. Chains of consonant chords growing out of the combination of smoothly-flowing, closely-interwoven parts, the {96} contours of which are all but lost in the maze of tones, lull the mind into that state of submission to indefinite impressions which makes it susceptible to the mystic influence of the ceremonial and turns it away from worldly things."

Perhaps the best proof of the enduring value of Palestrina's work is to be found in the fact that some of his compositions are still to be heard in the Sistine Chapel, and that even in our own time a definite movement to restore his music to its proper high place in the service of the Church has been initiated and is proceeding very successfully. Whenever, since his death, music has been really on a high plane, Palestrina has been thoroughly appreciated. Whenever musical taste has been debased and men have gone seeking after novelty and bizarre effects and over-decoration, Palestrina has been neglected. For music, he is what Dante is for literature and art, the touchstone by which it is easiest to estimate properly the value of a generation's critical faculty and spirit of appreciation.

In Palestrina's lifetime came the development of the Oratorio. Philip Neri, that wonderful social worker in Rome to whom the designation Saint has been given, was very much interested in securing occupation of mind for young men and women with music. The Miracle Plays of the latter half of the fifteenth century had always been accompanied by songs and glees with words relating to the sacred subject often set to popular music. St. Philip recognized that these performances might be raised to a higher plane by introducing more and better music. Accordingly, in the {97} course of services held in his oratory to which young men crowded because of the wonderful personal attraction he exercised over them, he introduced the singing of sacred allegories with a musical setting, calling as a rule on his musical friends in Rome and especially Animuccia to supply him with compositions. Hence the term Oratorio, the Italian word for oratory or place of prayer, for this class of music because used in his oratory. It developed to a very interesting degree and came to be in the course of time one of the great modes of musical expression which gave opportunity for genius to set words and sounds in harmony with the production of emotions of the most beautiful character in connection with sacred subjects. It is entirely a church invention and development and represents a noteworthy chapter in the history of music.

Opera developed out of oratorio very much in the same way as drama developed out of the mystery and morality plays of the preceding generations and those in turn out of the Church ceremonial and the symbolic interpretation of mysteries connected with it. Opera Buffa, the Opera Bouffe of the French or Comic Opera and the later Musical Comedy developed out of the opera itself. But oh! what a fall was there! The farther from Church influence the worse the music. Most of the men who wrote operas devoted themselves also to the writing of Masses, and the Mass became the subject for the greatest music of a whole series of great musicians. Many of them also gave time and energy to the production of accompaniments for the great Latin hymns of the Church and particularly for {98} the Ave Maria. There are a score of musical compositions, each eminently characteristic of a great composer, that represent his effort under the influence of religious emotion to produce a proper setting for the prayer that represents the announcement of the coming of the Lord. In a word, religious subjects continued to be all down the centuries the most stimulating and the most satisfying themes for musical genius and the result was that the Church came into possession of a series of melodious accompaniments that are themselves a veritable group of treasures in music.

The Dies Irae, greatest of Latin hymns, was set to many different accompaniments but scarcely more than was the Stabat Mater. Rossini's Stabat Mater, and especially that portion of it known as the Inflammatus, is sometimes said to have been the origin of modern syncopated music. Certainly the great Italian composer succeeded in producing a very wonderfully interesting accompaniment which unfortunately modern composers, though they scarcely deserve that name, have taken advantage of to produce a composition of a very different kind. Aquinas' great hymns written for the office of the Blessed Sacrament, the Pange Lingua especially in its terminal stanzas, the Tantum Ergo, the Lauda Sion and the Adoro te, have also been given some of the most charming musical settings and as a result the simple little ceremony of Benediction has become one of the most beautiful and the most attractive in the Catholic Church services.

In a word, the Church has been the patron of music and the provider of the subjects which have proved {99} particularly inspiring for musical composers. In the corresponding field of musical instruments the Church has been equally effective as a patron. The organ was developed originally for use with her services and still continues to be the single instrument on which the most varying and profound impressions can be produced by music. To see an organist on a great organ sway all the deeper, holier, profounder emotions of an immense congregation, is indeed to appreciate something of what the Church has succeeded in accomplishing by making harmonious sound a handmaid of the spirit and a veritable messenger of Heaven to mankind in a world that is very little occupied with other-worldliness.

The use of the bell as the summoner to church is one of the proofs of the feeling for music that Christianity always had. The bell at various hours in the day, at least three or four times, has been the signal for the raising up of the heart to God in that prayer which makes the ordinary things of life an act of worship of the Creator because of the intention with which they are done. The Church fostered the development of the bell and even in the later Middle Ages had succeeded in making it so musical in tone that there was nothing more to be done in this matter. The bells of the thirteenth century have never been excelled for fine charm of tone. The employment of a series of bells as chimes to be played on as if it were a great organ of beautiful clear tones came in before the end of the Middle Ages and has continued to be one of the most striking forms of Church music. It was not until the use of bell chimes by some of the great composers in the midst {100} of their musical compositions called attention to the charming musical quality of these bell tones that humanity generally came to appreciate how much they meant.

Some idea of how profoundly impressive were the hymns and canticles of the Church even in the fourth century will probably be best understood from some expressions of St. Augustine. His was the greatest mind of that time, one of the greatest minds of all church history, and not infrequently he has been bracketed with Aristotle as a type of supreme intellectuality. Manifestly he was very profoundly affected by music and he said, "How deeply and greatly moved did I weep with the sweet hymns and canticles of Thy Church! Their voices pierced my ears and the truth distilled into my heart and desires filled it with ardor for piety and the tears trickled down my cheeks and I was happy."

Italy continued to be the home of great music and the Church continued to be the foster mother of it during the succeeding centuries down to the last generation of the nineteenth century. Practically all of these great Italian composers did some of their best work and found their highest inspiration for the Church and for church themes. Such men as Monteverdi and Scarlatti brought about the evolution of music and prepared the ground for the coming of Handel and Bach. Handel began with the writing of Italian operas for the London stage and then employed the genius which had been thus developed for the writing of oratorios which make it very clear that a great subject is the {101} most important factor for supremely great music. Bach thought that his greatest work was to be found in his sacred cantatas and especially a famous Mass and other musical compositions for the Catholic Church. Indeed it has been said that the best similitude that we have for Bach's music is that it is like a Gothic cathedral, while that of Handel is more like an old-fashioned basilica with classic lines.

The Italians continued during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to be the great leaders in popular music, but also in Church music. It was Domenico Scarlatti to whom the invention of the sonata must be attributed, and such men as Paesiello and Cimarosa carried on the work. Rossini and even Bellini are better known than these but that is only because of a certain popular appeal. Verdi in the modern time has demonstrated how much of vitality there is in the Italian spirit of music even in our generation. All of these men devoted themselves to the making of music for Church purposes and felt that nothing had contributed more to their serious development as musicians than the work spent on great religious themes to which they devoted themselves with whole-hearted simplicity and sincerity.

In the meantime German music had begun its modern phase in Haydn and Mozart and Beethoven. To Haydn we owe three oratorios and fourteen Masses, so that the place of religious music in his life will be readily understood. Mozart was only thirty-five when he died, but no one perhaps has ever shown greater musical genius or completed a longer course in musical {102} composition than he. His great Mass was sung at his own funeral but there are more than a dozen besides which show his intense devotion to religious themes. Probably no one has ever been able to put such a torrent of passionate fervor into music as this youthful genius whose supreme worth was so little recognized in his own time that his body was buried in a common trench and no trace of where it lies can now be found. Beethoven followed Mozart at Vienna as a rival genius and these two represent the climax of German music.

Beethoven's Mount of Olives in chromatic form shows what a fine theme religion can afford to great music. Haydn's Creation is another example and Mendelssohn's oratorios exemplify the possibilities of religious subjects. In the modern day Schubert, the sweet singer, Gounod, Liszt, to say nothing of many others, have found their consolation through life and the satisfaction of their musical aspirations in the Church.




The consensus of the intellectual portion of the race is that the highest achievement of man is poetry, that is to say that the expression of "truth touched with emotion in language that is appropriate and that appeals to the feelings and the imagination by the instrumentality of musical and moving words" represents man's climax of accomplishment. Ever so many more books have been written about the poets than about any others. More editions of their works have been issued. The great poet is sure of immortality here below. Alexander, having conquered the world in his time, sighed for a Homer who would celebrate his deeds, for then he knew that the memory of them would be deathless. No wonder then that the poet has been looked up to as above his fellows partaking more deeply of the divine in man. Sometimes appreciation has been lacking and recognition has failed during his lifetime. Poeta laudatur et alget, the poet is praised and starved, is unfortunately as true now as it was when Horace said it of the centuries before his time. His reward has not come in many cases until after his death, but the great heart of humanity beats right in the matter of profound admiration for great poetry and sooner or later accords its lasting esteem {104} and even reverence to the man who has proved himself a great poet.

The Greeks invented the word poet, which means maker, because they felt that the mind of the poet created something out of nothing, and we still speak--and who will deny the appropriateness of the expression--of great poetry as creation. The poet gives "to airy nothing a local habitation and a name." The strictly English word for poet is seer, because he sees more than the rest of us with the eye of the mind and we are glad to borrow his vision to enable us to appreciate something of all that he sees. Ill fares the land whose young men see not visions and whose old men dream not dreams. One of our American poets sang, "For the dreamer lives forever, and the toiler dies in a day." Men have come and done great things and their names are at best an empty memory and their deeds are gone forever, while men have had their visions and those visions have endured and are a source not only of pleasure but of stimulation to thought and to what is best in human nature ever since. Humanity has been willing to make great sacrifices to preserve what the poet has done because of the supreme conviction that he best sees the meaning of our relations to ourselves, to other beings around us, corporeal and incorporeal, and to the universe, and that therefore his thoughts are worthy of our every effort for their preservation. [Note 6]

Religion has always been a source of poetic inspiration and Christianity has proved a veritable fountainhead of the sublimest poetry that has been a consolation {105} and a satisfaction to man greater very probably than anything else that the race has done. Bailey in the Proem of Festus said,

Poetry is itself a thing of God;
He made his prophets poets.

They were the forerunners in the older dispensation of what was to come in the fulfilment of things under the new law, and therefore it is not surprising that poetry should be an outstanding feature of the progress of Christianity. All religion however imperfect, as so well outlined by Cardinal Newman, partakes of the nature of the perfected religion that was to be revealed with the coming of the Christ, and poetry is one of these foreshadowings that is of itself an extremely interesting adumbration of the meaning of religion. Christian poetry, however, has reached a sublimity almost undreamed of before the coming of the Lord. And so it should be. For if Christ's Church had not proved the foster mother of great poetry, if there had not been an immense wealth of poetic material created under Church inspiration and the stimulus of the feeling inspired by her services, that would of itself have been almost a demonstration humanly speaking of the lack of anything divine in the Church's constitution. For great poetry lifts the human mind nearer to divinity than anything else we possess, except religion itself. Indeed the two are very intimately related.

The fact that poetry and Catholic Christianity have from the very beginning and constantly since then gone hand in hand, so that Christianity as thus organized has {106} been the inexhaustible source of poetic motifs of the greatest sublimity, yet also of the finest sympathy with all the aspirations of humanity towards what is best in the race, is humanly speaking a demonstration of the Church's divine origin and of the continued presence of the spirit of God with her.

The origin of Christianity is the scene in which the angel Gabriel announces to Mary, "Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee," What a wealth of poetry, what a depth of inspiration, there has been in these few simple words! Poets and painters have vied in reproducing with brush and pen that scene in the carpenter's home in Judea. And then, when Mary having assured herself by her visitation of her cousin of the truth of the angel's message to herself, because Gabriel had told her as the proof of his words that her cousin Elizabeth was in her old age to have a son, and after she had found that Elizabeth divinely inspired knew her secret, she burst forth into the first great Christian poem, one of the sublimest pieces of poetry in all literature,--the Magnificat. "My soul doth magnify the Lord, my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior." Out of the mouth of this little maiden of Judea, only in the middle of the second decade of her life, came the condensed history of mankind in the brief telling formula, "For He hath put down the mighty from their seats and hath exalted the humble."

The gospels themselves contain sublime poetry, and this was preserved for us by the Church and kept from the deterioration that is almost inevitable when great literature is in the hands of the people and when {107} popular taste changes and popular ideas are so prone to be modified from period to period. Very early in the Church's history poetry in the form of hymns, sacred songs, came to be used in the Church services. Just as soon as Constantine's edict made public worship possible there was a great outburst of Christian hymnody, and the Ambrosian period in the history of hymnology has been famous ever since. St. Ambrose himself probably did not write a great many of the hymns attributed to him, but undoubtedly he did write many of them and his example proved an inspiration to others. The fact that Ambrose had been born in the West, probably in Gaul, made his work as hymnologist attract attention particularly in the West, and probably he himself had been deeply influenced by Hilary of Poitiers, some of whose hymns are among the very beautiful examples of Christian hymnology. Hilary's Lucis Largitor Splendide was a worthy predecessor even to the Te Deum Laudamus so often attributed to Ambrose, or the Ad Regias Agni Dapes which is surely his.

From Augustine, from Prudentius, from Damasus, from Sedulius the Irishman, as well as from Gregory the Great during the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries and from Venerable Bede in the following century we have hymns that are so beautiful that it is no wonder that they have endured for this nearly millennium and a half ever since and satisfied the pious aspirations of learned and unlearned, of the simple child as well as of older men and women. During the fifth and sixth century, Ireland having become converted to {108} Christianity, some very beautiful hymns were written by the Irish.

Curiously enough, while all the other modes of formal expression in poetry, rhythm and metre, the recurrent quantities and syllabic arrangement, as well as the caesural pause, came to us from the distant East and are to be found in the Vedas in India, rhyme was invented in the distant West. The Irish first used alliteration, that is similar vowel sounds, at various parts of lines, and then a combination of similar vowel and consonant sounds recurring at regular intervals. They were a very musical people from whom have come more original melodies than from any other nation in the world, indeed many of the national airs of other countries can be traced to melodic motifs among the Irish airs, so that it is not surprising that it was they who put this mode of music by recurring similar sounds into poetry. A series of hymns in rhymed verse written in the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries, have come to light during the recent revival of interest in the Irish language and literature and they prove to be as perfect in their way as most modern rhymed poetry. There is a little poem written by St. Ita, one of the companions of St. Brigid in the fifth century, to the Christ Child whom she calls by the affectionate diminutive Jesukin, which is one of the gems of early rhymed poetry. It has been translated by Dr. Sigerson into the original meter in English. After a commencement of literary values like that of Ambrose and the Irish hymnodists, it is no wonder that Christian hymnody flourished and produced some enduring poetry in every century.


In the twelfth century came the beginning of a supreme period of Christian poetry. The rhymed Latin hymns of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and of Adam of St. Victor (the famous abbey near Paris) are masterpieces, yet only the preface to a famous chapter of hymnology. Bernard, who was undoubtedly the most influential man of his time and its deepest thinker, was called Doctor Mellifluus, partly because of the marvel of his eloquence but also because of the charm of his poetry. Of Adam of St. Victor, Trench, the Protestant archbishop of Dublin, says, that he is "the foremost among the sacred Latin poets of the Middle Ages." Our own Neale declared, "If this estimate have a fault, it hardly does this wonderful poet justice." Hambacht calls him "the Schiller of the Middle Ages." Besides Bernard of Clairvaux there was Bernard of Morlaix, or Bernard of Cluny, who wrote that wonderful poem De contemptu mundi from which all our modern beautiful hymns with regard to the heavenly Jerusalem have been adapted. Schaff in his "Christ In Song" says, "This glowing description is the sweetest of all the Jerusalem hymns of heavenly homesickness which have taken their inspiration from the last two chapters of Revelations." Neale says of it that it is, "the most lovely in the same way that the Dies Irae is the most sublime and the Stabat Mater the most pathetic of medieval poems."

Bernard did not hesitate to take for his great poem of three thousand lines probably the most difficult metrical rhyme scheme that has ever been attempted. His verses consist of regular Latin hexameters but {110} each line contains a double rhyme and alternate lines rhyme with each other, all rhymes in dissyllables. The most familiar lines are those at the beginning--

"Hora novissima, tempora pessima sunt, vigilemus,
Ecce minaciter imminet arbiter ille supremus."

These lines have been translated haltingly enough as follows:--

  "These are the latter times, these are not better times,
      Let us stand waiting,
   Lo, how with awfulness, He, first in lawfulness,
      Comes arbitrating."

The surprise is that Bernard was able to carry this rhyme scheme through so many lines, fulfil its severe requirements and yet make a poem which fairly teems with significance, that has besides a marvelous mystical beauty and yet at the same time a popular appeal through its air of "heavenly homesickness," which has made it one of the most popular hymns for all time. The English versions of it arranged by Archbishop Trench and others are still very frequently sung in churches of all the denominations.

The thirteenth century was the greatest period of Christian hymnody--not even excluding the Ambrosian period--in the whole history of the Church. During this time we have Thomas of Celano, the author of the Dies Irae; Jacopone da Todi, the author of the Stabat Mater Dolorosa; St. Bonaventure, author of many hymns, and St. Thomas Aquinas, whose hymns for the office of the Blessed Sacrament are among the most {111} beautiful contributions to this mode of literature ever made. Of Thomas of Celano's Dies Irae it has been said that "It is the most sublime of all uninspired hymns." (Schaff). Professor Saintsbury of Edinburgh did not hesitate to say that it was the most wonderful wedding of sense and sound ever made. There are versions of it by Dryden and Jeremy Taylor, Dr. Johnson and Sir Walter Scott, by Goethe and Schlegel, by Lord Macaulay and Crashaw, by Herder and Fichte, by Drummond and Trench and Roscommon, not to mention literally hundreds of others who have tried to give it a suitable form in modern vernacular. Of Jacopone's Stabat Mater it has been said that it is the saddest of poems ever written in any language. It has been translated almost as often as the Dies Irae. It has furnished the text for many renowned musical compositions. Of Bonaventura or St. Bonaventure it has been said that he is the sweetest of all hymn writers.

Thomas Aquinas is known as one of the greatest philosophers. There have been many whose long years of study of philosophy gave them the right to an opinion in the matter who did not hesitate to say that his is the only mind in the modern world to be compared with Aristotle. When he was asked by the pope to write the office for the feast of the Blessed Sacrament, it might have been expected that he would select the lessons and turn over the writing of the hymns to someone else, or perhaps pick out hymns from the luxuriant hymnody of his day. Instead he wrote the hymns and they are among the greatest poems of their kind ever penned. Neale says of the Pange Lingua Gloriosi, {112} "This hymn contests the second place among those of the western Church with the Vexilla regis (Fortunatus), the Stabat Mater, (Jacopone), the Jesu Dulcis Memoria, (Bernard of Clairvaux), the Ad Regias Agni Dapes (Ambrose), the Ad Supernam and one or two others, leaving the Dies Irae in its unapproachable glory."

If the Catholic Church had done nothing else but foster hymnody so effectively that these great Latin hymns were written for her services and then her ecclesiastics had the good taste to pick out and preserve such marvelous examples as we have of religious poetry, she must be considered the greatest foster mother of poetry in all the world's history. These hymns are marvelously simple, charmingly religious, often supremely mystical, and yet always run with a smoothness and a directness that make them the despair of the translator and the enduring models for the poet of any time for the expression of the deepest thoughts and the profoundest feelings in musically arranged words. People have become so familiar with them that they do not always appreciate their marvelous beauty, but they are the very gems of poetic diction. We have mentioned a scant dozen, but there are many thousands of them that have been preserved and a complete hymnal would be as large as an encyclopedia.

The greatest of poets, if there can be a superlative in such matters, is Dante. More has been written about him than about any other man who ever lived except Him Who died on the Cross for us and was more than man. Certainly if the suffrages of the {113} intelligent among humanity ever since Dante's time are to be counted he must be considered our greatest poetic genius and poetry is our highest intellectual expression. Men who write books usually have a right to an opinion on the subjects concerning which they write. If it were only the number of writings, however, there might still be some doubt as to Dante's primacy in mankind. It is the quality much more than the quantity of the tribute to Dante that shows us the lofty place he holds in men's minds. Nearly every great writer since Dante's time who knew Dante has held him in highest admiration. Petrarch, Boccaccio, Chaucer, in the generation immediately following, Michelangelo, himself one of the greatest of geniuses who declared that he would have given up all that he ever did to have shared Dante's exile, are only examples. And in the modern time Coleridge, Carlyle, Ruskin, Cardinals Manning and Newman, Dean Milman, Dean Church, Dean Plumptre, Gladstone, all place Dante on the highest of pinnacles. Over here in America the men whom we rightly think the most of, Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, Charles Eliot Norton, are the ones who thought the most of Dante and were willing to devote many hours in many years for the purpose of elucidating the great Dante for their contemporaries.

The subject of Dante's great poem is just Catholic Christianity. It is probably the highest tribute ever paid to Christianity from a natural standpoint that when a supremely great poet took it for the subject of his poetry he created a poem which is the greatest in {114} its interest for critical and intelligent mankind that has ever been written. After all, the Divine Comedy is only the Summa of St. Thomas in poetry, as those who know both works well are agreed in saying. Only within the bosom of the Church, only under her influence could Dante have written this great poem. It has proved a rich quarry ever since for subjects for works of art under the patronage of Church authorities. There have been brief periods when Dante has been misunderstood by ecclesiastics but some of his greatest admirers all down the ages have been distinguished churchmen and it was said that you could quote a line anywhere in the Commedia to Pope Leo XIII and he would continue the following lines indefinitely, so steeped was he in the knowledge of Dante. The greatest popes ever since Dante's time have been his greatest admirers. In the recent celebration of the six hundredth anniversary of his death, Catholic churchmen the world over were the most prominent in the organization of various phases of that movement and contributed more than any others to the success of it.

After Dante, far over on the other side of Europe, came the next great Catholic poet, Shakespeare apart, perhaps the greatest of English poets. This was Chaucer, whose Canterbury Pilgrims is full of the spirit of Catholicity and who is a direct product of the Church of his period. He had been in Italy at least three times during his maturer years between 1370-1380 and was deeply influenced by the Italians. It has been pointed out by Snell, in his volume on The Fourteenth Century in the series Periods of European {115} Literature, that Chaucer's beautiful poem on the Blessed Virgin is almost a translation of Dante's tribute to the Virgin Mother at the beginning of the thirty-third Canto of the Paradiso. Chaucer himself undoubtedly made the pilgrimage to Canterbury once, if not oftener, and the germ of the Canterbury tales is to be found in his actual experience. Chaucer was no unthinking Christian. He saw and recognized abuses in religious matters and did not hesitate to deprecate them vigorously, but he was always a faithful son of the Church, drawing inspiration from her doctrines and practices.

The century of Dante's death had the distinction of producing another supremely great poet in Thomas à Kempis. The Imitation of Christ is in many ways such a practical book, so full of instruction as to the proper conduct of life under any and all conditions, that we do not usually associate the term poetry with it. There are passages in the Imitation, however, which in their simple direct way are as sublime poetry as are to be found in the choruses of the great Greek dramas. It is with these lyrical masterpieces indeed that the lyrical passages of à Kempis, such as that on divine love in Book III, must be compared to be really appreciated. The title of the Imitation of Christ is said to have been originally Ecclesiastical Music as emblematic of the harmony of the religious life which it was calculated to foster. The titles of à Kempis' other works, The Valley of Lilies, The Garden of Roses, The Soliloquies of the Soul, serve to indicate very clearly something of the poetic quality which touched the imagination of their author.


Beside à Kempis in this regard should be placed St. Teresa, in the sixteenth century, whose writings are not in the form of poetry unless by exception, but contain in many places passages that are sublimely poetic and which show very clearly that if poetry is to be thought of as truth touched with emotion there is no more fruitful source of that mode of literature than religious experience, especially when it partakes of the nature of the mystical. As is true also of à Kempis, some of St. Teresa's writings were cast in the formal mould of poetry. Her ardent series of aspirations in rhymed strophes beginning "Io muero porque no muero," "I die because I do not die," is a sublime piece of poetry. The set of verses often known as St. Teresa's Bookmark is an excellent example of her direct power of expression of great thoughts. No wonder that Crashaw said, "It is not Spanish, it is Heaven that she speaks."

The question as to whether Shakespeare was a Catholic or not is still undecided. There is no doubt at all that he transformed Romeo and Juliet from the Protestant tract it was meant to be by its author (see the preface to The Tragical Historie of Romeo and Juliet) into a Catholic apology for auricular confession and religious orders which had been attacked in the original English version of Romeo and Juliet as written by Arthur Brooke. King John states in trenchant terms English objections to Roman meddling in English domains, but when one reads the older King John (The Troublesome Raigne of King John) and compares it with Shakespeare's play it is easy to see how much he {117} has modified the plot and wording in favor of Catholicism. His Henry VIII alone would seem to make it very clear that he had no sympathy with the Reformers and he never mentions the word Puritan without contempt, and Sir John Oldcastle, the Protestant martyr, became in his hands the Sir John Falstaff that we know. Archdeacon Davies, a local historian and antiquarian of Warwickshire, well acquainted with Stratford and its history, declared that "Shakespeare dyed a Papist." Both his father and mother lived and died Catholics, and Anne Hathaway seems undoubtedly to have come from a Catholic family. Indeed the presumed scandal as to his marriage is best explained on the score of an unrecorded Catholic ceremonial which had to be repeated to be legal.

Whatever may be said as to Shakespeare's personal Catholicity, one thing is sure that Shakespeare was a product of Catholicism. Carlyle, usually so out of sympathy with everything Catholic, declared, "In some sense it may be said that this glorious Elizabethan era with its Shakespeare as the outcome and flowerage of all that had preceded it is itself attributable to the Catholicism of the Middle Ages." Heine had declared before him, "It is lucky for us that Shakespeare came just at the right time, that he was a contemporary of Elizabeth and James, while Protestantism, it is true, expressed itself in the unbridled freedom of thought which prevailed but had not yet entered the life of feeling, and the kingdom lighted by the last rays of setting chivalry still bloomed and gleamed in all the glory of poetry. True the popular faith of the Middle Ages of {118} Catholicism was gone as regards doctrine, but it existed yet in all its magic in men's hearts and held its own in manners, customs and views."

Most of the great dramatists of the Golden Age of Spanish literature, when at the end of the sixteenth and during the seventeenth century Spanish writers were doing the best creative work anywhere in the world, were intensely Catholic and indeed the majority of them were priests. Lope de Vega took orders and was a very faithful clergyman in his later years, but Calderon did also and so did Tirso de Molino. Indeed the last named was a Mercenerian monk and superior of the monastery of his order at Trujillo, which shows how highly his brother religious must have thought of him. It is a little strange to find the author of Don Juan as a member of a religious order, but his experiences in the confessional would readily furnish an abundance of material for the theme. Lope de Vega continues to be the storehouse from which a great many modern writers draw their plots, for he was a master of invention. Calderon's El Magico Prodigioso, a thoroughly Spanish and thoroughly Catholic version of the Faust legend, the story of the sale of a man's soul to the devil, has been proclaimed one of the greatest dramas of all time. James Russell Lowell, whose years of teaching at Harvard and long experience as Minister to Spain gave him, in conjunction with his abilities as a critic and his own poetical talents, a thoroughgoing right to an opinion in the matter, declared this drama of Calderon to be the only modern play worthy to be mentioned in the same breath with Hamlet. {119} It has been counted, as we have said in the chapter on philosophy, one of the five greatest dramatic poems of all time.

There are many other Spanish writers who have an enduring place in Spanish literature who were priests or intimately related to the Church. Antonio Mira de Amescua, the chaplain of Philip IV, is known as a playwright from whom Calderon, Moreto and Corneille borrowed themes. He was praised by all his contemporaries from Cervantes onward. Spain's greatest historian, Mariana, was a Jesuit, and Father Baltasar Gracian wrote what was in its day world literature in his Criticon. Addison refers to him a number of times in the Spectator, the French writer Bouhours proclaims him "the sublime," Defoe is thought to have borrowed the idea of his man Friday from him, and in the nineteenth century Schopenhauer proclaimed the Criticon one of the best books in the world and Sir Mountstuart Grant Duff, following Schopenhauer, has extolled Gracian to the skies. Another of these Jesuit writers was Father Isla, who was very well known throughout Spain and also in France. In the Spanish peninsula more than anywhere else priests had the opportunity to devote themselves to literature, and it is interesting to find how many of them occupy distinguished places. Even Cervantes asked that he should be buried in the habit of the Franciscans and Spain's Golden Age is always intensely Catholic.

In France, where the classical period in literature developed at the end of the seventeenth and during the eighteenth century, a great many of the most prominent {120} writers were rather fervent Catholics and most of them indeed Catholic clergymen, some of them bishops. The founder of modern French prose is St. Francis de Sales, the bishop of Geneva. The great orators, Bossuet, Massillen, Flechier, and Bourdaloue, down to Dupanloup, Lacordaire and De Ravignan were bishops or members of religious orders. Racine, the greatest of French dramatists, became a priest and while in orders wrote Esther, the greatest of French dramas. Probably no book written in the last two centuries has been so universally popular among the educated classes all over the world as Bishop Fenelon's Adventures of Telemaque; Pascal, one of the greatest of French philosophers was a member of the religious congregation of the Paraclete. Even Rabelais, though like Wycherley one might hesitate to express pride in him, was a priest and in spite of a rather wandering life was on rather good terms with the ecclesiastical authorities who appreciated something of his genius and seem to have made allowances for him. Montaigne in spite of his epithet, the skeptic, was a deep believer, a practical Catholic, who made the pilgrimage to Loretto in deepest faith and died during the course of a Mass which was said in his room because he was not strong enough to go to Church.

In English literature Catholicity has not had as much chance to express itself as in the Latin countries, and yet the list of Catholic poets is very striking and is ever so much longer than it should be according to the proportionate numbers of Catholics in England and America. Among them are Father Robert Southwell, Thomas {121} Lodge, the physician-dramatist, contemporary of Shakespeare, James Shirley, Philip Massinger whom Mr. Gifford, the late eminent editor of the English Quarterly Review, declared to have been a Catholic convert, Sir Kenelm Digby, Sir William Davenant, reputed the son of Shakespeare, "O rare Sir William," William Habington, Richard Crashaw, the friend of Cowley, John Dryden, one of the greatest figures in English literature, William Wycherley of whom we are not proud but who became a convert in early life, left the Church while he was writing his licentious plays but then came back to the Church in his later years. Dryden, surely an excellent judge, said of him:--

"The satire, wit and strength of manly Wycherley."

Sir Samuel Garth the distinguished physician poet, Alexander Pope one of the greatest of our English poets over-estimated in the eighteenth century, underestimated by reaction at the end of the nineteenth and now coming into his own meed of merited appreciation as a great poet and literary man.

One of the most productive motives for poetry, as well as of course for painting and indeed all the arts, has been the Blessed Virgin and her relation to her Son as the Catholic Church teaches it. Artists have vied with each other all down the centuries, painters, sculptors, artistic craftsmen, to do her honor, but poets have very commonly followed their example. Dante and Chaucer in the older time were not more ardently poetic in her regard than in their measure are many of the non-Catholic poets of the modern time who draw {122} their inspiration from the beautiful doctrine of the Church in her regard. There is scarcely a great Protestant poet of the modern time who has not his sonnet or set of verses in honor of the Mother of God. A sheaf of poems from such non-Catholic sources has been published and is a very striking demonstration of the fact that poetry and the Catholic religion have such intimate relations as render it clear that the two modes of expression of truth have very close connections and that the sense of beauty fostered by both of them inevitably brings about a devotion of intellect to the deeper meanings of life which makes for the development of the better side of humanity and its interest in the things of the mind and heart and soul, the root of happiness for men, rather than in the sordid things of the body, the source of so much unhappiness.

Some of the greatest of the poetic literature of the modern time is linked inextricably with Catholicity. There are those who say that the greatest hymn of the nineteenth century is Cardinal Newman's Lead Kindly Light, and the greatest poem of that time The Dream of Gerontius. Francis Thompson's "Hound of Heaven" is one of those wonderful cries of the soul that finds an echo in every other. Coventry Patmore, having become a Catholic, went back to the fountains of Catholic inspiration in the mystical poetry of John of the Cross and in his Unknown Eros stirred deeply the poetic feelings of the day. Aubrey de Vere and Kenelm Digby as well as Mrs. Meynell and others show very clearly that the Catholic spirit of poetry is thoroughly {123} alive though in the midst of a Protestant country. Abroad such men as Manzoni, Silvio Pellico, and in the later times Papini in Italy, and such others as Frederick Ozanam, Lamartine, Ferdinand Brunetière, François Coppée, Huysmans, wanderers and yet happily returned to the fold, as well as Bourget and René Bazin in France, serve to show very clearly that the religious spirit of the Catholic church is conducive to the expression of the highest ideas of poetry and that a man who believes is much more likely than others to have the deep thoughts come to him that we call poetry. [Note 7]




Histories of education a generation ago were rather inclined to suggest a certain attitude of opposition on the part of the early Christian Church toward education. The reason for this was said to be that the ecclesiastical authorities were afraid that if people knew much they would lose their faith or at least have their belief in the doctrines of Christianity dimmed by their knowledge. Some educators did not hesitate to declare quite positively that it was Church opposition to the development of scientific knowledge which prevented advance in that department until the Church ceased to be such a factor in the educational world as she had been during the early centuries. Anyone who will turn to the chapter on Science will find that the only reason for thinking there was no interest in science during the Middle Ages is the ignorance of the realities of the history of the time among those who think so. There was abundant interest in science on the part of men who were canonized as saints by the Church, and they wrote large tomes on various scientific subjects, though the fact that the history of science has been worked out only in quite recent years has led to a very general ignorance of these facts.

This is true with regard to education to an even greater degree than it is of science, because the {125} ecclesiastical authorities were not particularly interested in science for its own sake but they were in education. It is true that some of the Fathers of the Church did not hesitate to declare that certain kinds of education puffed people up and made them think that they knew ever so much more than they really did. Any education that makes people conceited always does harm. In Rome as well as in Greece and in the East in the early days of Christianity the schools were pagan and the Fathers of the Church insisted that there was very serious danger to faith in allowing Christian children to attend them. This was not at all because of opposition to education, but because of the realization that children's minds are extremely plastic and that habits of thought formed under teachers of pagan philosophy would endure. The policy of the Church with regard to education in the pagan countries had to be precautionary because of the kind of education that was being given. That is just as true today and the Church takes the same position and maintains her own schools. Just as soon, however, as a whole nation was converted to Christianity and the Church had her opportunity to shape the curriculum so as to provide thorough education and development of mind without philosophic perversion, then the real policy of the Church with regard to education became evident. Ireland, a nation that had already made a magnificent literature and was highly intelligent, was converted as a whole people and then proceeded to become the island of saints and of scholars. St. Patrick established his great school at Armagh and a whole series of other schools were {126} founded throughout the island, and in the course of a century Ireland became the university home to which men flocked from England and Gaul as well as from Iberia and various portions of the Mediterranean Coast and even from northern Africa and from Asia Minor. Such an expression is sometimes thought to be simply the result of partiality for Ireland and her influence, but it has been substantiated by so much evidence unearthed during the past generation as now to be an accepted chapter in the history of education.

Irish monks went forth to found schools in many parts of the world. St. Columba's great school at Iona was followed by the schools at Tours in France, at St. Gall in Switzerland, even at Bobbio in Italy. The Irish taught Latin and Greek and Hebrew, with the Scriptures as the nucleus of their education. The Scripture is such a great work of literature that whenever its translation has been reasonably well done it has become an important work in the literature of every language. Our own King James version is only a type of what has happened nearly everywhere. Nothing could well have formed the central idea for education better than the Scriptures, and these three old languages made themes of magnificent interest around which world history and erudition might be gathered. No wonder that Irish education proved so successful.

When the barbarians from the North gradually filtered in to the Roman Empire and the Romans between divorces and the absence of children gradually disappeared to a very great extent, very little trace of the intellectual life was left in Europe. Always when {127} an inferior race comes in contact with a superior race it takes first the vices and only much later the virtues of civilization. It was under these almost hopeless conditions for education that Saint Benedict founded the Monks of the West and established a series of institutions which proved to be homes of peace and of happiness in the midst of almost chaos in the social order, but of a very active life intellectually and also physically. These Benedictine monasteries became the seats of libraries in which copying was constantly done and books exchanged, the old classics preserved and teaching carried on. The sons of the nobility or of wealthy townspeople went to the monasteries to be educated and the monks taught their own neophytes and kept alive the torch of the intellectual life and passed it on from generation to generation. This is undoubtedly one of the greatest debts that the modern world owes to the Church, for it is very hard to know what would have happened to civilization during the precious centuries at the end of the Middle Ages, when so much that we are now proud of was accomplished in architecture and art in literature and philosophy, only that the Benedictines and other religious orders shaped after their institute had kept alive the spark of learning during the darker centuries while the barbarians were being converted not only to Christianity but also to the cult of the life of the spirit.

Many hundreds of monasteries were erected throughout Europe and proved to be centres not only for the intellectual life in the narrower sense of the term as to what concerns book knowledge, but in the broader {128} sense also of diffusing information with regard to agriculture and horticulture. One of the first precious lessons given by the monks was that in the dignity of labor. Every man, prince or peasant, who joined the Benedictines had to work with his hands a certain number of hours a day. This was a matter of health, but also the result of the conviction of the moral influence on a sick world that had been trusting to its slaves to do its manual labor, of such a regulation. [Note 8] The monasteries became the first agricultural schools. This may seem to some a far fetched idea but at the foundation of the first agricultural school in this country, the Massachusetts Agricultural College, President Goodell in an address on "The Influence of the Monks on Agriculture" did not hesitate to say that these old monks "saved agriculture when nobody else could save it, they practiced it under a new life and under new conditions when no one else dared undertake it, they advanced it along every line of theory of practice and when they perished they left a void generations have not filled." He added, "But what the monks did was equally true of the missions in this country in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. ... There was the same evolution and at their dissolution the same fate."

The monks gathered information very carefully as to what sort of plants would grow best and what sort of animals could be raised to the greatest advantage. They passed on their knowledge to other monasteries and exchanged seeds and sprouts and stock. They learned how to care for forests and what trees were best for the various parts of the country and they kept {129} their woods in excellent condition. They drained the marshes and the fens until the country blossomed into a garden. When the visitor stands on one of the towers of Lincoln Cathedral and looks out over that beautiful east coast of England he is told that this is the fen country and he wonders why it should be called that. It was however nothing but forbidding fens, sea swamps until the monks came and drained and dyked and ditched and made it the wonderful farmland that it is. The monks also trained the tenant farmers on the monastery lands as to rotation in crops, furnished them with the best seeds they knew and also supplied them with the best stock and grazing for working on shares. No wonder there was an old proverb that it was a happy thing to live under the crozier, that is on abbey land under an abbot or an abbess.

For the nuns shared these responsibilities in the teaching of practical things to the people which the monks took so seriously to heart. St. Brigid in Ireland is the patroness of that dairy farming which now in our time of a free Ireland is coming to mean so much to that country once more. Brigid herself, even while abbess of Kildare, took her turn in caring for the herds of the monastery so as to emphasize how much this simple duty meant for the good of the country. Everywhere the lady abbesses were deeply interested in the development of the tracts of land which belonged to their convents, and as they had a seat in Parliament and could exert strong influence they succeeded in keeping their tenant farmers from being taxed beyond what was proper and providing them with opportunities for {130} happiness for themselves and their children. The girls were taught needlework in which the nuns excelled, and those who had taste were given lessons in that fine needlework that meant so much for the provision of the garments for the higher nobility and for royalty itself and were paid for so well. In the chapter on Feminine Education the rest of this story of the Church and education for women will be found. They had abundant opportunities and took those opportunities very well.

Under Benedictine influence the first university of modern times came into existence down at Salerno, not far from Naples, in southern Italy. The nucleus of this first university was a medical school, one of the first great teachers in which was Constantine Africanus, who after having learned many medical secrets in the East and in Africa, settled down at Salerno. After some years teaching there he became a Benedictine monk at the monastery of Monte Cassino not far away. The Benedictines continued to have great influence at Salerno and to help in the development of the university. The undergraduate teaching was largely in their hands and philosophy and theology were taught by them. What is very interesting is that it was under this Benedictine influence that women were admitted to the university of Salerno and even to the medical school, though that fact is not surprising when we recall what fine opportunities for women in education had been afforded by the Benedictine nunneries in the centuries before this. (See Chapter on Feminine Education.) In the succeeding centuries other universities were founded at {131} Bologna, at Padua in Italy and at Paris in France, as well as Montpellier and then at Oxford and Cambridge.

All of these universities were founded as a rule in connection with a church or cathedral and the rector of the university was usually the chancellor of the cathedral or the pastor of the church. In order to regulate education, charters were granted by the popes requiring a certain number of years of undergraduate and then of graduate work before degrees could be granted and the standards of university training had to be maintained equal to those of Paris or Bologna with oath bound examinations and definite co-ordination with other universities. At the beginning of a new university as a rule only masters and doctors of Paris or Bologna were allowed to teach and there was a rather free exchange of students and professors between the various universities, due credits being given for courses in any institute of learning conducted under a papal Bull. There is a large series of these Bulls extant granting privileges to universities but surrounding the grant with safe-guards of various kinds to insure the maintenance of educational standards.

There are some who think that these universities had comparatively little educational influence and that indeed not enough was known and not enough serious consideration given to subjects to make the education of value. That was not the opinion, however, of Professor Huxley after he had looked into the matter a little seriously. In his inaugural address as Lord Rector of Aberdeen University, Professor Huxley said, "I doubt if the curriculum of any modern university shows {132} so clear and generous a comprehension of what is meant by culture as this old Trivium and Quadrivium (the so-called liberal arts) does." Professor Saintsbury of Edinburgh, in his discussion of scholasticism, said that if there was one thing the scholastic philosophers were able to do it was to think. He praises very highly "the influence in vocabulary and in logical arrangement which scholasticism exercised in prose," and says that the value of these two qualities which are so precious for style and power of expression "is beyond dispute."

In the chapter on Science we have brought out the fact that these universities were really scientific universities occupied with the scientific aspects of a series of most important subjects, grammar, logic, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, metaphysics. Dante is a typical example of a graduate of one of these universities who probably during his wanderings had the opportunity to do at least a certain amount of graduate work as we would call it, that is to get into intimate touch with distinguished professors who were doing the most original work in their time. The supremely human interest of his great poem is of itself the best evidence of how thoroughly his mind was developed and how many interests he had acquired in consequence of his study. Perhaps that will give the best notion of the significance of university work. Aquinas is the prince of scholasticism and now his great teaching after seven centuries is coming back into use in the universities of England and of America. It is very probable that ten years from now there will be no important university in the English speaking countries, in spite of old {133} fashioned prejudices against scholasticism, which will not offer its students a course in scholastic philosophy and give due credit for it. Thus are the Middle Ages and their universities being vindicated by our own broadening interests and by our own effort to get down to fundamental principles and to know as far as we can the basic elements in our intellectual and social problems. [Note 9]

After the universities came the schools of the New Learning, as it was called in the Renaissance time. Latin and Greek came to occupy the place in education that the seven liberal arts had taken in the earlier time in the curriculum. At first the universities refused to accept the classics and give them a place in the curriculum. They did exactly what the universities of the modern time did with regard to the sciences. It took several generations to secure university attention for scientific training.

Just at the time of the Renaissance came also the "Reformation," as the religious revolt in the Teutonic countries in the early sixteenth century has been called. That movement very seriously disturbed education in all the countries that accepted the "Reform"; and while nearly a dozen universities had been founded during the century just before it, only two were founded in the century afterwards, and as Professor Paulsen of the University of Berlin points out, academic freedom in the reformed universities was very much limited because the professors had to avoid leanings to Catholicity on the one side and to infidelity on the other. The result was a very serious setback for education. {134} Erasmus the greatest scholar of the time said, "Wherever Lutheranism reigns, scholarship perishes."

There were two forward looking movements in education that took place during the period just before and after Luther's movement began. One of these was represented by the schools of the Brethren of the Common Life founded originally in Amsterdam and which spread all over the Rhineland. They had among their students such leading thinkers as Erasmus of Rotterdam, Nicholas of Cusa, the great scientific mind, Bishop John of Dalberg, Reuchlin, the Hebrew scholar, Jacob Wimpheling, "the schoolmaster of Germany," and many other well known Renaissance scholars. This list alone would be sufficient to show that the Brethren of the Common Life must have been good teachers, for these are the most distinguished scholars of that period. The Brethren's schools were meant mainly for the poor, and Hamilton Mabie has paid them a deserved tribute for their teaching of the Latin and Greek classics in the little towns along the Rhine. [Note 10] Their most distinguished pupil was undoubtedly Thomas à Kempis whose little book, The Imitation of Christ, has been more printed than any other book except the Bible.

The other educational movement of this period, which came after the Reformation had secured a foothold, was the foundation of the Jesuits by Ignatius Loyola. They became quite literally the teachers of Europe. Before the end of the sixteenth century they were a power in education and their order schools were being founded all over Europe. These schools were always endowed institutions at which no tuition fees were {135} charged. This left the fathers absolutely free to accept only such pupils as would be likely to benefit by their teaching and at the same time permitted them to eliminate all undesirable pupils from among their students. The best index of their success as teachers is to be found in the fact that members of the nobility, sometimes of ruling families, or more rarely wealthy men, who had seen for themselves or had heard of the wonderful effect of Jesuit teaching, in order to secure the benefit of their services for their native town made a foundation providing a building with an endowment attached to it so that the Jesuits might be invited to come and teach.

Their students were among the most distinguished men of Europe. The Jesuits were deeply interested not only in Latin and Greek but also in various phases of science and of mathematics, of philosophy and theology. In the chapter on Philosophy we have given some illustrations of their work. It was one of them, Father Clavius, who was asked to come to Rome to make the correction of the calendar, and a whole series of them won distinction in astronomy. Attention has recently been called to the fact that Father Saccheri, the Italian Jesuit, anticipated the work of Lobachevski and Bolyai as regards non-Euclidian mathematics and gave the first hint of the theory of relativity. The Jugo-Slav government has within a year reprinted Father Boscovich's "Theory of Natural Philosophy," which makes a large tome in reprint and actually contains nearly a quarter of million of words but for which Boscovich himself apologized quite seriously for its {136} insignificance in size when dedicating it to his friend the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna. The learned Jesuit mathematician has a theory of the constitution of matter very like the latest advanced by the physical chemists of our day. There are many other anticipations of modern science by the Jesuits that have been brought out in recent years. This ought to be sufficient to indicate that their education was not at all the narrow devotion to the classics it is sometimes supposed to have been. The classics were meant for undergraduates who received at the same time some knowledge of science, but no one knew better than the Jesuits themselves the place that science held in the intellectual life.

The place that the Jesuits came to occupy in education will be best understood from the history of the extension of their teaching institutions. Their history begins as a teaching order about the middle of the sixteenth century. In a century and a half they had over 750 collegiate and university institutions under their control. Nearly 100 of these were in Latin America. Some of the Jesuit colleges had over two thousand pupils each. The very lowest average number, was 300, so that at the beginning of the eighteenth century there were well above 200,000 students in Jesuit schools. Among their pupils were such men as Calderon, Tasso, Corneille, Molière, Goldoni, Galileo, Bossuet, Descartes, Buffon, Muratori, Montesquieu, Malesherbes, Richelieu, St. Francis de Sales and Benedict the XIV, called "the most learned of the popes." What is still more interesting and significant is that all of these pupils of the Jesuits, when later on in life they had become {137} famous, almost without exception paid a high tribute to the educational influence that had been exerted on them by their Jesuit teachers. Some of them were unstinted in their praise. The Ratio Studiorum, that is, the method of studies and of teaching of the Jesuits, was the most significant contribution made to methods in education in its time and still remains the basis of whatever teaching that hopes to be successful in making students think rather than merely memorize.

This ratio studiorum was founded on the experience of Ignatius of Loyola and his first companions at the University of Paris and on the traditions of the schools of the New Learning during the Renaissance period. The methods of teaching of the Brethren of the Common Life undoubtedly formed an important basic element, and the flourishing schools of the Netherlands, especially those of Louvain and Liege, furnished the models for various features of the ratio. That is why it has sometimes been said that the methods of Sturm and Vives constituted the basis of the Jesuit ratio, but their similarity is due only to the fact that they went to the same sources but were not borrowing from each other. The value of their method of education can be best estimated from the expressions of Francis Bacon, who said very frankly of them that they were the best educators in Europe and that he was sorry that they were not Protestants but that he could not help but admire the success that they attained in their education. In his work on the state of learning he did not hesitate to say that the Jesuits "partly in themselves and partly by the emulation and provocation of their example have {138} much quickened and strengthened the state of learning in Europe."

The suppression of the Jesuits through political machinations which brought to bear so much pressure upon the pope that it seemed as though he must choose between two evils and sacrifice the Jesuits for the Church itself, left the better classes in Europe without educational training for a generation. There are serious minded students of history, who have spent much time over the study of the causes of the French Revolution, who have not hesitated to say that one of the immediate causes of it was the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, and the consequent lack of serious religious training for a very large number of the men who were to exert most influence at the end of the eighteenth century. Fortunately their suppression in Russia was prevented by the Czar, who refused to permit the papal documents to be published in his dominions because he wanted the Jesuits to continue their great good work in education. They were revived in the early part of the nineteenth century with the approval of the pope. At the present moment there are nearly twenty-five thousand Jesuits throughout the world and they have probably as many pupils in attendance at their schools as ever, though in a much more populous world. As one of their pupils who knows them well, who has met them all over the world, who has had much experience in universities in many countries in Europe and not a little in America, I can only say that I know no system of teaching more likely to cultivate the habit of thinking than theirs.


As a consequence of the state of mind of most university teachers and especially the younger ones who most deeply influence the students, the Catholic Church, faced with the problem of sending her children to schools where the teaching is that man is merely an animal, that immortality is a delusion and religion merely a defense mechanism on the part of weak-minded people against the dread of a painful hereafter, has proceeded to organize her own schools. Beginning from the earliest years Catholic children are placed in the charge of those who have an abiding sense of religion and whose lives are the best possible examples of influence for good and yet also for that happiness and satisfaction in life which religion brings with it. For Catholic Christianity represents the cult of the mind and heart and soul and not of mind alone. The parochial school system in the United States now provides for nearly 1,500,000 children. Some 50,000 women and nearly 20,000 men devote themselves to this work. Besides the elementary schools there are high schools and colleges and universities, so that Catholic youth during their formative period are constantly under the influence of religious principles and religious practice and have before them the example of men and women who have given up all sordid considerations in life in order to devote themselves entirely to the benefit of others.

The pupils of the parochial schools consistently win scholarships and prizes in competition with those of the public schools and there are many places in this country where merchants and bankers have the feeling {140} that they would rather have the graduates of the parochial schools than those of the public schools. There is evidently no neglect of the mental training, only the children are in addition given the moral training that may mean so much for life and the religious outlook that has constituted the happiness of practicing Christians since Christ's time. The convent schools have many children who are not Catholics and they could have many more of them if they would take them, but they prefer as far as possible to afford opportunities for education for the Catholic children for whom they were established and from whose parents they derive support. As one who was educated in Catholic schools from the age of nine, I have some right to feel that I know the work they are doing and I do not regret the slightest bit, so far as intellectual training is concerned, my attendance at the parochial schools, though they were only in their primitive formative stage when I went fifty years ago.



Feminine Education

Ordinarily feminine education is presumed to have developed only in very recent generations and to have flourished just in proportion as the Church lost ground in its influence over life and above all over education. Any such opinion would be amusing only that it is so amazing, for it presumes that we are the first generation that ever afforded women a chance for the higher education. What is the meaning in that case of the women of the Renaissance who not only in Italy but in every other country in Europe, in France, Spain, England, and even Germany are deservedly so famous for their intellectual influence and the taste they displayed in a great artistic period? What of the many details that we have of women professors teaching in the universities of Italy, as during the Renaissance time they taught in the universities in Spain? As a matter of fact there is not a single century since the twelfth when there have not been women professors at the universities of Italy. What of the wonderful stories that have been told us in recent years of the fine opportunities for education afforded in the Benedictine nunneries? What of Brigid of Ireland, who founded the great school of Kildare, which attracted women students from many countries, and what of Hilda of Whitby, abbess of a monastery following the Celtic {142} tradition, the patroness of our first great English poet Caedmon.

There is manifestly a long history of feminine education, and it is when this is told that the place of the Church and her influence as regards the provision of education for women can be properly understood. The appreciation of the place of women in Christianity and of the value of an education for her came in the generations immediately following Constantine's edict which gave the Church full freedom to express herself and to shape her policy according to the needs of humanity. Before the end of the fourth century we find groups of women not only afforded full opportunity to develop their intellect and secure education but also to use their intellects to the highest advantage in the life of the time. The establishment of the Order of Deaconesses in the first century of Christian history shows that the Church wished to use the heart of woman for the benefit of mankind, and now came the recognition of the value that her mind might have in the same great field.

We have a very definite account of the famous Ecclesia Domestica, the Church of the Household, on the Aventine Hill in Rome, and know the distinguished women, many of them from old patrician families, who were its chief ornaments. Their main purpose in life, in the midst of the utter neglect of the intellectual and spiritual life which had come over Rome at this period was to develop their intelligences to as high a degree as possible and occupy themselves with serious things when others around them were devoting themselves to trifles. They belonged to some of the most {143} distinguished families of ancient Rome. This group of women came to know Latin and Greek literature and philosophy very thoroughly, and many of them under the influence of St. Jerome became proficient in Hebrew and deeply versed in Scripture. When distinguished visitors like Athanasius, the famous old Greek father of the Church whose creed has immortalized his name, came to Rome, he was asked to lecture for them.

St. Jerome's letters make it very clear that he felt that without the assistance of Paula and her daughter Eustochium, who were members of the Church of the Household, it would have been quite impossible for him to have completed his great Latin version of the Scriptures which we know as the Vulgate. It is even said that the Latin Psalter, as it has come down to us is not, as is generally supposed, the translation from the original Hebrew by Jerome, but rather a corrected version made from the Septuagint by his illustrious collaborators Paula and Eustochium. No wonder that St. Jerome dedicated a number of his books to them, and while there were a great many people of the time and especially of course in the East where Jerome was working at Bethlehem with Eustochium and Paula, who were bitterly intolerant as regards the affording of opportunities for education to women, Jerome felt quite convinced that it was only when women would be allowed to have the fullest education that the Church could hope to develop all her powers for the benefit of mankind. His sentiments with regard to the higher education for women were expressed quite explicitly {144} in his writings which are readily available for those who care to consult them.

One feature of Church life has put women all down the centuries very deeply in the debt of the Church. That was the provision of an opportunity for women, who evidently did not have the call to be wives and mothers, to find a career in which they could satisfy their intellectual and spiritual aspirations and at the same time exercise their affections in the care for others, even though it might be only by contemplative life and the exercise of prayer for others. The chance to become religious, that is to vow themselves to the special service of God under proper Church regulations, began for both men and women in the first generation or two of the Church's history. It was more prominent in the Orient than in the west, but that was in accord with the very natural tendency of the two peoples. Almost as soon as the Church became free after Constantine's time to do her good works in public, women became very prominent in them. The Ecclesia Domestica of which I have spoken was really a convent in our modern sense of the word, a centre for the life of the spirit among the women of the better classes, as so many convents have proved to be in many cities ever since, and yet never neglecting the poor but finely organizing charitable works and education in an effective way for them.

The question of education for women at Rome was a difficult one because most of the schools were pagan and in the eyes of Christians their teaching did more harm than good. Just as soon as a whole nation was {145} converted to Christianity and the Church was perfectly free to form a policy of education among them, Ireland, as we have said, became the island not only of saints but of scholars. Education was afforded not only to the men but also to the women, and Brigid's great school at Kildare became famous and attracted students from Iberia as Spain was called and Gaul, as well as from Ireland and the neighboring islands, and as the foundation of Whitby shows, the Celtic tradition of education for women spread beyond it. At Kildare the abbess was the superior not only of a large community of nuns but also of a small group of monks who were attached to the foundation and who taught and exercised their religious functions in connection with the nunnery. This was also true at Whitby, where Hilda was the Abbess with some men under her jurisdiction. The Abbess at Kildare for centuries had the privilege of veto as regards the bishop of Kildare, and though she might not nominate to the See she could refuse to approve the nomination of anyone who could not be confidently expected to be favorable to the policy and traditions of the great nunnery. Her word was sufficient in the matter according to established tradition to prevent the appointment.

In the sixth century came the foundation of the Benedictine nuns by St. Scholastica, and these nunneries became the refuges for women of high ideals and lofty aspirations during the disturbed time when there was scarcely any interest in the intellectual and the spiritual life left in the world around them. Nunneries spread all over the Christian world, and daughters of {146} some of the best families, very often closely related to royalty, entered them and found not only peace but the opportunity for an existence that was eminently satisfying in the opportunities that it afforded for the cultivation of the mind and of the life of the spirit. The more one knows about these nunneries the more one realizes that what has just been said, so far from being an exaggeration, expresses only to a very small degree the wonderful influence that was exerted by these institutions. The example of these women giving up what seemed to be an opportunity for happiness on earth in order to devote themselves to a higher life meant ever so much more than any amount of preaching of the necessity of self-denial and for self-control. It also made a forcible argumentum ad hominem for immortality, since these good women were willing to give up all that life held dear because they were so deeply convinced that there was another life than this, to last for eternity and for which after all this was only a comparatively short period of preparation.

When Benedict founded the Monks of the West and proceeded to organize those homes of peace in which the intellectual and spiritual life were so assiduously cultivated, in which the ancient classics were copied and saved for subsequent generations and the traditions of the intellectual order preserved for the modern world, his sister, Scholastica, founded what may well be called the Nuns of the West. It is often presumed that the nunneries thus founded and soon to be seen all over Europe had very little to do with the intellectual life, but this presumption is based entirely on ignorance {147} of the actual details of their history. Mrs. Emily James Putnam in her volume on The Lady (New York, 1910), after special studies with regard to these old nunneries, was very emphatic in her declaration that they accomplished a wonderful purpose for feminine development. She does not hesitate to say that they are above modern colleges for women in that regard. [Note 11] She had a right to an opinion in this matter, for as Miss Emily James she had been for fifteen years the Dean of Barnard College, the women's department of Columbia University, New York, one of our pioneers for the education of women in this country. She is not the only one who has made declarations of this sort and Miss Lena Eckenstein, for instance, in her very scholarly work on Women Under Monasticism (page 479), does not hesitate to say with regard to the studies pursued in the convents of the Middle Ages that they were fully equal to those pursued by the monks of the time even at periods when monasticism was at its height of interest in the intellectual and spiritual life:--

"The contributions of nuns to literature, as well as incidental remarks, show that the curriculum of study in the nunnery was as liberal as that accepted by the monks, and embraced all available writing whether by Christian or profane authors. While Scripture and the writings of the Fathers of the Church at all times formed the groundwork of monastic studies, Cicero at this period was read by the side of Boëthius, Virgil by the side of Martianus Capella, Terence by the side of Isidore of Seville. From remarks made by Hroswitha we see that the coarseness of the Latin dramatists made {148} no reason for their being forbidden to nuns, though she would have seen it otherwise; and, Herrad was so far impressed by the wisdom of the heathen philosophers of antiquity that she pronounced this wisdom to be the 'product of the Holy Spirit also.' Throughout the literary world, as represented by convents, the use of Latin was general, and made possible the even spread of culture in districts that were widely remote from each other and practically without intercourse,"

It is only fair to ask for some evidence at least as to definite intellectual products of these nunneries said to have been homes of the intellectual life, and they are not lacking. In the tenth century, that is, just when the mental and artistic life of Europe was at its lowest because of the unfortunate effects produced by the invasion of the barbarians, the famous nun of Gandersheim Hroswitha wrote a series of plays which were meant to be read and perhaps even acted in the convents and monasteries of the time. Books are usually not written unless there is an audience assured for them. This volume, first published by Conrad Celtes in the Renaissance time, is extremely interesting. In the preface Hroswitha states that she has written these dramas to provide edifying reading for monks and nuns lest their consciences should be soiled by the reading of Terence with the excuse that their reading was for the sake of his style. Manifestly she knew that a great many of them were quite familiar with Terence, and apparently she thought that she was imitating the Latin dramatist, though the result in the matter of style is about as far as possible from that of the Afro-Roman {149} writer. The fact that this is one of the few books preserved for us from this period shows the interest that there must have been in it and its very presence probably indicates that there were many more of less appeal.

In the twelfth century there was the famous St. Hildegarde, of whom it has been said that her writings disclose a better knowledge of science than those of any other writer, man or woman, in her time. She has attracted very much attention during the twentieth century, that is, during the feministic movement of our time and has been written about to a considerable extent. There is an edition of her works published in Migue's Patrology, for she has been accorded a place in this great collection of the writings of the Fathers of the Church. Reuss, the editor of this edition, does not hesitate to say with regard to her book: "All those who wish to write the history of the medical and natural sciences must read this work, in which this religious woman, evidently well grounded in all that was known at that time in the secrets of nature, discusses and examines carefully all the knowledge of the time." He adds, "It is certain that St. Hildegarde knew many things that were unknown to the physicians of her time."

How important St. Hildegarde has come to be looked upon in the history of science can be very well appreciated from the article on "The Scientific Views and Visions of St. Hildegarde," by Dr. Charles Singer, which is the leading article in the volume Studies in the History and Method of Science, published at the Clarendon Press. Oxford, 1917. This really deserves {150} the name of a monograph, for it contains, apart from a score of plates not numbered with the text, nearly sixty pages of a large quarto volume. The concluding paragraph of the introduction to this article will be illuminating, for those who may be surprised to find a woman, and above all, a nun, prominent in the history of science in the twelfth century. Dr. Singer said:--

"The extensive literature that has risen around the life and works of Hildegard has come from the hands of writers who have shown no interest in natural knowledge, while those who have occupied themselves with the history of science have, on their side, largely neglected the period to which Hildegard belongs, allured by the richer harvest of the full scholastic age which followed. This essay is an attempt to fill in a small part of the lacuna."

When one is aware of the history of all this attention to education and to the development of the intellectual life on the part of the Benedictine nuns, it is much easier to understand how, when the university of Salerno was founded mainly under Benedictine influence in the twelfth century, women were afforded an opportunity to study there. Indeed, De Renzi, the historian of Salerno, insists that there was almost no obstacle in the way of women obtaining any kind of education that they cared to have at the university of Salerno. This university was founded with the medical school as a nucleus, and the medical faculty continued to be the most important part of the university. Between Benedictine influence and medical prejudices and {151} the fact that the study of medicine would seem particularly unsuitable for women, it would be presumed that all question of feminine opportunity for education at Salerno must have been negative. And yet the unexpected happened. De Renzi declares that not only were women allowed to study medicine, but the department of diseases of women was handed over to women teachers. He mentions particularly a distinguished woman teacher in that specialty, Trotula by name, who was the head of the department. She was the wife of one of the male medical professors, Platearius I, as he is called, and the mother of another, Platearius II. However this may be, for there is some doubt with regard to it, one thing is perfectly sure,--that a large number of women graduated in medicine at the university of Salerno and received a license to practice, for copies of their licenses are still extant in the archives of Naples. It is not surprising, then, that when the University of Bologna was founded around a law school under the influence particularly of Irnerius, his daughter, Irneria, was given the opportunity to study law and afterwards to teach that subject in the law school. At Bologna, however, women taught in all the departments. We have traditions of their teaching philosophy and mathematics and even teaching in the medical school. One young lady who taught mathematics was according to tradition so conscious of her own personal beauty and the fear that it might disturb her students that she lectured from behind a curtain, which serves to show at least that these blue stockings of the Middle Ages were very considerate of the {152} feelings of the men. A young woman was assistant to the professor of anatomy and evidently did many dissections, and it is to her that we are said to owe the beginning of a method of preserving bodies so that the work of dissection might not be so deterrent as it would otherwise be. The tradition of women professors of the universities of Italy continues down to our own day, so that there is not a single century from the eleventh until the nineteenth when there have not been women professors teaching in the universities of Italy and when there have not been some opportunities at least for women to obtain not only the higher education but even the very highest in the particular department in which they were interested. All this in universities which had then charters from the pope and many of whose most prominent officials were ecclesiastics. Cardinals, archbishops and bishops were enthusiastic admirers of these scholarly women and did not hesitate to show their pride in them.

Feminine education did not spread in the West of Europe in the Middle Ages. The reason for this failure of a precious phase of educational evolution was undoubtedly the Hélöise and Abélard incident. Apparently Paris in the twelfth century was about to follow Italy in this university tradition of opportunities for women, when this scandal seriously disturbed the West. As most of the western universities, Oxford, Cambridge and the French and Spanish universities, as also those of south Germany, were founded mainly under influence from Paris, the West received a distaste, amounting to positive distrust, for feminine education. {153} So small an incident as this changed the course of history.

With the coming of the Renaissance there was a new order of things in education and whenever there are new interests women always ask and always obtain the privilege of education. After the novelty wears off somehow they seem to lose interest, and with the deterioration of education feminine education disappears. That has happened three or four times in history at least. The first great teacher of the Renaissance, Vittarino da Feltre, made two conditions when he was asked to come to Mantua to teach for the Gonzagas. The first of these was that the poor as well as the rich when they had the talent should have the chance to attend his school. The second was that young women as well as young men should be allowed to take advantage of his teaching. He is one of the greatest teachers who ever lived. He emphasized the principal aim of education to be to have healthy minds in healthy bodies. He believed in horseback riding and other exercises for young women and in long walks. He used to take his classes out for an excursion to the little village of Andes some six miles away, where Virgil is said to have been born, and hold what would now be called a seminar on Virgil. Vittorino's influence at the beginning of Renaissance education was paramount. His disciple, Guarino of Verono, followed his example in this matter and between them they established a tradition by which the schools of the New Learning all over Italy came to be frequented by young women. This gave us the well-known women of the Renaissance {154} in Italy whose fame as educated scholarly women has gone abroad.

During the Renaissance time the Ursulines were founded by Angela Merici, and their principal purpose was the teaching of girls, especially of the better class, though their pupils included all classes. The importance of the Ursulines will be best understood from the fact that when the pope, Paul III, signed the Bull of their foundation which was really their charter, he said to Ignatius Loyola, for whom he had signed the Bull of foundation of the Jesuits not long before, "I have given you sisters." And such the Ursulines have proved to be. They too, have schools all over the world, even in Alaska and China, and they have shared the persecution of modern governments with the Jesuits. Here in America they founded one of the earliest of the Catholic colleges for women at New Rochelle nearly twenty-five years ago. It has an attendance of well above five hundred, a freshmen class of one hundred and fifty and a graduating class that approaches one hundred. It was a convent of the Ursulines that was burned down by the mob in 1833 at Charlestown in Massachusetts, not far from Bunker Hill. The reason for that act of destruction was two fold; the first part of it was religious intolerance, but a secondary reason that influenced not a few of the mob and was one of the main motives which prevented respectable citizens from preventing the lamentable incident, was that Bostonians of the better class were very much disturbed over the fact that these sisters were affording a better opportunity for education to young women {155} than had ever before been given to them in New England. There had been quite a discussion over this in Boston circles, and most men were agreed that the three r's were quite enough for women and that knowledge beyond that was only a source of distraction to them from their household duties.

During the Renaissance period the women of France, at first under the leadership of Queen Anne of Bretagne, secured an opportunity for higher education and took it very well. Down in Spain there were women professors at all the important universities. It is not a little amusing to read the paragraphs devoted to that subject in Prescott's chapter on Castilian Literature and Education in his History of Ferdinand and Isabella. He relates with an air of surprise the names of the women who taught and their qualifications and apparently is not a little amazed as to how it could possibly be, but he tells the story as he finds it. At the moment when Prescott wrote, there was no place in the United States of America where any woman could secure the higher education. There were some finishing schools at the south and they were veritable finishing schools. They would settle any ambitious intellectuality there might be. The north did not indulge in feminine education, even to that extent.

There was an abundance of feminine education in England in the Renaissance time and Queen Elizabeth read Greek and Latin quite well, and so did Lady Jane Grey, as her preceptor Sir Roger Ascham has told us, and though she was only eighteen when she lost her head, after having been a Queen for nine days, in the {156} conspiracy of the Northumberlands, she seems to have been very much more interested in the cultivation of her intellect than in politics. She preferred the study of Greek to attendance at balls and routs and parties and seems to have read the language very well. So did Margaret More; indeed Erasmus who surely was a competent judge, thought her the cleverest young woman of Europe. Many other women among the nobility of England were deeply interested in the intellectual life. Mary Queen of Scots knew Latin very well, as her verses in that language disclose.

Convents are homes of peace and happiness and of ardent pursuit of the intellectual and the spiritual life. In recent years, when women have asked for the higher education, these sisterhoods in this country have proceeded to found a series of colleges, many of which have done very good work. The success of these institutions is simply marvelous. How the sisters succeed in obtaining funds to finance them is an ever recurring mystery. They select beautiful sites, they build beautiful buildings, decorated with the taste that makes living in them a liberal education of itself, they provide them with chapels that are so beautiful that they are gems of decorative work, and they do all this without any special endowments and on such meagre fees that it seems almost impossible that they could accomplish it. Their taste in buildings and in sites is enough of itself to show that the sense of beauty which characterized the religious orders of the older time has come down in unbroken tradition to them, and they gather into their institutions a number of very beautiful things. If the {157} Church had done nothing else but provide these homes of peace and happiness for the women--some of whom are always among us--who feel that they have not the vocation to be wives and mothers, that of itself would be, humanly speaking, one of the signs that the Church was divine. Certainly Christ's Church has proved a veritable mine of happiness for women and the devout female sex have found a satisfaction for their devotion that has meant very much.

After the Reformation, so-called, there came a great decadence in education. In the Protestant countries whatever of education had been afforded by the convents was now a thing of the past. All education declined. Men lost interest to a great extent, and naturally woman scarcely thought of it. Here and there a few women by their natural talents, white blackbirds in the exceptional quality of their minds, secured for themselves some development of their intelligence. The great majority of women were quite without education or educational interests. They could read well enough to read their prayer books, they could write well enough to indite letters, and that was about all. In the meantime, in the Catholic countries, Angela Merici came to found the Ursulines, and these spread rapidly and her religious order proved to be a germinating influence for similar teaching bodies. These continued to multiply during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and have probably never in history flourished so wonderfully as at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.


At the present time there are over fifty thousand women religious in the United States alone, most of them engaged in teaching, though many of them are in hospitals, but it must not be forgotten that in the midst of hospital work they are engaged in the training of nurses, a real pedagogical task of great significance. Altogether in the world of the present day there are probably nearly half a million of women who have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and mean to continue to live their lives within the convent walls because they think of that as their vocation in life and because this mode of life affords them opportunity for their self-development intellectually and spiritually and provides them occasion for the care of others.

Owing to conditions I am probably acquainted with more of these religious women in the United States than almost anyone else. I have lectured to them in nearly every part of the country, I have spent several days each summer with a number of the congregations, I have been asked to share their recreations with them, that is the hour of talk which they have after their midday and evening meals, so that I feel I have a right to an opinion with regard to the meaning of their lives. I think that they are beyond all doubt the happiest human beings that I know. As a rule, because I am a physician and a specialist in nervous troubles in a certain way, mother superiors have been not only willing but anxious to consult me with regard to members of the community who have exhibited any signs of neurotic or psychoneurotic conditions. It has been a constant source of {159} surprise to me to find how few such cases exist among the sisters and to realize what sensible, practical women they are. Their confined life, the duties assigned to every hour during the day from five in the morning or earlier until nearly ten at night, would seem to many people to be almost too much for human nature to bear. And yet these good women are healthy and hearty and happy. They are the easiest people in the world that I know to make laugh and their laugh is spontaneous and whole-hearted, and no one can see the incongruities of life and the humor of things as they are as these women. [Note 12]

There is an old maxim which declares that a novice is "a creature who breaks crockery, spills oil and giggles." As to the breaking crockery and spilling oil I do not know, but I am quite sure that the maturer members of the religious orders laugh every chance they get and that the younger ones among them giggle as much as school girls. Indeed the school girl in our time takes herself so seriously as to be far behind the young religious in this.

This then is what the Church has provided for women who felt that they had no vocation to be wives and mothers and who needed a definite calling in life. Like St. Teresa they do not mind obedience, even though they may not care to obey one man all their lives. They want the opportunity for the intellectual and the spiritual life and occupation for their hands and hearts and minds and an assurance of a home in their old age and they have found it. Blessed are the women who have found their work, and these members {160} of the religious orders must surely be counted among them. They sought for happiness hereafter but they have found it here and they enjoy the promised hundredfold.




In the minds of a great many people the chapter in the Catholic Church's relations to human progress in knowledge of the world around us which would surely be the briefest would be that of science. In the sense of physical science at least, this seems to most of our generation to be the only kind of knowledge worth while talking about and is supposed by a very large number of educated people to have been almost constantly under the ban of the Church. They do not blame the Church but feel that it acted only in self-defense. Churchmen were afraid that the study of nature and of the world around them would disturb the faith of members of the Church and so, just as far as possible, they suppressed the curiosity of men in this direction, or allowed it only to be exercised in such a limited way as would enable them to guide the development of science so as to be sure that it would not interfere with faith. This is supposed to have been the constant policy of the Church from the very beginning with regard to all forms of knowledge, hence the objection to pagan education in the first century, but this policy is presumed to have been emphasized and rendered ever so much stricter when the danger of the development of scientific knowledge, that is, knowledge of the physical world becoming a source of {162} contradiction of the articles of faith, became manifest.

As a matter of fact this chapter on science and the church's relation to it has been the hardest of all the chapters to compress since there is so much material which deserves to be presented and which evidently needs presentation, since there is so much misunderstanding and positive ignorance with regard to it. The Church has been quite as literally the patron of science, that is of physical science, as of art and architecture, of poetry and of philosophy, indeed of everything except charity which, because of Christ's second commandment, has always been a special feature of Church interest. Statements to the contrary, that is, expressions that set forth Church opposition to the development of physical science, are entirely due to the ignorance of the history of science, which has been very common until comparatively recent years. Interest in the history of science has only developed to any considerable degree practically during the twentieth century. Just as soon as it did, it became perfectly clear that the old notions with regard to Church opposition to science must vanish. Indeed they were proved to be only the results of religious prejudice fostered by the so-called reformers in order to alienate sympathy from the old Church for their own purposes and make it easier for people to accept the thought that the Church authorities had constantly interfered with the freedom of men's minds in order to keep them in ignorance in the bosom of the old Church. The more a man knows about the history of science, the less he talks about any policy of Church opposition. As Cardinal Newman said, for {163} most people the case of Galileo is supposed to be the proof that for seven hundred years the Church was opposed to science. When the Galileo case itself is understood it proves to be really an example of an effort on the part of well meaning ecclesiastics to foster rather than hamper what they thought to be genuine physical science.

The Fathers of the Church were deeply interested in many scientific questions. Canon Dorlodot, Director of the Geological Institute of Louvain University, in his volumes on Darwinism and Catholic Thought brought out the fact that many of the old Fathers of the Church, notably St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa, would in our modern day have been called evolutionists. He declared, "That Gregory of Nyssa certainly believed in the evolution of the world by the sole exercise of the active powers with which God endowed it when creating it, is evident." Augustine, among the Latin fathers, pointed out that God did not create the universe as it is but that he created the seeds of things rationes seminales and that out of these the world as we know it developed. The last sentence of Darwin's Origin of the Species would have expressed the conclusions of the Fathers of the Church as a rule quite as well as they did those of the modern English biologist. [Note 13]

The Fathers were far more interested in theology than in physical science of course, and touched the latter only in passing, but we find in other writers a devotion to science which shows that there was not felt to be any incompatibility between Catholic Christianity and the pursuit of science. Cassiodorus, who after {164} having been Prime Minister of the Empire under Theodosius became a monk and organized a monastery, wrote with regard to the library which should be supplied for the use of the monks and enumerated among the books the works of the Greeks on medicine and on science as particularly important. Boëthius, the Christian martyr, who wrote the "Consolations of Philosophy" which proved so profoundly influential during the Middle Ages, wrote also on arithmetic and geometry, and while there has been some doubt thrown on the authenticity of these works, their mention by Cassiodorus who was a contemporary and their attribution of them by him to Boëthius would seem to make it clear that the cultivation of the basis of science was not frowned on but encouraged at that time.

The first great collector of scientific information in our modern sense of that term was Isidore of Seville, who began his master work of making an encyclopedia of all knowledge available in his time probably before the end of the sixth century, at a time just after he was made bishop of Seville. He took all knowledge for his sphere of interest and he treats of medicine, of beasts and birds, of the world and its parts, of physical geography, of stones and metals, of agriculture and of man, as well as many other details relating to these subjects.

It has been the custom to think that there was very little interest in science in the Middle Ages, but that was entirely because we knew so little about the Middle Ages. The impression apparently obtained that since we, who were quite confident that we knew so much, knew almost nothing about them, the only possible {165} reason there could be for our ignorance was that there was little or nothing to know about them. Hence the almost universal persuasion that the thousand years from the fall of the Roman Empire under Augustulus (476 A. D.) until the fall of Constantinople (1453) were "the Dark Ages," and that the Church was very largely responsible for the darkness because of her efforts to keep men ignorant and therefore more ready to believe. Every advance in our knowledge of the Middle Ages has been followed by a complete and surprising revolution in our estimate of them. In spite of this each subsequent advance in knowledge has been the subject for as much surprise in this matter as the preceding phase of development of information proved to be. The generation at the beginning of the nineteenth century particularly was so thoroughly persuaded that nothing good could possibly have come out of the Nazareth of the Middle Ages that they contemptuously refused to take in any way seriously any hint of medieval interest in the things of the mind. They just knew that these poor medieval people, bound by the shackles of decadent Christianity that needed reform and under the influence of unworthy churchmen, were buried in ignorance and superstition without freedom of mind or stimulus to think for themselves; a striking example of what human beings may become under unfortunate conditions and of how serious abuse there may be of the best things. [Note 14]

The reaction from this entirely unjustified state of mind began with the rise of Gothic architecture into prominence and recognition. Architects came to {166} appreciate that here was the most beautiful architecture in the world which had been executed with marvelous success and exquisite finish of detail during the despised Middle Ages. Men had solved not only the architectural and decorative problems, but also the immense engineering problems involved in the building of huge structures of this kind which were so well erected that they are still monuments to the genius and constructive ability of their builders after seven hundred years. It would have been quite out of the question for the men who achieved this series of triumphs, and who must have had ever so many of their generation to appreciate their work or it would have been quite impossible to accomplish it, to have been without education and taste. This led to the appreciation of their art, painting, sculpture and the arts and crafts, and the recognition of the success of the artistic education which had prepared them for their solution of the many difficult problems associated with these achievements which are far beyond anything our generation can do. From this to a proper estimation of their literature was but a step, and when every country in Europe made literature that has enduring interest down until our day and some of it as the Arthur legends, the Cid, the Nibelungen, Reynard the Fox, and Dante, of immortal prestige, the conclusion that this must have been a time of wide diffusion of education and the stimulation of profound thinking could scarcely be avoided. Only a little study was necessary to reveal that this was a period of great nascent universities which had more students in attendance in proportion to the populations of the various countries than has ever been the case {167} since. They were actually larger universities than have ever been in existence until perhaps in our day since the war, when there has come to be such a multiplication of students at universities everywhere.

A study of the curriculum of the universities reveals the fact that they were scientific universities. Most people are inclined to think of undergraduate education before our time as having always been founded on the classics. It is presumed that the Latins founded their education on Greek and subsequent people on both Latin and Greek, and this continued until our era, with its supreme interest in science, changed it. As a matter of fact it was not until the Renaissance time that the use of the classics, Latin and Greek, as a basis of education, came into effect. The medieval universities presented the study of the sciences for the formation of men's minds and would probably have been not a little contemptuous over the suggestion that they were using language for that purpose. The university undergraduate curriculum consisted of the seven liberal arts as they were called, but the term arts was really used for sciences and much of the thought of the time was occupied with physical science. The seven liberal arts were rhetoric, the science of persuasive speech; grammar, the science of language; logic, the science of thought; astronomy, mathematics, which included geometry, music and metaphysics. Mathematics formed the basis of science, under metaphysics came cosmology or the science of the ordered universe, including the consideration of matter, its constitution and modalities, and problems relating to it.


The graduate departments of the universities consisted of medicine, law and theology. Medicine was pursued from a very definitely scientific standpoint that will perhaps be best understood from a consideration of the surgery of the time, though their medicine had much more in it than is usually thought. The Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum, the Rule of Health of Salerno, a compilation of health maxims from the professors of that medieval university, the first university of modern times, has circulated very widely at all times and has been very much appreciated. It is the most printed medical book in the history of medicine. There have been probably nearly four hundred editions issued at various times and not a few of them during the past hundred years. The book is much more than a literary curio, however, it is a very precious representation of the common sense attitude of learned physicians toward health. Many of its health maxims are those which have been current ever since and form the background for much more of our thinking with regard to personal health than we would be likely to imagine unless we had some definite realization of the power to think of these men of the older time.

In surgery the surgeons of the medieval universities scored a veritable triumph. As evidence for this we are in possession not of vague traditions but of the text books of the professors of the universities. Fortunately these were preserved for us by the early printers, to whom, as I called attention in the Scientific Monthly (February 1924) we owe a very large debt of gratitude because of the ardent scholarship with which they {169} sought out and edited the best works from the older time for the benefit of the modern world. A series of these surgical text books were printed at Venice among the incunabula of printing. They began with the great text book of the Four Masters at Salerno, a work which, like our own systems in medicine and surgery, called upon a group of men to give their opinions with regard to their specialty. Then came Bruno of Longoborgo, Theodoric, William of Salicet, Lanfranc, Mondeville, and Guy de Chauliac. They operated on the skull by trephining for tumor and for abscess, did not hesitate to open the thorax for abscess and other fluids, and operated rather extensively on the abdomen, insisting that if there was a wound in the intestines the patient would surely die unless it were closed up. They invented needle holders of various kinds for their intra-abdominal reparative operations and designed metal implements, anticipating in certain ways our Murphy Button, and employed the tracheas of animals as predecessors of our bone plates and the like. They did some magnificent plastic surgery for the repair of wounds of the face, including the remaking of the nose, the eyelids and other important features.

It would have been quite impossible to do such extensive operating without an anesthetic, but they used anesthetics very commonly and particularly used a combination of mandrake, hyoscyamus, opium and wild lettuce, to induce a state of narcosis in which the patient was quite insensible to pain. This is the reason why the friar suggests the expedient in Romeo and Juliet of putting Juliet into the long sleep which shall seem like {170} death. When Middleton, the English poet, in 1605 wrote of "the pities of old surgeons who put their patients to sleep before cutting them," that expression was thought to be poetic license, but he had in mind the old tradition of surgery under anesthesia. Such extensive operating would surely lead without antiseptics to intense mortality among patients from infection and septic conditions, but though they had not discovered the theory of antisepsis nor the reasons for their effectiveness, the medieval surgeons had discovered the practical use of them and employed them with great success. They used strong wine, soaking their dressings in it, and when this evaporated they called the treatment the "dry dressing." Beneath this they secured "union by first intention"; indeed, that expression is originally medieval Latin unio per priman intentionem, which means nothing unless one understands the old Latin expression. No wonder, then, that we should speak of medieval surgery as representing a veritable triumph of applied science in the truest sense of the word.

The amusing thing about it is that when writers like Professor John W. Draper and President Andrew D. White were proclaiming the opposition of the Church or of theology to science, and specifically to medical science and to surgery and anatomy, in the Middle Ages there was actually a much better development of surgery, particularly, than in the very time in which they lived, though that time was the latter half of the nineteenth century. John W. Draper was a physician, and he would not have been able to understand, had he known anything about it, the account of the surgery done in {171} the Middle Ages. Anesthesia had come back but antisepsis had not. Listerism only came in as a definite practice during the last twenty years of the nineteenth century. As late as 1870 a great European surgeon refused to operate any more in the general hospital at Munich because his mortality rate on operated cases during the preceding year had been seventy-nine per cent. He lost four out of five of them. That was not unusual. The trained nurse came to Bellevue hospital only in the early 70's, and before that the hospital conditions were awful, while the hospitals of the Middle Ages had been beautiful and finely regulated. Our surgery had sunk to the lowest possible ebb because of impossible hospital conditions (see chapter Helping the Helpless). All the great surgeons of the Middle Ages had been Churchmen, some of them canons of cathedrals, at least one of them a bishop, and all their work had been done in universities established under papal rule and with the heartiest encouragement of the ecclesiastical authorities of the time.

In the other two graduate departments both law and theology were studied from the scientific aspects. It is sometimes forgotten in the modern time that science can apply to other disciplines of knowledge besides those which are directly concerned with matter. Certainly the applied science in these two departments would be a thoroughgoing contradiction of any such thought.

The interest which these medieval scholars took in science has been very well brought out by Professor Lynn Thorndyke, professor of history in Western {172} Reserve University, in his work, "A History of Magic and Experimental Science During the First Thirteen Centuries of Our Era" (Macmillan, 1923). In this he emphasizes particularly the knowledge which the so-called schoolmen or scholastics had of scientific principles; their devotion to the study of them and the voluminous works they wrote on them. Magic was of two kinds, black and white. Black magic supposed some connection with the devil, but white magic was only a knowledge of the secrets of nature which enabled men to accomplish ever so much more than others who were ignorant of these secrets. This was science in our sense of the word; and then, besides, there was ever so much attention devoted to experimental and analytical science as well as to scientific observation.

Men like Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon wrote immense works containing literally millions of words on scientific subjects. The appreciation of Albertus Magnus by scholars of his day, the majority of them clerics, may be judged from the fact that he is the only man with whose name has become so inextricably associated the word Great because of scholarship, that most people take the epithet for his family name. Albertus Magnus means simply Albert the Great but he is like Charlemagne (Charles the Great) in the incorporation of the distinctive title with his name. He has been proclaimed a saint by the Church and was honored and revered in his own time, looked up to as a counsellor whose opinion was to be sought on many questions.

It has been suggested that the persecution of Roger Bacon, who went much farther than Albertus Magnus {173} in scientific investigation and observation and the elucidation of problems of science, is an index of the policy of the Church towards suppressing science whenever ecclesiastics feared they could not control the individual scientist. As pointed out by Professor Lynn Thorndyke, however, the first hint to be found in history that Roger Bacon was persecuted comes in a document more than a hundred years after his death, under circumstances that make its authority very suspicious and there is almost no reason to think that Roger Bacon was seriously interfered with in his scientific work. He was certainly not in prison, for monks were not imprisoned, and while he may have been confined to his cell for a time, for he was a rather difficult individual to get along with and insisted on people following his way of looking at things, though he was long ahead of his time, there was no question of restriction in his career except by the discipline of the monastery. It must not be forgotten that it is to the order of the Pope, who had become very much interested in his work, that we owe the composition of his great masterpieces of scientific writing.

Anyone who will take the pains to read even a little of Professor Thorndyke's work, which contains some three quarters of a million of words, would never again venture to say that there was no attention to science in the Middle Ages and that the reason for this lack of science is suppression by the Church. The fact of the matter is that they were very much interested in science, learned a great many things, anticipated not a little of our modern scientific knowledge, and this was lost {174} during the Renaissance time and the Reformation when attention was distracted from medieval accomplishment of all kinds, when medieval architecture was called Gothic, that is, barbaric, worthy only of their Gothic ancestors, and literature received the same epithet, and when the men of the Middle Ages were supposed to have done nothing and thought nothing worth while talking about. Roger Bacon, to take but a single example of anticipation of knowledge supposed much later in origin, declared that the time would come when men would travel over the land without men or horses. pulling them and over the water without sails or oars. He was studying gun powder, had come to realize the power that it developed, and predicted that it would be only a question of time until men would harness explosives and use them for motor purposes. He also said that he thought that man could make a flying machine worked by a windlass by hand power. This seemed to many even a decade ago to indicate that he had failed utterly to grasp the problem of flying, but now that men are flying without an engine his suggestion of man-power flight is not so visionary as it seemed to be even a few years ago.

For many modern scientists the fact that the medieval scholars had such reverence for Aristotle seems to negate altogether the idea of any possibility of real research in science. The more we know about Aristotle the less imputation we are likely to put upon medieval students for reverencing him. Darwin said of him in a letter to Ogle written in 1882 at the very end of his career, "From quotations I had seen I had a high notion {175} of Aristotle's merits, but I had not the most remote notion what a wonderful man he was.... Linnaeus and Cuvier have been my two gods, though in very different ways, but they were mere schoolboys to old Aristotle."

As a matter of fact, the medieval students of science and philosophy did not swear by Aristotle in anything like the way they are sometimes said to have done. Albertus Magnus, for instance,--and Albertus was Aquinas' teacher and the favorite study of all the men at the universities,--in his treatise on physics did not hesitate to say, "Whoever believes that Aristotle was a god must also believe that he never erred, but if one believe that Aristotle was a man then doubtless he was liable to err just as we are." Smaller men have sworn by the very words of Aristotle or have thought they were expounding him when they were expounding their own notions, just as was true of the disciples of Darwin in our day, but the real scholars knew how to take advantage of what was best in Aristotle and to eliminate the dross and the inevitable errors.

The best demonstration of the attitude of the Church towards science in the later Middle Ages is to be found in the fact that a physician rather famous for his work in science was elected pope and served under the name of John XXI. Before his elevation to the pontificate he had been known as Peter of Spain, a professor at several universities until he was made a bishop and eventually chosen pope. He is the only pope whom Dante mentions as in heaven, though he has referred to a number of popes as in other parts of the after world. He had been physician to the pope and physician {176} to the papal city under the title of archiater. As a physician he wrote a little volume on eye diseases, but he was interested in many other phases of medicine. Two popes before Pope John XXI had reached distinction in the science of their time. The first of these was Gerbert, who under the name of Pope Sylvester II, is looked upon as one of the great original thinkers of the Middle Ages. Every form of physical science interested him. His studies in astronomy led him into some speculations with regard to light, but it was in sound that some of his best work was accomplished. He is said to have given the organ its modern form, and he made a clock, or sun dial, which measured the hours very exactly and was soon imitated in many parts of Europe. Another man of scientific interests was Pope Victor III, who had been for some time the abbot of Monte Casino, after having taught at Salerno when that was a medical school. He was a great personal friend of Constantine Africanus, the greatest of the Salernitan writers on medicine, and it was he who persuaded Constantine to give up his teaching and devote himself to writing out the account of all he had learned in medicine during his travels in the East. If he were not actually a scientist himself there is no doubt at all about his beneficent patronage of medicine.

If a man like Dante be taken as an example of the university man of the Middle Ages, more interested in poetry and in history than in science, and yet care is taken to note how much science he knew, it will be very easy to understand the thoroughly scientific temper of the universities of that day. In a chapter in my volume {177} "The Popes and Science" I have taken Dante as a type of the university man in his relation to science in his day. Dante knew much more science than the great majority of modern poets. In proportion to the amount known he knew ever so much more than any of them of the science of his day. He knew a great deal about the astronomy of his time, was deeply interested in natural history, takes many figures from the habits of insects, knows of metamorphosis and something about the sex of plants, and was evidently profoundly occupied with the principles of the science of education as well as of political science. He insisted on a healthy mind in a healthy body as the essence of the first, and proper obedience to authority as the basic principle of the other. Professor Oscar Kuhns has written a volume on "The Treatment of Nature in Dante" that is full of details of Dante's scientific knowledge. Mr. George Trobridge, in the Westminster Review for July and August 1907, treats Dante as a nature poet and does not hesitate to declare that the Divina Commedia is full of vivid pictures covering the whole range of natural phenomena. Indeed he proclaims that "there are few even modern poets who have taken so wide a view of the things of nature and even Shakespeare himself scarcely excels the great Florentine in felicity and concentration of expression" (on natural subjects).

The Middle Ages have been the stumbling block for those who would have been only too glad to think of the Christian Church as fostering all manner of development of the human intelligence and being the patron also of scientific advance, but who felt that unfortunately {178} by a short sighted policy this had not been so. This supposed stumbling block has become a stepping stone for right appreciation of the Church's policy at all times, which was of utter devotion to truth, no matter what its origin.

With the coming of the Renaissance this becomes ever clearer and clearer and the earliest students of science, when the Greek texts began to be read once more, were most of them clergymen held in high honor. The first serious original paper in astronomy in modern times was written by Nicholas of Cusa, who proclaimed that the earth could not be the center of the universe and that it was a star in the heavens and moved as the other stars. He anticipated many ideas in modern science and was deeply interested, as his works show, in mathematics and mechanics, he was the first to mention the cycloid curve and made the first suggestion for laboratory methods and exact observation in medicine. In the midst of this scientific work he was made a bishop, eventually became a cardinal and was the close friend and counsellor of many popes.

The next great name in modern astronomy is that of Regiomontanus, so called, according to the custom of the time, from the Latin translation of the name of the place of his birth, Koenigsberg. His name was really Müller and he was a priest, high in favor with the ecclesiastical authorities who summoned him to Rome after he had demonstrated that he was deeply learned in astronomy, in order that he might correct the calendar. Unfortunately he died at the comparatively early age of forty, before this task was accomplished, but not {179} before he had stamped his name indelibly upon the renascent astronomy of that day.

The effective beginning of modern science came with Copernicus. He was a physician interested in medicine, mathematics and astronomy, who spent ten years in Italy studying these three subjects and then went back to practise medicine in the little town of Frauenberg, the bishop of which was a great personal friend who had probably helped in the payment of Copernigk's (to give him his Polish name) Italian studies. After a time Copernicus seems to have given up his profession of medicine to become a clergyman, though he was still consulted on medical subjects by his clerical colleagues and by the poor of the city. He became a canon of the Cathedral, though it is not sure that he was ordained a priest. He did not make many observations; nor were those that he made of very exact character, but on the basis of them he thought out a new theory of the heavens which attracted comparatively little attention in his time and was not seriously accepted by astronomers generally until after the middle of the seventeenth century, more than a century and a half after he had originally presented it to the scientific world. The first sketch of his theory was drawn up while he was a student in Italy, and after the fashion of his time he defended a thesis on it in Rome with the approbation of the ecclesiastical authorities. When he published his great book, which was to work what is probably the greatest revolution ever effected in men's thinking, he dedicated it with permission to Pope Paul III.


There was no objection to Copernicus' theory on the part of the Church authorities, nor to his book until Galileo insisted that this was the only way of looking at the heavens and that it represented a contradiction of the Scriptures. Then certain corrections were required to be made in Copernicus' book, bringing out the fact that it was taught as a theory explanatory of the movements of the heavenly bodies and not at all as a contradiction of Scripture. Copernicus himself continued to be looked up to by those near him all his life. They had no idea of the wonderful significance of the theory that he had elaborated. None of the astronomers of his time were ready to accept it. He was very like Abbot Mendel, two centuries and a half later, doing his work on pea plants and working out the laws of heredity a full generation before the scientists of our day were ready to accept it. Copernicus continued all his life to be a faithful son of the Church, a close personal friend of his bishop, whom he helped during the disturbances incident to Luther's teaching to keep his diocese in the fold of the Catholic Church, though dioceses all round it were very seriously disturbed and many of them fell away from Church teaching.

After Copernicus came the correction of the calendar long recognized as needed and which the popes had been planning to make. Regiomontanus had been summoned to Rome to make it but had died untimely and then Father Clavius, the Jesuit, had the task assigned to him. He worked out the correction and announced a calendar since called the Gregorian, because it was done under the patronage of Pope Gregory XIII, which {181} requires only the dropping of a single day once in four thousand years to keep it absolutely correct for the next hundred thousand years. Characteristically enough, the Protestant countries refused to accept even a correction of the calendar made on mathematical grounds at the hands of the pope. England continued to have "old style" for several centuries and Russia still holds on to it. When the days were dropped in England there was an epidemic and other public misfortunes not long after, and a mob wandered through the streets of London demanding back the ten days that had been taken away from them and insisting that it was the displeasure of the Almighty at interference with the calendar at the behest of the pope which brought misfortune upon them.

Just after astronomy came the development of anatomy in its scientific aspect. This all developed down in Italy most of it at papal universities and at the hands of men who were devout Catholics. The great father of anatomy, Vesalius, was a Belgian who found that he could not get material or opportunity for advanced study in anatomy in Louvain, so that he went to Paris but was disappointed even though he studied the bones from the Catacombs. He then went down to Italy, stayed there for twenty years, secured abundant material and encouragement and patronage, and wrote his great text book of anatomy there. It was published in beautiful form, magnificently illustrated and it is now one of the most precious bibliographic treasures in the history of medicine.

There is a Protestant (it is nothing else) tradition of Church opposition to anatomy and dissection, but there {182} is not the slightest evidence for this of any serious character. There is said to be a Bull of Pope Boniface VIII forbidding dissection, but what he forbade was the custom that arose in the later crusades of cutting up bodies, boiling them and then transporting them to long distances for burial. This was rightly considered a barbarous practice, dangerous to health. That papal Bull was issued in 1300, and I have published the full text of it in my volume The Popes and Science. It not only did not forbid dissection, but it was not by any misapprehension twisted to represent a policy of the Church in opposition to dissection. As a matter of fact the history of modern dissection begins immediately after that Bull, and we have the account of a whole series of dissections for anatomical purposes that were made in Italy in that first generation of the fourteenth century. [Note 15]

After this time Italy continued always to be the home of the best anatomical teaching in Europe. That is what attracted Vesalius there. And there is a series of magnificent contributions to anatomy before Vesalius' time. Not only anatomists but also artists did dissection, and everyone of the great artists of the Renaissance time manifestly had opportunities to study the human body in that way. Leonardo da Vinci made literally hundreds of dissections and left thousands of sketches of them. These have only come to light in recent years, but they are among the best pictures of dissections ever made. Michelangelo and Raphael also did dissections freely, but so did many others of the artists. The idea that President White has given of Vesalius dissecting in {183} fear and trembling, hidden away from the agents of the Inquisition, when a generation before his time artists in Italy were dissecting so freely, is very amusing. And yet a number of educated people have assumed on President White's authority that that must have been the case. It is but another of the hoaxes of history.

Professor Huxley suggested in his address as Lord Rector of Aberdeen University that "Physical science was an irreconcilable enemy to be excluded at all hazards. The College of Cardinals has not distinguished itself in physics or physiology; no pope has as yet set up public laboratories in the Vatican." It is easy to understand that such a sally would be greeted with a good humored smile over the bare idea of such a thing, and yet it is quite literally true that the popes did set up a laboratory in the Vatican,--for an observatory is a laboratory, the first laboratory in the history of modern science, and there has been a Vatican observatory practically ever since Clavius' time in the sixteenth century. There was no dissecting room in the Vatican, but there was a dissecting room in the papal university in Rome, and when Vesalius wanted to get material and opportunity for research in anatomy he came down to Italy, and some of his work was done at Bologna when that was in the papal states; and while the College of Cardinals did not distinguish itself in physiology, the papal physicians did in both these subjects and they were great friends of the cardinals and were encouraged in every way. Cardinals left directions for autopsies on their bodies to help the study of medicine. The Church was doing at least as much for science as it was for art {184} and architecture at this time, though the relationship to the Church was less direct.

At the beginning of the century following the period of Copernicus and the great Italian anatomists, Colombo, discoverer of the circulation of the blood in the lungs, Cesalpino, physiologist and botanist, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood in the body, Varolio, after whom the pons is named in the brain, Eustachio of the tube, and Fallopio of the other tube, most of whom were papal physicians, and Vesalius who was a very devout Catholic and according to the old tradition had a crucifix before him always while dissecting, came Galileo. It is when one realizes the policy of patronage of science on the part of the popes before Galileo's time that it is easier to understand the Galileo case. He insisted that the Copernican theory was the only one worthy to be considered, though at the time all the prominent astronomers of Europe were convinced followers of the Ptolemaic theory. He insisted on dragging the scriptures into the discussion, though the reasons he advanced for the Copernican theory have since been rejected and it is now held on quite other grounds. He was warned not to mix religion and astronomy and promised that he would not. He was given a pension to enable him to pursue his studies, and it was while enjoying this pension and still bound by his promise that he wrote the Dialogues in which once more he set forth the Copernican theory in a manner particularly offensive to all conservative thinkers and his personal friend the pope. None of the reasons that he advanced in the Dialogues are now accepted as demonstrating the truth {185} of Copernicanism. He was tried once more and punished for his conduct. Is it any wonder that Huxley wrote St. George Mivart that he had been looking into the Galileo case while he was in Rome and found that the pope and the cardinals had rather the better of it?

Galileo was punished, not by imprisonment in a dungeon as is usually said, for Galileo was never in prison for an hour. During his trial he was confined to the home of a cardinal friend, one of the most beautiful palaces in the papal city. After that the principal part of his punishment was to recite the Seven Penitential Psalms once a week for three years. In the meantime he was under surveillance, but that surveillance was entrusted first to his dearest friend and afterwards to his son. Galileo himself remained a faithful Catholic and his greatest happiness consisted in his association with his daughter who was a nun. When he was very ill the pope sent him his blessing. The pope and he had been great friends and the pontiff was very much shocked over Galileo's impudence in writing as he did under the circumstances and holding the pope up to some ridicule. It was much more a personal affair than any question of ecclesiastical policy. Galileo himself has told the story of his trial and his surveillance better than anyone else and the passage may be found in the Notes. [Note 16] This is the case on which is founded in most people's minds the idea that the Church has had a constant policy of opposition to science. All sorts of myths have gathered around it. Galileo is supposed to have said when he made his recantation "E pur se muove," "And yet it does move." This expression is {186} not to be found in the literature for nearly a hundred years after Galileo's death, and then it occurs first in the seventh edition of a French biographic dictionary though there was no mention of it in the sixth edition. Galileo's long life was a very happy one in the pursuit of science, as Bertrand the perpetual Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences, has emphasized. One need only read his own account of his trial to be quite assured of this.

The best historical commentary on the Galileo case is to be found in the career of Father Athanasius Kircher, the Jesuit scientist who was summoned to Rome to teach science not long after Galileo's trial. Kircher wrote no less than forty-four folio volumes on scientific subjects. To him we owe the word "electricity" and he wrote large volumes on magnetism, on light, on sound, on astronomy, on geology, as well as most other scientific subjects. He might very well be thought to have been a mere compiler but he was thoroughly objective and an indefatigable observer. He had himself lowered into the crater of Vesuvius in order to observe it and the changes taking place within it in connection with earthquakes in the neighborhood. He risked the pest in order to study it, wrote a volume on it in which we have one of the first definite declarations of the existence of living germs of disease. He thought he had seen them. He experimented with hypnotism, he invented a number of instruments for demonstrating phases of science, he founded a museum of ethnology which still attracts many visitors to the Roman College today, and he solved some of the problems connected {187} with hierogliphics and the Eastern languages. He corresponded with nearly every important scientist in Europe. He was a great friend of the popes of the century who encouraged his works in every way and missionaries all over the world gathered materials for his ethnological museum. Father Kircher, not Galileo, is the index of the Church's attitude toward science in the sixteenth century. [Note 17]

As a matter of fact Poggendorf's Biographic Lexicon of Science contains the lives of some ten thousand scientists about a thousand of whom are Catholic priests or prelates. Almost needless to say a priest's interests are quite apart from science as a rule. It is only because of deep interest in some phase of science and devotion to it so as to make original investigations that a priest's name will find its way into Poggendorf's great work. That so many of them did reach such a distinction without in any way disturbing their ecclesiastical status shows not only that there was no opposition to the study of science but that there must have been actual willingness on the part of ecclesiastical authorities to allow priests whose principal duty lay in other fields to take up such work and pursue it successfully. In the modern time as in the older days priests are found doing pioneer work. The Jesuits had a series of great astronomers during the century of Galileo when astronomy was still in its infancy but they have continued their interest ever since and their observatories in many of their colleges. To them, beginning with Father Secchi, the world owes more for increase of knowledge in meteorology than to any other body of {188} men. That tradition is maintained by the work of such men as Father Alguè of the Philippines and of Father Richard of Santa Clara, California, whose study of sun spots has meant so much for a real science of the weather. The new science of earthquakes they have taken up with that quiet persistence which has always characterized their work. Most of the Jesuit colleges throughout the world have gone to the expense of installing a seismometer and they have done very much for seismology and are looked upon as the authorities on this subject.

Biology has been the dominant science of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some may be of the opinion that perhaps the really dangerous department of science so far as faith is concerned developed only with the rise of interest in biology. It would be in this then that Church opposition should manifest itself. Anyone who knows the history of that science, however, will realize that some of the most important workers in it have been Catholics and not a few of them priests. The greatest biologist of the eighteenth century was undoubtedly Father Spallanzani who has been quoted so often in the modern time since we have been taking up the study of regeneration once more. His sister was his best helper and represents the opportunities often afforded to women for intellectual development in the sphere of the Church's influence. Lamarck to whom we owe the first modern presentation of the idea of evolution was a faithful Catholic. Father Mendel who afterwards became prior or abbot of his monastery is the greatest contributor to scientific as {189} opposed to theoretic biology in the modern time. Father Wasmann, S. J. is one of the greatest of living entomologists. Such men as Johannes Müller and Theodor Schwann, Claude Bernard, Pasteur and Fabre were Catholics and found nothing at all incompatible in their faith and science. There have been any number of distinguished teachers of science in the Catholic universities who have been priests. The Catholic university of Louvain has been a pioneer in biology and its journal, La Cellule, is well known. The most distinguished workers in one department of modern archeology, Father Obermaier and Abbe Breuil, are priests who take their priestly duties even more seriously than they take their work as archeologists though this has given them world reputations for their assiduous devotion to the elucidation of problems connected with the excavation of caveman remains in France and Spain.

The Church's interest in science is best demonstrated by a list of the men who did ground breaking work in science and who were either churchmen or very devoutly attached to the Church. The greatest medieval writer on surgery was Theodoric who was a bishop. The father of modern surgery is usually said to have been Guy de Chauliac who was a canon of the Cathedral of Lyons as well as papal physician. The first to insist by public teaching that the earth was not the centre of the universe but a star like the other stars moving in the heavens was Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa. The founder of modern mathematical astronomy was Regiomontanus. The father of modern astronomy is Copernicus, canon of the cathedral of Frauenburg who {190} studied in Italy and made the preliminary announcement of his theory down there. He dedicated his great work to the Pope with permission. The father of modern anatomy is Vesalius a very faithful Catholic who as a penance for what he considered a fault made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Harvey the father of modern physiology was not a Catholic but he spent five years in Italy making the fruitful studies on which his great discovery is based and he was such a friend of the Jesuits that it was sometimes said that he was more than half a Catholic at heart. The father of modern interest in glands was Stensen the Dane the discoverer of the duct of the perotid gland and also of the fact that the heart is not the organ of the emotions but just a muscle. He afterwards became a Catholic bishop, having been a professor of anatomy at the University of Copenhagen.

The father of modern pathology according to Virchow, who surely should have known, was Morgagni a great friend of four popes who always stopped in the papal palace when visiting Rome and who was very proud of the fact that out of his dozen of children eight girls had become nuns and one of his sons a Jesuit priest. The list of papal physicians is the greatest series of names in the history of medicine bound together by any bond. They are much greater than the faculty of any university in Christendom. Among them are many men forever famous in the history of medicine and the allied sciences. Two large quarto volumes are required for the account of them in the formal history {191} of them. The third edition of my work, "The Popes and Science," has some 60 pages of small print for a condensed account of their labors. [Note 18]




Philosophy, a term which comes to us from the Greek and means by etymology love of wisdom, was originally employed according to tradition by Pythagoras, who preferred to call himself a lover of wisdom, though the term sophos meaning wise was very common for a scholar at that time. Philosophy is above all the occupation of the mind with the great truths around us, the nature of things as they are, the meaning of existence as far as we can penetrate it, the place of humanity and its relation to the universe, as well as the consideration of the freedom of man and the sense of beauty and the sense of duty of which he enjoys the possession. Philosophy came to mean the body of highest truth so far as men had reached it at any given time. It represented the organized sum of human knowledge as exemplified in the great principles which men had deduced from their study of things as they are and therefore the science of which all other modes of knowledge are branches, since it concerns the most fundamental matters which lie behind and beyond all the other knowledge that men possess.

Philosophy is above all the science of things as we know them in their causes or the science of sufficient reasons for things in so far as we have been able to find them out. Its greatest maxim is undoubtedly the truism "Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers." It is {193} comparatively easy to know a great many things, to possess an immense body of information and yet to understand very little of it and perhaps to be quite incapable of applying it to the most important affairs of life. It is perfectly possible to know a great many things that are only partial truths and that in the course of time will prove to be distinctly erroneous. Facts are truths but constitute truth only when we know all the facts. Josh Billings, one of our beloved American philosophers, declared that "It is not so much the ignorance of mankind that makes them ridiculous as the knowing so many things that ain't so." There is a definition for a fool that has been suggested by some one in our generation which illustrates very well the difference between knowledge and wisdom, between philosophy and science, or perhaps we should say pseudo-science. It runs, "A fool is a man who has read everything and remembers it all." If it were possible for a man to have read everything and remember it all, he would not have any time to do any thinking for himself, and a fool is a man who does not think for himself, no matter how much he may know. The philosopher cultivates thoughtfulness rather than memory and tries to penetrate beneath the surface of things and understand their meaning.

Philosophy has always been a favorite study of churchmen. They have recognized the mysteries that lie all around us and they have endeavored just as far as possible to find the solution of those mysteries, though all the time recognizing the fact that very probably many of them are insoluble. There are many natural {194} mysteries that are quite beyond our comprehension as yet. There are a great many people who are inclined to think that science is solving mysteries, but as a matter of fact every advance in scientific knowledge multiplies the mysteries. A typical example is to be found in astronomy. With the naked eye we can see three thousand to five thousand stars. With the last great telescope that has been built it is said that they expect to see many billions of stars. We know ever so much more about the heavens, but the mystery of the universe is multiplied by the difference between a few thousand and many billions. The same thing is true in the world of the almost infinitely little. We are studying certain microbes now which produce definite diseases that we know and recognize easily, yet we cannot hope ever to see their bacterial causes, for they pass through the pores of a Pasteur-Chamberland filter and are therefore beyond even the theoretical powers of our microscopes. As for matter, see what a mystery it is. The hardest question in science, now after all the knowledge we have gathered is, what is matter? And yet it is no harder than that other comparatively simple question in appearance, what is mind?

It is not surprising, then, that there should be mysteries in the relations of man to a higher being and that these should be difficult of elucidation. It is not surprising either that there should be many as yet insoluble problems with regard to man's relations to the universe and his origin and destiny; and yet it is the business of philosophy or at least of the philosopher, the lover of wisdom, to come as near the solution of these problems {195} as possible. To leave them aside and say that we cannot know anything about them and therefore must not occupy ourselves with them is to refuse the fundamental urges of the intellectual life, while occupying ourselves with the knowledge gathered by our senses from the material world around us. We heard much of the promise and potency of matter after Tyndall made his famous address as the President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, but twenty-five years later almost to the day Michelson before the same body suggested that present day knowledge represented matter as only electricity and law. It is the laws of things that we want to know, but much more than that. These laws answer the question "how," but we want also the answer to the question "why," and above all we must go on seeking the answer to the question "what." The whyness and the whatness of things, their final causes and their essences, this is philosophy worthy of the mind of man at its best.

Just twenty-five years ago also Dubois Reymond, the great German physiologist, one of that group of deep thinkers who made the prestige of German science in the last generation of the nineteenth century, in his well known address as the President of the Society of German Naturalists and Physicians, declared that there were seven world riddles (Welt-Raetsel). They were matter, motion, law, life, sensation, consciousness and free will. Of at least three of these,--life, consciousness and free will, he declared not only that we did not know what they were, but that we would probably never know, indeed could scarcely hope to know about them {196} so far as science is concerned. Non solum ignoramus sed ignorabimus. It was in answer to this address that Haeckel wrote his volume Die Welt-Raetsel, a title which Father Joseph McCabe translated into "The Riddle of the Universe." Had it been translated "World Riddles" or better still "The World Riddles" fewer people would have thought that they were assisting at the solution of the mystery of the universe with Haeckel. To anyone who knows the records of the two men Dubois Reymond is so far ahead of Haeckel in scientific genius and in original scientific observations and achievements as to render the two quite beyond comparison. Naturally Dubois Reymond's expression created a sensation. It remains however as the humble confession of a philosophic scientist. While we may feel all the mystery of these subjects, it would be a confession of intellectual futility to refuse to search after knowledge with regard to them. It is the quest of ever deeper knowledge with regard to these great underlying subjects which constitutes philosophy and its cultivation is the one supremely worthy task of human life.

Christian contributions to philosophy began formally with the Fathers of the Church. It is true that toward the end of the first century after Christ and during the second century there was a new wisdom with regard to the meaning of life making itself felt, which can scarcely be explained unless one recalls the fact that the teaching of the Master in Judea was abroad in the world and was being widely diffused. Paul's speech on the Acropolis at Athens, his teaching in Corinth and at {197} Rome, the traditions of the East which kept constantly pouring in and the tendency of the Romans, who had outgrown their curious state religion which was at best only a series of adoptions and adaptations of the religious ideas of peoples whom they had conquered, to look to the Orient for religious principles, must have deeply influenced Roman ethical thought. Hence the stoicism almost Christian in character of Seneca, hence too very probably the confident finality of Epictetus on human conduct, and though Marcus Aurelius himself was a persecutor of the Church and was quite unconscious of the fact, hence the almost Christian philosophy which at times finds its way into the meditations of the philosopher emperor. Paul's Epistles must have attracted wide attention at that time and they contain not only the essence of Christianity but the well developed philosophic principles of the faith and many of their applications to human conduct.

The Fathers are thought of as theologians rather than philosophers and such they are, but they were engaged above all in setting forth the reasonableness of theology and demonstrating that its mysteries were not absurd according to human reason, which is the greatest business of philosophy. A book like Augustine's Confessions, however, represents an important contribution to philosophy, and it has an appeal not only to the human intellect but to that deeper faculty of thinking that by tradition, for want of a better term, we call the human heart, that is the intelligence of man touched by emotion which enables it to concentrate on the higher interests of mankind. Ever since, Augustine's {198} Confessions has been one of the books that has deeply touched men's hearts whenever they have been in quest of the highest truth. It is one of the few great autobiographies of the world's history that has never gone out of date and never will. It is the ardent thought of a supremely great thinker with regard to the mysteries of existence and the meaning of life and its relation to a Higher Power which it was given him to know--though not to understand,--and to love and to direct his life for, because that was the only course of action that gave a meaning to existence. For if there is no God and no hereafter, life is absurd and there are no laws that need bind a man except his own desires.

The first great Christian philosopher, apart from the Fathers, is Boëthius, who wrote The Consolations of Philosophy in the sixth century. The work was probably written while he was in prison with abundant opportunity for reflection on the instability of the favor of princes and the inconstancy of the devotion of friends. It is a dialogue between Philosophy and Boëthius, in which the Queen of the Sciences sets forth the consolation that she has for the statesman favorite of the King Theodoric who had lost the favor of his king. The thesis of the discourse is the transitory quality and unreality of earthly greatness and the supreme desirability of the things of the mind. There is a constant tradition since Boëthius' time that he really died a martyr for the Christian faith, and while there is nothing Christian in his book, that is because it was strictly a philosophical exercise after the model of Seneca and the pagan philosophers; but it contains, {199} to quote Bishop Turner, passages "which seem plainly to hint that after philosophy had poured out all her consolations for the benefit of the prisoner there are more potent remedies (validiora remedia) to which he may have recourse." Boëthius' work had an immense influence in the Middle Ages. It was translated into Anglo-Saxon by King Alfred of England and into old German by Notker Tuetonicus. Its influence may be traced in Beowulf and in Chaucer, in Anglo-Norman and Provençal popular poetry, and it was one of the favorite books of Dante. It was printed among the incunabula (Venice 1497), and has been reprinted many times since and very often even in the last hundred years, so that the book represents one of the favorite books of mankind which have undoubtedly had a very deep and wide influence.

For several centuries during the time known as the invasion of the barbarians there could be very little attention paid to the cultivation of philosophy. The first of the philosophers of the Middle Ages whose name has come down to us as an original thinker was John Scotus Erigena, John the Scot born in Erin, as the Latinized form of his name means, who is said to have gone to Oxford at the invitation of Alfred the Great in the ninth century and to have founded a school at Malmesbury. He composed a comprehensive philosophical work, De Divisione Naturae, in which he insisted that any authority which is not approved by right reason must be considered weak. He did not realize how far some of his doctrines went in confounding God with nature, but there is no doubt of his sincere {200} devotion to the Church, though he was an early Pantheist. His book was condemned three centuries after his death. In the meantime his philosophic method had influenced many and the first step in the organization of philosophy was made. Scotus Erigena was followed in the tenth century by Gerbert, who became pope under the name of Sylvester II in 999. He introduced the Arabic numerals into Europe, was well acquainted with astronomy, and was a mechanical inventor of distinction. To him we owe the introduction of the scholastic method in philosophy, which for nearly a thousand years since has meant so much. It should not be forgotten that it came from a man deeply interested in physical science and mechanical appliances, for scholasticism is usually presumed to have been the product of impractical men with an unconquerable tendency to theoretic speculation who scarcely looked at things as they were, and had no idea of how the secrets of nature might be useful for making life better.

During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries come the great scholastic philosophers properly so-called, beginning with Anselm down to St. Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus and Raymond Lully. It has been the custom during several generations for a great many educated people to belittle scholasticism and to say that it represented only the idle speculations of men intent on their own thoughts and not on the world around them. Men who presumed that they were educated have actually contented themselves with dismissing the scholastics by suggesting that a very important subject for discussion among them was "How many angels can {201} dance on the point of a pin?" I shall never forget a teacher of bacteriology who impressed upon us medical students the fact that bacteria were very small by saying that some thousands of them could rest quietly on the head of a pin and a man could not. I often wonder if some future humor-lacking critic of our education might not quote that phrase as showing how devoid of practicality was the teaching of medicine in our day. Certainly to suggest that the scholastics occupied themselves with such trifles is quite on a par with such a misinterpretation of the teaching of our bacteriology professor.

What is interesting is that all these contemptuous expressions with regard to scholasticism come from people who know nothing about scholasticism except what they have heard or read about it but without having studied any of it. The less they know the more contemptuous they are. Just as soon as anyone knows anything of scholasticism itself he takes up a very different position. Toward the end of his life some of Huxley's favorite reading was St. Thomas Aquinas because he found him so satisfying to his logic and reasoning powers. This same thing has been true of many others. Professor Saintsbury, of the University of Edinburgh, went so far as to say that scholasticism was probably more important than modern science in human values. He said, "Yet there has always in generous souls who have some tincture of philosophy, subsisted a curious kind of sympathy and yearning over the work of these generations of mainly disinterested scholars, who, whatever they were, were thorough, and whatever they could not do, could think. And there {202} have even, in these latter days, been some graceless ones who have asked whether the Science of the nineteenth century, after an equal interval, will be of any more positive value--whether it will not have even less comparative interest than that which appertains to the Scholasticism of the Thirteenth."

When Pope Leo XIII in a great Bull decreed that the teaching of philosophy and theology in Catholic colleges and seminaries should follow strictly the doctrine laid down by St. Thomas, who died nearly six and a half centuries ago, a great many people outside the Church were inclined to think that this was hopelessly reactionary and that it represented the typical obscurantism of Church thinking at all times. As a matter of fact many of St. Thomas' teachings when they happen to touch underlying principles in modern science have proved to be much nearer basic truth than many things which were taught even half a century ago by enthusiastic scientists. Thomas' teaching of matter and form for the constitution of matter is almost exactly what the physical chemists are teaching at the present time. He anticipated the doctrine of the indestructibility of matter and the conservation of energy, reaching these truths by pure reason, while what we did in the nineteenth century was to make an experimental demonstration of them. He anticipated all the principles on which our modern political and social problems must be solved. He laid firmly the basis for democracy and taught the stewardship of wealth and the living wage and the necessity for the consideration of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man {203} as the basis for any enduring solution of social problems.

Aquinas' assumption of Aristotle as the basis for his system of philosophy is sometimes considered to be an index of his failure to recognize that men had made progress in the meantime. The more we know about Aristotle, however, the less likely is anyone to think of Aquinas as being in any sense backward in his philosophic purview. Aristotle was undoubtedly possessed of the greatest mind that humanity has ever had and he proved capable of penetrating the meaning of things that he knew better than anyone has ever done. I shall never forget how once, in talking about the question of progress at a luncheon with President Roosevelt and a group of modern magazine editors, I ventured to say that surely no one would think for a moment that we in our generation were in philosophy ahead of Aristotle and Plato, and the President in his impulsive way at once interposed "But Plato and Aristotle belong to our generation." That extends our generation backwards somewhat in time, though not in spirit, and it represents the feeling of most of those who know their Greek philosophy. Even in biology Darwin's tribute to Aristotle, which may be found in the chapter on Science chapter on Science, is a very definite testimony to Aristotle's marvelous power of getting beneath the surface of things and seeing realities as they are and must ever continue to be.

It is often thought that after the scholastic period there were no great contributions to philosophy under the aegis of the Church, but this is quite as untrue and as unfounded as the contempt for scholasticism. As a {204} matter of fact, the founder of the inductive method of reasoning, or at least the man who worked out the principles of its application to natural science, was Bernardino Telesio, who "abandoned completely the purely intellectual sphere of the ancient Greeks and other thinkers prior to his time and proposed an inquiry into the data given by the senses." The first part of his work De rerum natura juxta propria principia, was published in 1565 in Rome, where Telesio had resided for several years enjoying the patronage of Pope Paul III. Francis Bacon confesses his obligation to Telesio, whom he frankly hails as the first experimental observer of nature. Giordano Bruno and Campanella, both of whom were the subject of legal persecution for political opinions which they held and whose names are therefore well known because they are supposed to be "horrible examples" of the way the Church suppressed freedom of thought, were disciples of Telesio's, but they mixed politics and religion with their philosophy and got into trouble. Bruno was what we would call an anarchist or Bolshevist in our time. He rejected many of the accepted principles of his time and had loose teachings on marriage. Everywhere that he wandered in Europe he attracted attention but always also opposition and persecution and governments felt that they could not have such a man freely teaching in their states. It is this and not at all his scientific teaching which accounts for Bruno's death at the stake in Rome. Campanella indulged in politics in Naples but succeeded in escaping to Rome and was afforded a refuge in the papal capital.


The inductive method was the last important step in philosophical development. It is true that Kant's critical philosophy has attracted much attention, but that was because in Germany and England where philosophy was most cultivated there was no link of union with the old scholastics and men were without the advantage of that traditional basis of thought which had been constructed by great thinkers for centuries. It has been pointed out that Kant's philosophy was anticipated in an objection formulated by Aquinas himself to one of his propositions and then refuted. While Kant has been the dominating influence in modern philosophic thought in Protestant countries, everyone is ready to confess his inability to completely understand him and Kant himself once said there was only one man in Europe who really did understand him and he did not understand him fully. Instead of the clarity of the scholastics we have the muddy waters of modern loose thinking which men like Saintsbury have deprecated rather bitterly. The great critic of the Scotch university did not hesitate to say, "If at the outset of the career of the modern languages men had thought with the looseness of modern thought, had indulged in the haphazard slovenliness of modern logic, had popularized theology and vulgarized rhetoric as we have seen both popularized and vulgarized since, we should indeed have been in evil case."

The Church's most valuable contribution to philosophy concerned the rights of man and the underlying principles in democracy. The great principles in this subject were laid down by Thomas Aquinas and the {206} culmination of the philosophy of democracy came from Suarez, a Spaniard teaching in Spanish universities during the reign of Philip II, of whom the Jesuit philosophical professor was a personal friend. Grotius, often looked upon in the modern time as the father of international law and the writer to whom moderns look back for their principles in what concerns international relations, recognized in Suarez a profound philosopher who anticipated much of his own thinking. Mackintosh, the Scotch writer on Philosophy, hailed Suarez as one of the founders of international law. Suarez has besides the very enviable distinction of having had one of his books, De defendone fidei, burned publicly by the hangman in London by order of the king of England (James I) because it contained matter entirely too liberal and democratic in what concerned the right of kings to rule and the duty of subjects to obey. For similar reasons the parliament of Paris prohibited the circulation of certain of Suarez' works and they even discussed the question as to whether these Spanish philosophers were not encouraging regicide by their writings on democracy and their teaching that authority came from the people and that there was no such thing as "the divine right of kings."

This doctrine of the divine right of kings is frequently said to be a heritage from the Middle Ages, but as with so many other things that have originated two or three centuries before our time and that we have learned to reject and then with false historical perspective often called medieval, the Middle Ages had nothing to do with it. No such doctrine is to be found among {207} the medieval philosophers, and on the contrary it came into existence as the result of the religious revolution in Germany in the sixteenth century, commonly spoken of as the Reformation, which made the ruler of the land the head of the Church as well as of the state (cujus regio ejus religio). James I of England, "the wisest fool in Christendom," the first of the Stuarts, wrote the first book on the divine rights of kings. Indeed it was unfortunate family insistence on this teaching of the first Stuart king of England which brought so much trouble to the Crown in England during the seventeenth century. Suarez emphatically pointed out that the opinion formulated by the King of England was "new and singular, invented to exaggerate the temporal and to minimize the spiritual power."

Suarez' teaching was that supreme political authority is given by God directly to a political community as a whole, inasmuch as He made men of such nature that they need to have a political organization. There is nothing in the nature of things to show that this organization should take the form of a monarchy or of an aristocracy or of any other mode of government, nor is there anything in the nature of things to show that the ruling authority should be located in any given person or group of persons. Political authority rests in the community as a whole and may be transferred by the community to one or more persons, whence it follows that no monarch has ruling power immediately from God but through the medium of the human will and human institutions.


Many educated people were shocked when Pope Leo XIII decreed that the teaching in Catholic theological seminaries and colleges should follow St. Thomas Aquinas, and most of them were inclined to think that this was pure reactionary backwardness for the sake of theology. Suarez, however, laying down the doctrine of modern democracy, was only following the doctrines of St. Thomas, just as with regard to social problems the Catholic Welfare Council was doing the same thing when it issued its pamphlet laying down the principles of social right and wrong after the war. Aquinas is ahead of, not behind the procession. The Neo-Scholastics, represented by a group of distinguished Catholic teachers of philosophy in the various countries, have in recent years followed Aquinas' methods and taking advantage of the greater knowledge of the physical world that we possess at the present time have applied his principles to the newer available information and have brought his philosophy up to date. Aquinas himself probably knew more of the available data of "science" in the sense of what it is given to man to understand about the order of things as they are than anybody else in his generation. Herbert Spencer in the modern time scarcely compares with him in that regard.

It is the fact that the Church has always been deeply intent on philosophy, has insisted on the study of it by her priests of course, but also on its having a place in the curriculum of all educational institutions under Church influence, which has constituted the intellectual appeal and humanly speaking the strength of the position of the Church all down the centuries. {209} Comparatively few men who devote themselves to science after having been trained in their early youth in the Christian sects outside the Catholic Church are able to retain their religious belief as their scientific knowledge accumulates. The logical position of any of the Protestant sects is not strong enough to bear the beating of the waves of modern rationalism against it. It would be almost a surprise to find that a man who was a deep scientific thinker could continue to hold his faith in any of the sects. They lack a philosophical thoroughness in point of view. This is not true for the High Church Anglicans because they occupy the position of the Catholic Church. One is not surprised then that Lord Kelvin or Clerk Maxwell insisted that science demonstrates the existence of a Creator. Scientists who have lost their faith come back to Catholicity and find consolation in the Church and satisfaction as to the meaning of life because of the profound philosophy which is the basis of all its doctrines and which has been a favorite subject of study for intellectual Catholics all down the centuries.

We have had some striking examples of distinguished scientists who have left the Catholic Church and then, while at the height of their fame as scientists, have become Catholics once more. Among them are such men as Claude Bernard, to whom modern science owes so much, and Fabre, the great French entomologist, of whom Darwin said that he was an incomparable observer. Here in America we have had a series of distinguished scientists who have become Catholics. Professor Hilgarde, to whom scientific agriculture owes {210} more in this country than to anyone else, is one of these. Professor Dwight, professor of anatomy at Harvard, is another. A large number of physicians such as Emmet, Horatio Storer, Van Buren, Edward L. Keyes, Battey, Derby, and others have become converts to Catholicity. It is sometimes said that where there are three physicians there are two atheists, but that is not true for Catholic physicians, who retain their faith very well. Joseph O'Dwyer to whom we owe so much for his invention of intubation, is a striking instance of this. So was Dr. John B. Murphy, the greatest of American surgeons and perhaps the greatest surgeon of the last three hundred years.

It is sometimes said that the Catholic Church has no attractions for intellectual people. They are afraid of or would resent the imposition of her authority. A Church, however, which satisfied Cardinal Newman and Cardinal Manning, and such geniuses as Pascal, Galvani, Volta, Coulomb, Ampere and Frederick Ozanam, to say nothing of Leverrier, Lavoisier, Lamarck, Claude Bernard and many others who might be mentioned, is not likely to lack attraction for intellectual people.

Dean Inge suggested sometime ago that anyone who is inclined to think that there is no attraction for the intellectuals in the Catholic Church and that it does not present a source of satisfaction that must be profound should recall that some very distinguished writers of the nineteenth century, after having dropped away from the Church for a time, returned to the fold and found happiness there. Among them are such men as Brunetière, François Coppée, Paul Bourget, Huysmans, Paul {211} Verlaine in his saner moments, and of course at the end of his life. A Church that has an appeal to such men, which causes them to reverse themselves in so important a matter as religion, cannot but have a profound appeal not only to the mind but to the heart,--that is, to that part of mankind in which man thinks when most deeply stirred.


Chapter XII


Kant said there are two supreme mysteries, the starry heavens at night and man's conscience. Since his time we have greatly increased the scope of the heavens. Instead of the few hundred thousand stars that had been discovered at that time by the human eye and their imperfect telescopes, the photographic plate and our perfected telescopes have revealed many hundred millions of them, probably even billions. In spite of the immense increase in the mystery of the universe, the extent of which has been modified by the difference between a few hundred thousand heavenly bodies and almost as many billions of them, the moral law stamped on man's conscience is still quite as great a mystery as that of the universe itself. We have extended the domain of the almost infinitely little in bacteriology and of the indefinitely minute in the realm of the atom down to the negative ion, but it is still as true as it was when Clerk Maxwell, the great English Physicist, first stated it that the most wonderful thing in science is "that spirit of order, our scientific confidence in which is never shaken by the difficulty which we experience in tracing it in the complex arrangements of visible things, and of which our moral estimation is shown in all our attempts to think and speak the truth and to ascertain the exact principles of distributive justice" He added, "From the ineffaceable characters {213} impressed on them (the ultimate particles of matter) we may learn that these aspirations, after accuracy in measurement, truth in statement, and justice in action, which we reckon among our noblest attributes as men, are ours because they are essential constituents of the image of Him Who in the beginning created not only the heaven and the earth, but the materials of which heaven and earth consist."

All men have an abiding sense of right and wrong. It is true that it is perfectly possible for men when their own interests or desires urge them and when the example of others disturbs them, to form a habit of contravening this sense of right and wrong. And such a habit like every other habit creates a second nature and may make them feel that they are justified in doing things which their inner voice of conscience at first told them to be wrong. A false conscience, that is, the creation of a false sense of right and wrong, is not so difficult if a man is determined on the pursuit of certain selfish ends. Above all there are a number of very natural bodily cravings with regard to which, if they are once deeply aroused, the laws of conscience may prove barriers of but the slightest kind. The love of money, or covetousness, for it may be an overwhelming desire for even small amounts of money, may lead people to contradict the deepest, holiest feelings that we have. Fathers and mothers may send their children of six and seven to work long hours in a factory to the manifest detriment of their health and their affection may be completely eclipsed by the thought of the few miserable pennies which they receive as their children's wages. {214} They may even come to think that they are quite justified in doing this because they see others doing it, but even in them there is always a sense of obligation in the matter that nags at them and constantly has to be pushed into the background and there are twinges of affection which prompt them to pity their children and take better care of them; but backed up by the example of others they persist in their cruelty to their own flesh and blood until others intervene and prevent them from exploiting them. The story of the abuse of children down the ages and the necessity for them to be cared for by others besides their own fathers and mothers is one of the striking examples in the history of mankind of the need of a guardian for the weak and of a mentor who shall make the strong realize that might is not right and who will thus arouse their dormant sense of right and wrong. [Note 19]

It must not be thought that this sort of thing, that is, the formation of a bad conscience, occurs only among the ignorant, nor even among those who though perhaps educated according to certain standards have but a comparatively small amount of intelligence. The example of Francis Bacon is a striking instance of the fact that the most intelligent of men may permit themselves to be carried away by personal interests into the ugliest kind of meanness. Just about three hundred years ago Francis Bacon, the Lord Chancellor of England, confessed that he had taken bribes. He did not confess until it had been proved up to the hilt so that denial was no longer possible. He was throwing himself on the mercy of the court. When he took {215} these bribes he was the holder of a series of offices under the English Crown, receiving a salary equivalent to well above one hundred thousand dollars a year in our money. In spite of this he, as the Lord Chancellor, the head of the judiciary in England, had taken bribes. He had his excuse. Such men always have. What he said was that he was the best Lord Chancellor that England had had for fifty years. He was probably right in this. The others had been worse than he was,--if possible. He might have made it nearly one hundred years. Lord Campbell in his Lives of the Lord Chancellors concluding his sketch of the life of Sir Thomas More said, "I am indeed reluctant to take leave of Sir Thomas More not only from his agreeable qualities and extraordinary merits, but from my abhorrence of the mean, sordid, unprincipled chancellors who succeeded him and made the latter half of the reign of Henry VIII the most disgraceful period in our annals." Sir Thomas More's successors were among Bacon's predecessors.

How familiar Bacon's excuse sounds when we put it in every day words. What he said was "They were all doing it." Men in the highest positions in England, men noted for their knowledge of the law and their intelligence, men chosen for the position only after they had exhibited high talents, were blunting their consciences, clouding their sense of right and wrong and taking bribes for the dispensing of what was called justice. It becomes perfectly evident under such circumstances that men need a guide and a director of conscience. Knowledge has often been supposed by {216} people in the modern time to make people better, but it has nothing at all to do with the production of any such effect. It is perfectly possible for a man to be extremely intelligent and supremely well educated and yet go completely wrong in matters of conduct. The influence of bad example, and it is eminently pervasive, especially when there is added to it the corrosive influence of graft or the allurements of luxury or the seduction of bodily satisfaction, may have very serious consequences and lead to infractions of the moral law which every man in his heart knows to be wrong, yet he justifies himself in doing them, or if he cannot quite justify himself at least he blunts the still small voice of conscience within and pretends that he thinks that it is all right. At least he is no worse than others and he finds his consolation in that.

It is easy to understand that there must be some institution which shall hold the balance and insist upon standards for mankind, and emphasize the natural law and its obligations and point out that it must be obeyed even though there may be excuses and it may be difficult to break away from the commonly accepted notions of those around and the cult of selfishness which leads to wrong. This is what the Church has been all down the ages. She has stood as the pillar and support for men's consciences and told them over and over again, when fashion or custom or bodily craving or over-weening ambitions led them to the violation of the laws of conscience, that these must be obeyed and must be vindicated. This constitutes the most important office that the Church has had in her history and on {217} her fulfilment of this depends her right to claim to be the representative of Christ upon earth.

This does not mean that the Churchmen themselves are all free from faults or that bad example and graft have not affected many of them. When the Lord Himself chose His apostles it might possibly have been expected that He would pick out a dozen of men who would be a striking example of all that is best for mankind in the after generations. Had he done so we would be lacking in one great source of consolation. Out of these twelve divinely picked men one betrayed (for money) and another denied (through fear) the Lord. Some one said, "Unless something like one out of six of the great leaders in Christ's Church have not some of the qualities of Judas and of Peter at their worst, then the Church lacks one of the important notes and is not Apostolic." Churchmen themselves would be the first to confess that ecclesiastics have the weaknesses of humanity and the faults of the race. [Note 20] What is wonderful, however, is that these weak men have been upheld in the direction of the Church, which has thus proved a pillar of support for the great principles of morality and the lighthouse of ethics which has guided ever so many all down the ages into the harbor of rightness of conscience and righteousness of life.

Casuistry, that is the settlement of cases of conscience or of difficulties of determining the right from the wrong, has come to labor under the innuendo of hair-splitting distinctions by which the wrong may be made to appear to be the right, but it must exist as a practical science because it is often an extremely {218} difficult matter even for the most intelligent to differentiate between the right and the wrong. Even in what relates to apparently such simple matters as money transactions it is not always an easy thing to decide upon obligations and indebtedness binding in conscience. It not infrequently happens that what is eminently legal is absolutely unjust. Bankruptcy laws are for instance extremely valuable in order to enable the embarrassed business man to get on his feet again, but it must be understood that the moral obligation to repay his creditors their losses is incumbent upon the bankrupt if he should ever accumulate sufficient money to have a surplus that would enable him to pay his debts. The question of the restoration of ill gotten goods or money is always a living one and the Church has proved a great medium for arousing men's consciences and securing repayment. Conscience funds of all kinds have been swollen as the result of advice given in the confessional. Men learn to neglect duties of this kind because they see others around them refusing to be bound by them, so that there is need of a tribunal or reminder and a monitor and guide.

In many other moral difficulties besides those relating to money the necessity for laying down certain principles which shall guide men cannot but be clear. There are friendly suits at law in order to determine legal rights and wrongs that remind us of the necessity for the similar settlement of cases in matters of conscience. Priests who are consulted by those who want to do what is right and are not sure as to their obligations, must be trained so as to be able to give proper advice and {219} the only way that this can be done is by the study of cases of conscience involving the various moral principles, and this is casuistry. The one who is consulted must neither be too lax nor too rigorous in his decision. Men are sometimes prone to forgive themselves too easily the wrongs they have done to others, while on the other hand when a man has been deeply stirred by some religious appeal or profoundly affected by some incident in life which has made him realize the truth of the maxim "What doth it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" he may be too rigorous with himself and perhaps even go to the extent of doing injustice to his wife and family or those dependent on him while in this mood. The expert Catholic casuist holds the balance for him and enables him to decide in strict justice to all concerned. This subject has been deeply studied and many thousands of books have been written about it and many hours of teaching devoted to it because the Church recognized its importance.

Some of the Church's achievements through maintaining her position in this matter have served to revolutionize human conduct in serious matters. When the Church came into existence and began to exert moral influence over society, the great evil of the day was the neglect of children. Children's lives were held so cheap as to be almost negligible. Practically anywhere throughout the civilized world a father had the right to say whether a female child should be raised or not and if he refused, the child was simply done away with. If a child male or female was crippled or deformed it {220} was almost inevitable that it would be put to death. According to Roman law a father had the right of life or death over his children. Personal human rights in this matter meant nothing. At the end of the first and the second century after Christ there had come among the pagans more respect for the rights of the child's life and the Romans even enacted laws that safe-guarded the child to some extent. This was such a change from the spirit of the Roman law of the earlier time as to make one feel that there must have been some extraneous agent at work in the social order of Rome. The conclusion is almost inevitable that the spirit of Christianity was making itself felt and Christian insistence upon the rights of man was exerting influence even over the minds of those who were not at all conscious of the undercurrent of feeling that was gradually leading up to the Christian concept of human rights that was to become the watchword of the world for the after time. The right of every individual to life must be respected and the weak must be protected, no matter how old the tradition of might making right should be.

The Church very soon made herself felt for the protection of children of all kinds, even the crippled and the weaklings, yes even the weak-minded and the backward in intelligence. They were all human beings with a soul to save and the right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness so far as that did not impinge upon the rights of others. That position the Church has continued to hold and insists on even at the present day. Churchmen look with suspicion on movements {221} that would supposedly bring about the betterment of the race by the elimination of the unfit.

Just as the Church protects the children so she protects the old and those suffering from incurable disease. Euthanasia, that is the giving of people an easy death when they are in pain and there seems to be no hope for them or at least getting them out of existence when they are but a useless burden on the community, is not permitted. If life had a meaning only for this world then these movements would be perfectly justified, and any of us might find ourselves so old or so useless that the community would decide that it would be better without us and we should have to take our turn at the chloroform bottle. Life is absurd if there is no other life than this, but when the existence of another life is once admitted, the terminal stage of existence even in pain takes on a new meaning and has a significance of possible developments in magnanimity for another plane of existence than this, and of evolution of soul under stress of conditions that develop patience and forbearance, which helps us to understand the real meaning of life.

Neither at the beginning nor at the end of life does the Church permit interference with human rights. Human beings have rights and those rights must be respected.

Even before the beginning of independent existence the human being has rights to life that are the equal of those of any other individual, no matter how apparently important that individual may be. The unborn child has very definite rights to life which the Church {222} has always vindicated. An infant is very often a weakling. Before our time and the improvement of hygiene and sanitation that came after Pasteur's work, nearly one in five of the infants born died during the first year of life. It is no wonder, naturally speaking, that putting the life of the mother of children, important in her sphere, indispensable to her husband and family, in the balance over against that of the unborn babe, the physician was inclined to think that the mother had a prior and a preeminent right to life where there was any question between the two. Yet the Church held that the little delicate mortal had its own right to life and must not be sacrificed even to save its mother. The doctrine was not popular, but the Church has constantly maintained it and society has had to be brought back over and over again from wanderings away from the principle, wanderings which might never have been retraced only that there was a monitor to warn and a definite authority to express the underlying moral law that must rule in these cases.

Here in the United States about the middle of the nineteenth century there was a great deal of loose teaching on the part of professors in medical schools with regard to this very important matter of' the right of the child to life and of the performance of abortion for all sorts of more or less unimportant reasons, or sometimes no reason, but just because it suited the convenience of the mother or her physician. Dr. Horatio Storer of Boston, distinguished for his work in gynecology, a student of Sir James Y. Simpson, and looked up to as one of the coming surgeons of the country, {223} laid down the principles of morality on which such cases must be decided. This act of justice was not accomplished without some personal odium for a time and even some limitation of his consultant practice. Such are the ways of men! His prize essay on abortion was published in a series of very large editions by the American Medical Association and widely distributed. It called particular attention to the rights of the child after the first moment of conception as equal to those of any other human being and to be considered just exactly as those of other living individuals. The movement thus initiated revolutionized medical practice in many ways in America and above all greatly lessened what was known as "therapeutic abortion," which by an unfortunate medical abuse had been done very often quite regardless of the rights of the child. Dr. Storer who came of an old New England family became a convert to the Catholic Church when he found that the Church was the living authority that insisted on the principles which he had been inculcating for the medical profession.

As the result of the Church's stand in this matter, craniotomy, that is the crushing of the skull of the child in order to facilitate delivery in difficult or impossible labor, was absolutely condemned. This teaching gradually led to the abandoning of craniotomy and the cultivation of Caesarean Section in order to secure the safety of mother and child in cases where natural delivery could not take place. The result has been the development of this operation until now there is almost no danger in it. Women are saved hours of most {224} poignant suffering by not being allowed to stay in labor for long periods and there is much less danger to the life of the mother herself and that of the child is saved. At that time a group of Catholic physicians throughout the country were very much interested in the subject and many of them made important contributions to the literature. They felt it a duty, as they said, "to check the slaughter of the innocents." Every teaching that impugned in any way the rights of the child to life was met by a straightforward attitude of opposition by the Church. When "Twilight sleep" came before the medical profession it was found to save the mother some pain but seriously to endanger the life of the child, and Christian counsels were against it.

The Church's teaching is that the mother's task is but half done when the child is born. She must if possible nurse it because that saves it from many dangers and is good also for the mother herself in many ways. The immense difference in the death rate even under favorable circumstances between the artificially fed and the nursed child is now well known. As a result of it in New York and Boston the foreign born mother raises one-seventh more of her children than does the native mother. This in spite of the great difference there is in the material circumstances of the children of these two classes of mothers.

Just as the Church has been intent on the right of the child so also she has been intent on the right of the wife and mother to the loyalty of her husband. Over and over again down the centuries, when monarchs or members of the high nobility wanted to put {225} their wives away and marry younger and handsomer women, the Church has interposed her absolute negative. In the case of Henry the VIII it cost the apostasy of England from the Church. Luther, knowing the weakness of men and yet their obstinacy under such circumstances, permitted the Elector of Saxony to take two wives. The Church's stand with regard to divorce is the one consistent position to assume in the midst of the flood of divorces in which the world is involved at the present moment. Many rich and influential people leave the Church because their desires in this matter will not be satisfied, but the Church stands firm and while making all due allowance for human nature's weakness recognizes that there is a moral principle to be insisted on in this matter.

Just exactly the same sort of position as the Church took with regard to abortion and the right of the child to life from the very first moment of its conception, was taken also with regard to birth control. There is perfect liberty on the part of parents to limit the number of children in their family and the Church has even canonized husbands and wives who have lived together as brother and sister and have had no children. It is not a question of having a large number of children to swell the membership in the Church or any other worldly reason. It is a question of individual fulfilment of natural laws which forbid the frustration of nature for selfish reasons. Nature has attached certain satisfactions to acts for the purpose of bringing about propagation of the race. When the word nature is used in that way the only reality behind the word is {226} nature's God. To frustrate this purpose, then, is a serious infringement of law. Where the Church's doctrine in the matter is neglected races are disappearing. In any city in this country where there is not a large foreign born population, except in certain parts of the South, the death rate is higher than the birth rate and Americans are disappearing. Race suicide is just ahead as the result of refusal to receive the Church's teaching. If our universities and colleges were to receive only the children of their graduates the numbers in attendance would soon dwindle sadly. Education makes people selfish and there is need of a guide and monitor to awaken people's consciousness and make them realize that they have allowed themselves to drift into serious neglect of important natural laws.

At all times the Church has taken a stand against social abuses. When duelling became a serious evil in modern society and men called each other out often to fight unto the death, often because of absurd customs and peccadilloes of honor, the Church refused Christian burial to those who had been killed in this way and refused the sacraments to those intent on such a settlement of personal differences and thus created an undercurrent of opposition that finally led to the eradication of the duel. All this was not accomplished at once nor by drastic measures but by quiet teachings that directed men's hearts and beliefs and eventually reached them. When in certain parts of Europe suicides increased in number and manifestly social usage was encouraging the crime, as in the old pagan days, similar special means of condemnation were taken and above {227} all Christian burial was prohibited and the suicide rate at once fell. The difference between the suicide rate in the Catholic and Protestant cantons of Switzerland is very striking. The lowest suicide rate in Europe is in Ireland and has been for centuries in spite of the suffering among the people and the little satisfaction there might seem to be in life under the trying circumstances of their national life for so long.

And so the Church has been the guardian of men against themselves and their own tendencies to self-destruction, as it has always been their best protector against the injustices of others. All down the centuries she has consistently taken her position as the upholder of the weak against the strong whenever there was question of moral principle involved. She has done this not by exerting strength against strength but by moral influence, directing men's minds in the knowledge of right and wrong but above all changing men's hearts so as to have them do the right. Unfortunately man is so constituted that in the words of the Apostle, he may know the better and wish to do it and yet follow after the worse. If the Apostle himself felt thus, it is easy to understand that churchmen have at times been in the wrong and have used their influence for the worse instead of the better. That represents the human side of the Church and to err is human, and there always will be abuses. The better things are, the more they are liable to abuse, but from the abuse of a thing no argument holds against its proper use and the Church has in the great majority of instances proven to be the {228} moral influence and pillar of truth that was needed to guide the affairs of men.

In times of war the Church has insisted on the rights of the weaker party and has always organized Christian charity for the care of the wounded and the ailing. During the Middle Ages her insistence on the right of refuge or sanctuary, that is that people who were in danger of their lives and who took refuge in a church or under the protection of the Church must not be harmed, secured for many a man accused of wrong and pursued by some one powerful enough to take his life, the right to proper trial and such delay as led to the calming of men's minds and the arousing of the latent sense of justice. The proclamation of the Truce of God, by which, even in the midst of war, men were at first required to abstain from all fighting from the Vesper hour on Saturday until Sunday was passed and later Friday and Thursday of each week were added to this period, had much to do in breaking up the savagery of warfare among the barbarous people in the earlier part of the second millennium of Christianity and brought about the establishment of international law and respect for the rights of non-combatants.

The Church did not try to reform the world nor change human nature by setting up a Utopian policy to prevent all war and then discouraged over the unattainment of the impossible give up as it were in despair the idea of being able to accomplish any good. You cannot change human nature, but you can modify it by degrees and bring it to more humane conditions in which some of the evils at least that have existed will {229} be lessened. That is the difference between the Church and the philanthropists or the philosophers who would establish their policies on pure reasoning about abstract right and wrong, forgetting the nature of man. There is little reason to think that war will ever cease to be a feature of human history. Wars can however be lessened in frequency and in barbarity. Our last Great War was a typical instance of the contradiction of ordinary impressions with regard to war. Nearly everybody was sure that we could not have a great war involving practically all the civilized nations and if we did by any chance have it, it could not last any more than a few months or even a few weeks, and we not only had it but it lasted for four years and a quarter and caused more death and human suffering than any war in human history. Indeed the wars of recent times have all been worse than their predecessors. And the twentieth century has had more wars for its years than any other.

In recent years the Church has devoted herself particularly to the social problems of the industrial world and especially to those which concern a decent living wage for the workman and the principles that are involved. Pope Leo XIII thirty years ago wrote a great Encyclical on labor in which the principles of the proper relations between employer and employee were laid down. The teaching of the Church has always been that the employer is bound in conscience to pay the man who works for him a decent living wage, that is, one which will enable him to provide a proper dwelling for his wife and family and afford them such food as will keep them in health and strength. [Note 21] After all, this {230} is only to ask for fellowmen what we demand for the animals in the service of men, proper shelter and sufficient food. Unless at least this much is secured, if the employer is making money from the work of his employee he is committing two of the "sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance," oppressing the poor and defrauding laborers of their wages. [Note 22] There must be no question of the employer obtaining his workman at as cheap a wage as possible regardless of whether that will support him and his wife and family, and he must not wait until the employee insists on demanding a living wage. He is bound in conscience to grant it.

But the Church goes much farther than this and suggests that a wealthy man is bound to share of his superfluity with others. He does not possess riches in the sense that he can do anything that he wants to with them and he is bound in conscience to take care of those around him who may be seriously in need. This was the teaching long ago of the Fathers of the Church and especially of Basil, but it has been renewed all down the centuries and now is emphasized once more when money has so largely taken the place of God and the spiritual in the eyes of men. Just after the war the National Catholic Welfare Conference and the Bishops and Archbishops of this country dwelt on the necessity of wealth being considered only a trust and of a man thinking of himself as the steward of his possessions for the benefit of others.

The Church's position with regard to evolution has been typical of her place as the teacher of all nations. While a number of Catholic scientists have been {231} evolutionists and such men as Abbot Mendel and Father Wasmann, S. J., have made distinct contributions to the subject, there has never been any question of Catholics believing that the world came by chance, or that there is not an overseeing Providence, or that man, even though his body may have been in some way derived from the animals by forces put into nature by the Creator, is not a being of an entirely different order from any of the animals. His ideas of immortality, his feeling of relationship with the spiritual world, his definite persuasion even in the lowest savages we know that the dead live though he sees their bodies disappearing, his sense of beauty and his power of expressing it, his sense of duty and of right and wrong are all proofs of the spiritual character of man that could not have come by any process of evolution, but must have been a special creation. We talk of the work of the poet and artist as creation, thus proclaiming that man was made in the image of God. The idea that the universe around us could have come by some fortuitous concourse of atoms and that law and order and life and consciousness could be the result of blind chance, the Church has emphatically repudiated. When Lord Kelvin asked Liebig, the great German chemist, if he believed that the grass and Bowers around us grew by mere chemical forces he answered, "No, no more than I could believe that a book of botany describing them could grow by mere chemical forces." This rationally common-sense view of the greatest of scientists has been the constant teaching of the Church.


While the greatest possible freedom is allowed students of biology and all the allied sciences, the idea that man is merely an animal, a tool-making and a tool-using animal, as some of the zoologists have declared, an animal without any more responsibility than the animals, and perishing as they do without a trace, has been formally rejected. The old scholastic philosophers believed in the possibility of spontaneous generation, and careful studies were made long ago of the growth of the hair and the nails for long years after the death of the body, so that there has been the greatest possible liberty of investigation with the production of a feeling of the most absolute confidence on the part of students that truth is the one object sought and that there is no question of interference with research but only with hasty half-baked conclusions. Always the ethical guide has been needed and has proven a blessed monitor for what was right and for real happiness.


Chapter XIII

Helping the Helpless

When Christ Himself lived here on earth there were just two things that He occupied Himself with,--teaching all men who came to Him and helping the helpless around Him. He went about doing good, curing the sick, enabling the lame to walk, the blind to see and the deaf to hear, but devoting Himself to the care of suffering humanity, though not neglecting His great duty of teaching. These two phases of Christ's life are very well exemplified in the history of the Church. Teaching all nations has been always exemplified. From the earliest days the houses of the Christian bishops even in the time of persecutions were homes for the very poor, for travelers and for the ailing. In their ceremony of consecration bishops are required to make a special solemn promise to care for the poor. As time went on bishops' houses became really hospitals, in both senses of that word, as guest houses and places for the ill who had no otherwhere to lay their heads. The orders of deacons and deaconesses were established and maintained so that their members might devote themselves to the care of the poor and the ailing and the instincts of the feminine heart were given an object, and women's affections were called upon so as to secure the best possible conditions for the poor.

When the Lord taught men how to pray, the prayer was "Our Father Who Art In Heaven." When a {234} doctor of the law asked Him, tempting Him: "Master, which is the great commandment of the law?" Jesus said to him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart.... This is the greatest and the first commandment, and the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets." The love of God is the first but the love of one's neighbor is not less in significance and is like unto the first so that it also is the great commandment of the law. Man's duty towards his neighbor was set down by God Himself as on a par with his duty towards God. He deliberately transferred man's obligations toward his Creator to his fellow creatures. On the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man Christianity is founded. When one asked Him, who is my neighbor? He told the parable of the good Samaritan and proclaimed that every man is our neighbor when we have the chance to do good to him. God called the quality of mind which incited us to do good to others charity. Caritas, the Latin original, means the dearness of men to others because of the obligations that we are all under as the result of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of human kind.

There are two great phases of charity. The first consists in helping the helpless, that is, in aiding those who cannot help themselves because of illness or crippling or physical or mental conditions which make it impossible for them to accomplish the ordinary work of mankind. Christ emphasized the obligation of helping such persons by going about during His active life {235} and doing good for them in every way possible. He healed the physically ailing and above all he consoled human hearts and lifted men up from ruts of discouragement and despondency so as to make life mean ever so much more than before. Christianity, if it is to deserve its name and fulfill its purpose of carrying on Christ's work, must therefore make this phase of charity one of the most important of its occupations. Anything like neglect of the helpless poor, of those who cannot help themselves, is a definite index of lack of true Christianity. The Church must be ready to make sacrifices for these people at all times, or else it is not following in the footsteps of its Lord and Master. Almost needless to say, nothing has been more characteristic of Catholic Christianity all down the centuries from the very beginning, and never more so than at the present time, than its care for those who could not help themselves. There have been vicissitudes and unfortunate ups and downs in the organization of charity, there have even been abuses of very serious character in connection with it, because the better a thing is the more it is open to abuse, but the exercise of charity in this sense of the term has been a main purpose of the Church that has attracted the attention of all thoughtful people outside of the fold.

The other phase of charity is that of helping people to help themselves. There are a very large number of men and women who, though in good health and strength, are quite incapable of helping themselves effectively. The psychological test made during the war is still in dispute so far as regards its real significance as an intelligence test, but at least it brought out very {236} clearly that a very large number of young men even in our day and with our great public school system could not be expected to make even a reasonable success of life unless special attention were given to them by those possessed of more of the capacity for and the practical wisdom of life. They need to be helped to help themselves. It is probably true that in all times one in three of mankind, perhaps more, are thus conditioned. It is a very great charity to care for these, as much of a charity indeed as it is to care for the helpless who are made so by positive disease or serious abnormality or defect. The Church has taken care of this phase of charity also. This is so large a subject in the history of Church social influence, however, that it cannot be treated in a single chapter with the other phase of Helping the Helpless, and so it will be found in the subsequent chapter.

It had been one of the disgraces of the older civilizations during the centuries just before Christianity, deeply intellectual though they were, that they made almost no provision for the poor. To a very great extent the rule of life had been, "Every man for himself." Blood relationship imposed a duty and created a claim on others, but beyond that there was almost nothing to bind men to each other. The best demonstration of this is to be found in the fact that the modern idea of a public hospital was quite unknown in the pre-Christian time. Magnificent medical institutions, luxuriantly arranged health resorts for the wealthy, or the friends of the wealthy, they had in abundance. They also had hospitals in our modern sense of the word for {237} the care of the sick soldiers founded by the State and maintained at government expense, and there were similar institutions in which ailing slaves would be cared for at the expense of their masters, but it is easy to understand how far such institutions were from public hospitals as we know them. If you belonged to someone else your health was a subject of special interest and would be cared for. If you were a soldier or a slave so that there was a distinct advantage to others in having you in good health, then there were public institutions to house you. But if you belonged merely to yourself and anything pathological developed, unless you were in a position to help yourself or there were friends to assume that burden for you, there was no provision to help you regain health and above all none to soothe your last hours if you were afflicted with an incurable disease. No wonder we hear about so many suicides among the Greeks and Romans, for life must have seemed quite worthless and almost hopeless whenever a disease was severe.

Christianity changed all that. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" was one of the two great laws of Christianity. Your neighbor, according to the parable of the Good Samaritan, was anyone who needed you and the more he needed you the greater was your duty to help him. If he were old and poor and in suffering you had an obligation to him no matter who he was. If he were suffering from an incurable disease, if he were a leper and aroused natural feelings of deterrence, if he were suffering from cancer and there was not a shred of hope for him living beyond a few painful {238} months, your obligation was all the greater. If he were insane and could not care for himself, if he were an imbecile and could never hope to be able to care for himself, your duty as a Christian toward him was all the more manifest. Hence there arose, just as soon as the persecutions were at an end and Christianity had a chance to express itself in a public way, a series of institutions in which all these different classes of the helpless were cared for. Back even in the fourth century there are very definite accounts of orphanotrophia for the orphans, nosocomia, hospitals, particularly for the care of the chronic ailments, nursling institutions (they did not call them foundling asylums), homes for the aged, and then asylums for the care of the insane and the feeble minded. They represented a very definite policy on the part of the Church in which she was following the injunctions of her Divine Master.

The first hospitals came into existence shortly after Constantine's edict, after the battle of the Milvian Bridge, which allowed the Christians freedom of worship and permitted them to exercise publicly the various functions of Christianity. Fabiola, herself a descendant of the distinguished old Fabian family whose ancestor Fabius had saved Rome by delaying, founded the first formal hospital in Rome and organized social service for the ailing poor in connection with it. There was regular visitation of the sick outside of the hospital and such an organization of charity that when Fabiola died all of Rome crowded to her funeral, and unfortunately the ardor of their desire to do honor to this woman who had done so much for the poor was so great that some {239} people are said to have been trampled to death during the funeral services. Her example, as might have been expected under the circumstances of her birth and prestige, was very soon followed in other Roman cities and the organization of hospitals came to be the order of the day very much as in our own time.

In the East the hospital movement among Christians had begun even earlier than this. It is said that St. Zoticus built one at Constantinople during the reign of Constantine, though there is some question as to this. That the Christians in the East had founded many hospitals before Julian the Apostate came to the throne is evident from Julian's letter to Arsacius in which he declared that it would be impossible to hope for a return of the old Olympic religion into prestige unless it could rival Christianity in the fruits of charity and care for others. Julian's words show that Christian charity provided care not only for Christians but also for pagans. According to a very old tradition that is well authenticated a splendid instance of this comprehensive charity is found in the work of St. Ephraim, who during the plague at Edessa about the beginning of the last quarter of the fourth century, provided some three hundred beds for the sufferers from the disease who had no one to care for them. No wonder that Julian ordered the establishment of hospitals both as guest houses and homes for the sick, in each city to be supported out of the public revenue. Christianity had aroused men to a sense of their duty in such matters which had not existed before in the history of mankind.


The finest example of the organization of social service, as we would call it, in the early Christian times under Church auspices is the famous foundation of St. Basil, the Greek father of the Church, in his diocesan city of Caesarea in Cappadocia. This foundation was laid in the third quarter of the fourth century. It was of such an extensive character and contained so many buildings outside of the city of Cappadocia that it came to be called "the new town." It had regular streets, buildings for different classes of patients, a house for infants, a home for orphans, a refuge for the old, a place for the segregation of those suffering from contagious diseases, it had dwellings for physicians and nurses, there were even work shops and industrial schools, so that no wonder this institution, known in honor of its founder as the Basilias, has been famous ever since in the history of organized charity. They actually seem to have done reconstruction work in our very latest sense of that term, by enabling maimed men to learn trades which they would be able to follow in spite of their crippled condition, and they had employment agencies and other arrangements for making life easier for those who needed such special care. No wonder that St. Gregory Nazianzen was so loud in his praise of the efficiency of this institution and that he has described it very enthusiastically.

St. Basil's example as might have been expected, was followed generally throughout the East. St. John Chrysostom, the archbishop of Constantinople, founded a hospital there, and St. Pulcheria the sister of the emperor Theodosius II, founded {241} multa publica hospitum el pauperum domicilia, "many public guest houses and homes for the poor." St. Samson founded a hospital near the Church of St. Sophia in the sixth century, and when this was destroyed it was restored under Justinian, who also built other hospitals. Du Cange enumerates thirty-five hospital foundations in Constantinople, and we have very definite accounts of the work that was done in them. The West was not behind in the taking up of this hospital movement. At Lyons there was a Xenodochium, or home for strangers, especially the ailing, founded by King Childebert and his wife before the middle of the sixth century. After this we have similar foundations by Brunehaut, wife of King Sigibert, at Autun, and by St. Radegunda, wife of King Clotaire, at Athis near Paris, of Caesarius and his sister, St. Caesaria, at Aries, and finally of the Hotel Dieu in Paris, which is still in existence, though according to Haeser, the well known historian of medicine, it was founded shortly after the middle of the seventh century. In Spain hospitals were founded before the end of the sixth century and the orders were that wherever they found a sick man, "slave or free, Christian or Jew, they should bring him in their arms to the hospital and provide him with bed and proper nourishment."

For the benefit of pilgrims to the Holy Land before the Crusades came the foundation of the order of St. John of Jerusalem, known as the Knights Hospitalers, because the principal duty was the care of strangers and the ailing. During the crusades their hospitals in Jerusalem provided for over a thousand {242} patients. In connection with this there was an order of nursing women of St. Mary of Jerusalem, whose hospital also became famous. Later the Knights Templars, originally established as an order for the care of the ailing and the wounded in an edifice which stood on the site of the Temple of Jerusalem, hence their name, came into existence. The Teutonic order of Knights who afterwards conquered Prussia and whose general at the time of the Reformation sequestrated the property and domain of the order and took it for his own family, becoming King of Prussia, developed out of a field hospital under the walls of Acre in which Count Adolph of Holstein with other Germans, especially from Bremen and Lübeck, ministered to the sick and wounded.

The members of these orders bound themselves by vow to the service of the sick and the rule prescribed that wherever the order was introduced it should build a hospital. The heart of Europe went out to the Crusaders quite as the American people's heart went out to our young soldiers during the war, and the contributions made for the care of the wounded during both periods were enormous. As a result properties of different kinds, many of them productive, were given to these nursing orders as endowments and they enjoyed immense revenues and did very great good. Unfortunately their prosperity, as always, proved their undoing at times: but reforms, as is necessary in everything human, were made and they continued to accomplish an immense amount of good. {243}

After the Crusades these endowments which consisted mainly of properties rented in various places were used for the benefit of sufferers from flood and fire and especially from epidemics of various kinds which raged rather severely during the fourteenth century, until the work organized in connection with them would remind one very much of what our own Red Cross is doing. The sisters of St. Mary of Jerusalem, to whom much of this work was confided, curiously enough wore a red cross on their tunics, though this has no relation to the modern red cross. It is very interesting to find that St. Camillus of Lellis, who organized in the sixteenth century a religious order of men who as neutrals succored the wounded in times of war and took care of the ailing in the armies also adopted a red cross as the badge by which his community was recognized. He did an immense amount of good work, and branches of the order were established in many places.

A special feature down the centuries of abiding charity has been various organizations for the relief and redemption of captives taken by the Moorish pirates, held as slaves and often suffering very severely in their slavery. Literally hundreds of thousands of these captives were relieved in one way or another and many thousands of them ransomed by these religious orders which began their work in the thirteenth century and continued it until the religious revolution of the sixteenth century so disturbed political conditions in Europe as greatly to hamper the charity. We who know as a result of the last war how much of good was {244} accomplished by those who made themselves intermediaries between the prisoners in Germany and their home folk will realize to some degree, though not completely, what these religious orders for the ransomed captives accomplished. Cervantes, the hero of Lepanto, was captured by the Barbary Moorish pirates and was a slave for several years until ransomed. The United States only with the beginning of the nineteenth century finally placed a term to the abuse by which Christians were reduced to slavery in the Barbary States.

During the thirteenth century an immense number of hospitals were built. The Italian cities were the leaders in the movement. Milan had no less than a dozen hospitals and Florence before the end of the fourteenth century had some thirty hospitals. Some of these were very beautiful buildings. At Milan a portion of the general hospital was designed by Bramante and another part of it by Michelangelo. The Hospital of the Innocents in Florence for foundlings was an architectural gem. The hospital of Sienna, built in honor of St. Catherine, has been famous ever since. Everywhere throughout Europe this hospital movement spread. [Note 23] Virchow, the great German pathologist, in an article on hospitals, showed that every city of Germany of five thousand inhabitants had its hospital. He traced all of this hospital movement to Pope Innocent III, and though he was least of all papistically inclined, Virchow did not hesitate to give extremely high praise to this pontiff for all that he accomplished for the benefit of children and of suffering mankind: [Note 24]


To Innocent is owed the foundation of the famous old hospital of the Holy Ghost, the well known Santo Spirito in the Bargo, not far from the Vatican. The pope had made inquiries as to who would be the best to whom to confide the establishment of a hospital and was told that Guy, or Guido, of Montpellier, had made the model hospital of the time in the south of France. Guy was summoned to Rome then and given carte blanche for the building and organization of the hospital. This the pope decided upon as the type, and when bishops came from their Sees to make their required visit ad limina to the Holy Father, the pontiff suggested to them that they should visit the Holy Ghost hospital and as far as possible make one like it in their dioceses. These hospitals were in charge of the Brothers and Sisters of the Holy Spirit and were famous for the good order with which they were maintained. [Note 25] Their rules and regulations are extant and they emphasized above all the necessity for taking every care of the poor and providing them with everything needed for their ailments. They were to be treated as the Lord Himself, and as a matter of fact hospital care was so good that precautions had to be taken not to permit "sturdy beggars" to take advantage of it or impose upon the hospital by pretended ailments and thus secure for themselves a nice easy life or at least a refuge during the colder months until they could take the road again.

Some of the most beautiful hospitals ever built were erected, as we have said, during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Care was taken to secure a good location, the bank of a river being preferred, and most {246} of the hospitals were built outside of the city walls for the express purpose of providing better air for the inmates and preventing the spread of contagious disease. It was the custom to decorate the hospitals with beautiful frescoes and the result was that patients had much more occupation of mind than they have in our bare walled hospitals. (See Walsh "The Popes and Science" Chapter, Hospitals.) It is only in very recent years that we have come back to building hospitals with anything like the architectural beauty they had in the older times. The hospital at Sienna, built in honor of St. Catherine, and the Ospedale Maggiore of Milan are typical examples of this architectural beauty. Dr. W. Gill Wiley, in his Boylston Prize Essay on Hospitals, has high words of praise for what was accomplished under the influence of the church of Rome for the erection of beautiful hospitals and the development of hospital organization. Everywhere this was true. Italy was not alone; France and Spain, as well as England and Germany and Sweden, all present some magnificent hospital foundations during the period preceding the Reformation. [Note 26]

The hospitals for the sick, meant to house mainly the ailing poor who could not be cared for at their homes, were usually very beautiful buildings. They were looked upon as public institutions and were built with the idea of being appropriate to the dignity of the city rather than fitted for the housing of the poor. [Note 27] Great artists were asked to decorate them and some of their most beautiful pictures were made for hospitals. The pretty bambine of Luca Della Robbia were made {247} for the Hospital of the Innocents, as it was called, or as in our ruder northern way we would say a foundling asylum. Catholic charity did not label children with a badge of infamy. The very beautiful hospital at Sienna was erected in memory of St. Catherine of Sienna, who had served in it for many years taking care of the ailing poor, not shrinking from the task even during the time of the Black Death, and who organized a sort of visiting nurses' system in the Sienna of the fourteenth century. She visited the prison also, and though she dreaded the sight of blood was known to accompany a man to the scaffold where he was to be beheaded in order to tempt him to make his peace with God. The Siennese proclaimed her a saint and therefore rebuilt this hospital in her honor, and it was decorated by some of their great artists. It is one of the most beautiful monuments ever erected to a woman.

This custom obtained not only in Italy but also in western Europe and the very beautiful pictures of St. Ursula and the eleven thousand virgins were made for the great hospital of St. John at Bruges by Memmling. It is said that the artist was unable to pay his hospital fees and did not want to accept the service without some return, so he painted the pictures. They have been one of the most precious treasures of the hospital ever since. The last time I visited them in 1913 I was told that nearly one hundred thousand people had paid admission to see them the year before. As admission was a franc that meant nearly twenty thousand dollars that in a single year came into the funds of the hospital for the exhibition of these pictures four hundred {248} years after they were painted and presented by the artist in lieu of money. Anyone who has ever seen them and has any feeling for art must be quite sure that it was well worth while paying the franc to see them. They were accepted by the hospital authorities with the idea that there should be beautiful things for the patients to see, so as to distract their minds from themselves and to lift their hearts up above the sordid consideration of their sufferings and their surroundings.

Down in Spain the governors of the great hospital of Seville gave to Murillo the commission of painting a dozen of paintings for its walls, mainly of the scenes of Christ's life in which He went about healing the sick and doing good. These are sometimes said to be his greatest paintings, and it is easy to understand how much his pictures must have satisfied the minds of not only the patients but the visitors who came to see the patients and how much such surroundings must have tempted them to make their visits more frequent. We keep our great pictures in the modern time in museums to which people must pay special visits in order to see them. In the older days, mainly under the influence of the Church and religious orders, the pictures were in the churches and the hospitals, the guild halls and public buildings generally. People had to go to these a certain number of times every year either for the purpose of fulfilling their religious obligations or else for other reasons and they were brought in intimate contact with great art. This was a much better way of getting art in touch with the people. We are beginning {249} now to paint our court houses, state capitols and even sometimes our town halls in the cities in the way that was popular in the Middle Ages, and in so far as we are doing that we are imitating the movement with regard to art that was so manifest six or seven centuries ago. We have not as yet come to the point where we decorate our hospitals and make them things of beauty inside as well as outside. It might be done without interfering in the slightest degree with the surgical cleanliness of the hospital and to the great benefit of patients in the effect produced on their minds and the occupation with other thoughts besides those with which they concern themselves, often disturbingly.

Their care for the insane was very interesting, particularly in the light of traditions which proclaim that before our time the insane were frightfully abused. Undoubtedly they were in the post-Reformation time, down to the beginning of the latter half of the nineteenth century, when reform began to make itself felt. Under the protection of the Church, however, the insane were well cared for during the Middle Ages. In the earlier days there were special congregations of religious who housed them and then, when hospitals increased in number, they were cared for in these. The Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London gradually came to care exclusively for the insane. It is usually considered that they knew very little about insanity in the Middle Ages, but anyone who will read the brief paragraph of Bartholomew, the Englishman, who wrote an encyclopedia for priests about the middle of the thirteenth century, will not be likely to think that {250} insanity was not understood. Bartholomew described in a few words but quite fully the causes, the symptoms and the proper treatment of the insane. They were to be gladdened with music, given occupation and were to be taken away from the environment in which their insanity had developed. [Note 28]

They evidently had the open door system as we would call it, for we hear of "bedlam beggars," that is, men who had been in Bedlam for a time and then were allowed to go out, wearing a distinctive badge however, which showed that they had been in Bedlam. This put them under the protection of the public and in case of necessity they were cared for and were not imposed upon. Indeed, they were treated so well that sometimes sturdy vagrants, that is, the tramps, for we have always had the tramp with us, stole the Bedlam tokens, or obtained possession of them surreptitiously when the original owner died. They then wore them in order to secure the sympathy and aid which would be so freely given to those who had been in Bedlam and were deemed to need it.

Under the aegis of the Church the Middle Ages began the proper care of the imbeciles or feeble-minded. The village of Gheel in Belgium has been for many centuries a village colony for the feeble-minded. A young Irish girl named Dympna went over to Belgium to help the Irish missionaries convert the fierce Germans along that north sea coast. They refused to allow her to teach their normal children, but they allowed her to take care of the feeble-minded, and she was glad to do it so as to have the chance to baptize {251} them. After a time Dympna was martyred and her martyrdom brought about the conversion of the people and the shrine in her honor was erected. As they remembered her interest in the feeble-minded they brought the backward children to her shrine hoping that they would be cured. Many of them came to be left in the village and so there grew up about a thousand years ago that village plan of caring for defectives and epileptics which we have come to realize in our day represents the best possible environment for them and we are imitating it in Craig Colony for epileptics and Letchworth village in New York, as well as in many other parts of the country. Many other villages took up the sort of work done at Gheel and the traditions of some of them remain to our day.

The medieval care for the leper, organized mainly under the stimulus of the Church, is an extremely interesting feature of the life of the time, and a striking exemplification of the solution of a thorny social problem in a very satisfactory way. Leprosy developed very probably in connection with the visitation to the Holy Land by pilgrims and then was given a great impetus in many parts of Europe by the Crusades. It has been suggested that perhaps leprosy was as common in the later Middle Ages as tuberculosis is in ours. The two diseases have certain relations to each other in their pathological picture, they are both chronic granumolata and their microbic causes are probably related. Leprosy is mildly contagious though ever so much less than tuberculosis. It was resolved to get rid of it, so laws were made segregating the lepers. They were {252} compelled to live in colonies by themselves outside of the towns and by the enforcement of these laws the medieval people succeeded in wiping out leprosy. It has been said that if we shall succeed in eliminating tuberculosis in anything like the same way we may very well be proud of the fact for the sake of humanity.

These lazar colonies, or leproseries, as they were called, were under the patronage of Lazarus, probably not the Lazarus who had been raised from the dead, but the Lazarus whose sores had been licked by dogs outside the door of the rich man. Ordinarily it is presumed that condemnation to a leper colony must have been an awful thing, a sort of social death. To some extent this was true. But the leper colonies were very often beautifully situated. They consisted of a series of small neat houses, a chapel in the midst of them, Mass was said every morning and the lepers themselves came to be quite well satisfied with their condition. They looked upon their affliction as something that they might offer up as a sacrifice for their own sins and those of others, their prayers were asked for by their neighbors because they were thought to have a special efficacy, since suffering had purified their intentions, and many of the inhabitants were looked upon as saintly in character. Members of the nobility and especially members of royal families often made it a point when passing leper colonies to visit them, or if they passed lepers on the road to greet them and give them a dole of alms and they were regularly sent presents on the high festival days. There were priests and religious who were willing to make the sacrifice to care for them just as there have {253} been in the modern time. Father Damian in our generation went to Molokai to care for the lepers and himself died of the disease, and the world heard much of him but very little has been said of his colleagues in similar work in many places, and almost nothing about the Sisters who made the sacrifice of caring for the lepers at Tracadie, in eastern Canada, and in Louisiana, though their sacrifice was made just as whole-heartedly. At the present moment there are Catholic religious caring for the lepers in many parts of the world.

All down the centuries then the Church has been the good Samaritan, helping those above all who could not help themselves, those who were stricken with incurable disease of mind or body, the maimed and the crippled, the blind and the leper, the imbecile and the idiot. There is no mode of care for these in which the Church has not been the pioneer; and yet today, after nearly two thousand years, the Church is doing more than ever for all these classes of people and doing it quietly and without any fuss and as a rule doing it ever so much more efficiently than other people. At the present time, at the end of the first quarter of the twentieth century, they are in this country of ours some six hundred sisters' hospitals, besides institutions of all kinds that care for the orphans, the insane, the old and the incurable. The sisters' hospitals are finely managed. They succeed where others fail. The surprise is how they succeed in doing as much as they do. Their efficiency is a proverb. Some of the best surgery done in our generation is being done in sisters' hospitals in this country. At his death Dr. Murphy of {254} Chicago was proclaimed the greatest surgeon that we had for three hundred years, and most of his surgery was done in Mercy Hospital in Chicago. It is sisters who are in charge of the great hospital of St. Mary's at Rochester, in Minnesota, where the Mayo brothers are doing their magnificent work in surgery and to which all the world looks for instruction in surgery.

When one hundred years ago there was an epidemic of cholera in Philadelphia and old Blockley hospital was crowded with cholera patients the nurses struck for higher wages, got them and then went on a drunk. The Board of Trustees of the Hospital in despair over conditions went to Bishop Kendrick of Philadelphia and asked him if sisters could be secured to take care of the patients. A messenger was sent down to Emmitsburg and six Sisters of Charity started on horseback two hours after the summons was received. Their feelings can be better imagined than described. They were coming to take charge of a hospital full of cholera with all the nurses intoxicated, but they put order into the place at once and gave Blockley its "one short interregnum of peace which broke the long and distressing reign of violence and cruelty." [Note 29]

When New York had an epidemic of smallpox in 1876 and there were scandals in the pest house on the island, the Sisters of Charity of New York, took charge there and at once revolutionized conditions. No wonder that in both cases the sisters were given heartfelt glowing tributes by those who had the responsibility for the patients.


Only the Catholic Church can supply at all times in history the workers who are capable of forgetting themselves in this way and accomplishing such wonderful results. Ask the soldiers of the last war and they will tell you the same story of the thoroughgoing forgetfulness of self on the part of the Catholic chaplains. The old tradition is as strong now as it was nineteen hundred years ago. Our Civil War showed this clearly. [Note 30]

The principal feature of charity as practiced by Christians lay in the fact that when they did things for others they had no feeling of condescension because they were good enough to be helpful to other people but on the contrary they felt that it was a privilege to be allowed to help the poor since they represented God Himself. They had been told, "Whatsoever thou shalt do for the least of these, my brethren, thou doest even unto Me." Best of all, the poor themselves had the feeling that it was not being done so much for them as for God's sake, because of the obligations implied by the Fatherhood of God, and hence there was no feeling of pauperization that went with it. Besides, sacrifice is looked upon as the highest exercise of Christianity, and hence the person who did the charity felt that the sacrifice involved reacted to make his own character as a Christian better. Just in proportion to the amount of sacrifice required was the value of the act for the individual doer of it. St. Francis de Sales is said to have said that "unless the charity you do does as much good for you as it does for the one for whom it is done, there is something wrong with the charity." Unless charity involved some sacrifice there was very little of {256} merit in it. If all that it required was the signing of a check for a sum of money almost negligible in itself out of a large income there was but the slightest sacrifice involved and the smallest of merit. Indeed if there was any complacency over the doing of it the merit of the charity disappeared in the midst of that.

The charity of Christianity has always been exercised ever so much more by those who were comparatively poor than by the very wealthy or even by those with a considerable competence. Hence it has often been said in Christian circles that if the rich gave half as much in proportion to their means in charity as did the poor there would be no poverty left. It is not an unusual thing for a poor family to share a portion of their last dollar with the family next door who they know need it. Sometimes the very last dollar itself has been known to go out of a poor man's home and especially a poor woman's hand for the help of a neighbor in dire distress. Literally following the spirit of Christianity the giver was ready to follow the injunction, "Consider the birds of the air how they reap not neither do they sow, yet your Heavenly Father hath care for them." Often and often the poor have been ready to commit themselves and their future entirely to Divine Providence when they had before them the spectacle of a neighbor in distress and their fullness of heart was not limited to fellow Christians alone.

Above all it was the personal charity, that done by one man for another when there was personal knowledge of the need and personal realization of how those needs might best be succored. There was comparatively {257} little of organized charity in our modern sense of the word. The great Catholic organization for charity in our day, the St. Vincent de Paul, has its members visit the poor, become familiar with their surroundings, and then help them if helpless, but above all help them to help themselves. It is this intimate contact with those in need that does the doer of the charity so much good as to make it quite invaluable. Such an occupation is often an extremely valuable resource for those who are suffering from psycho-neurotic conditions consequent upon nothing to do and over attention to themselves.


Chapter XIV

Helping Men to Help Themselves

Christianity recognized from the very beginning that the helpless must be cared for, and though that idea had never before been put in practice the early Christians, as we have seen in the chapter on Helping the Helpless, proceeded to organize institutions of various kinds for this purpose. There are a large number of men and women, however, who though they are not helpless are quite incapable of helping themselves to make the most of life or at least to secure such happiness and contentment as makes life really worth while. The man who does things for the sick and the ailing, the lame, the halt and the blind is doing a real work of charity, and yet not more than the man or the woman who is enabling fellow men to help themselves to make more out of life. In our time this is spoken of usually as social service, but Catholic Christianity has never used any such indefinite term but has called it charity and has proclaimed it a duty owed to others. The Church has insisted that there is a definite obligation in this matter as in the caring for the helpless. This obligation is dependent not on any vague sense of fellow feeling, much less on any indefinite sentimentality, through which we feel better for doing things for others, but are left in full liberty to think that whenever we care to stop doing them we are perfectly free to do so. This duty to our neighbor is not {259} merely a work of supererogation, a product of especially beneficent feelings flowing from a natural disposition to do good that may be called by the high-sounding term philanthropy, but it is a part of the duty of the brotherhood among men in our mutual sonship of God.

When the disciples of John the Baptist came to ask the Lord in the name of their master whether He was the Christ or whether they should wait for another, He told them to go back and tell John that they had seen the lame walk, the deaf hear, the blind see, the dead raised to life again, and the Gospel preached to the poor. Apparently the greatest miracle of all that He was working during these missionary years was the preaching of the Gospel to the poor. From the very beginning the Church has demonstrated that its principal mission is to the poor. A great many of the proud Romans and Greeks refused to have anything to do with it because it was the Church of the poor and the slaves. All down the centuries it has remained the Church of the poor. Look around in any city of the United States at the present time and note where the poor crowd in on Sunday and you will find a Catholic Church. This is the greatest of social services, the finest exemplification of Christian charity that there is. The poor need the consolations of religion more than any others. They have very little in their lives to provide any satisfaction or contentment. The Church affords all of them a time, every week at least, during which they feel something of the Fatherhood of God {260} and the brotherhood of man which represent the greatest source of contentment there is.

The story of what the Church has accomplished for what is so often called social service, though long before that term was invented, is a very long one. It would take many volumes to tell the tale from the time when they held the Christian agapé, or love feasts, even in the days of the catacombs down to the meetings and banquets and entertainments of the sodalities and other Church organizations in this year of grace, 1924. For one of the features of Church life which particularly attracted the attention of the pagans in the early days of Christianity was the brotherliness which existed among them and brought high and low together not only in their meetings for religious services, but also in the social life which the Church ardently encouraged. As a result of this definite feeling on the part of churchmen that it was the Church's duty to provide social entertainment for its members, the drama arose in the later Middle Ages from religious ceremonials, just as it had done among the Greeks more than a thousand years before under similar circumstances. The Oratorio is the development of Church music in a very similar fashion and the opera developed from the Oratorio, and indeed at first had religious subjects for its theme much more than others. These are only examples of the seriousness with which the Church took the work of diverting as well as teaching the people and caring for them when they were seriously in need.

This obligation has been felt particularly as regard the children. At a time when throughout nearly the {261} whole civilized world children were exposed to perish from hunger or cold if their parents for any reason did not want to raise them, the Master said "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not." The last phrase was added because some of His disciples considered children should be kept from Him, since His work was too important to be disturbed by them. That was not His feeling, however, and it has never been the feeling of the Church. From very early days there have been special celebrations in honor of the Baby Lord as the children love to call Him, the Christmas crib was invented and the story of the shepherds and the Magi or kings from the east bringing presents renewed by Christmas gifts for all. Good St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, lover of children, became a beautiful myth according to which there was a dear saintly old man who thought so much of them that he spent all the year making things for their Christmas and then distributed them to them all impartially according to their desserts. The Christmas decoration of the Church, the evergreens and the Christmas trees, the special glees that were sung, the Christmas festivities for a fortnight or at least until Twelfth-night or Epiphany, were all a great children's party. The fact that all human beings are only children of a larger growth gave everybody a place in it, and the Christian Church encouraged the happy diversions.

What was so well exemplified at Christmas time in the renewal of rejoicing over the liturgical recurrence of the Lord's coming was to be found at many other times during the year. It has often been said that the {262} Church festivals represent pagan rites of various kinds which the Church adopted and adapted. What they represent really are the definite efforts of the Church to make its children happy. There had been festivals in the older religions the memory of which survived. These were taken and Christianized and made occasion for innocent joys instead of the pagan orgies of various kinds and sometimes even the human sacrifices that had disgraced them in the days before Christianity. As a result, in nearly every month of the year there was some public celebration of a Church festival that brought people together and led to joyous greetings and happy pastimes. In January, besides the New Year, there was the Epiphany; in February, the Candlemas procession and then usually the carnival, a bidding of goodbye to meat and feasting for forty days to be followed by the glorious celebrations of Easter which lasted a week and were renewed in the great feast days that followed. In Spring there was the blessing of the planted field; in Autumn of the harvest. In June there was the feast of the Blessed Sacrament with its processions, and St. John's day brought bonfire night,--and so on through the year, with something for the young folks to look forward to every month, as an occasion for meeting and greeting and some of the human happiness that comes from personal association at these times.

The most important social feature of the life of the nations in the time of Christ and during the generation after it was slavery. Out of nearly two millions of population at Rome, considerably more than one half were slaves. It is a definite historical tradition that the {263} Romans refused to allow their slaves to be dressed in a distinctive dress lest they should find out how numerous they were and perhaps revolt against their masters. The life of the slave was held at the will of the master. While many of the Roman masters were kindly there was never any guarantee of the continuance of this kindness and at any time the necessity or the death of a master might lead to relegation to conditions where life would be almost impossible. Almost needless to say, this state of affairs very seriously disturbed morality. This was particularly true as regards the female slaves, but undoubtedly had a place also as regards the male slaves. Slavery continued to be an institution for centuries after the beginning of Christianity and the Church has often been blamed for not having abolished slavery at once or at least made that a cardinal point in its policy.

Christianity has, however, never been revolutionary in its mode of dealing with humanity. Slavery was wrong but not with the peculiar individual malice that ever so many other things in life were wrong, and Christ assumed human nature but did not come to change it nor to make the race and the world different except in so far as men wanted to be different from what they had been. Christ provided the means by which men would be led into betterment and eventual righteousness, but they must will it themselves. They must recognize evil for what it was and then must change it and such change must necessarily be gradual. Christianity proclaimed that the slave had a soul to save as well as his master and that this was the most {264} important thing in life, but he could save it as a slave and the master might save his by kindness to his slaves. To attempt a general manumission of slaves would probably have led to a slave revolt and the next state of the world would be worse than the one that had preceded it. Slaves must be made ready for freedom, as we have learned in our day in this country and Europe, or it fails to reach them. Slaves were received into the Church in just the same way as their masters, and indeed at the beginning that was the reason why a great many of the Roman patricians refused to have anything to do with Christianity, because they said it was a religion of slaves and unworthy of the attention of Roman citizens.

In the course of time the slaves were freed, but in the meantime many of them were proclaimed saints and martyrs, not a few of them had brought their masters and mistresses into Christianity by their good example, and had found satisfaction of soul and even happiness in the bound state. The barbarians from the north came not as an invading host at first but filtering in to do the hard work which the Romans despised. By degrees many of them became freedmen and even Roman citizens. Many sold themselves into voluntary slavery when they first came to Italy because in this way they were assured of a livelihood and they were willing to take the chances of doing the hard manual labor required. After all the conditions were not so very different from those in our country to which the immigrants came in large numbers to do our hard work. Until the abolition of the twelve hour day and the {265} improvement of living conditions in connection with industry many of these were worse off than the Roman slaves ever were. They had at least proper food and shelter because of their master's self interest in his possessions. Our laborers were not chattels, but they came so near being that under padrone systems of one kind or another, that the difference is easier to declare than to demonstrate. Among these immigrants of ours the old Church in our time has done her work so well that so acute an observer of human nature as Mark Hanna declared that there were two great safeguards in this country for our constitution on which he depended with absolute reliance. These were the Supreme Court of the United States and the Catholic Church. Her teaching can always be depended on with absolute confidence to support authority properly.

Roman slavery was followed by medieval serfdom under the feudal system, and this constituted another problem which the Church had to meet and solve. The serf was a slave in a certain sense. He was bound to the land and he passed with the land when there was a change of ownership. His support, however, was a first charge on the land. Before any rent could be collected and before taxes could be levied the serf and his family must be supported. The Church secured this for him and gradually an amelioration of his conditions. If he was away from the land for a year and a day he was no longer bound to it. This gave opportunities for those who enlisted in the Crusades and in war generally if they were progressive enterprising people to secure opportunities in life for themselves. Those {266} who were born on monastery or convent lands were given every opportunity for happiness in the simple life. There is an old expression "Blessed are those who live under the crozier," that is, tenants of the abbeys or convents, because they were treated so well. [Note 31] Their sons and daughters had the chance to rise in the Church and if they were talented might go far. Sons of the soil had been known to become Lord Chancellors of England and sometimes even popes.

Christianity's effort down the centuries has not been to make mankind better, for mankind does not change, but to lead men to use the means organized by Christ to make themselves better. Some of the most exquisite humor of human life is concerned with the attempt of men to make others better and as it were reform the world, forgetting that if each man would make himself better we would have a little heaven on earth. Samuel Johnson's favorite passage in Thomas à Kempis was the one which runs, "Be not disturbed that you cannot make others as you wish them to be since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be." This is one of the most delightful bits of humor in the world. If there is anything in life that disturbs most people it is the fact that they cannot make other people better, though they have the most striking demonstration of the fact that they cannot make themselves better. A French commentator on the passage of à Kempis said, "The Lord wants us to be good and to make other people happy, but we insist on being happy and making the other people good." Christ came to teach men how to be better, not to change human nature but to give it a loftier aim {267} than before. He assumed human nature and showed men what a beautiful thing human life can be if but lived divinely.

In the Middle Ages the Church's greatest contribution to the idea of the brotherhood of man came from the organizations known as the Guilds. These were societies of workmen of various trades, including the merchants and even professional men, whose main purpose was to serve the social order round them and to secure rights and privileges for their members. Under the old Roman law no one had any rights unless they had been conferred upon him by some authority. Of himself a man enjoyed no privileges except such as had been formally granted. Conditions were very different from ours when we boldly proclaim that all men have equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Under the aegis of the Church, and indeed nearly always as the result of stimulation by ecclesiastics, men who had interests in common organized associations which in co-ordination with the Church proceeded to obtain rights and privileges for those belonging to them. These were the Guilds. Their power and extension of influence will be best appreciated from the fact that Toulmin Smith, in his History of the English Guilds, declares that there must have been some thirty thousand of them in England before the end of the Middle Ages. Practically everybody belonged to one or more of them. The tradesmen, meaning by that mechanics as well as merchants, constituted the great majority; but other people, including professional men and even nobility and members of the royal families, were proud to be {268} chosen as honorary or actual members and it is easy to understand how much of influence these associations exerted.

Unfortunately, in the course of time money accumulated in their treasuries and then they became possessed of magnificent properties, and when the disturbances of the so-called Reformation occurred these became the subject of envious covetousness. Because the Guilds were so closely affiliated with the Church they were declared to be religious organizations and their treasuries were escheated to the crown and their properties were handed over to favorites of the king. Their schools were suppressed and as a result there was so much disaffection among the people in Edward VI's time that some portion of the money, though not nearly all of it, was given back for educational purposes. Hence the so-called Edward VI grammar schools in various parts of England through which, as Gardner says, Edward VI obtained a reputation for interest in education and in charity that he did not deserve. Something like the equivalent of one hundred million dollars in our time was taken from the treasuries of the Guilds. It is doubtful if two percent of that ever got back to the people again. The Guilds came to be an extremely important factor in the life of England and also in that of other nations. In our time there has been much discussion as to whether a revival of the Guild State might not be the best solution for our social and industrial problems that could be secured. The place of the Church in the Guild State was, needless to say, extremely important. The guilds were in essence Church sodalities. [Note 32]


The business of these Guilds was to provide schooling and training of mind and eye for the children of the members of the Guild, to furnish recreation for them and their families and friends, and to afford amusement of various kinds for themselves and their children. The Guild schools were very well known and a typical example is to be found in that of Stratford. This little town furnishes an epitome of Guild activities. Interest in Shakespeare has stimulated careful study of every possible source of information with regard to the history of his birthplace and as a result we are in possession of many details with regard to the Guilds of Stratford, originally three or more in number, but uniting into the Guild of the Holy Cross. This came to represent the source of nearly every form of initiative for the social life of the time. Periodic banquets were provided, pageants organized, the poor cared for, orphans and the disabled and the old were supported, the grammar school endowed, and scholarships established for children of the members who had the talent and aspired to higher education. The Guild of the Holy Cross became famous for its benefactions not only to the life of Stratford itself but to that of all the neighboring country, so that distinguished members of the nobility and of the professions, notably the magistrates and others in judicial positions, as well as prominent merchants from all the surrounding neighborhood, were proud to be accorded the privilege of becoming members of it. The Guild acquired property and had a definite income besides the fees from its members and thus was enabled to keep up its varied benefactions.


In many parts of England the Guilds provided a series of plays each year for the delectation of the townsfolk. The Mystery Plays, which represent the origin out of religious ceremonials of modern drama, were staged by the various Guilds. In the famous Chester cycle of Mystery Plays during the thirteenth century, some twenty different Guilds took part, each providing the wagon on four or six wheels on which their particular scene of the mystery play was presented. Each Guild paid for the costumes and even gave certain sums for the payment of the actors so that no little expense attached to the duty which they thus willingly assumed. These performances attracted great attention among the people, developed more and more as time went on, the Mystery Plays by gradual evolution became morality plays and took on very definite literary and dramatic qualities. "Everyman," which attracted so much attention when played some years ago in our American cities, is a striking example of this and it must not be forgotten that this play comes from the Middle Ages.

There were many advantages in this provision of dramatic entertainment over our method of commercializing the drama. The actors who took part were themselves most effectively entertained during their study and practice of the plays and they were also developed mentally in the very best way, that is through their own efforts. The Mystery Plays were founded on Scripture and the morality plays had large elements of Scripture in them also and this brought all concerned in contact with great literature. They were not such solemn plays always as might be anticipated from that {271} fact, for Noah was always a comic character and there were other biblical personages who lent themselves to comic treatment, and the devil personified appearing upon the stage was always a subject of derision and even poor Judas was laughed at. There was not the temptation of the present day, however, to appeal to the lower tastes of mankind in order to make money on the performances, which has led to the unfortunate condition of the stage at the present time when we have so many immorality plays.

Besides the plays, given usually about Christmas time and in the spring time, there were four banquets provided every year to which all the members of the Guild with their wives or sweethearts were expected to come. They did not believe in separating husbands and wives in these matters as we have done, at least until very recently, and they were rather frank in the matter of sweethearts. They believed in the young folk coming together for recreation and in getting acquainted with each other while in the presence of their elders. There were dances on the green after the banquets and games of various kinds. Many of the old-fashioned kissing games come from the medieval period, when the people danced on the green before the church and England was Merrie England. Sundays were not barred as days for the holding of such festivals, for after attendance at Mass the people were quite free to enjoy themselves, and there was absolutely nothing of the Puritanic about the Church's attitude toward hearty, wholesome recreation on Sundays after the obligations to the Lord had been fulfilled by attendance at Mass in the morning. {272} Sports of various kinds were enjoyed, quoits and hockey among them, which is very old, and then athletic contests, archery, tennis at least in the cities, and various games with balls.

The Guilds also organized the singing of glees at various times during the year, and on Christmas night went around and woke the townspeople up for the early Mass by singing Christmas carols before their houses. In recent years there has been an attempt to organize in various parts of our country an early Easter service, so that people might greet the rising of the sun, which according to very old tradition is said to dance on rising on Easter day. This is a revival of a very old custom and represents only one of a series of celebrations organized by the Guilds for the important festival days and beginning very early in the morning. People were expected to visit the Christmas crib and greet the figures of the Baby Lord and His Mother not long after the dawn and on Twelfth Night at the end of the Christmas time to repeat the visit in honor of the Magi or Kings of the East who had come bearing gifts.

During the Christmas week came the celebration of Holy Innocents day, on which, over a great part of Europe, the boys of a town and especially those who had served Mass during the year, had a special feast day for themselves. One of them was elected, in cathedral towns at least, as the "boy bishop" for the day and he wore robes very like those of the real bishop and was greeted by the others as such as well as accepted by the grown-ups who shared in the masquerade. A special dinner was provided for the boys and the {273} whole town took part and interest in the proceedings. There was also the celebration of the first martyr St. Stephen, so that during much of the Christmas time there was a feeling that work was not quite so important as the celebration of the feast days. Christmas Eve after the vesper hour (2 p. m.) was a day of recreation; so was New Year's Eve, and then came Christmas and New Year's and the Sundays of this time and Twelfth Night, until the Yuletide was a real vacation for everybody.

That is the most important part of the Church's service to humanity during the time when she had the power to enforce her decrees properly. One of her principal objects was to lessen the amount of work that people had to do and give them opportunities for recreation, and recollection of mind, apart from their duties. Holydays gradually increased in number until everywhere there were nearly forty and in some places actually more than fifty of them in the year. The feast of each of the twelve apostles was celebrated as a holyday of obligation on which none except absolutely necessary work might be done and people were supposed to go to church. Then there were the feast days of the saints of the country and the patron of the church and, the diocese, and very often of the city or the district, and the great feast days celebrating epochs in the Lord's life or in that of His Mother. As a result of this, including the fifty-two Sundays of the year, there were well above eighty and sometimes nearly a hundred days in the year on which no regular work was done. People were required to go to Mass in {274} the morning and spend the rest of the day in rest and recreation.

The first thing the so-called Reformation did was to do away with these holydays and the next was to make Sunday a day of enforced seclusion and Bible reading after compulsory attendance at a long sermon in the morning that sometimes lasted for several hours. Sunday was no longer a recreation day and the holydays--and holidays--were gone. This was carried to such an extent that they worked even on Christmas day in New England and were very much surprised when the Irish employed in the mills and on the farms wanted to keep that day as a festival. The medieval church practically made one day in every four a day of rest and recreation. We are gradually inserting into various parts of the year holidays that are bringing us back to something like the old custom. Nearly every month has a holiday or two beginning with New Year's day in January and Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays in February and Good Friday with some time off for Easter in March or April and Decoration Day and the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Columbus Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. All of these have only been gradually acquired as days of rest and recreation for working people. In England they have, besides their holidays for national or church reasons, the four bank holidays declared at various seasons of the year in order to put in a time of rest and recreation when it is needed. The medieval church's plan was much better, for it gave people a definite duty on the morning of these days which got them out promptly to meet their friends at {275} church and then the elaborate church services themselves with music, singing and the church decorations, often supplied a very interesting mode of inspiration and uplift. In the churches people were brought in contact with beautiful art and the day began well without that lounging around in the morning which is so likely to spoil a holiday and make it often a very tiresome institution.

The Guilds went even farther than the Church and demanded the Saturday half holiday, though this had been prepared for by Church regulation with regard to freedom from work obligations on the vigil of a feast day after two o'clock, in order to allow people to prepare for the festival and especially to go to Confession and perform other preliminary religious duties. Besides, as Urbain Gohier reminded us when lecturing at the universities of this country, the Guilds asked for and secured the "three eights," that is, the eight hour day for labor with eight hours for sleep and eight hours for recreation and the necessities of the body. Under these circumstances, with almost an extra day besides Sunday every week free from labor, the medieval workman found himself in a position in which his daily task was not a burden and an oppressive monotony, but only due exercise for the body, and there was recreation and diversion of mind for everyone, no matter how humble or poor, and an opportunity to think and to enjoy himself and to share the joys of family life with his wife and little ones. Life is much more for joy than for pleasure. Joy is simple and comes in the performance of duty and kindly relations with those near and dear {276} to us. Pleasure is complex, is often followed by remorse, is more often the source of deterioration of the body than almost anything else. It was the joys of life rather than the pleasures of living that the medieval workmen had the opportunity of enjoying.

The amount of recreation, or of holidaying, thus afforded to the working people of the Middle Ages, will probably seem to some people in our time to be excessive. Some folk are so bound up in their work that they cannot understand why people should want recreation days so frequently and they can scarcely understand what they would do with them. Mr. Standish O'Grady, the distinguished Irish literary man to whom we owe more for the first steps in the modern Celtic revival than probably anyone else, made use of a very interesting expression in this regard while on a visit to America not long before his death. He reminded us that twice in the world's history men have accomplished wonderful things in art and literature that have been a source of profound admiration ever since. When they did them, they were spending one-third of their time at least in the celebration of religious feast days. One of these periods was in the fifth century before Christ and the other was in the latter part of the Middle Ages when they were doing so much in architecture and the arts and crafts as well as in literature. One-third is even more than I have suggested, and yet it is probably true in many portions of Europe that men did not follow their regular occupation for more than two-thirds of the year and had the time and the opportunity, on more than 120 days each year, to think {277} about other things than their work and to let their thoughts mature and flow in on them, and above all to think of things that were not of interest to their bodies but to their minds and hearts and souls.

It is when men have many days to spend, not in idleness but in occupation with the higher things of life, that there is some chance for them to develop and bring out the best that is in them. If men have to work hard every week day, even Sunday is not enough for recreation, especially if they are to think seriously about other interests than their sordid cares of life. Occupation with religion lifts them up, purifies their emotions, gives them aspirations after what is best in them and thus develops character and intelligence. Only a comparatively few men have it in them to produce anything original, of value, but they are sure to be afforded the opportunity under these circumstances. As for the rest of men, their one chance for happiness is to be found in the joy that comes to them in connection with the seeing of beautiful things, and this the Church afforded them by its insistence on their attendance at Mass on all the Sundays and holydays in their beautiful churches. To a great extent our poorer classes have lost all real appreciation of beauty and their taste lacks development. Hence the popularity of the comic strip of cartoons in the afternoon papers and the satisfaction with the hideous pictures in colors that constitute the comic Sunday supplement. In these matters the great majority of our people are childish to a degree that is almost incredible. [Note 33]


The Guild performed other interesting functions for the social life of the time. When a man fell ill or had been injured the Guild usually appointed a man to sit up with him during the night allowing the family to take care of him during the day. The man who sat up during the night was paid his regular wage out of the Guild treasury and then did not have to work the next day. If a husband died, the widow was helped to care for her children. Orphans were cared for by the Guild, a special fund being established for that purpose, but there were no orphan asylums,--the orphans being distributed among the neighbor families. In most families there were at least half a dozen children, and under these circumstances it was not hard to take another one. The Guild paid the expenses and some poor families considered it a privilege to have the raising of these orphans. It helped out the family budget very much as the taking in of a foundling does in our day, and regularly-appointed visitors from the Guild saw that the orphans were properly cared for. In the little towns, where every one knew everyone else, there was small chance for abuse in this matter. Indeed there was a tradition that it was a rather fortunate thing to be a "child of the Guild," as the orphans were called. Some of these orphans got the chance to take scholarships in the universities and as a result succeeded admirably in life. [Note 34]

When people grew so old that they were unable to care for themselves, if their children were dead or if they had gone away to a distance, the old folks were cared for by the Guild. For this purpose almshouses {279} were supplied, but these were very different from what we call poor houses. A typical example of the Guild almshouses is to be seen at Stratford. On one of the principal streets there is a row of little houses in which live old couples who are unable to care for themselves. They are supported by a pension which was originally established for them in the thirteenth century. Living in the heart of the town, a great many people who go by step in to talk to them and in good weather the old folks sit out at the door and chat with the passers-by. Next door to them is the Guild school, and the children went by four or more times a day on the way to school. The old folks had a chance to see the children at play. Nothing could give them more pleasure than this, and the medieval churchmen cultivated the contact of the old and the very young. The Bluecoat Boys' School in London is an example of the association of old men and young boys under circumstances that are likely to be beneficial for both of them. Thackeray's picture of the social life of such an institution in the Newcomes brings out the good there is in it.

The old folks if married were not separated but lived together, though special provision was made also for widows and widowers and indeed for old maids and old bachelors, though there were not many of these in the older times. At Stratford the Guild chapel was just down the street from the Guild almshouses, and as there were four Masses every morning, four chaplains being paid to say them for the living and dead members of the Guild, the old folks were tempted to get up early and go to Mass. This temptation was all the {280} stronger because, as Cardinal Gasquet has shown in his "Medieval Parish Life in England," more than half the population of the town went to Mass every morning. The obligation of Mass on Sunday and nearly an extra day every week did not exhaust the piety of these people, and daily Mass hearing was quite a common practice. When we contrast this care of the aged poor, and their content therein, with our poorhouses usually situated miles out of town in ugly buildings where no one comes to see them unless at long intervals, where husbands and wives who have lived together for perhaps forty or fifty years have to live apart, where children are almost never seen and where there is no chance to talk with neighbors, it is easy to understand how much of real charity, that is of the feeling of the dearness of others to them because of the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God, was exemplified in these practices of the Middle Ages. There were almshouses like those at Stratford at a dozen or perhaps a score of places in England, and similar institutions existed in the Scandinavian countries, in Germany, in the Netherlands and in France and Spain that we know of. In Belgium the Beguines took care of the old and the orphans in their little towns of separate houses under circumstances that must have made a real home for them.

When members of the Guild died, all the other members were bound to be present at his funeral Mass or to pay a fine. The fine was not large and it was to be distributed in alms for the benefit of the dead brother's soul, but the infliction of a fine was enough {281} of itself to remind people of their duty in this matter. They solved the street beggar problem by having tokens which they distributed and if the beggar presented these to the bursar of the Guild or to the sexton or the parish priest, he would be helped in whatever way he needed most. These tokens were purchased as alms especially for the dead, so that the recipient did not feel pauperized by the gift to him, since it had already been given for the benefit of a dead brother and he was only the agent by which the gift should be properly used. The fact that the beggar had to make himself known to some central authority kept down the abuses so likely to creep into indiscriminate street alms-giving.

A favorite mode of Christian helpfulness was the giving of sums of money by bequest or sometime even before the death of the owner to provide dowries for honest maidens who married within a certain time after the bequest. Dick Whittington, the famous Mayor of London of cat fame, though that story is probably without foundation, left dowries for the girls of his native town and so did many of his friends. Sir Hugh Clopton of Stratford-on-Avon, who, when he retired after having made his fortune in London, built New Place which Shakespeare afterwards purchased, left money for dowries for the girls of Stratford. The practice still continues in such Catholic countries as Spain and Italy. The idea behind it is that young couples need as far as possible to begin housekeeping without being in debt. If they marry young it is very probable that the young husband will not have saved much money, and yet if they are to have a home by themselves it must be {282} furnished. The dowry would enable them to purchase this furniture and to start housekeeping with a clean slate. The husband earns the money for their support, but the wife has a substantial stake in the home and the newly-weds are much likelier to be happy than if they began with debt hanging over them. So much depends on the success of the early years of matrimony for all the after life, that this dear old Catholic practice of providing dowries cannot but be considered of great social significance.

It is sometimes said that medieval charity was reparative rather than preventative, and that above all it was not so regulated and organized as to help people on their feet again. Any such expression, however, is due entirely to failure to comprehend the true inwardness of medieval Christian charity. As early as St. Basil's time the reconstruction of injured or maimed lives was duly considered, employment agencies were set up and as far as possible men were helped to positions that they could fill duly even though they had lost some of the vigor of their earlier years or were crippled. There was much of this during the Middle Ages under the management of the Guilds. There were other forms of helpfulness that were very striking. Dick Whittington, the Lord Mayor of London, left a sum of money which was to be divided in definite amounts among young women who had "done amiss" and whom he wanted to help to get on their feet again. A special ward was established for them in one of the great London hospitals and all the attendants in that ward were bound to secrecy and the breathing of the slightest word {283} that might reveal the identity of anyone who had been cared for there would lead to the prompt dismissal of the hospital attendant. Whittington made special provision for a dowry also for these young women if they should get married a little later. This was finely reconstructive charity.

In our day President Hibben of Princeton suggested that it was the business of educators to make men and then they would find their work. That was the principle on which the Church's charity, or if we are to use the modern term, social service, was conducted. Secure for men a chance and they will do things. Cultivate their sense of beauty and arouse their sense of duty and then if they have anything in them that is really worth while it will come out. The modern strenuous life, with its bitter struggle for existence and above all its failure to provide proper leisure for thought, is the worst possible environment for bringing out all the best that is in men. The best means to help men to help themselves is to stimulate their imagination, arouse their deepest feelings, put them in touch with beautiful things, and then give them the opportunity to make such things under circumstances where they will obtain a decent living wage and where the products of hands and mind will be subjects for the admiration of the men of their time, and if they represent enough of artistry, of the men of succeeding generations also. This is the real charity that represents the dearness of men to one another under the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.


Chapter XV

The Life of the Spirit

Christ came to give men life and give it more abundantly--the life of the spirit. He went around doing good for mankind and above all curing the ills of the body, but his Evangel, His message of good tidings, was for the spirit of man. The Church that He founded then must represent and foster and carry on the life of the spirit, that life of faith in an origin and a destiny above the natural which lifts men above the sordid cares of everyday existence, and her greatest representatives should be those men and women who are so spiritually minded that all subsequent generations think of them quite apart from what they have accomplished with their minds or their bodies. Professor Osler in his lecture on Immortality, the Ingersoll lecture of 1904, emphasized the fact that the leaders of men have been "children of the light, children of the spirit whose ways often were foolishness to the children of this world,--mystics, idealists, with no strong reason for the faith that is in them, yet they compel admiration and imitation by the character of the life they lead and the beneficence of the influence they exert." "To them it is given to know the mysteries." ... "The heroic devotion of a St. Francis or a St. Teresa [Note 35] ... do more to keep alive among men a belief in immortality than all the preaching in the world." [Note 36] Osler quoted Cardinal Newman's University sermon, {285} "Personal Influence, the Means of Propagating the Truth," in which that profound thinker had said, "The attraction exerted by conscious holiness is of an urgent and irresistible nature; it persuades the weak, the timid, the wavering and the inquiring; it draws forth the affection and loyalty of all who are in a measure like-minded; and over the thoughtless or perverse multitude it exercises a sovereign compulsory sway, bidding them fear and keep silence on the ground of its own right divine to rule them...."

Of men and women of this sort, capable of exerting the deepest kind of influence for good on their fellow men, gifted with the spirit of faith that lifted them far above the talents which they possessed or the intelligence or education they might enjoy, the Church has had an abundance all down the ages. They are called saints, that is, sanctified or holy folk. The number of them can very well be understood from a work like the Bollandists, in which the lives of the saints are sketched according to the days of the year on which their feasts are celebrated. The collected lives as written average more than six volumes folio to the month, a thousand pages to the volume, so that altogether there will probably be something over one hundred thousand pages containing some two thousand words to the page. The completed work will probably contain something like a quarter of a billion of words. The Bollandists have been at it for something over three hundred years now and will probably be finished sometime in the next generation. It is a labor of love that has been carried on under the most discouraging circumstances. The {286} account of it, "The Work of the Bollandists" (translation from the French), was published by the Princeton University Press (1922), and there is no doubt that the selection of the story of it for publication at Princeton was a well deserved tribute to the supremely scholarly and critical, historical and biographical contributions which these hagiographers, writers of saints' lives, have made to the history of civilization.

Necessarily we can only take here a mere handful of the most characteristic men whose spiritual lives in the bosom of the Catholic Church deeply influenced not only their own generation but all succeeding generations. They are types of the greatest human beings who have ever lived if we take the interest of men for all the after time in them as evidence for that. They are men and women who saw clearly the meaning of life in terms of the eternal, who had stripped themselves of all self-seeking, who were deeply intent only on doing as much good for others as they possibly could, and who accomplished marvels in transforming men from self-seeking animals into other-worldly seekers after the right. The trouble is to try and boil down the lives of these men into such small compass as is necessitated by the very limited space that can be given them here and at the same time provide such details as will afford a proper impression of the place they held in the world of their time and the influence they exerted.

The roll of them begins with that disciple "Whom Jesus loved" and who had rested on the bosom of his Lord at the solemn moment when together they broke {287} bread in that Last Supper and shared the Eucharist that was to be the memorial of Him from the rising to the setting of the sun forever thereafter. He was spared to be with the infant Church for the better part of a century. His message on the Word that was Made Flesh is one of the sublimest flights in mystical theology that the world has ever known. For many years at the end of his long life his message for the Christians around him is said to have been "Children, love one another." He preached the doctrine of the love of God and providentially stayed with the Church to be an inspiration to Christians and then to be the channel of a series of visions that was to occupy men very much in after years. The Seer of Patmos gave the picture of the Heavenly Jerusalem, that home beyond this world, and his work is a source of that heavenly homesickness which has lifted up the hearts of the faithful and inspired the poets and musicians ever since.

After John came Paul, the tent-maker of Tarsus. He learned so to live that he did not live himself but Christ within him and his words have been an inspiration and a corroboration of human spiritual striving ever since. He was rapt out of the flesh to see things higher than mortals can find words for, and yet it was he who gave us that wonderful description of charity, of love human and divine, which is kind, and patient and long suffering and seeketh not itself and possesses all the other qualities that show its intensely practical character. His love for God made him almost higher than man, and yet only served to make his love {288} for his fellowmen more intense and his anxious charity for them more profound. His great epistles, which are just letters to the Christians of his time, exhibit his kindly humanity and have given us a precious treasure of thought for all time. Paul is the type of men, who without having come under the personal influence of Christ Himself received life more abundantly through the Church that He had founded and so became men of the spirit who were to deeply influence others for all that was best in them in the after time.

During the early centuries there was very little chance for the preservation of writings which might exhibit this spirit. In spite of that unfavorable circumstance, however, there is evidence in abundance of the life of the spirit. Ignatius of Antioch, who received episcopal consecration at the hands of the Apostles, left a series of letters which make it very clear that the life of the spirit of Christ was to be carried on. The controversy over the authenticity of his seven letters has now been settled and their quotation by Polycarp and by Lucian of Samosata and Eusebius shows us that the great Christian tradition of the spiritual life is making itself felt deeply in the second century. Already the supernatural virtue of virginity is much esteemed and made the subject of a vow and the place of personal holiness and closeness to the living God and intimate union with the Church is made very clear. There is no other inheritor of these doctrines and traditions except the Catholic Church which has carried on so thoroughly in all its details the work that was originally given it by the Apostles and their immediate successors.


The intense spirituality of all the Fathers of the Church needs but a mention. Basil and his brother Gregory and Chrysostom and Athanasius and Gregory of Nazianzen, as well as Ambrose and Jerome and Augustine are all great thinkers whose thoughts flowed with the spirit of Christ and who made the bounds of Christianity such as they are. Augustine, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas must be considered as the three greatest of thinkers. Yet it has been pointed out and emphasized very much in our time that Augustine, besides being a philosopher and a theologian, was also a mystic. No one has left us a more precious heritage of thoughts with regard to the possible closeness of men to their Creator, even in this world, than this great bishop of the African Church. Men are prone to think of him as a hair-splitter of distinctions with regard to Christian doctrines and especially such difficult questions as grace and free will, or as a very human writer of great literature in his Confessions, or of the philosophy of history in his City of God, but he was above and beyond all that a thoroughgoing believer in the idea that men in the flesh could come so close to God as to experience absorption in the divinity quite beyond words to describe. Three centuries after Paul he was as mystical as Paul and was capable of laying down the principles of mysticism in connection with theology. He was the founder of a religious order that still exists and had as its glory in the fifteenth century the writer of the most read book after the Bible, Thomas à Kempis, and very curiously had as another of its glories at the end of the nineteenth century Abbot Mendel, the man whose {290} thought with regard to heredity has made his name the most familiar to our generation in biological circles.

Each century since has had one or more of these great Christian scholars so profoundly interested in the life of the spirit that we ordinary mortals are scarcely able to follow them when they write about some of the experiences that have come to them and picture the possibilities of union between the spirit of God and man such as seem almost incredible except in the light of that supreme mystery of religion, the Incarnation. What Augustine had been in the fifth century, Pope Gregory I (the Great) was to the sixth century. We know him as a great practical minded pope who did ever so much to establish the Church in the hearts of the faithful, who sent Augustine of Canterbury to England, who was famous for his charities towards the poor, and yet he holds a supreme place in the history of the mystical life. He is undoubtedly one of the very great men of history, but he is also a great mystic and a great saint in that very human yet divine definition of a saint which has been suggested,--that he is a man who thinks first of others and only second of himself. It is characters like Gregory that serve to make it very clear that the spirit of the beatitudes and of Paul in his mystical moments, the raptness of feeling that dictated the description of the Holy Jerusalem to the Seer of Patmos, is a continuing tradition in the Church that Christ left and that each new example of it at its highest is strikingly individual, yet marvelously Christ-like and makes for confirmation of the principle that Christ came to give life and give it more abundantly.


After Gregory comes his friend, indeed intimate, Benedict, the founder of the Benedictines. This man has given us in his Rule one of the great constitutions or basic laws for human conduct which have shown men how to be happy. His rule is a supreme testimony to his marvelous knowledge of human nature, and yet this intensely practical man with his kindly loving spirit which has served to hold men together in bonds ever so much closer than friendship ever since, had experiences of the spirit that are almost incredible, only that one thinks of what Christianity must be since we know what its Founder was. The spiritual favors conferred on Benedict might easily seem to have been some sort of empty imaginings on his part, but how could this practical minded man be in any sense of the word visionary as that term is ordinarily used? Visions he surely had, but they must have been no mere delusions since there is nothing that is at all hysterical in his life and least of all in his great constitution for his order. The story that is vouched for by St. Gregory the Great with regard to Benedict on the occasion of the death of his sister, when he saw her transported to Heaven after her prayers, in spite of his resolve to the contrary, had secured his presence at her bedside at her death, shows how the mystical lives on in the Church. These two, Benedict and Scholastica, were the founders of institutions which have continued not only to exist but to flourish in marvelously productive fashion for fifteen hundred disturbed years. They have made more happy people so far as human beings can be happy, than any other institution that we have. They are at the present {292} moment in the Benedictine monasteries and nunneries providing homes of peaceful happiness as well as opportunity for the development of the intellectual and the spiritual life to many thousands of men and women.

Everywhere that Catholic Christianity penetrated there was a similar development. The Jews and the Orientals, Augustine of Rome and Africa, Gregory and Benedict of the old Italian families we have mentioned, but out in the islands of the West in the next century there is Venerable Bede whose career is a typical example of the life of the spirit and its significance in the eighth century in the confines of the then known world. A great scholar, an assiduous writer, a teacher whose influence was widely felt, as he said himself "It has been ever my delight to learn or teach or write." On the evening of the day when he died, as he himself tells, the boy Wilbert who was writing at his dictation, said to him, "'There is still one sentence, dear master, which is not written down.' And when this had been supplied, and the boy had told him it was finished, 'Thou hast spoken truth', Bede answered, 'it is finished. Take my head in thy hands for it much delights me to sit opposite any holy place where I used to pray, that so sitting I may call upon God my Father.' And thus upon the floor of his cell singing 'Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost' and the rest, he peacefully breathed his last breath."

In the tenth century came Anselm, who has more deeply influenced the thinking of men as regards philosophy ever since than most scholars appreciate. An Italian born who became a Norman ecclesiastic, he {293} made a Great Archbishop of Canterbury. His reputation as a saint while he was Prior of Bec, the great Benedictine abbey in Normandy, led to his invitation to the deathbed of stern William the Conqueror, who desired that Anselm might bring him consolation at the end. He felt so closely the union of his mind with that of God that he formulated the ontological argument for the existence of God which has attracted so much attention ever since. When at last the argument came to him in its full force and he saw it clearly he was filled with joy and made haste to put it in writing. An innate idea of God enables us to understand all other being. This has been a bone of contention among the philosophers ever since. Rejected by St. Thomas it was revived in another form by Descartes, assailed by Kant, it was defended by Hegel, revived by Rosmini, it caught the attention of two such different thinking minds in our day here in America as Orestes Brownson and Thomas Davidson. Among Anselm's disciples in this were such great geniuses of the schoolmen as Alexander of Hales and Duns Scotus. Lives of Anselm have been written in our generation and always the mystical quality of his life has been emphasized and he was a great living exemplar in his day of the life of the spirit.

Greatest almost of all the mystics came St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the twelfth century. A man of profound education and lofty intelligence he came to have an influence in his century that was beyond that of any other. He was a great thinker, a great philosopher, a great theologian, a great controversialist. He was the {294} confidential adviser of popes and of kings, the director of soul to many of the great men of his time. No mortal has ever dominated his period so completely as Bernard did the twelfth century. He was a successful preacher of a great Crusade in what seemed a veritable triumph, he was the friend of nearly all of the most important men of his time. In spite of this he knew bitter experience and the failure of life, and his undertakings from a human viewpoint must have made him taste deeply of the waters of disappointment. His consolation came from the mystical side of life. This great philosopher, one of the greatest of the mystics, has written hymns like the Jesus Dulcis Memoria, "Jesus the Very Thought of Thee," that have been the consolation of Christian hearts ever since and the confirmation of their fondest desires. He composed prayers that for depth of piety are unequalled, and it is not the intellect of the man but his spirit and its union with its God that has been the admiration of succeeding generations. Even the English positivist, Cotter Morrison, bowed down before the spirit of the man in his biography of him and has made us realize how much Bernard's life had in it that was immortal in its influence.

The thirteenth century saw the careers of those two great knights of the spirit, Francis of Assisi and Dominic. Nicholas Murray Butler, president of the largest university in the world at the present time and by the chance of things in the interest awakened in education since the war very probably the largest university in history, in his latest report to the Board of Trustees, suggests that the outlook for education in {295} our time is indeed almost hopeless unless we are to have a Francis or a Dominic to transform the life of mankind.

Francis of Assisi is probably the most fascinating character in history after Christ Himself. Il paverello di Dio as he loved to call himself, "the little poor man of God," who proclaimed his marriage with the Lady Poverty and went about preaching to the birds and the fishes when the men and women of his time would not listen to him, would seem to be almost the last person in the world to attract the attention of our generation which so loves to think of itself as intensely practical and is supremely sordid and fears nothing so much as poverty. Yet Francis has proved a veritable magnet of attraction in our day and life after life of him has been written until quite literally there are probably well above a score of biographies of full book length in this twentieth century, to say nothing of magazine articles almost without end. If ever the life of the spirit and its place was exemplified it was in Francis of Assisi. How different was St. Dominic, and yet how the spirit of God shines out in all that he did and how his great foundation following the Rule of its founder has lived on to accomplish wonderful results even down to our day. All over the world there are many thousands of Dominican friars, besides many more thousands of Dominican sisters, to whom Dominic of the thirteenth century is the holy beloved father whose spirit they would like to exemplify in their own lives.


One of Dominic's greatest daughters in the spirit was Catherine of Sienna, the most influential personage, man or woman, of the fourteenth century. Swinburne, the English poet, of all men would seem to be almost the last to appreciate her peculiar genius and to acknowledge her sweet precious sanctity, and yet it is he that has best summed up the work of this great woman.

Into her saintly virgin hands,
She took the sorrows of the lands.

Hers was the life of the spirit, and yet she appeased the feuds of the old families that were causing many deaths on the streets of Sienna, she was the ambassadress of peace between warring cities first and then nations, she brought back the pope from Avignon to Rome. In the midst of all this active life she composed her mystical dialogues--though she did not learn to write until she was twenty-eight and she died at thirty-two--and they have lived to be the loving study not only of her sisters in religion but also of chosen souls who are trying to lead the life of the spirit in all the countries and all the centuries ever since her time. [Note 37]

In the fifteenth century, just before the beginning of what is usually called the Renaissance, an Augustinian monk of the monastery of St. Agnes, Thomas à Kempis by name, wrote one of the greatest contributions to the life of the spirit that has ever been written. He was the son of a woman who had to eke out the family living by keeping a dame's school. At the age of twelve he went away to the school of the Brethren of Common {297} Life at Deventer. He stayed there until he was nineteen and then entered the order of the Augustinians and lived to be ninety-one years of age, probably never going out of his monastery grounds for over seventy years. It would seem as though such a man could have known so little about life that anything that he wrote could have only the most limited appeal. His book, The Imitation of Christ, is the most printed book after the Bible that we have,--altogether some three thousand editions having been issued. It has taken about seven editions a year since his death in 1471 when the first printed edition was issued to satisfy the demand for it. All sorts of men have praised it to the skies. One is not surprised to find it the favorite of Loyola, St. Francis de Sales, Sir Thomas More, or even John Wesley and Dr. Samuel Johnson. But to find that among its devotees were Comte the positivist, Renan the rationalist, Matthew Arnold the critic, George Eliot, Pobiedonosteff, the head of the Holy Russian Synod, and that Stanley took it with him to Africa and Lord Russell of Killowen always carried it in his pocket, is indeed a demonstration of the breadth of appeal of the little book. Chinese Gordon read it just before the end came at Khartoum in the eighties, and so did Edith Cavell, the nurse martyr to her duties in Belgium in the Great War. Both made notes on it. Harvard University paid a good round sum for some sixteen hundred volumes with regard to à Kempis which had been collected in England, and thought the investment a very good one, though it was made four hundred and fifty years after the little monk's death. {298} Harvard now has the best à Kempis library in the world and is deservedly proud of it.

À Kempis is just a type of the German mystical writers of this period, and there were many others, though none of them equal to him. The founder of the Brothers of the Common Life, among whom à Kempis was educated, was one of these, John Tauler, the father of modern German mysticism, another, John of Dalberg, Charity Pirkheimer, and many others might be mentioned to show how productive was the mystical and spiritual life of the Church in Germany just before the Reformation. À Kempis wrote a score of books besides the Imitation of Christ, though most people know nothing of them. All of them have something of the unction of the Imitation but none of them rival it in the genius for psychological penetration which is displayed in "The Following of Christ." Originally that book was only a series of conferences given to novices during two years by à Kempis to whom that duty was assigned. His other books represent fruits of the same official position and à Kempis is rightly considered not only profoundly mystical but also eminently practical. His little book contains not only poetry of the loftiest kind but also some of the most poignant humor that goes straight to the heart of humanity. It is the deeply human psychology of the work that has given the book its universal appeal to all classes and conditions of men. [Note 38]

The sixteenth century saw some magnificent contributions to the literature of the spiritual life. The Renaissance and the Reformation had stirred men's {299} hearts and minds and souls deeply and the fruit was to be seen in the mystic literature of that time. Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises is a man rather than a book. The Exercises are not literature but they have probably more deeply influenced thinking men ever since than any other book. St. Teresa's contributions to mysticism at this period won for her the title beneath her statue in Rome, where she is the only woman represented among the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, Mater Spiritualium. No wonder that the University of Salamanca on the 300th anniversary of her canonization gave her the degree of Doctor of Divinity and that the Spanish people greeted her enthusiastically as their Spanish Doctor of the Church. Her great contemporary, John of the Cross, is the greatest modern authority on mysticism, and on that spiritual union with God even while still in the body that has been the subject of so much supremely great literature down the ages as to make it clear that it is not a delusion but a great reality. The writings of St. Francis de Sales represent another phase of this great subject and have caused him to be chosen as the patron saint of writers and editors in the modern time. His friend and co-founder of the Order of the Visitation, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, is another contributor by writing and example to the spiritual life whose work has lived on for three centuries and more now and is surely destined to live as long as this stage of our civilization endures.

St. Vincent de Paul, the founder of the Sisters of Charity, communities of which are to be found all {300} over the world and which embrace well above one hundred thousand members at the present time, is another example of the life of the spirit as exemplified in the history of the Church. His work for the French people after the awful wars at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century when Europe was if possible plunged more deeply into desolation than it has been since our Great War, shows how much one man can do when his spirit is deeply stirred. He succored literally hundreds of thousands of people. His greatest accomplishment was in the care of children. It is no wonder that the modern society of men who visit the poor in their homes and the hospitals and in prison and accomplish so much good has been called after his name. He did much for the galley slaves of France, whose condition before that had been simply awful to contemplate. Nothing interested him so much as the condition of the poor slaves in the Barbary States, who, more than thirty thousand in number, had been carried off by Turkish Corsairs and were kept in slavery in Tunis, Algiers and Bizerta. He is said to have written over thirty thousand letters and his conferences to men and women have been published over and over again and are famous.

The modern spirit, though often supposed to be fatal to what is more than a little contemptuously called mysticism by so many, did not put an end to the development of mystics,--men and women whose lives represented so close a union with God that they may {301} well deserve a place even beside St. Paul or St. Francis of Assisi, or St. Teresa. Toward the end of the eighteenth century a great thinker, the founder of the congregation known as the Redemptorists, St. Alphonsus Liguori, rivalled the old writers in his contributions to the life of the spirit as a result of his own experiences. Few men ever have been more intensely practical or more intensely human in their sympathy with mankind than Liguori. His treatise on moral theology lays down the principles to guide men's consciences in the practical conduct of life better almost than any other. And yet this man was a mystic in the sublimest sense of the word.

There were men like St. Peter Claver, absolutely without a thought of themselves in the midst of the most trying conditions. Well educated, cultured, scholarly, with all the refinements of college life about him he gave it all up to spend forty years of his life among the negro slaves in Cartagena, South America, consoling them, taking care of them in sickness, begging alms for them, undeterred by the stenches of the holds of the vessels of the slave trade, burying the dead, risking his life in epidemics. No wonder that he was accorded consolations of the spirit that brought him in intimate relations with another world than this. Two hundred years later Father Damien did the same thing among the lepers in Molokai.

In our own day the little girl saint, Teresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower, as she is familiarly called, has shown very clearly that the mystic in the spirit still lives and has a place in this twentieth century. The enthusiastic {302} cult that has arisen with regard to her not alone among cloistered religious spirits but among the practical men and women of the world, shows how living is the religious spirit in our day. The wonders that have been proclaimed among those who turn to her with confidence are but the demonstration of the fact that the arm of the Lord is not shortened even in a time when mankind's faith is so much eclipsed and the life of the spirit seems to many but a delusion of weaker minds. Within the Catholic Church it is still a great living reality, for Teresa of Lisieux is but an outstanding one of many.

Unless there were to be manifestations of this kind it would be futile to claim that Christ the Son of God and God the Son had come to found a Church and give the pattern of it by what happened in His own time and immediately afterwards. The mystical life, the life of the spirit in its highest sense which He introduced and which meant so much in early Christianity still lives and still is powerful to work wonders in the mind and the body, but the only place that it is to be found is within the bounds of the Catholic Church. There is practically no claim from any other source for this continuance of the life of the spirit which must exist if Christianity is really a living force.



Note 1:

"For art sees as God sees."

Note 2:

A. Kingsley Porter in his article on "The Devastated Art of France" (Scribner's 1919) says that the Academy of Rheims commissioned four of the best scholars of Champagne who devoted themselves for thirty years to compiling a list of the monuments of the Marne. Such was the number of these that at the outbreak of the war this work was less than one half finished.

He says that "the artistic sensitiveness of the Middle Ages and the power of criticism--a power we moderns often fail to recognize, that this period possessed, is commonly witnessed by contemporary appreciation of the Rheims sculpture." Mr. Porter traces modern sculpture to Rheims through the Renaissance and asks "how often have the illustrious descendants of the sculptors of Rheims equalled their masters in poetic visions and artistic power!"

Note 3:

It has been said that the ugliest books ever printed came from the press not long after the middle of the nineteenth century when cheap wood pulp paper, ugly type facings, poor composition, badly arranged spacing and margins, gave us the cheapest books that could be made. William Morris trying to make homes beautiful again found that he did not care to have such ugly books lying around the rooms of the houses that he was decorating so he resolved to print some books that would be worthy of their environment. He took as the model for his printing the books printed in the very first generation of printing and on handmade paper with the old fashioned type facing and spacing and the liberal margins of the old days made once more some beautiful books. He asked high prices for them but people were perfectly willing to pay once they came to appreciate what the beauty of them was. Now when a volume of the Kelmscott Press gets to the auction rooms it is not unusual to have a price of several hundred dollars bid for it justifying William Morris' selection of the old time models for his modern printing.

Note 4:

Reverend Augustus Jessop who is an Anglican clergyman very much interested in English antiquities has written a book bearing the expressive title "Before The Great Pillage." That is his term for the Reformation in England. He has paid a very wonderful tribute to the beauty of the structures built by the Catholic Church before the Reformation and which have never been admired as they ought to have been because of the havoc that was worked on them at the time of the Reformation by the robber barons, by the Puritans in Cromwell's time and by neglect in the subsequent centuries. He said, "And we get fairly bewildered by the astonishing wealth of skill and artistic taste and aesthetic feeling which there must have been in this England of ours, in times which till lately we had assumed to be barbaric times. Bewildered, I say, because we cannot understand how it all came to a dead stop in a single generation, not knowing that the frightful spoliation of our {304} churches and other parish buildings, and the outrageous plunder of the parish guilds in the reign of Edward the Sixth by the horrible band of robbers that carried on their detestable work, effected such a hideous obliteration, such a clean sweep of the precious treasures that were dispersed in rich profusion over the whole land, that a dull despair of ever replacing what had been ruthlessly pillaged crushed the spirit of the whole nation, and art died out in rural England, and King Whitewash and Queen Ugliness ruled supreme for centuries." (Italics ours.)

Note 5:

In his article already referred to on "'The Devastated Art of France" A. Kingsley Porter, special commissioner of the French government and member of the Commission des Monuments Historiques, said that the striking thing about the art around Soissons was its inexhaustibility, "inexhaustibility, I mean not only in the thought hidden beneath, thought artistic, mystic and poetic in every created thing, but in the sheer quantity of the master works that having defied the sacrilegious hands of blind iconoclasm and even blinder restoration still until yesterday preserved to us essentially unaltered the medieval vision in its serenity and its exaltation unbelievable."

Note 6:

It is amusing to have a zoologist suggest that the best definition of man we have is that he is a tool-making and a tool-using animal. It is not so surprising perhaps since it is the business of the zoologist to be interested in the animal side of man and man is the only animal who uses tools. Almost needless to say mankind is scarcely at all interested in the men who made or used the tools that fashioned St. Peter's or the Parthenon or Santa Sophia. We are extremely interested in the men who designed and then directed the execution of these wonderfully beautiful works. Man of course is far more than a tool-making animal; he is an idea-making animal, and when his ideas are original and so deeply true that they touch the heart of humanity and he can express them adequately, they are poetry and art and we talk of their author as a creator, using the word to describe him which ordinarily we reserve for the Almighty. We use it equivocally because words fail us in our admiration.

Note 7:

Most of the great Catholic poets in England since the Reformation are converts to Catholicity. It is extremely interesting to find that in our day the descendants of distinguished literary families gravitate back to the Church. All the blood of Scott now flows in Catholic veins, Dickens' and Thackeray's living relatives are in the Church. Strange as it may seem so are Kingsley's, and Gladstone's relatives are among the converts in this generation. One of them was the Deputy Military Governor in Palestine at the end of the war. This same thing is true in America. Hawthorne's daughter, Rose, and her husband George Parsons Lathrop both became Catholics and after his death she as Mother Alphonsa became the foundress of The Servants of Relief for the Care of Incurable Cancer, one of our sublimest charities in America. Franklin's direct descendants are Catholics, and so are some of the old Dwight family and some of the Danas. Among the old New England families who have given converts to the Church are the Welches, the Shaws, the Heckers, the Walworths, the Searleses, the Tillotsons, the Bodfishes, the Brownsons, the Crawfords, the Ripleys, the Averys, the Stoddards, the Merrills, {305} the Swifts, the Robinsons, the Warrens, and others that might be mentioned.

Note 8:

The significance of this foundation by St. Benedict is very well stated by C. F. Andrews in his volume "Christ and Labour" (Madras, 1922).

"The Western Church was saved from taking the wrong path by a new monastic movement, which sprang to life under S. Benedict, during those darkest ages of Europe--the centuries of the Barbarian invasions. In the lonely forests of England and Germany and the Tyrol, in the wild tracts of inhospitable lands, the monks of this Benedictine Order lived and laboured, spending their days equally in work and prayer. To them, in that noblest of monastic ideals, work itself was prayer, and prayer itself was work. Through centuries of plunder and rapine and bloodshed, far more terrible than anything that the patient earth had witnessed in Europe before, these monasteries were oases of peaceful labour and devotion in the midst of a howling wilderness. During these Dark Ages the fair light of humanity seemed almost to have left the earth, and--as one old chronicler vividly described it--the people said to one another, "God is dead." In these monasteries, which were scarcely touched by the wild tumult and destruction around, the light of learning and prayer and fruitful toil gleamed forth in unimaginable beauty. Thus, and thus alone, were kept fresh the higher ideals of mankind. The most savage forces of anarchy and passion were restrained by these living examples of quiet peaceful work and self discipline and prayer.

"Painfully and slowly in the West this greatest of all industrial struggles was won. The dignity of labour, which the Roman Empire, with its chained gangs of slave labourers, had altogether lost, was recovered once more for mankind."

Note 9:

Popular misunderstanding of the Catholic Church and its influence is due to a lamentable abuse of the word medieval. For many people the Middle Ages were the "Dark Ages" and whenever they want an adjective condemning any phase of social life to the lowest degree they employ the word medieval. We hear of medieval cruelty and torture, of medieval superstition and medieval ignorance, of medieval credulity and medieval obscurantism, of medieval lack of progressiveness and medieval worship of authority without trying to see things for themselves.

Anyone who will seriously try to find justification in actual history for these expressions, especially when the medieval period is compared with modern centuries and above all our own, will discover that he has a very serious task on his hands. We hear of medieval cruelty but it was in England at the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century that according to the laws on the statute books some two hundred crimes were punishable by death. When John Howard and Mrs. Frye reformed the prisons for men and women they were in an unspeakable condition; nothing like them can be found in the Middle Ages. As for medieval torture the Encyclopedia Britannica, (9th edition) emphasizes the fact that there are less than half a dozen cases of legal torture on record in England during the Middle Ages all of them Star Chamber cases for treason. On the other hand the rack and the screw were never idle in Elizabeth's time {306} 150 years after the end of the Middle Ages. The Virgin of Nuremburg, the iron boots into which wedges were driven along side of human legs, the iron gauntlets in which human hands were roasted, the Scavenger's daughter, all these belonged to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Spanish Inquisition supposing the legends of its torture to be true is entirely modern and not at all medieval. It was introduced into Spain under Queen Isabella after the discovery of America.

There was an abundance of superstition in the Middle Ages but there is an even greater abundance of superstition in our time. We have over 100 healing religions whose devotees are the well-to-do and educated folk of such commonwealths as Massachusetts and California for these are the two states in which above all they flourish. We have an immense number of scientific superstitions. Any charlatan can come along and use a few scientific terms and "cure" people of all sorts of ills--on their own testimony. There was ignorance in the Middle Ages but there were more students in attendance at the universities of the various countries of Europe at the end of the thirteenth century in proportion to the population than there are in this twentieth century of ours. Those university generations gave us the Gothic cathedrals, undying literature in every country in Europe, an immense number of huge tomes that were written out laboriously by hand in such numbers that they have been preserved down to our time, charming music, the scholastic philosophy, wonderful arts and crafts which made everything useful also beautiful and a satisfying comprehension of the meaning of life such as has never been reached since. Frederic Harrison, the English positivist, said, "Of all the epochs of effort after a new life, that of the age of Aquinas, Roger Bacon, St. Francis, St. Louis, Giotto and Dante, is the most purely spiritual, the most really constructive, and indeed the most truly philosophic of human history." So far from Frederic Harrison being the only one who thinks thus of the later Middle Ages, it would be perfectly possible to collect a large sheaf of quotations of similar tenor. At the beginning of my volume on "The Thirteenth Greatest of Centuries" (VII edition) I present such quotations from Macaulay, Freeman, John Fiske, Henry Adams and Ralph Adams Cram.

Medieval credulity is often supposed to be demonstrated by reference to the strange cures they had for diseases and the readiness to accept the idea of the philosopher's stone and the transmutation of base into precious metals. Surely we are the last generation in the world who should make fun of the Middle Ages for such reasons. I have recently published a book on "Cures" which makes it very clear that there never was a time when people, that is educated people, often the graduates of our colleges, proclaim themselves cured by more absurd remedies and modes of treatment than in our day. Every new phase of science becomes a cure-all in the hands of some charlatan. In New York City they have been curing people of pains and aches and deep seated organic disease by applications of the terminals of a "radio" apparatus until the police interfered. Many people proclaimed themselves cured and were quite willing to pay $100 for the cure. The "psychology" cures of one kind or another {307} are even more amusing. As for the transmutation of metals, the medieval people were right and we are now witnesses of the fulfilment of their dream. As for credulity in regard to "making money," the Secretary of the United States Treasury declared not long since that $500,000,000 go through the New York Post Office every year not a dollar of which will ever go back to the people who forward it to the so-called promoters or brokers to make money for them. The glass in our houses is entirely too thin for us to talk of the credulity of the Middle Ages.

As to medieval lack of progressiveness Frederic Harrison went so far as to say of the thirteenth century "We find in it a harmony of power, a universality of endowment, a glow, an aspiring ambition and confidence, such as we never find in later centuries." As for medieval worship of authority, their two great authorities were Aristotle and Galen, and the more our generation has learned about these great Greek thinkers the more we have come to realize that the medieval people must indeed have been wise in their generation to have appreciated these marvelous scholars in the way they did.

All that is needed to wipe out modern misconception with regard to the Catholic Church is to know the Middle Ages not at second hand but from authorities who have gone back to the documents and the monuments and who realize that so far from the Middle Ages being dark, they are the bright ages in the history of mankind. This is true not only of the later but also the earlier Middle Ages. John Fiske in the Preface to his work on "The Beginnings of New England or the Puritan Theocracy in its Relation to Civil and Religious Liberty" went so far as to say, "When we think of all the work, big with promise of the future, that went on in those centuries which modern writers in their ignorance used once to set apart and stigmatize as the 'Dark Ages'; when we consider how the seeds of what is noblest in modern life were then painfully sown upon the soil which Imperial Rome had prepared; when we think of the various work of a Gregory, a Benedict, a Boniface, an Alfred, a Charlemagne, (all before the tenth century) we feel that there is a sense in which the most brilliant achievements of pagan antiquity are dwarfed in comparison with these."

Note 10:

Mr. Hamilton Mabie's tribute to these dear old scholars and teachers sums up succinctly and sympathetically their work and its significance. ("My Study Fire" p. 92).

"I confess that I can never read quite unmoved the story of the Brethren of the Common Life, those humble-minded, patient teachers and thinkers whose devotion and fire of soul for a century and a half made the choice treasures of Italian palaces and convents and universities a common possession along the low-lying shores of the Netherlands. The asceticism of this noble brotherhood was no morbid and divisive fanaticism; it was a denial of themselves that they might have the more to give. The visions which touched at times the bare walls of their cells with supernal beauty only made them the more eager to share their heaven of privilege with the sorely-burdened world without. Surely Virgil and Horace and the other masters of classic form were never more honored than when those noble-minded lovers of learning and of their kind made their sounding lines familiar in peasant homes."


Note 11:

This is so startling an expression from one of Mrs. Putnam's experience in the modern college that only her own words will show how emphatic was her opinion in this matter. It represents such a complete contradiction of commonly accepted notions that it should be in the notebook of everyone interested in feminine education in our day. "No institution of Europe has ever won for the lady the freedom and development that she enjoyed in the convent in early days. The modern college for women only feebly reproduces it, since the college for women has arisen at a time when colleges in general are under a cloud. The Lady Abbess on the other hand, was part of the two great social forces of her time, feudalism and the Church. Great spiritual rewards and great worldly prizes were alike within her grasp. She was treated as an equal by the men of her class, as is witnessed by the letters we still have from Popes and emperors to abbesses. She had the stimulus of competition with men in executive capacity, in scholarship, and in artistic production, since her work was freely set before the general public; but she was relieved by the circumstances of her environment from the ceaseless competition in common life of woman with woman for the favor of the individual man. In the cloister of the great days, as on a small scale in the college for women today, women were judged by each other as men are everywhere judged by each other, for sterling qualities of head and heart and character." (The Lady, New York, 1909).

Note 12:

The growing cult of the saints among those outside of the Catholic Church in recent years has led to a much better understanding of the real significance of sainthood than used to be common. Reverend Dr. Joseph Fort Newton in his little book "What Have the Saints to Teach Us" has a passage that illustrates this newer, truer view very well.

"Any one who has studied the Lives of the Saints knows that the deepest note of their song was not suffering, but a victorious, unfathomable joy. 'God is happiness,' said St. Augustine; 'not simply true, but Truth; not only beautiful, but Beauty--and in Him, from Him, and through Him all things are happy and true and lovely which are so at all.' The religion of the Saints of every period and every creed has all the ardences of youth--vigour, longing, grace, wonder: it has ever been the lyric note of holiness, Saints are, above all, those who enjoy; no mere renouncers; no ascetics, save for an end. No practice of goodness but is touched for them with a kind of glee, and whatever blows they suffer in the service of love are as nothing beside their inward joy. Those who think of the Saints as poor, sad mortals ought to know St. Bernardino, 'wittiest of saints ever caught up into the clouds', or listen to the rippling laughter of Catherine or Teresa. They went singing through the world, and surely those who lived so blithely, so abundantly, so radiantly, have something to teach us,"

Note 13:

The last sentence of Darwin's "Origin of the Species" which no matter what may have been the vicissitudes of his own faith he left unchanged in all the succeeding editions of his great book, is not as well known as it should be. As the conclusion of a masterpiece in the field of observation it is a magnificent logical termination demonstrating trust in intellectual power. "There is grandeur in {309} this view of life with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, while this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved."

Note 14:

Read Peter Parley's "History of the World" written by the Nathaniel Hawthornes to see the extent to which American misunderstanding of the Middle Ages went. This was a very popular source of supposed information here in the United States about the middle of the nineteenth century.

Note 15:

There has always been a feeling of objection on the part of mankind to the use of the human body for dissecting purposes. This was strikingly manifested here in America where during the first two generations after the Revolution we had a series of riots directed against college dissection rooms. There was one in New Haven, another, in New York, a third in Baltimore, a fourth in Philadelphia, and a fifth in St. Louis, extending over a period of nearly fifty years. Mobs were aroused who thought and often with good reason that bodies were being stolen from graveyards for dissection purposes. As a result they set out to destroy college buildings or portions of them and sometimes lives were lost, and often very valuable property was ruined by the mob. Lord Macaulay made a well-known speech in the English Parliament for the legal regulation of dissection as late as 1833. Earlier there had been the "burking" horrors in Scotland in connection with the effort to secure dissection material surreptitiously. Everyone of the first six Presidents of the New York Academy of Medicine confessed later in life to having taken part in body snatching "resurrectionist" raids to obtain anatomical specimens. This same feeling of reluctance to allow bodies to be used for anatomical study existed in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance time but the Church made provision to allow the bodies of those who died without friends to be used for dissection purposes. That was why Italy was the home of dissection for centuries when there was very little elsewhere. It was the influence of the Church that overcame the natural abhorrence to the use of the human body in this way.

Note 16:

Galileo's own letter to his intimate friend and disciple, the well known Father Renieri, in which he described just how he was treated at Rome and how he felt as the result of this treatment is the cardinal historical document of the trial. Nothing makes so clear as this the fact that the ordinary ideas accepted by a great many people with regard to the persecution of Galileo are utterly absurd. He himself was manifestly very little disturbed by what is so often declared to have been an extremely serious trial in which his life was at stake and as the result of which he was threatened with condign punishment. Galileo wrote, (History of Italian Literature tome iv, page 236, Venice 1824)--

"On the publication of my Dialogues, I was cited to Rome by the Congregation of the Holy Office (The Inquisition).

"I was received with the greatest clemency both by that tribunal and the Sovereign Pontiff, Urban VIII, who deemed me worthy his esteem. I was lodged in the delicious palace of Trinita dei Monti with the Ambassador of Tuscany. On the following day the Father {310} Commissary, Lancio, visited me. At length, I was compelled like a good Catholic, to retract my opinions. As a punishment, the Dialogues were prohibited--and I was detained about five months in Rome, in consequence of an epidemic which was ravaging Florence at that time. For my prison, I was assigned with pious generosity the palace of my dearest friend residing in Siena, Monsignor Archbishop Picolomini, in whose most gentle conversation I lived with such quiet and satisfaction to my mind, that I applied myself closely to study--discovered and demonstrated the resistance of solid bodies in opposition to the other opinion--at the end of five months, the pestilence having ceased in Florence, I was permitted to return about the beginning of December of the year 1633. And I now enjoy the sweet solitude of my native land in my country seat D'Arcitri."

Note 17:

Italy saw the foundation of the first modern university and for eight centuries continued to be the home of graduate education. As I have said in my volume on "What Civilization Owes to Italy" whenever a man anywhere in Europe wanted to get a better education than he could secure at home, until the beginning of the nineteenth century, he went down to Italy. The leaders in European scholarship down the centuries did graduate work in the Italian peninsula. Guy de Chauliac from France, Linacre from England, Puerbach from Vienna, Copernicus from Poland, Vesalius from Belgium, Harvey from England, Steno from Denmark, Erasmus from Holland, are typical examples of this and the fact that they went down there for advanced scholarship and special scientific training and were ever afterwards deeply grateful to their Italian masters, shows how much they appreciated the opportunities afforded them. After the beginning of the nineteenth century France became the Mecca for graduate students and after 1870 Germany had the call in this matter. The Church was supreme in her influence over education in Italy. Salerno was founded under Benedictine influence directly under the patronage of the Pope. The Roman universities--there were two--and the Universities of Bologna and Perugia were in the papal states. There are more Italian names attached to structures in the human body which they were the first to discover and more scientific discoveries and inventions attributed to Italians than to any other nation. Many of the discoverers were churchmen or in some way associated with the Church. These simple facts in the history of science ought to make it very clear that the Church instead of opposing in any way must have been fostering both education and science.

Note 18:

The story of the papal physicians is the absolute contradiction of the idea that the Church was in any way opposed to the progress of science. These men were summoned to be the regular medical attendants of the Popes, and were distinguished in their profession and nearly all of them were men of broad scientific interests, not a few of whom made distinguished contributions to the science of their times apart from medicine. The story of them has been told in two large quarto volumes Degli archiatri pontifici (Roma, Pagliarini, 1784). This work was originally written by Mandosio, at the end of the seventeenth century and annotated and enlarged by Marini at the end of the eighteenth. Even this large work is not complete as I have had occasion to point out. No one should say anything about the relations of the popes to science however unless he is well {311} acquainted with it. Besides the copy I have there is but one other in this country, that in the Library of Congress. There is none at Harvard or Columbia and none in the Surgeon General's Library nor in the New York Academy of Medicine. It is not among the references in Thorndike's work on "The History of Magic and Experimental Science Down to the Thirteenth Century" which is usually so complete in this matter.

Note 19:

Probably one of the most noteworthy incidents in our American history, though most people do not know it at all, is a trial which took place in New York some fifty years ago. A woman was punishing her adopted child so severely that she was really endangering the life of the little one. The neighbors complained but there was no law under which the woman could be brought to trial. An appeal was made, to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and it was through the good offices of the attorney of this society that a suit was brought against the mother for injuring her child inasmuch as it was an animal and she was sentenced to a year in the penitentiary for her crime. This led to the organization of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children on the lines of the other society. Nothing that I know illustrates better how easily human nature may be led to violate some of its best feelings and its highest duties than a case of this kind. The awful conditions of child labor in England and in this country represented even more cruelty than was practiced by any beatings of children and yet it has been impossible for us to secure legislation against it that would be effective.

Note 20:

Touching this point the failure of those consecrated to the service of God to be everything which their Faith supposes, Siegfried Behn, the well known German writer, says very strikingly, "The supernatural power of the Church is visible to us, not in spite of the fact that she has imperfect and sinful servants, but because she has those servants. What good would a Church of angels be to us? I, for one, would be excluded. But if the Church is made of men, why should we be astonished at their faults? Discipline is the food upon which the soul grows tall and strong. In the armies of this world, one risks his life, though knowing very well that the commanders are likely to err and that every mistake may cost a thousand lives."

Note 21:

The very low wages amounting to but a few cents in the day that were paid during the Middle Ages makes it impossible for many people to understand how a living wage can be talked of seriously at this time. I said in the Appendix of my volume on "The Thirteenth Greatest of Centuries" on this subject: "With regard to wages there is just one way to get at the subject and that is to present the legal table of wages enacted by Parliament, placing beside it the legal maximum of price of the necessities of life as also determined by Parliamentary enactment. An act of Edward III fixes the wages without food for the ordinary workman, a reaper, a mower, a thrasher, as four pence a day. The prices of food and clothing throughout the time when this law continued in force were, a pair of shoes, four pence, a fat goose, two pence ha' penny, russet broadcloth per yard one shilling, a fat sheep unshorn, one shilling eight pence, a fat sheep {312} shorn, a shilling two pence, a stall fed ox one pound four shillings, a fat hog two years old three shillings four pence, ale the gallon by proclamation, one penny."

When a workman can buy a hand-made pair of shoes for his daily wage he is getting excellent wages at any time. When he can buy two medium size geese for his day's wages the family is not likely to suffer for lack of food. When a fat hog costs less than a dollar a man's wages at eight cents a day are not too low. It is not the wages that men get in specie but the buying power of their wages that must always be considered. We saw the dollar shrink during the war period to less than half its buying power before the war at a time when wages had not yet caught up with high living costs.

An Act of Parliament of the fourteenth century, in fixing the price of meat, names the four sorts of meat--beef, pork, mutton and veal, and sets forth in its preamble the words, "these being, the food of the poorer sort." The poor in England do not eat these kinds of meat now, and the investigators of poverty of the country declare that most of the poor live almost exclusively on bread. The fact of the matter is, that large city populations are likely to harbor many very miserable people, while the rural population of England in the Middle Ages, containing the bulk of the people, were happy-hearted and merry. When we recall this in connection with what I have given in the text with regard to the trades-unions and their care for the people, the foolish notion, founded on a mere assumption and due to that Aristophanic joke, our complacent self-sufficiency, which makes us so ready to believe that our generation must be better off than others were, vanishes completely.

Note 22:

Our economic problems are usually supposed to be very different from those which they faced in the Middle Ages and which they had to solve if there was to be the opportunity for happiness for the masses of men. As a matter of fact the selfishness of mankind has always been about the same and that has been the root of our economic problems. There has always been a tendency for men to "boost prices" whenever they could, to take advantage of the necessities of their fellows, to monopolize necessaries of life, to corner foodstuffs, and for the middleman to fail in justice both to the producer and the consumer. Everyone of these problems they faced in the Middle Ages and solved very satisfactorily. The statutes in medieval England against engrossing, that is monopolizing; forestalling, that is putting up prices by buying up all of a commodity in sight at a particular time; and regrating, that is huckstering so as to sell at a higher than the market price, or selling at full prices goods that should for some reason be sold at less than the market price, are well known. Behind all this detailed legislation were the Church principles in the matter. As C. F. Andrews in "Christ and Labour" (Madras 1922) says--

"Two important economic doctrines had been inherited by the Middle Ages from the Early Church. These were the doctrine of the 'just price' (justum pretium) and the doctrine of the 'sin of usury.' The former regulated sales and bargains; the latter made the taking of interest on loans impossible for a Christian. These two doctrines were practiced with great tenacity throughout the Middle Ages. They have only broken down in modern times."


"These two economic doctrines of the medieval church--the doctrine of the 'just price' and the doctrine of the 'sin of usury'' are not antiquated as people have often imagined but singularly modern in their application."

Note 23:

When the Anglican bishop of Bristol was asked to write the Preface to Miss Rotha Mary Clay's work on "The Medieval Hospitals in England" he confessed that he feared that there would be very little to say on the subject and so he insisted that he must first see the sheets of the work in proof. All his doubts were removed by the results of Miss Clay's researches. He confesses that "the mass of the material collected is remarkable. Still more remarkable is the evidence of the very large part played by hospitals--in the widest sense of the word--in the social life of the people of this land in the earlier Middle Ages." Miss Clay did for Britain what Virchow had done for Germany. Other countries were in advance of these western lands in their provision of hospitals.

Note 24:

Virchow said, "The beginning of the history of all of these German hospitals is connected with the name of that Pope who made the boldest and farthest-reaching attempt to gather the sum of human interests into the organization of the Catholic Church. The hospitals of the Holy Ghost were one of the many means by which Innocent III thought to hold humanity to the Holy See. And surely it was one of the most effective. Was it not calculated to create the most profound impression to see how the mighty Pope, who humbled emperors and deposed kings, who was the unrelenting adversary of the Albigenses, turned his eyes sympathetically upon the poor and sick, sought the helpless and the neglected upon the streets, and saved the illegitimate children from death in the waters! There is something at once conciliating and fascinating in the fact, that at the very time when the fourth crusade was inaugurated through his influence, the thought of founding a great organization of an essentially humane character, which was eventually to extend throughout all Christendom, was also taking form in his soul; and that in the same year (1204) in which the new Latin Empire was founded in Constantinople, the newly erected hospital of the Holy Spirit, by the old bridge on the other side of the Tiber, was blessed and dedicated as the future centre of this organization."

Note 25:

It seems almost incredible that nursing and hospitals after having been in such well developed condition during the Middle Ages should have deteriorated in modern time. Miss Nutting and Miss Dock in their authoritative work "History of Nursing" begin the chapter which concludes the first volume on "The Dark Period of Nursing" with the paragraph:

"It is commonly agreed that the darkest known period in the history of nursing was that from the latter part of the 17th up to the middle of the 19th century. During this time the condition of the nursing art, the well being of the patient and the status of the nurse all sank to an indescribable level of degradation."

Note 26:

Jacobson in his "Essays on the History of Care for the Ailing" (Beitraege zur Geachichte des Krankencomforts; Deutsche Krankenpflege Zeitung 1898) says of the hospitals of the early 19th century, contrasting them with the older institutions:--


"The hospitals of cities were like prisons, with bare undecorated walls and little dark rooms, lighted only by small windows through which no sun could enter and dismal wards where fifty to one hundred patients were crowded together deprived not only of all comfort but even of necessaries. In the municipal and state institutions of this period the beautiful gardens and the roomy halls and springs of water of the old cloister hospital of the Middle Ages were not heard of. Still less the spacious comfort of their friendly interiors."

Note 27:

The reason for this decadence in hospitals and nursing was the Reformation so-called and its suppression or serious hampering of the religious orders. Miss Nutting and Miss Dock in their "History of Nursing" said:--

"In England where the religious orders had been suppressed and no substitute organization formed, it might almost be said that no nursing class remained at all during this period (from the middle of the 16th to the middle of the 19th century). . . . The drunken and untrustworthy Gamp was the only professional nurse. 'We always take them without a character' said an English physician not very many decades ago, 'because no respectable woman will take such work.' Even the Sisters of the religious orders though retaining their sweet charm of serenity and gentleness came to a complete standstill professionally as nurses on account of the persistent sequence of restrictions which had been hemming them in from the middle of the 16th century."

Note 28:

Bartholomaeus anglicus, Bartholomew the Englishman, who became a Franciscan after having been professor of theology at the University of Paris (1225) wrote shortly before the middle of the thirteenth century an encyclopedia of all the science of that time under the title De proprietatibus rerum. It was meant to be a book of reference particularly for priests. The work was extremely popular, very often quoted and must have been frequently referred to. It was translated and thus made accessible to the laity. Its article on insanity is one of the best brief accounts of the whole subject of the insane that has ever been written. It discusses the causes, the symptoms, the remedies, and the after treatment, music and occupation of mind, all in the course of ten lines. The article on rabies or hydrophobia is quite as well done. Nothing shows better how clearly the men of this time could see and how well they could note down what they saw. This is the article on insanity.--"Madness cometh sometime of passions of the soul, as of business and of great thoughts, of sorrow and of too great study, and of dread: sometimes of the biting of a wood (mad) hound, or some other venomous beast; sometime of melancholy meats and sometimes of drink of strong wine. And as the causes be diverse, the tokens and signs be diverse. For some cry and leap and hurt and wound themselves and other men, and darken and hide themselves in privy and secret places. The medicine of them is that they be bound, that they hurt not themselves and other men. And namely, such shall be refreshed, and comforted, and withdrawn from cause and matter of dread and busy thoughts. And they must be gladded with instruments of music, and some deal be occupied."


Note 29:

Miss Nutting and Miss Dock in "A History of Nursing," Putnams, New York, 1907, tell the story of this incident at Blockley, page 333, Vol. II. It is so striking as to deserve more ample citation here:--

Only one short interregnum of peace broke the long and distressing reign of violence, neglect, and cruelty in Blockley. In 1832 there was a severe epidemic of cholera, and the attendants demanded more wages. To keep them to their duties the wages were increased, but were promptly spent for liquor. An orgy of intoxication ensued, and the helpers, crazed with drink, fought like furies over the beds of the sick, or lay in drunken stupor beside the bodies of the dead. So complete was the demoralization that the guardians applied to Bishop Kendrick for Sisters of Charity from Emmitsburg. The call was responded to promptly; indeed, the Sisters started two hours after summons was received. They took in hand the whole desperate situation, at once restored order and disseminated about them an atmosphere of tranquility and quiet energy. The Sisters remained for some months, and their work was so deeply appreciated by the guardians that the Committee of the House, in a set of resolutions commending their great services, resolved also that they be requested to remain permanently. This, however, Father Hickey, their Superior, negatived, giving his reasons at length. He did not consider Blockley the department of charity in which the Sisters could be most usefully employed, so the guardians were obliged to let them go, with glowing tributes which may well have been heartfelt.

Note 30:

President Lincoln who had himself witnessed the consolations derived from the ministrations of the Catholic sisters during the Civil War, recorded his recognition of their services to the soldiers in his usual terse and direct fashion. He said:--

"Of all the forms of charity and benevolence seen in the crowded wards of the hospitals, those of some Catholic Sisters were among the most efficient. I never knew whence they came or what was the name of their Order. More lovely than anything I have ever seen in art, so long devoted to illustrations of love, mercy and charity, are the pictures that remain of those modest Sisters going on their errands of mercy among the suffering and the dying. Gentle and womanly, yet with the courage of soldiers, leading a forlorn hope, to sustain them in contact with such horrors. As they went from cot to cot, distributing the medicines prescribed, or administering the cooling, strengthening draughts as directed, they were veritable angels of mercy. Their words were suited to every sufferer. One they incited and encouraged, another they calmed and soothed. With every soldier they conversed about his home, his wife, his children, all the loved ones he was soon to see again if he was obedient and patient. How many times have I seen them exorcise pain by the force of their words! How often has the hot forehead of the soldier grown cool as one of the Sisters bathed it! How often has he been refreshed, encouraged and assisted along the road to convalescence, when he would otherwise have fallen by the way, by the home memories with which these unpaid nurses filled his heart!"


Note 31:

Mr. Jacob Riis who probably had had as much experience that would help him to understand the way to help those who could not help themselves as anyone in this country, tells the story of his contact once in an hour of supreme desolation with a monastery in the modern time that will make it easier for most people to understand the place that these institutions occupied in the old medieval days better than any amount of writing with regard to them. The man whom he described as "an old monk in a cowl" was really a very modern Jesuit in cassock and biretta, perhaps wearing a long cape or cloak as they did in those days. Which one of these three appealed to Mr. Riis as a monk's "cowl" is a matter of indifference. What he found was the way the religious orders cared for those who were in need. Many another could tell the same story of St. John's College, Fordham, fifty years ago. In his book "The Making of an American," Mr. Riis says: "I reached Fordham College, famished and footsore. I had eaten nothing since the previous day, and had vainly tried to make a bath in the Bronx River do for breakfast. Not yet could I cheat my stomach that way.

"The college gates were open, and I strolled wearily in, without aim or purpose. On a lawn some young men were engaged in athletic exercises, and I stopped to look and admire the beautiful shade-trees and the imposing building. So at least it seems to me at this distance. An old monk in a cowl, whose noble face I sometimes recall in my dreams, came over and asked kindly if I was not hungry. I was in all conscience fearfully hungry, and I said so, though I did not mean to. I had never seen a real live monk before, and my Lutheran training had not exactly inclined me in their favor. I ate of the food set before me, not without qualms of conscience, and with a secret suspicion that I would next be asked to abjure my faith, or at least do homage to the Virgin Mary, which I was firmly resolved not to do. But when, the meal finished, I was sent on my way with enough to do me for supper, without the least allusion having been made to my soul, I felt heartily ashamed of myself. I am just as good a Protestant as I ever was; but I have no quarrel with the excellent charities of the Roman Church, or with the noble spirit that animates them. I learned that lesson at Fordham thirty years ago."

Note 32:

It is often presumed that very little can be learned and still less be carried forward from the older times for the benefit of the modern time. C. F. Andrews in "Christ and Labour" (Madras 1922) said with regard to this: "The history of the Christian monasteries and guilds is the most fruitful of all studies in pointing out the true development of European industrial history in the coming age. . . . In Europe our best thinkers are going back to the monasteries and guilds in order to find the true sense and inspiration of the industrial life of 'Merrie England' (as medieval England is rightly named)."

Note 33:

This neglect of the beautiful and cult of the trivial, the "fascination of trifles which obscures all that is best," has been noted by many writers. Mr. Langdon Mitchell who is the son of S. Weir Mitchell and himself an acute observer, the author of such plays as "Becky Sharp" and "The New York Idea," in an article in the February Atlantic Monthly, 1924, on "The American Malady, a {317} Diagnosis of our National Temperament" suggests, after reviewing the characterizations that our own novelists for a generation now have given us of small and large town Americans East and West, that we are a "decivilized people." "We are, as a people, without the knowledge or practice of what clearly enough is civilization. And (what is worse) we are not aware of the fact. We look in the magic glass, and the glass is truly magic with the grace and truth of genius, and we see our American brother's face. It is a very sad face, but not sad with thought; not furrowed by dark experience; not weary with having lived. No, the face as it appears on this canvas, wears the mournful, baffled expression of a soul which does not know how to live, and has not lived.

"It can only be said of these unhappy people that the existence they are called upon to endure is composed of that iteration of nothing to which the human soul cannot accustom itself this side of an insane asylum. If Mrs. Corra Harris and Miss Willa Cather report with only half truth the facts of our case, we must feel that we are in a bad way; that we really are a decivilized people, wanting in all the arts of civilization; and in consequence, undeveloped, starved of all that is best--discontented, and dull. To this state our false conception of what is good has brought us."

Note 34:

The care of the Guilds for the proper regulation not only of child labor but also of woman labor is very well illustrated by a passage from "The Child in Human Progress" by George Henry Payne (New York, 1911). This shows how intent they were on ordering abuses with regard to labor of all kinds not only as regards securing a living wage but also honest work for the daily wage and preventing cheap labor and night labor and cheaper products. They were trying to maintain standards of all kinds in industry and in connection with this were protecting women and children from the grasping spirit that so readily gets possession of men when they can make money through the labor of others.

"Nearly all the trades and manufactures in the Middle Ages were under the control of the guilds, so that almost all of the children working, excepting those on farms or in domestic service, came under their supervision. The attitude of the guilds toward child labour is shown in the regulations of the apprenticeships, but this interest was mainly industrial, for in regulating the work of the children they protected their members from cheap labour and at the same time, by their supervision over the work of the rising generation, saw that the guild's reputation for the proper kind of labour was kept up and prices therefore held to a desirable level.

"At the same time there was a religious side to the guilds, a strong religious side, and while everything they did, such as the prohibition of night work (not out of consideration for the health of the workers but because it might lead to bad work), had a purely industrial aspect, there is no doubt that this social and religious side developed in the guilds and their members an outlook on the broader and more humane aspects of their own place in society. The custom of not permitting a man to employ other than his own wedded wife and his own daughter was not humanitarian in its intention but its effect could not be other than beneficial."


"'No one of the said trade,' said, the ordinances of the Braelers (makers of braces) in 1355, 'shall be so daring as to work at his trade at night. . . also, that no one of the said trade shall be so daring as to set any woman to work in his trade, other than his wedded wife, or his daughter.'"

Note 35:

A non-Catholic writer said; "They are to religion what Homer and Dante are to literature--lovers of the beauty of holiness, as the poets are lovers of the holiness of beauty. As such they are the most indubitable witnesses of the authenticity of our religion, and its most luminous exemplars; and they have been the saviours of the Church in every dark age of the long story, as they will be today if we hear them."

Note 36:

Dr. Osier, in his Ingersoll lecture twenty years ago was but an initial influence in the movement for the better understanding of the saints and their ways in the twentieth century. Saint Teresa above all had been a stumbling stone in the path of those outside the Church and physicians had spilt much ink in writing about her mental condition. Dr. Osler's deeper understanding sets her up as the type of those whose own abiding faith makes belief in immortality not only possible but almost easy for the rest of us. Others have followed in his footsteps. Reverend Dr. Joseph Fort Newton in his little book already quoted in these Notes, "What Have the Saints to Teach Us" said, "However the Saints may have differed in temperament, training, and the details of experience, they walked the same path and found the same secret: withdrawal from dependence on things lower than the soul, the giving of themselves utterly to God, the dedication of their lives to the needs of others--and at bottom these three are one. Always the process is the same, known by us as the five steps of the Mystic Way--Awakening, Purgation, Illumination, the Dark Night of the Soul, Union. It is a hard way, harder for some than for others, so much so that it may almost be said that few attain to saintliness who do not pass through Hell to win it. At any rate, not Dante himself ever wrote more vivid pages than those of the Saints describing the path of flame they walked to the Mount of Vision. 'Tis in vain that we reason with our discomfort and try to prove that the lives of the Saints were unnatural; or explain the wonder by saying that they had the gift of genius. Say, rather, that we are loitering in, the low places, too fickle to be faithful, too feeble to be heroic."

Note 37:

Catherine of Sienna is another of the saints of the older time who has met with appreciative understanding in our day. Vida Scudder has done much to help Americans and especially American women to a better appreciation of this sister doer of things in the Middle Ages who could write such marvelous letters nearly six centuries ago: "now pleading with friend or wrong-doer, now brooding as a mother-bird over some fledgling soul, now broken with sobs over the sins of Church and world, and again chanting high prophecy of restoration and renewal, or telling in awe-struck undertone sacred mysteries of the interior life."

Note 38:

It is very interesting to set over against the immense number of deep thinkers and very practical geniuses who all down the ages have found à Kempis so inspiring, the little group of men who have read pessimism into the saintly old Augustinian monk. George Eliot {319} in "The Mill on the Floss" made "The Imitation of Christ" a clarion call to all that was best in her nature for Maggie Tulliver and yet ends on a distinct pessimistic note. Thackeray wrote rather bitterly with regard to The Imitation. So did our own American professor of philosophy at Harvard, Royce, who suggests that the reading of à Kempis "induces acts that are done in a dream-like somnambulistic ecstasy." One need only think of such men as St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis de Sales, Sir Thomas More, the only man who ever cleared the docket of the Court of Chancery, John Wesley and Dr. Samuel Johnson, Renan and Comte, Lord Russell of Killowen and Matthew Arnold, Stanley the explorer, Chinese Gordon, Field Marshall Lord Wolseley, all devoted readers of the Imitation, and all active energetic doers of duty as they saw it, to wonder what the word "somnambulistic" has to do in this galley.


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