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saints is continually enriched by the addition of new names. The most common miracle which saints perform after their death, is to impart a delightful perfume to their carcasses ; and it is an especial recommendation if they can preserve it for a long course of years, so that, when their graves are opened, all may be sensible of it. Collin de Plancy, (a French author, who I am sorry to say is not much admired by Romish priests), in his critical dictionary of miraculous relics and images, mentions a large number of wonder. ful miracles, which are duly attested by reverend monks and others, who were eye-witnesses of them, or at least said that they were. I will translate a few paragraphs as specimens.
“ VICTORIA, a Roman Martyr of the third century. Her body is at Monte Sione, and at Plaisance. She had a third at Paris, in the Convent of the Daughters of God. This third body was sent from Rome, in 1784 : when it was exposed, people were surprised to see a saint, who had been dead for so long a time, preserve a fresh colour, and a beautiful skin. Some incredulous persons opened other eyes than those of faith; and it was ascertained that the Daughters of God, in order to hide from their devotees the hideous spectacle of a skeleton, and to give a better grace to their saintess, had covered the head with a mask of silk, and the rest of her bones with a long robe.”
“ VICTOR, a martyr of Marseilles, in the third century. Whilst the Emperor Maximan Hercules was in this city, Victor overthrew with a kick an altar consecrated to idols. Although he was an officer of the troops of the emperor,
he was immediately arrested ; he was tied to the tail of a horse that had never been trained : this punishment did not kill the saint ; he was whipped with cowhides, without seeming to feel it ; he was crucified, without appearing in the least incommoded. As he sung upon the cross, they put him in prison ; during the night, he converted his jailors, baptized them, and was whipped next day more cruelly that the first time.
“ He was afterwards led before the statue of an idol, to which he again gave a kick. This holy foot was cut off by order of the tyrants, and Victor walked not a whit less straight for the want of it. They were obliged to put him to death under a millstone.
“The remains of Saint Victor were honourably interred; they possessed in an eminent degree the virtue of driving away devils. A vast number of blind, deaf, and dumb, is enumerated, whom he cured.
“ At Marseilles there were formerly sold, bottles of holy water in which some bones of Saint Victor had been steeped. It was a sovereign remedy against all sorts of diseases.
“ The body and the head of Saint Victor are at Marseilles ; but he had a second head at Sens, and a third cranium at St. Victor, of Paris. The venerable foot with which Victor overthrew the idols, is also shown in this latter abbey. It is said that he has a second body at Rome in the church of Saint Pancrace," &c., &c.
The evidence of such wonders would certainly constitute some recommendation to a saintship, but unfortunately it is not always that the miracles are so fully attested as in the present instance. I am aware that it is “scandalous and rash,” and that it “ smacks of heresy” to question the infallibility of his holiness in the canonization of saints; and therefore, in the first instance, I will show merely that the faithful may be deceived. Middleton, in his Letters, makes the following statements.
“ The Spaniards, it seems, have a saint held in great reverence, in some parts of Spain, called Viar; for the farther encouragement of whose worship, they solicited the pope to grant some special indulgences to his altars; and upon the pope's desiring to be better acquainted first with his character, and the proofs which they had of his saintship, they produced a stone with these antique letters, S. VIAR, which the antiquaries readily saw to be a small fragment of some old Roman inscription in memory of one who had been Prefectu s. VIARUM, or overseer of the high
“We have in England," says Middleton, “an instance still more ridiculous, of a fictitious saintship, in the case of a certain saint, called Amphibolus, who, according to monkish historians, was bishop of the Isle of Man, and fellow-martyr and disciple of St. Alban ; yet the learned Bishop Usher has given good reason to convince us that he owes the honour of his saintship to a mistaken passage in old acts or legends of St. Alban ; where the Amphibolus, mentioned and since reverenced as a saint and martyr, was nothing more than a cloak wh Alban happened to have at the time of his execution ; being a word derived from the Greek, and signifying a rough, shaggy cloak, which ecclesiastical persons usually wore in that age.”
All this, however, does not necessarily affect the pope's infallibility ; because we have not proved that his holiness had really canonized the cloak in question ; but, however loth I am to soil my pages with any thing that is really “scandalous, rash, and smacking of heresy," I may as well say at once that his holiness's infallibility in this respect is at least suspected. The same author to whom I have just referred, says farther :
“They pretend to show here at Rome, two original impressions of our Saviour's face, on two different handker. chiefs; the one, sent a present by himself to Agbarus, prince of Edessa, who by a letter had desired a picture of him; the other, given by him at the time of his execution, to a saint or holy woman, named Veronica, upon a handkerchief which she had lent him to wipe his face on that occasion ; both of which handkerchiefs are still preserved, as they affirm, and now kept with much reverence; the first in St. Sylvester's church, the second in St. Peter's; where in honour of this sacred relic, there is a fine altar, built by Pope Urban VIII., with a statue of Veronica herself with an inscription. There is a prayer in their book of offices, ordered by the rubric, to be addressed to this sacred and miraculous picture, in the following terms: Conduct us, O thou blessed figure! to our proper home, where we may behold the pure face of Christ. But notwithstanding the authority of their popes, and this inscription, this Veronica, as one of their best authors has shown, like Amphibolus before mentioned, was not any real person, but the name given to the picture itself by old writers who mention it ; being formed by blundering and confounding the words, VERA Icon, or true image, the title inscribed perhaps, or given originally to the handkerchief by the first contrivers of the imposture. •Håec Christi imago a recentioribus Veronicæ dicitur : imaginem ipsam veteres Veronicam appellabant,' &c. Mabill. Iter. Ital. p. 88. “This picture of Christ is called Veronica's by more recent (writers); the ancients called the picture itself Veronica.'
It is certain that not a few of the saints whom Papists devoutly invoke, never had any existence at all, and some who did live were persons of very doubtful reputation.
On the 21st of October, they who follow the Romish calender, make mention of St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins, in these words : “Permit us, we pray thee, O Lord our God, to venerate with unceasing devotion the triumphs of the holy virgins and martyrs, Ursula and her companions ; &c."* And yet some Romish authors doubt the authenticity of her story; and well they may. For why so many virgins should ramble away from Cornwall to Rome, without any business, is certainly hard to determine; and still more difficult is it to say
what motive the Huns should have had for putting them all to death. It is said also that Pope Cyriacus went with them, and yet Baronius denies that there ever was a Pope of that name.
So on July 27th, some simple souls pray to the Seven Sleepers, and worship them as saints. But any one who can believe that they slept in a cave from the time of Decius to the reign of Theodosius, a period of 362 years, and then, to confute some heretics that denied the resurrection, woke up and looked as fresh as a rose, certainly deserves to be canonized as an eighth sleeper. What confirmation the doctrine of the general resurrection could derive from the sleep of
* See Breviarium Monasticum of Pope Paul V. p. 676. Paris, 1671.
these seven persons, who it seems were not really dead, of
very existence is problematical. St. Christopher, one author tells us, was a gentleman who measured just twelve feet, but an. other veracious historian stretches his stature to twelve cubits that is at least eighteen feet. This tall saint converted just 48,000 Gentiles to Christianity; and it is further reported of him, that he carried Christ over an arm of the sea on his back.
On the 15th of March, St. Longinus receives due veneration. This is the Roman soldier who pierced the Saviour's side.
The 29th of March is the day of Marcus Arethusius; yet Baronius condemns him as an Arian heretic.
Thomas à Becket, the wicked Archbishop of Canterbury, is invoked in Latin verses to this effect :
" By that same blood shed for thee, O Thomas,
Christ, raise us to that place to which he has ascended !" And yet history represents this saint as a vile traitor to his country. And though we do not justify the manner of his death, all that can be said in his favour is, that he died the Pope's martyr.
Concerning Ecclesiastical Councils. (86.) “What is meant by an ecclesiastical council ?
“ An assembly of the chief priests or ecclesiastical rulers, convened by legitimate authority, in order that the opinions concerning things pertaining to the church being collected into one, that is, concerning faith, customs, or discipline, it may be determined what is to be thought or done.
How are ecclesiastical councils divided !