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FATHER MAURUS, GUEST-MASTER AT MOUNT MELLERAY.
pleasant idea of life in the best kind of establishment for the religious.
And yet the feeling lurks everywhere about Mount Melleray that the needs for which such communities were once an answer no longer exist. Everything is sensible, grave, praiseworthy. The traditional courtesy of the Irish reigns on all sides. One sees among the monks rude faces, it is true, but the chances are that one is surprised at the refinement of so many. It is as if a hill had opened at the stroke of a magician's wand, and in a concealed valley beyond was found a community which holds all that was best of some forgotten age. It recalls traditions yet rife among the peasants of bygone civilizations, Firbolg or Dé Danann, which vanished before the march of the conquerors who brought Christianity in their track, but support a charmed existence as a fairy race deep in the hills or far below the vast green billows of the Atlantic. The guest at Mount Melleray feels like one who has snatched the red cap or the green from a fairy on some
fateful night of the full moon and penetrated to the retreat, without losing memory of the great outer world and how it has rolled away, centuries away, from the ideals of a by-gone
The Cistercians of Mount Melleray are as truly a survival of a state of things which has disappeared from the greater part of Europe as are any of the hundred objects, customs, traditions that recall the heathen past. They were hunted out of France in this century; found England uncongenial; and by that inevitable pressure which amounts to a law, a law that I have pointed out as operating from primeval times while striving to account for the Irish, gravitated towards Ireland. Nay, they have obeyed the impulse farther yet, and are more numerous in the United States to-day than in Ireland. They look back through an illustrious ancestry-if that term be permitted-to one of the great benefactors of mankind, St. Benedict, who perhaps did more than any other one man to civilize Europe after the early floods of barbarians turned it into a pest-house and cemetery. They claim St. Bernard as one of their spiritual forefathers. If it be not profane to use with respect to religious men the expression "survival of the fittest," it is fair to say that if any monastic order was fit to survive it was theirs. Without being carried away by the fervor of the mendicant and preaching friars of the thirteenth century, they suffered eclipse from these innovators rather than yield to a popular fashion. Was it not they, by virtue of their connection with the Benedictines, who kept literature from extinction during the blackest periods of the Dark Ages? Indeed they, rather than the peripatetic evangelizing friars, the Salvation Army of the thirteenth century, belong by right of resemblance in character and aim to the special form of Catholicism for which Ireland was famous down to the Reformation.
Whatever Montalembert may advance to the contrary, early Christian Ireland was full of Eastern heresy. St. Benedict drew from the East for introduction into Italy the models of convents composed of monks or nuns. Patrick, while doubtless ready enough to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope, being a simple-hearted genius bent on one object,-the conversion of Ireland,-never found it convenient, or indeed necessary. Up to the thirteenth century the monks of Ireland were practically
followers of the rule of St. Benedict with certain Oriental traits in addition. But when St. Francis of Assisi caught up the idea of mendicant monks and showed how the Pope might become commander-in-chief of a mighty army of workers controlled by a general living near the Vatican, and when St. Dominic of Spain hastened to follow the example, then indeed arrived a new era for the Church in Ireland. That reserve, that indifference, that easy acceptance of commands from Rome without obedience, which had characterized the ancient and remote section of Ireland was about to be disturbed. The soldiers of the saintly Italian
outcasts as one finds now in Whitechapel and other slums of London. They took control of the universities and were hailed for their culture. These mendicant preachers made a stir in the British Isles about fifty years after the Welsh-Norman invasion, that still rings down the centuries. Praiseworthy as they were, their efforts only served to solidify the Church, fit the temporal sword into the hand of the Pope, tempt him to carry out in earnest the old ambition and precipitated the Reformation.
Giraldus de Barry, the Norman-Welsh prelate, has much to say of the corruption of monks
and the ferocious Spaniard burst like a thunderclap on the ignorant curates, luxurious priests, fat and worldly prelates of Italy, France, Germany, England, and Ireland. The fanatics were not merely vowed to poverty and chastity,- those vows were obeyed by the monks often enough, they preached. Village priest and curate and monk, for the most part, merely performed the services for parishioners,- but the new-comers preached. They gave masses almost for nothing. They seemed to come direct from ecclesiastical headquarters. They roved about, impoverishing the secular clergy and monks by taking possession of the people; they formed lay brotherhoods and sisterhoods devoted to them only. But also they lived in the filthy towns and labored with aggregates of
through ambition, wealth and ease. He tells how Fulke, a French reformer, told Richard to put from him three abominable daughters, Pride, Luxury and Avarice, whereupon the king replied: "I have already given away those daughters in marriage-Pride to the Templars, Luxury to the Black Monks, and Avarice to the White" (the Cistercians). Holinshed has it otherwise: "I therefore bequeath my Pride to the high-minded Templars and Hospitalers, which are as proud as Lucifer himselfe; my covetousness I give unto the White Monks, otherwise called of the Cisteaux Order, for they covet the divell and all; my lecherie I commit to the prelats of the church, who have most pleasure and felicitie therein."
Franciscans and Dominicans learned ease
RUINS OF MELLIFONT ABBEY, NEAR DROGHEDA.
cipline which was only partly accomplished upon the hollow submission of the chiefs and barons to the English crown. From this time Peter's pence began to flow with some regularity from Ireland into the coffers of Italians. The wonderful success of the new orders made them worldly and luxurious, so that the thirteenth century was able to see the strangest inversion of things, as the Rev. Mr. Jessopp has pointed out in "The Coming of the Friars." The clergy and monks, whom the preaching friars denounced for sloth and riches, became the beggars; the begging fraternities became fat and puffed up with the offerings of the people. It were a bitter critic who should blame these zealots when the good end was so obvious and the bad so plainly unforeseen.
What is more surprising than the quieting down of the Franciscans in Ireland, their fall from the heights of self-sacrifice into the bog of prosperity, is the career of the Dominicans. The latter became elsewhere a pest of humanity. Their history is lurid with the fires of martyrs both red and whitefor they pursued their devilish trade of making bonfires of persons they did not agree with in America also, as soon as the hapless Indian was delivered into their hand. Their innocuousness in Ireland is surprising, because one can trace in them ancestral traits of paganism which might have held. on in Ireland as many others did. St. Dominic was a Spaniard who won bloody laurels in the crusade against the Waldenses, most innocent of men.
There he learned to respond to that old thirst for burning human beings which we know at its worst among the peoples of Europe when the Druids were the executioners. Analogies exist between all monks and the Druidic orders, but it was reserved for the Dominicans to revive the most hideous side of a religion which by no means lacked fine traits. The old U grian-Keltic passion for bonfires broke out through its chosen instruments, the Dominicans, and that madness did not cease until Protestants degraded themselves to the same pagan level, and even burned sectaries of their own camp. Yet the absence of many burnings from Ireland-for some there were coincides with what we learn from the old literature and histories of the Irish, namely, that Druidism never reached in Ireland the height of infamy it attained in Britain and Gaul. Moreover it coincides with the peaceable conversion of Ireland by Patrick, during which there was almost a total dearth of martyrs. The horrors of the Inquisition and the flames of victims at the stake were comparatively rare occurrences there. Yet were we to believe those whose interests lie in thwarting
Irish aspirations to-day, there is no place in the world where that sort of extravagance ought to have gained greater headway.
The fearful excesses in which the followers of St. Dominic had the major rôle are strangely foreshadowed by a legend concerning him before birth. As if she were a Druidess in the darkest years of paganism, the mother of Dominic is said to have had the following dream. She thought that she gave birth to a dog which held a flaming torch in its mouth. A story like this has every trait of an Irish legend from the antique pagan epoch the dog, the fiery torch, the unnatural birth. What wonder that with these pagan survivals in Christendom it was easy under the Holy League to enroll monks in regiments, arm them
with musket and casque, and set them on their fellow-men. Did not the Druids fight on occasion? And, on the other hand, were not the friars enrolled like a scattered army, working at command of a prelate, rightly entitled a general, who lived at Rome? The monks of Ireland may not have gone to war with system, but their prelates were not backward in leading troops as lately as two centuries ago, while the zeal of individual priests during rebellions in this and the last century hardly needs recalling.
It is not so strange that the Cistercians should have marked themselves apart from other monks by encouraging learning as that the Franciscans of Ireland should have been distinguished in the same way. Less learned to start with than their brother mendicants of St. Dominic, and addressing as they did the lowest strata of population in the rudest language of the vernacular, sometimes with great coarseness of imagery and buffoonery, the Franciscans hardly tread the classic soil of Ireland before they become scholarly by contrast with some of the monkish orders. An Austrian satirist of monks in the last century calls the Irish Franciscans a spurious kind, which, unlike the continental varieties of that breed, "bestow some attention upon cultivating the faculties of the mind." If the Cistercians are remembered by the magnificent Abbey of Corcomroe, in County Clare, founded in the twelfth century by the O'Briens; by Hoar Abbey, near the Rock of Cashel; by beautiful remnants of their refectory at Mellifont, as well as by the ruins of the Abbey of Boyle, near Loch Key and Sligo, with its columns in the nave bearing warriors and ecclesiastics on the capitals, the Franciscans can still be recalled by ruins in the town of Kilkenny, to mention only a few; by the Abbey of Quin, near Ennis; and by the remains of a monastery at Carrickfergus, near Belfast. The British Museum has the bells of St. Augustine which hung in the Abbey of Corcomroe. The Dominicans, however, do not appear to have been so well received in Ireland as elsewhere. Sligo Abbey was presented to them in 1252; but while the Monastery of the Virgin Mary was founded for them at Cavan in 1300, they were expelled in 1393. Though the constant wars among the Irish princes prior to the Norman-Welsh and the further troubles precipitated by the latter had barbarized the people, yet the pride of the nation in the fame of Ireland as a nursery of saints and missionaries must have made it far from easy for the mendicant orders to make great headway. Moreover there were then no great cities such as Dublin and Cork now are; Belfast did not exist; Galway was hardly a town. The material for the preaching men