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quered them, he would not suffer that a hair of the remnant of them should be hurt, because he had given his word. High-handed Henry V, claiming power over the Church, being refused full coronation by Pope Paschal till he yields, seizes Pope and College of Cardinals then and there, and imprisons them till he has starved them to submission, and half requites the Church for Gregory's humiliation of the father whom he himself thrust from the throne-of that Henry whom the strong Hildebrand, Gregory VII, made to do penance barefoot on the snow in the courtyard of Matilda's castle at Canossa. And Matilda herself, the Great Countess, the once all beautiful, the betrayed in love, the half sainted, the all romantic, rises before you from her tomb below, in flowing robes and lofty head-dress, and once more makes gift of all her vast possessions to the Church of Rome. Nicholas Rienzi strides by, strange compound of heroism, vanity, and high poetry, calling himself in one breath the people's tribune, an Augustus, and an emperor's son. There is a rush of armed men shouting furiously in Spanish, «Carne! Sangre! Bourbon!» There is a clanging of steel, a breaking down of gates, and the Constable of Bourbon's horde pours in, irresistible and all-ravaging, while he himself lies stark and stiff outside, pierced by Bernardino Passeri's short bolt, and Clement trembles in Sant' Angelo. Christina of Sweden, Monaldeschi's murder red upon her 'soul, comes next, fawning for forgiveness, to die before long over there in the Corsini palace by the Tiber.
A man may call up half the world's history in half an hour in such a place toward evening, when the golden light streams through the Holy Dove in the apse. And, in imagination, to those who have seen the great pageant within our own memory, the individual figures grow smaller as the magnificence of the display increases out of all proportion, until the church fills again with the vast throng that witnessed the jubilee of Leo XIII but a few years ago, and fifty thousand voices send up a rending cheer while the most splendid procession of these late days goes by.
V. THE FUNERAL OF PIUS IX.
IT was in the Chapel of the Sacrament that the body of the good Pope Pius IX was laid in state for several days. That was a strange and solemn sight, too. The gates of the church were all shut but one, and that was only a little opened, so that the people passed in one at a time from the great,
wedge-shaped crowd outside a crowd that began at the foot of the broad steps in the Piazza, and struggled upward all the afternoon, closer and closer toward the single entrance. For in the morning only the Roman nobles and the prelates and high ecclesiastics were admitted, by another way. Within the church the thin stream of men and women passed quickly between a double file of Italian soldiers. That was the first and last time since 1870 that Italian troops were under arms within the consecrated precincts. It was still winter, and the afternoon light was dim, and it seemed a long way to the chapel. The good man lay low, with his slippered feet between the bars of the closed gate. The people paused as they passed, one by one, and most of them kissed the embroidered cross and looked at the still features before they went on. It was dim, but the six tall waxen torches threw a warm light on the quiet face, and the white robes reflected it around. There were three torches on each side, and on each side, too, there were three Noble Guards in full dress, motionless, with drawn swords, as though on parade. But no one looked at them. Only the marble face, with its kind, far-away smile, fixed itself in each man's eyes, and its memory remained with each when he had gone away. It was very solemn and simple, and there were no other lights in the church save the little lamps about the Confession and before the altars. The long, thin stream of people went on swiftly, and out by the sacristy, all the short afternoon, till it was night, and the rest of the unsatisfied crowd was left outside as the single gate was closed.
Few saw the scene which followed, when the good Pope's body had lain four days in state, and was then placed in its coffin at night, to be hoisted high and swung noiselessly into the temporary tomb above the small door on the east side-that is, to the left of the Chapel of the Choir. It was for a long time the custom that each pope should lie there until his successor died, when his body was removed to the monument prepared for it in the mean time, and the pope just dead was laid in the same place.
The church was almost dark, and only in the Chapel of the Choir and that of the Holy Sacrament, which are opposite each other, a number of big wax candles shed a yellow light. In the niche over the door a mason was still at work, with a tallow dip, clearly visible from below. The triple coffins stood before the altar in the Chapel of the Choir. Opposite, where the body still lay, the Noble Guards and the
Swiss Guards, in their breastplates, kept watch with drawn swords and halberds. The Noble Guards carried the bier on their shoulders in solemn procession, with chanting choir, robed bishops, and tramping soldiers, round by the Confession and across the church, and lifted the body into the coffin. The Pope had been very much beloved by all who were near him, and more than one gray-haired prelate shed tears of genuine grief that night. In the coffin, in accordance with an ancient custom, a bag was placed containing ninetythree medals, one of gold, one of silver, and one of bronze for each of the thirty-one years during which Pope Pius had reigned; and a history of the pontificate, written on parchment, was also deposited at the feet of the body.
When the leaden coffin was soldered, six seals were placed upon it, five by cardinals, and one by the archivist of the Chapter of St. Peter's. During the whole ceremony the prothonotary apostolic, the chancellor of the Apostolic Chamber, and the notary of the Chapter of St. Peter's, were busy, pen in hand, writing down the detailed protocol of the proceedings.
The last absolution that was pronounced, and the coffin in its outer case of elm was slowly moved out, and raised in slings, and gently swung into the niche. The masons bricked up the opening in the presence of cardinals and guards, and long before midnight the marble slab, carved to represent the side of a sarcophagus, was in its place, with its simple inscription, «Pius IX, P. M.»
From time immemorial the well containing the marble staircase which leads down to the tomb of St. Peter has been called the << Confession. The word, I believe, is properly applied to the altar-rail, from the ancient practice of repeating there the General Confession immediately before receiving the communion, a custom now somewhat modified. But I may be wrong in giving this derivation. Indeed, a marble balustrade follows the horseshoe shape of the well, and upon it are placed ninety-five gilded lamps, which burn perpetually. There is said to be no special significance in the number, and they produce very little effect by daylight.
But on the eve of St. Peter's day, and perhaps at some other seasons, the Pope has been known to come down to the church by the secret staircase leading into the Chapel of the Sacrament, to pray at the apostle's tomb. On such occasions a few great candlesticks with wax torches are placed on the floor of the church, two and two, between the Chapel and the Confession. The Pope, attended only by a few chamberlains and
Noble Guards, and dressed in his customary white cassock, passes swiftly along in the dim light, and descends the steps to the gilded gate beneath the high altar. A marble pope kneels there too, Pius VI, of the Braschi family, his stone draperies less white than Pope Leo's cassock, his marble face scarcely whiter than the living Pontiff's alabaster features.
Those are sights which few are privileged to see. There is a sort of centralization of mystery, if one may couple such words, in the private pilgrimage of the head of the
Church to the tomb of the chief apostle, by night, on the eve of the day which tradition has kept as the anniversary of St. Peter's martyrdom from the earliest times. whole Catholic world, if it might, would follow Leo XIII down those marble steps, and two hundred million voices would repeat the prayer he says alone.
Many and solemn scenes have been acted out by night in the vast gloom of the enormous church, and if events do not actually leave an essence of themselves in places, as some have believed, yet the knowledge that they have happened where we stand and recall them has a mysterious power to thrill the heart.
VI. THE MUSIC OF ST. PETER'S. OPPOSITE the Chapel of the Sacrament is the Chapel of the Choir. St. Peter's is a
cathedral, and is managed by a chapter of canons, each of whom has his seat in the choir, and his vote in the disposal of the cathedral's income, which is considerable. The chapter maintains the choir of St. Peter's, a body of musicians quite independent of the so-called "Pope's choir,» which is properly termed the «choir of the Sistine Chapel,» and which is paid by the Pope. There are some radical differences between the two. By a very ancient and inviolable regulation, the so-called "musico,» or artificial soprano, is never allowed to sing in the Chapel of the Choir, where the soprano singers are without exception men who sing in falsetto, though they speak in a deep voice. On great occasions the choir of the Sistine joins in the music in the body of the church, but never in the chapel. Secondly, no musical instruments are ever used in the Sistine. In the choir, on the contrary, there are two large organs. The one on the west side is employed on all ordinary occasions; it is over two hundred years old, and is tuned about two whole tones below the modern pitch. It is so worn out that an organ-builder is in attendance during every service, to make repairs at a moment's notice. The bellows leak, the stops stick, some notes have a chronic tendency to «cypher,» and the pedal «trackers» unhook themselves unexpectedly. But the canons would certainly not think of building a new organ.
Should they ever do so, and tune the instrument to the modern pitch, the consternation of the singers would be great; for the music is all written for the existing organ, and could not be performed two notes higher, not to mention the confusion that would arise where all the music is sung at sight. This is a fact not generally known, but worthy of notice. The music sung in St. Peter's, and, indeed, in most Roman churches, is never rehearsed or practised. The music itself is entirely in manuscript, and is the property of the choir-master, or, as is the case in St. Peter's, of the chapter, and there is no copyright in it beyond this fact of actual possession, protected by the simple plan of never allowing any musician to have his part in his hands except while he is actually performing it. In the course of a year the same piece may be sung several times, and the old choristers may become acquainted with a good deal of the music in this way, but never otherwise. Mozart is reported to have learned Allegri's Miserere by ear, and to have written it down from memory. The other famous Misereres, which are now published, were pirated in a similar way. The choir-master
of that day was very unpopular. Some of the leading singers who had sung the Misereres during many years in succession, and had thus learned their several parts, met and put together what they knew into a whole, which was at once published, to the no small annoyance and discomfiture of their enemy. But much good music is quite beyond the reach of the public-Palestrina's best motets, airs by Alessandro Stradella, the famous hymn of Raimondi, in short, a great musical library, an archivio, as the Romans call such a collection, all of which is practically lost to the world.
It is wonderful that under such circumstances the choir of St. Peter's should obtain even such creditable results. At a moment's notice an organist and about a hundred singers are called upon to execute a florid piece of music which many of them have never seen or heard; the accompaniment is played at sight from a mere figured bass, on a tumble-down instrument two hundred years old, and the singers, both the soloists and the chorus, sing from thumbed bits of manuscript parts written in old-fashioned characters on paper often green with age. No one has ever denied the extraordinary musical facility of Italians, but if the general musical world knew how Italian church music is performed it would be very much astonished.
It is no wonder that such music is sometimes bad. But sometimes it is very good; for there are splendid voices among the singers, and the Maestro Renzi, the chief organist, is a man of real talent as well as of amazing facility. His modernizing influence is counterbalanced by that of the old choir-master, Maestro Meluzzi, a first-rate musician, who would not for his life change a hair of the oldfashioned traditions. Yet there are moments, on certain days, when the effect of the great old organ, with the rich voices blending in some good harmony, is very solemn and stirring. The outward persuasive force of religion lies largely in its music, and the religions that have no songs make few proselytes.
VII. SCULPTURE AND PAINTING.
NOTHING, perhaps, is more striking, as one becomes better acquainted with St. Peter's, than the constant variety of detail. The vast building produces at first sight an impression of harmony, and there appears to be a remarkable uniformity of style in all the objects one sees.
There are no oil-paintings to speak of in the church, and but few frescos. The great