Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/165
NjEJW chapters IX THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE. 151
safed liim, but he was overwhelmed with such stories as that of a pig which, at sight of the cross on the village church, suddenly- refused to go further — and he was denounced thoroughly in the clerical newspapers for declining to accept such evidence.
At Tissot's visit in 1863 the possession had generally ceased, and the cases left were few and quiet. But his visits stirred a new controversy, and its echoes were long and loud in the pulpits and clerical journals. Believers insisted that Satan had been removed by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin ; unbelievers hinted that the main cause of the deliverance was the reluctance of the possessed to be shut up in asylums.
Under these circumstances the Bishop of Annecy announced that he would visit Morzines to administer confirmation, and word appears to have spread that he would give a more orthodox com- pletion to the work already done by exorcising the devils who re- mained. Immediately several new cases of possession appeared ; young girls who had been cured were again affected ; the embers thus kindled were fanned into a flame by a " mission " which sun- dry priests held in the parish to arouse the people to their relig- ious duties — a mission, in Roman Catholic countries, being akin to the "revivals" among some Protestant sects. Multitudes of young women, excited by the preaching and appeals of the clergy, were again thrown into the old disease, and at the coming of the good bishop it culminated.
The account is given in the words of an eye-witness :
" At the solemn entrance of the bishop into the church, the possessed persons threw themselves on the ground before him, or endeavored to throw themselves upon him, screaming frightfully, cursing, blaspheming, so that the people at large were struck with horror. The possessed followed the bishop, hooted him, and threatened him, up to the middle of the church ; order was only established by the intervention of the soldiers. .During the con- firmation the diseased redoubled their howls and infernal vocif- erations, and tried to spit in the face of the bishop and to tear off his pastoral raiment. At the moment when the prelate gave his benediction a still more outrageous scene took place. The vio- lence of the diseased was carried to fury, and from all parts of the church a.rose yells and fearful howling ; so frightful was the din that tears fell from the eyes of many of the spectators, and many strangers were thrown into consternation."
Among the very large number of these diseased persons there were only two men ; of the remainder only two were of advanced age. The great majority were young women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five years.
The public authorities shortly afterward intervened and sought to cure the disease and to draw the people out of their mania by