Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/107

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87
THE WALDENSES.

houses to carry salvation to the leper ; a disciple of ten days' standing would seek out another whom he could instruct, and when the dull and untrained brain would fain abandon the task in despair they would speak words of encouragement : " Learn a single word a day, in a year you will know three hundred, and thus you will gain in the end." Surely if ever there was a God-fearing people it was these unfortunates under the ban of Church and State, whose secret passwords were, "Ce dit sainct Pol, Ne mentir," "Ce dit sainct Jacques, Ne jurer," "Ce dit sainct Pierre, Ne rendre mal four mal, mais Mens contraires." The "Nobla Leyczon" scarce says more than the inquisitors, when it bitterly declares that the sign of a Vaudois, deemed worthy of death, was that he followed Christ and sought to obey the commandments of God.

" Que si n'i a alcun bon que ame e tema Yeshu Xrist,
Que non volha inaudire ni jurar ni mentir,
Ni avoutrar ni aucir ni penre de Faltruy,
Ni venjar se de li seo onemis,
Ilh dion qu'es Vaudes e degne de punir,
E li troban cayson en meczonja e engan."

In fact, amid the license of the Middle Ages ascetic virtue was apt to be regarded as a sign of heresy. About 1220 a clerk of Spire, whose austerity subsequently led him to join the Francis- cans, was only saved by the interposition of Conrad, afterwards Bishop of Hildesheim, from being burned as a heretic, because his preaching led certain women to lay aside their vanities of apparel and behave with humility.[1]

The sincerity with which the Waldenses adhered to their beliefs is shown by the thousands who cheerfully endured the horrors of the prison, the torture-chamber, and the stake, rather than return to a faith which they believed to be corrupt. I have met with a case in 1320, in which a poor old woman at Pamiers submitted to the dreadful sentence for heresy simply because she would not take an oath. She answered all interrogations on points of faith

  1. Lib. Sententt. Inquis. Tolosan. p. 367. — Anon. Passaviens. cap. 1, 3, 7, 8. — Refutat. Error. Waldens. (Mag. Bib. Pat. XITI. 336).— David Augustens. (Martene Tliesaur. V. 1771, 1773, 1782, 1794).— P. de Pih-chdorf contra Error. Waldens. cap. 1. — Innocent. PP. III. Regest. rr. 141. — La Nobla Leyczon, 368-373. Frat. Jordani Chron. (Analecta Franciscana, T. I. p. 4. Quaracchi, 1885).