Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/115

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95
THEIR CEREMONIES.

preparation, including a prolonged fast. The ministrant addressed the postulant, "Brother, dost thou wish to give thyself to our faith?" The neophyte, after several genuflexions and blessings, said, "Ask God for this sinner, that he may lead me to a good end and make me a good Christian," to which the ministrant rejoined, " Let God be asked to make thee a good Christian and to bring thee to a good end. Dost thou give thyself to God and to the gospel ?" and after an affirmative response, " Dost thou promise that in future thou wilt eat no meat, nor eggs, nor cheese, nor any victual except from water and wood; that thou wilt not lie or swear or do any lust with thy body, or go alone when thou canst have a comrade, or abandon the faith for fear of water or fire or any other form of death?" These promises being duly made, the bystanders knelt, while the minister placed on the head of the postulant the Gospel of St. John and recited the text: "In the beginning was the Word," etc., and invested him with the sacred thread. Then the kiss of peace went round, the women receiving it by a touch of the elbow. The ceremony was held to symbolize the abandonment of the Evil Spirit, and the return of the soul to God, with the resolve to lead henceforth a pure and sinless life. With the married, the assent of the spouse was of course a condition precedent. When this heretication occurred on the deathbed, it was commonly followed by the "Endura" or "privation." The ministrant asked the neophyte whether he desired to be a confessor or a martyr ; if the latter, a pillow or a towel (known among the German Cathari as Untertuch) was placed over his mouth while certain prayers were recited ; if he chose the former he remained without food or drink, except a little water, for three days ; and in either case, if he survived, he became one of the Perfected. This Endura was also sometimes used as a mode of suicide, which was frequent in the sect. Torture at the end of life relieved them of torment in the next world, and suicide by voluntary starvation, by swallowing pounded glass or poisonous potions, or opening the veins in a bath, was not uncommon — and, failing this, it was a kind office for the next of kin to extinguish life when death was near. The ceremony known to the sectaries as " Mehoramentum," and described by the inquisitors as "veneration," was important as affording to them a proof of heresy. When a "credens" approached or took leave of a minister of the sect, he