Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/123

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

without being obtrusive, and sometimes they had no scruple in calling to their aid the superstitions of orthodoxy, as when such writings would promise indulgences to those who would read them carefully and circulate them among their neighbors, or when they purported to come from Jesus Christ and be conveyed by angels. It does not say much for the intelligence of the clergy when we are told that many priests were corrupted by such papers, picked up by shepherds and carried to them to be deciphered. Even more reprehensible was the device of the Cathari of Moncoul in France, who made an image of the Virgin, deformed and ugly and one-eyed, saying that Christ, to show his humility, had selected such a woman for a mother. Then they proceeded to work miracles with it, feigning to be sick and to be cured by it, until it acquired such reputation that many similar ones were made and placed in churches or oratories, until the heretics divulged the secret, to the great confusion of the faithful. The same device was carried out with a crucifix having no upper arm, the feet of Christ crossed, and only three nails — an unconventional form which was imitated and caused great scandal when the mockery was discovered. Even bolder frauds were attempted in Leon, and not without success, as we shall see hereafter.[1]

The zeal for the faith, which prompted these eccentric missionary efforts, manifested itself in a resolute adherence to the precepts enjoined on the neophyte when admitted into the circle of the Perfects. As in the case of the Waldenses, while the Inquisition complained bitterly of the difficulty of obtaining an avowal from the simple "credens," whose rustic astuteness eluded the practised skill of the interrogator, it was the general testimony that the perfected heretic refused to lie, or to take an oath ; and one member of the Holy Office warns his brethren not to begin by asking "Are you truly a Catharan ?" for the answer will simply be "Yes," and then nothing more can be extracted ; but if the Perfect is exhorted by the God in whom he believes to tell all about his life, he will faithfully detail it without falsehood. When we consider that this frankness led inevitably to the torture of death by burn-

  1. Ecberti Schonaug. contra Catharos Serm. i. cap. 2. — Caesar. Heisterbac. Dial. Mirac. Dist. v. cap. 18. — Lucae Tudensis de altera Vita Lib. ii. cap. 9; Lib. III. cap. 9, 18.