Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/124

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ing, it is curious to observe that the inquisitor seems utterly unconscious of the emphatic testimony which he renders to the super-human conscientiousness of his victims.[1]

It is not easy for us to realize what there was in the faith of the Cathari to inspire men with the enthusiastic zeal of martyrdom, but no religion can show a more unbroken roll of those who unshrinkingly and joyfully sought death in its most abhorrent form in preference to apostasy. If the blood of the martyrs were really the seed of the Church, Manichaeism would now be the dominant religion of Europe. It may be partially explained by the belief that a painful death for the faith insured the return of the soul to God ; but human weakness does not often permit such habitual triumph of the spirit over the flesh as that which rendered the Cathari a proverb in their thirst for martyrdom. The hostile testimony to this effect is virtually unanimous. In the earliest persecution on record, at Orleans, about 1017, out of fifteen, thirteen remained steadfast in the face of the fire kindled for their destruction; they refused to recant though pardon was offered, and their constancy was the wonderment of the spectators. When, about 1040, the heretics of Monforte were discovered, and Eriberto, Archbishop of Milan, sent for Gherardo, their leader, he came at once and voluntarily set forth his belief, rejoicing in the opportunity of sealing his faith with torment. Those who were burned at Cologne in 1163 produced a profound impression by the cheerful alacrity with which they endured their fearful punishment; and while they were in their agony it is related that their leader, Arnold, half roasted to death, placed a liberated arm on the heads of his disciples, calmly saying, "Be ye constant in your faith, for this day shall ye be with Lawrence!" Among this group of heretics was a beautiful girl whose modesty moved the compassion of even the brutal executioners. She was withdrawn from the flames and promises were made to find her a husband or place her in a convent. Seeming to assent, she remained quiet till the rest were dead, and then asked her guards to show her the seducer of souls. In pointing out the body of Arnold they loosened their hold, when she suddenly broke from them, and, covering her face with her

  1. Anon. Passaviens. c. 6. — Processus contra Valdenses (Arch. Storico Ital. 1865, No. 39, p. 57).