Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/148

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willing to assume them ; the whole land, under a curse, produced nothing but thorns and thistles, ravishers and bandits, robbers, murderers, adulterers, and usurers. Caesarius of Heisterbach declares that the Albigensian errors increased so rapidly that they soon infected a thousand cities, and he believes that if they had not been repressed by the sword of the faithful the whole of Europe would have been corrupted. A German inquisitor informs us that in Lombardy, Provence, and other regions there were more schools of heresy than of orthodox theology, with more scholars ; that they disputed publicly, and summoned the people to public debates; that they preached in the market-places, the fields, the houses; and that there were none who dared to interfere with them, owing to the multitude and power of their protectors. As we have seen, they were regularly organized in dioceses ; they had their educational estabhshments for the training of women as well as men; and, at least in one instance, all the nuns of a convent embraced Catharism without quitting the house or the habit of their order.[1] Such was the position to which corruption had reduced the Church. Intent upon the acquisition of temporal power, it had well-nigh abandoned its spiritual duties ; and its empire, which rested on spiritual foundations, was crumbling with their decay, and threatening to pass away like an unsubstantial vision. There have been few crises in the history of the Church more dangerous than that which Lothario Conti, when he assumed the triple crown at the early age of thirty-eight, was called upon to meet. In his consecration sermon he announced that one of his principal duties would be the destruction of heresy, and of this he never lost sight to the end, amid his endless conflicts with emperors and princes.[2] It is fortunate for civilization that he possessed the qualifications which enabled him to guide the shattered bark of St. Peter through the tempest and among the rocks — if not always wisely, yet with a resolute spirit, an unswerving purpose, and an unfailing trust that accomplished his mission in the end.

  1. Innocent. PP. III. Serm. de Tempore xii. — Guillem. de Tudela, c. ii.— Gualt. Mapes de Nugis Curialium Dist. i. c. xxx. — Guillel. de Pod.-Laurent. Procsm.; cf. cap. 3, 4. — Csesar. Heisterbac. Dist. v. c. 21.— Stephani Tornacens. Epist. 92.— Anon. Passaviens. (Bib. Mag. Pat. XIII. 299).— Schmidt, I. 200.
  2. Innocent. PP. III. Serm. de Diversis in.