Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/259

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suicide which were so frequent in the stricter monastic establishments;[1] and without assuming that such a man as St. Peter Martyr was mad, it is impossible to read the extremity of ascetic maceration which he habitually practised - fasts, vigils, sourgings, and every device which perverse ingenuity could suggest - without recognizing morbid mental conditions which could readily render him a monomaniac on any subject which greatly engrossed his feelings. On the other hand, the men who thus tamed their own strong passions and mastered the rebellious flesh by these means, were not likely to feel for the suffering of those who had abandoned themselves to Satan, and who might be saved by temporal fire from eternal flame. Or if, perchance, they had softer hearts and compassionated the agonies of their victims, they might well regard the repression of their own emotions at the spectacle as part of the penance which they were called upon to endure. In any case, life was but an infinitesimal point in eternity, and all human interests shrank into nothingness in comparison with the one overmastering duty of keeping the flock from straying and of preventing an infected sheep from communicating his poison to his fellows. Charity itself could not hesitate over whatever methods might be requisite to accomplish this.

That the men who conducted the Inquisition and who toiled sedulously in its arduous, repulsive, and often dangerous labor, were thoroughly convinced that they were furthering the kingdom of God, is shown by the habitual practice of encouraging them with the remission of sins, similar to that offered for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Besides the consciousness of duty performed, it was the only recognized reward of their joyless lives, and it was considered enough.[2] How, moreover, cruelty to the heretic could be conjoined with boundless love and good-will to men is well exemplified in the career of the Dominican, Frà Giovanni Schio

  1. Galton, Inquiries into Human Faculty, pp. 66-68.-Caesar. Heisterbac Dial. Mirac. Dist. IV.
    as the fourth century the tendency of exaggerated asceticism to affect the mind was noted, and St. Jerome had the common-sense to point out that such cascs required a physician rather than a priest (Hieron. Epist. cxxy. c. 16)
  2. Martene Thesaur. V. 1817, 1820.-Urbani PP. IV. Bull. Licet ex omnibus, 20 Mart, 1262, § 13.-Clem. PP. IV. Bull. Pra cunctis mentis, 28 Feb. 1206 (Arch de l'Inq. de Carc., Doat, XXXDI. 32)