Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/271

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251
ST. DOMINIC.

ing the sick and converting heretics, not by punishment, but by showing that he spoke by command of the Almighty. The accounts of his habitual austerities may be exaggerated, but no one who is familiar with the self-inflicted macerations of the hagiology need hesitate to believe that Dominic was as severe with himself as with his fellows, even though we may not place faith in the legend that his constant falling out of bed when an infant was caused by an early ascetic development which led him to prefer mortifying the flesh on a hard floor to the luxury of a soft couch. His endless scourgings, his tireless vigils, and, when exhausted nature could bear them no longer, his short repose on a board, or in the corner of a church where he had passed the night, his almost uninterrupted prayer, his superhuman fasts, are probably only harmless exaggerations of the truth. So, too, may be the legends which tell of his boundless charity and his love for his fellows; how, when a student, in a time of dearth he sold all his books to relieve the distress around him, and would, unless divinely prevented, have sold himself to redeem from the Moors a captive whose sister he saw overwhelmed with grief. Whether these stories be true or not, they at least show us the ideal which his immediate disciples thought to realize in him.[1]

The brief remaining years of Dominic's life witnessed the rapid garnering of the harvest sowed in the period of humble but zealous obscurity. In 1214 Pierre Cella, a rich citizen of Toulouse, moved by his earnestness, resolved to join him in his mission-work, and gave for the purpose a stately house near the Chateau Narbonnais, which for more than a hundred years remained the home of the Inquisition. A few other zealous souls gathered around him, and the little fraternity commenced to live like monks. Foulques, the fanatic Bishop of Toulouse, assigned to them a sixth of the


  1. Lacordaire, Vie de S. Dominique, p. 124. — Nic. de Trivetti Chron. ann. 1203. — Jac. de Voragine Legenda Aurea, Ed. 1480, fol. 88&, 90a.
    As St. Francis had the distinguishing peculiarity of the Stigmata, so the Do- minicans boasted that their founder had the special characteristic that when his tomb was opened the odor of sanctity exhaled from it was a delicious scent from paradise hitherto unknown, so penetrating in quality that it pervaded the whole land, and so persistent that those who touched the holy relics had their hands perfumed for years. — Prediche del Beato Fra Giordano da Rivalto, Firenze, 1831, 1.47.