Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/286

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under such men as St. Columba, St. Gall, and St. Willibrod, but that time had long past, and for ages it had sunk into worse than its primitive selfishness. The Mendicants came upon Christendom like a revelation — men w^ho had abandoned all that was enticing in life to imitate the apostles, to convert the sinner and unbeliever, to arouse the slumbering moral sense of mankind, to instruct the ignorant, to offer salvation to all ; in short, to do what the Church was paid so enormously in wealth and privileges and power for neglecting. Wandering on foot over the face of Europe, under burning suns or chilling blasts, rejecting alms in money but receiving thankfully whatever coarse food might be set before the wayfarer, or enduring hunger in silent resignation, taking no thought for the morrow, but busied eternally in the work of snatching souls from Satan, and lifting men up from the sordid cares of daily life, of ministering to their infirmities and of bringing to their darkened souls a glimpse of heavenly light — such was the aspect in which the earliest Dominicans and Franciscans presented themselves to the eyes of men who had been accustomed to see in the ecclesiastic only the sensual worldling intent solely upon the indulgence of his appetites. It is no wonder that such an apparition accomplished much in restoring to the populations the faith in Christianity which had begun to be so sorely shaken, or that it spread through Christendom the hope of an approaching regeneration in the Church which greatly lessened popular impatience under its exactions, and doubtless staved off a rebellion which would have altered the aspect of modern civilization.

It is no wonder, moreover, that the love and veneration of the people followed the Mendicants; that the charitable showered their gifts upon them, to the destruction of the primal obligation of poverty ; that the men of earnest convictions pressed forward to join their ranks. The purest and noblest intellects might well see in such a career the realization of their loftiest aspirations; and whenever in the thirteenth century we find a man towering above his fellows, we are almost sure to trace him to one of the Mendicant Orders. Raymond of Pennaforte, Alexander Hales, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventura, Koger Bacon, Duns Scotus, are names which show how irresistibly the men of highest gifts were led to seek among the Dominicans or Franciscans their ideal of life. That they failed to find it goes with-