Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/287

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

out saying, but their presence in the Orders is at once an evidence of the impression which the Mendicants made upon all that was worthiest in the age, and an explanation of the enormous influence which the Orders obtained with such marvellous rapidity. Even Dante cannot refuse to them the tribute of his admiration —

"L'un fu tutto serafico in ardore,
L' altro per sapienza in terra fue
Di cherubica luce uno splendore."
(Paradiso, xi.)

There was another instrumentality of vast importance, in utilizing which both Francis and Dominic manifested their organizing ability — the Tertiary Orders through which laymen, without abandoning the world, were assimilated to the respective brotherhoods, aided in their labors, shared in their glory, and added to their influence, thus stimulating and utilizing the zeal of the community at large. There is a trace of an order of Crucigeri or Cross-bearers, laymen organized for the defence of the Church, claiming to date back to the time of Helena, mother of Constantine, and revived in 1215 by the Lateran Council, but there is no evidence of its activity or usefulness. Francis, however, who, though unlearned in scholastic theology and untrained in rhetoric, excelled his contemporaries in insight into the gospel and possessed a simple, earnest eloquence which carried the hearts of his hearers, on one occasion produced by his preaching so profound an impression that all the inhabitants of the town, men, women, and children, begged admission to his Order. This was manifestly impossible, and he bethought him of framing a Rule by which persons of both sexes, while remaining in the world, could be subjected to wholesome discipline and be connected with the fraternity, which in turn promised them its protection. Of the restrictions placed on them perhaps the most significant was that they should carry no weapons of offence except for the defence of the Roman Church, the Christian faith, and their own lands. The project and the Rule were approved by the pope in 1221, and the official name of the organization was " The Brothers and Sisters of Penitence," though it became popularly known as the Tertiary Order of Minorites, or Franciscans. Under the more aggressive name of "Militia Jesu Christi," or Soldiery of Christ, Dominic founded a