Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/317

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297
THEIR MISSIONARY LABORS.

complicated relations with the Church. Yet their activity was too great to be confined to the defence of the Holy See and to the religious revival by which they, for a time, reacquired for Rome the veneration of the people. One of the collateral objects to which they devoted a portion of their energies was missionary work, and in this they set a worthy example to their successors, the Jesuits of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Among the incessant labors of St. Francis his efforts to convert the infidel were conspicuous. He proposed to visit Morocco, in the hope of converting King Miramolin, and had reached Spain on his voyage thither, when compelled by sickness to return. In the thirteenth year of his conversion he travelled to Syria for the purpose of bringing over the Soldan of Babylon to the Christian faith, although war was then raging with the Saracens. Captured between the hostile lines, he was carried with his companion in chains to the soldan, when he offered to undergo the ordeal of fire to prove the truth of his faith ; he was offered magnificent presents, but spurned them, and was allowed to depart. His followers were true to his example. No distance and no danger deterred them from the task of winning souls to Christianity, and in these arduous labors there was a noble emulation between them and the Dominicans, for Dominic had likewise proposed an extended scheme of missions in which to close his life's work. As early as 1225 we find missionaries of both orders laboring in Morocco. In 1233 Franciscans were despatched to convert Miramolin, the Sultan of Damascus, the caliph, and Asia in general. In 1237 the Eastern Jacobites were brought back to Catholic unity by the zeal of Dominicans, and they were at work among Nestorians, Georgians, Greeks, and other Eastern schismatics. Indulgences, the same as for a crusade, were offered to all who engaged in these enterprises, which were perilous enough, for soon after we hear of ninety Dominicans suffering martyrdom among the Cumans in eastern Hungary, when the hordes of Genghis Khan swept over the land. After the retirement of the Tartars they returned and converted the Cumans by wholesale, besides laboring among the Cathari of Bosnia and Dalmatia, where several of them were slain and two of their convents were burned by the heretics. The extent of the Franciscan missions may be judged by a bull of Alexander IV., in 1258, addressed to all the brethren in the lands of the Saracens,