Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/33

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CONDITION OF THE EPISCOPATE.

The impression which these worldly and turbulent men made upon their quieter contemporaries was, that pious souls believed that no bishop could reach the kingdom of heaven. There was a story widely circulated of Geoffroi de Peronne, Prior of Clairvaux, who was elected Bishop of Tournay, and who was urged by St. Bernard and Eugenius III. to accept, but who cast himself on the ground, saying, " If you turn me out, I may become a vagrant monk, but a bishop never !" On his death-bed he promised a friend to return and report as to his condition in the other world, and did so as the latter was praying at the altar. He announced that he was among the blessed, but it had been revealed to him by the Trinity that if he had accepted the bishopric he would have been numbered with the damned. Peter of Blois, who relates this story, and Peter Cantor, who repeats it, both manifested their belief in it by persistently refusing bishoprics ; and not long after an ecclesiastic in Paris declared that he could believe all things except that any German bishop could be saved, because they bore the two swords, of the spirit and of the flesh. All this Caesarius of Heisterbach explains by the rarity of worthy prelates, and the superabounding multitude of wicked ones ; and he further points out that the tribulations to which they were exposed arose from the fact that the hand of God was not visible in their promotion. Language can scarce be stronger than that employed by Louis VII. in describing the worldliness and pomp of the bishops, when he vainly appealed to Alexander III. to utilize his triumph over Frederic Barbarossa by reforming the Church.[1]

In fact, the records of the time bear ample testimony to the rapine and violence, the flagrant crimes and defiant immorality of these princes of the Church. The only tribunal to which they were amenable was that of Rome. It required the courage of desperation to cause complaints to be made there against them, and when such complaints were made, the difficulty of proving charges, the length to which proceedings were drawn out, and the notorious venality of the Roman curia, afforded virtual immunity. When a resolute and incorruptible pontiff like Innocent III. occupied the


  1. P. Cantor. Verb, abbrev. cap. liv,— Pet. Blesens. Epist. ccxl. — Caesar. Heisterb. Dial. Mirac. Dist. ii. c. 27, 28; Dist. vi. c. 20. — Varior. ad Alex. PP. III. Epist. xxi. (Migne, Patrolog. CC. 1879).— Pet. Blesens. Tract, quales sunt P. u. iv.