Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/412

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

ble that the co-operation of the bishop was not asked for, especially as he is never mentioned as joining in the condemnation. There are always present, however, a certain number of local magistrates, civil and ecclesiastical, and the ceremony is usually performed in the cloister of the church of St. Sernin, though other places are sometimes mentioned, and among them the Hotel-de-Ville twice, showing that divine service as yet formed no part of the solemnity.[1]

With time the ceremony grew in stateliness and impressiveness. Sunday became prescribed for it, and as no other sermons were allowed on that day in the city, it was forbidden to be held on Quadragesima or Advent Sunday, or any other of the principal feast-days. Notice was given in advance from all the pulpits summoning all the people to be present and obtain the indulgence of forty days. A staging was erected in the centre of the church, on which the "penitents" were placed, surrounded by the secular and clerical officials. The sermon was delivered by the inquisitor, after which the oath of obedience was administered to the representatives of the civil power, and a solemn decree of excommunication was fulminated against all who should in any manner impede the operations of the Holy Office. Then the notary commenced reading the confessions one by one in the vulgar tongue, and as each was finished the culprit was asked if he acknowledged it to be true — care being taken, however, only to do this when he was known to be truly penitent and not likely to create scandal by a denial. On his replying in the affirmative he was asked whether he would repent, or lose body and soul by persevering in heresy ; and on his expressing a desire to abjure, the form of abjuration was read and he repeated it, sentence by sentence. Then the inquisitor absolved him from the ijpso facto ex-communication which he had incurred by heresy, and promised him mercy if he behaved well under the sentence about to be imposed. The sentence followed, and thus the penitents were brought foward successively, commencing with the least guilty and proceeding with those incurring severer penalties. Those who were to be "relaxed," or abandoned to the secular arm, were reserved to the last, and for them the ceremony was adjourned to the pub-

  1. Lami, Antichita Toscane, pp. 557-9.— Coll. Doat, XXXI. 139.— MSS. Bib. Nat., fonds latin, No. 9992,— Alex. PP. IV. Bull. Præ cunctis, § 15, 9 Nov. 1256.