Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/483

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463
FORMS OF PENANCE.

The sin of heresy was too grave to be expiated simply by contrition and amendment. While the Church professed to welcome back to her bosom all her erring and repentant children, the way of the transgressor was made hard, and his offence could only be washed away by penances severe enough to prove the robustness of his convictions. Before the Inquisition was founded, about 1208, St. Dominic, while acting under the authority of the Legate Arnaud, converted a Catharan named Pons Roger, and prescribed for him a penance which has chanced to be preserved. It will give us an insight into what were considered reasonable terms of readmission to the Church, at a time when it was straining every nerve to win the heretics back, and before it had fairly resorted to the use of force. On three Sundays the penitent is to be stripped to the waist and scourged by the priest from the entrance of the town of Treville to the church -door. He is to abstain forever from meat and eggs and cheese, except on Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas, when he is to eat of them in sign of his abnegation of his Manichaean errors. For twoscore days, twice a year, he is to forego the use of fish, and for three days in each week that of fish, wine, and oil, fasting, if his health and labors will permit. He is to wear monastic vestments, with a small cross sewed on each breast. If possible, he is to hear mass daily, and on feast-days to attend church at vespers. Seven times a day he is to recite the canonical hours, and, in addition, the Paternoster ten times each day and twenty times each night. He is to observe the strictest chastity. Every month he is to show this paper to the priest, who is to watch its observance closely, and this mode of fife is to be maintained until the legate shall see fit to alter it, while for infraction of the penance he is to be held as a perjurer and a heretic, and be segregated from the society of the faithful.[1]

This shows how the various forms of penance were mingled together at the discretion of the ghostly father. The same is seen in an exceedingly lenient sentence imposed in 1258 by the inquisitors of Carcassonne on Kaymond Maria, who had confessed to various acts of heresy committed twenty or thirty years before, and who, for other reasons, had strong claims for merciful treatment. It further illustrates the practice of compounding pious


  1. Paramo de Orig. Offic. S. Inquis. Lib. ii. Tit. i. c. 2, $ 6.— Martcne Tbcsaur. I. 802.— Coll. Doat, XXXI. 1.