Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/50

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30
THE CHURCH


torments of purgatory, and so usual was the bestowal of oblations at the funeral, that the custody of the corpse became a source of gain not to be despiscd, and the parish in which the sinner had lived and died claimed to have a reversionary right in the ashes which profitable. Occasionally intruders would trespass upon their preserves, and some monastery would prevail upon the dying to bequeath his fertilizing remains to its care, giving rise to unscemly squabbles over the corpse and the privilege of burying were thus so it and saying mortuary masses for its soul. As early as the fifth century Leo the Great did not hesitatre to condemn in the severest terms the rapacity which led the monasteries to invite the living to their retreats for the sake of the possessions which they would bring with them, to the manifest dotriment of the parish priest, thus deprived of his legitimate cxpectations. Leo thercfore ordered a compromise, by which one half of the goods and chattels thus acquired should be transferred to the church of the doceased, whether he had entered the monastery dead or alive. The parish churches at last came to claim the bodies of their parishioners a matter of right, and to deny to the dying the privilege of electing a place of sepulture. It required repeated papal decisions to set aside claims so persistently urged, but these decisions invariably conceded to the churches a portion of one fourth, one third, or one half the sum the deceased had set apart for the care of his soul. In some places the parish church asserted a right by custom to certain payments on the death of a parishioner, and the Council of Worcester, in 1240, decided that when this claim would reduce the widow and orphans to beggary, the Church should mercifully content itself with one third of the estate and relinquish the other two thirds to the family of the defunct; while in Lisbon the last consolations of religion wore denied to any one who refused to leave a portion, usually one third, of his property to the Church. Under other local customs, the priest claimed as perquisite the bier on which a corpse was brought to his church, leading, in case of resistance, to quarrels more lively than edifying. In Navarre the law stepped in to define the amount which the poorer classes should give as an offering in the mortuary mass, being two measures of corn for a peasant. Among the caballeros the usual offering was the incongruous one of a war-horse, a suit of armor, and jewels; and the cost of this was frequently defrayed