Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/58

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38
THE CHURCH.

ging and imposture, peddling false relics and false miracles. This was a pest which had afflicted the Church ever since the rise of monachism in the fourth century, and it continued unabated. Though there were holy and saintly men among these ghostly tramps, yet were they all subjected to common abhorrence. They were often detected in crime and slain without mercy ; and in a vain effort to suppress the evil, the Synod of Cologne, early in the thirteenth century, absolutely forbade that any of them should be received to hospitality throughout that extensive province.[1]

It was not that earnest efforts were lacking to restore the neglected monastic discipline. Individual monasteries were constantly being reformed, to sink back after a time into relaxation and indulgence. Ingenuity was taxed to frame new and severer rules, such as the Premonstratensian, the Carthusian, the Cistercian, which should repel aU but the most ardent souls in search of ascetic self -mortification, but as each order grew in repute for holliness, the liberality of the faithful showered wealth upon it, and with wealth came corruption. Or the humble hermitage founded by a few self-denying anchorites, whose only thought was to secure salvation by macerating the flesh and eluding temptation, would become possessed of the relics of some saint, whose wonder-working powers drew flocks of pious pilgrims and sufferers in search of relief. Offerings in abundance would flow in, and the fame and riches thus showered on the modest retreat of the hermits speedily changed it to a splendid structure where the severe virtues of the founders disappeared amid a crowd of self-indulgent monks, indolent in all good works and active only in evil. Few communities had the cautious wisdom of the early denizens in the celebrated Priory of Grammont, before it became the head of a powerful order. When its founder and first prior, St. Stephen of Thiern, after his death in 1124, commenced to show his sanctity by curing a paralytic knight and restoring sight to a blind man, his single-minded followers took alarm at the prospect of wealth and noto-

  1. Augustin. de Op. Monachor. ii. 3. — Cassiani. de Coenob. Instit. ii. 3. — Hieron. Epistt. XXXIX. ; cxxv. 16. — Regul. S. Benedict! cap. 1. — S. Isidor. Hispal. de Eccles. Offic. II. xvi. 3, 7. — Ludov. Pii de Reform. Eccles. cap. 100. — Smaragd. Comment, in Regul. Benedict, c. 1.— Ripoll Bull. Ord. FF. Praedic. I. 38.— Caesar. Heisterbac. Dial. Mirac. Dist. vi. cap. 20. — Catalog. Varior. Haereticor. (Bib. Max. Patrum. Ed. 1618, t. XIH. p. 309).