Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/66

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
46
THE CHURCH.

A more demoralizing system of indulgences was that of sending out "quaestuarii," or pardoners, sometimes furnished with relics, by a church or hospital in need of money, and sometimes merely carrying papal or episcopal letters, by which they were authorized to issue pardons for sin in return for contributions. Though these letters were cautiously framed, yet they were ambiguous enough to enable the pardoners to promise, not only the salvation of the living, but the liberation of the damned from hell for a few small coins. Already, in 1215, the Council of Lateran inveighs bitterly against these practices, and prohibits the removal of relics from the churches ; but the abuse was too profitable to be suppressed. Needy bishops and popes were constantly issuing such letters, and the business of the pardoner became a regular profession, in which the most impudent and shameless were the most successful, so that we can readily beheve the pseudo Peter of Pihchdorf , when he sorrowfully admits that the " indiscreet " but profitable granting of indulgences to all sorts of men weakened the faith of many Catholics in the whole system. As early as 1261 the Council of Mainz can hardly find words strong enough to denounce the pestilent sellers of indulgences, whose knavish tricks excite the hatred of all men, who spend their filthy gains in vile debauchery, and who so mislead the faithful that confession is neglected on the ground that sinners have purchased forgiveness of their sins. Complaint was useless, however, and the lucrative abuse continued unchecked until it aroused the indignation which


    cured a divorce from her on the plea of consanguinity, because she remained barren after twenty years of marriage, and in a short time, while hunting, he was ambushed and slain by an enemy. His nephew and successor, Joscelin, took warning by this, and was very particular in constantly repeating the Ave Maria, and forcing his troopers to do likewise, so that, although he wrought much evil, yet he made a good ending. — Narrat. Restaur. S. Martini Tornacens. cap. 57.
    Somewhat similar is the story of the knight, who, though cruel and revengeful, had such veneration for the cross that he never passed one without descending from his horse and adoring it. Once, when riding alone through a dense forest, he was assailed by the kinsmen of a noble whom he had slain, and was forced to seek safety in flight. Coming to a cross-road, where stood a cross, he dismounted and knelt before it, when his enemies, coming up, were struck with sudden blindness, and groped vainly around, while he rode quietly away. — Lucae Tudensis de Altera Vita Lib. iii. cap. 6.