Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/69

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49
FETICHISM.

cited that he was forced to reveal his talisman, when the people carried it off and deposited it in a church, where it worked many miracles, wliile the merchant was reduced to poverty. It was a superstition even less rational than that which led the Komans to conjure into their camp the tutelary deity of a city which they were besieging ; and the universal wearing of relics as charms or amulets had in it nothing to distinguish it from the similar prac- tices of paganism. Even the images and portraits of saints and martyrs had equal virtue. A single glance at the representation of St. Christopher, for instance, was held to preserve one from dis- ease or sudden death for the rest of the day —

"Christophori sancti speciem quicumque tuetur
Illo namque die nullo languore tenetur —

and a huge image of the gigantic saint was often painted on the outside of churches for the preservation of the population. The custom of selecting a patron saint by lot at the altar is another manifestation of the same bhndness of superstition.[1]

The Eucharist was particularly efficacious as a fetich. During the persecution of heresy in the Khinelands by the inquisitor Conrad of Marburg, in 1233, one obstinate culprit refused to burn in spite of all the efforts of his zealous executioners, until a thoughtful priest brought to the roaring pile a consecrated host. This at once dissolved the spell by a mightier magic, and the luckless heretic was speedily reduced to ashes. A conventicle of these same heretics possessed an image of Satan which gave forth oracular responses, until a priest entering the room produced from his bosom a pyx containing the body of Christ, when Satan at once acknowledged his inferiority by falling down. Not long afterwards St. Peter Martyr overcame, by the same means, the imposture of a Milanese heretic in whose behalf a demon was wont to appear in a heterodox church in the shape of the Virgin, resplendent and holding in her arms the holy Child. The evidence in favor of heresy seemed to be overwhelming, until St. Peter dispelled it by presenting to the demon a host, and saying, " If thou


  1. Gesta. Consulum. Andegavens. iii. 23. — Roger. Ilovedcn. ann. 1177. — Innocent. PP. III. Regest. IX. 243. — Cajsar. Heisterbac. Dial. Mirac. Dist. viii. cap. 53. — Muratori. Antiq. Med. Ævi Dissert. Iviii. — Anon. Passaviens. adv. Waldens. cap. 5 (Mag. Bib. Pat. XIII. 301).