Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/91

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71
THE HENRICIANS.

If we may believe the accounts of his disciples, the success of Bernard was immense. His reputation had preceded him, and it was heightened by the stories of miracles which he daily performed, no less than by his burning eloquence and skill in disputation. Crowds flocked to hear him preach, and were converted. At Albi, two days after the miserable failure of the legate, St. Bernard arrived, and the cathedral was scarcely able to hold the multitude which assembled to listen to him. On the conclusion of his discourse he adjured them: "Repent, then, all ye who have been contaminated. Return to the Church ; and that we may know who repents, let each penitent raise his right hand" — and every hand was raised. Scarce less effective was his rejoinder when, after preaching to an immense assemblage, he mounted his horse to depart and a hardened heretic, thinking to confuse him, said, "My lord abbot, our heretic, of whom you think so ill, has not a horse so fat and spirited as yours." "Friend," replied the saint, "I deny it not. The horse eats and grows fat for itself, for it is but a brute and by nature given to its appetites, whereby it offends not God. But before the judgment seat of God I and your master will not be judged by horse's necks, but each by his own neck, Now, then, look at my neck and see if it is fatter than your master's, and if you can justly reprehend me." Then he threw down his cowl and displayed his neck, long and thin and wasted by maceration and austerities, to the confusion of the misbelievers. If he failed to make converts at Verfeil, where a hundred knights refused to listen to him, he at least had the satisfaction of cursing them, which we are assured caused them all to perish miserably.

St. Bernard challenged Henry to a disputation, which the prudent heretic declined, whether through fear of his antagonist's eloquence or a reasonable regard for the safety of his own person. It mattered little which, for his refusal discredited him in the eyes of many of the nobles who had hitherto protected him, and thenceforth he was obliged to lie in hiding. Orthodoxy took heart and was soon on his track : he was captured the next year and brought in chains before his bishop. His end is not known, but he is presumed to have died in prison.[1]


  1. S. Bernardi Epistt. 241, 242.— Gesta Pontif. Ccnomanens. (D. Bouquet T. XII. pp. 547-551, 554).— Ilildebcrt. Cenoman. Epistt. 23, 24.— S. Bcruardi Vit. Prim.