Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/213

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Narcissus of Gerundum, in Spain, took refuge from his persecutors in Augsburg, and chanced to find an asylum in Afra's house. Through his efforts the family was converted to Christianity, and baptized. Narcissus, on his departure, ordained presbyter (or bishop) a brother of Hilaria, Dionysius by name. To the same narrative clearly belongs the conclusion of the story of Afra's martyrdom, in which mention is made of the mother and three handmaidens of Afra (Digna, Eunomia or Eumenia, and Eutropia or Euprepia), who, after the remains of the martyr were placed in the tomb, themselves suffered martyrdom by fire. The second part of the "Acts of Afra", dealing with her trial and death (Ruinart, Acta Sincera, 482–484, Ratisbon, 1859), is more ancient. In the opinion of Duchesne it dates from the end of the fourth, or the beginning of the fifth, century. It may, therefore, have preserved, not only the fact of the martyrdom, but also reliable details concerning the Saint and her death. In this narrative Afra alone is mentioned, and there is no trace of those exaggerations and fantastic embellishments which characterize the later legends of the martyrs. According to this Passio, Afra (see Martyrs, Acts of) was condemned to the flames because she professed herself a Christian, and refused to participate in pagan rites. She was executed on a little island in the river Lech, and her remains were buried at some distance from the place of her death. The testimony of Venantius Fortunatus shows that her grave was held in great veneration in the sixth century. Her remains are still at Augsburg in the church of Sts. Ulrich and Afra, beside which stands a famous Benedictine abbey. Her feast is celebrated on 7 August.

Tillemont, Mem. pour servir à l'hist. eccl., V. 271, 693; Rettberg, Kircheng. Deutschlands (Göttingen, 1846), I, 144 sqq.; Friedrich, Kircheng. Deutschlands (Bamberg, 1867), I, 186 sqq., 427 sqq,; Hauck, Kircheng. Deutschlands (Leipzig, 1898), 2d ed., I, 93; Allard, Histoire des persécutions (Paris, 1890), IV, 419 sqq.; Duchesne, A propos de martyrologe heironymien, in Analecta Bollandiana (1898), XVII, 433 spp.; Krusch, Nochmals die Afralgende und das Martyrologium Hieronymianum, in Mittheil. des Inst. für œsterr. Geschictsforschung (1900), XXI, 1 sqq.; Buter Lives, 5 Aug.

Africa.—This name, which is of Phœnician origin, was at first given by the Romans to the territory about the city of Carthage. It gradually came to be applied to the whole Libyan territory occupied by the Romans, and it was understood in this sense, as late as the eleventh century, by Pope St. Leo IX, who, when asked to decide as to the primacy of the bishops of ancient Numidia, wrote these words, now engraved in letters of gold on the modern basilica of Carthage, built by Cardinal Lavigerie: "Sine dubio, post Romanum pontificem, primus Nubiæ episcopus et totius Africæ maximus metropolitanus est Carthaginiensis episcopus" (There can be no doubt that after the Roman Pontiff the first Bishop of Nubia, and indeed the principal Metropolitan of Africa is the Bishop of Carthage). In their turn the Arabs adopted the name; then the writers of the Middle Ages; finally it has come to include the entire continent.

I. The Country.—Africa is, in extent, about 12,000,000 square miles, or about three times as large as Europe, and five times as large as the United States, without Alaska. It is joined to the Asiatic continent only by the Isthmus of Suez. Its general shape is that of an irregular triangle, which peculiarity of shape, with the scarcity of bays or harbours, seriously affected its historical development prior to the use of steam. It rests on a rocky foundation, which forms an immense plateau in the interior, whence, in isolated masses, branch off ranges like the Atlas, the mountains of Abyssinia, Cape Colony, the Orange River Colony, the Transvaal, the Kenya, Kilima-Njaro, the Mfumbiro, and the Kameruns. These mountains, which attain in some places a height of 20,000 feet, have the appearance of islets, where rise in stages belts of a wonderfully varied vegetation. This plateau is bounded by a coast depression, whence the land sinks gradually. The west coast, from Morocco to the Cape, is extremely rough and difficult to approach. On the Equator the rains are frequent and torrential; at Gaboon, for instance, it rains every day for nine months, the atmosphere is heavy with humidity, and the heat is maintained at an almost unchanging temperature. An enormous quantity of water is gathered in aerial seas by the winds, which, meeting, neutralize each other. This water, drawn down by the daily thunder-storms, forms the vast reservoirs of the interior: the lakes of Timbuctu, Tchad, Victoria, Albert, Tanganyika, Bangweolo, Mweru, Nyassa, and others, whence flow the principal rivers: the Niger, the Bénué, the Congo, the Zambesi, and the Nile, and others, less known, but of considerable importance. Most of them flow to the sea over rocky beds, forming rapids and waterfalls. These rivers have their sources at a much greater altitude than the rivers of other continents. The source of the Congo is at a height of 6,000 feet; of the Nile at 4,500; and of the Niger at 3,000; while that of the Amazon is not more than 700 feet, and the Mississippi only about 2,000 feet. It has been said that Africa has been less travelled than any other part of the world. It is there that are found, more than anywhere else, huge mountains, such as Kilima-Njaro, Kenya, etc., which rise suddenly from the level surface of great plains; vast lakes of uncertain outlines, which seem at one time to be drying up and at another to be making new inroads on the land; long rivers whose branches cover millions of square miles, and which, like the Nile, flow slowly through valleys as desolate as an unfinished world; solemn forests and the endless desert, vast and well suited to the peculiar nature of such great plants as the baobab, and of strange creatures like the ostrich, the giraffe, the elephant, the hippopotamus, and the gorilla; in very truth it is the primitive world. It is in the Equatorial zone, and especially towards the west, that the forests are largest, while in other parts they are somewhat irregularly scattered, with trees rising straight and mighty above a vigorous undergrowth. It is possible to travel for days, and even months, in these forests without so much as a glimpse of the sky, except in some chance clearing where the natives have cut down a few trees, to build their little village, or to till their fields. Silence reigns everywhere, broken only, in the daytime, by an occasional flapping of wings overhead; and at night by the shrill music of insects in a monotonous chorus. Storms echo in a frightful fashion; the rains cause an invariable humidity, rendering everything impervious to fire, and it is only during the short dry season of three or four months that it is safe to penetrate these forests. On both sides of the Equator, as far as 15° north and 20° south, stretches a zone that has two seasons, a rainy and a dry season. In this region, the great virgin forest and perpetual verdure are but seldom found save in the narrow spaces, stretching ribbonlike along the river banks, or crowding in the valleys, or climbing, in rows, along the mountain-sides. Elsewhere are found great prairies, over which the fire passes at the end of each dry season, and where roam great herds of antelope, giraffe, zebu, and buffalo. Beyond this double zone, which begins with Equatorial landscapes and ends in a semi-desert, stretches another zone of rocks, grass-lands, swamps, clay, and almost wholly barren sand. This, to the north, is the Sahara and the Libyan desert; to the south, the Kalahari and the solitude that surrounds it. It is a land where the sky is without cloud, and the