Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/308

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

period the endurance of torture without confession was held to purge away the evidence against the accused and to entitle him to an acquittal, but it was otherwise in the Inquisition. The torture had been merely to gratify the curiosity of the judges and to justify the foregone conclusion of his burning. Therefore, when they now examined him and adjured him to tell the truth, and he answered by referring to his previous statements as the truth, they had him carried back to his cell, and coolly assembled their consultores to pronounce on him a second sentence of relaxation to the secular arm for burning. This was duly submitted to the Supreme Council, which postponed its answer until November 24th. Then it said that it held him to be insufficiently tortured, but that for the present he should be kept in prison and carefully watched to determine his sanity. He was to be confined with persons who could be relied upon and sworn to secrecy, who should observe him and report.

Another cell was accordingly selected for him, in which were two friars and a physician awaiting trial, who were duly sworn and instructed. So matters continued for a year, with occasional examinations of his fellow-prisoners. The friars pronounced him a heretic and an impostor; the physician a sane man subject to delusions. Finally, in November, 1623, another consultation was held to vote upon his case, and he was unanimously sentenced to burning. To this at last the Supreme Council assented, but desired the execution to take place in Madrid, where the sacrilege had been committed. He was to be sedulously kept in ignorance, and to be secretly conveyed to the capital. There, on the Plaza Mayor, January 21, 1624, there was a solemn auto da fé celebrated, and he was burned alive as an impenitente negativo.

If this was expected to strike salutary terror into the hearts of sacrilegious heretics and to instill respect for the Venerable Sacrament, it signally failed of its purpose. In less than six months, on Friday, July 5, 1624, Madrid was again thrown into excitement by a double sacrilege that had every appearance of organized premeditation. During the celebration of morning mass in the church of San Felipe, a man named René Perrault, who was kneeling near the altar, suddenly leaped forward at the elevation of the Host, and crying out, "Why do you elevate this idol of Christ, so that the people commit idolatry and offend God?" he snatched it from the hand of the priest and scattered it in fragments on the floor, while with a sweep of his arm he overturned the cup that was standing on the altar. At the same moment a similar scene was enacted at the church of Santa Barbara, by a man named Gabriel de Guevara. It was with difficulty that the offenders were rescued from the summary venge-