Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/311

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297
THE SPANISH INQUISITION AS AN ALIENIST.

no associates, and no Frenchmen entered San Felipe with him. During all the stages of graduated torment he screamed and struggled desperately, but he adhered resolutely to this, and refused to incriminate any one; he had never breathed his intention to any save his brother, who threatened to denounce him to the Inquisition. This continued till half past one o'clock, when the inquisitors, finding the torture fruitless, announced its discontinuance; but next morning they commenced proceedings against Pierre Perrault and Domingo Diaz. What was the result of these we do not know; but had anything been extracted from them further compromising René, it would have appeared in the records of his trial.

If the torture thus was useless in caput alienum, it at all events served the more humane purpose of confirming the sufferer in the faith. On July 12th word was brought to the inquisitor Chacon that René desired to return to the Church: he hastened to the temporary prison where the culprit was confined and found this to be the case. Now that he had nothing further to hope, Rend said that his first statement was true. He had been misled and tempted by Satan for fifteen days before the crime, and had believed that he was rendering a service to God; but now God had enlightened him, and he reverted to his former belief in the Trinity, in the passion of Christ, and the transubstantiation of the sacrament, and he desired to be reconciled to the Church.

On the following Sunday, July 11th, Madrid enjoyed the religious spectacle of an auto da fé, in which Rene Perrault was burned, but doubtless his recantation obtained for him the privilege of being garroted before the pile was lighted. Thus, if Spain furnished to Geneva the Unitarian Miguel Servet, France returned the favor with Rene Perrault.

Another case, less tragic in its issue, illustrates a different phase of the subject. At Cobeña, a village not far from Alcalá, de Henares, a poor carpenter of plows named Benito Peñas, or de Valdepeñas, created scandal by denying that Christ had died on the cross. He was wholly illiterate but devout, and once, when visiting Madrid with a load of corn, he had heard in the church of San Felipe a sermon by a fraile, who spoke of the passion and resurrection as metaphorical.[1] The idea took possession of his


  1. The Spanish preachers of the period allowed themselves the largest license in the effort to attract attention, and shrank from no grotesqueness of irreverence. In the trial in 1592, of Fray Joseph de Sigueñza, a distinguished Jeronymite friar and favorite of Philip II, there is a description of a sermon preached before the king by Fray Cristobal de Lafra, another Jeronymite, on the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin. He said the Minotaur was Christ and the Labyrinth the gospel liber generationis; Ariadne was Our Lady, and the child she bore to Theseus was Faith; and that if any one desired to enter the Labyrinth