Page:The Kiss and its History.djvu/104

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some person or thing that excites detestation and abhorrence.

The legends of St Martin tell us how, on coming one day to Lutetia, followed by a great crowd of people, he caught sight of a leper at the gate of the city, who was so terrible an object to look at that everybody turned away from him with loathing. To give those who followed him a lesson in Christian charity, he went up to the poor sick man, kissed and blessed him, and on the following morning the latter was cured as by a miracle.

It is just through overcoming oneself in respect to that which is intrinsically foul and repugnant that this kiss gets its high significance and dignity. St Francis of Assisi had bidden farewell to an existence of luxury, bestowed his wealth on the necessitous, and lived the life of a beggar, but his conversion was still incomplete; he did not become ripe for his great work of charity until he had overcome his repugnance to the leprous. One day, when out riding, he met one of these wretched sufferers, whose whole body was like a great open wound, and he reined his horse aside in disgust; but