Page:Vactican as a World Power.djvu/102

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ception of the harmony existing between the two powers. Above the niche picture depicting the sending of the apostles by the Master, one saw on the left hand Christ giving the keys to Peter, and the banner with the cross to Constantine. On the right hand, Peter was shown giving the kneeling Pope the pallium and the likewise kneeling Prankish king a pointed flag shaped like a lance. But soon afterward, during the spring of 799, a conspiracy organized by relatives of Hadrian brought Leo into dire straits. According to an ancient custom, he was on horseback at the head of the St. Mark's Day procession; and he was set upon by his enemies, who tore off his robes and dragged him away to a monastery. With the help of his companions he escaped by climbing down a rope and went back to St. Peter's. Worse than the attack itself was the reason advanced for it that the Pope had been guilty of adultery and perjury.

Leo fled to Charlemagne's court at Paderborn. There the whole incident was already known. Soon there also appeared legates of the attacking party. The King s circle held diverse opinions regarding what should be done. Some believed that the accused pontiff was innocent and others doubted it. But was it legitimate to sit in judg- ment over the Apostolic See? What Pope would be secure if Roman factions were allowed to dethrone a Pontiff they disliked? Would it not be best to induce Leo to retire quiedy? Or ought one to demand that the Pope swear an oath to prove his innocence, since the reproaches made against him were so grave and so specific? Charlemagne could not make up his mind and mistrusted both sides. He demanded that an investigation be made in Rome and sent the bishops and nobles who were to undertake that investigation back to the city with Leo. The inquiry could prove so little that the German judges refused to commit themselves. The leaders of the rebellion were not executed but were sent across the Alps to Charlemagne. Then he himself made the journey to the Eternal City during November of 800. Anxious to rescue the Pope, if that were possible, he presented him with the alternative of retiring or cleansing himself by swearing a solemn oath. Thereupon Leo vowed his innocence in the pulpit of St. Peter's, and this action was accepted as a vindication. The de- feated antagonists were condemned to death by Charlemagne, but he thereupon pardoned them. Thus he protected the highest office on