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history. Hugh, bishop of Lincoln, ordered the body of Fair Rosamond to be turned out of the quire at Godstow, forgetting her penitence, and the claim which, upon his own principles, she had to all the benefits which that place could procure for her. Jeremy Collier, with a kindred spirit, has recorded this fact to the bishop's honour!
This,' he says,
was done like a man of conscience and courage! This was like a primitive bishop, who was not afraid to censure vice, though under royal protection !! The other case occurred during the same age of rampant prelacy. Owen Gwyneth, the king of North Wales, was buried at Bangor. During his son's reigy, Baldwin, the archbishop of Canterbury, came there to preach the crusade, and seeing his tomb he charged the bishop to remove the body out of the cathedral when he could find a fit opportunity, in regard that Archbishop Becket had excommunicated him heretofore, because he had married his first cousin, and that notwithstanding he had continued to live with her till she died. The bishop, in obedience to his charge, made a passage from the vault through the south wall of the church under ground, and so secretly shoved the body into the churchyard.' The question whether the dead are capable of being excommunicated or absolved has been discussed by Vigerius: the territory of the church, he says, is iv this world, and the dead themselves are on the other side the border; but as their bodies still remain within the church's jurisdiction, the right remains of conceding to them church-burial, or depriving them of it. And in proof of this, St. Gothard once ordered all the excommunicated persons, who had been buried in his cathedral, to rise and walk out, which they accordingly did in the sight of the people. But the richest story in example of this doctrine is thus related by the Scotch historian Fordun.
When the blessed Augustine, preaching the divine word to the gentiles, according to his custom, came to a village in the county of Oxford, six miles distant from a place celebrated at this time, and called Vudiflix* Cumentona; there came to him a priest of the same town saying, “ Reverend father and lord, I inform your holiness that the lord of this property, though by me admonished with many exhortations, will never consent to pay to the holy church of God, the tithe of those things which the celestial bounty has conferred upon him. Moreover, having often threatened him with sentence of excommunication, I find him more rebellious and obstinate than before: let your holiness therefore see what is to be done.' When St. Augustine heard this, he made the soldier be brought before him, and said, what is this that I hear of thee! O son,
Long Compton seenis to be the place designed, but it must be a lucky guess to discover what Vudiflix can stand for.
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wherefore do you refuse to render tythes to God, the giver of all good things, and to the holy church? Are you ignorant that they are not yours but God's? Therefore do thou with a ready and willing mind pay thankfully thy debt to Alınighty God, lest the severe sentence of a rigorous judge should in the following year take from thee for thine obstinacy, that from whence thou shouldst pay it, At this the soldier being irritated, with the spur of anger, replied to the man of God: Who, said he, cultivated the land? who supplied the seed for it? who caused the ripe corn to be cut down? was it not I? All men therefore may know that he who has the nine sheafs shall have the tenth also. To whom St. Augustine, Speak not thus, my son! for I would not have thee ignorant, that if thou refusest to give thy tythes, according to the custom of the faithful, and the tradition of the holy fathers, without doubt I shall excommunicate thee. And this being said, he turned to the Lord's table, that he might celebrate divine service. And he said before all the people, with a loud voice, On the part of God, I command that no excommunicated person presume to be present at the solemnities of mass. Which when he had said, a thing marvellous and unheard of iu former ages happened. For in the very entrance of the church a buried corpse arose, and going out of the cemetery stood there immovable, as long as the holy man was celebrating the solemnities of mass. Which when he had concluded, the faithful who were then present, being made almost beside themselves, came trembling to the blessed pontiff, and related what had befallen. To whom he said, Fear not! but let the standard of the cross of the Lord go before us, and holy water also, and let us see what this may be which is shown us. So the pious pastor preceding, the affrighted sheep of Christ went with him to the entrance of the burial place, aud seeing the black and hideous corpse, he said, I command
tell me who are, and wherefore you come here to delude the people of Christ? To whom the
made answer, I have not come here to affright the people, neither to deceive them, most holy father Augustine; but when on the part of God you commanded, that excommunicated person should be present at the solemuities of mass, then the angels of God, who always are the companions of your journeys, cast me from the place where I was buried, saying, that Augustine the friend of God had commanded the stinking flesh to be cast out of the church. For in the time of the Britons, before the fury of the heathen Angles had laid waste this kingdom, I was the patron of this town: and although I was admonished often by the priest of this church, yet I never would consent to give my tythes; but at last, being condemned by him in the sentence of excommunication, ah! me miserable! in the midst of these things
I was cut off, and being buried in the place from whence I have now risen, I delivered up my soul to the infernal demons, continually to be tormented with bell fires. Then all who were present wept when they heard this: and the saint himself plentifully bedewing his face with tears, and manifesting the great grief of his heart by frequent sighs, said to him, Knowest thon the place where the priest who excommunicated thee was buried? He answered that he knew it well, and that he had his grave in that same cemetery. Augustine said, Go before us then, and show us the place.
• The dead man then went before, and came to a certain place nigh unto the church, where there appeared no sign of any sepulchre, the bishop and all the people following him. And he said with a clear voice, Behold the spot, dig here if it please you, and you will find the bones of the priest concerning whom you ask. Then by command of the pontiff they began to dig, and at length they found a few bones, buried very deep in the ground, and by reason of the length of time turned green. But the servant of God inquired if these were the bones of the priest, and the dead man answered, Yes, father. Then St. Augustine, having poured forth a long prayer, said, To the end that all may know, that life and death are in the hands of our Lord, to whom nothing is impossible, I say unto thee in his name, brother, arise! We have need of thee! O marvellous thing, and unheard of by human ears! at the command of the devout priest, all they who were present saw the dust unite itself to dust, and the bones join together with nerves, and thus at last an animated human form raised fron the grave. And the blessed man, when he stood before him, said, Knowest thou this person, brother? He made answer, I know him, father, and wish that I had not known him. The benevolent priest rejoined, Hast thou bound him with an anathema? I have bound him, he replied, and worthily, according to his deserts; for he was a rebel in all things against the holy church: he was always a withholder of his tythes, and moreover, a perpetrator of many crimes even to the last day of his life. Then the man of God, Augustine, groaned deeply, and said, Brother, thou knowest that the mercy of God is upon
all his works! therefore it behoves us also to have compassion upon the creature and image of God, redeemed by his precious blood, who now for so long a time shut up in a dark prison has endured infernal punishments, Then he delivered to him a whip, and the corpse kneeling before him and asking absolution with tears, the dead man absolved the dead man, through the great bounty of the grace of God, for manifesting the merits of his servant Augustine. When he was thus absolved, the saint commanded him that he should return to the sepulchre, and there await the last day in peace. He forthwith returning to the place from whence he had been seen to rise, en
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tered the grave, and quickly was resolved into dust and ashes. Then said the saint to the priest, How long hast thou lain here? He answered, An hundred and fifty years, and more. How, said he, hath it been with thee until this time? Well, he replied: I have been placed in the joys of our Lord, and present in the delight of eternal life. Wouldst thou, said Augustine, that I should pray to our common Lord, that you may return to us again, and sowing with us the seeds of the gospel, bring back to their Creator souls which have been deceived by diabolical fraud? Far be it from you, O venerable father, he replied, that you should disturb my soul, and make me return to this laborious and painful life. and entire confidence in the mercy of God! O glorious consciousness of a most excellent heart, which doubted not that God was so powerful, and merciful, and that himself had deserved so much, that he should deign by him to perform so magnificent a miracle! This, peradventure, may seem impossible to those who believe that any thing can be impossible to God: yet it can be a doubt to none, that unless it had been for great miracles, the stubborn necks of the English would never have submitted to the yoke of Christ. But the blessed Augustine, seeing that the priest would not consent to come again into the ways of this life, said, Go, dearest brother, and remain for a long term of years in peace, and pray for me, and for the universal holy church of God. And the priest entered into the sepulchre, and presently was turned into dust and ashes. Then the holy bishop, turning to the soldier, said to him, Son, how is it now? do you consent to render your tythes to God, or are you disposed to continue in your obstinacy? But the soldier fell at his feet, trembling, and weeping, and crying, and confessing his guilt, and imploring forgiveness. And having forsaken ali other things, he cut off his hair, and followed the blessed Augustine all the days of his life, as the author of his salvation, and being thus made perfect in all purity of mind and body, he closed his last day, and entered the joys of eternal felicity, to live without end.'*
* The Bollandists have inserted this story from Bromton's Chronicon, as an Appendix to Goceline's life of the British St. Augustine. , Hic inter alia rem mirabilem minimeque contemnendam narrat, ut a vetustiori auctore scriptam ; quem utinam nobis indicasset! eo enim plus fidei haberet, quo ille esset antiquior. Nunc in Auctoris ignoti fide quidquid est refero, cui an, et quatenus, credi possit, silente de re tam insigni Beda et hoc vitæ auctore Gocelino, lectori estimandum relinquo.' Thus the learned Editor introduces this lie of the first maguitude, and he endeavours afterwards to show that, though the narration involves some difficulties, they are not such as to invalidate it. He says, Es. perientiâ compertum, in excommunicatione mortuorum corpora non dissolvi, sed fæde intumescere, usque dum fuerit super eos absolutionis pronuntiata formula. Sed hæc animabus dumtaxat prodesse potest, quarum exitus in statu gratiæ fuerit, manentibus excommunicationis ecclesiasticæ vinculis
, impedientibusque ne aut cælesti gloria, aut communione precum ac meritorum perfruantur. Quod si cum reatu æternæ damnationis obierent ii qui fuerant excommunicati, animis quidem eorum prodesse absolutio non potest, sed ut summum
Such legends as this are still circulated in catholic countries, with the sanction of the Inquisition, and of the ecclesiastical censors! There are other stories which represent the very earth as ejecting an excommunicated body.
I have heard that there are places, by the abode
The abomination out. But even if earth tolerated a reprobate tenant, the miserable inhabitant was believed to be by no means in secure possession of his
grave. Charles Martel is said to have been carried off in a most miserable manner by some resurrection devils; and Matthew of Westminster refers to the authority of Pope St. Gregory for a similar story as proof that the tale of the Old Woman of Berkeley is not incredible. Yet if Fray Luys de Escobar be right, the tormenters inight have spared themselves this unnecessary
trouble. In reply to a question, wherefore the custom was instituted, of sprinkling the graves with holy water, he says there are two reasons : First, because the grave sometimes serves as a special purgatory, where soul and body suffer together, and in that case both derive relief from the pious ceremony; and secondly, which he thinks is niore frequently the case, while the soul is in the common purgatory, and looking on to its deliverance, the devil knowing how dearly it loves the body wherein it is to rise again, gets at the grave to insult it for the purpose of afflicting the soul: now if he happens to be there when the grave is sprinkled, he cannot bear the holy water, and he therefore flies away directly. This, the friar observes, is only his opinion, but he knows no opinion in opposition to it, and it may hold good till some better reason be assigned.
Such superstitions, as might be expected, are often contradictory. It was for the sake of the protection which would be afforded then by consecrated ground, baptized bells, and relics, that bodies were interred round about the church at first : then in open places attached to the outward wall, which were called Galilees, and lastly within the church itself. St. Swithin, however, our English Aquarius, though entitled to a place of honour in his own cathedral, chose to be buried in the churchyard, that carrying his humility beyond the grave, he might be trampled upon by the people. Saints were not always so humble. His countrywoman corporibus quatenus humo contineri et communi sorte dissolvi valeant, nisi forte alicui damnationis debitæ sententiam suspenderit Deus ex prævisis sanctorum orationibus meritisque ut resuscitato daret spatium pænitentiæ ; cujus extraordinarie clementiæ aliqua, sed rara, habentur exempla. "And thus, after brushing away the gnat, he swallows the camel.
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