« AnteriorContinuar »
ecclesiastical history, and enable me to fill up some chasms in the succession of our bishops during the persecutions. To my great surprise, delay succeeded to delay, in such manner as to make it evident that the keeper wished to deny me all access to the records which I sought. On animadverting on conduct which appeared to me so unaccountable, I found that the reverend gentleman was a pensioner of the British government, employed to send them such extracts of State papers, as would elucidate the public transactions connected with the history of England. Here, in this solitary instance, I found the perverse influence of British money, and drew my conclusion on the misfortune that would come over Ireland, if ever the government should succeed in pensioning the Catholic hierarchy. This man's sympathies, duties, feelings, seemed to be all absorbed by his gratitude for British money. To our oppressors, as far as he was concerned, the archives, were open; to the Catholic victims of their persecution alone, they were inaccessible. However, a gentle hint that I would look for redress from the pontifical government, nay, that his conduct should be reported to the House of Commons, who might take this reverend pensioner to task, wrought in him a kinder tone of feeling, and procured for me a sullen and reluctant admittance. Amidst the huge mass of documents, I could not succeed in the object of my search. However, I lighted on many rare and curious letters, that well recompensed me for my loss. Among others / was shown one of Mary Queen of Scots, written to the Pope in hur own hand, on the day preceding her execution. It was a precious relic, which had the appearance of being discolored by tears. It is no wonder; such a letter could not be written or read without deej? emotion. It led to a long train of thought on the chequered life and tragic death of a woman, of whom her age was not worthy. Nay, the bitter prejudices of her time, seem to have descended to pos terity. There was no chivalry, then, in justice, to guard her life, nor chivalry in history to vindicate her fame. But time will avenge her wrongs, and I could cheerfully encounter more of the sullenness of the pensioned Marini, to have the gratification of reading such an autograph belonging to this illustrious and ill-used Queen, whose misfortunes created a sympathy, which the misdeeds of the perfidious monarchs of her race were not able to obliterate.
Not far from the Vatican, on the Janiculum, the southern brow of
some who might relish better more varied and stirring scenes. Yet among those monks and such other recluses, is to be found a cheerfulness and lightness of heart to which the world is an utter stranger, and which it can never imagine to be the inhabitant of such abodes. There was one convent in particular, which I felt peculiar gratification in visiting — that of St. Benedict, at Subiaco. Here, near the brink of the Arno, and under a line of frowning rocks, parallel to the stream, is situated the monastery of the holy and celebrated founder of the Benedictines. Near, is another, dedicated to his sister St. Scholastica. I spent some days in this holy retreat, enjoying the kind hospitality of the good abbot. In the chapel, partly formed out of the cave in which the saint lay concealed for three years, fed by an intimate friend, I offered up the sacrifice of the Mass. A beautiful marble statue of the saint under the rock, together with the leaves, bearing the impress of the serpent, by which he was so tempted, that he rolled himself amidst the thorns to extinguish the flames of concupiscence, still recall the memory of his early combats and his early triumphs.
I returned to Rome before Palm Sunday, remaining there during the ceremonies of Holy Week. It was a week that embodied more of the impressive lessons and practice of religion than many other weeks put together. Many visit Rome from afar, though unable to remain longer than during those few days, and well do they find their toil and piety rewarded. The solemn tones of the Miserere in the Sixtine Chapel, make them forget all their cares and fatigues, and transport the soul to heaven. The kind and charitable attention paid to the pilgrims, in the establishment set apart for that purpose, makes such an impression on strangers, that I have heard young Americans exclaim with wonder and delight, that if there was true religion in the world, it was to be found in the charity of Rome. The washing of the feet by the Holy Father, is another tender and affecting office, which fails not to exhibit, in the minds of the astonished spectators, the connection between him and the Founder of the Church, whose humility and charity he thus imitates. In my observations on Christmas day, I have already given some faint idea of the Pontifical Mass. The Pontifical Mass of Easter Sunday brings an additional ceremony of most imposing solemnity -- the benediction from the balcony of St. Peter's : one cannot witness a
more touching or magnificent ceremony. The Holy Father, accompanied by the cardinals, bishops, prelates and other ecclesiastics, who formed the procession, ascended to the centre of the balcony; the vast square was thronged with the moving multitudes below; doubtless, there were among them foreigners who differed in faith from the vast body of the people. The Pontiff lifted his arm, waved his hand in the form of a cross; no sooner did he pronounce the blessing, than all knelt, and, as if under the influence of the same mysterious spirit that subdued St. Paul, I think there was not one that was not prostrate to receive, through the person of his Vicar upon earth, the benediction of the Redeemer of the world.
* JOHN, BISHOP OF MARONIA.