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other of your order.” The abbot of Cluni having also dared to call himself the abbot of abbots, the Pope's chancellor decided, in a council held at Rome in 1116, that this distinction belonged to the abbot of Mount Cassino; he of Cluni contented himself with the title of cardinal abbot, which he afterwards obtained from Calixtus II. and which the abbot of The Trinity of Vendôme and some others have since assumed.
Pope John XX. in 1326, granted to the abbot of Mount Cassino the title of Bishop, and he continued to discharge the episcopal functions until 1367; but Urban V. having then thought proper to deprive him of that dignity, he now simply entitles himself Patriarch of the holy religion, Abbot of the holy monastery of Mount Cassino, Chancellor and Grand Chaplain of the Holy Roman Empire, Abbot of Abbots, Chief of the Benedictine Hierarchy, Chancellor Collateral of the Kingdom of Sicily, Count and Governor of the Campagna and of the maritime province, Prince of Peace.
He lives, with a part of his officers, at San-Germano, a little town at the foot of Mount Cassino, in a spacious house, where all passengers, from the Pope down to the meanest beggar, are received, lodged, fed, and treated according to their rank. The abbot each day visits all his guests, who sometimes amount to three hundred. In 1538, St. Ignatius shared his hospitality, but he was lodged in a house on Mount Cassino, six hundred paces west of the abbey. There he composed his celebrated Institute; whence a Dominican, in a work entitled The Turtle-dove of the Soul, says, “ Ignatius dwelt for twelve months on this mountain of contemplation, and like another Moses, framed those second tables of religious law which are inferior in nothing to the first.”
Truly, this founder of the Jesuits was not received by the Benedictines with that complaisance which St. Benedict, on his arrival at Mount Cassino, had found in St. Martin the hermit, who gave up to him the place in his possession, and retired to Mount Marsica, near Carniola. On the contrary, the Benedictine Ambrose Cajeta, in a voluminous work written for the purpose, has endeavoured to trace the origin of the Jesuits to the order of St. Benedict.
The laxity of manners which has always prevailed in the world, even among the clergy, induced St. Basil, so early as the fourth century, to adopt the idea of assembling in one community the solitaries who had fled into desarts to follow the law: but, as will be elsewhere seen, even the regulars have not always been regular. As for the secular clergy, let us see what St. Cyprian * says of them, even from the third century
Many bishops, instead of exhorting and setting an example to others, neglected the affairs of God, busied themselves with temporal concerns, quitted their pulpits, abandoned their flocks, and travelled in other provinces in order to attend fairs and enrich themselves by traffic; they succoured not their brethren who were dying of hunger; they sought only to amass heaps of money, to gain possession of lands by unjust artifices, and to make immense profits by usury.'
Charlemagne, in a digest of what he intended to propose to the parliament of 811, thus expresses himself: * We wish to know the duties of ecclesiastics, in order that we may not ask of them what they are not permitted to give, and that they may not demand of us what we ought not to grant. We beg of them to explain to us clearly what they call quitting the world, and by what those who quit it may be distinguished from those who remain in it;—if it is only by their not bearing arms and not being married in public;-if that man has quitted the world who continues to add to his possessions by means of every sort, preaching Paradise and threatening with damnation ; employing the name of God or of some saint to persuade the simple to strip themselves of their property, thus entailing want upon their lawful heirs, who therefore think themselves justified in committing theft and pillage;--if to quit the world is, to carry the passion of covetousness to such a length as to bribe false witnesses in order to obtain what belongs to ano
* De Lapsis.
ther, and to seek out judges who are cruel, interested, and without the fear of God
To conclude-we may judge of the morals of the regular clergy from a harangue delivered in 1493, in which the abbé Tritême said to his brethren, abbés, who are ignorant and hostile to the knowledge of salvation; who pass your days in shameless pleasures, in drinking and gaming; who fix your affections on the things of this life;—what answer will you make to God and to your founder St. Benedict?”
The same abbé nevertheless asserted, that one-third of all the property of Christians belonged of right* to the order of St. Benedict; and that if they had it not, it was because they had been robbed of it. They are so poor at present,” added he, “ that their revenues do not amount to more than a hundred millions of louisd'ors.” Tritême does not tell us to whom the other two thirds belong; but as in his time there were only fifteen thousand abbeys of Benedictines, besides the small convents of the same order, while in the seventeenth century their number had increased to thirty-seven thousand, it is clear, by the rule of proportion, that this holy order ought now to possess five-sixths of the property in. Christendom, but for the fatal progress of heresy during the latter
ages. In addition to all other misfortunes, since the Concordat was signed in 1515, between Leo X. and Francis I., the King of France nominating to nearly all the abbeys in his kingdom, most of them have been given to seculars with shaven crowns. It was in consequence of this custom being but little known in England, that Dr. Gregory said pleasantly to the abbé Gallois, whom he took for a Benedictine, "The good father imagines that we have returned to those fabulous times when a monk was permitted to say what he pleased.”
SECTION II. Those who fly from the world are wise; those who * Fra. Paolo-Traité des Bénéfices, page 31. f Philosophical Transactions.
devote themselves to God are to be respected. Perhaps time has corrupted so holy an institution.
To the Jewish therapeuts succeeded the Egyptian monks—idiotoi, monoi-idiot. then signifying only solitary. They soon formed themselves into bodies and became the opposite of solitaries. Each society of monks elected its superior; for, in the early ages of the church, everything was done by the plurality of voices. Men sought to regain the primitive liberty of human nature, by escaping through piety from the tumult and slavery inseparably attendant on great empires. Every society of monks chose its father—its abba—its abbot, although it is said in the Gospel, “ call no man your father.”
Neither abbots nor monks were priests in the early ages; they went in troops to hear mass at the nearest village: their numbers, in time, became considerable : it is said that there were upwards of fifty thousand monks in Egypt.
St. Basil, who was first a monk and afterwards bishop of Cesarea and Cappadocia, composed a code for all the monks of the fourth century. This rule of St. Basil's was received in the East and in the West; no monks were known but those of St. Basil; they were rich, took part in all public affairs, and contributed to the revolutions of empires.
No order but this was known until, in the sixth century, St. Benedict established a new power on Mount Cassino. St. Gregory the Great assures us, in his Dialogues,* that God granted him a special privilege, by which all the Benedictines who should die on Mount Cassino were to be saved. Consequently, Pope Urban JI. in a bull of the year 1092, declared the abbot of Mount Cassino chief of all the abbeys in the world. Paschal II. gave him the title of Abbot of Abbuts, Patriarch of the Holy Religion, Chancellor Collateral of the Kingdom of Sicily, Count and Governor of the Campagna, Prince of Peace, &c. &c. &c. &c. &c. All these titles would avail but little were they not supported by immense riches.
* Book ii, chap. 8.
Not long ago I received a letter from one of my German correspondents, which began with these words: "The abbots, princes of Kempten, Elvengen, Eudestet, Musbach, Berghsgaden, Vissemburg, Prum, Stablo, and Corvey, and the other abbots who are not princes, enjoy together a revenue of about nine hundred thousan florins, or two millions and fifty thousand French livres of the present currency. Whence I conclude, that Jesus Christ's circumstances were not quite so easy as theirs." I replied, “Sir, you must confess that the French are more pious than the Germans, in the proportion of 446 to unity; for our consistorial benefices alone, that is, those which pay annats to the Pope, produce a revenue of nine millions; and two millions fifty thousand livres are to nine millions as 1 is to 44. Whence I conclude, that your abbots are not sufficiently rich, and that they ought to have ten times more. I have the honour to be, &c.” He answered me by the following short letter :" Dear Sir, I do not understand you. You, doubtless, feel with me, that nine millions of your money are rather too much for those who have made a vow of poverty; yet you wish that they had ninety. I beg you will explain this enigma.” I had the honour of immediately replying: -- Dear Sir, there was once a young man to whom it was proposed to marry a woman of sixty, who would leave him all her property; he answered, that she was not old enough.”—The German understood my enigma.
The reader must be informed that, in 1575,* it was proposed in a council of Henry III. king of France, to erect all the abbeys of monks into secular commendams, and to give them to the officers of his court and his army; but this monarch happening afterwards to be excommunicated and assassinated, the project was of course not carried into effect.
In 1750, Count d'Argenson, minister of war, wished to raise pensions from the benefices for chevaliers of the military order of St. Louis : nothing could be more simple, more just, more useful; but his efforts were fruitless. Yet the princess of Conti had had an abbey
* Chopin-De Sacra Politia, Book 6.