« ElőzőTovább »
him, or listen to his preaching of the Gospel, the probabilities were that they would soon feel strongly inclined not only to neglect and despise him, but even to surround him with trouble and peril. What he had to proclaim to them was entirely foreign to their native habits and perceptions, their tastes and propensities; and in the most unsparing manner, condemned nearly everything to which they were attached, and from which they had drawn their fancied pleasures. Laying the axe at the root of that tree which had borne all the fruits they ignorantly deemed sweet and precious, he aimed to cut it completely down. Their wisdom he declared to be folly; their voluptuousness, equally unsatisfying and ruinous; their idolatry, ignorance and infatuation; their pagan prayers and victims, worse than worthless. On the other hand, in the most uncompromising spirit, he proclaimed that Christ crucified was the only way to God, to peace, to sanctification, and to heaven. Such announcements were not in the least likely to conciliate favour, or to draw forth any expressions of social kindness from a people so proud, so wise in their own conceit, and so totally surrendered up to the impure fascinations of sensuality. Whilst he ministered to them only in things spiritual, which they could not understand, and for which they had not the slightest native relish, it had been vain to expect that they would minister to him in carnal things. From the Jews who dwelt there, nothing better awaited him. They rose up in opposition and with blasphemy against him. Whatever might be the willingness of Aquila and Priscilla, they might not have, and most probably had not, the means of furnishing the needed provisions. Surrounded then with these peculiar circumstances, what should he do? What way was left open to him? Only one, and that was application to honest labour. This he chose promptly and cheerfully. Did he err in doing this? Was there any thing improper, or truly degrading in it? We say, no. Nothing is really wrong, really debasing, really injurious, but sin. He was the servant of Him who had been scornfully designated “ The Carpenter,” and “the Carpenter's son ;' the fellow-labourer of those who had been fishermen, and who, when occasion required, again had recourse to their primitive employment. Let it then be no more a matter of wonder, and still less of animadversion, that Paul, coming to Corinth, and finding there Aquila and Priscilla, two pious Jews, should labour with them, all, by their occupation, being tent-makers. If he thus tasted of “ the primal curse,” he doubtless felt it “ soften'd into mercy.” Rather let us rejoice in the needful and appropriate manifestation of disinterested benevolence, which he thereby gave in the concern he exhibited, not for theirs but them, not to obtain their gold-their silver-their apparel, or the rich and splendid delicacies of their tables, but to secure instrumentally the redemption of their immortal souls.
LETTERS FROM ROME.—No. VI.
tainments-Good Friday-Baptism of Turks and Jeros-Con-
Rome, May, 1834. MY DEAR FRIEND,-Resuming my description of the ceremonies of the holy week, I shall endeavour to give you some account of the services that take place on Holy Thursday. In the morning of this day high mass is celebrated by the Pope in the Sistine Chapel, on which occasion there are many deviations from the ordinary method of conducting the service, intended to set forth different circumstances connected with the crucifixion. Thus the various signals made during the ordinary celebration of mass, by the ringing of bells, are not heard on this occasion, the bell being merely struck by a stick, which is intended to denote that the apostles were at this time fearful of openly manifesting their belief in the Saviour, and also to show that all signs of joy, like the ringing of bells, shonld be abstained from. For the same reason all the bells in the city are silent from this time till Easter Day, and the drums of the soldiers are muffled. Having consecrated the host, the Pope carries it in great pomp to the adjoining Paoline Chapel, where the ceremony of entombment takes place, and where it remains till the following day. The procession is attended by the College of Cardinals, carrying large wax tapers in one hand, and their mitres and missals in the other. The chapel is brilliantly illaminated. It is said to have been the custom of the papal church from time immemorial thus to preserve the host, and for which custom they maintain they have the authority of an apostolical tradition. The wine is not preserved to avoid the accident of spilling it, because the blood is supposed really to exist along with the bread. As no consecration of the host can take place on the following day, this, which is laid up on the altar is resorted to, in case of its being required by the sick. After the ceremony of the sepulture is concluded, the procession returns to the Sistine Chapel, where vespers are sung, and the altar stripped of its covering and its ornaments, to denote the conduct of the soldiers to Christ.
Being anxious to obtain a good position for seeing the ceremony of the “ lavanda,” or washing the pilgrims' feet, I was not present at the service in the Paoline Chapel, but descended the great staircase of the Vatican, and entered the cathedral of St. Peter. On my arrival, I found the nave of the building lined by troops, with their arms reversed, an immense concourse of people, and the transept to the right of the high altar prepared for the ceremony. With some difficulty I made my way through the crowd, and posted myself near the temporary throne that had been erected for the Pope. Behind the papal chair was hung a handsome screen of tapestry, on which two lions were represented, supporting the papal
arms and flag, and on each side were figures of Truth and Justice. To the left of the chair were two rows of seats, on the upper of which sat the thirteen pilgrims. They were clad in white flannel dresses, having caps of apparently the same material, resembling in shape those worn by a regiment of hussars. The opposite side of the transept was occupied by the balconies erected for the King and Queen of Naples, and the other grandees who were to be present. After some time, the Pope made his appearance, habited in a loose white dress, confined round the waist, and wearing a white mitre. The service commenced with the chaunting of the first part of the 13th chapter of the Gospel of John; soon after which the Pope descended from his seat, and proceeded to wash, wipe, and kiss the feet of the pilgrims. Each pilgrim, after having had his feet washed, (or rather his foot, for his holiness curtails the business as much as possible, by simply pouring a little water on one foot,) receives at the hands of the Pope the towel that has been used, and a bouquet of flowers, whilst the quire repeats at intervals the words, "a new commandment give I into you, that ye love one another," &c. The Pope having returned to his seat, has his own hands washed by an attendant, and thus the ceremony terminates. Having finished this part of his day's duties, the Pope goes to the Sala Regia, in the Vatican, to wait on another set of pilgrims, for whom a dinner is provided, and to whom he acts as footman. A similar service is performed in the evening, by distinguished persons of both sexes, who wait on the pilgrims that happen to have come to Rome, at this time, in order to fulfil certain vows, and partake of the good cheer provided for them. The Dowager Queen of Naples, and several of the most distinguished of the Italian noblesse, were among the number, who, on this occasion, proved themselves good and zealous catholics. Various explanations are given respecting the addition of the thirteenth, to the number of the apostles, as represented by the pilgrims. One explanation states, that it is in commemoration of a miracle wrought in approbation of St. Gregory, who was accustomed, annually, to entertain twelve poor persons on the feast-day, called after him. On one of these occasions an angel is said to have appeared, and to have partaken of the feast. The table at which this occurred is still preserved in the Church of St. Gregory, on the Celian Hill.
Next morning, being Good Friday, I went to witness the removal of the host from the Paoline Chapel, and the ceremony of the adoration of the cross, which follows. This is a long service, the chief part of which consists in gradually uncovering the crucifix, the person officiating repeating at intervals the words, “Ecce lignum crucis in quo salus mundi pesseudit;" to this the quire responds, - Venite adoremus," when the people all prostrate themselves on the ground. In the evening, a large illuminated cross is exposed in St. Peters, before which the people repeat certain prayers. The various relics connected with the crucifixion, in which the cathedral of St. Peter is so rich, are also on this occasion exposed to view. The Pope goes round the church, preceded by an attendant, bearing a cushion, on which his holiness kneels to repeat his prayers before the various altars and relics. A bit of the true cross, the head of the spear, and the handkerchief of St. Veronica, are among the most precious relics. These are not exhibited more than once or twice a year to public gaze, and even then are only partially exposed. The poor people, however, believe that even this veiled exhibition of articles is so precious, as to be productive of the most important benefits to those who are fortunate enough to be present.
On the Saturday there is a very curious display takes place at the Church of St. John Lateran ; it consists of the public baptism of Jews, Turks, and any other infidels that have been converted to the Catholic Faith. Subjects for this ceremony, it is said, are not always easily obtained, and various devices are resorted to, in order to avoid disappointing the good people. On the present occasion, a little girl, the child of Jewish parents, (who had already been converted to Catholicism,) and two young Turks, were the chief dramatis personæ. The young Mussulmen submitted to the tonsure, and took their vows, the one as a priest, and the other as a monk. As this service is intended to show the influence and continual progress of the Catholic faith, much is made or pretended to be made, of the affair. There are some curiosities displayed in one of the rooms of the Vatican, which are always pointed out with particular attention, to which is attached the following inscription, 6 The converted Indians of Canada, as a token of affection to the Holy Father, Pope Gregory the XVIth.” No opportunity is lost of endeavouring to impress strangers with the fact, that no religious system is so successful in making converts as the Catholic. To give you any detailed account of all the mummeries that take place on this day would only weary you; I will, therefore, merely recapitulate some of them. Early in the morning, the resurrection service is performed by the Pope in the Sistine Chapel; the cardinals hear the confessions of the priests and grant them absolution: holy water for the year is consecrated, and fire is struck from the thresholds of some of the more favoured churches, with which the incense is ignited. The curates of the different parishes go round their respective districts, visiting each dwelling, and sprinkling holy water on the floors, beds, &c. and pronouncing a benediction on the house and its inmates.
On Easter Day the Pope celebrates high mass in St. Peter's, and gives his public benediction to the assembled thousands in the Piazza di San Pietro, the whole of which, together with the facade and dome of the church is brilliantly illuminated in the evening.
From this brief sketch of the various ceremonies that take place during Easter week, you may form some notion of the gorgeous style in which the services of the papal church are conducted in the present day, and of how completely the most solemn services are converted into mere amusements for the idle. I never could gain any satisfactory information from those of whom I enquired respecting the meaning of the different mysteries represented, and the explanations given by the books intended to illustrate them, are so confused and contradictory, that it is vain to attempt to harmonize the different services, or even parts of the same ceremony. I have, there
fore, become heartily tired of gazing at ceremonies and pageantries, which are either unmeaning, or awfully shocking, and am glad to be able to resume my antiquarian rambles.
After a morning spent in visiting various objects of interest in the neighbourhood of the Tiber, I was struck, on my way home, with the number of Jewish faces that I met with, and on looking round, discovered that I was close by the Gueto, or that part of the city set apart as the residence of the Jews. This district consists of a number of small dirty streets on the banks of Tiber, shut in by the river on one side, and by houses on the other. The only mode of entering this enclosure is by two gates that are situated at its opposite extremities. Opposite to one of these gates there is a Catholic church, over the portico of which is inscribed, in Hebrew and in Latin, “ All day long have I stretched out my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people.” There is a small synagogue within the enclosure. These Jews are all of the lowest orders, and, I believe, generally very poor. They are treated much less harshly than was formerly the case, but are still the subjects of many harsh and degrading statutes. On St. Peter's day they publicly confess, through the medium of a degrading ceremony, that it is only by the clemency of the Pope that they are allowed to reside within the walls of the holy city. The gates leading into the Gueto are locked at a certain hour at night, and no Jew allowed to pass after that time. The arch of Titus, that grand historical evidence of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of its inhabitants, still stands in the Forum, at the foot of the Palatine Hill, and is in a comparatively perfect state, though it has suffered considerably from the attempts that have been made to despoil it of its ornaments. The bas reliefs exhibiting the table of shew-bread, the jubilee trumpets, the golden candlestick, and the triumphal march of Titus, with the captives in his train, are in very good preservation. The restorations that have been made to some parts of the arch, have secured it against further dilapidation; and though it has thus suffered in architectural beauty and picturesque effect, one cannot but rejoice that so beautiful and highly important a monument has been saved from falling to ruin. The small door at the side, through which it is said the Jews always passed, to avoid going under the arch, no longer exists. The building stands alone, and the old Roman via triumphalis passes beneath the arch.
No fear of death the joy of life devours,
No unchaste sleep their precious time deflow'rs,
Giles Fletcher, died 1623.