« AnteriorContinuar »
derived. Some have ventured to attribute the origin of the custom to Pope Simplicius, from his directing the priests to attend at the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul ; and of St. Lawrence, on the octaves of their festivals, to administer the sacraments of baptism and penance ; but this is clearly erroneous, as the practice can be proved to be much more ancient than the time of Simplicius. Finally, therefore, the word station is evidently derived from the act of standing, and not from the words of Christ, nor from the pontiff, nor from the priests appointed by Simplicius, but from the people solemnly assembling and conforming to a more ancient practice.
It was anciently the custom to go in procession to the church of the station ; but the people at present go at such times of the day as suit their particular convenience ; where, devoutly praying for a certain time, they return to their ordinary occupations. Pope Boniface VIII. granted an indulgence of one year and forty days to all those who, with true contrition, having eonfest, kept the stations regularly from the commencement on 4sh Wednesday to the feast of Easter; besides all other indulgences granted by his predecessors, to each church, in particular, a remission of 100 days of penance to all such as were, under the same regulations, found attending the apostolic benedic. tions.
Lent originally began on the 6th Sunday before Easter. St. Gregory added the four days preceding, making thereby the 40 lasting days, in commemoration of the fast in the desert ; the first and last Sundays not being days of penance. By way of specimen of an account of these several churches, of the stations, and of the saints to which they are respectively dedicated, take the following, which is the first in the list :-The Church of Saint Sabina in Mount Aventine.
This hill is one of the seven hills of Rome, having the Tiber on one side, and on the other the Palatine, and Monte Celio. Aventinus, king of Alba, being killed by lightning, was there buried, and thus left the name, Aventinus, to the hill which concealed his remains. This bill was anciently called Pomeria, or rather the surrounding district, and was inclosed with walls and united fo the city under Claudius. Pliny, who wrote in the time of Vespasian, says, that Rome embraced seven hills, and that it contained fourteen districts, and Publius Victorius pumbers the Aventine as the thirteenth. Since the building of the church of St. Sabina, and the popes having entire possession of the city of Rome, the divisions of the city have been altered, and this of Mount Aventine is now ranked as the first ; this is noted by Anastasius in the life of Eugenius I. This district has been for many centuries the bereditary property of the illustrious family Savelli ; the Popes Honorius III. and IV. were of this family, who are styled “ Nobles of Mount Aventine." Mount Aventine was, in the early ages of the city, adorned with a number of temples, which, there is good reason to believe, on the introduction of Christianity, were converted to the purposes for which they are at present used, for, besiiles many other authorities, Arcadius and Honorius directed that the public edifices should not be destroyed. It is therefore, probable that this church of St. Sabina was the celebrated temple of Diana, or at least built on the site, with the ruins of the aforenamed temple ; and this is strengthened further by the testimony of Appianus, in his account of the civil wars of Rome, book 1. that C. Gracchus, in his flight from the temple of Diana Aventine, passed the Tiher by the wooden bridge of Suhlicias, which bridge was afterwards restored by Antoninus Pius, and being by him built of narble, obtained the name of Marmorea; and which place to this day, where the church of St. Sabina stands, is called Marmorata. If to these reasons is superadded, that the port Trigemena, through which the way led from the city to Mount Aventine, was at the foot of the hill through which Gracchus passed to cross the river, which was in existence some time back, and was the customary thorughfure to the church of Sabina, whose principal entrance faces the west, it is more evident it was formerly the temple of Diana, or at least the site of that temple. This church of St. Sabina was built in the year 425, in the time of Theodosius, and in the papacy of Celestine the first, by Peter of Savona, a cardinal priest of Rome. The church is very, magnificent, having a portico supported by two beautiful columns of black marble, and another with columus at the side, the front ornamented with elaborate bas-reliefs ; twenty-four columns of white marble divide the aisles from the nave, in which is a noble tribune also of marble ; the sacred utensils are of a magnificence corres. ponding with the splendour of the church, anjongst which is a ciboriuin of several pounds weight, together with another ciborium, chalice, paten, and corporal, ali of silver, given as it is said, by Honorius III. in 1216. The station at St. Sabina, being the first day of Lent, the pope goes early in the morning, with the whole of bis court, to the neighbouring church of St. Anastatia, on Mount Palatine, where he stands till the people are assembled ; and it is called The Colletta. The pope then distributes the ashes to the cardinals and those asseinbled ; after which ceremony the litany is sung ; and the whole of the clergy and the people go in procession to the church of St. Sabina, where mass is said, and a sermon from the gospel of the day ; at the end of which the deacon announces the station for the following day at St. George. There are, besides the day of the station, other festivals at this church, on the 29th of August, to celebrate the birth or martyrdom of the saint ; and on the 3d of May for other martyrs.
RELICS AT THE CHURCH OF ST. SABINA, EXHIBITED ON SOLEMN
FESTIVALS. Under the high altar, given by Sixtus V. are the bodies of the five following saints, which were found under the ancient al
tar of Pope Eugenius II. in 1586, according to the inscription
Theodorius, a companion of Eventius.
An arm of St. Sabina.
containing various relics, viz
of this cross are relics of St. Thomas, Apostle, and St.
phia, St: Agnes, and St Hypolitus, and his companions.
other relics of St. Peter, Paul, Maithew, Stephen,
arine, Cecilia, and many more. In the middle of the pavement of the church is seen a black stone, of which it is said that St. Dominic one night praying at this spot, bis enemy !he devil hurled a stone at him, which touched him slightly, but forced its way through the pavement on which he was kneeling and buried itself in the earth ; upon moving the high altar to its present spot, this stone was found, and the miracle is celebrater in a legend inscribed thereon.
Of such materials are composed the various relics found in the other stations, at Rome, and in other parts of the Roman Catholic world. The account here inserted has been furnished by a Catbolic gentleman who has resided at Rome, and observed whatever is curious or interesting in that venerable city.
We bave the Council of Trent and the catechisms for authority in asserting that all good Roman Catbolics are taught, that in honouring saints who sleep in the Lord—in invoking ther-in reverercing their sacred relics and ashes, the glory of God is so far from being lessened that it is greatly increased”; that they are tole worshipped, or neked, because they constant y pray to God for the salvation of men.
In The grounds of the Catholic docuine” it is stated, in answer to the following question: "What is the Catholic doc.
trine touching the veneration and invocation of saints ?!! it is said that “We are taught, 1st, that there is an honour and veneration due to angels and saints : 2d, that they offer prayers to God for us; 3d, that it is good and profitable to invoke them, that is, to have recourse to their intercession and prayers ; and, 4th, that their relics are to be had in veneration.
They tell us further, that the church in all ages has paid this honour and veneration to the saints, by erecting churches, and keeping holidays to their memory ; a practice which the Protestants have also retained. In their invocations, however ; they simply say to the saints, pray for us.
To the Virgin Mary, the common invocation is this, “ Hail Mary, mother of God, the Lord is with thee ; pray for us sinners now at the hour of death !” They, however, frequently in their books of common prayer, missals as we call them, use the most pleasing and endearing epithets to the Virgin.
I do believe that the images of Christ, of the blessed Virgin the mother of God, and of other saints, ought to be had and re; tained, and that due bonour and veneration ought to be paid unto them.
Exposition. Pictures are the books of the unlearned.” But it is not this idea alone that suggests to the pious Catholic the propriety of paying veneration to the images of the saints ; the catechism says that the minister shall teach the people, that images of saints are to be placed in churches that they may be likewise worshipped. If any doubt arise about the meaning of the word worship, when applied to images, the minister shall teach them, that images were made to instruct them in the history of both testaments, and to refresh their memories ; for being excited by the remembrance of divine things, they excite more strongly to worship God himself.
It is a stupid and illiberal error to charge the Roman Catholics with the proper worship of saints or of images ; and to call them idolators, as many have done, and some ill-informed Protestants still do ; the charge is both untrue and unjust.
Who has not often involuntarily ejaculated a prayer to the One God, when looking upon some well-executed piece of sculpture or painting, representing some person or scene of sacred history ? The scriptural paintings of the late Mr. West, some of which ornament the altar-pieces of our own churches, have a powerful tendency to call forth this feeling; and he has but a cold heart, if not even a sceptical one, who can look upon that artist's “ Christ healing the sick," or his “ Christ rejected," and be totally unmoved by something of a devotional spirit. It is certain, that nothing more than the excitation of this feeling is intended by the use of images and pictures amongst the Roman Catholics. If ignorant persons in ignorant times have made any other use of these visible remembrances of departed worth, it has been an abuse of an harmless, if not a profitable,
practice. The Catholic Church forbids idolatry, ranking it as one of the deadly sins. Let them be rightly understood on this as on other points. Let us not charge them with being of a religion which they deny, nor judge them lest we also be judged. I neither justify nor condemn ; but state facts. But it must be confessed that their language, especially when speaking of the Virgin Mary, is sometimes extremely poetical and devout : in the little office of the blessed Virgin, she is desired to loose the bonds of the guilty—to drive away evils from us—to demand all good things for us-make us chaste--protect us from the enemy-receive us at the hour of death. She is set forth as the mother of mercy, and the hope of the world ; but why may not a Roman Catholic call her The Mother of God ? These are all so many pious hyperboles and nothing more : worship, in the highest sense of the word, the Catholics pay to the Trinity only : the very same Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity, which is “ worshipped and glorified” by Christians of the reformed churches in all countries.
I do affirm that the power of indulgences was left by Christ in the church ; and that the use of them is very beneficial to Christian people.
Exposition. -Bossuet asserts, and only what is commonly believed, that the Council of Trent proposes nothing more relative to indulgences, but that the church had the power of granting them from Jesus Christ, and that the practice of them is wholesome ; which custom, the council adds, ought still to be preserved, though with moderation, lest ecclesiastical discipline should be weakened by too great toleration.
By indulgences granted by the popes and prelates of the church, persons are discharged from temporal punishment here and in purgatory.
On few subjects has the Catholic religion been more misrepresented than on this of indulgences : there is something obnoxious in the very term. We are apt to attach an idea and importance to it, when applied as in this case, which do not belong to it. That a bad use may have, at times, been made of it, is readily admitted : for what good is there that has not been abused ? But it is denied that the Catholic religion gives any authority to its popes or prelates, or other ecclesiastical officers to grant a licence to sin, as many well-meaning Protestants suppose they may. The forgery about Tetzel at the time of the reformation ought not to be mentioned, except to the individual disgrace of the forgers. I vindicate not the practice or the doctrine of indulgences in any sense ; but the author, as an honest writer, will endeavour to screen the youthful mind, for whom be principally now writes, from the contagion of prejudice and mistake on this, as on other points.
In the first ages of the Christian church indulgences were common. In those times of strict ecclesiastical discipline, very