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Purgatory by Mary Anne Madden Sadlier

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Chinese; for, although they have their law-giver Confucius, their
religion at present, as far as it merits the name, appears to be no
more than a certain form of Buddhism.

Coming to the more western nations of Asia, we may remark that, as
their religions were evidently a corruption of primitive revelation,
less removed in point of time, they must, although they had already
become idolatrous, have embodied the idea of a future state of
purgation, notwithstanding that it is impossible to determine at this
distant day, the exact nature of their doctrines. If, however, we turn
from these to the doctrine of Zoroaster, our means of forming an
opinion are more ample.

Zoroaster, or, more correctly, Zarathustra, the founder of the Persian
religion, was born, according to some accounts, in the sixth century
before our era, while others claim for him an antiquity dating at least
from the thirteenth century before Christ. Be that as it may--and it
does not concern us to inquire into it--this much is certain: he was a
firm believer in a middle state, and he transmitted the same to his
followers. But, going a step further than some, he taught that the
souls undergoing purification are helped by the prayers of their
friends upon earth. "The Zoroastrians," says Mr. Rawlinson, "were
devout believers in the immortality of the soul and a conscious future
existence. They taught that immediately after death the souls of men,
both good and bad, proceeded together along an appointed path, to 'the
bridge of the gatherer.' This was a narrow road conducting to heaven or
paradise, over which the souls of the pious alone could pass, while the
wicked fell from it into the gulf below, where they found themselves in
the place of punishment. The good soul was assisted across the bridge
by the Angel Serosh--'the happy, well-formed, swift, tall Serosh'--who
met the weary wayfarer, and sustained his steps as he effected the
difficult passage. The prayers of his friends in this world were of
much avail to the deceased, and greatly helped him on his journey." [1]

[Footnote 1: "Ancient Monarchies." Vol. II, p 339.]

With regard to the opinions held by the Greeks,--and the same may, in
general terms, be applied to the Romans, whose religious views
coincided more or less closely with those of their more polished
neighbors,--it is difficult to form a correct idea. Not that the
classic writers and philosophers have permitted the subject to sink
into oblivion,--on the contrary, they have treated it at considerable
length, as all classic scholars well know,--but while, on the one hand,
as I remarked above, there is a difference between the popular ideas
and those of the learned, there is also here a great difference of
opinion between the various schools of philosophy. Not only so, but it
is difficult to determine how far the philosophers themselves were in
earnest in the opinions they expressed; and how far, too, we understand
them. The opinions of the people, and much more, those of the learned,
vary with the principal periods of Grecian and Roman history. This
much, however, may be safely held, that, while they drew their origin
from Central or Western Asia, their religion must, in the beginning,
have been that of the countries from which they came. But truth only is
immutable; error is ever changing.

I shall not tax the patience of the reader by asking him to pass in
review the more striking periods of the history of these famous
nations, but shall content myself with giving the views of a celebrated
writer on a part, at least, of the question. Speaking of the opinions
held by the Greek philosophers regarding the future state of the soul,
Dr. Dollinger says, "The old and universal tradition admitted, in
general, that man continued to exist after death; but the Greeks of the
Homeric age did not dream of a retribution appointed to all after
death, or of purifying and penitential punishments. It is only some
conspicuous offenders against the gods who, in Homer, are tormented in
distant Erebus. In Hesiod, the earlier races of man continue to live
on, sometimes as good demons, sometimes as souls of men in bliss, or as
heroes; yet, though inculcating moral obligations, he does not point to
a reward to be looked for beyond the grave, but only to the justice
that dominates in this economy.... Plato expressly ascribes to the
Orphic writers the dogma of the soul's finding herself in the body as
in a sepulchre or prison, on the score of previously contracted guilt;
a dogma indubitably ascending to a very high antiquity.

"... It is from this source that Pindar drew, who, of the old Greeks,
generally has expressed notions the most precise and minutely distinct
of trial and tribulation after death, and the circuits and lustrations
of the soul. He assigns the island of the blest as for the everlasting
enjoyment of those who, in a triple existence in the upper and lower
world, have been able to keep their souls perfectly pure from all sin.
On the other hand, the souls of sinners appear after death before the
judgment seat of a judge of the nether world, by whom they are
sentenced to a heavy doom, and are ceaselessly dragged the world over,
suffering bloody torments. But as for those whom Persephone has
released from the old guilt of sin, their souls she sends in the ninth
year back again to the upper sun; of them are born mighty kings, and
men of power and wisdom, who come to be styled saintly heroes by their
posterity." And, again: "Plato was the first of the Greeks to throw
himself, in all sincerity, and with the whole depth of his intellect,
upon the solution of the great question of immortality.... He was, in
truth, the prophet of the doctrine of immortality for his time, and for
the Greek nation.... The metempsychosis which he taught under Orphic
and Pythagorean inspiration is an essential ingredient of his theory of
the world, and is, therefore, perpetually recurring in his more
important works. He connects it with an idea sifted and taken from
popular belief of a state of penance in Hades, though it can hardly be
ascertained how large a portion of mystical ornament or poetical
conjecture he throws into the particular delineation of 'the last
things,' and of transmigration. He adopts ten grades of migration, each
of a thousand years; so that the soul, in each migration, makes a
selection of its life-destiny, and renews its penance ten times, until
it is enabled to return to an incorporeal existence with God, and to
the pure contemplation of Him and the ideal world. Philosophic souls
only escape after a three-fold migration, in each of which they choose
again their first mode of life. All other souls are judged in the
nether world after their first life, and there do penance for their
guilt in different quarters; the incurable only are thrust down forever
into Tartarus. He attaches eternal punishment to certain particularly
abominable sins, while such as have lived justly repose blissfully in
the dwelling of a kindred star until their entrance into a second life.
Plato was clearly acquainted with the fact of the necessity of an
intermediate state between eternal happiness and misery, a state of
penance and purification after death." [1]

[Footnote 1: "The Gentile and the Jew," Vol. I. pp. 301-320.]

The popular notion of Charon, the ferryman of the lower world, refusing
to carry over the river Acheron the souls of such as had not been
buried, but leaving them to wander on the shores for a century before
he would consent, or rather before he was permitted by the rulers of
the Hades to do so, contains a vestige of the belief in a middle state,
where some souls had to suffer for a time before they could enter into
the abode of the blest. But when it is said that the friends of the
deceased could, by interring his remains, secure his entry into the
desired repose, we see a more striking resemblance to the doctrine that
friends on earth are able to assist the souls undergoing purgation. A
remarkable instance of the popular belief in this doctrine is furnished
in Grecian history, where the soldiers were encouraged on a certain
occasion to risk their lives in the service of their country by their
being told to write their names on their arms, so that if any fell his
friends could have him properly interred, and thus secure him against
all fear of having to wander for a century on the bleak shores of the
dividing river. Nothing could better show the hold which this idea had
on the minds of the people.

Roman mythological ideas were, as has been said, nearly related to
those of Greece; they underwent as great modifications, while the
opinions of her philosophers were equally abstruse, varied, and
difficult to understand. The author above quoted, treating of the
notion of the soul and a future state entertained by the Roman
philosophers, proves their ideas to have been extremely vague and ill-
defined. Still, there were not wanting those who held to the belief of
an existence after this life. Plutarch, a Greek, "has left us a view of
the state of the departed. The souls of the dead, ascending through the
air, and in part reaching the highest heaven, are either luminous and
transparent or dark and spotted, on account of sins adhering to them,
and some have even scars upon them. The soul of man, he says elsewhere,
comes from the moon; his mind, intellect,--from the sun; the separation
of the two is only completely effected after death. The soul wanders
awhile between the moon and earth for purposes of punishment--or, if it
be good, of purification, until it rises to the moon, where the
_vouc_ [1] leaves it and returns to its home, the sun; while the
soul is buried in the moon. Lucian, on the other hand, whose writings
for the most part are a pretty faithful mirror of the notions in vogue
among his contemporaries, bears testimony to a continuance of the old
tradition of the good reaching the Elysian fields, and the great
transgressors finding themselves given up to the Erinnys in a place of
torment, where they are torn by vultures, crushed on the wheel, or
otherwise tormented; while such as are neither great sinners nor
distinguished by their virtues stray about in meadows as bodiless
shadows, and are fed on the libations and mortuary sacrifices offered
at their sepulchres. An obolus for Charon was still placed in the mouth
of every dead body." [2] Here, again, we have both the belief in the
existence of a middle state and of the assistance afforded to those
detained there.

[Footnote 1: Mind]

[Footnote 2: "The Gentile and the Jew," Vol. II., p. 146.]

The religion of the Druids is so wrapped in mystery that it is
difficult to determine what they believed on any point, and much more
on that of the future lot of the soul; but as they held the doctrine of
metempsychosis, it is fair to class them among the adherents to the
notion of a period of purgation between death and the soul's entrance
into its final rest. Of the views of the sturdy Norsemen, on the
contrary, there can be no two opinions; in their mythology the idea of
a middle state is expressed in the clearest language. The following
passage from Mr. Anderson, places the matter beyond question. I may
first remark, for the information of the general reader, that by Gimle
is meant the abode of the righteous after the day of judgment; by
Naastrand, the place of punishment after the same dread sentence; by
Ragnarok, the last day; Valhal, the temporary place of happiness to
which the god Odin invites those who have been slain in battle; and
Hel, the goddess of death, whose abode is termed Helheim. With these
explanations the reader will be able to understand the subjoined
passage, which expresses the Norse idea of the future purgation of the

After speaking of the lot of the departed, the writer says: "But it
must be remembered that Gimle and Naastrand have reference to the state
of things after Ragnarok, the Twilight of the gods; while Valhal and
Hel have reference to the state of things between death and Ragnarok;--
a time of existence corresponding somewhat to what is called
_Purgatory_ by the Catholic Church." [1]

[Footnote 1: "Norse Mythology," p. 393.]

It would appear to be no exaggeration to claim the same belief in a
middle state for the American Indians, in as far as it is possible for
us to draw anything definite from their crude notions of religion. A
good authority on subjects connected with Indian customs and beliefs
says: "The belief respecting the land of souls varied greatly in
different tribes and different individuals." And, again: "An endless
variety of incoherent fancies is connected with the Indian idea of a
future life.... At intervals of ten or twelve years, the Hurons, the
Neutrals, and other kindred tribes, were accustomed to collect the
bones of their dead, and deposit them, with great ceremony, in a common
place of burial. The whole nation was sometimes assembled at this
solemnity; and hundreds of corpses, brought from their temporary
resting-places, were inhumed in one common pit. From this hour the
immortality of their souls began." This evidently implies a period
during which the souls were wandering at a distance from the place of
their eternal repose. Does the following passage throw any light upon
it? The reader must decide the point for himself. "Most of the
traditions," continues the same writer, "agree, however, that the
spirits, on their journey heavenward, were beset with difficulties and
perils. There was a swift river which must be crossed on a log that
shook beneath their feet, while a ferocious dog opposed their passage,
and drove many into the abyss. This river was full of sturgeons and
other fish, which the ghosts speared for their subsistence. Beyond was
a narrow path between moving rocks which each instant crushed together,
grinding to atoms the less nimble of the pilgrims who essayed to pass."
[1] A vestige of the same belief seems to crop out in a custom of some
of the tribes of Central Africa, as appears from the remarks of a
recent traveller. "When a death occurs," says Major Serpa Pinto, "the
body is shrouded in a white cloth, and, being covered with an ox-hide,
is carried to the grave, dug in a place selected for the purpose. The
days following on an interment are days of high festival in the hut of
the deceased. The native kings are buried with some ceremony, and their
bodies, being arrayed in their best clothes, are conveyed to the tomb
in a dressed hide. There is a great feasting on these occasions, and an
enormous sacrifice of cattle; for the heir of the deceased is bound to
sacrifice his whole herd in order to regale his people, and give peace
to the soul of the departed." [2]

[Footnote 1: "The Jesuits in North America," Francis Parkman.
Introduction, pp. 81, 92.]

[Footnote 2: "How I Crossed Africa," Vol. I., p. 63.]

Such a unity of sentiment on the part of so many nations differing in
every other respect can only be attributed either to a natural feeling
inherent in man, or to a primitive revelation, which, amid the
vicissitudes of time, has left its impress on the minds of all nations.
That the doctrine of a middle state of purification was a part of the
primitive revelation cannot, I think, admit of reasonable doubt. To the
true servant of God, this unanimity is another proof of the faith once
revealed to the Saints, and, at the same time, an additional motive for
thanking God for the light vouchsafed him, while so many others are
left to grope in the darkness of error.--_Ave Maria,_ Nov. 17,


In the "_Relations des Jesuites_," on their early missions in New
France, now Canada, we find many examples, told in the quaint old
French of the seventeenth century, and with true apostolic simplicity,
of the tender devotion for the souls in Purgatory cherished by all the
Indians of every tribe who had embraced Christianity from the teaching
of those zealous missionaries. The few extracts we give below from the
"_Relations_" will serve to show how deeply this touching devotion
to the departed is implanted in our nature, seeing that the doctrine of
a place of purgation in the after life finds so ready a response in the
heart and soul of the untutored children of the forest:

"The devotion which they have for the souls of the departed is another
mark of their faith. Not far from this assembly there is a cemetery, in
the midst of which is seen a fine cross; sepulchres four or five feet
wide and six or seven feet long, rise about four feet from the ground,
carefully covered with bark. At the head and feet of the dead are two
crosses, and on one side a sword, if the dead were a man, or some
domestic article, if a woman. Having arrived there, I was asked to pray
to God for the souls of those who were buried in that place. A good
Christian gave me a beaver skin by the hands of her daughter, about
seven years of age, and said to me, when her daughter presented it:
'Father, this present is to ask you to pray to God for the souls of her
sister and her grandmother.' Many others made the same request; I
promised to comply with their wishes, but, as for their presents, I
could not accept them.

"Some time ago, when the Christians of this place died, their beads
were buried with them; this custom was last year changed for a holier
one, by means of a good Christian who, when dying, gave her chaplet to
another, begging her to keep it and say it for her, at least on feast
days. This charity was done to her, and the custom was introduced from
that time: so it was that when any one died, his or her rosary was
given, with a little present, to some one chosen from the company
present, who is bound to take it, and say it for the departed soul, at
least on Sundays and Festivals."--_Journal of Father Jacques Buteux
in "Relations," Vol. II_.

* * * * *

In one of the Huron missions, an Indian named Joachim Annicouton,
converted after many years of evil courses and, later, of hypocritical
pretense of conversion, was murdered by three drunken savages of his
own tribe, but lived long enough to edify all around him by his pious
resignation, his admirable patience in the most cruel sufferings, and
his generous forgiveness of his enemies. Having given a touching
account of his death, the good Father Claude Dablon goes on to say:

"A very singular circumstance took place at his burial, which was
attended by all the families of the village, with many of the French
residents of the neighborhood. Before the body was laid in the earth,
the widow inquired if the authors of his death were present; being told
that they were not, she begged that they might be sent for. These poor
creatures having come, they drew near to the corpse, with downcast
eyes, sorrow and confusion in their faces. The widow, looking upon
them, said: 'Well! behold poor Joachim Annicouton, you know what
brought him to the state in which you now see him; I ask of you no
other satisfaction but that you pray to God for the repose of his
soul.' ..."

* * * * *

"It is customary amongst the Indians to give all the goods of the dead
to their relatives and friends, to mourn their death; but the husband
of Catherine, in his quality of first captain, assembled the Council of
the Ancients, and told them that they must no longer keep to their
former customs, which profited nothing to the dead; that, as for him,
his thought was to dress up the body of the deceased in her best
garments, as she might rise some day,--and to employ the rest of what
belonged to her in giving alms to the poor. This thought was approved
of by all, and it became a law which was ever after strictly observed.

"The body of his wife was then arrayed in her best clothes, and he
distributed amongst the poor all that remained of her little furniture,
charging them to pray for the dead. The whole might have amounted to
three hundred francs, which is a great deal for an Indian."--
_Relations_, 1673-4.

* * * * *

"They [1] have established amongst them a somewhat singular practice to
help the souls in Purgatory. Besides the offerings they make for that
to the Church, and the alms they give to the poor,--besides the
devotion of the four Sundays of the month, to which is attached an
indulgence for the souls in Purgatory, so great that these days are
like Easter; as soon as any one is dead, his or her nearest relations
make a spiritual collection of communions in every family, begging them
to offer all they can for the repose, of the dead."--_Relations_,

[Footnote 1: The Hurons of Loretto, near Quebec.]



When they are asked what they think of the soul, they answer that it is
the shadow "or living image" of the body; and it is as a consequence of
this principle that they believe all animated in the universe. It is by
tradition that they suppose the soul immortal. They pretend that,
separated from the body, it retains the inclinations it had during
life; and hence comes the custom of burying with the dead all that had
served to satisfy their wants or their tastes. They are even persuaded
that the soul remains a long time near the body after their separation,
and that it afterwards passes on into a country which they know not,
or, as some will have it, transformed into a turtle. Others give all
men two souls, one such as we have mentioned, the other which never
leaves the body, and goes from one but to pass into another.

For this reason it is that they bury children on the roadside, so that
women passing by may pick up these second souls, which, not having long
enjoyed life, are more eager to begin it anew. They must also be fed;
and for that purpose it is that divers sorts of food are placed on the
graves, but that is only done for a little while, as it is supposed
that in time the souls get accustomed to fasting. The difficulty they
find in supporting the living makes them forget the care for the
nourishment of the dead. It is also customary to bury with them all
that had belonged to them, presents being even added thereto; hence it
is a grievous scandal amongst all those nations when they see Europeans
open graves to take out the beaver robes they have placed therein. The
burial-grounds are places so respected that their profanation is
accounted the most atrocious outrage that can be offered to an Indian

Is there not in all this a semblance of belief in our doctrine of


In Egypt, as all over the East, the lives of women amongst the
wealthier classes are for the most part spent within the privacy of
their homes, as it were in close confinement: they are born, live, and
die in the bosom of that impenetrable sanctuary. It is only on Thursday
that they go forth, with their slaves carrying refreshments and
followed by hired weepers. It is a sacred duty that calls them to the
public cemetery. There they have funeral hymns chanted, their own
plaintive cries mingling with the sorrowful lamentations of the
mourners. They shed tears and flowers on the graves of their kindred,
which they afterwards cover with the meats brought by their servants,
and all the crowd, after inviting the souls of the dead, partake of a
religious repast, in the persuasion that those beloved shades taste of
the same food and are present at the sympathetic banquet. Is there not
in this superstition a distorted tradition of the dogma by which we are
commanded not to forget the souls of our brethren beyond the grave?--
_Annals of the Propagation of the Faith_, Vol. XVII.




"Hark! the whirlwind is in the wood, a low murmur in the vale; it is
the mighty army of the dead returning from the air." These beautiful
words occur in one of the ancient Celtic poems quoted by Macpherson and
dating some thousand years later than Ossian. For the Celts held to the
doctrine of the immortality of souls, and believed that their ethereal
substance was wafted from place to place by the wind on the clouds of
heaven. Amongst the Highlanders a belief prevailed that there were
certain hills to which the spirits of their departed friends had a
peculiar attachment. Thus the hill of Ore was regarded by the house of
Crubin as their place of meeting in the future life, and its summit was
supposed to be supernaturally illumined when any member of the family
died. It was likewise a popular belief that the spirits of the departed
haunted places beloved in life, hovered about their friends, and
appeared at times on the occasion of any important family event. In the
calm of a new existence,

"Side by side they sit who once mixed in battle their steel."

There is a poetic beauty in many of these ancient beliefs concerning
the dead, but they are far surpassed in grandeur and sublimity, as well
as in deep tenderness, by the Christian conception of a state of
purgation after death, when the souls of the departed are still bound
to, their dear ones upon earth by a strong spiritual bond of mutual
help. They dwell, then, in an abode of peace, although of intense
suffering, and calmly await the eternal decree which summons them to
heaven; while the time of their probation is shortened day by day,
month by month, year by year by the Masses, prayers, alms-deeds and
other suffrages of their friends who are still dwellers on earth,
living the old life; and in its rush of cares and duties, of pleasures
and of pains, forgetting them too often in all save prayer. That is the
reminder. The dead who have died in the bosom of the Holy Church can
never be quite forgotten. "The mighty army of the dead returning from
the air" might in our Catholic conception be that host of delivered
souls who, after the Feast of All Souls, or some such season of special
prayer for them, are arising upwards into everlasting bliss. But it is
our purpose in the present chapters to gather up from the byways of
history occasions when the belief in prayer for the dead is made
manifest, whether it be in some noted individual, in a people, or in a
country. It is "the low murmur of the vale" going up constantly from
all peoples, from all times, under all conditions.

In Russia not only is prayer for the dead most sedulously observed by
the Catholic Church, but also in a most particular manner by the
Schismatic Greeks. The following details under this head will be, no
doubt, of interest to our readers:

"As soon as the spirit has departed, the body is dressed and placed in
an open coffin in a room decorated for the purpose. Numerous lights are
kept burning day and night; and while the relations take turns to watch
and pray by the coffin, the friends come to pay the last visit to the
deceased.... On the decease of extraordinary persons, the Emperor and
his successor are accustomed to visit the corpse, while the poor, on
the other hand, never fail to lament at the door the loss of their
benefactor, and to be dismissed with handsome donations. Total
strangers, too, come of their own accord to offer a prayer for the
deceased; for the image of a saint hung up before the door indicates to
every passenger the house of mourning.... The time of showing the
corpse lasts in general only three or four days, and then follow the
blessing of the deceased, and the granting of the pass. The latter is
to be taken literally. The corpse is carried to the Church, and the
priest lays upon the breast a long paper, which the common people call
'a pass for heaven.' On this paper is written the Christian name of the
deceased, the date of his birth and that of his death. It then states
that he was baptized as a Christian, that he lived as such, and before
his death, received the Sacrament--in short, the whole course of life
which he led as a Greek Russian Christian.... All who meet a funeral
take off their hats, and offer a prayer to Heaven for the deceased, and
such is the outward respect paid on such occasions, that it is not
until they have entirely lost sight of the procession that they put on
their hats again. This honor is paid to every corpse, whether of the
Russian, Protestant, or Catholic Communions.... After the corpse is
duly prepared, the priests sing a funeral Mass, called in Russian
clerical language, _panichide_.... On the anniversary of the death
of a beloved relative, they assemble in the Church, and have a
_panichide_ read for his soul.... Persons of distinction found a
lamp to burn forever at the tombs of their dead, and have these
_panichides_ repeated every week, for, perhaps, a long series of
years. Lastly, every year, on a particular day, Easter Monday, a
service and a repast are held for all the dead."

The history of France, like that of all Catholic nations, abounds in
instances of public intercession for the dead, the pomp and splendor of
royal obsequies, the solemn utterances of public individuals; the
celebrations at Pere la Chaise, the magnificent requiems. In a nation
so purely Catholic as it was and is, though the scum of evil men have
arisen like a foul miasma to its surface, it does not surprise us. We
shall therefore select from its history an incident or two, somewhat at
random. That beautiful one, far back at the era of the Crusades, where
St. Louis, King of France, absent in the East, received intelligence of
the death of Queen Blanche, his mother. The grief of the Papal Legate,
who had come to announce the news, was apparent in his face, and Louis,
fearing some new blow, led the prelate into his chapel, which,
according to an ancient chronicler, was "his arsenal against all the
crosses of the world." Louis, overcome with sorrow, quickly changed his
tears and lamentations into the language of resignation, and desiring
to be left alone with his confessor, Geoffrey de Beaulieu, recited the
office of the dead. "He was present every day at a funeral service
celebrated in memory of his mother; and sent into the West a great
number of jewels and precious stones to be distributed among the
principal churches of France; at the same time exhorting the clergy to
put up prayers for the repose of his mother. In proportion with his
endeavors," continues the historian, "to procure prayers for his
mother, his grief yielded to the hope of seeing her again in heaven;
and his mind, when calmed by resignation, found its most effectual
consolation in that mysterious tie which still unites us with those we
have lost, in that religious sentiment which mingles with our
affections to purify them, and with our regrets to mitigate them." [1]

[Footnote 1: "Michaud's Hist. of the Crusades," Vol. II., pp. 477-8.]

In the Instructions which St. Louis addressed on his death-bed to his
son, Philip the Bold, is to be found the following paragraph:

"Dear Son, I pray thee, if it shall please our Lord that I should quit
this life before thee, that thou wilt help me with Masses and prayers,
and that thou wilt send to the congregations of the kingdom of France,
to make them put up prayers for my soul, and that thou wilt desire that
our Lord may give me part in all the good deeds thou shalt perform."

[Footnote 1: These instructions were preserved in a register of the
Chamber of Accounts. See Appendix to "Michaud's History of Crusades,"
Vol. II., p. 471.]

Philip, on the death of his father, in a letter which was read aloud in
all the churches, begs of the clergy and faithful, "to put up to the
King of kings their prayers and their offerings for that prince; with
whose zeal for religion and tender solicitude for the kingdom of
France, which he loved as the apple of his eye, they were so well
acquainted." In the Chronicles of Froissart, as well as in the Grande
Chronique of St. Denis, we read that the body of King John, who died a
prisoner in England, was brought home with great pomp and circumstance,
on the first day of May, 1364. It was at first placed in the Abbey of
St. Anthony, thence removed to Notre Dame, and finally to St. Denis,
the resting-place of royalty, where solemn Mass was said. On the day of
his interment, the Archbishop of Sens sang the requiem. Thus did Holy
Mother Church welcome the exile home.

A pretty anecdote is that of Marie Lecsinska, Queen of Louis XV., who,
on hearing of the death of Marshal Saxe, a Lutheran by profession, and
but an indifferent observer of the maxims of any creed, cried out:
"Alas! what a pity that we cannot sing a _De Profundis_ for a man
who has made us sing so many _Te Deums_."

We cannot take our leave of France, without noticing here the beautiful
prayer offered up by the saintly Princess Louise de Bourbon Conde, in
religion _Soeur Marie Joseph de la Misericorde_, on hearing of the
death of her nephew, the Duc d'Enghien, so cruelly put to death by the
first Napoleon. Falling, face downwards, on the earth, she prayed:
"Mercy, my God, have mercy upon him! Have mercy, Lord, on the soul of
Louis Antoine! Pardon the faults of his youth, remembering the precious
Blood, which Jesus Christ shed for all men, and have regard to the
cruel manner in which his blood was shed. Glory and misfortune have
attended his life. But what we call glory, has it any claims in Thy
eyes? However, Lord, it is not a demerit before Thee, when it is based
on true honor, which is always inseparable from devotion to our duties.
Thou knowest, Lord, those that he has fulfilled, and for those in which
he has failed, let the misfortunes of which he has been at last the
victim, be a repararation and an expiation. Again, Lord, I ask for
mercy for his soul." On the death of Napoleon, the murderer of this
beloved nephew, the same holy religious wrote to the Bishop of St.
Flour: "Bonaparte is dead; he was your enemy, for he persecuted you. I
think you will say a Mass for him; I beg also that you say a Mass on my
behalf for this unfortunate man."

Turning to the History of Rome, it will be of interest to take a glance
at the pious Confraternity _della Morte_ which was instituted in
1551, and regularly established in 1560, by His Holiness, Pius IV. It
was chiefly composed of citizens of high rank. Its object was to
provide burial for the dead. Solemnly broke upon the balmy stillness of
the Roman nights, all these years and centuries since its foundation,
its chanting of holy psalmody, and its audible praying for the dead,
borne along in its religious keeping. The glare of the waxen torches
fell upon the bier, the voices of the associates joined in the
_Miserere,_ and the Church reached, the corpse was laid there,
till the fitting hour, when the Requiem Mass should be sung, and the
final absolution given, preparatory to interment.

Florence supplies us with a brilliant picture of that sixth day of
July, 1439, the feast of Saint Romolo the Martyr, in the ninth year of
the Pontificate of Pope Eugenius IV., when long-standing differences
between the Greek and Latin Churches were brought to an end in a most
amicable manner. Alas! for the Greeks, that they did not accept the
decisions of that day as final. On the 22d of January, 1439, Cosmo de
Medici, then Gonfaloniere of Florence, received the Pope and his
cardinals, with a pomp and splendor unknown to the history of modern
Europe. On the 12th of the following month came the Patriarch, Joseph
of Constantinople, and his bishops and theologians. On the 15th arrived
the Greek Emperor, John Paleologus, who was received at the Porto San
Gallo by the Pope and all his cardinals, the Florentine Signory, and a
long procession of the members of the monastic orders. "A rare and very
remarkable assemblage," says a chronicler [1] "of the most learned men
of Europe, and, indeed, of those extra European seats of a past
culture, which were even now giving forth the last flashes from a once
brilliant light on the point of being quenched in utter darkness, were
thus assembled at Florence."

[Footnote 1: T. A. Trollope, in "History of the Commonwealth of
Florence," Vol. III., pp. 137-8.]

This was the inauguration of the far-famed Council of Florence, which
had the result of settling the points at issue between the Eastern and
Western Churches. "The Greeks confessed that the Roman faith proceeded
rightly (_prociedere bene_), and united themselves with it by the
grace of God." Proclamation was accordingly made in the Cathedral, then
called Santa Reparata, that the Greeks had agreed to hold and to
believe the five disputed articles of which the fifth was, "That he who
dies in sin for which penance has been done, but from which he has not
been purged, goes to Purgatory, and that the divine offices, Masses,
prayers, and alms are useful for the purging of him."

In the history of Ireland, as might be expected, we come upon many
instances wherein the dead are solemnly remembered from that period,
when still pagan, and one of the ancient manuscripts gives us an
account of certain races, it calls them, which were held for "the souls
of the foreigners slain in battle." This was back in the night of
antiquity, and was no doubt some relic of the Christian tradition which
had remained amid the darkness of paganism. But to come to the
Christian period. The famous Hugues de Lasci, or Hugo de Lacy, Lord of
Meath, and one of the most distinguished men in early Irish annals,
founded many abbeys and priories, one at Colpe, near the mouth of the
Boyne, one at Duleek, one at Dublin, and one at Kells. The Canons of
St. Augustine, as we read, "in return for this gift, covenanted that
one of them should be constantly retained as a chaplain to celebrate
Mass for his soul and for those of his ancestors and successors." We
also read how Marguerite, wife of Gualtier de Lasci, brother of the
above, gave a large tract in the royal forest of Acornebury, in
Herefordshire, for the erection of a nunnery for the benefit of the
souls of her parents, Guillaume and Mathilda de Braose, who with their
son, her brother, had been famished in the dungeon at Windsor. In the
account of the death in Spain of Red Hugh O'Donnell, who holds a high
place among the chivalry of Ireland, it is mentioned that on his death-
bed, "after lamenting his crimes and transgressions; after a rigid
penance for his sins and iniquities; after making his confession
without reserve to his confessors, and receiving the body and blood of
Christ; after being duly anointed by the hands of his own confessors
and ecclesiastical attendants," he expired after seventeen days'
illness at the king's palace in Simancas. "His body," says the ancient
chronicler, "was conveyed to the king's palace at Valladolid in a four-
wheeled hearse, surrounded by countless numbers of the king's State
officers, council and guards, with luminous torches and bright
flambeaux of wax lights burning on either side. He was afterwards
interred in the monastery of St. Francis, in the Chapter, precisely,
with veneration and honor, and in the most solemn manner that any of
the Gaels had been ever interred in before. Masses and many hymns,
chants and melodious canticles were celebrated for the welfare of his
soul; and his requiem was sung with becoming solemnity."

On the death of the celebrated Brian Boroihme, historians relate how
his body was conveyed by the clergy to the Abbey of Swords, whence it
was brought by other portions of the clergy and taken successively to
two monasteries. It was then met by the Archbishop of Armagh, at the
head of his priesthood, and conveyed to Armagh, where the obsequies
were celebrated with a pomp and a fervor worthy the greatness and the
piety of the deceased monarch.

In view of the arguments which are sometimes adduced to prove that the
early Irish Church did not teach this doctrine of prayer for the dead,
it is curious to observe how in St. Patrick's second Council he
expressly forbids the holy sacrifice being offered up after death for
those who in life had made themselves unworthy of such suffrages. At
the Synod of Cashel, held just after the Norman conquest, the claim of
each dead man's soul to a certain part of his chattels after death was
asserted. To steal a page from the time-worn chronicles of Scotland, it
is told by Theodoric that when Queen Margaret of Scotland, that gentle
and noble character upon whom the Church has placed the crown of
canonization, was dying, she said to him: "Two things I have to desire
of thee;" and one of these was thus worded, "that as long as thou
livest thou wilt remember my poor soul in thy Masses and prayers." It
had been her custom in life to recite the office of the dead every day
during Lent and Advent. Sir Walter Scott mentions in his Minstrelsy of
the Scottish Border "a curious league or treaty of peace between two
hostile clans, by which the heads of each became bound to make the four
pilgrimages of Scotland for the benefit of those souls who had fallen
in the feud." In the Bond of Alliance or Field Staunching Betwixt the
Clans of Scott and Ker this agreement is thus worded: "That it is
appointed, agreed and finally accorded betwixt honorable men," the
names are here mentioned, "Walter Ker of Cessford, Andrew Ker of
Fairnieherst," etc., etc., "for themselves, kin, friends, maintenants,
assisters, allies, adherents, and partakers, on the one part; and
Walter Scott of Branxholm," etc., etc., etc. For the staunching of all
discord and variance between them and so on, amongst other provisions,
that "the said Walter Scott of Branxholm shall gang, or cause gang, at
the will of the party, to the four head pilgrimages of Scotland, and
shall say a Mass for the unquhile Andrew Ker of Cessford and them that
were slain in his company in the field of Melrose; and, upon his
expence, shall cause a chaplain to say a Mass daily, when he is
disposed, in what place the said Walter Ker and his friend pleases, for
the weil of the said souls, for the space of five years next to come.
Mark Ker of Dolphinston, Andrew Ker of Graden, shall gang at the will
of the party to the four head pilgrimages of Scotland, and shall gar
say a Mass for the souls of the unquhile James Scott of Eskirk and
other Scots, their friends, slain in the field of Melrose; and, upon
their expence, shall gar a chaplain say a Mass daily, when he is
disposed, for the heal of their souls, where the said Walter Scott and
his friend pleases, for the space of the next three years to come." We
may mention that the four pilgrimages are Scoon, Dundee, Paisley, and
Melrose. This devotion of praying for the dead seems, indeed, to have
taken strong hold upon these rude borderers, who, Sir Walter Scott
informs us, "remained attached to the Roman Catholic faith rather
longer than the rest of Scotland." In many of their ancient ballads, at
some of which we have already glanced, this belief is prominent. The
dying man, or as in the case of Clerk Saunders, the ghost begs of his
survivors to "wish my soul good rest." This belief is intermingled with
their superstitions as in that one attached to Macduff's Cross. This
cross is situated near Lindores, on the marsh dividing Fife from
Strathern. Around the pedestal of this cross are tumuli, said to be the
graves of those who, having claimed the privilege of the law, failed in
proving their consanguinity to the Thane of Fife. Such persons were
instantly executed. The people of Newburgh believe that the spectres of
these criminals still haunt the ruined cross, and claim that mercy for
their souls which they had failed to obtain for their mortal existence.

Thus does the historian [1] mention the burial of St. Ninian, one of
the favorite Saints of the Scots: "He was buried in the Church of St.
Martin, which he had himself built from the foundation, and placed in a
stone coffin near the altar, the clergy and people standing by and
lifting up their heavenly hymns with heart and voice, with sighs and

[Footnote 1: Walsh's Hist, of the Cath. Church in Scotland.]

In the treasurer's books which relate to the reign of James IV. of
Scotland, there is the following entry for April, 1503: "The king went
again to Whethorn." (A place of pilgrimage.) "While there he heard of
the death of his brother, John, Earl of Mar, and charged the priests to
perform a 'dirge and soul Mass' for his brother, and paid them for
their pains."

In Montalembert's beautiful description of Iona, he mentions the
tradition which declares that eight Norwegian kings or princes, four
kings of Ireland, and forty-eight Scottish kings were buried there, as
also one king of France, whose name is not mentioned, and Egfrid, the
Saxon King of Northumbria. There is the tomb of Robert Bruce, the tombs
of many bishops, abbots, and of the great chiefs and nobles, the
Macdougalls, Lords of Lorn; the Macdonalds, Lords of the Isles; the
Macleods, and the Macleans. Nowhere, perhaps, has death placed his seal
on a more imposing assemblage, of truly royal stateliness, of
astonishingly cosmopolitan variety. In the midst of it all, in the very
centre of the burying-ground, stands a ruined chapel, under the
invocation of St. Oran, the first Irish monk who died in this region.
The church was built by the sainted Margaret, the wife of Malcolm
Canmore, and the mother of St. David. Its mission there was obvious.
From its altar arose to the Most High, the solemn celebration of the
dread mysteries, the psalm and the prayer, for prince and for prelate,
for the great alike in the spiritual and temporal hierarchy.

The Duke of Argyle, in his work on Iona, seems astonished to find that
St. Columba believed in all the principal truths of Catholic faith,
amongst others, prayers for the dead, and yet he considers that he
could not be called a Catholic. The process of reasoning is a curious

Mention is made in the history of Scotland of a famous bell, preserved
at Glasgow until the Reformation. It was supposed to have been brought
from Rome by St. Kentigern, and was popularly called "St. Mungo's
Bell." It was tolled through the city to invite the citizens to pray
for the repose of departed souls.

In the great cathedrals of Scotland, before the Reformation, private
chapels and altars were endowed for the relief of the dead, while in
the cities and large towns, each trade or corporation had an altar in
the principal churches and supported a chaplain to offer up Masses and
prayers as well for the dead as for the living. The following incident
is related in the life of the lovely and so sadly maligned Mary Queen
of Scots. In the early days of her reign, when still struggling with
the intolerant fury of Knox and his followers,--it was in the December
of 1561--Mary desired to have solemn Mass offered up for the repose of
the soul of her deceased husband, the youthful Francis. This so aroused
the fury of the fanatics about her, that they threatened to take the
life of the priests who had officiated. "Immediately after the Requiem
was over, she caused a proclamation to be made by a Herald at the
Market Cross, that no man on pain of his life should do any injury, or
give offense or trouble to her chaplains."

The poet Campbell in his dirge for Wallace, makes the Lady of
Elderslie, the hero's wife, cry out in the first intensity of her

"Now sing you the death-song and loudly pray
For the soul of my knight 'so dear.'"

We shall now leave the wild poetic region of Scotland, and with it
conclude Part First, taking up again in Part Second the thread of our
narrative, which will wind in and out through various countries of
Europe, ending at last with a glance at our own America.



In Austria we find an example of devotion to the dead, in the saintly
Empress Eleanor, who, after the death of her husband, the Emperor
Leopold, in 1705, was wont to pray two hours every day for the eternal
repose of his soul. Not less touching is an account given by a
Protestant traveller of an humble pair, whom he encountered at Prague
during his wanderings there. They were father and daughter, and
attached, the one as bell-ringer, the other as laundress, to the Church
on the Visschrad. He found them in their little dwelling. It was on the
festival of St. Anne, when all Prague was making merry. The girl said
to him: "Father and I were just sitting together, and this being St.
Anne's Day, we were thinking of my mother, whose name was also Anne."
The father then said, addressing his daughter: "Thou shalt go down to
St. Jacob's to-morrow, and have a Mass read for thy mother, Anne." For
the mother who had been long years slumbering in the little cemetery
hard by. There is, something touching to me in this little incident,
for it tells how the pious memory of the beloved dead dwelt in these
simple hearts, dwells in the hearts of the people everywhere, as in
that of the pious empress, whose inconsolable sorrow found vent in long
hours of prayer for the departed.

In the will of Christopher Columbus there is special mention made of
the church which he desired should be erected at Concepcion, one of his
favorite places in the New World, so named by himself. In this church
he arranged that three Masses should be celebrated daily--the first in
honor of the Blessed Trinity; the second, in honor of the Immaculate
Conception; and the third for the faithful departed. This will was made
in May, 1506. The body of the great discoverer was laid in the earth,
to the lasting shame of the Spaniards, with but little other
remembrance than that which the Church gives to the meanest of her
children. The Franciscans, his first friends, as now his last,
accompanied his remains to the Cathedral Church of Valladolid, where a
Requiem Mass was sung, and his body laid in the vault of the
Observantines with but little pomp. Later on, however, the king, in
remorse for past neglect, or from whatever cause, had the body taken up
and transported with great pomp to Seville. There a Mass was sung, and
a solemn funeral service took place at the cathedral, whence the corpse
of the Admiral was conveyed beyond the Guadalquivir to St. Mary of the
Grottoes (Santa Maria de las Grutas). But the remains of this most
wonderful of men were snatched from the silence of the Carthusian
cloister some ten years later, and taken thence to Castile, thence
again to San Domingo, where they were laid in the sanctuary of the
cathedral to the right of the main altar. Again they were disturbed and
taken on board the brigantine Discovery to the Island of Cuba, where
solemnly, once more, the Requiem for the Dead swelled out, filling with
awe the immense assembly, comprising, as we are told, all the civil and
military notables of the island.

In the annals of the Knight Hospitallers of St. John, it is recorded
that after a great and providential victory won by them over the Moslem
foe, and by the fruits of which Rhodes was saved from falling into the
hands of the enemy, the Grand Master D'Aubusson proceeded to the Church
of St. John to return thanks. And that he also caused the erection of
three churches in honor of Our Blessed Lady, and the Patron Saints of
the city. These three churches were endowed for prayers and Masses to
be offered in perpetuity for the souls of those who had fallen in
battle. This D'Aubusson was in all respects one of the most splendid
knights that Christendom has produced. A model of Christian knighthood,
he is unquestionably one of the greatest of the renowned Grand Masters
of St. John. There is a touching incident told in these same annals of
two knights, the Chevalier de Servieux, counted the most accomplished
gentleman of his day, and La Roche Pichelle. Both of them were not only
the flower of Christian knighthood, but model religious as well. They
died of wounds received in a sea fight off Saragossa in 1630, and on
their death-beds lay side by side in the same room, consoling and
exhorting each other, it being arranged between them, that whoever
survived the longest should offer all his pains for the relief of his
companion's soul.

We have now reached a part of our work, upon which we shall have
occasion to dwell at some length, and notwithstanding the fact that it
has already formed the subject of two preceding articles. It is that
which relates to England, and which is doubly interesting to Catholics,
as being the early record of what is now the chief Protestant nation of
Europe. To go back to those Anglo-Saxon days, which might be called in
some measure the golden age of Catholic faith in England, we shall see
what was the custom which prevailed at the moment of dissolution. In
the regulations which follow there is not question of a monarch nor a
public individual, nor of priest nor prelate, but simply of an ordinary
Christian just dead. "The moment he expired the bell was tolled. Its
solemn voice announced to the neighborhood that a Christian brother was
departed, and called on those who heard it to recommend his soul to the
mercy of his Creator. All were expected to join, privately, at least,
in this charitable office; and in monasteries, even if it were in the
dead of night, the inmates hastened from their beds to the church, and
sang a solemn dirge. The only persons excluded from the benefit of
these prayers were those who died avowedly in despair, or under the
sentence of excommunication.

"... Till the hour of burial, which was often delayed for some days to
allow time for the arrival of strangers from a distance, small parties
of monks or clergymen attended in rotation, either watching in silent
prayer by the corpse or chanting with subdued voice the funeral
service.... When the necessary preparations were completed, the body of
the deceased was placed on a bier or in a hearse. On it lay the book of
the Gospels, the code of his belief, and the cross, the emblem of his
hope. A pall of linen or silk was thrown over it till it reached the
place of interment. The friends were invited, strangers often deemed it
a duty to attend. The clergy walked in procession before, or divided
into two bodies, one on each side, singing a portion of the psalter and
generally bearing lights in their hands. As soon as they entered the
church the service for the dead was performed; a Mass of requiem
followed; the body was deposited in the grave, the sawlshot paid, and a
liberal donation distributed to the poor." [1]

[Footnote 1: "Lingard's Antiquities of the Anglo Saxon Church," Vol.
II, pp. 46-47.]

In the northern portico of the Cathedral of Canterbury was erected an
altar in honor of St. Gregory, where a Mass was offered every Saturday
for the souls of departed archbishops. We read that Oidilwald, King of
the Deiri, and son of King Oswald, founded a monastery that it might be
the place of his sepulture, because "he was confident of deriving great
benefit from the prayers of those who should serve the Lord in that
house." Dunwald the Thane, on his departure for Rome to carry thither
the alms of his dead master, King Ethelwald, A.D. 762, bequeathed a
dwelling in the market in Queengate to the Church of SS. Peter and Paul
for the benefit of the king's soul and his own soul.

As far back as the days of the good King Arthur, whose existence has
been so enshrouded in fable that many have come to believe him a myth,
we read that Queen Guenever II., of unhappy memory, having spent her
last years in repentance, was buried in Ambreabury, Wiltshire. The
place of her interment was a monastery erected by Aurelius Ambrose, the
uncle of King Arthur, "for the maintenance of three hundred monks to
pray for the souls of the British noblemen slain by Hengist." Upon her
tomb was inscribed, "in rude letters of massy gold," to quote the
ancient chronicler, the initials R. G. and the date 600 A.D.

In the Saxon annals Enfleda, the wife of Oswy, King of Northumbria,
plays a conspicuous part. Soon after her marriage, Oswin, her husband's
brother, consequently her cousin and brother-in-law, was slain. The
queen caused a monastery to be erected on the spot where he fell as a
reparation for her husband's fratricide, and as a propitiation for the
soul of the departed. This circumstance is alluded to by more than one
English poet, as also the monastery which Enfleda, for the same
purpose, caused to be erected at Tynemouth. Thus Harding:

"Queen Enfled, that was King Oswy's wife,
King Edwin, his daughter, full of goodnesse,
For Oswyn's soule a minster, in her life,
Made at Tynemouth, and for Oswy causeless
That hym so bee slaine and killed helpeless;
For she was kin to Oswy and Oswin,
As Bede in chronicle dooeth determyn."

The most eminent Catholic poet of our own day, Sir Aubrey de Vere, in
his Saxon legends, likewise refers to it. He describes first what

"Gentlest form kneels on the rain-washed ground,
From Giling's Keep a stone's throw. Whose those hands
Now pressed in anguish on a bursting heart.
... What purest mouth

"Presses a new-made grave, and through the blades
Of grass wind shaken, breathes her piteous prayer?
... Oswin's grave it is,
And she that o'er it kneels is Eanfleda,
Kinswoman of the noble dead, and wife
To Oswin's murderer--Oswy."

Again, describing the repentance of Oswy:

"One Winter night
From distant chase belated he returned,
And passed by Oswin's grave. The snow, new fallen,
Whitened the precinct. In the blast she knelt,
She heard him not draw nigh. She only beat
Her breast, and, praying, wept. Our sin! our sin!

"So came to him those words. They dragged him down:
He knelt beside his wife, and beat his breast,
And said, 'My sin! my sin!' Till earliest morn
Glimmered through sleet that twain wept on, prayed on:--
Was it the rising sun that lit at last
The fair face upward lifted?
....... Aloud she cried,
'Our prayer is heard: our penitence finds grace.'
Then added: 'Let it deepen till we die.
A monastery build we on this grave:
So from this grave, while fleet the years, that prayer
Shall rise both day and night, till Christ returns
To judge the world,--a prayer for him who died;
A prayer for one who sinned, but sins no more!'"

In the grant preserved in the Bodleian Collection, wherein Editha the
Good, the widow of Edward the Confessor, confers certain lands upon the
Church of St. Mary at Sarum, occurs the following:

"I, Editha, relict of King Edward, give to the support of the Canons of
St. Mary's Church, in Sarum, the lands of Secorstan, in Wiltshire, and
those of Forinanburn, to the Monastery of Wherwell, for the support of
the nuns serving God there, with the rights thereto belonging, for the
soul of King Edward." [1]

[Footnote 1: "Phillips' Account of Old Sarum."]

This queen was buried in Westminster Abbey, her remains being removed
from the north to the south side of St. Edward's shrine, on the
rebuilding of that edifice, and it is recorded that Henry III. ordered
a lamp to be kept burning perpetually at the tomb of Editha the Good.

It is related of the celebrated Lady Godiva of Coventry, the wife of
the wealthy and powerful Leofric, that on her death-bed she "bequeathed
a precious circlet of gems, which she wore round her neck, valued at
one hundred marks of silver (about two thousand pounds sterling) to the
Image of the Virgin in Coventry Abbey, praying that all who came
thither would say as many prayers as there were gems in it." [1]

[Footnote 1: Saxon Chronicle, Strickland's "Queens of England Before
the Conquest, etc."]

The following is an ancient verse, occurring in an old French treatise,
on the manner of behaving at table, wherein one is warned never to
arise from a meal without praying for the dead. This treatise was
translated by William Caxton.

"Priez Dieu pour les trepasses,
Et te souveigne en pitie
Qui de ce monde sont passez,
Ainsi que tu es obligez,
Priez Dieu pour les trepasses!"

[We subjoin a rough translation of the verse.

To God, for the departed, pray
And of those in pity think
Who have passed from this world away,
As, indeed, thou art bound to do,
To God, for the departed pray.]

Speaking of his early education, Caxton says:

"Whereof I humbly and heartily thank God, and am bounden to pray for my
father and mother's souls, who in my youth set me to school." [1]

[Footnote 1: "Christian Schools and Scholars."]

In 1067, William the Conqueror founded what was known as Battle Abbey,
which he gave to the Benedictine Monks, that they might pray for the
souls of those who fell in the Battle of Hastings. Speaking of William
the. Conqueror, it is not out of place to quote here these lines from
the pen of Mrs. Hemans:

"Lowly upon his bier
The royal Conqueror lay,
Baron and chief stood near,
Silent in war's array.
Down the long minster's aisle
Crowds mutely gazing stream'd,
Altar and tomb the while
Through mists of incense gleamed.

"They lowered him with the sound
Of requiems to repose."

These stanzas on the Burial of William the Conqueror lead us naturally
to others from the pen of the same gifted authoress on "Coeur de Lion
at the Bier of his Father."

"Torches were blazing clear,
Hymns pealing deep and slow,
Where a king lay stately on his bier,
In the Church of Fontevraud.

* * * * *

"The marble floor was swept
By many a long dark stole
As the kneeling priests, round him that slept,
Sang mass for the parted soul.
And solemn were the strains they pour'd
Through the stillness of the night,
With the cross above, and the crown and sword,
And the silent king in sight."

We forgive the ignorance of the gentle poetess with regard to the Mass,
for the beauty and solemnity of the verse, which is quite in keeping
with the nature of the subject.

We read, again, of tapers being lit at the tomb of Henry V., the noble
and chivalrous Henry of Monmouth, for one hundred years after his
death. The Reformation extinguished that gentle flame with many another
holy fire, both in England and throughout Christendom.

We shall now pass on to another period--a far different and most
troublous one of English history, that of the Reformation.

In the Church of St. Lawrence at Iswich is an entry of an offering made
to "pray for the souls of Robert Wolsey and his wife Joan, the father
and mother of the Dean of Lincoln," thereafter to be Cardinal and
Chancellor of the Kingdom. An argument urged to show the Protestantism
of Collet, one of the ante-Reformation worthies, is that he "did not
make a Popish will, having left no monies for Masses for his soul;
which shows that he did not believe in Purgatory." The dying prayer of
Sir Thomas More concludes with these words: "Give me a longing to be
with Thee; not for avoiding the calamities of this wicked world, nor so
much the pains of Purgatory or of hell; nor so much for the attaining
of the choice of heaven, in respect of mine own commodity, as even for
a very love of Thee." The unfortunate Anne Boleyn, who during her
imprisonment had repented and received the last sacraments from the
hands of Father Thirlwall, begs on the scaffold that the people may
pray for her. In her address to her ladies before leaving the Tower,
she concludes it by begging them to forget her not after death. "In
your prayers to the Lord Jesus forget not to pray for my soul." In the
account of the death of another of King Henry's wives, the Lady Jane
Seymour, who died, as Miss Strickland says, after having all the rites
of the Catholic Church administered to her, we read that Sir Richard
Gresham thus writes to Lord Cromwell:

"I have caused twelve hundred Masses to be offered up for the soul of
our most gracious Queen.... I think it right that there should also be
a solemn dirge and high Mass, and that the mayor and aldermen should
pray and offer up divers prayers for Her Grace's soul."

Anne of Cleves some two years before her death likewise embraced the
Catholic faith. At her funeral Mass was sung by Bonner, Bishop of
London, and many monks and seculars attended her obsequies. The
infamous Thomas Cromwell, converted, as it seems evident from
contemporary witnesses, on his death-bed, left what might be called
truly a "Popish will." After bequeathing money or effects to various
relatives and friends, he speaks of charity "works for the health of my
soul." "I will," he says, "that my executors shall sell said farm
(Carberry), and the money thereof to be employed in deeds of charity,
to prayer for my soul and all Christian souls." Item. "I will mine
executors shall conduct and hire a priest, being an honest person of
continent and good living, to sing (pray) for my soul for the space of
seven years next after my death." Item. "I give and bequeath to every
one of the five orders of Friars within the Citie of London, to pray
for my soul, twenty shillings. ..." He further bequeaths L20 to be
distributed amongst "poor householders, to pray for his soul."

In this he closely resembled his royal master, Henry VIII., who
ordained that Masses should be said "for his soul's health while the
world shall endure." And after his death it was agreed that the
obsequies should be conducted according to the observance of the
Catholic Church. Church-bells tolled and Masses were celebrated daily
throughout London. In the Privy Chamber, where the corpse was laid,
"lights and Divine service were said about him, with Masses, obsequies,
etc." After the body was removed to the chapel it was kept there twelve
days, with "Masses and dirges sung and said everyday." Norroy, king at
arms, stood each day at the choir door, saying: "Of your charity pray
for the soul of the high and mighty prince, our late sovereign lord and
king, Henry VIII." When the body was lowered into the grave we read of
a _De Profundis_ being read over it. God grant it was not all a
solemn mockery, this praying for the soul of him who was styled "the
first Protestant King of England," and who by his crimes separated
England from the unity of Christendom! May these "Popish practices,"
which were amongst those he in his ordinances condemned, have availed
him in that life beyond the grave, whither he went to give an account
of his stewardship!

The Catholic Queen, Mary, after her accession to the throne, caused a
requiem Mass to be sung in Tower Chapel for her brother, Edward the
Sixth. Elizabeth, in her turn, had Mary buried with funeral hymn and
Mass, and caused a solemn dirge and Mass of Requiem to be chanted for
the soul of the Emperor Charles V.

With this period of spiritual anarchy and desolation we shall take our
leave of England, passing on to pause for an instant to observe the
peculiar _cultus_ of the dead in Corsica. It is represented by
some writers as being similar to that which prevailed amongst the
Romans. But as a traveller remarks, "it is a curious relic of paganism,
combined with Christian usages." Thus the dirge sung by women, their
wild lamenting, their impassioned apostrophizing of the dead, their
rhetorical declamation of his virtues, finds its analogy among many of
the customs of pagan nations, while the prayer for the dead, "the
relatives standing about the bed of death reciting the Rosary," the
Confraternity of the Brothers of the Dead coming to convey the corpse
to the church, where Mass is sung and the final absolution given, is
eminently Christian and Catholic. In the Norwegian annals we read how
Olaf the Saint, on the occasion of one of his battles, gave many marks
of silver for the souls of his enemies who should fall in battle.

A traveller in Mexico relates the following: "I remember to have seen,"
he says, "on the high altar of the dismantled church of Yanhuitlan a
skull as polished as ivory, which bore on the forehead the following
inscription in Spanish:

'Io soy Jesus Pedro Sandoval; un Ave Maria y un Padre Nuestro, por Dios,
hermanos!' [1]

[Footnote 1: Ferdinand Gregorovius, "Wanderings in Corsica," translated
by Alexander Muir.]

'I am Jesus Pedro Sandoval; a Hail Mary and an Our Father for the love
of God, my brother.'

"I cannot conceive," he continues, "anything more heart-rending than
the great silent orbs of this dead man staring me fixedly in the face,
whilst his head, bared by contact with the grave, sadly implored my
prayers." [1]

[Footnote 1: "Deux Ans au Mexique," Faucher de St. Maurice.]

It would be impossible to conclude our _olla podrida_, if I may
venture on the expression, of historical lore, relating to the dead,
without referring, however briefly, to the two great deaths, and
consequently the magnificent obsequies which have marked this very year
of 1885, in which we write. Those of Archbishop Bourget, of Montreal,
and of His Eminence, Cardinal McCloskey, of New York. They were both
expressions of national sorrow, and the homage paid by sorrowing
multitudes to true greatness. On the 10th of June, 1885, the venerable
Archbishop Bourget died at Sault-au-Recollet, and was brought on the
following morning to the Church of Notre Dame, Montreal. The days that
ensued were all days of Requiem. Psalms were sung, and the office of
the dead chanted by priests of all the religious orders in succession,
by the various choirs of the city, by the secular clergy, and by lay
societies. Archbishops and bishops sang high Mass with all the pomp of
our holy ritual, and the prayers of the poor for him who had been their
benefactor, mingled with those of the highest in the land, and followed
the beloved remains from the bed of death whence they were taken down
into the funeral vault. On the 10th of October, 1885, His Eminence the
Cardinal Archbishop of New York passed peacefully away, amidst the
grief of the whole community, both Protestant and Catholic. Again,
there was a very ovation of prayer. The obsequies were marked by a
splendor such as, according to a contemporary journal, had never before
attended any ecclesiastical demonstration on this side of the water.
The clergy, secular and religious, formed one vast assemblage, while
layman vied with layman in showing honor to the dead, and in praying
for the soul's repose. "All that man could do," says a prominent
Catholic journal, "to bring honor to his bier was done, and in honor
and remembrance his memory remains. All that Mother Church could offer
as suffrage for his soul has been offered."

That is wherein the real beauty of it all consists. Honor to the great
dead may, it is true, be the splendid expression of national sentiment.
But in the eyes of faith it is meaningless. Other great men, deservedly
honored by the nations, have passed away during this same year, but
where was the prayer, accompanying them to the judgment-seat, assisting
them in that other life, repairing their faults, purging away sins or
imperfections? The grandeur that attended Mgr. Bourget's burial and
Cardinal McCloskey's obsequies consisted chiefly in that vast symphony
of prayer, which arose so harmoniously, and during so many days, for
their soul's welfare.

Devotion to the dead, as we have seen, exists everywhere, is everywhere
dear to the hearts of the people, from those first early worshippers,
who, in the dawn of Christianity, in the dimness of the Catacombs
prayed for the souls of their brethren in Christ, begging that they
might "live in God," that God might refresh them, down through the ages
to our own day, increasing as it goes in fervor and intensity. We meet
with its records, written boldly, so to say, on the brow of nations, or
in out-of-the-way corners, down among the people, in the littleness and
obscurity of humble domestic annals. In the earliest liturgies, in the
most ancient sacramentaries, there is the prayer for "refreshment,
light, and peace," as it is now found in the missals used at the daily
sacrifice, on the lips of the priest, in the prayers of the humblest
and most unlettered petitioner. It is the "low murmur of the vale,"
changing, indeed, at times into the thunder on the mountain tops,
amazing the unbelieving world which stands aloof and stares, as in the
instances but lately quoted, or existing forgotten, and overlooked by
them, but no less deep and solemn. It is a _Requiem AEternam_
pervading all time, and ceasing only with time itself, when the
Eternity of rest for the Church Militant has begun.



The Anglo-Saxons had inherited from their teachers the practice of
prayer for the dead--a practice common to every Christian Church which
dates its origin from any period before the Reformation. It was not
that they pretended to benefit by their prayers the blessed in heaven,
or the reprobate in hell; but they had never heard of the doctrine
which teaches that "every soul of man, passing out of the body, goeth
immediately to one or other of those places" (Book of Homilies. Hom.
VII. On Prayer). And therefore assuming that God will render to all
according to their works, they believed that the souls of men dying in
a state of less perfect virtue, though they might not be immediately
admitted to the supreme felicity of the saints, would not, at least, be
visited with the everlasting punishment of the wicked. [1] It was for
such as these that they prayed, that if they were in a state of
imperfect happiness, that happiness might be augmented; if in a state
of temporary punishment, the severity of that punishment might be
mitigated; and this they hoped to obtain from the mercy of God, in
consideration of their prayers, fasts, and alms, and especially of the
"oblation of the most Holy Victim in the Sacrifice of the Mass."

[Footnote 1: "Some souls proceed to rest after their departure; some go
to punishment for that which they have done, and are often released by
alms-deeds, but chiefly through the Mass, if it be offered for them;
others are condemned to hell with the devil." (Serm. ad. Pop. in Oct.
Pent.) "There be many places of punishment, in which souls suffer in
proportion to their guilt before the general judgment, so that some of
them are fully cleansed, and have nothing to suffer in that fire of the
last day." (Hom. apud. Whelock, p. 386.)]

This was a favorite form of devotion with our ancestors. It came to
them recommended by the practice of all antiquity; it was considered an
act of the purest charity on behalf of those who could no longer pray
for themselves; it enlisted in its favor the feelings of the survivor,
who was thus enabled to intercede with God for his nearest and dearest
friends, and it opened at the same time to the mourner a source of real
consolation in the hour of bereavement and distress. It is true,
indeed, that the petitioners knew not the state of the departed soul;
he might be incapable of receiving any benefit from their prayers, but
they reasoned, with St. Augustine, that, even so, the piety of their
intentions would prove acceptable to God. When Alcuin heard that
Edilthryde, a noble Saxon lady, lamented most bitterly the death of her
son, he wrote to her from his retreat at Tours, in the following
terms:--"Mourn not for him whom you cannot recall. If he be of God,
instead of grieving that you have lost him, rejoice that he is gone to
rest before you. Where there are two friends, I hold the death of the
first preferable to that of the second, because the first leaves behind
him one whose brotherly love will intercede for him daily, and whose
tears will wash away the frailties of his life in this world. Be
assured that your pious solicitude for the soul of your son will not be
thrown away. It will benefit both you and him--you, because you
exercise acts of hope and charity; him, because such acts will tend
either to mitigate his sufferings, or to add to his happiness."

[Footnote 1: Ep. Cli Tom. I, p. 212.]

But they did not only pray for others, they were careful to secure for
themselves, after their departure, the prayers of their friends. This
they frequently solicited as a favor or recompense, and for this they
entered into mutual compacts by which the survivor was bound to perform
certain works of piety or charity for the soul of the deceased. Thus
Beda begs of the monks of Lindisfarne that, at his death, they will
offer prayers and Masses for him as one of their own body; thus Alcuin
calls upon his former scholars at York to remember him in their prayers
when it shall please God to withdraw him from this world; and thus in
the multifarious correspondence of St. Boniface, the apostle of
Germany, and of Lullus, his successor in the See of Mentz, both of them
Anglo-Saxons, with their countrymen, prelates, abbots, thanes, and
princes, we meet with letters the only object of which is to renew
their previous engagements, and to transmit the names of their defunct
associates. It is "our earnest wish," say the King of Kent and the
Bishop of Rochester in their common letter to Lullus, "to recommend
ourselves and our dearest relatives to your piety, that by your prayers
we may be protected till we come to that life which knows no end. For
what have we to do on earth but faithfully to exercise charity towards
each other? Let us then agree, that when any among us enter the path
which leads to another life (may it be a life of happiness), the
survivors shall, by their alms and sacrifices, endeavor to assist him
in his journey. We have sent you the names of our deceased relations,
Irmige, Vorththry, and Dulicha, virgins dedicated to God, and beg that
you will remember them in your prayers and oblations. On a similar
occasion we will prove our gratitude by imitating your charity."

Such covenants were not confined to the clergy, or to persons in the
higher ranks of life. England, at this period, was covered with
"gilds," or associations of townsmen and neighbors, not directly for
religious purposes, but having a variety of secular objects in view,--
such as the promotion of trade and commerce, the preservation of
property and the prosecution of thieves, the legal defence of the
members against oppression, and the recovery of bots, or penalties, to
which they were entitled; but whatever might be their chief object, all
imposed one common obligation, that of accompanying the bodies of f the
deceased members to the grave, of paying the soul-shot for them at
their interment, and of distributing alms for the repose of their
souls. As a specimen of such engagements, I may here translate a
portion of the laws established in the gild at Abbotsbury. "If," says
the legislator, "any one belonging to this association chance to die,
each member shall pay one penny for the good of the soul, before the
body be laid in the grave. If he neglect, he shall be fined in a triple
sum. If any of us fall sick within sixty miles, we engage to find
fifteen men, who may bring him home; but if he die first, we will send
thirty to convey him to the place in which he desired to be buried. If
he die in the neighborhood, the steward shall inquire where he is to be
interred, and shall summon as many members as he can to assemble,
attend the corpse in an honorable manner, carry it to the minster, and
pray devoutly for the soul. Let us act in this manner, and we shall
truly perform the duty of our confraternity. This will be honorable to
us both before God and man. For we know not who among us may die first;
but we believe that, with the assistance of God, this agreement will
profit us all if it be rightly observed."

But the clerical and monastic bodies inhabiting the more celebrated
monasteries offered guildships of a superior description. Among them
the service for the dead was performed with greater solemnity; the
rules of the institute insured the faithful performance of the duty;
and additional value was ascribed to their prayers on account of the
sanctity of the place and the virtue of its inmates. Hence it became an
object with many to obtain admission among the brotherhood in quality
of honorary associates; an admission which gave them the right to the
same spiritual benefits after death to which the professed members were
entitled. Such associates were of two classes. To some the favor was
conceded on account of their reputation for piety or learning; to
others it was due on account of their benefactions. Instances of both
abound in the Anglo-Saxon records. Beda, though a monk at Jarrow,
procured his name to be entered for this purpose on the bead-roll of
the monks at Lindisfarne; and Alcuin, though a canon at Tours, in
France, had obtained a similar favor from the monks at Jarrow. It
belonged, of right, to the founders of churches, to those who had made
to them valuable benefactions, [1] or had rendered to them important
services, or had bequeathed to them a yearly rent charge [2] for that

[Footnote 1: When Osulf, ealdorman, by the grace of God, gave the land
at Stanhamstede to Christ Church, he most humbly prayed that he and his
wife, Beornthrythe, might be admitted "into the fellowship of God's
servants there, and of their lords who had been, and of those who had
given lands to the Church."--Cod. Dipl. I. 292. The following is an
instance of a rent charge given by Ealburge and Eadwald to Christ
Church for themselves, and for Ealred and Ealwyne forty ambres of malt,
two hundred loaves, one wey, &c, &c.; "and I, Ealburge," she adds,
"command my son Ealwyne, in the name of God, and of all the saints,
that he perform this duty in his day, and then command his heirs to
perform it as long as Christendom shall endure."]

[Footnote 2: I Monast. Ang. i. 278. A similar regulation is found among
the laws of the gild in London. "And ye have ordained respecting every
man who has given his 'wed' in our gildships, if he should die, that
each gild brother shall give a 'genuine loaf' for his soul, and sing a
ditty, or get it sung, within thirty days."--Thorpe's Laws of London

Of all these individuals an exact catalogue was kept; the days of their
decease [1] were carefully noted, and on their anniversaries a solemn
service of Masses and psalmody was yearly performed. [2] It may be
easily conceived that to men of timorous and penitent minds this custom
would afford much consolation. However great might be their
deficiencies, yet they hoped that their good works would survive them;
they had provided for the service of the Almighty a race of men, whose
virtues they might in one respect call their own, and who were bound,
by the strongest ties, to be their daily advocate at the throne of
divine mercy. [3] Such were the sentiments of Alwyn, the caldorman of
East Anglia, and one of the founders of Ramsey. Warned by frequent
infirmities of his approaching death, he repaired, attended by his sons
Edwin and Ethelward, to the abbey. The monks were speedily assembled.
"My beloved," said he, "you will soon lose your friend and protector.
My strength is gone: I am stolen from myself. But I am not afraid to
die. When life grows tedious death is welcome. To-day I shall confess
before you the many errors of my life. Think not that I wish to solicit
a prolongation of my existence. My request is that you protect my
departure by your prayers, and place your merits in the balance against
my defects. When my soul shall have quitted my body, honor your
father's corpse with a decent funeral, grant him a constant share in
your prayers, and recommend his memory to the charity and gratitude of
your successors." At the conclusion of his address the aged thane threw
himself on the pavement before the altar, and, with a voice interrupted
by frequent sighs, publicly confessed the sins of his past years, and
earnestly implored the mercies of his Redeemer.... He exhorted the
brethren to a punctual observance of their rule, and forbade his sons,
under their father's malediction, to molest them in possession of the
lands which he had bestowed on the abbey.... Within a few weeks he
died, his body was interred with proper solemnity in the Church; and
his memory was long cherished with gratitude by the monks of Ramsey.

[Footnote 1: According to Wanly there is in the Cotton Library (Dom. A.
7) of the reign of Athelstan, in which the names of the chief
benefactors of the Church of Lindisfarne are written in letters of gold
and silver, which catalogue was afterwards continued, but not in the
same manner (Wanly, 249). This is probably the same book which was
published in 1841 by the Surtees Society, under the name of _Liber
Vitae Ecclesiae Dunelmensis_. It contains the names of all the
benefactors of St. Cuthbert's Church from its foundation, and lay
constantly on the altar for upwards of six centuries.]

[Footnote 2: According to Wanly there is in the Cotton Library (Dom. A.
7) of the reign of Athelstan, in which the names of the chief
benefactors of the Church of Lindisfarne are written in letters of gold
and silver, which catalogue was afterwards continued, but not in the
same manner (Wanly, 249). This is probably the same book which was
published in 1841 by the Surtees Society, under the name of _Liber
Vitae Ecclesiae Dunelmensis_. It contains the names of all the
benefactors of St. Cuthbert's Church from its foundation, and lay
constantly on the altar for upwards of six centuries.]

[Footnote 3: Thus when Leofric established canons in the Church of
Exeter, he made them several valuable presents, on condition that, in
their prayers and Masses, they should always remember his soul, "that
it might be the more pleasing to God." Monas. Ang. tom i. p. 222.]

[Footnote 4: Hist. Rames, p. 427.]

There were three kinds of good works usually performed for the benefit
of the dead: One consisted in the distribution of charity. To the
money, which the deceased, if he were in opulent or in easy
circumstances, bequeathed for that purpose, an addition was often made
by the contributions of his relatives and friends. Large sums were
often distributed in this manner. King Alfred the Great says in his
will: "Let there be given for me, and for my father, and for the
friends that he prayed for, and that I pray for, two hundred pounds;
fifty among the Mass-priests throughout my kingdom; fifty among the
servants of God that are in need, fifty among lay paupers, and fifty to
the church in which my body shall rest." [1] Archbishop Wulfred in his
will, (an. 831) made provision for the permanent support and clothing
of twenty-seven paupers, out of the income from certain manors which,
at his own cost and labor, he had recovered for the Church of
Canterbury. Frequently the testator bequeathed a yearly dole of money
and provisions to the poor on the anniversary of his death. Thus the
clergy of Christ-church gave away one hundred and twenty suffles, or
cakes of fine flour, on the anniversaries of each of their lords, by
which word we are probably to understand archbishops; but Wulfred was
not content with his accustomed charity; he augmented it tenfold on his
own anniversary, having bequeathed a loaf, a certain quantity of
cheese, and a silver penny to be delivered to twelve hundred poor
persons on that day. Of such dole some vestiges still remain in certain
parts of the kingdom.

[Footnote 1: Cod Diplom (double S?) i. 115.]

Another species of charity, at the death of the upper ranks, was the
grant of freedom to a certain number of slaves, whose poverty, to
render the gift more valuable, was relieved with a handsome present. In
the Council of Calcuith, it was unanimously agreed that each prelate at
his death should bequeath the tenth part of his personal property to
the poor, and set at liberty all bondmen of English descent, whom the
Church had acquired during his administration; and that each bishop and
abbot who survived him, should manumit three of his slaves, and give
three shillings to each, for the benefit of the soul of the deceased

The devotions in behalf of the dead consisted in the frequent
repetition of the Lord's Prayer, technically called a belt of
Paternosters, which was in use with private individuals, ignorant of
the Latin tongue; 2d, in the chanting of a certain number of psalms,
generally fifty, terminating with the collect for the dead, during
which collect all knelt down, and then repeated the anthem in Latin or
English: "According to Thy great mercy give rest to his soul, O Lord,
and of Thine infinite bounty grant to him eternal light in the company
of the saints;" [1] 3d, in the sacrifice of the Mass, which was offered
as soon as might be after death, again on the third day, and afterwards
as often as was required by the solicitude of the relatives or friends
of the deceased. No sooner had St. Wilfred expired than Talbert, to
whom he had intrusted the government of his monastery at Ripon, ordered
a Mass to be celebrated, and alms to be distributed daily for his soul.
On his anniversary the abbots of all the monasteries founded by Wilfred
were summoned to attend; they spent the preceding night in watching and
prayer, on the following morning a solemn Mass was performed, and then
the tenth part of the cattle belonging to the monastery was distributed
among the neighboring poor.

[Footnote 1: On the death of St. Guthlade, his sister Pega recommended
his soul to God, and sang psalms for that purpose during three days.]

In like manner we find the ealdorman Osulf, "for the redemption and
health of his own soul, and of his wife, Beornthrythe," giving certain
lands to the Church of Liming, in Kent, under the express condition
that "every twelve months afterwards, the day of their departure out of
this life should be kept with fasting and prayer to God, in psalmody
and the celebration of Masses."

It would appear that some doubt existed with respect to the exact
meaning of this condition; and a few years later the archbishop, to set
the question at rest, pronounced the following decree: "Wherefore I
order that the godly deeds following be performed for their souls at
the tide of their anniversary; that every Mass priest celebrate two
Masses for the soul of Osulf, and two for Beornthrythe's soul; that
every deacon read two passions (the narratives of our Lord's sufferings
in the gospels) for his soul, and two for hers; and each of God's
servants (the inferior members of the brotherhood) two fifties" (fifty
psalms) "for his soul, two for hers; that as you in the world are
blessed with worldly goods through them, so they may be blessed with
godly goods through you."

It should, however, be observed, that such devotions were not confined
to the anniversaries of the dead. In many, perhaps in all, of these
religious establishments, the whole community on certain days walked,
at the conclusion of the matin service, in procession to the cemetery,
and there chanted the dirge over the graves of their deceased brethren
and benefactors.

Respecting these practices some most extraordinary opinions have
occasionally been hazarded. We have been told that the custom of
praying for the dead was no part of the religious system originally
taught to the Anglo-Saxons, that it was not generally received for two
centuries after their conversion, and that it probably took its rise
"from a mistaken charity, continuing to do for the departed what it was
only lawful to do for the living." To this supposition it may be
sufficient to reply, that it is supported by no reference to ancient
authority, but contradicted in every page of Anglo-Saxon history.
Others have admitted the universal prevalence of the practice, but have
discovered that it originated in the interested views of the clergy,
who employed it as a constant source of emolument, and laughed among
themselves at the easy faith of their disciples. But this opinion is
subject to equal difficulties with the former. It rests on no ancient
testimony: it is refuted by the conduct of the ancient clergy. No
instance is to be found of any one of these conspirators as they are
represented, who in an unguarded moment, or of any false brother who,
in the peevishness of discontent, revealed the secret to the ears of
their dupes. On the contrary, we see them in their private
correspondence holding to each other the same language which they held
to their disciples; requesting from each other those prayers which we
are told that they mutually despised, and making pecuniary sacrifices
during life to purchase what, if their accusers be correct, they deemed
an illusory assistence after death.


Vernon is perhaps the only town in France wherein the ancient custom of
which we are about to speak still exists. When a death occurs, an
individual, robed in a mortuary tunic, adorned with cross-bones and
tear-drops, goes through the streets with a small bell in either hand,
the sound of which is sharp and penetrating; at every place where the
streets cross each other, he rings his bells three times, crying out in
a doleful voice: "Such-a-one, belonging to the Confraternity of St.
Roch, or the Confraternity of St. Sebastian, &c., &c., is recommended
to your prayers. He is dead. The funeral will take place at such-an-
hour." Then he rings again three times. The first Sunday of each month
arrives. Then, at the dawn of day the same individual goes again
through the town, ringing continuously, knocking thrice at the door of
each member of the confraternity, and stopping at the corners of the
streets, he sings: "Good people," or "good souls, who sleep, awake!
awake! pray for the dead! &c."--_Voix de la Verite_, July 22,



An English writer, the gifted author of the Knights of St. John, makes
the following assertion as regards the people of her own nationality:
"Our Catholic ancestors," she says, "are said to have been
distinguished above all other nations for their devotion towards the
dead; and it harmonizes with one feature in our national character,
namely, that gravity and attraction to things of solemn and pathetic
interest which, uncontrolled by the influence of faith, degenerates
even into melancholy." In view of this assertion, it will be
interesting to spend a few moments in gathering up the links of this
most ancient and most touching devotion, amongst a people who have
collectively, as it were, fallen away from grace. It is therefore our
purpose to look backwards into that solemn and beautiful past of which
heretical England can boast, and behold her, as Carlyle beheld her in
his "Past and Present," offering to the world the sublime spectacle of
a people devout and faithful, undisturbed by doubt, tranquilized by the
harmonious influence of religion, and unharassed by the spirit of so
called philosophic inquiry, which, misdirected, is the true bane of
English society at the present day.

This retrospection, as we shall have occasion later on to recur to the
subject of devotion to the dead in England, must necessarily be both
brief and cursory. But even the merest outlines are of interest, for
they prove that prayer for the departed was no less the favorite
devotion of the learned than of the simple, and that it had its home in
those ancient seats of learning, Oxford and Cambridge and their
dependencies, from the very hour of their foundation. Of the Founder of
Oxford, it is said, that prayer for the dead was one of his devotions
of predilection. It is not necessary here for us to follow him, the
great and good William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, and
subsequently Lord Chancellor of England, in the gradual unfoldings of
that project of founding a University, so dear to him from almost the
moment of his elevation to the episcopate. Suffice that in the March of
1379, he laid the corner-stone of "St. Marie's College of Winchester,
Oxenford." It is with his great charity towards the Holy Souls that we
are at present concerned, and of this we have ample proof in the
testimonies of his biographers. Here is one of them, in the paragraph
which follows:

"There was another devotion which was most dearly cherished by Wykeham,
and which is an equal indication of the singular _spirituality_ of
his mind,--we mean, that for the suffering souls in Purgatory. It may
be safely affirmed, that this devotion, so unselfish and unearthly in
its tendencies, carrying us beyond the grave, and making us familiar
with the secrets of the unseen world, could never find a place in the
heart of one who was engrossed by secular cares, or the love of money.
Its existence in any marked and special degree argues in the soul of
its possessor a profound sense of sin, a deep compassion for the
sufferings of others, and a habit of dwelling on the thoughts of death,
judgment, and eternity. Moreover, it is utterly opposed to anything of
that mercenary or commercial spirit which exists among men of the
world, who like to see some large practical result even in matters of
devotion. We pray, and are sensible of no return; we spend our money in
a Requiem Mass, and there is nothing but trust in God's word, and God's
fidelity, to assure us that the money is not thrown away. Every _De
Profundis_ that we say is as much an act of faith as it is an act of
charity; and it has its reward. We do not speak merely of the benefit
reaped by the souls of the faithful departed; but who can measure the
effect of this devotion on a man's own soul, bringing him (as it does)
into communion with the world of spirits, and realizing to him the
worth of Christian suffering, and the awful purity of God?"...

Wykeham's heart was full of compassion for suffering, and the dead
shared his charity with the living. Never did he offer the Holy
Sacrifice for the departed without abundant tears. His reverence for
the Holy Mysteries, and the singular devotion with which he celebrated,
are often referred to by those who have written his life; one of whom,
after speaking of his various charities, thus continues: "Not only did
he, as we have said, offer his goods, but also his very self, as a
lively sacrifice to God, and hence, in the solemn celebration of Mass,
and chiefly at that part where there is made a special memorial of the
living and the dead, he was wont to shed many tears out of the humility
of his heart, reputing himself unworthy, as he was wont to express it
in speaking to his secretary, to perform such an office, or to handle
the most sublime mysteries of the Church."

From the same biographer we add to the foregoing a further testimony as
to what a hold this devotion of predilection had taken upon the soul of
the Founder of Oxford:

"Among his charities we accordingly find a great many which were solely
directed to the relief of the suffering souls. Wykeham's benevolence
had in it one admirable feature: it was not left to be carried out
after his death by his executors, but all his great acts of munificence
were performed in his own lifetime. One of his first cares, after his
accession to the See of Winchester, was to found a chantry in the
Priory of Southwyke, near Wykeham, for the repose of the souls of his
father and mother and sister, who were buried within the priory church;
and in all his after foundations provisions were made for the continual
remembrance of the dead; and (ever grateful to his early friends) King
Edward III., the Black Prince, and King Richard II. were all commended
to the charity of those who, as they prayed for Wykeham, were charged
at the same time to pray for the souls of his benefactors."

In Winchester we read, also, of the College of the Holy Trinity,
endowed as a "carnarie," or charnel-house, of the city. The chief
duties of the priests belonging to the chantry attached thereto were to
bury the dead, and keep up perpetual Masses for the souls of the

Those Colleges of Winchester, with their simple beauty and grandeur of
design, with their conventional rule of life, the singing of Matins,
and the daily chanting of the divine office by chaplains and fellows,
offer to us a very fair picture, indeed. But we observe that in the
Masses sung with "note and chant," there is one specially mentioned for
the souls of the founder's parents, and of all the faithful departed; a
second for the souls of King Edward III., Queen Philippa, the Black
Prince, Richard II., Queen Anne, and certain benefactors.

On the 24th of July, 1403, the saintly Wykeham made his will. He
directed that his body should be laid in a chantry which he had himself
founded, and at the altar of which he was wont to offer up the Holy
Sacrifice. He desired that on the day of his burial, "to every poor
person coming to Winchester, and asking alms, for the love of God, and
for the health of his soul, there should be given fourpence." Alms were
likewise to be distributed in every place through which his body was to
pass, and large provision was made for Masses and prayers for the
repose of his soul. He had, besides, made an agreement with the monks
of St. Swithin's, by which they were to offer three Masses daily for
his parents and benefactors in the chantry chapel; the first of these
was a Mass of Our Lady, to be said very early. The boys attached to the
College were, moreover, to sing every night in perpetuity, either the
_Salve Regina_ or _Ave Regina_, with a _De Profundis_ for his soul's
repose. So, as the hour of his death drew near, he who had concerned
himself through life with the souls of the departed, essayed to make
provision for his own. Since that hour when he proceeded to the high
altar of Winchester Cathedral, escorted by the Lord Prior of Winchester
and the Abbot Hyde, to celebrate his first Pontifical Mass, the same
constant memory of the dead had been with him, as when kneeling he
prayed aloud for the soul of his predecessor,
William de Edyndon, and bade the choir chant the _De Profundis_,
while he himself recited the _Fidelium omnium conditor_.

But leaving Oxford and its pious founder, we turn our gaze upon that
ancient foundation of Eton, which was to serve as a preparatory school
for the new establishment of King's College of Cambridge, which Henry
had in contemplation. Henry, in his famous Eton charter, makes mention
of his desire that this college shall be, as it were, a memorial of
him, and be composed of clerks, "who," he says, "shall pray for our
welfare whilst we live, and for our soul when we shall have departed
this life." The Pope, Eugenius IV., afterwards granted a plenary
indulgence to all who should visit the College Chapel of Our Lady of
Eton, after Confession and Communion. Henry having visited the
Colleges of Winchester, first met there with William Wayneflete, with
whom he was to be united in so warm and beautiful a friendship. The
"Master of Winton," as Wayneflete then was, is described as "simple,
devout, and full of learning." But a short time after he was removed
to Eton, and presently raised to the Provostship. Among many beautiful
and pious customs, the memory of the dead was carefully preserved
among the Eton scholars, and their verses on All Souls' Day were on
the blessedness of those who die in the Lord. But Wayneflete is, of
course, chiefly identified with Magdalen College, Oxford, said to be
"the finest collegiate building in England," and of which he was the
founder. It was, in truth, his dream, and one which he was destined
to see realized. Here is neither the place nor time to dwell upon its
beauties. The first stone was laid by the venerable Tybarte, its first
president. He was buried in the middle of the inner chapel, and upon a
cope, preserved among the ancient church vestments, is one upon which
is worked the inscription, "_Orate pro anima Magistri Tybarte_." [1]

[Footnote 1: Pray for the soul of Master Tybarte.]

Among the rules and regulations of this new foundation was one which
obliged the president, fellows, and scholars to recite, while dressing,
certain prayers in honor of the Blessed Trinity, and a suffrage for the
founder. Daily prayers were offered up for the repose of the souls of
the founder's father and mother, "those of benefactors of the college,
and for all the souls of the faithful departed." These suffrages were
to be made by every one, at whatever hour of the day was most

There were many foundations of Masses attached to this College of
Magdalen. Of these daily Masses, offered at the six altars of the
chapel, the early "Morrow Mass" was always said in the Arundel Chapel,
for the soul of Lord Arundel, the chief benefactor of the institute.
Another Mass was to be said every day for "souls of good memory,"
including, besides the two kings, Henry III. and Edward III., his dear
and never forgotten friends, Henry VI., Lord Cromwell, and Sir John
Fastolfe, as well as King Edward IV. Other Masses and prayers were said
for other intentions. The founder was to be especially remembered every
quarter. Every day, after High Mass, one of the demys was to say aloud
in the chapel, "_Anima fundatoris nostri Willielmi, et animae omnium
fidelium defunctorum, per miscricordiam Dei in pace requiescat._"
[1] The same prayer was to be repeated in the hall after dinner and

[Footnote 1: "May the soul of our founder, William, and the souls of
all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace."]

But the life of the Founder of Magdalen, the great Bishop, was drawing
to a close. We shall see by his will how firm his faith in that most
Catholic of all doctrines--Purgatory. After various bequests, he left a
certain portion of his property for Masses and alms-deeds for his own
soul and the souls of his parents and friends. On the day of his
burial, and on the thirtieth day from the time of his decease, and on
other appointed days, his executors are charged to have 5,000 Masses
said in honor of the Five Wounds of Christ, and the Five Joys of Mary--
his favorite devotions--for the same intention. His remains were buried
at Winchester, in a tomb which he had prepared as a place of burial
during his lifetime. His was, indeed, the third chantry chapel in
Winchester, the others being those of his predecessor. This custom was
common to all the great prelates of the time. They prepared a place of
sepulture during their life, and there where they officiated at all
solemn offices, and so frequently celebrated requiems for the departed,
they knew that their remains were one day to be laid, and prayers and
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be offered for themselves. It was
thus a constant reminder of death.

A ceremony connected with Magdalen Tower seems likewise to have had its
origin in this pious custom of remembrance of the dead. "On the 1st of
May," says Anthony Wood, "the choral ministers of this house do,
according to ancient custom, salute Flora from the top of the tower, at
four in the morning, with vocal music of several parts." Of course, as
a chronicler remarks, it was not to salute Flora that any Catholic
choristers thus made vocal the sweet air of May. "The sweet music of
Magdalen Tower," remarks the author of the Knights of St. John, "had a
directly religious origin. On the 1st of May the society was wont
annually to celebrate the obit or Requiem Mass of King Henry VII., who
proved a generous benefactor to the College, and who is still
commemorated as such upon that day. The requiem was not, indeed,
celebrated _on the top of the tower_, as Mr. Chalmers, in his
history of the university, affirms, in total ignorance that a
_requiem_ is a Mass, and that a Mass must be said upon an altar;
but it is probable that the choral service chanted on the 1st of May
consisted originally of the _De Profundis_, or some other psalm,
for the repose of Henry's soul, and as a special mark of gratitude."
Some semblance of the old custom is still kept up, as ten pounds is
still annually paid by the rectory of Slimbridge, in Gloucestershire,
for the purpose of keeping up this ceremony.

Such are a few brief glimpses of this belief in Purgatory, which was so
dear to the hearts of Englishmen, in those centuries before the blight
of heresy had fallen upon the Island of the Saints. These hints upon
the subject are given very much at random, and will simply serve to
show how prayer for the dead was a part of all Christian lives in those
ages of faith. It was incorporated in the rules of every collegiate
institute, and more especially those two most notable ones of Oxford
and Cambridge. It entered into every man's calculations, and was
provided for in every Will and Testament. Had it been in our power to
go backwards, into a still more remote antiquity, it would have been
our pleasant task to find this belief in suffrage for the dead taking
so vigorous root in every heart. Do we not find the Venerable Bede,
"the Father of English Learning," who was born in 673 and died in 734,
asking that his name may be enrolled amongst the monks of the monastery
founded by St. Aidan, in order that his soul after death might have a
share in the Masses and prayers of that numerous community, as he tells
us himself in his Preface to the Life of St. Cuthbert. "This pious
anxiety," says Montalembert, "to assure himself of the help of prayer
for his soul after death is apparent at every step in his letters. It
imprints the last seal of humble and true Christianity on the character
of the great philosopher, whose life was so full of interest, and whose
last days have been revealed to us in minute detail by an eye-witness."

[Footnote 1: "Monks of the West," Vol v, p 89.]

The passionate entreaties of Anselm, another of the shining lights of
early Anglo-Saxon days, that the soul of his young disciple Osbern be
remembered in prayers and Masses, proves what value he attached to
suffrages for the departed:

"I beg of you," he writes to his friend Gondulph, "of you and of all my
friends, to pray for Osbern. His soul is my soul. All that you do for
him during my life, I shall accept as if you had done it for me after
my death. ... I conjure you for the third time, remember me, and forget
not the soul of my well-beloved Osbern. And if I ask too much of you,
then forget me and remember him.... The soul of my Osbern, ah! I
beseech thee, give it no other place than in my bosom."

And do we not read of those "prayers for souls," incessant and
obligatory, which were identified with all the monastic habits--thanks
to that devotion for the dead which received in a monastery its final
and perpetual sanction. "They were not content," says Montalembert,
"even with common and permanent prayer for the dead of each isolated
monastery. By degrees, vast spiritual associations were formed among
communities of the same order and the same country, with the aim of
relieving by their reciprocal prayers the defunct members of each
house. Rolls of parchment, transmitted by special messengers from
cloister to cloister, received the names of those who had 'emigrated,'
according to the consecrated expression, 'from this terrestrial light
to Christ,' and served the purpose of a check and register to prevent
defalcation in that voluntary impost of prayer which our fervent
cenobites solicited in advance for themselves or for their friends."
And, of course, this was many years, even centuries, before the Feast
of All Souls was instituted by the Abbot Odilo and the monks of Cluny
in 998. English history, like every other history, furnishes us,
indeed, with innumerable traits of this pious devotion to the Holy
Souls. Obviously, our space must prevent us from entering more deeply
into the subject. May the few scattered hints we have been enabled to
throw out be of interest and profit to our readers!


WALSH. [1]

[Footnote 1: "Ecclesiastical History of Ireland." Rev J. Walsh.]

Coerced by the unvarying as well as unequivocal testimony of our
writers, our liturgies, our canons, Usher was obliged to admit that the
ancient Irish had been in the constant practice of offering up the
eucharistic sacrifice, and that Masses, termed _Requiem Masses_,
used to be celebrated daily. So interwoven is the doctrine of the
eucharistic sacrifice with the records of the nation, that the
antiquarian himself should reject the antiquities of Ireland if he had
ventured on the denial of this practice .... Admitting the practice of
the ancient Irish Church, Usher strives to escape from the difficulty,
as well as attempts to deceive his readers, by pretending that it had
been only a sacrifice of thanksgiving, offered as such for those souls
who were in possession of eternal happiness, and that it had not been
believed or practiced in the ancient Irish Church as a propitiatory
sacrifice. .... The ancient canons of the Irish Church as clearly point
out as the firmament demonstrates the glory of God, the doctrine of our
Church regarding the eucharistic sacrifice, as one of thanksgiving, and
also one of propitiation. In an ancient canon contained in D'Achery's
collection (lib. 2, cap. 20), the synod says: "The Church offers for
the souls of the deceased in four ways--for the very good, the
oblations are simply thanksgiving; for the very bad, they become
consolations to the living; for such as were not very good, the
oblations are made in order to obtain full remission; and for those who
were not very bad, that their punishment may be rendered more
tolerable." Here, then, is enunciated in plain terms, the doctrine of
the eucharistic oblation being a propitiatory sacrifice. When offered
for the first class of happy souls, it is an offering of thanksgiving.
When offered for those whose lives were bad in the sight of Heaven, its
oblation is a comfort to the faithful. When offered for those who were
not very good or very bad, the object of its oblation was to render
their state more tolerable, and that full pardon would be at length
accorded. The framers of this canon give us also the doctrine of a
middle state, as a tenet also believed by the Church of Ireland.

Another canon, still more ancient, and which is reckoned among those of
St. Patrick, is entitled "Of the Oblation for the Dead." This canon is
couched in the following words: "There is a sin unto death, I do not
say that for it any do pray." This sin is final impenitence.

The ancient Irish Missal, "the _Cursus Scotorum"_ contains an
oration for the dead: "Grant, O Lord, to him, Thy servant, deceased,
the pardon of all his sins, in that secret abode where there is no
longer room for penance. Do Thou, O Christ, receive the soul of Thy
servant, which Thou hast given, and forgive him his trespasses more
abundantly than he has forgiven those who have trespassed against him."
An oration is also given for the living and the dead: "Propitiously
grant that this sacred oblation may be profitable to the dead in
obtaining pardon, and to the living, in obtaining salvation; grant to
them (living and dead) the full remission of all their sins, and that
indulgence they have always deserved."

The liturgy usually called _"Cursus Scotorum"_ was that which had
been first brought to Ireland by St,. Patrick, and was the only one
that had been used, until about the close of the sixth century. About
this period the Gallican liturgy, _"Cursus Gallorum"_ was, it is
probable, introduced into Ireland. The _"Cursus Scotorum"_ is
supposed to have been the liturgy originally drawn up and used by St.
Mark the evangelist; it was afterwards followed by St. Gregory
Nazianzen, St. Basil, and other Greek Fathers; then by Cassian,
Honoratus, St. Cassarius of Aries, St. Lupus of Troyes, and St.
Germaine of Auxerre, from whom St. Patrick received it, when setting
out on his mission to Ireland. A copy of the "_Cursus Scotorum_"
was found by Mabillon, in the ancient monastery of Bobbio, of which St.
Columbanus was founder, and which missal that learned writer believes
to have been written at least one thousand years before his time. ...
It contains two Masses for the dead; one a general Mass, and the other
"_Missa Sacerdotis defuncti_" (Mass for a deceased priest).


This prayer, in the handwriting of the Prince Imperial, was found among
the papers in his desk at Camden Palace. In publishing it the Morning
Post adds: "The elucidation of his character alone justifies the
publication of such a sacred document, which will prove to the world
how intimately he was penetrated with all the feelings which most
become a Christian, and which give higher hopes than are afforded by
the pains and merits of this transitory life." The following is a
translation: "O God, I give to Thee my heart, but give me faith.
Without faith there is no strong prayer, and to pray is a longing of my
soul. I pray, not that Thou shouldst take away the obstacles on my
path, but that Thou mayst permit me to overcome them. I pray, not that
Thou shouldst disarm my enemies, but that Thou shouldst aid me to
conquer myself. Hear, O God, my prayer. Preserve to my affection those
who are dear to me. Grant them happy days. If Thou only givest on this
earth a certain sum of joy, take, O God, my share, and bestow it on the
most worthy, and, may the most worthy be my friends. If thou seekest
vengeance on man, strike me. Misfortune is converted into happiness by
the sweet thought that those whom we love are happy. Happiness is
poisoned by the bitter thought: while I rejoice, those whom I love a
thousand times better than myself are suffering. For me, O God, no more
happiness. Take it from my path. I can only find joy in forgetting the
past. _If I forget those who are no more, I shall be forgotten in my

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