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St. Dominic and the Albigenses

Brownson's Quarterly Review, October, 1848

Art. VI.  Vie de Saint Dominique, par le Reverend Pere Frere Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, de l'Ordre des Freres Precheurs.    2me Edition.  Paris.   1841.

We have introduced this most interesting and instructive biography, not so much with the design of reviewing it, as to enable us to attempt what we have long wished that abler hands would have achieved, to givea plain, though brief and unexaggerated, history of the Albigenses and the Albigensian wars, in which St. Dominic figured prominently, and with admirable success, though not in the manner that is but too frequently supposed. It is the popular belief, at least in this country, that Dominic acted as a sort of leader or generalissimo in those bloody scenes, and even some Catholics appear to think that his conduct in this matter requires an apology. The fact, however, is, that there never was a man more emphatically a man of peace, and a herald of the Gospel of peace, than the blessed St. Dominic. His name is never mentioned by contemporary historians in connection with the Albigensian wars, except as a teacher of the ignorant, a consoler of the afflicted, and a model of sanctity for all. We shall, indeed, find him on terms of affectionate intimacy with Simon de Montfort, the chief of the crusaders, and wielding an influence over the knights and men-at-arms, and we shall have occasion in this article to refer directly to the history of his mission ; but in no instance shall we find him saying, doing, or suggesting any thing that could dim the effulgence of his name, or employing his influence in a manner to sully the spotless purity of his soul.

The Albigensian wars date their origin from the latter part of the twelfth century. The twelfth century had dawned gloriously. The banner of Christianity was waving in triumph over the Holy Sepulchre, and the Greek Church seemed more than ever on the point of reconciliation with the Latin. The Turks, vanquished on every side, and threatened in their very capital, halted in their ruthless and tempestuous incursions into Europe, and retreated to the defence of their own firesides. But bright though its dawn, the eve of this century was gloomy enough. The crescent had supplanted the cross on the minarets of Jerusalem, and the knights of Christendom had fallen before the sabres of the Mussulmans. The ungrateful and treacherous Greeks, in consequence of their insulting treatment of the Catholics, were farther than ever removed from the centre of unity. Worse than all, there prevailed among Churchmen a great degree of immorality, and all the efforts of the Popes to revive the spirit of piety and to restore ecclesiastical discipline were powerless against the rushing tide of simony, worldliness, and avarice. We need not be surprised, then, if upon the wave of so many abuses and crying sins there should appear another and yet more terrible evil, because less likely to be cured, that of heresy.    In the language of Father Lacordaire :
" One day, about the year 1160, Peter Waldo, a wealthy citizen of Lyons, saw a man struck dead by lightning at his side. This event made such an impression upon him, that he distributed all his goods to the poor, and consecrated himself entirely to the service of God. As ecclesiastical reform was then the universal demand, he had no difficulty in fancying that he was commissioned from above to bring it about, and he gathered around him a little band whom he persuaded to join him in embracing an apostolical life. How little do the projects of really great men differ from those of men who are but the disturbers of public tranquillity ! If Peter Waldo had possessed a greater degree of virtue and more genius, he might have been a St. Dominic or a St. Francis. But, unhappily, he fell a victim to a temptation that in every age has caused the ruin of men otherwise intelligent. He believed it impossible to save the Church by means of the Church. He asserted that the True Spouse of Jesus Christ had failed in the time of Constantine, who allowed the Church to come into possession of temporal goods ; that the Church of Rome was the harlot of the Apocalypse, the mother and mistress of every error; that all prelates were Scribes, and all religious were Pharisees; that the Pope and bishops were all homicides ; that it was unlawful for the clergy to accept of tithes or glebes; that to endow churches and convents was mortal sin ; that it was the duty of all clergymen, of whatever rank, to gain their livelihood by their hands, as did the Apostles ; and finally, that he, Peter Waldo, was the one destined by the Almighty to reestablish, on its primitive footing, the genuine society or assembly of the children of God." pp. 7, 8.

Under favor of the same circumstances that protected and gave stability to the heresy of the Waldenses, so called from this Peter Waldo, sprang up by its side in the south of France another heresy, that of the Albigenses, the history of whose origin and progressive march through Europe is invested with a peculiar interest to us, because a very numerous body of our fellow-citizens, respectable alike for their affluence, their learning, and their social virtues, claim these same Albigenses as their spiritual progenitors. We shall begin by tracing out the origin and progress of the sect.

Near the commencement of the third century of our era, was born, upon the estate of a rich widow, a certain slave. As he advanced to manhood, he developed a figure of remarkable symmetry and beauty, and gave evidence of genius and wit, His mistress, captivated, we presume, more by his beauty than his talents, after presenting him with his freedom, adopted him as her son.    She provided liberally for his education, selected for his teachers the most celebrated philosophers, caused him to be instructed in all the sciences, mysteries, and magic arts of Persian lore ; and then died, leaving him the sole inheritor of all her wealth.    Among the books that constituted a portion of his inheritance were the works of a famous heretic, filled with extravagant and revolting theories, chiefly derived from the ancient Gnostics.    This was food well suited to the cravings of his appetite, and he seized and devoured it with a greediness that increased in the ratio of the quantity consumed. To assist digestion, he occasionally appeared in public as a religious teacher ; and being gifted with a pleasing address and a melodious voice, he attracted crowds of eager listeners.    Some of his auditors were pagans, but a large number were Christians, who had degenerated from the pure faith of their fathers. He claimed to be a new apostle, nay, the very Paraclete, announced and promised by the Son of God.    The very boldness of his pretensions gave him an influence over the spirits of men, and they regarded him with reverence, as a being commissioned from above, and attributed to him the power to heal disease and infirmity.    The fame of his exploits reached the palace of the king of Persia, and he commanded him to heal his son, who was suffering under a malady pronounced incurable by his physicians.    The impostor promised to heal the patient by the potency of his prayers.    However, the prince died under the treatment, and the pretended apostle was thrown into prison.    He escaped, proclaimed anew his pernicious doctrines, was retaken and flayed alive.    Such was the life and such the death of Manes, the founder of the sect of the Manichaeans.

As it will aid us somewhat in analyzing the subsequent conduct of the partisans of the sect we are about to encounter, we shall here briefly enumerate the leading points of belief of the ancient Manichaeans.

1. They inculcated the existence of two Gods, one good and one evil, each independent of, and each laboring to destroy, the other. One was the author of good, the other of evil. The soul was the work of the Good Principle, and was, therefore, essentially good, and could do no wrong. The body, on the contrary, was the work of the Evil Demon, for the deeds of which, therefore, the soul was not accountable. This was no new doctrine, but had been taught by the Gnostics or knowing ones, in the Apostolic age, and before them by Zoroaster.*(footnote: * Hurter, Innocent III, Vol. II. p. 273.)

2.   They inferred, that, as the body was the work of the Evil Principle, marriage was unlawful, though every excess of passion was exempt from guilt.

3.   They denied, for the same reason, the Incarnation of the Son of God, and consequently all the distinctive doctrines of Christianity, and treated as idolatrous most of the pious practices of Christians.

4.   They rejected the Old Testament, as the work of the Devil.

5.   They were formed into a fraternity composed of different degrees, nearly corresponding with the degrees of modern Freemasonry. There were novices, auditors, the initiated or elect, and grand-masters. They were bound to the strictest secrecy, so much so as to hold it for a maxim to swear truly or falsely, but never to divulge the secret. Thus were they the fathers and models of secret societies.

6.   Their political principles were comprised in two words,  liberty and equality; that is, with their views, licentiousness and contempt of superior authority.(footnote: Ibid.    Also, Henrion, L'Histoire Ecclesiastique)

After the death of Manes, his followers daily multiplied, and continued zealously to propagate his impious doctrines, and added to them another, which, in the course of time, took precedence of all the rest, and in after ages constituted the characteristic feature of the sect,  namely, revenge for the death of their founder. He had been put to death by a king. His punishment had been that of a slave,he was flayed alive. His doctrine had been condemned and successfully resisted by the Church. Hence his followers pledged themselves by the most terrible oaths to wage a bitter and interminable war against kings and governments, against all distinctions of rank, and, above all, against religion and its ministers. As religion was the basis of all order, and the ligature that bound men together, and cemented and strengthened the civil, social, and political compact, they concentrated all their efforts to impair its influence, and to destroy its institutions.

They proceeded adroitly. They began by familiarizing their victims with sneers against religion and with opprobrious epithets.    They were the first that styled the Church the Scarlet Woman of the Apocalypse. From them their modern descendants have borrowed that expression. They also called it a den of thieves. The bells of churches they were pleased to denominate bugles of the Devil,*(footnote: * Sismondi, Hist, des Francois, Vol. VI.)  as their imitators and offspring of more recent times bestowed upon organs the quaint appellation of " Devil's bagpipes." St. Augustine, who in his youth had adopted their doctrines and knew them thoroughly, says, that they took an oath of secrecy, and received for a maxim, " Jura, perjura, secrctum pro.dere noli ; Swear true, swear false, but never divulge the secret." They adopted signs and passwords, and saluted with the cabalistic expression, "Have you seen the light ? " and other similar phrases. On shaking hands, they could recognize an adept from one not initiated. In their places of assembling were to be seen mysterious emblems and enigmatic pictures ; most frequently representations of the sun, moon, and stars. St. Augustine says, that, when they prayed, they turned toward the sun by day, and toward the moon by night.(footnote: Hurter, Vol. II. p. 293.) Among their mysteries was a frightful one called Bema. At a certain season every year they assembled around a mortuary catafalque, elevated on five steps, and covered with significant decorations. They rendered homage to the man supposed to rest under this catafalque. That man was Manes. It was his horrible death they celebrated, and it was on this occasion that they annually renewed their vow of extermination and death to kings and priests. The season devoted to these abominable orgies was the same that Christians consecrate to the death and resurrection of Christ. Few of these matters, however, were revealed, except to those in the highest grades, or the initiated. The ostensible object and character of the sect, that which met the public eye or attracted general attention, was that of a pious and charitable brotherhood. They professed great virtue and purity of life, and were ever ready to aid with money or protection the distressed members of their society, or their surviving widows and orphans.(footnote: Henrion.)

For centuries the Manichaeans went on multiplying and spreading the poison of their sentiments over every portion of the Christian world. Popes, princes, and magistrates knew of its presence, they could perceive its effects by the devastation and misery it produced,  they knew well that the virus was at work and rapidly approaching the very heart of Christian Europe, but they endeavoured in vain to detect it, and they knew not how or where to apply the antidote. The members of the sect concealed themselves with such artthat it was almost impossible to find them. They assisted at mass and at the Church offices promiscuously with Catholics. They even received communion with the faithful, though they disbelieved the real presence ; and if for any cause they were suspected and interrogated, they answered like Catholics. This was their spirit from the beginning,*(footnote: * Sismondi, Vol. V.) and is particularly mentioned by St. Augustine and St. Leo. Peter of Sicily, and after him Cedrenus, speak of the same trait in the Paulicians, who were a branch of the Manichoean sect. When closely questioned, they disguised their true sentiments by artful equivocations. When at length they had become sufficiently numerous and formidable, they were less guarded, and in some places openly arrayed themselves against their princes and took up arms; in consequence of which Imperial laws were enacted in the ninth century, which condemned them to imprisonment and death.(foonote: Bossuet, Varia, Tom. I.)

One thousand years of the Christian era had elapsed when the Manichcneans appeared for the first time in France (A. D. 1017). The heresy was introduced by an Italian woman, who, by her fascinations and charms, (in which women are said to be preeminent,) succeeded in inveigling two canons of Orleans, who enjoyed a high reputation for learning and sanctity. From them the contagion spread\ and as corruption of manners most commonly engenders extinction of faith, so, as men's morals were in that region at a low ebb, a large number of the clergy were infected before any remedy could be applied. The new apostates, like the fox in the fable, were anxious to involve as many as possible in the same dilemma with themselves.

Accordingly, they devised a thousand ways to propagate their views. They tripped with mincing steps into private houses, proffering religious instruction to the inmates, assuming a sanctified countenance and a drawling accent, and wearing, we might almost add at a venture, black coats and starched cravats. They patted little children on the head, and spoke kindly to them, and would ask if they stood in need of raiment or of playthings. They insinuated themselves, both men and women, into the chambers of the sick, and inquired tenderly after the health of the patients. They announced to all, that truth, and goodness, and peace of mind were to be found only in their community. They wrote an abundance of little tracts in which were contained their least offensive doctrines, and threw them into people's windows and doors, and scattered them by the way-side and in the fields. On the envelopes of these tracts it was announced that they had been composed in heaven, and had been brought thence by angels, in corroboration of which assurance the finder was invited to apply them to his nose, and snuff the celestial odor they distilled. They were strongly scented with musk. ^ Many persons, among whom were some weak-minded ecclesiast cs, allowed themselves to be taken in these snares, whilst others more clear-headed publicly exposed their impostures.*(footnote: * Hurter, Innocent III, Tom. II. p. 281.)

At length, in 1022, a person of great repute, and of sound erudition, named Arefaste, a sincere and fervent Catholic, determined to discover what these new professors really taught, and for this purpose insinuated himself into their confidence, pretending to seek instruction. He was after a while admitted to a seat in their assemblies, where they appeared to be constantly occupied in quoting and expounding the Sacred Writings. They exhorted him to be converted, to forsake the ways of darkness and to walk in the light. Arefaste listened with a modesty and attention that delighted his preceptors. So soon as they felt sure of him, they expatiate'd freely upon the most sacred mysteries of Christianity, and treated them as the ravings of enthusiasts. They, at last, condescended to inform him that the heavens and the earth, by their very nature eternal, had neither cause nor beginning; that Christ was never born of a virgin, and had never suffered for men, but that a demon was crucified in his form ; that he had never risen from the dead ; that baptism was of no efficacy whatever ; and, finally, that good works were useless, and the most violent excesses of passion innocuous. By night they assembled in a retired place, and, torch in hand, they recited after the manner of a litany the names of evil spirits, till one of them, either by jugglery or magic, actually appeared. Then, having extinguished their torches, unutterable abominations followed. At certain meetings, or rather Saturnalia, they burned an infant eight days old, the fruit of these infamous excesses. The ashes were collected and honored with religious veneration.    It was used in the reception of novices, and was given to the dying by way of viaticum.

Arefaste, having carefully informed himself of these impious orgies, and of the principal individuals who practised them, communicated his discoveries to the king (Robert II.), who immediately hastened to the spot. The day after his arrival he ordered the arrest of all the persons accused. Arefaste was seized with the rest, that they might not suspect him of being the informer. A council of bishops was forthwith convened, and the prisoners were brought before it. At first, they equivocated as usual, and professed to believe like Catholics ; but, confronted with Arefaste, and seeing no way of escape, they made a virtue of necessity, and boldly avowed the sentiments with which they stood charged ; they derided the most sacred truths of Christianity, justified the revolting practices alleged against them, and set at open defiance the king and his laws. The people were exasperated to such a degree, that they could with difficulty be restrained from tearing the prisoners piecemeal ; the latter were immediately sentenced and led forth to execution, and, in accordance with the laws then in force, paid with their lives the forfeit of their crimes.*(footnote: Bossuet, Varia.   Henrion, Tom. IV.) 

The vigorous measures adopted by King Robert effectually purged his domains of these dangerous sectarians, and forced them to seek refuge in other regions. By careful concealment of the worst features of their sect, they succeeded, at length, in establishing themselves in the neighbouring provinces. Thus was formed the germ of the sect which, under various names, became so notorious in the south of France, where the effeminacy and neglect of luxurious magistrates afforded them opportunities and means to acquire strength, and in the course of time to inundate the entire land with blood and threaten the safety and stability of both church and state.(footnote:  Henrion.)

This country was peculiarly adapted to the propagation and rank growth of Manicha)ism. It was in the twelfth century, in a commercial point of view the most flourishing, and in a literary one the most civilized, part of Western Europe. The soil was rich, and its produce exuberant, and amidst the cornfields and vineyards arose many rich cities and many stately castles. It was there that the spirit of chivalry first laid aside its terrors and appeared as the inseparable associate of art and literature, of courtesy and love.    The language of Provence was already the language of the learned and polite.    A literature rich in ballads, in war-songs, in satire, and, above all, in amatory poetry, amused the leisure of the knights and ladies whose gorgeous mansions adorned the banks of the Rhone and Garonne.    But, alas ! with civilization had come also freedom of thought and irreligion.    Elsewhere, unbelievers and scoffers were regarded with execration, and dared not avow their sentiments.    Not so in the rich and luxurious regions of Provence and Languedoc.    The people lived in habits of courteous and lucrative intercourse with the Moorish kingdoms of Spain, from which they imbibed many skeptical notions.    They gave also a welcome reception to teachers and mathematicians, who, in the schools of Cordova and Granada had become versed in all the learning and theological impieties of the Arabians.     1 he Greek, too, still preserving, in the midst of his political degradation, the inquisitive spirit of his fathers, brought to the marts of Narbonne and Toulouse, together with the drugs and silks of remote climes, their bold and subtle theories,     lne .Fauli-cian theology,  which  was a modified   Manichseism,  spread rapidly among them and fastened deeply its roots.    Religion lost all authority with all classes, from the great feudal princes down to the cultivators of the soil, and the clergy were regarded with contempt.*(footnote: * Edinburgh Review, Oct. 1840.)    The troubadours, inebriated with their subtle theories, went from chateau to chateau, enlivening social reunions with jests upon things  the most sacred,  caricaturing priests, and relating scandalous tales of bishops, monks, and nuns ; by which means they engendered, at first, indifference, then aversion, to religion and to its ministers.    The common people were pleased with the new doctrines, for they flattered their pride, and placed them on a level with the most aristocratic ;  the higher ranks  were  enraptured,   for they saw in the diffusion of these theories the perspective of a libertine life, wine and women, tilts and tournaments, luxury and pleasure.                                                                

It was in the year 1181 that the new sectaries became formidable in the south of France under the name of Albi-genses, so called from the town of Albi, which was one ot their strongholds. Protestants are fond of claiming the Albi-genses as their progenitors, and amuse themselves with poetic and sentimental effusions upon the faithful few concealed m the verdant plains of Provence, in the passes of the Pyrenees, and in the valleys of Piedmont, that had not yet bowed the knee to Baal.    But that these their boasted ancestors held to many of the distinguishing principles of the Manichsean sect is as certain as any fact recorded in history.   Every candid Protestant writer admits it.    Maeaulay, in the Edinburgh Review, just cited, expressly declares   it,   and   Sismondi, in his History of the French (Vol. VI.), states it as a fact.   They themselves, when brought to the test, boldly confessed it.    At the  council of Lombez,  though in many things they equivocated, as usual, yet in others they spoke plainly, and declared that they rejected the Old Testament altogether ; that sacraments administered by wicked men were invalid, but that all good men, that is, men of their sect, whether ordained or not, could lawfully administer them; that judicial oaths were unlawful; also marriage and infant baptism.    Father Renier, a Dominican, who wrote in 1250, and who had been for seventeen years a member of the sect, but, like another  St. Augustine,  was converted to Catholic truth, positively asserts that they were Manichaeans, and clearly traces their descent from the Manichseans of Bulgaria.    Many others, educated among them, give similar testimony ; as, indeed, do all the Catholic authors of those times, who have treated at all on the subject.    It is to be presumed that they must be hard pushed for ancestry, especially " the churches of the English communion," as Dr. Jarvis facetiously styles the Protestant Episcopal Church, who adopt a decayed, cast-off ancestry like this, and that for no conceivable reason but because they agree with them in abusing the Church and calling the Pope hard names.*(footnote: * Bossuot,   Varia.)

After sixteen years of forbearance and fruitless efforts to restrain the excesses of the Albigenses by the arts of persuasion, in 1181 recourse was had to arms. This measure became absolutely necessary in consequence of their daily and cruel depredations. Allied with the Cotteraux, a famous band of brigands and assassins, the terror of the country, and patronized by many powerful lords and knights, they ravaged the neighbourhood and committed frightful excesses. " I have witnessed," says a contemporary writer,  Stephen, abbot of St. Genevieve at Paris,  " on every road where I passed, the smoking ruins of churches consumed by them, and the habitations of men converted into the dens of wild beasts." Raymond V., Count of Toulouse, demanded of the king of France an armed force to protect the Catholics, and to bring the offenders to terms. A numerous army was marched to the field, which was completely victorious. The consequence was, that many of the rebels returned to their allegiance, and externally, at least, embraced the Catholic faith. A temporary tranquillity ensued. But it was only temporary.*(footnote: * Henrion, Tom. V. p. 169. ) In less than ten years the Albigenses were found stronger and more turbulent than ever, and in close alliance with the Wal-denses, or Poor Men of Lyons, a sect that at first widely differed from them, but which in process of time adopted many of their peculiar principles. They had at the commencement of the thirteenth century, A, D. 1206, become the more formidable that they had for leader Raymond, Count of Toulouse, son of that Raymond who, a few years before, had so vigorously opposed them, and for patrons and supporters most of the nobility of the country.(footnote: Henrion, Tom. V. p. 229.)

Raymond governed one of the most important provinces in Europe. It was a central region, communicating directly with France, with Italy, and with Spain. The provinces yet untainted were separated by this infected district.(footnote: Edinburgh Review, ubi supra.) The yeomen of fifty towns and of countless boroughs followed the standard of Raymond VI. One hundred and ten governors of castles acknowledged him as liege lord, and a multitude of noblemen always attended him. The court of his father had been accounted one of the most brilliant of Europe. The lady fair, the gallant knight, and the merry troubadour sang of love and of deeds of daring, and the whole year was an uninterrupted succession of holidays. His son, Raymond VI., was in his early youth confided to tutors of the Manichsean sect, and he imbibed their principles. When, therefore, in 1194, he succeeded to his father, he protected the Albigenses, and offered a large reward in money to every Christian knight that should apostatize.(footnote: Hurter, Innocent III., Tom. III. p. 334.) He followed out his principles by repudiating his wives as often as they ceased to charm him.(footnote: Which example was scrupulously followed by one of his most distinguished imitators, Henry VITT., the father of "the Church by law established in England.") Moreover, he had so little respect for religion and the laws of the Church, that he hired mountebanks to mock and caricature the priests while they were officiating at the altar.    The very bishop of the diocese was obliged, whenever he went abroad, to take an escort of armed men for the security of his person.*(footnote: * Hurter, Innocent HI., Tom. 111. p. 335.) The Divine Office was no longer chanted in public. Weeds and tufted grass grew up among the steps and flags around the churches, and the moss and ivy crept over their walls. Many churches were converted into forts and garrisons, and, while song and revelry arose from these sanctuaries, their towers and battlements resounded with the clash of arms and the shouts and imprecations of men in battle.

If ever there was a time for prompt and energetic action to stem the torrent of irreligion, and to save the world from anarchy and barbarism, it was then. The Church was the only power on earth that could interfere with any chance of success. So far back as in 1179, in the Eleventh General Council, the errors of the Albigenses had been condemned. The twenty-seventh canon is most severe against them. It smites them with anathema, deprives them of the right of ecclesiastical sepulture, condemns all who favor or patronize them, and finally exhorts Christians to take arms against them. This proceeding on the part of the Church seems to us harsh, and sets for ever at rest one point, and that is, that the Church, as such, in general council assembled, did countenance and advise the punishment and suppression of the Albigensian heretics. Protestant writers contend that this treatment of the Albigenses proceeded from religious bigotry, and was levelled against a peaceful, innocent, and virtuous community of Christians, whose only crime was a desire to serve God according to the dictates of their conscience. Mosheim says, that the Roman Pontiffs urged a most sanguinary war against them for merely teaching otherwise than the Church taught, and for calling in question the power and prerogatives of the Popes. Now this is not true, as is evident from all the proceedings instituted against them, and from the very words of the canon which condemned them. Had the Albigenses been content with simply holding a false doctrine, and with teaching and professing it among themselves, had they not waged open war against the religion of the whole world, and sought to bring its authority, the only conservative authority known, into contempt,  had they not despised the laws of the land, and its civil rulers, and committed excesses that threatened the subversion of all law and order, of religion and of government, no war would have been waged against them. The Church has often condemned heresies, but no instance can be shown wherein she has levelled her anathemas against the persons of heretics, unless the public weal, and the conservation of ecclesiastical or political institutions, or both, manifestly and peremptorily demanded it. We have, we think, already said enough to show that in this case they did demand it. The question was simply this :  Shall the Church stand and see herself ravelled out into threads, and held up to public scorn as a jest and a by-word, her ministers insulted and despised, her temples burned and razed to the ground, her institutions attacked on every side, her very existence menaced, though vainly, by a band of sworn and ruthless enemies, combining the subtlety of Manichseans with the ferocity of Moors, and lift no hand to save herself and you from one common ruin ? Or shall she buckle on her panoply, and, with the means with which God has endowed her, stand upon her defence ? The very words of the canon show that its object was not so much to convert them as to put an end to their cruelties. " With regard to those heretics," it says, meaning the Albigenses and other kindred sects, u who practise such atrocities towards Christians as not to spare even churches and monasteries, nay, nor widows, nor orphans, but ruthlessly exterminate and slay, regarding neither age, nor sex, nor infirmity, we decree, &c. ;.....and we enjoin upon all
Christians to withstand such crimes, and, arms in hand, to protect their brethren."*(footnote: * Palma, Pralcct. Hist. EccL, Tom. III., P. I., p. 120.)  Even the French infidel Guizot does not regard the Albigensian wars as wars of religion, but styles them " a contest between feudal France on the one hand and municipal France on the other,"  "a struggle of the feudalism of the North against the attempt at democratic organization of the South " ; in other words, an attempt of the existing powers to suppress the rebellion of a strong and dangerous faction.(footnote: History of Civilization, p. 248.) The Church, however, saw farther than this, and with reason. Scarcely had Innocent III. ascended the pontifical throne, than he spoke (A. D. 1200) in tones of alarm of the progress of these turbulent sectaries. He compared them to scorpions whose sting was mortal, to foxes and firebrands carrying burning and desolation into the harvest-field, and to the locusts of the prophet Joel, hidden in the dust, but devouring all before them. Deeply afflicted at the perversion of so many of his flock, foreseeing the perils that menaced religion on all sides, Innocent, who never executed any project by halves, was resolved to put forth all his energies and influence to suppress the evil, or, at least, to check its further progress. To this end, he called upon the faithful to amend their lives, to remove every occasion of scandal, and to set an example worthy of imitation ; and he called upon the clergy to sound the silver trumpet of truth, that the walls of Jericho might be made to crumble.*(footnote: * Hurter, Innocent JIL, Tom. II. p. 305. )

When these measures of persuasion failed, then, and not till then, Innocent felt called upon to urge the application of other means. He decreed that all who obstinately adhered to the sentiments and practices of the modern Manichseans should be excommunicated from the Church, and deprived of all ecclesiastical fiefs and revenues. He recommended to princes to banish them from their territories, and, if necessary, to take up arms against them. In the year 1203, Peter de Castelnau and Rodolphe, both of the Order of Citeaux, arrived at Toulouse, as the Pope's legates. They were men of fervent piety and prudent zeal, who had consecrated their lives to the conversion of these heretics. But, though willing to endure and to labor, they suffered such incredible hardships, and encountered such unexpected and insuperable difficulties in the prosecution of their mission, that they became fairly discouraged. The unfavorable report they made to the Sovereign Pontiff, and the sad picture they presented of the decline of discipline and the prevalence of brigandage and anarchy, determined Innocent to call upon the king of France in the- most energetic terms to awake from his stupor and provide for the safety of his kingdom and of the Church. u The time has arrived," said he, "when the temporal and spiritual should unite for mutual protection, and they who would shake off the yoke of Christian obedience should be restrained by the secular arm. A solemn obligation rests upon you, therefore, to use the power that God has intrusted to you ; and if you cannot in person march against these evil-doers, you are bound to empower some suitable person to act in your stead."

Nevertheless, all was in vain. Neither the arts of persuasion, nor armed battalions, were able to convert or to quell the proud, licentious, and rebellious Albigenses. The legates, wearied out and disgusted with a mission so perilous and fruitless, were on the point of throwing up their commission, when, in the month of July, 1206, the Bishop of Osma, a Spaniard, encountered them at Montpellier, on his return from a visit to Rome.* (footnote: * Hurter, Innocent, III., Tom. II. p. 348.)  He was accompanied by an humble priest, of medium height, limbs delicately moulded, of handsome features, smiling countenance, rosy complexion,  and beard and  hair of light auburn.    His voice was rich, manly, and sweetly toned.    His step was modest, yet firm and graceful, and his temper was uniformly gay and cheerful.    His character was as remarkable as his personal appearance.    He was swift as the lightning of heaven in forming a resolution, and firm as a rock of jasper in its execution.    When all others hesitated, he quailed not, and he appeared always confident of success.    His conversation invariably charmed and edified, whatever the rank or condition of his auditor.    It always turned upon religion, and was garnished with eloquent and touching citations from the Sacred Writings.    In the pulpit he was majestic, animated, and resistless.    His discourses  were like the progress of a storm, and they ended with a rainbow and a serene and unclouded heaven.    To those who asked him whence he drew such sublime materials for his sermons he replied, From the book of charity.(footnote: Hurter, Tableau des Institutions, Tom. III.)    Yet he was full of humility, and practised the most rigid self-denial.    He shunned  the notice   of men,  and was pained by their applause.    And this was the man raised up by the Eternal for the deliverance of his people ; this was the man destined to achieve what cardinals, legates, bishops, and learned priests had in vain attempted,  what men in steel, knights in armour, and bristling battalions had failed to accomplish.    This was  the man  this youthful, modest, humble Levite  who was destined to hold aloft the lamp of truth, to sound its silver trumpet, to rejoice in its triumphs, and to compass the Mani-chaean Jericho   with a  chosen   band of spirits like his own. Who was this favored champion of the Most High ?    It was St. Dominic.    The band he gathered around [him were Dominicans, an Order celebrated throughout the world, and justly called one of " the columns of the Church."

Such was the man that the holy Bishop of Osma had selected as his companion, and with whom he entered the once lovely provinces of the Pyrenees, now desolate and dreary, blighted and scorched by fire and sword and heresy. Two venerable fathers, legates of Innocent III., furrowed with ungrateful and
unsuccessful toil, downcast and disheartened, present themselves to the saintly bishop, inform him of their determination to resign their commission, and crave his counsel and advice.    The bishop was sorely perplexed, and knew not how or what to reply, and appealed to Dominic, who with characteristic promptness took up the word, and thus addressed the legates :  "You missionaries have made a great mistake in your mode of conducting the mission.    You ride about on horses, and employ beasts of burden to convey your baggage and provisions.    You thereby give an advantage to the enemies of religion.    ' Look,' they say, ' see those horsemen coming up the road ! how finely they ride !    They are coming a-horseback to proclaim the Gospel of one who always went afoot.    As to the poor, they cannot stop to notice them, for they would  have to dismount.' No, sirs, you will never have success in this way ; but, if you would prosper, you must lay aside all pomps and luxuries, and unarmed, on foot, and without shoes, proceed to your task like veritable apostles."    This was bold, plain language to bead-dressed to Papal legates, but it was received in the spirit in which it was given.    The advice of the youthful canon*(footnote: * He was canon and subprior of the cathedral church of Osma.) was literally followed.    The bishop resolved to join them, and set the example by sending immediately home his servants and horses.    The others did the same, and all set forth on foot, without shoes, and rather in the garb of mendicant pilgrims than of Papal missionaries.    The good bishop was soon after (1207) taken ill and died.     St. Dominic, however, remained, and prosecuted the work so happily begun.    He went through all the towns and  villages, praying, singing, and exhorting to peace and reconciliation and love, and always remained longest where he found the most hardships and the greatest dangers, esteeming himself but too happy in being instrumental in the salvation of souls, or in laying down his life in the cause.    It was at this time that he instituted the celebrated devotion of the Rosary, which consisted in the recitation for a certain number of times of the sublimest of prayers in honor of the Mysteries of Redemption, and as a reparation for the blasphemies and insults that had been heaped upon them by the sectaries. This devotion was not only an eloquent appeal to Heaven, but was also a most instructive and intelligible book in which the great truths of Christianity were made plain to every capacity, from the lord of the castle to the humble peasant. The devotion and humility of the gifted missionary, the ardor and perseverance with which he pursued his sacred calling, the zeal and patience with which he catechized and instructed both parents and children, his calmness in the hour of peril, and the eagerness with which he sought persecution and martyrdom, so won upon the respect and confidence of the people, that an infinite  number, among whom were some that had been his most violent enemies,  were  convinced of their errors, were seized with compunction for their crimes, and threw themselves with enthusiasm into the bosom of the Church.    Having received special faculties and instructions for the prosecution of his undertaking, he received the penitents with tears of joy, and welcomed them to their father's house.    The most stubborn and refractory he sometimes accused to the secular authorities. This last proceeding has called forth unmitigated condemnation from their children and successors of later days, and St. Dominic has been called the father and founder of the Inquisition, in its odious sense, as an execrable and murderous tribunal.    The truth is, St. Dominic never established any sort of special ecclesiastical tribunal.    He merely exercised the power*(footnote: * A power often exercised by priests similarly situated, and recognized by the then existing laws of Europe.) of entering a complaint in the civil courts against disturbers of the peace and enemies of the common weal.    Such, surely, were the Albigenses,  if outlaws,  brigands, church-burners, bloodthirsty adventurers, and secret plotters against the state may and ought to be so denominated.

Though, among the simple-hearted and sincere, the labors of St. Dominic were crowned with brilliant and unlooked-for success, yet, on the'other hand, they served only to arouse the fury and vengeance of the proud and licentious chiefs, and of their unprincipled followers. The cry of priestcraft was raised, and ran like wildfire. Banners of liberty, so called, rolled in blood and baptized in fire, were unfolded in every village, and multitudes gathered around them. Men were appealed to, if they would consent to be priest-ridden. " Away with the priests ! to the gallows with the priests ! " From words and shouts and execrations they proceeded to corresponding actions. They patrolled the whole country in armed bands of from five to eight thousand men. Churches were again attacked and burned, and priests and religious were seized and put to death, and in many cases flayed alive.    Peter de Castelnau, the legate of Innocent III., was assassinated (1208) in open day by a servant of the Count of Toulouse, and another ruffian, and was placed by the Church on the catalogue of her martyrs. These events, but especially the murder of the legate, caused a universal shudder, and set all Christendom in flames. The Count of Toulouse and his followers were excommunicated anew, and all the places they occupied, and the cities that gave them refuge or protection, placed under interdict. The king of France awoke at last from his stupor and inactivity, and an army was set on foot, to punish, and, if necessary, to extirpate, the authors of these crimes.*(footnote: * Alban   Butler,  St.   Dominic.  Sismondi,   Histoire   dcs   Francais. Henrion, liv. 39.) The same indulgences were promised that had been granted to the Crusaders in Palestine. An immense army was rapidly equipped, and was commanded by the most illustrious barons, lords, and knights of France, among whom were Otho, Duke of Bourgogne, who had commanded the army of the Crusaders at the Holy Sepulchre, the valiant Peter de Courtenay, the celebrated and devoted Simon de Montfort, and a multitude of others, no less distinguished by their bravery and feats of arms than by their rank and influence.(footnote: Hurter, Innocent III., Tom. II. liv. 13.)

Fifty thousand combatants assembled at the point of rendezvous, wearing the red cross on their breast. The chiefs met, and chose Simon de Montfort commander of the expedition. In 1209, the army marched, and immediately entered the unfortunate countries infected with the Albigensian heresy. Victory attended the crusaders on every side. Cities and posts were invested and carried by assault. The war was continued on both sides for a long series of years, with a ferocity and thirst for blood that has ever characterized civil wars, and all the horrors and cruelties of a fierce and protracted warfare filled the land with devastation and misery, and inundated it with blood. Success, however, attended the crusaders, and the Albigensian Manichseans, more brilliant in tilts and tournaments and letters than in the battle-field, were either swept from the earth, or forced to conceal themselves in its remotest corners, there to remain unknown and unhonored until again brought into notice by the political and religious commotions of the sixteenth century, like certain monsters of the deep, who pursue unknown tracks in the depths of the ocean, and never show their heads above the waves  except in time of storms and tempests.                                                           

We are far from being an advocate for war, and as followers of the Prince of peace we would use our feeble influence, to the extent of our ability, in dissuading men from this terrible alternative.    Still less do we advocate, or attempt to justify, the employment of the sword for the advancement of the truth, never sanctioned or permitted by the Church, believing that the truth hath power sufficient in herself, being " more piercing than any two-edged sword, and reaching unto the division of the  soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow (Heb. iv. 12 ); and believing, too, that to force men's consciences is only to transform them into knaves and hypocrites.    But still, with Father Lacordaire, we repudiate the  principles ot the non-resistants ; we hold that there may exist a state of society where forbearance on the part of even Christian people ceases to be a virtue, and cheerfully adopt the following from the eloquent Dominican :
" War is an act by which a nation resists injustice at the expense of its own blood.    Wherever there is injustice, there is legitimate
cause  for war......Religion, indeed, teaches us what is right,
but war defends the right. The one is God's word, the other is his arm. Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts ; that is, God of justice, the God who commissions the strong man to succour the feeble, who overthrows haughty dynasties, raises up a Cyrus against Babylon, breaks down the gates of brass, and changes the executioner into the soldier, and the soldier into the victim. But war, like things the most sacred, may be abused, and degenerate into a measure of oppression. Hence, to judge of its merits in any given case, we must know its object. A war of emancipation is holy, a war of oppression is accursed.

" Up to the period of the Crusades, almost the only motiveto war anion" Christian nations was the defence of their country and of their respective governments. The soldier died on the frontiers o his country, and that word country was the war-cry that inspired him with courage and with strength on the battle-field. But when Gregory VII. had awakened in men's minds the idea of a Christian republic, the horizon of brotherhood and that of self-devotion were both equally enlarged. Europe, bound together by a common faith, held that every oppressed people professing the same faith, whoever might be the oppressor, had a just claim to her aid and protection, and could lawfully take up arms for themselves It was then that chivalry was born ; and war became, not only a Christian, but a monastic employment, and the outposts of the West were guarded and hedged about by the hair-cloth and the bucklers of whole battalions of monks. Every Christian man felt that he was a minister of justice against tyranny, and, being the workmanship of Him whose ears are ever open to the supplications of his children, that it was his duty to fly promptly at the first cry of distress. As a sportsman stands all armed at the foot of a tree, listening to the sounds borne upon the breeze, so did Europe in those days, her lance at rest and her foot in the stirrup, listen attentively to the cries of the oppressed. Whether the oppression proceeded from the throne or from the tower of a castle, whether it were necessary to cross the sea or merely to mount a charger, neither weather, nor place, nor danger, nor rank could impede the achievement of their object. No one talked of profit or of loss. Blood is shed freely, or it is not shed at all. Conscience rewards men in this world, and God in the next.

" Among the weaker powers which the chivalry of Christendom had sworn to protect, there was one more sacred than all the others,  it was the Church.    The Church, having neither soldiers nor ramparts to defend her, had ever been at the mercy of her oppressors.    Whenever a sovereign had the will to injure her, he could do it.    But chivalry no sooner appeared than it proclaimed itself the champion of the City of God ; at first, because the City of God was feeble, and then, because the security of its freedom  was the cause of man.    Being oppressed, the Church had a right to claim the protection of the knight; being a Divine institution for the purpose of perpetuating the work of terrestrial freedom and of eternal salvation, the Church was the mother, the spouse, and the sister of every one who had gentle blood or a good sword.    I do not believe that there exists a man incapable of appreciating the sentiments that I have advanced.    It is the glory of our age, amid all  its misfortunes, to have discovered that there are interests more elevated and more universal than the interests of family or of nation.   The sympathy of nations overleaps once more their boundaries, and the voice of the oppressed finds again an echo in the world.    Where is the Frenchman that would not accompany with aspirations for success, if not in person, an army marching to the succour of the Pole ? Where is the Frenchman, unbeliever though he may be, who does not place upon the list of crimes of which that ill-fated country has been the victim, the violence  offered  to religion, the exile of its priests and bishops, the spoliation of its monasteries, the desecration of its churches, and the violence done to the consciences of its people ?    If the arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of an Archbishop of Cologne created in modern Europe so great an excitement, what must have been the state of public feeling in the thirteenth century, when it was known that a Papal legate had been most treacherously and cruelly assassinated ? "  pp. 63- 67.

But the assassination of the legate was not the only crime of the Albigenses, nor was it by any means the only cause of the crusade that was marshalled against them. Monasteries, as we have seen, were laid in ruins, churches were pillaged and transformed into garrisons, bishops were ejected from their sees or kept in a constant state of anxiety and alarm, priests were cruelly scourged and many were flayed alive. Religion was despised, and its most sacred rites were made matter for ridicule and caricature. Bands of marauders and assassins patrolled the country, leaving devastation and blood in their path. When, therefore, it was known that to all these insults and cruelties was superadded that of the murder of a Papal ambassador, and that the murderer was publicly protected and befriended by Raymond, Count of Toulouse, the acknowledged patron, protector, and head of these modern Manichseans, is it surprising that all Christendom should instantly have been in flames, and, shaking off her lethargy, harnessed herself for battle, and rushed forth to the succour of her oppressed brethren. The cup of injury and insult had been filling for ages. It had now overflowed and threatened to deluge the world. Forbearance was no longer a virtue, but a crime. The cause of God, the cause of humanity even, demanded retribution. The day had come, and the retribution was paid in blood.

But neither St. Dominic nor any of his companions had any hand or part either in proposing or in prosecuting the long and sanguinary wars which followed. In fact, the outbreak of the war placed St. Dominic in a most embarrassing position, which, however, served only to show forth all the fervor of his piety and all the grandeur of his genius. Two paths lay before him, of equal danger ; the one, to abandon his mission, the other, to enlist all his influence on the side of the crusaders. In the one case he would have turned his back upon the cause of God, arid in the other he would have divested his mission of its peaceful and apostolic character. But he was equal to the emergency, and he did neither. He did not fly from the danger, but rushed into its very midst, and established himself at Toulouse, the head-quarters and stronghold of heresy, imitating therein the example of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, of whom the one chose Antioch and the other Corinth for the field of his toils, and both died in Rome, the queen city of paganism. On the other hand, though war raged furiously on every side, not a flush of passion mantled his cheek, not a cloud of angry feeling obscured the peaceful serenity of his countenance.    Amid the armed chivalry of France, he appeared only as a messenger of peace, and a herald of grace and reconciliation. It is a remarkable fact, that no contemporary historian ever mentions his name in connection with the Albigensian wars. He is never present either at councils, or at conferences, or at sieges, or at triumphal celebrations. Once only is he mentioned in connection with a battle, and then he is at prayer in a neighbouring church. This silence is the more expressive, since the historians of that period belonged to different parties and schools ; some being ecclesiastics, and some laics ; some friends, and others enemies of the crusades. Had St. Dominic taken the part in these wars attributed to him by some modern writers, it is impossible that the historians of the time should have been mute thereupon, as if by common consent. All contemporary writers assure us that St. Dominic and his companions occupied themselves in works of mercy, and that they prosecuted their sublime mission with no other arms than their crucifix and rosary, reproving and restraining the crimes and excesses of the crusaders as energetically as they did those of their enemies.

It is a great mistake to regard the Albigenses and the Albigensian wars through modern optics. If we would see them in their true light, we must consider them as occurring in the thirteenth century, and not in the nineteenth. In the thirteenth century, man's temporal happiness even was so closely interwoven with the faith of the Church, that, the moment the latter was weakened, the former fell into threads. Political Europe was in a state of transition from barbarism to civilization. It was divided and subdivided into innumerable petty principalities, mostly independent of each other, but dependent for their very existence upon the pleasure of the Roman Pontiffs. This dependance they had voluntarily chosen ; nay, in many cases they humbly and earnestly besought it. Having embraced Christianity, they naturally threw themselves upon Christianity for the preservation of their civil rights and liberties. What was to deter a powerful baron from seizing by force the castle and dependencies of one less potent than himself ? What was to prevent constant recurrence of civil wars, of daily murders, of public pillage ? There was nothing but religion. But religion could not make its voice heard, nor its authority respected, except by its ministers. When, therefore, religion was attacked, its doctrines assailed, its institutions menaced, its ministers insulted or assassinated, all the sovereigns and princes and feudal lords of Europe might well tremble, for religion was the ligature that bound them, the cement that gave them cohesion. Each blow, therefore, aimed at the Church made every castle in Christendom shake as though riven by an earthquake, and struck upon their walls like the crash of a thunderbolt. If, then, it be true that the enemies of the Church were necessarily enemies of the state, and as such to be punished and suppressed, what are we to think of the Albigenses, who were a leagued band of traitors and unprincipled ruffians, aiming at the subversion of all government, of all restraint, and of all religion ?

In conclusion, we cannot forbear to recommend the eloquent Life of St. Dominic by Father Lacordaire to our readers generally, as eminently interesting and instructive. Its author is well known, and has been for some time held to be one of the most eloquent preachers living. This work appears to have been compiled with great care, and is admirably adapted to the men of this age who have a prejudice against any thing ascetic. We commend it to those Protestants who always couple St. Dominic in their minds with the Spanish Inquisition, and take the Spanish Inquisition to have been all that the imagination and malice of apostates, heretics, and infidels have painted it. They may learn to love and reverence one whom they igno-rantly and rashly denounce as a monster of cruelty. There is nothing in the life of St. Dominic for which a Catholic can blush, and we cannot better end than by saying, " St. Dominic, pray for us ! "