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The Pagan and pirate Danesl rushed in through its open doors, threatening death to the religious, and almost immediately afterwards these barbarous threats were put in execution. The monks, expecting this irruption, had the precaution to remove a rich shrine, containing St. Columba's relics, from its usual place. They buried it under ground, so that it might thus escape the profanation of those savage invaders. That rich prize was what the Danes chiefly sought. They urged Blaitmaic to show them the place of its concealment. But our Saint, who knew not the particular place where it was buried, with unbending constancy of mind opposed himself to this armed band. Although unarmed himself, he put forth some futile efforts of strength to stay the ravages of his enemies. He cried out, at the same time, “I am entirely ignorant regarding those treasures you seek for, and where they are buried. But, even had I a knowledge of all this, my lips should yet be closed, Draw your swords, barbarians, take my chalice, and murder
Gracious God, I humbly resign myself to Thee!" The barbarians immediately hewed him into pieces with their swords, and with more diabolical rage, because they were disappointed in their expectations for obtaining spoil. At this time the Abbot Diarmait was probably absent from Iona, and the holy martyred priest it would seem, worthily represented their Superior's authority among the religious. The body of St. Blaitmaic was buried in that place where his glorious crown of martyrdom had been obtained, according to his biographer Strabo; and many miracles were afterwards wrought in favour of several persons, through the merits and intercession of this great soldier of Christ.3
We have not been able to discover whether our Saint ever enjoyed any superior dignity at Iona; but it would seem, from the preceding narrative, that he exercised considerable influence over the minds of his brethren on that island. We are told that in the Irish language this Saint is called Blathmhac.4
The first syllable of this compound name has an equivocal signification. Blath, when pronounced long, has the literal meaning "a flower," and the metaphorical signification“ beautiful ;" when pronounced short, it is rendered into the English
See Father Stephen White's “ Apologia pro Hibernia,” cap. iii., p. 23, and cap. V., p. 59.
2 It seems so have eluded their search, for in A.D. 829, the Abbot Diarmait brought the relics of St. Columbkille to the mainland of Scotland, and A.D. 831, he removed them to Ireland.
3 This Saint is venerated abroad on the 19th of January, while in the Martyrology of Donegal his feast is set down on the 24th of July. This latter festival, perhaps, was some translation of his relics.
• See Colgan's “ Acta Sanctorum Hiberniæ,” xix. Januarii, n. 3, p. 129.
words “honor" or “ fame.” The word Mhac is Anglicised “son.” Truly was this heroic man named. For not alone was he the son and heir apparent to his father's temporal possessions, but he became one of God's glorified children, secured in the enjoyment of a heavenly inheritance. He plucked the flower of martyrdom with unbending constancy, and he blooms with distinguished brilliancy, “as the apple-tree among the trees of the woods."? His memory deserves to be honoured in the Church, since he achieved a distinguished reputation. This is one, likewise, which no concurrence of events can ever tend to tarnish or destroy.
DECREES OF THE COUNCILS OF TRENT AND OF THE VATICAN ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
(From the Etudes Religieuses.) THE
HE Church has been commissioned to teach all mankind. It is by preaching she fulfils this great work. But to aid her in this Divine mission, her Founder has furnished her with books written under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which contain the very Word of God graven in ineffaceable characters. So precious a treasure has always been preserved by the Church with the respect it merits. Her doctors have carefully weighed every word of these holy books; they have taken pleasure in developing the different significations; and their commentaries form the finest monuments of Christian literature. There, as in a well-furnished arsenal, they have sought spiritual arms in their warfare against the enemies of the faith, and they have defended the Bible with unequalled zeal against all attacks and alterations by heretics. The Scriptures have been the object of the fury of persecutors, and more than one hero has shed his blood to defend them from the insults of the unbeliever, and thereby had his name inscribed on the glorious roll of the martyrology.
Protestantism, at its very birth, was desirous of profiting by this respect of the Christian world. It affected an ardent zeal for the sacred books, and, carrying its veneration beyond reasonable limits, maintained that the Bible is the only rule of faith. But its very exaggerations, by a law of Providence, have led it to the opposite extreme. Three centuries have hardly elapsed, and the followers of those who acknowledged no other rule of faith than the Bible, gradually led to the verge of rationalism, accord a merely human authority to the sacred volume.
1 This name, which is a common one, derived from bláč, flos, and mác, filius, may be Latinized Florigenus or Florentius. The Index to the Calendar of Done. gal represents it by Florigenius and Florus, as it does blath by Flora. See Rev. William Reeves' Adamnan's “ Life of St. Columba," n. (y), p. 389.
Canticle of Canticles," ii., 3.
Even from the very dawn of the Reformation, the pernicious influence of free examination gave a deadly blow to the canon of Scripture. Luther was the foremost. Everything in Holy Writ that conflicted with his doctrines of wholly imputative justification, of free-will, and the sacraments, was boldly consigned among the apocryphal books. The canon of Scripture, thus at the option of individuals, no longer had any stability. Individual caprice led to the admission or rejection of books that had been regarded as inspired from all antiquity. The authenticity of the Scriptures was not only questioned, but also their legitimate meaning. Luther denied the doctrinal authority of the Church, and was obliged to make the Bible the ground of Faith ; that is, the Bible interpreted according to the particular notions of each believer. In reality, Luther wished to subject his followers to his own interpretation. Like rebels of every age, he arrogated an authority he refused to legitimate power. But logic has its inevitable laws. The Lutheran theory claimed absolute independence. It made all Christians, even the most ignorant, even those the farthest from the knowledge of the truth, judges of the real signification of the Scriptures. It promised each believer the interior illumination of the Holy Spirit in ascertaining the true meaning of the sacred text beneath all its obscurities. But, as the Divine Spirit is not pledged to fulfil the promises of the Reformer, each Protestant interprets the Bible according to his own views, and the various sects sprung from the Reform have, in the name of the Scriptures, maintained the most contradictory opinions.
Besides the change in the canon, and the false interpretation of the holy books, there was another abuse—that of unfaithful translations. Protestantism rejected the authority of the Church, therefore it would not receive her version of the Scriptures. It had no regard for the Vulgate. The innovators, with Luther at their head, undertook new translations. In their boldness, they did not shrink from attempting to surpass the work of St. Jerome. They were not well versed in the knowledge of the original idioms; they had access to but few manuscripts; the copies they had were not the choicest; and yet they imagined they could excel the great Doctor who spent so large a part of his life in Palestine, absorbed in the profound study of the ancient languages; who took pains to collate the best manuscripts, and was aided by the ancient rabbis—the most versed in the knowledge of Hebrew antiquities and in the languages of the East. Every day a new translation appeared, which, under the pretext of adapting God's own Word to the common mind, diffused heretical novelties by means of insidious falsifications.
The Reform was equally unscrupulous as to the correctness of the text. The Bible was left to the arbitrariness of its editors and the carelessness of printers. Through unscrupulousness or negligence, many incorrect expressions crept into the versions sold to the public. The new heresy was not wholly responsible for the numerous faults in the various editions of the Bible. The sacred book had for ages been subjected to all the hazards of individual transcription. The distractions of the copyist had, in many instances, caused the substitution of one word for another, the omission of a part of a verse, or the transferring of the marginal gloss to the text. Hence so many copies alike in the main, but full of discrepancies.
Such was the state of the Bible question at the opening of the Council of Trent. Its importance could not escape the bishops who composed that assembly, and the theologians who assisted them with their acquirements, consequently it was the first proposed for consideration. On the 8th of February, 1546, the Fathers being assembled in general congregation, Cardinal del Monte, the chief legate of the Holy See, proposed the Council should first consider the subject of the Holy Scriptures, and make a recension of the canon, in order to determine the arms to be used in the struggle against heresy, and also to show Catholics on what their faith was grounded, many of whom lived in deplorable ignorance on this point, seeing tlie same book accepted by some as dictated by the Holy Spirit, and rejected by others as spurious. The president of the Council afterwards determined the principal points to be submitted to the consideration of the Fathers.
But this is not the place to review the account of this interesting discussion. We will only state the results.
1 Pallavicini, History of the Council of Trent, b. vi., ch. xi., No. 4.
In the fourth session, held April 8, 1546, the Council promulgated its celebrated decree respecting the Holy Scriptures, which comprehended two very distinct parts :—the first, dogmatic; the second, disciplinary.
The dogmatic part established the authority of the sacred books in matters of faith and morals, their divine origin, the canon, the authenticity of the Vulgate, and the rules for interpreting the inspired text.
The disciplinary prescriptions had reference to the use of the Vulgate in the lessons, sermons, controversies, and commentaries; the obligation of interpreting the Scriptures according to the unanimous teachings of the Fathers; the respect to be paid to the divine word, and, consequently, the crime of those who apply it to profane, light, or superstitious uses. The Council" likewise enacted severe laws against publishers who issue the holy books, or commentaries on them, without a writtten authorization of the ordinary, and against the vendors or holders of prohibited editions ; finally, it ordained that the Holy Scriptures, especially the Vulgate, be henceforth printed with all possible correctness.
To these prescriptions of the fourth session we will add the first chapter of the decree of reform, continued in the fifth session, ordering the institution of a course of Holy Scripture in certain churches, in order that the Christian community might not be ignorant of the salutary truths contained in the sacred volume. Such was the reply to Protestant calumnies which accused the Church of withholding the sacred treasure of God's Word from the faithful.
Such, briefly, were the labors of the Council of Trent with regard to the Holy Scriptures. The importance of the decree of the fourth session must not be estimated according to the brief place it occupies in the canons, for, brief as it is, it has had an incalculable influence on sacred science. This decree, in fact, gave rise to those admirable works of criticism that have defended the authentic canon against the attacks of heresy, and reduced the pretended discoveries of Protestantism respecting the true canon of holy books to their proper value; thence the number of excellent commentaries that for three centuries have been enriching Catholic theology; and thence so many apologetic works which have defended the truth of the Biblical narrative against the false pretensions of rationalistic history. To this same decree we owe the many learned researches concerning the original text, the primitive versions regarded as genuine in the ancient churches, and, above all, the incomparable edition of the Vulgate—the result of thirty years' labor by those most versed in the study of sacred literature.