« PreviousContinue »
The Holy Staircase.
wooden planks, and as it would be a very odd attempt to come down a staircase on one's knees,
there are lateral ones, less
holy, by which the peoWhatever I may think
ple tread their way down. of the creeds of others, I respect sincerity in any mode of worship, and were the last even to appear to slight it; but at this curious exhibition of men, and particularly the ladies, young and middle aged, together with the old women, toiling, and bumping up in this uncouth way, I could not forbear laughing right heartily, and turned aside to indulge it.
HISTORIC SUMMARY OF PAPACY, AND PAPAL GOVERNMENTPIUS VII EXTRAORDINARY PRETENSIONS OF THE PON
STATE OF THE
TIFFS-ALEXANDER III, AND EMPEROR BARBAROSSA-RISE
24th Dec.-THE eve of Christmas Day, and of all the imposing, religious, ceremonials of the Popish Church on this most important Festa di Natale. They commence about midnight, or rather about three o'clock in the morning, and I feel interested to see them, with His Holiness officiating. In the interim, let us slightly advert to papal go
The present Pope,* by name Chiaramonti, was originally a Benedictine monk of the Abbey of St. Giorgio at Venice, being also of a noble family. His promotion, next to his virtues, is due to the
* Lately deceased.
late Pius VI, who first created him Bishop of Imola, and subsequently gave him the greater dignity of a Cardinal's Hat. At the death of his predecessor, he was, by a conclave of Cardinals assembled at Venice, elected in March 1800 to fill the august chair of St. Peter, when he assumed the name of Pius VII. He made his triumphal entry into Rome in April following, at a time when he, equally with his people, were, comparatively, so poor, from the consequences of the French inva sion, that his equipage was the gift of the noble house of Colonna.
Pius VII issues his decrees as in the twentysecond year of his Pontificate, though during this long interval he, like many of the other sovereigns of Europe, was shaken, and driven, from his throne by the ovewhelming power of the late Emperor of France, since it was during the plenitude of Bonaparte's influence that Rome was deprived of her independence, became an integral part of the kingdom of France, and that her sovereign was detained for ten years at Fontainebleau. Now, it is hoped, firmly and peaceably re-established, His Holiness acknowledges that it is to the efforts of England chiefly that he owes the continuation of his supremacy, and this feeling he evinces by a marked attention to the English on all occasions.
Yesterday I attended Mass to see him officiate.
His age is about eighty; his voice in blessing the congregation was sufficiently audible; he stoops much from the feebleness of age, and walked with difficulty to the throne, supported by attendant cardinals, but his hair is still abundant, and jet black, forming a striking contrast to the silver episcopal mitre he wore.
The Pope may be considered in three different powers, and capacities, as Sovereign of the Roman territory, and people; Head of the Catholic Church; and Successor, by divine right, to the Chair of St. Peter. Too often forgetful of the sublimer duties of the office of Chief Shepherd of the Flock of Christ, we find many Popes whose lives were consumed in the aggrandisement of their temporal sovereignty; while we know that the thunders fulminated from the Vatican have made monarchs tremble on their thrones, and brought them cowering, submissively, to kiss, and, contentedly, to be spurned from the feet of an arrogant Pontiff.
Among the number the Emperor Barbarossa demeaned himself to kiss the feet of Pope Alexander III. The proud Prelate even ventured to put his foot upon the monarch's neck, who, too timid from superstition to resent the act, yet
*Decree of the General Council of Florence.
burning to shake off the papal insult, exclaimed, "Non tibi, sed Petro." "Et mihi, et Petro,"* was the consummate reply.
Pope Gregory VII advanced claim to Universal Dominion!
The further still more monstrous assumption by the Popes of" Infallibility" has been supported by the Roman Court, whether believed or not, because politically it favored their grandeur; but in other Roman Catholic states this presumptuous, and overweening, pretence met with deserved opposition, and in France, more particularly, the four decrees of their church in opposition to it were publicly maintained, and taught, in their Universities, and Schools. These decisions imply that the Pope, individually, is superior to every other Bishop, but inferior to them, collectively, in council-that his power is not despotic, but subject to the prescriptions, and canons, of the church: that his power, moreover, is purely spiritual, and that he cannot abridge, or controul, the authorities, and prerogatives, of Kings; and, finally, that his decisions are fallible, and are only just when confirmed by the authority of the Church at large.
It was during the pontificate of Leo X, that splendid patron of arts and learning, that Luther, about the year 1520, first dared to impugn the "Not to thee, but to Peter."- "Yes-to me, and to Peter."