« FöregåendeFortsätt »
HERMITAGES, MONASTERIES, AND NUNNERIES. In the middle ages, all taste for the sublime and beautiful was confined to the monks. This taste did not originate with the earliest founders of the monastic orders'; for Paul, the first hermit, resided in a cave ; and St. ANTHONY on Mount Colzim, a dreary and pathless desert. The lives of hermits and saints afford as much solid entertainment, as the guilty pages of historians. ST. JEROM devoted several years to solitude, abstinence, and devotion, in a hideous desert in Syria : St. ISIDORE retired to a solitude in the neighbourhood of Pelusiota : PASCHOMIUS, among the ruins of a deserted village, on an island formed by the Nile, erected the first regular cloister; and soon after founded eight others in the deserts of Thebais. This recluse never lay down ; nor leaned against any thing. He sat upon a large stone in the middle of his cell; and when Nature demanded him to sleep, he slept with reluctance, and then sitting.
ST. MARON, founder of the sect, called the Maronites, led a life of austerity, in the solitude of a hermitage; St. HILARION lived forty years in a desert; while Simeon STYLITES, the celebrated Syrian shepherd, on a column, sixty feet in height, unmoved either by the heat of summer, or the cold of winter, lived for a period of thirty years a :-hymning, as he thought,
A Vide Theodoret. in Vit. Patrum, lib. ix., 854.-In the Acta Sanctorum (ii. 107.) St. Anthony is called the “ Father of Monastic Life.”—Those, desirous of investigating the manners and habits of the monks of the deserts, may consult with advantage Arnaud D'Andilly's Vies des Pères du Désert i-r-Rossweide's Histoire des Vies des Pères des Déserts ;-and Villefore's Vies de Saints des Déserts d'Orient et d'Occident. Of the monasteries in Tartary, vide Mémoires concern. les Chinois, tom. xiv. 219.
Buddha, the great god of the Cingalese, is said to have been a hermit. Trav. Marco Polo, b. iii., c. xxiii. And something resembling the monastic and con. ventual orders prevailed among the ancient British Druids and Druidesses ;-as may be seen by references to Ammianus Marcellinus (lib. xv.), and Pomponius Mela (lib. iii. c. 2).
by his austerities and privations, a requiem for eternal rest.A church was afterwards built round his pillar ; and so persuaded were the inhabitants of Antioch of his sanctity, that they esteemed his bones more efficacious as a defence than the walls of a city.
EUGENIUS instituted the monastic order in Mesopotamia : St. Basil carried this taste for seclusion still farther into the East; while St. Martin, bishop of Tours, erected the first monastery in France. The followers of HILARION, and those of the earlier hermits, anachorets, and ascetics, sought, as the seats of retirement, the most uncultivated solitudes and the most obscure wildernesses ; where they cultivated vines, figs, and olives, for their daily subsistence. In process of time, however, — particularly after the discovery of the pandects of Justinian, whence we may date the origin of modern science and taste,—the love for natural beauty improved : and the founders of abbeys, priories, and other religious houses, became remarkable for selecting the most delightful situations for the seats of devotion :-and, having once established themselves, they were far from being deficient in the art of improving the natural advantages of the spots they had chosen.
The HERMITS of St. John the Baptist lived in a kind of Laura, about twenty miles from Pampelona, in the kingdom of Navarre. They wore no shoes, nor linen; a large cross depended from their breasts ; and a stone served them for a pillow. Those of Brittini led a life of austerity in almost perpetual fasting: and those of St. JEROME of the OBSERVANCE, (the order of which was founded by Lupus d'Olmedo among the picturesque mountains of Cazalla) were almost equally abstinent and austere.
There were various orders of hermits. Some devoted themselves entirely to a life of seclusion; and by abstinence thought they best conciliated the approbation of the Deity. Others lived in hermitages, attached to convents. These were
allowed a small garden as their only place of recreation; and their only relief from prayer was the liberty of rearing a few herbs.
Some of these recluses were females. Helyot gives a curious account of the ceremony, used in the devoting a female to perpetual seclusion“. One of the most celebrated of these was the Theatine Order of the HERMITAGE, established at Naples by Ursula Benincasa.-Their whole life was a continued scene of prayer. There was an order of nuns, too, called the “ SoLITARIES of St. PETER of ALCANTARA,” which was instituted by Cardinal Barberini. They kept almost perpetual silence, except to themselves ; they were waited upon by temporal maidservants, to whom they never spoke ; they went barefoot ; wore no linen; and occupied themselves in spiritual exercises ; --each nun believing herself to be Sponsa Christi.
The only institution that bears any resemblance to that of nuns, among the ancients, was the order of the VESTAL VirGINS ; whose office it was to watch the sacred fire in the temple of Vesta. They were admitted at ten years of age: and their period of service was thirty years: after which they were per
# Having been favoured with the copy of an invitation to see a Nun profess (in Italy), I send it to you, my dear Lelius; since it may be considered a curiosity, perhaps, in your retired village.
IL MARCHESE E MARCHESA DI S. IPPOLITO.
Alle Ore 16. D’Italia.
Ne 'l Parlatorio di Detto Monistero
D. ROSALIA SARZANA
mitted to marry. The first ten years were devoted to acquiring a knowledge of their duties :—the second ten years to practising them :- and the last ten years to the teaching of novices. They were held in the highest degree of veneration; and enjoyed many privileges.
In the island of Lipari, there are orders of nuns, who devote themselves to a life of celibacy, and yet live with their parents, and mix in general society. In the city of Aix there was a convent, near the residence of Count Kleist, in which hospitality was extended to strangers of whatever sex or circumstances; and from which medicine was sent to the poor. The nuns of this convent were appropriately called the SISTERS OF MERCY.
In some parts of India", too, there are communities of nuns. - Among the most remarkable of Eastern saints was Mary the EGPYTIAN.–After a youth of irregularity, she retired to the desert beyond Jordan, where she passed a life of such austerity and seclusion, that for seven and forty years she did not see a single human being.–At length she was discovered by Zosimus. This holy man administered to her the Eucharist, and soon after departed. On his return to her solitude, the next year, he traced an inscription on the sand, by which he learnt, that Mary expected to die on the day she had received the sacrament: and that she wished him to bury and to pray for her.—The body had wasted; but the bones remained. Zosimus performed the melancholy office, that Mary had assigned to him.
The Basiilians wore no linen, ate no flesh, and cultivated the earth with their own hands: the CAPUCHINS walked barefoot, and shaved their heads : and the CARMELITES, presuming to trace their origin to the prophet Elias, debarred themselves from ever possessing property. They never tasted animal food; they habituated themselves to manual labour; were
Thevenot, iji, 61.
constantly engaged in oral or mental prayer; and continued in religious silence from the hour of vespers to the third portion of the succeeding day. The law, forbidding the use of meat, was, in some degree, mitigated by the Popes Eugene and Pius : in consequence of which, and a few other regulations, this order divided into two, under the names of moderate and barefooted Carmelites.
The BENEDICTINES always walked two and two ; they never conversed in the refectory; they slept singly in the same dormitory; performed their devotions seven times in a day; and in Lent fasted till the hour of six. They had but a slight covering to their beds ; slept in their clothes; and their wardrobe consisted of only two coats, two cowls, and a handkerchief.
The CAMALDOLESE, a branch of the Benedictines, lived for the most part among the wild solitudes of the Apennines ; in the bosom of which St. Romuald founded the order of CaMALDULENSIANS. One of the rules of this order enjoined, that their houses should, in no instance, be situated at a less distance, than fifteen miles from a city. The CARTHUSIANS ate no meat, and kept a total silence except at stated periods. · The CISTERCIANS, habited in a long white robe, and girt with a wooden girdle, spending the day in labour and in reading, rising to prayers at midnight, and abstaining from meat, milk, and fish, were very powerful in political as well as in religious affairs. The FRANCISCANS professed poverty : yet, by the bounty of the Popes, were amply compensated by papal indulgencies.
The DOMINICANSA were the most infamous, as well as the most celebrated and powerful, of all the monastic orders. At
a St. Dominic invented the inquisition :-he never spoke to a woman, or looked one in the face :—and he caused eighty persons to be beheaded, and four hundred to be burnt alive in one day. When his mother was pregnant of this inestimable saint, she dreamed, that she brought forth a dog instead of a child ; and that it held in its mouth a torch, with which it set fire to the world; that two suns and three moons appeared ; and that meteors and earthquakes announced his nativity.