**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


by [?]

“This popular tale Mahomet learned when he drove his camels to the fairs of Syria; and he has introduced it, as a divine revelation, into the Koran.”–The same story has been adopted and adorned by the nations, from Bengal to Africa, who profess the Mahometan religion.

The too curious reader may perhaps require other specimens of the more unlucky inventions of this “Golden Legend;” as characteristic of a certain class of minds, the philosopher will contemn these grotesque fictions.

These monks imagined that holiness was often proportioned to a saint’s filthiness. St. Ignatius, say they, delighted to appear abroad with old dirty shoes; he never used a comb, but let his hair clot; and religiously abstained from paring his nails. One saint attained to such piety as to have near three hundred patches on his breeches; which, after his death, were hung up in public as an incentive to imitation. St. Francis discovered, by certain experience, that the devils were frightened away by such kinds of breeches, but were animated by clean clothing to tempt and seduce the wearers; and one of their heroes declares that the purest souls are in the dirtiest bodies. On this they tell a story which may not be very agreeable to fastidious delicacy. Brother Juniper was a gentleman perfectly pious, on this principle; indeed so great was his merit in this species of mortification, that a brother declared he could always nose Brother Juniper when within a mile of the monastery, provided the wind was at the due point. Once, when the blessed Juniper, for he was no saint, was a guest, his host, proud of the honour of entertaining so pious a personage, the intimate friend of St. Francis, provided an excellent bed, and the finest sheets. Brother Juniper abhorred such luxury. And this too evidently appeared after his sudden departure in the morning, unknown to his kind host. The great Juniper did this, says his biographer, having told us what he did, not so much from his habitual inclinations, for which he was so justly celebrated, as from his excessive piety, and as much as he could to mortify worldly pride, and to show how a true saint despised clean sheets.

In the life of St. Francis we find, among other grotesque miracles, that he preached a sermon in a desert, but he soon collected an immense audience. The birds shrilly warbled to every sentence, and stretched out their necks, opened their beaks, and when he finished, dispersed with a holy rapture into four companies, to report his sermon to all the birds in the universe. A grasshopper remained a week with St. Francis during the absence of the Virgin Mary, and pittered on his head. He grew so companionable with a nightingale, that when a nest of swallows began to babble, he hushed them by desiring them not to tittle-tattle of their sister, the nightingale. Attacked by a wolf, with only the sign-manual of the cross, he held a long dialogue with his rabid assailant, till the wolf, meek as a lap-dog, stretched his paws in the hands of the saint, followed him through towns, and became half a Christian.

This same St. Francis had such a detestation of the good things of this world, that he would never suffer his followers to touch money. A friar having placed in a window some money collected at the altar, he desired him to take it in his mouth, and throw it on the dung of an ass! St. Philip Nerius was such a lover of poverty, that he frequently prayed that God would bring him to that state as to stand in need of a penny, and find nobody that would give him one!

But St. Macaire was so shocked at having killed a louse, that he endured seven years of penitence among the thorns and briars of a forest. A circumstance which seems to have reached Moliere, who gives this stroke to the character of his Tartuffe:–