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Relics Of Saints
by [?]

When relics of saints were first introduced, the relique-mania was universal; they bought and they sold, and, like other collectors, made no scruple to steal them. It is entertaining to observe the singular ardour and grasping avidity of some, to enrich themselves with these religious morsels; their little discernment, the curious impositions of the vendor, and the good faith and sincerity of the purchaser. The prelate of the place sometimes ordained a fast to implore God that they might not be cheated with the relics of saints, which he sometimes purchased for the holy benefit of the village or town.

Guibert de Nogent wrote a treatise on the relics of saints; acknowledging that there were many false ones, as well as false legends, he reprobates the inventors of these lying miracles. He wrote his treatise on the occasion of a tooth of our Lord’s, by which the monks of St. Medard de Soissons pretended to operate miracles. He asserts that this pretension is as chimerical as that of several persons, who believed they possessed the navel, and other parts less decent, of–the body of Christ!

A monk of Bergsvinck has given a history of the translation of St. Lewin, a virgin and a martyr: her relics were brought from England to Bergs. He collected with religious care the facts from his brethren, especially from the conductor of these relics from England. After the history of the translation, and a panegyric of the saint, he relates the miracles performed in Flanders since the arrival of her relics. The prevailing passion of the times to possess fragments of saints is well marked, when the author particularises with a certain complacency all the knavish modes they used to carry off those in question. None then objected to this sort of robbery; because the gratification of the reigning passion had made it worth while to supply the demand.

A monk of Cluny has given a history of the translation of the body of St. Indalece, one of the earliest Spanish bishops, written by order of the abbot of St. Juan de la Penna. He protests he advances nothing but facts: having himself seen, or learnt from other witnesses, all he relates. It was not difficult for him to be well informed, since it was to the monastery of St. Juan de la Penna that the holy relics were transported, and those who brought them were two monks of that house. He has authenticated his minute detail of circumstances by giving the names of persons and places. His account was written for the great festival immediately instituted in honour of this translation. He informs us of the miraculous manner by which they were so fortunate as to discover the body of this bishop, and the different plans they concerted to carry it off. He gives the itinerary of the two monks who accompanied the holy remains. They were not a little cheered in their long journey by visions and miracles.

Another has written a history of what he calls the translation of the relics of St. Majean to the monastery of Villemagne. Translation is, in fact, only a softened expression for the robbery of the relics of the saint committed by two monks, who carried them off secretly to enrich their monastery; and they did not hesitate at any artifice or lie to complete their design. They thought everything was permitted to acquire these fragments of mortality, which had now become a branch of commerce. They even regarded their possessors with an hostile eye. Such was the religious opinion from the ninth to the twelfth century. Our Canute commissioned his agent at Rome to purchase St. Augustin’s arm for one hundred talents of silver and one of gold; a much greater sum, observes Granger, than the finest statue of antiquity would have then sold for.

Another monk describes a strange act of devotion, attested by several contemporary writers. When the saints did not readily comply with the prayers of their votaries, they flogged their relics with rods, in a spirit of impatience which they conceived was necessary to make them bend into compliance.