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Malta, were first named from the hospital of S. John Baptist in Jerusalem, which was built in the eleventh century for the comfort of pilgrims coming to the Holy Sepulchre. The Order was founded in 1092, for the protection of the pilgrims on their way thither. The Knights Templars, so called from their first house adjoining the temple at Jerusalem, were instituted in 1118, for a similar purpose. They were suppressed, with circumstances of great cruelty, by Clement V. in the council of Vienne, 1312.
Before the sixteenth century, there were more than four hundred religious houses in Great Britain under the Rule of S. Augustin.
As when the sun hath climbed a cloudy mass,
So, sainted bishop! in the lettered store
Which still enfolds thy spirit, fled from sight,
Christ bathes each part with His transforming light
With flowing sweetness; o'er each rising pause
For thy sick soul, by baptism's seal relieved,
MANES, or Manichæus, the founder of the sect which bore his name, was born in Chaldea, in the middle of the third century. He was originally a Christian
priest, but having been led astray by the extravagant opinions of the Persian Magi, he was excommunicated by the Church. He lived at the court of Persia, and died in 277. He borrowed many of his opinions from the system of Zoroaster, and from Buddhism. His fundamental error was a belief in an evil as well as a good principle in the universe, represented under the figure of darkness and light. All material things, as he taught, were created by the evil principle. Hence, whatever tended to perpetuate or reproduce matter he condemned as sinful, as for example holy matrimony. His followers were divided into the Elect or Perfect, and the Hearers. The former renounced marriage as sinful, and for the same reason abstained from animal food. The Masters or Apostles, and the bishops, priests, and deacons of the sect were chosen from them. Many other errors and excesses disgraced his followers. They maintained that our Lord Jesus was born, and suffered, and rose again only in appearance. They believed in the transmigration of souls, and denied the general resurrection of the flesh. They kept a few of the Christian festivals, and celebrated a Eucharist with water in the chalice, instead of wine and water mixed, as in the Catholic Church. They prevailed much in the East and in Africa during the centuries immediately following their first appearance. Afterwards they seem to have spread westwards by way of Austria; and they reappeared in the thirteenth century in the sect of the Albigenses', whom some modern historians
1 See Bossuet Histoire des Variations, Liv. xi. Also the History of the Albigenses by the Rev. S. R. Maitland, and his letter to the Rev. Dr. Mill, on the same subject.
would represent as the preservers of the holy Catholic Faith during the night of the dark ages,— ages whose darkness, illuminated by a S. Bernard, a S. Thomas Aquinas, a S. Bonaventura, and innumerable others, shone upon the humble and meek of heart, like heaven's own blessed light.
Such a sect as the Manichees the holy Apostle Paul had foretold in his first Epistle to Timothy'. Far different from their condemnation of holy matrimony is the doctrine of the Catholic Church, which invests it with a sacramental mystery', while she counsels her saints to follow " a more excellent way." And with S. Paul she still teaches that " every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving," while she follows the steps of her Lord in painful fasts and abstinence. "To abstain sometimes from certain meats, not because the meats are evil, but because they are not necessary; this abstinence, saith S. Augustin, is not evil. And to restrain the use of meats when necessity and time shall require, this, saith he, doth properly belong to Christian men3."
Beheading of S. John Baptist.
Two festivals of S. John Baptist are contained in the Kalendar; one, on the 24th of June, which com
? Ephes. v. 32.
1 1 Tim. iv. 1-3.
3 Homily on Fasting, part ii.
memorates his miraculous birth; and this, which keeps alive the memory of his death. But because his birth was more nearly connected with the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is annually observed by the Church with greater solemnity than the day of his beheading. Although he was not honoured to die for the name of the Lord Jesus, for the Lord Himself, the King of Martyrs, went before all others in this, yet inasmuch as he gave up his life in the cause of truth, chastity, and justice, he is rightly esteemed a martyr.
In the thirty-first year of the Incarnation, the Saviour was baptized by S. John in the waters of Jordan. And before the end of the same year the holy Baptist was cast into prison. Thus his own prophecy began to be fulfilled, that the Lord must increase, while he himself must decrease. He had provoked the anger of Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, by reproving him for having espoused Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip. Antipas, Philip, and Aristobulus, the father of Herodias, and of Herod Agrippa king of Judea, were the sons of Herod the Great, by different marriages. Herod Antipas had divorced his own wife, Aretas, the daughter of the king of Arabia. And Herodias had in the same manner been separated from her husband, and now lived with his brother. She had a daughter, named Salome, by her former marriage.
Her indignation against the bold reprover of her sin far exceeded that of Herod, and his death alone could satisfy her revenge. But Herod was afraid to indulge her; he even regarded S. John with veneration, and listened to his discourse. The Baptist, while he lay in prison, sent his disciples to Jesus,
that they might behold the miracles which He performed, and might recognize in Him the Christ of Whom their master had been the Precursor. For they seem, as well as the Pharisees, to have distrusted the total absence of all austerity which marked the outward life of the Lord. On that occasion He bore testimony to the great office which S. John had fulfilled, in these words, "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
The scene of his martyrdom, and the shameful causes which brought it about, are thus described by S. Mark, in the words of the holy Gospel which is appointed for this day, in the Latin Church.
"Herod himself had sent forth, and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison, for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him, but she could not. For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chiefs of Galilee; and when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half