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name is honoured with great devotion in many other parts of France. It was formerly no less celebrated in England. The synod of Worcester, in 1240, appointed his festival to be observed by attendance at Mass, and by abstaining from all work except the labour of the plough. His sanctity has been attested by miracles, and his name was often invoked in favour of prisoners.

Many confraternities were established in the ages of faith for the redemption of captives and the relief of prisoners. The most distinguished of these was the Order of the Mathurine or Trinitarian Friars, founded by S. John de Matha and S. Felix de Valois, about the year 1197, and confirmed by pope Innocent III. They adopted the rule of S. Austin, with some constitutions of their own. A third part of their revenues was devoted to the poor, another third to the redemption of Christian captives, and the remaining share sufficed for their own mainteThey were brought into England in 1224, and possessed about twelve houses in it at the dissolution, and thirteen in Scotland. Their habit was white, and from the red cross which they wore on their breast, they were sometimes called Red Friars; a name which was also given to the Knights of the Temple.


Where the influence of the ancient faith incites to the same heroic charity, such institutions are still numerous. One of the most remarkable is the Confraternità de' Bianchi at Naples, so called from the colour of its habit. It is dedicated to our Blessed Ladye, under the title Sancta Maria succurre miseris. It is composed of the highest in rank and dignity among

the city clergy, including the cardinal archbishop and the apostolic nuncio. Since its foundation about three hundred years ago, it has numbered among its brethren four popes, and more than twenty cardinals, and six members of the sacred college are now enrolled among them. And several of the brethren have been added to the catalogue of saints.

"The great object of this confraternity," says a late writer, "like that of S. Giovanni Decollato at Rome, is the care of criminals who are condemned to suffer the extreme penalty of the law. The moment sentence of death is passed upon the prisoner, the members of the congregation take the place of the ordinary spiritual directors of the prison, and with unwearied vigilance watch, to the very last hour, every opportunity of instilling holy thoughts into his troubled mind, inspiring confidence, or calming despair; exciting or confirming the disposition to repentance, or directing him, if already repentant, in the reparation of the injuries which have been the consequence of his crimes. And in order to relieve his mind more completely from the earthly cares which burden it in his last hours, the confraternity charges itself with the care of all those for whom the criminal is bound to provide, and who stand in need of his assistance or protection. The parents of the unhappy man are secured against want; if he leaves a wife, she is placed in a safe and honourable asylum, whence if she desires to marry a second time, she receives a considerable dower. A similar provision is made for his children.

"In addition to their care for condemned criminals, the Bianchi brethren also provide for poor and un

friended debtors and prisoners confined for lesser offences; paying the debts of the more meritorious among them, administering suitable advice and instruction to those whom it is possible to reclaim, and taking every means to recall them from the ways of crime. No difficulty disheartens their holy zeal, no repulse, though accompanied by insult and even violence, damps their resolution; and the prayers offered up without intermission by the brethren, especially at the altar, cannot fail to bring a blessing upon the labours of the community. By the people of Naples they are held in the highest veneration, and even in the prisons the most profligate and abandoned will uncover as a brother of the Bianchi passes by."

Doubtless there are persons who calculate their charities by a different rule, and who will condemn the mercy of such confraternities, as in their opinion an encouragement to crime. But they who have been trained in the school of Christ have learned otherwise. His approving sentence at the day of doom outweighs every other consideration, and they find an answer to each specious objection in His own words, "Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was in prison and ye visited Me."

In lands where the hearts of the people have been estranged from the Catholic Church, their charities, like their faith, are without unity or well-directed aim. Yet the efforts of single persons, and even of small societies, are often worthy of the zeal of earlier times. No one can mention the name of Howard, the friend of prisoners, without breathing a prayer that the errors of his faith may be forgiven him, for

the sake of the inextinguishable love for the miserable and the guilty, which attested the presence of that 66 charity which covers a multitude of sins."

The Fourth appointed to his office was

Poore prisoners relieve with gratious ayd,
And captives to redeeme with price of bras,
From Turkes and Sarazins, which them had stayd;
And though they faulty were, yet well he wayd
That God to us forgiveth every howre

Much more then that why they in bands were layd;
And He that harrowed hell with heavie stowre

The faulty soules from thence brought to His heavenly bowre.

Faërie Queene, b. i. c. 10.


S. Martin, Bishop and Confessor.


S. MARTIN, the Apostle of Gaul, was born at Sabaria, a town in Pannonia, on the borders of Hungary, in the year 316, or 317. His parents removed during his infancy to Pavia, where he was educated. Though they were pagans, he was inclined from his earliest years towards the Christian faith, and when he was ten years old he was admitted as a catechumen of the Church, much against their will. At the age of twelve, his fondest wish was to retire into the desert, to serve God in solitude. His father was a military tribune in the army of Constantine, and wished him to follow the same profession. And an order having been issued to

enlist the sons of veterans, his name was given in, and he was compelled to take the military oath, when he was fifteen years of age. Even in the life of a soldier, he endeavoured to imitate the humility and poverty of the monks. He was attended only by one servant, whom he treated as his equal, and often performed for him the meanest offices. S. Martin was preserved from the vices common to the army; and his patience, and lowliness, and extraordinary charity endeared him to his comrades. He kept only so much of his pay as was necessary for his daily wants; the rest he gave to the poor. One day, during a winter so severe that many had died of cold, he met at the gate of Amiens a poor man miserably clad, who had in vain implored the pity of the passers by. S. Martin had given away everything that he had, except his clothes and arms; so drawing his sword, he cut his cloak in two, and gave half to the beggar. His friends ridiculed his appearance; but on the following night he saw in a vision the Lord Jesus standing by, covered with the part of the cloak which he had given to the poor man, and heard Him say to the angels who attended Him, "Martin, yet a catechumen, hath clothed me in this garment."

He resolved immediately to seek for baptism, and received it, when he was eighteen years old. He remained for two years longer in the army, at the entreaty of his tribune, who lived in great intimacy with him, and had promised to renounce the world as soon as his time of service should expire. At last S. Martin took an opportunity of soliciting his discharge, but the emperor reproached him with fear, as a general engagement was expected on the following

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