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EARLY CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS IN FRANCE.
MONTALEMBERT, in The Monks of the West, has devoted a chapter to the Monastic Precursors,' including those in Gaul-St. MARTIN, (born in Pannonia, in Lower Hungary, in 416), soldier, monk, and bishop, and the founder of the first monastery of that region at Ligugé, and subsequently that of Marmoutier .at Tours, where he died in the year 400; SULPICIUS Severus, a rich noble, born in Aquitaine in 363, and a disciple of St. Martin, who sold his estate, gave up his profession of advocate, and resided in a mean bovel (belonging to one of his slaves who had become his brother by accepting the Christian faith), where he wrote the biography of his master, in extension of the cenobistic institution; Honoratus, descended from a consular family, and highly educated, who, in 400, with his brother, on one of the islands, rocky and arid, which lie just out of the roadstead of Toulon, in the Mediterranean, between Frejus and Nice (then Lerins), founded a religious cominunity which became a celebrated school of Christian thcology, an asylum for literature and science, and the normal or training institution of missionaries and bishops for the whole of Gaul, as well as of Ireland and England; John Cassianus, (350--447), born in the country of the Scythians, and educated at Athens, was converted to the Christian faith, and dwelt as a monk at Bethlehem and then in Egypt, repaired to Constantinople to confer with Crysostom, and to Rome to plead his cause with Pope Innocent I., and closed his career by founding at Marseilles the great monastery of St. Victor, which shortly reckoned five thousand monks within its own walls and in houses erected in its neighborhood, and which was ruined by the Saracens in the ninth century, rebuilt and dedicated by Pope Benedict IX. in 1043 ; Sr. GERMAIN, of Auxerre, (where he was born in 380, made bishop in 418, died at Ravenna in 448), founder of one of the most celebrated Abbeys of France in his Episcopal city; Reomaus (son of Senator of Dijon) who built about the year 450, upon the confines of Eduens and Lingons, the
first abbey in Burgundy, since known as Moutier-St.-Jean; and still earlier, Romains and LUPICIUS, the founders of monasteries in and beyond the Jura. All of these institutions ultimately accepted the rule of Columbanus and still later of St. Benedict.
ST. COLUMBANUS-MONASTERY OF LUXEUIL.* COLUMBANUS, the missionary and modifier of monastic life, was born in the province of Leinster, Ireland, about the year 560, resided for a time under the instructions of the Abbot Comgall, at Bangor in Wales, and at the age of thirty, with twelve companions, crossed the channel to preach the gospel in Gaul, and plant religious houses. His first residence was at Annegray, now a hamlet of the commune Faucogney (Haute Saône), which he soon left for Luxeuil, the site of a strong Roman castle and baths, on the confines of Austrasia and Burgundy, at the foot of the Vosges. This district had been laid waste by the northern invaders, and especially by Attila, and became, under the rule of Columbanus, a great monastic metropolis. Before his time, among the hills of Jura, Romain, a native of Sequania, trained in the religious house of Ainay, near Lyons, bad founded the monastery of Condat; and in its neighborhood, near the present village of St. Lupicius (called after a brother of Romain), sprung up the colony of Lauconne, and a convent (the site of which is occupied by the church of St. Romain de Roche), over which a sister of the two abbots (Romain and Lupicius) presided. These religious houses were famed for the austerities of the rule which they observed, but their fame was eclipsed by the zeal and labors of the new monastery of Luxeuil.
Disciples collected abundantly round the Irish colonizer. It could count several hundred of them in the three monasteries which he had built in succession, and which he himself governed. The noble Franks and Burgundians, overawed loy the sight of these great creations of work and prayer, brought their sons to him, lavished gifts upon him, and often came to ask him to cut their long hair, the sign of nobility and freedom, and admit them into the ranks of his army. Labor and prayer attained here to such proportions that the founder could organize that perpetual service called Laus perennis, which already existed at Agaume, on the other side of the Jura, where, night and day, the voices of monks, ' unwearied as those of angels,' arose to celebrate the praises of God in an unending song.
Compiled from Monto lembert's 'Monks of the West. St. Coluinbanus ;' and Guizot's Civilization.
Under the rule of Columbanus, all, rich and poor, weak and strong were bound to some form of labor. The works of construction and agriculture-ploughing, mowing, reaping, thrashing, cutting and gathering wood, according to the season, were constantly going on. One article ordained the monk to go to rest so fatigued that he should fall asleep on the way, and to get up before he has slept sufficiently. It was at the cost of these excessive and constant labors that marshes were reclaimed, forests were felled, immense structures for residences, worship, and industrial purposes were erected, and the work of education and civilization was carried on by the monastic institution.
His firmness and inflexibility brought him into collision with Queen Brunehault and his grandson, who drove him from his monastery, which he left only to preach christianity in eastern Helvetia, where one of his assistants (Gall) remained to found the celebrated abbey which bore bis name, while he pushed on still further into Italy, where he labored with his own hands at the advanced age of 60, in a retired gorge of the Apennines, between Genoa and Milan, in building the Abbey of Bobbio, which was long the light of northern Italy. His last days were past in fasting and prayer, in a chapel which he fitted up in a rocky cavern on the opposite shore of Trebbia, where he died in 615. llis rule of monastic life consists of ten chapters, which treat of obedience, absolute and passive; silence, perpetual, except for useful and necessary causes ; fasting as a daily exercise, and food of the simplest kind, without wine; frequent prayer and psalmody of the choir; poverty, humility, chastity, prudence, mortification, and the penitentiary or · code of severities to the extent of corporal beating for monastic irregularities—was more severe and less distinct than that of Benedict, by which it was replaced within a century even in the institutions which he himself founded. But such was the attraction of his preaching and presence, and such the wisdom of his plans as adapted to his age and the people, that his institution at at Luxeuil became the type of many others founded by his immediate disciples. Such was Dissentis, founded by Sigisbert in the solitude of the Alps; St. Gall, ncar Lake Constance; Lure, of which the abbot, eleven centuries afterwards, was reckoned a prince of the holy Roman Empire: St. Paul, of Besançon; RomainMoutier, in the passes of the Jura; Bèze, between the Saône and the Tille; St. Ursicnius and St. Germain, at Grandval; Fontenelle, which, under the name of St. Vandrille, occupied an important place in the ecclesiastical history of France and Normandy;
Jumiéges, for centuries the noblest ornament of Normandy; Jouarre Reuil, and Rebias, on the Marne; Faremoutier and Moutierla-Celle, near Troyes; Hautvilliers and Moutier-en-Der, St. Salaberga, at Laon; Leuconaüs, at the month of the Somme, and Centule, further up that river; Sithiu, better known as St. Bertin, in Belgium, or Remiremont, the first of the double monasteries, These, and many similar institutions, founded by Columbanus and his Irish companions, became the fountain heads of the new civilization-at once the sanctuaries of the devont, the refuges of the weak, and the training schools of the teachers, preachers, and skilled workers of an age of ignorance, upbreak, and transition. In reference to his and their work, Montalembert says in his Monks of the West :
Inspired by the magnitude of the designs of this great master-builder, pervaded by the vigorous life which flowed from him, like him self-willed, dauntless, and unwearied, they gave to the monastic spirit the most powerful, rapid, and active impulse which it had yet received in the west. They extended it especially over those regions where that Franco-Germanic race, which hid in its skirts the future life of Christian civilization, was laboriously forming itself. By their means the genius and memory of Columbanus hover over the whole of the seventh century, to pass away into the more permanent effulgence of the Institute of St. Benedict.
In reference to the supremacy obtained by the rule and name of the Italian monk, the same historian observes:
The cause which produced in Western Christendom the supremacy of St. Benedict's institute over that of his illustrious rival, was most likely the same which made the Rule of St. Basil to prevail over all the other monastic Rules of the East-namely, its moderation, its prudence, and the more liberal spirit of its government. When the two legislatures of Monte Cassino and of Luxeuil met together, it must have been manifest that the latter exceeded the natural strength of man, in its regulations relating to prayer, to food, and to penal discipline, and, above all, in its mode of government. St. Benedict had conquered by the strength of practical sense, which in the end always wins the day.
One of those great rivers, which, like the Moselle or the Saone, have their source near Luxeuil itself, offers a meet symbol of the fate which awaited the work of St. Columbanus. We see it first spring up, obscure and unknown, from the foot of the hills; we see it then increase, extend, grow into a broad and fertilizing current, watering and flowing through vast and numerous provinces. We expect it to continue indefinitely its independent and beneficent course. · But, vain delusion! Lo, another stream comes pouring onward from the other extremity of the horizon, to attract and to absorb its rival, to draw it along, to swallow up even its name, and, replenishing its own strength and life by tirese captive waters, to pursue alone and victorious its majestic course towards the ocean. Thus did the current of Columbanus's triumphant institu. tion sink into the forgotten trib of that great Benedictine stream, which henceforward lowed forth alone to cover Gaul and all the West with its regenorating tide.
ST. COLUMBA-MONASTERY OF JONA. COLUMBA, the apostle of the new faith in that portion of Great Britain which received the name of Scotia (Scotland) from the Irish colonists who took with them the name from Ireland, and of Caledonia, the home of the indomitable Picts, was born at Gartan, in one of the wildest districts of the present county of Donegal, in 521. His father was descended from 'the great Niall, who was supreme monarch of all Ireland from 379 to 405,' and his mother belonged to a reigning family in Leinster, one of the four subordinate kingdoms of the island. The future saint was educated in the school of Clanard, which at one time numbered 3,000 pupils, under Abbot Firinian. According to his historian, he was the founder of several religious houses and schools in his native province, and became involved in disputes with ecclesiastical and royal authorities, before he was self-exiled to the stormy Hebrides; with twelve compauions, at the age of forty-two, Columba landed upon a desert island situated on the north of the opening of that series of gulfs and lakes which, extending to the northeast, separated the still heathen Picts from the district occupied by the Irish sects. To their island was given the name of I-Colm-Kill, and which is better known under that of Iona. Here was erected, thirteen centuries ago, the first rude structure of that great monastic institution, whose ruins alone now attracts the curiosity of travelers from widely separated countries. On the double basis of manual and intellectual labor the new insular community was trained to a life of austerity and fervor, before the members went out on their mission of evangelization into the far off as well as neighboring districts of Scotia and Caledonia, and the Northern Picts. In his preaching and instructions the founder incorporated the lyric element, which from that time was identified with ecclesiastical life. He died in 597, leaving to his disciples not a new written rule, but a spirit of prayer, praise, and work, of union and of disci. pline, which proved a bond to maintain in one great body, for several centuries, not only the monks of Iona, but of the numerous communities which had gathered round them, and which were called the order of Fair Company, and still longer the Family of Columb-Kill. Of them, the Venerable Bede, writing one hundred years after the death of Columba, says: “It is undeniable that he left successors illustrious by the purity of their life, their great love of God, and their zeal for the monastic order.' His personal influence was felt quite as strongly in Ireland for two centuries as in Scotland.
The great monasteries of Old Melrose (the cradle of this celebrated Cistercian Abbey, whose ruins have been reconsecrated in the poetry of Walter Scott), Abercorn, Tynningham, and Caldingham, between the Forth and the Tweed, are the offsprings of Iona, although not in direct subordination to its authority.
"We were now treading,' said, in the eighteenth century, Dr. Samuel Johnson, who was the first to recall the attention of the British public to this profaned sanctuary -' we were now trending that illustrious island which was once the luminary of the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the benefits of knowledge and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavored, and would be foolish, if it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our se:uses, whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied whose patriotism wou'd not gnin force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruiys of lona ?'