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thousands crowded into it, some of which, as I was told, had been waiting there ever since six in the morning. I was admitted, and very commodiously situated to view the whole performance. We had not waited long before the curtain was drawn up. Immediately, upon a high scaffold, hung in the front with black baize, and behind with silk purple damask laced with gold, was exhibited to our view an image of the Lord Jesus, at full length, crowned with thorns, and nailed on a cross, between two figures of like dimensions, representing the two thieves. At a little distance on the right hand was placed an image of the virgin Mary, in plain long ruffles, and a kind of widow's weeds. The veil was purple silk, and she had a wire glory round her head. At the foot of the cross lay, in a mournful pensive Posture, a living man dressed in woman's clothes, who personated Mary Magdalen; and not far off stood a young man, in imitation of the beloved disciple. He was dressed in a loose green silk vesture and bob-wig. His eyes were fixed on the cross, and his two hands a little extended. On each side, near the front of the stage, stood two sentinels in buff, with formidable caps and long beards; and directly in the front stood another yet more formidable, with a large target in his hand. We may suppose him to be the Roman centurion. To complete the scene, from behind the purple hangings came out about twenty little purple-vested winged boys, two by two, each bearing a lighted wax taper in his hand, and having a crimson and gold cap on his head. At their entrance upon the stage, they gently bowed their heads to the spectators, then kneeled and made obeisance, first to the image on the cross, and then to that of the virgin Mary. When risen, they bowed to each other, and then took their respective places over against one another, on steps assigned for them on the front of the stage. Opposite to this, at a few yards' distance, stood a black friar in a
pulpit hung with mourning. . For a while he paused, and then breaking silence, gradually raised his voice till it was extended to a pretty high pitch, though I think scarcely high enough for so large an auditory. After he had proceeded in his discourse about a quarter of an hour, a confused noise was heard near the great front door; and turning my head, I saw four long-bearded men, two of whom carried a ladder on their shoulders; and after them followed two more, with large gilt dishes in their hands, full of linen, spices, &c.; these, as I imagined, were the representatives of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. On a signal given from the pulpit, they advanced towards the steps of the scaffold; but, upon their first attempting to mount it, at the watchful centurion's nod, the observant soldiers made a pass at them, and presented the [. of their javelins directly to their breasts. They are repulsed. Upon this, a letter from Pilate is produced. The centurion reads it, shakes his head, and with looks that bespoke a forced compliance, beckons the sentinels to withdraw their arms. Leave being thus obtained, they ascend; and having paid their homage by kne-ting first to d. image on the cross and then to the virgin Mary, they retired to the back of the stage. Still the preacher continued declaiming, or rather, as was said, explaining the mournful scene. Magdalen persists in wringing her hands, and variously expressing her personated sorrow; while John (seemingly regardless of all besides) stood gazing on the crucified figure. By this time it was nearly three o'clock, and the scene was drawing to a close. The ladders are ascended, the o and crown of thorns taken off; long, white rollers put round the arms of the image; and then the nails knocked out which fastened the hands and feet. Here Mary Magdalen looks most languishing, and John, if possible, stands more thunderstruck than before. The orator lifts up his voice, and almost all the hearers expressed their concern by weeping, beating their breasts, and smiting their cheeks. At length the body is gently let down; Magdalen eyes it, and gradually rising, receives the feet into her wide spread handkerchief; while John (who hitherto had stood motionless like a statue), as the body came nearer the ground, with an eagerness that bespoke the intense affection of a sym
pathizing friend, runs towards the cross, seizes the upper part of it into his clasping arms, and, with his disguised fellowmourner, helps to bear it away. And here the play should end, was I not afraid that you would be angry with me if I did not give you an account of the last act, by telling you what became of the corpse after it was taken down. Great reparations were made for its interment. t was wrapped in linen and spices, &c. and being laid upon a bier richly hung, was carried round the churchyard in grand procession. The image of the virgin Mary was chief mourner; and John and Magdalen, with a whole troop of friars with wax tapers in their hands, followed Determined to see the whole, I waited its return, and in about a quarter of an hour the corpse was brought in, and deposited in an open sepulchre prepared for the purpose; but not before a priest, accompanied by several of the same order, in splendid vestments, had perfumed it with incense, sang to, and kneeled before it. John and Magdalen attended the obsequies, but the image of the virgin Mary was carried away, and placed in the front of the stage, in order to be kissed, adored, and worshipped by the people. And thus ends this Good Friday's tragi-comical, superstitious, idolatrous droll. I am well aware that the Romanists deny the charge of idolatry; but after having seen what I have seen this day, as well as at sundry other times since my arrival here, I cannot help thinking but a person must be capable of making more than metaphysical distinctions, and deal in very abstract ideas indeed, fairly to evade the charge.” Good Friday at Seville. The rev. Blanco White relates the celebration of the day at Seville in the following terms:— The altars, which, at the end of yesterday's mass, were publicly and solemnly stripped of their clothes and rich tablehangings by the hands of the priest, appear in the same state of distressed negligence. No musical sound is heard, except the deep-toned voices of the psalm, or plain chant singers. After a few preparatory prayers, and the dramatized history of the passion, already described, the officiating priest (the archbishop at the cathedral), in a plain albe or white tunic, takes up a wooden cross six or seven feet high, which, like all other
crosses, has for the last two weeks of Lent been covered with a purple veil, and standing towards the people, before the middle of the altar, gradually uncovers the sacred emblem, which both the clergy and laity worship upon their knees. The prelate is then unshod by the assistant ministers, and taking the cross upon his right shoulder, as our saviour is represented by painters on his way to Calvary, he walks alone from the altar to the entrance of the presbytery or chancel, and lays his burden upon two cushions. After this, he moves back some steps, and approaching the cross with three prostrations, kisses it, and drops an oblation of a piece of silver into a silver dish. The whole chapter, having gone through the same ceremony, form themselves in two lines, and repair to the monument, from whence the officiating priest conveys the deposited host to the altar, where he communicates upon it without consecrating any wine. Here the service terminates abruptly; all candles and lamps are extinguished; and the tabernacle, which throughout the year contains the sacred wafers, being left open, every object bespeaks the desolate and widowed state of the church from the death of the saviour to his resurrection. The ceremonies of Good Friday being short, and performed at an early hour, both the gay and the devout would be at a loss how to spend the remainder of the day but for the grotesque passion sermons of the suburbs and neighbouring villages, and the more solemn performance known by the name of Tres Horas, three hours. The practice of continuing in meditation from twelve to three o’clock of this day,+the time which our saviour is suposed to have hung on the cross, was introduced by the Spanish Jesuits, and partakes of the impressive character which the members of that order had the art to impart to the religious practices by which they cherished the devotional spirit of the people. The church where the three hours are kept is generally hung in black, and made impervious to daylight. . A large crucifix is seen on the high altar, under a black canopy, with six unbleached wax candles, which cast a sombre glimmering on the rest of the church. The females of all ranks occupy, as usual, the centre of the nave, squatting or kneeling on the matted ground, and adding to the dismal appearance of the scene by the colour of their veils and dresses
Just as the clock strikes twelve, a priest in his cloak and cassock ascends the pulpit, and delivers a preparatory address of his own composition. He then reads the printed meditations on the seven words, or sentences, spoken . Jesus on the cross, allotting to each suc a portion of time as that, with the interludes of music which follow each of the readings, the whole may not exceed three hours. The music is generally good and appropriate, and if a sufficient band can be collected, well o: to an amateur the inconvenience of a crowded church, where, from the want of seats, the male part of the congregation are obliged either to stand or kneel. It is, in fact, one of the best works of Haydn, composed a short time ago for some gentlemen of Cadiz, who showed both their taste and liberality in thus procuring this masterpiece of harmony for the use of their country. It has been lately published in Germany under the title of the “Sette Parole.” Every part of the performance is so managed, that the clock strikes three about the end of the meditation, on the words, It is finished. The picture of the expiring saviour, powerfully drawn by the original writer of the Tres Horas, can hardly fail to strike the imagination when listened to under the influence of such music and scenery; and when, at the first stroke of the clock, the priest rises from his seat, and in a loud and impassioned voice, announces the consummation of the awful and mysterious sacrifice, on whose painful and bloody progress the mind has been dwelling so long, few hearts can repel the impression, and still fewer eyes can conceal it. Tears bathe every cheek, and sobs heave every female bosom. After a parting address from the pulpit, the ceremony concludes with a piece of music, where the powers of the great composer are magnificently displayed in the imitation of the disorder and agitation of nature which the evangelists relate. The passion sermons for the populace might be taken for a parody of the three hours. They are generally delivered in the open air, by fiars of the Mendicant orders, in those parts of the city and suburbs which are chiefly, if not exclusively, inhabited by the lower classes. Such gay young men, however, as do not scruple to relieve the dulness of Good Friday with a ride, and feel no danger of
exposing themselves by any unseasonable laughter, indulge not unfrequently in the frolic of attending one of the most complete and perfect sermons of this kind at the neighbouring village of Castilleja. A movable pulpit is placed before the church door, from which a friar, possessed of a stentorian voice, delivers an improved history of the passion, such as was revealed to St. Bridget, a Franciscan nun, who, from the dictation of the virgin Mary, has left us a most minute and circumstantial account of the life and death of Christ and his mother. This yearly narrative, however, would have lost most of its interest but for the scenic illustrations, which keep up the expectation and rivet the attention of the audience. It was formerly the custom to introduce a living saint Peter—a character which belonged by a natural and inalienable right to the baldest head in the village—who acted the apostle's denial, swearing by Christ, he did not know the man. This edifying part of the performance is omitted at Castilleja; though a practised performer crows with such a shrill and natural note as must be answered with challenge by every cock of spirit in the neighbourhood. The flourish of a trumpet announces, in the sequel, the publication of the sentence passed by the Roman governor; and the town crier delivers it with legal precision, in the manner it is practised in Spain before an execution. Hardly has the last word been uttered, when the preacher, in a frantic passion, gives the crier the lie direct, cursing the tongue that has uttered such blasphemies. He then invites an angel to contradict both Pilate and the Jews; when, obedient to the orator's desire, a boy gaudily dressed, and furnished with a pair of gilt pasteboard wings, appears at a window, and proclaims the true verdict of heaven. Sometimes, in the course of the preacher's narrative, an image of the virgin Mary is made to meet that of Christ, on his way to Calvary, both taking an affectionate leave in the street. The appearance, however, of the virgin bearing a handkerchief to collect a sum for her son's burial, is never omitted; both because it melts the whole female audience into tears, and because it produces a good collection for the convent. The whole is closed by the descendimiento, or unnailing a crucifix, as large as life, from the cross, an operation performed by two friars, who, in the character of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, are seen with lauders and carpenters' tools setting down the jointed figure, to be placed on a bier and carried into the church in the form of a funeral.
I have carefully glided over such parts of this absurd performance as would shock many an English reader, even in narrative. Yet, such is the strange mixture of superstition and profaneness in the people for whose gratification these scenes are exhibited, that, though any attempt to expose the indecency of these shows would rouse their zeal “to the knife,” I cannot venture to translate the jokes and sallies of wit that are frequently heard among the Spanish peasantry upon these sacred topics.”
Judas is a particular object of execration on Good Friday, in the Spanish and Portuguese navy. An eye-witness relates the following occurrences at Monte Video. “The three last days had been kept as days of sorrow; all the ships in the harbour expressed it by having their colours hoisted only half-mast high, as a token of mourning, and the yards crossed as much as possible, to make them resemble a crucifix, while apparent solemnity prevailed both on shore and in the harbour; but immediately on a signal, when the minute arrived, all being in waiting, the yards were squared, the colours hoisted wholly up, and the guns fired from all the ships in the harbour, while the bells on shore were set ringing promiscuously, as fast as possible; and at the bowsprit, or yardarm of the ships was suspended an effigy of Judas, which they began to dip in the river, acting with the greatest possible enthusiasm and ridiculous madness, beating it on the shoulders, dipping it, and then renewing their former ridiculous conduct.” H
Relics of the Crucifirion.
Sir Thomas More, in his “Dialogue concernynge Heresyes, 1528,” says, “Ye might upon Good Friday, every yere this two hundred yere, till within this five yere that the turkes have taken the towne, have sene one of the thornes that was in Cristes crowne, bud and bring forth flowers in the service time, if ye would have gone to Rodes.” The printing press has done more mischief to miracles of this sort than the Turks.
demand. Invention itself beeame exhausted; for the cravings of credulity are insatiable. If angels are said to weep at man's “fantastic tricks before high heaven,” protestants may smile, while, perhaps, many catholics deplore the countless frauds devised by Romish priests of knavish minds, for cajoling the unwary and the ignorant. “The greater the miracle. the greater the saint,” has been assuredly a belief; and, according to that belief, i. greater the relics, the greater the possessors must have appeared, in the eyes of the vulgar. In this view there is no difficulty in accounting for hordes cf trumpery in shrines and reliquaries. The instruments of the crucifixion—the very inscription on the cross—the crown of thorns.— the nails—the lance—are shown to the present hour, as the true inscription, the true thorns, the true nails, and the true lance. So also there are exhibitions of the true blood, yet it is a printed truth, that what is exposed to worshippers in churches by ecclesiastics for true blood, is doubted of by the rev. Alban Butler. In a note to his article on “The Invention of the Holy Cross,” he states a ground for his incredulity, quite as singular as that whereon holders of the true blood maintain their faith. His words are: “The blood of Christ, which is kept in some places, of which the most famous is that at Mantua, seems to be what has sometimes issued from the miraculous bleeding of some crucifix, when pierced in derision by Jews or Pagans, instances of which are recorded in authentic histories.” Though, as a catholic priest and biographer well acquainted with these “authentic histories,” Mr. Butler might have set them forth, yet he abstains from the disclosure; and hence on their superior credibility in his eyes, to the ...} of the declarations and testimonials urged by the owners of the blood itself, we may choose between their requisition to believe that the blood is the true blood, and Mr. Butler's belief, that it is the blood of bleeding crucifixes. So stands the question of credibility. Concerning the alleged implements of the crucifixion, it would be curious to examine particulars; but we are limited in room, and shall only recur to one —
“The Holy LANce.” Respecting this weapon, reference should be first made to the great authority cited above. Mr. Butler, speaking of other instruments of Christ's crucifixion, which he maintains to be genuine, says:– “The holy lance which opened his sacred side, is kept at Rome, but wants the oint. Andrew of Crete says, that it was uried, together with the cross. At least, St. Gregory of Tours, and venerable Bede, testify, that, in their time, it was kept at Jerusalem. For fear of the Saracens it was buried privately at Antioch; in which city it was found, in 1098, under ground, and wrought many miracles, as Robert the monk, and many eye-witnesses, testify. It was carried first to Jerusalem, and soon after to Constantinople. The emperor, Baldwin II., sent the point of it to Venice, by way of pledge for a loan of money. St. Lewis, king of France, redeemed this relick by paying off the sum it lay in pledge for, and caused it to be conveyed to Paris, where it is still kept in the holy chapel. The rest of the lance remained at Constantinople, after the Turks had taken that city, till, in 1492, the sultan Bajazet sent it by an ambassador, in a rich and beautiful case, to pope Innocent VIII., adding, that the point was in the possession of the king of France.” This is Mr. Butler's account of the “holy lance,” without the omission of a word, which should be recollected for reasons that will be obvious.
Patience seems to have been wearied in supplying relics to meet the enormous
* Doblado's Letters. + Gregory's Journal of a captured Missionary.
* Butler's Lives of the Saints, (edit. 1795.) vol. v. p. 47.
It is now necessary to observe, that there is not any account of this saint in Alban Butler’s “Lives of the Saints,” though, (in the Breviar Roman. Antiq. 1543) the 15th of March is dedicated to him for his festival, and though the saint himself is declared, in the Romish breviary, to have been the Roman soldier who pierced the side of the saviour with the lance; and that, “being almost blind by the blood which fell, it is supposed on his eyes, he immediately recovered his sight and believed;” and that, furthermore, “forsaking his military profession he converted many to the faith,” and under . Resident Octavius suffered martyrOm.
Cardinal Pigerius. This dignitary, who died in 1516, was bishop of Praeneste, and arch-priest of the Vatican church. He wrote a book to prove that Christ's tunic ought to give place to
the eminence of Longinus's lance., . The occasion of the work unfolds the history of the holy lance. In 1488, the sultan Bajazet II., being in fear of his brother, who had become prisoner to the king of France, offered that sovereign, if he would keep his brother in France, all the relics which his late father Mahomet had found in Constantinople when he took that city. Bajazet's letter came too late; the court of France had already promised to put his brother in the custody of Innocent VIII. “When the sultan knew this, he wrote to the pope, and endeavoured to
gain him by presents, and amongst others
by the iron of the lance that pierced our
saviour's side, which he had before offered
to the grand master, and assured him of the punctual payment of 40,000 ducats
every year, on condition that he would not
let his brother go upon any pretence what
sover.” It appears, however, that Baja
zet retained the relic called the “seamless. coat,” and that this gave rise to a great
dispute in Italy, as to whether the holy
lance presented to the pope, or the holy
coat, which Bajazet reserved for himself,
was the most estimable; and hence it was
assigned to cardinal Vigerius to make it
clear that the pope had the best relic. He
executed the task to the satisfaction of
those who contended for the precedence
of the lance.”
The TRUE LANce.
Before speaking further on the lanee itself, it must not be forgotten that Alban Butler has told us, “the holy lance kept at Rome wants the point,” and that after various 'adversities, the point was “conveyed to Paris, where it is still kept in the holy chapel.” But Richard Lassels, who in his “Voyage of Italy, 1670,” visited the church of St. Peter's, Rome, says, the the cupola of that church rests upon “vast square pillars a hundred and twenty feet in compass, and capable of stairs within them, and large sacristyes above for the holy reliques that are kept in them; to wit—the top of the lance wherewith our saviour's side was pierced—under the top of the lance the statue of Longinus." So that at Rome, where according to Mr. Butler, the “holy lance” itself is kept, he omits to mention that there is a top of the lance, besides the other top “in the holy chapel" at Paris. In that cathedral, too,
* Bishop Patrick's Reflections.