From – H. Grattan Guinness Approaching End of The Age Days, Chapter II, The Man of Sin, Section V. PERSECUTIONS.
We must pass on to note its persecutions of the saints, for in the prophecies of Antichrist under consideration, this feature is prominently conspicuous. Daniel says of the “little horn” that “he shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and they shall be given into his hand.” And John says, “It was given him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them,” and that he “opened his mouth to blaspheme,” or speak evil of them.
Now it is a notorious fact that the Church of Rome considers heresy (i.e., any dissent from her teachings, the worst crime of which a man can be guilty; she asserts that no heretic can be saved. She teaches that no faith is to be kept with heretics, that they are to be cut off from all social intercourse, deprived of all natural, civil, and political rights; that they forfeit all claim and right to their property; that they are to be put to death, and that if they have died a natural death, their very bones and dust are to be taken up and burnt. And who are to be regarded as heretics? Let the bull In Coena Domini (or, “at the supper of the Lord”) answer. Every Thursday of Passion Week, that is the day before Good Friday, this bull is read in the presence of the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, and a crowd of people. His Holiness appears with a pair of peacock’s feathers, one on each side of his head, and when the bull is finished, flings a lighted torch into the court of the palace, to make the effect of the anathema the more dreadful. The object of the bull, as defined by Pope Paul III., is “to preserve the purity of the Christian religion, and to maintain the unity of the faithful” The following is one of its clauses. “We excommunicate and anathematize in the name of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and by the authority of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, and by our own, all Hussites, Wicklifftes, Lutherans, Zwinglians, Calvinists, Anabaptists, Huguenots, Trinitarians, and apostates from the faith, and all other heretics, by whatsoever name they are called, and of whatsoever sect they be, as also their adherents, receivers, favourers, and generally all defenders of them; together with all who without our authority, or that of the Apostolic See, knowingly read, keep, print, or any way for any cause whatsoever, publicly or privately, on any pretext or colour, defend their books, containing heresy or treating of religion.”
These are the principles of Popery, as stated by acknowledged authorities of her church, and pronounced applicable to all times.
As to the practice of this unchangeable church, there is not a statement in the following quotation which history does not abundantly substantiate. “As some luxurious emperors of Rome exhausted the whole art of pleasure, so that a reward was promised to any who should invent a new one; so have Romish persecutors exhausted all the art of pain, so that it will now be difficult to discover or invent a new kind of it, which they have not already practised upon those marked out for heretics. They “have been shot, stabbed, stoned, drowned, beheaded, hanged, drawn, quartered, impaled, burnt, or buried alive, roasted on spits, baked in ovens, thrown into furnaces, tumbled over precipices, cast from the tops of towers, sunk in mire and pits, starved with hunger and cold, hung on tenter hooks, suspended by the hair of the head, by the hands or feet, stuffed and blown up with gunpowder, ripped with swords and sickles, tied to the tails of horses, dragged over streets and sharp flints, broken on the wheel, beaten on anvils with hammers, blown with bellows, bored with hot irons, torn piecemeal by red-hot pincers, slashed with knives, hacked with axes, hewed with chisels, planed with planes, pricked with forks, stuck from head to foot with pins, choked with water, lime, rags, urine, excrements, or mangled pieces of their own bodies crammed down their throats, shut up in caves and dungeons, tied to stakes, nailed to trees, tormented with lighted matches, scalding oil, burning pitch, melted lead, etc. They have been flayed alive, had their flesh scalped and torn from their bones; they have been trampled and danced upon, till their bowels have been forced out, their guts have been tied to trees and pulled forth by degrees; their heads twisted with cords till the blood, or even their eyes started out; strings have been drawn through their noses, and they led about like swine, and butchered like sheep. To dig out eyes, tear off nails, cut off ears, lips, tongues, arms, breasts, etc., has been but ordinary sport with Rome s converters and holy butchers. Persons have been compelled to lay violent hands on their dearest friends, to kill or to cast into the fire their parents, husbands, wives, children, etc., or to look on whilst they have been most cruelly and shamefully abused. Women and young maids have also suffered such barbarities, accompanied with all the imaginable indignities, insults, shame, and pungent pangs, to which their sex could expose them. Tender babes have been whipped, starved, drowned, stabbed, and burnt to death, dashed against trees and stones, torn limb from limb, carried about on the point of spikes and spears; and thrown to the dogs and swine.” If such treatment as this, inflicted on successive generations of disciples of Christ, for centuries together, be not “wearing out the saints of the Most High,” what could be? History affords no parallel, for the Pagan persecutions were brief in comparison to the Papal.
The following is one of the authorized curses, published in the Romish Pontifical, to be pronounced on heretics .by Romish priests,. “May God Almighty and all his saints curse them, with the curse with which the devil and his angels are cursed. Let them be destroyed out of the land of the living. Let the vilest of deaths come upon them, and let them descend alive into the pit. Let their seed be destroyed from the earth; by hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, and all distress let them perish. May they have all misery, and pestilence, and torment. Let all they have be cursed. Always and everywhere let them be cursed. Speaking and silent let them be cursed. Within and without let them be cursed. By land and by sea let them be cursed. From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, let them be cursed. Let their eyes become blind, let their ears become deaf, let their mouth become dumb, let their tongue cleave to their jaws, let not their hands handle, let not their feet walk. Let all the members of the body be cursed. Cursed let them. be standing, lying, from this time forth for ever; and thus let their candle be extinguished in the presence of God, at the day of judgment. Let their burial be with dogs and asses. Let hungry wolves devour their corpses. Let the devil and his angels be their companions for ever. Amen, amen; so be it, so let it be.”
Entire volumes would be requisite to give an adequate idea of the way in which the Papacy has worn out and overcome the saints of the Most High, by her cruel persecutions. The Apocalypse presents us with two great companies of martyrs ’(Rev. 6: 9. 15: 2) one slain by Pagan Emperors, on account of their testimony against heathen idolatry; the other slain by Christian Popes, on account of their testimony against Christian idolatry, against the corruptions and false doctrines of the Papacy. The latter company in number enormously exceeds the former; it cannot be numbered by hundreds, or by, thousands, or by tens of thousands, or by hundreds of thousands, or even by millions; we must rise to tens of millions, to express the multitude of the saints of Christ, whose blood has been shed, by the self-styled Vicar of Christ on earth!
The INQUISITION,—a name at which humanity has learned to shudder,—is a long and supremely cruel and wicked history compressed into one word! Instituted for the avowed purpose of suppressing heresy, it was established in every country which submitted to Papal authority. In Spain alone it has been proved by the careful statistical investigations of Llorente, that between the years 1481 and 1808 over three hundred and forty-one thousand persons were condemned by this “Holy Office,” of whom 31,912 were burned alive, 17,000 burned in effigy and nearly 300,000 tortured and condemned to severe penances. Every Catholic country in Europe, Asia, and America, had its INQUISITION, and its consequent unexplained arrests, indefinitely long imprisonments of innocent persons, its secret investigations, its horrible torture chambers, and dreadful dungeons, its auto da fes, or burnings of obstinate heretics, and its thousand nameless cruelties and injustices.
When the French took Toledo, and broke open the Inquisition prison there, we read, “Graves seemed to open, and pale figures like ghosts issued from dungeons which emitted a sepulchral odour. Bushy beards hanging down over the breast, and nails grown like birds claws, disfigured the skeletons, who with labouring bosoms inhaled, for the first time for a long series of years, the fresh air. Many of them were reduced to cripples, the head inclined forward, and the arms and hands hanging down, rigid and helpless: they had been confined in dens so low they could not rise up in them: .
. . in spite of all the care of the surgeons, many of them expired the same day. The light of the sun made a particularly painful impression on the optic nerve. . . . On the following day General Lasalle minutely inspected the place, attended by several officers of his staff. The number of machines for torture thrilled even men inured to the battle-field with horror; only one of these, unique in its kind for refined cruelty, seems deserving of more particular notice.
“In a recess in a subterraneous vault, contiguous to the private ball for examinations, stood a wooden figure, made by the hands of monks, and representing the Virgin Mary. A gilded glory encompassed her head, and in her right hand she held a banner. It struck us all, at first sight, as suspicious, that, notwithstanding the silken robe, descending on each side in ample folds from her shoulders, she should wear a sort of cuirass. On closer scrutiny, it appeared that the fore part of the body was stuck full of extremely sharp nails and small narrow knife-blades, with the points of both turned towards the spectator. The arms and hands were jointed; and machinery behind the partition set the figure in motion. One of the servants of the Inquisition was compelled, by command of the General, to work the machine, as he termed it. When the figure extended her arms, as though to press some one most lovingly to her heart, the well-filled knapsack of a Polish grenadier was made to supply the place of a living victim. The statue hugged it closer and closer; and when the attendant, agreeably to orders, made the figure unclasp her arms and return to her former position, the knapsack was perforated to the depth of two or three inches, and remained hanging on the points of the nails and knife-blades. To such an infernal purpose, and in a building erected in honour of the true faith, was the Madonna rendered subservient!”
Gigantic enterprises of EXTERMINATION of Christian confessors were from time to time undertaken by the Popes of Rome. Witness the bloody “crusade,” against the Albigenses, described by Sismondi, and the religious wars against the Waldenses, narrated by Monastier and others. Pope Alexander III. began the persecution against these “saints,” whose only crime was, that they held the truth of the Gospel and read the Scriptures; he confined himself to excommunications, anathemas, and decrees, by which they were rendered incapable of holding offices of trust, honour, or profit, and by which their land’s were seized, and their goods confiscated. Innocent III., finding that they grew and prospered in spite of this, instigated sterner repressive measures; and the fierce and bloodthirsty cruelty with which his behests were obeyed, has added to history one of its very darkest chapters.
The populous and beautiful Val Louise (Dauphiny) was deserted on the approach of the Papal army, the Waldenses fleeing to the caves of the mountains. They were followed, caught, thrown headlong over the precipices, dashed to pieces; others who took refuge in caves where their persecutors could not follow them, were suffocated with the smoke of huge fires, lit in the cavern’s mouth; 3000 men, women, and children, with 400 infants, were found so smothered in one cave, at one time! At the Lateran Council, A.D. 1179, a decree was issued against all heretics of whatever name, anathematizing them, and forbidding any to harbour them while alive, or give them Christian burial when dead. Lucius III. gave them up to the secular arm, and to the Inquisition, for detection and suppression. Innocent III: charged every bishop to gird himself for the work of extermination and to employ both princes and populace in the cause. Then followed the proclamation of a Crusade, with all its horrors, against the faithful witnesses for the truth. At the siege and sack of Beziers alone, sixty thousand Protestants were slain, and this was a specimen of the whole crusade. Vassals, were by the Pope absolved from. allegiance to their superiors, should these latter refuse to join in the work of extermination; the lands and goods of heretics, were given to their murderers; and plenary indulgence to the day of death, was granted to every one taking part in the persecution.
The dreadful sufferings inflicted on the peaceful and industrious Vaudois, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, are too well known to need repetition. The wretched villagers, surprised in the night, and hunted from rock to rock, by the light of the flames which were consuming their homes, escaped one snare, to fall into another. Surrender did not save the men from slaughter, nor the women from brutal outrage at which nature revolts! All were forbidden to afford succour to the fugitives. At Cabrieres more than 700 men were butchered in cold blood, and the women were burned alive in their houses.
The “bloody ordinance of Gastaldo,” issued in 1655, decreed, that all who would not embrace the Catholic faith; must quit the valleys within a few days. Upwards of 1000 families were driven by this edict from their homes, in the depth of winter, to the shelterless recesses of the Alpine heights. The general to whom the execution of the edict was entrusted, fearing the consequences, if the Vaudois should resist in the defiles of their mountain passes, resorted to treachery, persuaded the villages, by fair promises, to receive his 15,000 soldiers in small detachments; and when the simple, unsuspicious people, complied with his desire, he ordered the massacre, which filled Protestant Europe with horror. Four thousand victims suffered death, under cruelties too horrible to relate, and the carnage was repeated in valley after valley.
In 1686, a fresh persecution was organised against the remaining Vaudois, by the Duke of Savoy; terrible devastation was carried again into their quiet vales; unheard-of barbarities committed, on every age and sex; life could be saved only by submission to overwhelming force, and a remnant did submit. The whole Protestant population were consigned to prison, and their lands, houses, and possessions, were divided among the Catholic soldiers of Victor Amadeus. The gaols were so crowded, and the treatment of the prisoners so cruel, that multitudes of the poor captives perished; they slept on bare bricks, in dungeons thronged to suffocation, in the intense heat of summer; and the disease and death engendered were horrible in the extreme, so that in six months only 3000 of the Vaudois survived. Urgent representations from the Protestant powers of Europe, procured the liberation of this remnant; but the wretched exiles were sent out destitute, after having been, in many cases, deprived of their children, and of their pastors. They turned their steps to Switzerland, and had to make their way over the Alps, in the depth of winter; hundreds, perished of cold and hunger on the road. Three years later, a little band of eight hundred of these intrepid exiles, made their way back to their valleys, under the leadership of Arnaud, who himself recounts their triumph over apparently insuperable difficulties.
Is further proof of the persecuting spirit of the Roman Pontiffs needed? Look at IRELAND in 1641, when the Romanist Bishops proclaimed a “war of religion,” and incited the people lay every means in their power, to massacre the Protestants. North, south, east, and west, throughout the island, Protestant blood flowed in rivers; houses were reduced to ashes, villages and towns all but destroyed, in the deadly strife; the very cattle of the Protestants were inhumanly tortured; the only burial allowed to the martyrs was the burial of the living, and their persecutors took a fiendish delight, in hearing their cries and groans, issuing from the earth. Popish children were taught to pluck out the eyes of their Protestant playmates, to hack their little limbs, and, hunt them to death. Some were forced to murder their own relatives, and then butchered themselves over the bleeding remains; the last sounds that reached their dying ears, being the savage assurances of the priests, that these agonies were but the commencement of eternal torment. Dublin alone escaped, and became a refuge for the distressed, but all its Popish inhabitants were forbidden, under pain of the direst curse, to afford the slightest succour to the sufferers. Thousands died of cold and hunger; thousands more emigrated, and perished in the wintry weather from hunger and exposure.
In Armagh, four thousand Protestants were drowned; in Cavan, the road for twelve miles together was stained red with the gory track of the wounded fugitives; sixty children were abandoned in the flight, by parents fiercely hunted by the blood-hounds of the Papacy, who declared that any who helped or even buried these little ones, should be buried by their Sides; seventeen adults were buried alive at Fermanagh, and in Kilkenny seventy-two. In the province of Ulster alone, upwards of one hundred and fifty-four thousand Protestants, were massacred or expelled from Ireland. O Niel, the Romish Primate of all Ireland, declared this rebellion to be “a pious and lawful war;” and Pope Urban VIII., by a bull, dated May, 1643, granted “full and absolute remission of all their sins,” to those who had taken part in “gallantly doing what in them lay, to extirpate and wholly root out, the pestiferous leaven of heretical contagion.”
But France was the scene of the greatest national crime which even the Papacy has ever instigated and approved, THE MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW’s DAY, planned by the infamous Catherine de Medicis, and ordered by her weak and wretched son, Charles IX. The horrible story of this unparalleled atrocity, is too well known to. need recounting here. In Paris alone the blood of over ten thousand innocent Protestant citizens, deluged the streets, and for a whole week the shouts of “Kill, kill,” resounded on every hand. In Rouen from one to two thousand were slaughtered; and a similar number at Lyons, at Orleans five hundred; every town and village became a scene of carnage. Some writers compute that at least one hundred thousand persons fell in this terrible massacre; others put the number lower. At the most moderate calculation, thirty to forty thousand Protestants, perished on account of their faith, in that fatal month of August, 1572. All the Princes of Europe expressed their indignation at the foul treachery, excepting the King of Spain and the Pope. The former wrote to congratulate Charles IX., on the “triumph of the Church militant,” which his conduct had secured. The Pope, Gregory XIII., who was privy to the plot, celebrated a TE DEUM on hearing the news, ordered a jubilee, and a solemn procession, which he accompanied himself; to thank God for this glorious success; he sent a nuncio to Paris to congratulate the king, had a medal struck in memory of the happy event, and a picture of the massacre, painted and hung in the Vatican. A scroll at the top contained a Latin inscription to the effect, The Pontiff approves the murder of Coligny.
Tremendous as this blow had been, it did not crush Protestantism in France; a twelfth part of the entire population of the country were still attached to the Reformed religion. Henry IV., on ascending the throne, issued, in 1598, the Edict of Nantes, which placed Protestants on an equal footing with Catholics in regard to civil rights, and the free exercise of their religion. The Huguenots soon began to recover from the effects of past persecutions; but the gleam of prosperity was of short duration. With the murder of Henry IV. it passed away, and by the loss of La Rochelle the political power of the Protestants was extinguished. Oppression and injustice gradually increased, till, on the accession of Louis XIV., they were so galling, that eight hundred thousand of the best Huguenot families of France, emigrated to England and other countries, to find the liberty to worship God denied them in their own. At last, in 1685, the Edict of Nantes, and all the other concessions made to the Reformed, were revoked completely; their churches were demolished; their meetings prohibited; their schools closed; their children, from five to sixteen, taken from them to be educated as Catholics; while at the same time they were forbidden to emigrate. A reward of five thousand five hundred liras was offered, for information leading to the capture of any one of the Huguenot preachers. Persecution waxed hotter and hotter; secret meetings, surprised by the dragoons, were at once turned into scenes of butchery and slaughter. Incredible tortures were invented, and cruelties, the recital of which is almost impossible, were perpetrated by the Romish party, on their unoffending fellow subjects. The Protestants, driven to desperation, rose at last in the Cevennes, and in 1702; the war of the “Camisards” began. A Huguenot historian of this dreadful civil war, says, “Never did hell in the direst persecution, invent or employ means so diabolical and inhuman as the dragoons, and the monks who head them, have used to destroy us. These cruelties were general in France, but most violent in our Cevennes.” The Pope, Clement XI., did all in his power to secure the utter extinction of the persecuted Camisards. He promised complete exemption from the pains of purgatory, to all who took up arms to exterminate “the accursed and execrable race.” For three years this cruel crusade continued, till the fair and fruitful hills and valleys of the Cevennes, were turned into desolation, and the Protestants completely crushed.
Time and space fail to tell the sickening and similar stories of the papal persecutions in Spain and Portugal, in Savoy, in Poland, in Bohemia, and in the Thirty Years War in Germany; the horrible persecutions of the Emperor Charles V., and above all of the dark deeds of the Papacy, wrought through the infamous Duke of Alva, in the Low Countries. Let the thrillingly interesting story of the holy heroism of hundreds and thousands of Christian martyrs, as told in Motley s “Dutch Republic,” add its testimony to the fact, that the Papal power had fulfilled the inspired prediction, “he shall wear out the saints of the Most High,” and “make war with the saints and overcome them;” let Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs” do the same; let the records of the Lollard persecution in our own land, and of the reign of “bloody” Mary, do the same; let Mexico, and Abyssinia, and India, tell their tales of the Holy Inquisition and its doings, and of the Jesuits and their proceedings; and let Italy itself unveil the scenes that Ferrara, and Venice, and Parma, and Calabria have witnessed, in confirmation of the fact. In the mouth of many many witnesses, the charge is proved, and one single statement makes all argument on the subject needless. It has been calculated that the Popes of Rome have, directly or indirectly, slain on account of their faith, fifty millions of martyrs; fifty millions of men and women who refused to be parties to Romish idolatries, who held to the Bible as the Word of God, and who loved not their lives unto death, but resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
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In Roman Catholicism, a papal judicial institution that combated heresy and such things as alchemy, witchcraft, and sorcery and wielded considerable power in medieval and early modern times. The name is derived from the Latin verbinquiro (“inquire into”), which emphasizes the fact that the inquisitors did not wait for complaints but sought out heretics and other offenders.
After the Roman Church had consolidated its power in the early Middle Ages, heretics came to be looked upon as enemies of society. With the appearance of large-scale heresies in the 11th and 12th centuries–notably among the Cathari and Waldenses–Pope Gregory IX in 1231 instituted the papal INQUISITION for the apprehension and trial of heretics. The inquisitorial procedure was quite detailed; but, in general terms, it gave a person suspected of heresy time to confess and absolve himself, and, failing this, the accused was haled before the inquisitor and interrogated and tried, with the testimony of witnesses. The use of torture to obtain confessions and the names of other heretics was at first rejected but was authorized in 1252 by Innocent IV. On admission or conviction of guilt, a person could be sentenced publicly to any of a wide variety of penalties, ranging from simple prayer and fasting to confiscation of property and imprisonment, even life imprisonment. Condemned heretics who refused to recant, as well as those who relapsed after condemnation and repentance, were turned over to the secular arm, which alone could impose the death penalty. The medieval INQUISITION functioned only in a limited way in northern Europe; it was most employed in northern Italy and southern France. During the Reconquista in Spain, the Catholic powers used it only occasionally; but, after the Muslims had been driven out, the Catholic monarchs of Aragon and Castile determined to enforce religious and political unity and requested a special institution to combat apostate former Jews and Muslims as well as such heretics as the Alumbrados. Thus in 1478 Pope Sixtus IV authorized the Spanish Inquisition. The first Spanish inquisitors, operating in Seville, proved so severe that Sixtus IV had to interfere. But the Spanish crown now had in its possession a weapon too precious to give up, and the efforts of the Pope to limit the powers of the INQUISITION were without avail. In 1483 he was induced to authorize the naming by the Spanish government of a grand inquisitor for Castile, and during the same year Aragon, Valencia, and Catalonia were placed under the power of the INQUISITION. The first grand inquisitor was the Dominican Tomás de Torquemada, who has become the symbol of the inquisitor who uses torture and confiscation to terrorize his victims. The number of burnings at the stake during his tenure has been exaggerated, but it was probably about 2,000. In general, the procedure of the Spanish Inquisition was much like the medieval Inquisition. The auto-da-fé, the public ceremony at which sentences were pronounced, became an elaborate celebration. Under the inquisitor general and his supreme council were 14 local tribunals in Spain and several in the colonies, including those in Mexico and Peru. The Spanish INQUISITION was introduced into Sicily in 1517, but efforts to set it up in Naples and Milan failed. The emperor Charles V in 1522 introduced it into the Netherlands, where its efforts to wipe out Protestantism were unsuccessful. The INQUISITION in Spain was suppressed by Joseph Bonaparte in 1808, restored by Ferdinand VII in 1814, suppressed in 1820, restored in 1823, and finally suppressed in 1834.
A third variety of the INQUISITION was the Roman INQUISITION, established in 1542 by Pope Paul III to combat Protestantism. It was governed by a commission of six cardinals, the Congregation of the Inquisition, which was thoroughly independent and much freer from Episcopal control than the medieval INQUISITION had been. Its establishment has been seen by some as an attempt to counterbalance the severe Spanish INQUISITION at a time when a great part of Italy was under Spanish rule. Under Paul III (1534-49) and Julius III (1550-55), the action of the Roman Inquisition was not rigorous, and Julius ruled that, although the tribunal had general authority, its action should be limited especially to Italy. The moderation of these popes was imitated by their successors with the exceptions of Paul IV (1555-59) and Pius V (1566-72). Under Paul IV the Inquisition functioned in such a way that it alienated nearly all parties. Although Pius V (a Dominican and himself formerly grand inquisitor) avoided the worst excesses of Paul IV, he nevertheless declared at the beginning of his reign that questions of faith took precedence over all other business and made it clear that his first care would be to see that heresy, false doctrine, and error were suppressed. He took part in many of the activities of the Inquisition.
After Protestantism had been eliminated as a serious danger to Italian religious unity, the Roman INQUISITION became more and more an ordinary organ of papal government concerned with maintaining good order and good customs as well as purity of faith among Catholics. In his reorganization of the Roman Curia in 1908, Pius X dropped the word INQUISITION, and the congregation charged with maintaining purity of faith came to be known officially as the Holy Office. In 1965 Pope Paul VI reorganized the congregation along more democratic lines and renamed it the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.