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Charles, by the grace of God, King of the Franks and of the Lombards, and Patrician of the Romans, to Bangulfus, abbot, and to his whole congregation and the faithful committed to his charge:
Be it known to your devotion, pleasing to God, that in conjunction with our faithful we have judged it to be of utility that, in the bishoprics and monasteries committed by Christ's favor to our charge, care should be taken that there shall be not only a egular manner of life and one conformable to holy religion, but also the study of letters, each to teach and learn them according to his ability and the divine assistance. For even as due observance of the rule of the house tends to good morals, so zeal on the part of the teacher and the taught imparts order and grace to sentences; and those who seek to please God by living aright should also not neglect to please him by right speaking. It is written, "By thine own words shalt thou be justified or condemned "; and although right doing be preferable to right speaking, yet must the knowledge of what is right precede right action. Every one, therefore, should strive to understand what it is he would fain accomplish; and this right understanding will be the sooner gained according as the utterances of the tongue are free from error. And if false speaking is to be shunned by all men, especially should it be shunned by those who have elected to be the servants of the truth.
During past years we have often received letters from different monasteries, informing us that at their sacred seryices the brethren offered up prayers on our behalf; and we
have observed that the thoughts contained in these letters, though in themselves most just, were expressed in uncouth language, and while pious devotion dictated the sentiments, the unlettered tongue was unable to express them aright. Hence there has arisen in our minds the fear lest, if the skill to write rightly were thus lacking, so too would the power of rightly comprehending the sacred Scriptures be far less than was fitting; and we all know that though verbal errors be dangerous, errors of the understanding are yet
We exhort you, therefore, not only not to neglect the study of letters, but to apply yourselves thereto with perseverance and with that humility which is well pleasing to God; so that you may be able to penetrate with greater ease and certainty the mysteries of the Holy Scriptures. For as these contain images, tropes, and similar figures, it is impossible to doubt that the reader will arrive far more readily at the spiritual sense according as he is the better instructed in learning. Let there, therefore, be chosen for this work men who are both able and willing to learn, and also desirous of instructing others; and let them apply themselves to the work with a zeal equaling the earnestress with which we recommend it to them. It our wish that you may be what it behooves the soldiers of the Church to be - religious in heart, learned in discourse, pure in act, eloquent in speech; so that all who approach your house, in order to invoke the Divine Master or to behold the excellence of the religious life, may be edified in beholding you, and instructed in hearing you discourse or chant, and may return home rendering thanks to God most high.
Fail not, as thou regardest our favor, to send a copy of this letter to all thy suffragans and to all the monasteries; and let no monk go beyond his monastery to administer justice, or to enter the assemblies and the voting-places. Adieu.
XI. RHABANUS MAURUS.
Rhabanus Maurus, a contemporary with Charlemagne, was born at Mainz about 766 A. D. He sprang from an honorable family. After receiving from his mother — a model of Christian womanhood — a careful training in the elements of learning, he was sent to the monastery of Fulda, where he laid a broad foundation for his subsequent scholarship. In his early manhood he became for a time a pupil of Alcuin's, and won the lasting confidence and affection of his distinguished master.
After leaving Alcuin, Rhabanus became head of the monastic school of Fulda, to which he brought additional efficiency and distinction.
From far and near this school attracted numerous pupils who were preparing themselves either for ecclesiastical service or for secular pursuits. The subjects of study embraced not only the seven liberal arts, but also physics, philosophy, and theology. Rhabanus exhibited great zeal in the work of education, and was the first to win the proud distinction of Preceptor Germania.
In 847, after having served as abbot of Fulda for some years, he was promoted to the dignity of Archbishop of Mainz. In this new position he displayed great energy in the betterment of the religious and educational conditions of his see.
He was a prolific author, and more than thirty volumes bear his name on their title pages. He was acquainted with Greek as well as with Roman literature, and
he drew in some measure on the treasures of both to enrich his various treatises.
Among his numerous writings there are several that treat more or less fully of education; namely, “ Education of the Clergy," “ The Reckoning of Time," “ On the Soul,” “ Book of the World,” and “The Study of Wisdom and of the Divine Law" — the last being in the form of a sermon. All these treatises, which are found in the Sammlung der bedentendsten pädagogischen Schriften edited by Schultz, Gansen, and Keller, give us a clear insight into the educational theory and practice of the ninth century of our era.
The following selection is translated from the “ Education of the Clergy” (Unterweisung der Geistlichen), and is notable for two reasons : (1) It shows us the subordination of education to ecclesiastical ends; and (2) it presents the fullest discussion of the seven liberal arts that has come to us from that period.
SELECTION FROM RHABANUS MAURUS.
EDUCATION OF THE CLERGY.
An ecclesiastical education should qualify the sacred office of the ministry for divine service. It is fitting that those who from an exalted station undertake the direction of the life of the Church, should acquire fulness of knowledge, and that they further should strive after rectitude of life and perfection of development. They should not be allowed to remain in ignorance about anything that appears beneficial for their own information or for the instruction of those entrusted to their care. Therefore they should endeavor to grasp and include in their knowledge the following things: An acquaintance with Holy Scripture, the unadulterated truth of history, the derivative modes of speech,
the mystical sense of words, the advantages growing out of the separate branches of knowledge, the integrity of life that manifests itself in good morals, delicacy and good taste in oral discourse, penetration in the explanation of doctrine, the different kinds of medicine, and the various forms of disease. Any one to whom all this remains unknown, is not able to care for his own welfare, let alone that of others.
2. The foundation, the content, and the perfection of all wisdom is Holy Scripture, which has taken its origin, from that unchangeable and eternal Wisdom, which streams from the mouth of the Most High, which was begotten before every other creature through the Holy Spirit, which is a light incessantly beaming from the words of Holy Scripture. And when anything else deserves the name of wisdom, it goes back in its origin to this one source of the wisdom of the Church. Every truth, which is discovered by any one, is recognized as true by the truth itself through the mediation of the truth ; every good thing, which is in any way traced out, is recognized and determined as good by the good itself; all wisdom, which is brought to light by any one, is found to be wisdom by wisdom itself. And all that is found of truth and wisdom in the books of the philosophers of this world, dare be ascribed to nothing else than just to truth and wisdom; for it was not originally invented by those among whose utterances it is found; it has much rather been recognized as something present from eternity, so far as wisdom and truth, which bring illumination to all with their instruction, have granted the possibility of such recognition.
3. Now the Holy Scriptures, which come to the aid of the weakness of the human will, have, in dependence upon the one perfect language in which under favorable circumstances they might have spread over the whole globe, been