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EASTER CEREMONIES.

Jucunda rudi spectacula plebi.

On the approach of Easter, Rome becomes thronged with pilgrims of all ages, whose staves, and scrips, and oil-skin capes speckled with cockle-shells, and large slouched hats, carry us back in imagination to the palmy days of romance and popery. Pilgrims, however, are not the only visitants attracted by the ceremonies of Passion Week: the influx of strangers of every nation is astonishing. Not only the English, but the inhabitants of most of the northern states of Europe descend from the Alps in such numbers, that, without much exaggeration, Rome might be said to be once more in the hands of the Goths. Americans, too, men from a world unknown to the ancient Romans, may be seen poring over the remaining monuments of grandeur-monuments which seem alike interesting to all:

Quæ tam seposita est, quæ gens tam barbara, Cæsar,

Ex quâ spectator non sit in urbe tuâ.-Mart.

At this sacred season, frequent processions of penitents —covered with long robes, which, passing over the head and having holes cut for the eyes, are girt about the waist with ropes—preceded by crucifixes, and bearing skulls and bones and begging-boxes for the souls in purgatory, are seen gliding along the streets, or through the Coliseum, or beneath the triumphal arches of old

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Rome. At this season, too, every piazza, as well as every pulpit, resounds with the stentorian voice of some lusty friar. “ It is, for the most part, in the evening, and with the lights extinguished, that, during Passion Week, the voice of the preacher is heard in the churches of Rome. At that season the women are all clad in black, and this universal mourning, repeated annually for so many ages, has in it something very touching. It is, therefore, not without real emotion that we enter these beautiful churches, whose very monuments so well dispose the mind to prayer; but the preacher soon contrives to dissipate every feeling of this kind.

“ His pulpit is a sort of long tribune, which he paces from one end to the other with equal agitation and regularity; invariably starting from one end of the pulpit at the commencement of each sentence, and returning to it at its close, like the pendulum of a clock. During all this time, so violent is his gesticulation, and so impassioned his air, that one almost expects him to forget what he is about. It is, however, if we may be allowed the expression, but a systematic kind of vehemence after all, such as is very frequently met with in Italy, where vivacity of gesture is any thing but a proof of real emotion. At one extremity of the pulpit is suspended a crucifix: this the preacher takes down, kisses, presses to his bosom, and, when the pathetic period is finished, replaces with the utmost sang-froid. There is also another means of producing effect, to which ordinary preachers often have recourse—the little square cap which they wear, and which they take off and put on again with inconceivable rapidity. One of these preachers took it into his head to

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rate Voltaire and Rousseau, upbraiding them with the scepticism of the age. Tossing his skull-cap into the middle of the pulpit, he there let it lie as a meet personification of Jean-Jacques, and in that character proceeded to lecture it, exclaiming at last:—- Well, my Genevese philosopher, what objections have you to urge against my arguments?' - He then remained silent a few moments, as if pausing for a reply; but the cap not thinking proper to make any, he replaced it on his head, and closed his remarks with these words:--- Now that you appear to be convinced, we will dismiss the subject*.'

The Easter ceremonies are ushered in by a solemn procession to the Church of the Minerva, and the celebration of grand mass there on the day of the Annunciation; and by the blessing of sundry imitative palm branches in the Sistine Chapel, on Palm Sunday. In the former of these solemnities, it is customary for the pope, or his representative, to proceed to the Church of the Minerva on the back of a white mule, in imitation of our Saviour's lowly entry into Jerusalem. In the latter, a substitute for a palm-branch, which has previously received the papal benediction, is presented to each of the attendant clergy, who, on receiving it, kisses, according to his rank, either the hand or the toe of his holiness. The whole body, consisting of the Armenian patriarchs, and the dignitaries and priests of the Romish church, followed by the pope's body-guard and then by the pope himself, go in procession to the Sala Regia, adjoining the Sistine Chapel. As soon as all have left the chapel, the doors are closed; —a pause ensues—a single voice is heard from within the chapel — the choristers in the hall respond—the doors are again thrown open, and the whole procession re-enters. All this is said to be typical — the shutting of the chapel-doors—the pause—the solo voice--and the re-opening of the doors — bearing some allusion to the opening of the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem.

* Corinne, Vol. 1.

On the Wednesday in Passion Week is sung, in the Sistine Chapel, the first of the famous Misereres. The first

part of the service is long and tedious. The low and solemn and piteous tones in which this first part is chaunted are intended to express the fear which the Apostles felt when our Saviour was seized by the Jews*; and of the lighted tapers which are successively extinguished at long intervals, till one only is left burning, those which are put out are meant to indicate the base desertion of the Twelve, that which remains unextinguished, the exemplary constancy of the Virgin.

After the extinction of the tapers, an impressive pause precedes the commencement of the Miserere—a solemn kind of vocal music, in which a chorus occasionally relieves the solo voice that performs the principal part.

Towards the close of the Miserere, a priest with a lighted taper moves across the chapel, carrying a book to the officiating cardinal, who reads a few passages from it. The light then disappears, and the concluding and

. See “ Office of the Week,” p. 156.

most affecting portion of the Miserere follows, in a strain, of which it has been truly said, that “some sounds might reach the soul of an infidel.”

At the conclusion of the Miserere, a stamping with the feet, or a clapping of hands, is made by the cardinals and their attendants; meant, according to some accounts, to represent the tumult with which the Jews sought our Saviour in the garden; according to others, the noise which accompanied his scourging, or those convulsions of nature which followed his death.

Thursday is full of movement and drama: it includes the solemn translation of the host to the sepulchre — the public benediction—the washing of the twelve pilgrims' feet in imitation of our Saviour, and the serving them at table. Italians say of the Thursday's benediction, that it is confined to the city itself, while the one given on Easter Sunday extends to the whole Christian world. Moreover, previous to the benediction on Thursday, one of the cardinals curses all Jews, Turks, and heretics, “ by bell, book, and candle.” A little bell is rung, a curse is sung from a book, and a lighted taper thrown down among the people. The Pope's benediction immediately follows.

After the Miserere, which is repeated on this day, the Pope proceeds to St. Peter's to witness the effect of the Illuminated Cross. The hundred lamps which burn over the tomb of the Apostle are extinguished, and a single cross of lamps is seen suspended from the dome, between the altar and the nave. The Pope prostrates himself before the blazing cross; while a long train of

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