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Werner Laerius', a Carthusian, Fasciculus of the times, of six centuries, about the year of our Lord from an. 874, to an. 894.Quoted by archbishop Usher in his Treatise upon the succession and state of the Christian churches.
“O) worst of times! in the which holy men failed, and truth was rendered scarce by the sons of men.” Also, “ About this time charity waxed very cold in every class of inen, and iniquity began unusually to abound. For now the sword and heresy had in a great measure ceased, but ambition and avarice and other vices loosening the reins, persecuted the Christian faith, more than the persecutions occasioned by heresies."
Platina's Life of Pope Stephen 6th. An. Dom. 896. Stephen the 6th, a Roman, bishop of Anagni, being created pope, entertained so great an hatred to the name of Forioosus, that he immediately abrogated his decrees and rescinded his acts, although some write that Stephen, when bishop of Anagni, was persecuted by Formosus. But I think that this hatred originated in ambition, for the churchmen bad already arrived at that point that without compulsion and spontaneously, and by gifts they sought after the pontificate. Hence the batred with which he was animated against the dead Formosus, priginated iv his baving formerly been an obstacle in the way of his obtaining the desired see
This was a great controversy, and it afforded a most pernicious precedent, since afterwards this custoin was almost always adhered to, so that the succeeding popes either infringed, or altogether abolished the acts of their predecessors.
The account of the same transaction as given by Baronius in his
Eccles. Annals. Pope Stephen 6th. An. Dom. 897. But let us return to Stephen, whom I should not dare to reckon among the Roman pontiffs, as unworthy of so great a name, if I did not find this done by the ancients, since he first and alone disgraced the chair of Peter by a wicked and unheard-of sacrilege. Having forcibly collected a conventicle of bishops and of cardinal priests like himself, as is recited in the acts of the council held under Pope John 9th, (which will be recited in its place), namely, Sergius, Benedict, Martyn, and the deacons John, Paschal, and another Jobn, most abandoned men, who violated the pontifical buryingplace; he thought proper to judge and condemo the venerable corpse of Formosus, which was dug up and taken out of its tomb and brought to judgment as a living man, and for a punishment he decreed that it should be sunk in the Tiber, three of his fingers bemg cut off. An hitherto unheard-of wickedness, which is not only shocking to Christian ears, but which also repels by its recital uncivilized and fierce barbarians, shakes belief, and on account of its ferocity appears to all to be incredible.
Wernerius Laerius, homo Carthusianus, Fasciculus temporum, ætatum 6, circiter an. Ch.874 and 894.-Citante Ussero de Christianarum Ecclesiarum Successione et Statu.
“O tempus pessimum in quo defecit sanctus, et diminutæ sunt veritates a filiis hominum.” Item, “Charitas refriguit valdè circa hæc tempora in omni statu, et iniquitas plus solito cæpit abundare. Jam enim gladius et hæreses ex magnâ parte cessarunt: sed ambitio et avaritia, et cætera vitia fræna laxantes, amplius quam illæ hæresium persecutiones fidem persequebantur.
(Platina) Stephanus VI. ch. 896. Stephanus Sextus, patriâ Romanus, Anagninus episcopus, pontifex creatus, tanto odio prosecutus est Formosi nomen, ut statim ejus decreta abrogaverit, res gestas resciderit, licet quidam scribunt, ipsum Stephanum episcopum Anagniæ a Formoso consecutum fuisse. Sed ego arbitror hoc odium ex ambitione ortum fuisse, cum jam eo devenissent ecclesiastici, ut non coacti ut antea, sed sponte et largitionibus pontificium munus obirent. Hinc odium ortum est, quo etiam in mortuum Formosum sæviebat, quod ei anteà impedimento fuisset, quo minus optatâ sede potiretur. *
Magna fuit hæc controversia, et pessimi exempli, cum posteà ferè semper servata hæc consuetudo sit, ut acta priorum pontificum, sequentes aut infringerent aut omnino tollerent.
Baronii An. Eccles. Au. 189. Steph. Papa VI. Sed redeamus ad Stephanum, quem non auderem inter Romanos pontifices numerare, nisi id factum a majoribus invenissem, utpote tanto indignum nomine, qui primus et solus nefando et inaudito sacrilegio Petri sedem aded deturpavit. Iste siquidem (ut habent acta concilii sub Joanne Papa nono, sub loco inferius recitanda) vi summo collecto conventiculo episcoporum, simulq presbyterorum cardinalium sibi similium, Sergio, Benedicto, atq Martino, diaconis etiam Joanne, Paschali, alteroque Joanne, hominibus perditissimis, violatoribus pontificiæ sepulturæ, Formosi venerandum cadaver effossum, e sepulchro extractum, tanquam viventem hominem ad judicium adductum judicari voluit, atq damnari, et in pænam tribus digitis amputatis in Tiberim demergi. Intentatum hactenus scelus, quod non Christianorum tantum aures exhorreant, sed et avertat quoque inhumanos et feros barbaros ab auditu, a fide revocet, et pro sui immanitate tiat omnibus incredibile.
From the same author, p. 640. But we may judge of what repute and religion pope Formosus was from the fact, that when he was afterwards found by some fishermen, and carried to the church of the blessed Peter, the chief of the apostles, the images of the saints respectfully saluted him, for I have very frequently heard this from the most religious men at Rome.
Labbæus' Collection of Councils. vol. 9. p. 475.
Life of Pope Stephen. I wonder for what reason Onuphrius in his notes on Platina, rejects the history of this proceeding as fabulous, when besides the ancient monuments, and the acts of the council, concerning which we shall speak by and bye under John 9th; Luitprand in the 8th chapter of his first book most clearly describes the same transaction and execrates it in these words.
The Roman Council in which the acts of Stephen against Formosus are rescinded and condemned, 8c. An. Dom. 904.
Chap. I. We utterly abrogate the synod solemnized in the time of pope Stephen, of pious memory, our predecessor, in which the venerable body of the much to be venerated Pope Formosus, was dragged from his violated tomb to the earth, and being as it were brought to trial, was presumed to be judged and condemned, a thing unheard-of in the time of our predecessors. And we forbid under the dictation of the Holy Spirit that it be presumed to be repeated, forasmuch as a dead man cannot be called to judgment; for a person who is called to judgment, is called in order that he may confess what is urged against him, and it is evident to every one that the body of a dead man can neither answer for himself, nor make satisfaction.
Platina's Life of Pope Romanus, An. Dom. 897. Romanus, a Roman, when he assumed the pontificate, immediately condernned and abrogated the decrees and acts of Pope Stephen. For these popes thought of nothing else than of extinguishing the name and dignity of their predecessors, than which nothing can be more reprehensible or a greater proof of a narrow mind.
John the 10th, a Roman, being created pope, reestablished the interests of Formosus, a great part of the Roman people opposing it, whence so great a sedition arose that a battle very nearly took place. But he going to Ravenna and calling a council of seventy bishops, condemned the acts of Stephen and restored the acts of Formosus.
I am of opinion that this occurred, both because the popes them
Quantæ autem auctoritatis, quantæque fuerit religionis Papa Formosus, hinc collegere possumus, quoniam dum a Piscatoribus postmodum esset inventus, atque ad B. Petri apostolorum principis ecclesiam deportatus, sanctorum quoque imagines bunc in loculo positum venerabiliter salutarunt; hoc namque a religiosissimis Romanæ urbis viris
Concilior. Labbæi. tom. 9, p. 475.
Stephani Papa vita. Miror quâ ratione Onuphrius in annot. ad Platinam hanc rei gestæ historiam tanquam fabulosam planè rejiciat: cùm præter antiqua monumenta et synodalia acta, de quibus infrà sub Joanne IX. Luitprandus libro primo, capite octavo, eandem his verbis manifestissimè describat et detestetur.
Concilium Romanum quo acta Stephani contru Formosum habita
rescinduntur et improbantur, et solius Lamberti coronatio tanquam citrà vim et legitimè facta confirmatur an. 904.
Capitul. I. An. 904. Synodum tempore piæ recordationis sexti Stephanæ papæ, predecessoris videlicet nostri, celebratum, in qua venerabile corpus Formosi venerandi papæ de sepulturâ violatà per terram tractum est, et quasi ad judicium deductum, judicari et damnari præsumptum est, quod nunquam decessorum nostrorum temporibus factum fuisse traditum est, penitus abrogamus. Et ne ulterius præsumatur fieri, per quodlibet spiritus sancti judicium interdicimus, quia ad judicium vocari mortuus non potest, cum persona quæ ad judicium vocetur, ided vocetur, ut aut fateatur objecta, aut convincatur objectis. Et omnibus patet quia mortui cadaver per se nec respondere nec satisfacere potest.
An. 897. Romanus I. Romanus, patriâ Romanus, ubi pontificatum iniit, Stephani pon. tificis decreta et acta statim improbat, abrogatque, nihil enim aliud hi pontifices cogitabant, quam et nomen et dignitatem majorum suorum extinguere, quo nibil potest esse pejus et angustioris animi.
Joannes X. Joannes decimus, patriâ Romanus, pontifex creatus, Formosi causam in integrum statum restituit, adversante magna populi Romani parte, quâ ex re tanta seditio orta est, ut paulum admodum ab juncto prælio abfuerit
. Is autem Ravennam profectus, et LXX. episcoporum habito conventu, et Stephani res gestas improbavit, et For
selves had deserted the footsteps of Peter, and more especially because the Christian commonwealth had idle and slothful princes,whose chief interest it was, that Peter's ship should be tossed about by the
Benedict 4th. An. Dom. 899. Platina. Benedict the fourth, a Roman, was created pope on account of his humanity and clemency. But nothing was done in his time which is much worthy of praise. It happened in this age as it does in some other ages, that the ingenuity of mankind in every kind of virtue was grown old, there being no stimulants by which the minds of men could be excited to praise, which has always been done in well-regulated states, and by good princes. The pontifical honor was in the first instance augmented, amidst so many enemies aud obstinate persecutors of Christianity, without the aid of wealth, by that sanctity and doctrine, which are only procured by great labour and consumniate virtue. But soon when the church of God began to wanton in wealth, her upholders having turned aside from severity to licentiousness, this so great license of sioping, no prince then restraining the crimes of men, prepared for us ibese prodigies, by whom the most holy see of Peter was rather occupied by ambition and bribery than possessed.
An. Dom. 900. Behold the nine hundreth year of the Redeemer begins, in which a new age commences, wbich by reason of its asperity and barrenness of good has been wont to be called the iron age, and by the deformity of its exuberant evil tbe leaden age, and by its poverty of writers the dark age. Standing upon the threshold of which we have thought it expedient before we proceed further on account of the crimes which it has been our lot to behold before the door, to make some preface by way of admonition to the reader, lest the weak-minded should take offence, if he sometimes perceives the abomination of desolation standing in the temple, whereas he ought rather to wonder and to recognize the divine power walching over its safety, since the desolation of the temple did not directly follow that abomination as was the case formerly, and should understand that it rests upon more solid foundations, namely, on the promises of Christ, which are stronger than heaven and earth, even as he bimself testifies, saying, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But you will ask, what are these evils, and whence did these so great and most violent tempests arise ? The case is such, that scarcely any one can believe or ever will believe it, except he sees it with bis eyes, and handles it with his hands, viz. what unworthy, vile, unsightly, yea, what execrable and hateful things, the sacred apostolic see, upon -whose hinges the universal apostolic church turns, has been compel