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Pious Frauds

THE Abbey of Signi, in Champagne, was uncommonly rich and extensive: but at this we must not be astonished. Saint Bernard had promised those who assisted to found it, as much “Spatium,” or place in Heaven, as they gave land to his Order of Citeaux. The good people of those days had more faith in Saints than their graceless posterity; and, had the Magistrates not restrained their pious zeal, this Abbey would have occupied a whole province.

So also, when Pope Urban had to combat with Clement the Seventh, he was obliged to have recourse to the scheme of Saint Bernard. This is not wonderful: but it is wonderful, that, as soon as he published a Bull, promising a plenary remission of their Sins, and a place in Paradise, to all who fought in his cause, or contributed money to support it, our own nation flew up in arms; and, as an old Historian observes—“As soon as these Bulls were published in England, the whole people were transported with joy, and thought that the opportunity of obtaining such inestimable graces was not to be neglected.” The representative of Saint Peter can no more issue such roaring Bulls: tempora mutantur!