in the Church of Rome
by Charles Chiniquy
On the 20th of May, 1852, I received the following letter from Bishop Vandeveld:-
"Rev. Mr. Chiniquy.
"My Dear Mr. Chiniquy, The Rev. Courjeault is just returned from Bourbonnais, where he ought never to have gone back; he has told me of his complete failure, and ignominious exit. I bitterly regret having allowed him to go there again. But he had so persuaded me that his criminal conduct with his servant girl was ignored by the people, that I had yielded to his request.
"I feel that this new attempt, on his part, to impose himself on that honest people, has added to the enormity of his first scandal. I advise him now to go back to France, where he can more easily conceal his shame than in America. But one of the darkest features of that disgusting affair is, that I am obliged to pay the five hundred dollars which the girl asked, in order to prevent Mr. Courjeault from being dragged before the civil tribunal, and sent to gaol.
"The malice of that priest against you has received its just reward. Buy my fear is that you have another implacable enemy here in Mr. Lebel, whose power to do evil is greater than Mr. Courjeault's.
"Before you began your great work of directing the flood of Roman Catholic immigration towards this country, to secure it to our holy church, he was in favour of that glorious scheme, but his jealousy against you has suddenly changed his mind.
"He has lately addressed a letter to the Canadian press, every word of which is an unmitigated falsehood. Of course, the Bishop of Montreal, who is more than ever opposed to our colonization plan, has published that lying letter in his journal; more than that, he has reproduced the testimony of a perjured man, who swears that many of the people of Illinois are bitten and killed by the rattlesnakes, and those who escape are taxed six cents for each pane of glass of their windows.
"Will you be discouraged by this opposition? I hope not. This opposition is the greatest evidence we could have that our scheme is from God, and that He will support you. I am tempted to interdict Mr. Lebel, and send him back to Canada, for writing things which he so well knows to be false. The want of a French-speaking priest for your countrymen of Chicago is the only thing which has prevented me from withdrawing his faculties. But I have warned him that, if he writes any more against the truth, I will punish him as he deserves.
"For you, my dear Sir, I will address to you the very words which God Himself addressed to His servant Joshua: 'Be strong, and of good courage; for unto this people shalt thou divide, for an inheritance, the land which I swear unto their fathers to give them' (Joshua i. 6).
"I agree with what you wrote in your last letter, that the charge I have given you of Bourbonnais, pro tempore, will seriously interfere with your other numberless duties towards your dear immigrants. But there is no help; the only thing I can promise is to relieve you as soon as possible. I have on other priest to whom I can trust the interesting mission of Bourbonnais. For Father Huick is too old and infirm for such a work; it is evidently the will of God that you should extend your labours over the first limits you had fixed. Be faithful to the end, and the Lord will be with you, and support you throughout all your labours and tribulations.
"Bishop of Chicago."
During the next six months, more than 500 families from France, Belgium, and Canada, came and gave to our colony a life, power, and prosperity, impossible for me to depict; the joy I felt at this unforeseen success was much diminished, however, by the sudden news that Mr. Courjeault had come back from France, where he spent only one month. Not daring to visit Bourbonnais again, he was lurking on the frontiers of Indiana, only a few miles distant, evidently with some sinister intention. Driven to a state of madness by his jealousy and hatred, that unfortunate man addressed to me, on the 23rd of January, 1853, the most abusive letter I ever received, and ended it by telling me that the fine (though unfinished) church of Bourbonnais, which he had built, was to be burned, and that my life would be in danger if I remained at the head of that mission.
I immediately sent that letter to the bishop, asking his advice. In his answer, he told me that he thought that Mr. Courjeault was wicked enough to fulfill his threats. He added: "Though I have not yet clear evidence of it, it is my fear that Mr. Lebel is united with Mr. Courjeault, in the diabolical plot of burning your church of Bourbonnais. Several people have reported to me that he says that your presence there will be the ruin of that people, and the destruction of their church. Oh! to what extremities bad priests can go, when once they have given themselves to their unbridled passions! The first thing I would advise you, my dear Mr. Chiniquy, in the presence of such a terrible calamity, is to insure that church without delay. I have tried to do it here, but they have refused, under the pretext that it is an unfinished, frame building, and that there are too many dangers of fire when people are still working at it. My impression is, that Mr. Lebel is on intimate terms with some insurance gentlemen, and has frightened them by speaking of that rumour of danger, of which he is probably the father, with that miserable Courjeault. Perhaps you may have a better chance, by addressing yourself to some insurance company which you might find at Joliet, or at Springfield."
After vain efforts to insure the church, I wrote to the bishop, "The only way to escape the impending danger, is to finish the church at once, and insure it after. I have just made a collection of four hundred dollars among the people of Bourbonnais, to which I added three hundred dollars from my own private resources and will go to work immediately if your lordship has no objections."
Having got the approbation of my superior, on the 1st of March, I began, to put the last hand to that building. We worked almost day and night, till the 1st of May, when it was all finished. I dare affirm, that for a country place, that church was unsurpassed in beauty. The inside framework was all made of the splendid black oak of Bourbonnais, polished and varnished by most skillful men, and they looked like a mirror. Very seldom have I seen anything more grand and beautiful than the altar, made also of that precious black oak. It was late as night, when, with my fellow-labourers, covered with dust and sweat, we could say with joy the solemn words, "It is finished!" Afterwards we sung the Te Deum. Had I had an opportunity, at that late hour, it was my thought and desire to insure it. But I was forced to postpone this till the next Monday.
The next day (the first Sabbath of May, 1853), the sun seemed to come out from the horizon and rise above our heads with more than usual magnificence. The air was calm and pure, and the numberless spring flowers of our gardens mingling their perfumes with the fragrant leaves of the splendid forest at the front of the village, the balmy atmosphere, the song of the birds, seemed to tell us that this Sabbath day was to be the most happy one for me and my dear people of Bourbonnais. The church had never been so crowded. The hymns we sung had never been so melodious, and the words of gratitude which I addressed to my God, when I thanked Him for the church He had given us, in which to adore and bless Him, had never been so sincere and earnest; never had our tears of joy flowed so profusely as on that splendid and never-to-be-forgotten Sabbath. Alas! who would suspect that, six hours later, that same people, gathered around the smoking ruins of their church, would rend the air with their cries of desolation! Such, however, was the case.
While taking my dinner, after the public service, two little boys, who had remained in the church to wait for the hour of the Catechism, ran to the parsonage, crying: "Fire! Fire!! Fire!!!" Bare headed, and halfparalyzed with the idea that my church was on fire, I went out to see the awful reality. A girdle of smoke and fire was already issuing from almost every part, between the top of the wooden walls and the roof. I had rushed to the church with a pail of water in my hand. But it was too late to make any use of it; the flames were already running and leaping with a fearful rapidity over the fresh varnish, like a long train of powder. In less than two hours all was finished again. No doubt could remain in our minds. This was the work of an incendiary, for there was no fire in the church after the service. Many strangers who had come from a distance had gone through the whole nave and the upper galleries, to have a better sight of the whole building, and two of them had been seen by the little boys, remaining ten or fifteen minutes alone; they had gone back to some of the houses of the village without being remarked by anybody, for it was dinner time, and there was nobody to watch them.
Though stunned by that awful calamity, the noble-hearted people of Bourbonnais did not lose their minds. Seeing that they were all gathered around the smoking ruins, at about six p.m. I addressed to them a few words to support their courage. I told them that it was only in the midst of great trials and difficulties that men could show their noblest qualities and their true manhood; that if we were true men, instead of losing our time in shedding tears and rending the air with our cries of desolation, we would immediately put our hands to the work, and begin the very next day, to raise up, not a frame building, which the flames could turn into ashes in a few minutes, and which the storm could blow down over our heads, but a stone church, which would stand before God and man as an imperishable monument of their faith, indomitable courage and liberality. We immediately started a subscription, to erect, without a delay, a stone church. In less than one hour, four thousand dollars in money, and more than five thousand dollars in time, timber and stone and other material, were subscribed, every cent of which has been faithfully given for the erection of that fine stone church of Bourbonnais.
The next Thursday, Bishop Vandeveld came from Chicago to confer with me about what could be done to repair that terrible loss, and to inquire confidentially of me as to the author of the fire. All the facts we gathered pointed to the same direction. It was evident that the miserable Courjeault, with Lebel, the French-Canadian priest of Chicago, had done that evil work through their emissaries. No doubt of this remained in my mind when I learned that soon after, Mr. Courjeault had thrown himself into one of those dark dungeons called a monastery of La Trappe, which Satan has built on earth as a preparation for the dark hereafter of the wicked.
The unexpected visit of my bishop had at first rejoiced me by the hope that he would bring me words of encouragement. But what was my disappointment when he said to me: "Mr. dear Mr. Chiniquy, I must reveal to you a thing that I have not yet made known to anyone. It is confidential, and I request you not to say a word before it is accomplished. I cannot remain any longer Bishop of Illinois! No! I cannot any longer resume the responsibilities of such a high position, because it is beyond my power to fulfill my duties and do what the church requires of me. The conduct of the priests of this diocese is such, that, should I follow the regulations of the canon, I would be forced to interdict all my priests with the exception of you and two or three others. They are all either notorious drunkards, or given to public or secret concubinage; several of them have children by their own nieces, and two by their own sisters. I do not think that ten of them believe in God. Religion is nothing to them but a well paying comedy. Where can I find a remedy to such a general evil? Can I punish one of them and leave the others free in their abominable doings, when they are almost all equally guilty? Would not the general interdiction of these priests be the death blow of our church in Illinois? Besides, how can I punish them, when I know that many of them are ready to poison me the very moment I raise a finger against them. I suppose that you do not ignore the fact that my poor predecessor was poisoned, by one of those priests who had seduced several nuns, when he was in the very act of investigating the matter. I intend to go to Rome, as soon as I receive my permit from the Pope, to renounce at his feet the Bishopric of Chicago, which I will not keep on any consideration. If the Pope does not give me another diocese, with a better set of priests, I prefer to spend the rest of my life at the head of a small congregation, where I shall not have, on my shoulders, the awful responsibility which is killing me here. The last horrible deeds of Courjeault and Lebel, of which you are the victim today, has filled the bitter cup which God has put to my lips to drink. It is overflowing. I cannot any longer endure it."
When speaking so, the bishop's face was bathed with tears. It was very late; too late, indeed, to make the remonstrances which came to my mind, in order to change his resolutions.
I determined to wait till the next morning, when I should have plenty of time, I hoped, to expel his dark thoughts, and give him more courage. Besides, I was myself so discouraged by those awful disclosures, that I was in need of mental as well as bodily rest. But, alas! the next day was to be one of the darkest of my priestly life! When the hour for breakfast came the next morning, I went to awaken the bishop. What was my dismay when I found him drunk? Before going to bed, he had secretly asked my housekeeper to give him the bottle of wine which I used to celebrate mass. It was a large bottle, containing nearly a quart of wine, which would last me, at least, six mouths the whole of which he had drunk during the night!
I had been told that Bishop Vandeveld was a drunkard, as well as the greater part of the bishops of the United States, but I had never believed it. He always drank very moderately before me, any time I sat at his table or he at mine. It appears that it was at night, when nobody could see him, that he gave himself up to that detestable habit. His room was filled with the odour of what he had vomited, after drinking such an enormous quantity of wine. He left the room, only at noon, after the fumes of the wine had almost entirely disappeared, and requested the housekeeper to cleanse it herself, without letting the servants know anything of the occurrence of the night. But words would fail to express my consternation, and the discouragement I felt. I had formed such a good and exalted opinion of that man! I had found in him such noble qualities! His intelligence was so bright, his learning so extensive, his heart so large, his plans so grand, his piety so sincere, his charity so worthy of a bishop of Christ! It was so pleasant for me to know, till then, that I was honoured with the full confidence of a bishop who, it seemed to me, had not a superior in our church!
The destruction of my dear church by the hands of incendiaries, was surely a great calamity for me; but the fall of my bishop, from the high position he had in my heart and mind, was still greater. I had the means, in hand, to rebuild that Church; but my confidence in my bishop was irremediably and for ever lost! Never had a son loved his father more sincerely than I had loved him; and never had any priest felt a more sincere respect for his bishop than I for him! Oh! what a terrible wound was made in my heart that day! what tortures I felt! But how many times since I have blessed my God for these wounds! Without them, I should never have known that instead of being in the bosom of the Immaculate Church of Christ, I was slave of that great Babylon which poisons the nations with the wine of her abominations. My love and respect for Bishop Vandeveld were very strong chains, by which I was bound to the feet of the idols of Rome. I will eternally bless God for having Himself broken these chains, on that day of supreme desolation. The remaining part of the day, as well as the hour of the next morning which the bishop spent in my house, I remained almost mute in his presence. He was not less embarrassed when he asked me my views about his project of leaving the diocese. I answered him, in a few words, that I could not disapprove the purpose; for I would myself prefer to live in a dark forest, in the midst of wild animals, than among drunken, atheist priests and bishops.
Some months later I learned, without regret, that the Pope had accepted his resignation of the Bishopric of Chicago, and appointed him Bishop of Natchez, in Louisiana. His successor to the Bishopric of Chicago, was Rev. O'Regan. One of the very first things which this new bishop did, was to bring Bishop Vandeveld before the criminal tribunals as a thief, accusing him of having stolen one hundred thousand dollars from the Bishopric of Chicago, and carrying them away with him. There is no need to say that this action caused a terrible scandal. Not only in Illinois, but through all the United States, both priests and laymen had to blush and cast down their eyes before the world. The two bishops, employing the best lawyers to fight each other, came very near proving to the world that both of them were equally swindlers and thieves; when the Pope forced them both to stop their contestation, and bring the affair before his tribunal at Rome. There it was decided that the one hundred thousand dollars which had really been taken from Chicago to the Natchez diocese, should be equally divided between the two bishops.
How many times did I feel my soul brought to the dust, in the midst of those horrible scandals! How many sleepless nights have I spent, when a voice, which I could not silence, seemed crying to me, louder than thunder: "What are you doing here, extending the power of a church which is a den of thieves, drunkards, and impure atheists? A church, governed by men whom you know to be godless, swindlers, and vile comedians? Do you not see that you do not follow the Word of God, but the lying traditions of men, when you consent to bow your knees before such men? Is it not blasphemy to call such men the ambassadors, and the disciples of the humble, pure, holy, peaceful, and divine Jesus? Come out of that Church! Break the fetters, by which you are bound as a vile slave to the feet of such men! Take the Gospel for thine only guide and Christ for thine only Ruler!"
I was in desolation at finding that my faith in my Church was, in spite of myself, shaken by these scandals. With burning tears rolling down my cheeks, and with a broken and humiliated heart, I fell, one night, on my knees, and asked my God to have mercy upon me, by strengthening my faith and preserving it from ruin. But it seemed that neither my tears nor my cries were of any avail, and I remained the whole night, as a ship stuck by a hurricane, drifting on an unknown sea, without a compass or a rudder. I was not aware of it then, but I learned it after, that the divine and sure Pilot was directing my course towards the port of salvation! The next day, I had a happy diversion, in the arrival of fifty new immigrants, who knocked at my door, asking my advice about the best place to select for their future home. It seemed to me, though pretty long after that, that my duty was to go and pay my respects to my new bishop, and open to Him my heart as to my best friend, and the guide whom God Himself had chosen to heal the wounds of my soul, by pouring the oil and wine of charity into them.
I will never forget the day (the 11th of December, 1854), when I saw Bishop O'Regan, for the first time, nor the painful impressions I received from that first interview. He was of medium stature, with a repugnant face, and his head always in motion: all its motions seemed the expression of insolence, contempt, tyranny, and pride; there was absolutely nothing pleasant, either in his words or in his manners. I fell on my knees to ask his benediction, when I had given him my name and kissed his hand, which seemed as cold as that of a corpse. "Ah! ah! you are Father Chiniquy," he said. "I am glad to see you, though you have deferred your visit a long time; please sit down. I want some explanation from you about a certain very strange document, which I have just read today;" and he went, at the double quick, to his room to get the document. There were two Irish priests in the room, who came a few minutes before me. When we were alone, one of them said: "We had hoped that we would gain by changing Bishop Vandeveld for this one. But my fear is that we have only passed from Charybdis into Scylla," and they laughed outright. But I could not laugh. I was more inclined to weep. After less than ten minutes of absence, the bishop returned, holding in his hand a paper, which I understood, at once, to be the deed of the eleven acres of land, which I had bought, and on which I had built my chapel of St. Anne.
"Do you know this paper?" he asked me in an angry manner.
"Yes, my lord, I know it," I answered.
"But, then," he quickly replied, "you must know that that title is a nullity a fraud, which you ought never to have signed."
"Your venerable and worthy predecessor has accepted it," I answered, "and what might have been incorrect has been made valid, I hope, by his acceptation."
"I do not care a straw about what my predecessor has done," he abruptly answered, "he is not here to defend himself; neither are we here to discuss his merits or demerits. We have not to deal with my lord Vandeveld, but with a document which is a nullity, a deception, which must be thrown into the fire; you must give me another title of that property!"
And saying this, he flung my deed on the floor. I calmly picked it up and said: "I exceedingly regret, my lord, that my first interview with your lordship should be the occasion of such an unexpected act. But I hope that this will not destroy the paternal sentiments which God must have put into the heart of my bishop, for the last and least of his priests. I see that your lordship is very busy; I do not want to trespass on your valuable time; I take this rejected document with me; to make another one, which I hope will be more agreeable to your views;" and then I took my departure.
I leave the reader to imagine the sentiments which filled my mind when coming back to my colony. I did not dare say a word to my people about our bishop. When questioned by them, I gave the most evasive answers I could. But I felt as the mariner feels when he hears the rumbling thunder approaching. Though the sea is calm as the oil of a lamp, he knows the storm is coming, he trims his sails, and prepares for the impending hurricane. It seemed that my most pressing duty, after my first interview, was to bring my heart nearer to my God than ever; to read and study my Bible with more attention, and to get my people to take more than ever the Word of God as their daily bread. I began, also, to speak more openly of our Christian rights, as well as of our duties, as these are set forth in the Gospel of Christ.
Some time, before this, feeling more than ever that I could not do justice to my colony, by keeping any longer the charge of Bourbonnais, I had respectfully sent my resignation to the bishop, which had been accepted. A priest had been called by him to take my place there. But he too, was, ere long, guilty of a public scandal with his servant girl. The principal citizens of Bourbonnais protested against his presence in their midst, and soon forced the bishop to dismiss him. His successor was the miserable priest, Lebel, who had been turned out of Chicago for a criminal offense with his own niece, and was now to be the curate of Bourbonnais. But his drunkenness and other public vices caused him to be interdicted, and expelled from that place in the month of September, 1855. About the same time, a priest who had been expelled from Belgium for a great scandal, was sent to Kankakee, as the curate of the French Canadians of that interesting young city. After his expulsion from Belgium he had come to Chicago, where, under another name, he had made a fortune, and for five or six years kept a house of prostitution. Becoming tired of that occupation, he offered five thousand dollars to the bishop, if he would accept him as one of his priests, and give him a parish. Bishop O'Regan being in need of money, accepted the gift, and fulfilled the condition by sending him as missionary to Kankakee.
As soon as he had taken possession of that interesting mission, he came with Mr. Lebel to pay me a visit. I received them as politely as possible, thought they were both half drunk when they arrived. After dinner, they went to shoot prairie chickens, and got so drunk that one of them, Mr. Lebel, lost his boots in a slough, and came back to my house barefooted, without noticing his loss. I had to help them get their carriage and the next day I wrote them, forbidding them to ever set foot in my house again. But what was my surprise and sadness, not long before those two infamous priests were ignominiously turned out by their people, to receive a letter from my bishop, which ended in these words: "I am sorry to hear that you refuse to live on good terms with your two neighbouring brother priests. This ought not to be, and I hope to hear soon, that you have reconciled yourself with them, in a friendly way, as you ought to have done long ago."
I answered him: "It is my interest, as well as my duty, to obey my bishop. I know it. But as long as my bishop gives me for neighbours, priests, one of whom has lived publicly with his own niece, as his wife, and the other who has kept a house of prostitution in Chicago, I respectfully ask my bishop to be excused for not visiting them."
The bishop felt insulted by my letter, and was furious against me. It came to be a public fact that he had said before many people: "I would give anything to the one who would help me to get rid of that unmanageable Chiniquy." Among those who heard the bishop, was a land speculator, a real land-shark, against whom a bill for perjury had been found by the jury of Iroquois county, the 27th of April, 1854. That man was very angry against me for protecting my poor countrymen against his too sharp peculations. He said to the bishop, "If you pay the expense of the suit, I pledge myself to have Chiniquy put in gaol." The bishop had publicly answered him: "No sum of money will be too great to be delivered from a priest who alone gives me more trouble than the rest of my clergy." To comply with the desires of the bishop, this peculator dragged me before the criminal court of Kankakee, on the 16th day of May, 1855, but he lost his action, and was condemned to pay the cost.
It was my impression that the bishop, having so often expressed in public his bad feelings against me, would not visit my colony. But I was mistaken. On the 11th of June, taking the Rev. Mr. Lebel and Carthuval for his companions, he came to St. Anne to administer the sacrament of confirmation. As the infamous conduct of those two priests was known to every one of my people, I felt a supreme disgust at their arrival, and came very near forbidding them to sit at my table. Having, however, asked the bishop to give me half-an-hour of private interview, I respectfully, but energetically protested against the presence of these two degraded men in my house.
He coldly answered me: "Mr. Chiniquy, you forget that I am the Bishop of Illinois, and that you are a simple priest, whom I can interdict and remove from here when I like. I do not come here to receive your lessons, but to intimate to you my orders. You seem to forget that charity is above all others the virtue which must adorn the soul of a good priest. Your great zeal is nothing before God, and it is less than nothing before me, so long as you have not charity. It is my business, and not yours, to know what priests I must employ, or reject. Your business is to respect them, and forget their past errors, the very day I see fit to receive them among my priests."
"My lord," I answered "allow me respectfully to tell you, that though you are a bishop, and I am a simple priest, the Gospel of Christ, which we have to preach, tells us to avoid the company of publicly vicious and profligate men. My conscience tells me that through respect for myself and my people, and through respect for the Gospel I preach, I must avoid the company of men, one of whom has lived with his niece as his wife, and the other has, till very lately, been guilty of keeping a house of prostitution in Chicago. Your lordship may ignore these things, and, in consequence of that, may give your confidence to these men; but nothing is more apt to destroy the faith of our French Canadian people, than to see such men in your company when you come to administer the sacrament of confirmation. It is through respect for your lordship that I take the liberty of speaking thus."
He angrily answered me: "I see, now, the truthfulness of what people say about you. It is to the Gospel you constantly appeal on everything. The Gospel! The Gospel! is surely a holy book; but remember that it is the Church which must guide you. Christ has said, 'Hear My Church.' I am here the interpreter, ambassador the representative of the Church when you disobey me, it is the Church you disobey."
"Now, my lord, that I have fulfilled what I consider a conscientious duty, I promise, that through respect for your lordship, and to keep myself in the bonds of peace with my bishop, I, today, will deal with these two priests, as if they were worthy of the honourable position you give them."
"All right! all right!" replied the bishop. "But it must be near the hour for dinner."
"Yes, my lord, I have just heard the bell calling us to the diningroom."
After the blessing of the table by the bishop, he looked at the Rev. Carthuval, who was sitting just before him, and said:
"What is the matter with you, Mr. Carthuval, you do not look well?"
"No, my lord," he answered, "I am not well; I want to go to bed."
He was correct, he was not well, for he was drunk.
During the public services, he had left the chapel to come down and ask for a bottle of wine I kept to celebrate mass. The housekeeper, thinking he wanted the wine in the chapel, handed him the bottle, which he drank in her presence in less than five minutes. After which he went up to the chapel to help the bishop in administering the confirmation to the 150 people whom I had prepared for the reception of that rite.
As soon as dinner was finished, the bishop requested me to go and take a walk with him. After giving me some compliments on the beauty of the site I had chosen from my first village and chapel, he saw at a short distance a stone building, which was raised only a little above the windows, and directing his steps towards it, he stopped only twenty or thirty feet distant, and asked me:
"Whose house is this?"
"It is mine, my lord."
"It is yours!" he replied; "and to whom does that fine garden belong?"
"It is mine also, my lord."
"Well! well!" he rejoined; "where did you get the money to purchase that fine piece of land and build that house?"
"I got the money where every honest man gets what he possesses, in my hard labour, and in the sweat of my brow," I replied.
"I want that house and that piece of land!" rejoined the bishop, with an imperative voice. "So do I," I replied.
"You must give me that house, with the land on which it is built," said the bishop.
"I cannot give them as long as I am in need of them, my lord," I replied.
"I see that you are a bad priest, as I have often been told, since you disobey your bishop," he rejoined with an angry manner.
I replied: "I do not see why I am a bad priest, because I keep what my God has given me."
"Are you ignorant of the fact that you have no right to possess any property?" he answered.
"Yes! my lord, I am ignorant of any law in our holy church that deprives me of any such rights. If, however, your lordship can show me any such law, I will give you the title of that property just now."
"If there is not such a law," he replied, stamping on the ground with his feet, "I will get one passed."
"My lord," I replied, "you are a great bishop. You have great power in the church, but allow me to tell you that you are not great enough to have such a law passed in our holy church!"
"You are an insolent priest," he answered with an accent of terrible anger, "and I will make you repent for your insolence."
He then turned his face towards the chapel, without waiting for my answer, and ordered the horses to be put in the carriage, that he might leave in the shortest possible time. A quarter of an hour later he had left St. Anne, where he was never to come again. The visit of that mitred thief, with his two profligate priests, though very short, did much by the mercy of God, to prepare our minds to understand that Rome is the great harlot of the Bible, which seduces and intoxicates the nations with the wine of her prostitution. (Rev. xvii. 2.)
Continue to Chapter Fifty-Three
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