« AnteriorContinuar »
CHAP. cantara) was given him, together with its district,
for his service in recovering it from Cathelius, a chief of the Alemanni. His daughter, Encratis, or Encratide, (for from one of these names Engracia has been formed) was brought up a Christian, and espoused to a governor on the Gallic side of the Pyrenees, to whom she was sent with a suitable escort.
Their way lay through Cæsarea-Augusta, where the Præses, or Governor of Spain, Publius Dacianus, the bloodiest minister of the tenth persecution, was at that time endeavouring to extirpate Christianity. Engracia, either preferring martyrdom to her unknown spouse, or imagining that her rank would be her safeguard, visited the governor for the purpose of interceding in behalf of the Christians, and remonstrating against his cruelty. Thus much of the legend is probably fabulous; but certain it is, that a virgin of that name was tortured under that persecution; and, though she survived, was venerated as a martyr
Martyrum nulli, remanente vitâ,
Vivis in orbe,
Prudentius IIsgo Ersparwy. Hymn. 4. The poet goes on describing equal tortures under the pretext, her torments with his usual love and others conscientious enough of live-anatomy... I know not to endure them for the sake whether it be possible that any of religion, has been too often person should have survived proved, and in few places more them; but that some may be frequently than in Zaragoza itfound wicked enough to inflict self, from which city many an
in that city, before the close of the century in CHAP. which she suffered. Just, however, as her claim is to pious remembrance, her church, and the 1808.
August. divine honours which have been paid to her, were procured by fraud. Angels are said to have descended at her death, and to have officiated at her funeral, bearing tapers and thuribules, and singing hymns of triumph. During the Moorish captivity, her relics disappeared; they were discovered towards the close of the fourteenth century, which was the great age for inventions of this kind. There stood at that time, upon the site of this memorable convent, an old church, dedicated to the Zaragozan martyrs, of the tenth persecution, and called the Iglesia de las Masas, in memory of an early specimen of Catholic ingenuity. Dacianus, holding relic-worship in as much contempt as the Christians did his idolatry, in order to prevent them from indulging in it, burnt the bodies of the martyrs, together with those of some malefactors, thinking that their ashes would be undistinguishable; nevertheless, the Christians found their own, which had collected together in white balls or masses, separate from the rest. In 1389, the regular canons, to whom the church belonged, resolved to rebuild a part of it: in digging the foundation, two inquisitor has gone to keep com- the heart and the liver, in conpany with Dacianus. St. En- sequence of the circumstances of gracia is invoked in diseases of her martyrdom.
Vidimus partem jecoris revulsam,
Te quoque vivá.
CHAP. marble chests were discovered. The lid of the
smaller was fastened down very firmly with a sort of pitch; when this was taken off, two sets of human bones were found in different compartments; over the one were the words Lupercii Martyris, sculptured in the marble; over the other, Engratiæ Virginis : these latter were of rose-colour, which was admitted as proof of their authenticity. The larger chest contained a great assortment of anonymous bones, ashes, and the white masses, which had disappeared for so many centuries. The mine was very rich ; the workmen went on till they had invented thirteen chests, and at last, a whole pit full of relics, not the less efficacious because it could not be ascertained to whom they had belonged. Seventy years afterwards, Juan II. of Aragon, one of the wickedest and most perfidious of men, fancied or feigned, that by St. Engracia's intercession, he was cured of a complaint in his eyes; in consequence of which, he resolved to enlarge this church, and build a monastery adjoining it for the Jeronimites, . . an order which, during that and the succeeding age, was in great favour at the three courts of the Peninsula. He began his work, but died without completing it, leaving that charge by will to his son, Ferdinand, the Catholic king. He continued the building, but it was not finished till the reign of Charles the Fifth.
Both the church and convent were splendidly adorned, but the most remarkable part of the
whole edifice was a subterranean church, formed CHAP. in the place where the relics were discovered, and having the pit, or well, as it was called, in the middle. It was divided by a beautiful iron grating, which excluded laymen from the interior of the sanctuary. There were three descents; the widest flight of steps was that which was for public use, the two others were for the religioners, and met in one behind the three chief altars, within the grating. Over the midst of these altars were two tombs, placed one upon the other in a niche; the under one containing the relics of Engracia's companions and fellows in martyrdom; the upper, those of the saint herself, her head excepted, which was kept in a silver shrine, having a collar of precious stones, and enclosed in crystal. The altars on either side had their respective relics; and several others, equally rich in such treasures, were ranged along the walls, without the grating. The roof was of an azure colour, studded with stars to represent the sky. The breadth of the vault considerably exceeded its length; it was sixty feet wide, and only forty long. Thirty little columns, of different marbles, supported the roof. On the stone brink of the well, the history of the Zaragozan martyrs was represented in bas-relief; and an iron grating, reaching to the roof, secured it from being profaned by idle curiosity, and from the pious larcenies which it might otherwise have tempted. Within this cage-work, a silver lamp was suspended. Thirty such lamps were burning
tal set on
CHAP. there day and night; and, though the roof was
little more than twelve feet high, it was never in the slightest degree sullied with smoke. The fact is certain * ; but the useful and important secret, by which oil was made to burn without producing smoke, was carefully concealed; and the Jeronimites continued till this time to exhibit a miracle, which puzzled all who did not believe
it to be miraculous. The hospi. On the 4th of August, the French opened fire. batteries within pistol-shot of this church and
convent. The mud walls were levelled at the first discharge; and the besiegers rushing through the opening, took the batteries before the adjacent gates in reverse. Here General Mori, who had distinguished himself on many former occasions, was made prisoner. The street of St. Engracia, which they had thus entered, leads into the Cozo, and the corner buildings where it thus terminated, were on the one hand the convent of St. Francisco, and on the other the
The Bollandists relate this experiment, and I must confess, miracle with a candid admission I saw, or thought I saw, that my of doubt, because the writer, in paper was not blackened. I had whom they found it related, still my doubts, but I took care spoke upon the testimony of to conceal them from my bigotothers, instead of boldly assert- ed conductors. I was, however, ing it on his own authority. tempted to say to them, God has There are, however, testimonies not thought proper to work any in abundance, and that of M. striking miracle to accelerate the Bourgoing will be admitted to end of the French revolution, or be decisive. “ The roof," he to calm the passions which it has says, " though very low, is cer- roused; and do you think that tainly not smoked.' They invite he would condescend to perform those who are doubtful of it, to here a miracle as obscure as your put a piece of white paper over cavern, and as useless as your one of these lamps. I tried this own existence?"