by Charles Chiniquy
Venerable Ministers of the Gospel! Rome is the great danger ahead for the Church of Christ, and you do not understand it enough.
The atmosphere of light, honesty, truth, and holiness in which you are born, and which you have breathed since your infancy, makes it almost impossible for you to realize the dark mysteries of idolatry, immorality, degrading slavery, hatred of the Word of God, concealed behind the walls of that Modern Babylon. You are too honest to suspect them; and your precious time is too much taken by the sacred duties of your ministry, to study the long labyrinth of argumentations which form the bulk of the greater number of controversial books. Besides that, the majority of the books of controversy against Rome are of such a dry character that, though many begin to read them, very few have the courage to go to the end. The consequence is an ignorance of Romanism which becomes and more deplorable and fatal every day.
It is that ignorance which paves the way to the triumph of Rome, in a near future, if there is not a complete change in your views on that subject.
It is that ignorance which paralyses the arm of the Church of Christ, and makes the glorious word "Protestant" senseless, almost a dead and ridiculous word. For who does really protest against Rome to-day? where are those who sound the trumpet of alarm?
When Rome is striking you to the heart by cursing your schools and wrenching the Bible from the hands of your children; when she is not only battering your doors, but scaling your walls and storming your citadels, how few dare to go to the breach and repulse the audacious and sacrilegious foe?
Why so? Because modern Protestants have not only forgotten what Rome was, what she is, and what she will for ever be; the most irreconcilable and powerful enemy of the Gospel of Christ; but they consider her almost as a branch of the church whose corner stone is Christ.
Faithful ministers of the Gospel! I present you this book that you may know that the monster Church of Rome, who shed the blood of your forefathers is still at work to-day, at your very door, to enchain your people to the feet of her idols. Read it, and, for the first time, you will see the inside life of Popery with the exactness of photography. From the supreme art with which the mind of the young and timid child is fettered, enchained, and paralyzed, to the unspeakable degradation of the priest under the iron heel of the bishop, everything will be revealed to you as it has never been before.
The superstitions, the ridiculous and humiliating practices, the secret and mental agonies of the monks, the nuns and the priests, will be shown to you as they were never shown before. In this book, the sophisms and errors of Romanism are discussed and refuted with a clearness, simplicity, and evidence, which my twenty-five years of priesthood only could teach me. It is not in boasting that I say this. There can be no boasting in me for having been so many years an abject slave of the Pope. The book I offer you is an arsenal filled with the best weapons you ever had to fight, and, with the help of God, to conquer the foe.
The learned and zealous champion of Protestantism in Great Britain, Rev. Dr. Badenoch, who has revised the manuscript, wrote to a friend: "I do not think there is a Protestant work more thrilling in interest and more important at the present time. It is not only full of incidents, but also of arguments on the side of truth with all classes of Romaninsts, from the bishops to the parish priest. I know of no work which gives so graphically the springs of Roman Catholic life, and, at the same time, meets the plausible objections to Protestantism in Roman Catholic circles. I wish, with all my heart, that this work would be published in Great Britain."
The venerable, learned, and so well known Rev. Dr. Kemp, Principal of the Young Ladies' College, of Ottawa, Canada, only a few days before his premature death wrote: "Mr. Chiniquy has submitted every chapter of his '50year Years in the Church of Rome' to me: I have read it with care and with the deepest interest; and I commend it to the public favour in the highest terms. It is the only book I know that gives anything like a full and authentic account of the inner workings of Popery on this continent, and so effectively unmasks its pretense to sanctity. Besides the most interesting biographical incidents, it contains incisive refutations of the most plausible assumptions and deadly errors of the Romish Church. It is well fitted to awaken Protestants to the insidious designs of the arch-enemy of their faith and liberties, and to arouse them to a decisive opposition. It is written in a kindly and Christian spirit, does not indulge in denunciations, and, while speaking in truth, it does so in love. Its style is lively and its English good, with only a delicate flavour of the author's native French."
TO THE BISHOPS, PRIESTS, AND PEOPLE OF ROME this book is also dedicated.
In the name of your immortal souls, I ask you, Roman Catholics, to read this book.
By the mercy of God, you will fine, in its pages, how you are cruelly deceived by your vain and lying traditions.
You will see that is not through your ceremonies, masses, confessions, purgatory, indulgences, fastings, ect., you are saved. You have nothing to do but to believe, repent, and love.
Salvation is a gift! Eternal life is a gift! Forgiveness of sin is a gift! Christ is a gift!
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Bible and the Priest of Rome Chapter 2 My First Schooldays at St. Thomas—The Monk and Celibacy Chapter 3 The Confession of Children Chapter 4 The Shepherd Whipped by His Sheep Chapter 5 The Priest, Purgatory, and the Poor Widow's Cow Chapter 6 Festivities in a Parsonage Chapter 7 Preparation for the First Communion—Initiation to Idolatry Chapter 8 The First Communion Chapter 9 Intellectual Education in the Roman Catholic College Chapter 10 Moral and Religious Instruction in the Roman Catholic Colleges Chapter 11 Protestant Children in the Convents and Nunneries of Rome Chapter 12 Rome and Education—Why does the Church of Rome hate the Common Schools of the United States, and want to destroy them? Why does she object to the reading of the Bible in the Schools? Chapter 13 Theology of the Church of Rome: its Anti-Christian Character Chapter 14 The Vow of Celibacy Chapter 15 The Impurities of the Theology of Rome Chapter 16 The Priests of Rome and the Holy Fathers; or, how I Swore to give up the Word of God to follow the Word of Men Chapter 17 The Roman Catholic Priesthood, or Ancient and Modern Idolatry Chapter 18 Nine Consequences of the Dogma of Transubstantiation—The Old Paganism under a Christian Name Chapter 19 Vicarage, and Life at St. Charles, Rivierre Boyer Chapter 20 Papineau and the Patriots in 1833—The Burning of "Le Canadien" by the Curate of St. Charles Chapter 21 Grand Dinner of the Priests—The Maniac Sister of Rev. Mr. Perras Chapter 22 I am appointed Vicar of the Curate of Charlesbourgh—The Piety, Lives and Deaths of Fathers Bedard and Perras Chapter 23 The Cholera Morbus of 1834—Admirable Courage and Self-Denial of the Priests of Rome during the Epidemic Chapter 24 I am named a Vicar of St. Roch, Quebec City—The Rev. Mr. Tetu—Tertullian—General Cargo—The Seal Skins Chapter 25 Simony—Strange and Sacrilegious Traffic in the S0-called Body and Blood of Christ—Enormous Sums of Money made by the Sale of Masses—The Society of Three Masses abolished, and the Society of One Mass established Chapter 26 Continuation of the Trade in Masses Chapter 27 Quebec Marine Hospital—The First Time I carried the "Bon Dieu" (the wafer god) in my Vest Pocket—The Grand Oyster Soiree at Mr. Buteau's—The Rev. L. Parent and the "Bon Dieu" at the Oyster Soiree Chapter 28 Dr. Douglas—My first Lesson on Temperance—Study of Anatomy—Working of Alcohol in the Human Frame—The Murderess of Her Own Child—I for ever give up the use of Intoxicating Drinks Chapter 29 Conversions of Protestants to the Church of Rome - Rev. Anthony Parent, Superior of the Seminary of Quebec; His peculiar way of finding access to the Protestants and bringing them to the Catholic Church—How he spies the Protestants through the Confessional—I persuade Ninety-three Families to become Catholics Chapter 30 The Murders and Thefts in Quebec from 1835 to 1836—The Night Excursion with Two Thieves—The Restitution—The Dawn of Light Chapter 31 Chambers and his Accomplices Condemned to Death—Asked me to Prepare them for their Terrible Fate—A Week in their Dungeon—Their Sentence of Death changed into Deportation to Botany Bay—Their Departure of Exile—I meet one of them a Sincere Convert, very rich, in a high and honourable position in Australia, in 1878 Chapter 32 The Miracles of Rome—Attack of Typhoid Fever—Apparition of St. Anne and St. Philomene—My Sudden Cure—The Curate of St. Anne du Nord, Mons. Ranvoize, almost a disguised Protestant Chapter 33 My Nomination as Curate of Beauport—Degradation and Ruin of that Place through Drunkenness—My Opposition to my Nomination useless—Preparation to Establish a Temperance Society—I write to Father Mathew for advice Chapter 34 The Hand of God in the Establishment of a Temperance Society in Beauport and Vicinity Chapter 35 Foundation of Temperance Societies in the Neighbouring Parishes—Providential Arrival of Monsignor De Forbin Janson, Bishop of Nancy—He Publicly Defends Me against the Bishop of Quebec and for ever Breaks the Opposition of the Clergy Chapter 36 The God of Rome Eaten by Rats Chapter 37 Visit of a Protestant Stranger—He Throws an Arrow into my Priestly Soul never to be taken out Chapter 38 Erection of the Column of Temperance—School Buildings—A noble and touching act of the People of Beauport Chapter 39 Sent to succeed Rev. Mr. Varin, Curate of Kamouraska—Stern Opposition of that Curate and the surrounding Priests and People—Hours of Desolation in Kamouraska—The Good Master allays the Tempest and bids the Waves be still Chapter 40 Organization of Temperance Societies in Kamouraska and surrounding Country—The Girl in the Garb of a Man in the Service of the Curates of Quebec and Eboulements—Frightened by the Scandals seen everywhere—Give up my Parish of Kamouraska to join the "Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Longueuil" Chapter 41 Perversion of Dr. Newman to the Church of Rome in the light of his own Explanations, Common Sense and the Word of God Chapter 42 Noviciate in the Monastery of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Longueuil—Some of the Thousand Acts of Folly and Idolatry which form the Life of a Monk—The Deplorable Fall of one of the Fathers—Fall of the Grand Vicar Quiblier—Sick in the Hotel Dieu of Montreal—Sister Urtubise: what she says of Maria Monk—The Two Missionaries to the Lumber Men—Fall and Punishment of a Father Oblate—What one of the best Father Oblates thinks of the Monks and the Monastery Chapter 43 I accept the hospitality of the Rev. Mr. Brassard of Longueuil—I give my Reasons for Leaving the Oblates to Bishop Bourget—He presents me with a splendid Crucifix blessed by his Holiness for me, and accepts my Services in the Cause of Temperance in the Diocese of Montreal Chapter 44 Preparations for the Last Conflict—Wise Counsel, Tears, and Distress of Father Mathew—Longueuil the First to Accept the Great Reform of Temperance—The whole District of Montreal, St. Hyacinthe and Three Rivers Conquered—The City of Montreal with the Sulpicians take the Pledge—Gold Medal—Officially named Apostle of Temperance in Canada—Gift of $500 from Parliament Chapter 45 My Sermon on the Virgin Mary—Compliments of Bishop Prince—Stormy Night—First Serious Doubts about the Church of Rome—Faithful Discussion with the Bishop—The Holy Fathers opposed to the Modern Worship of the Virgin—The Branches of the Vine Chapter 46 The Holy Fathers—New Mental Troubles at not finding the Doctines of my Church in their Writings—Purgatory and the Sucking Pig of the Poor Man of Varennes Chapter 47 Letter from the Rev. Bishop Vandeveld, of Chicago—Vast Project of the Bishop of the United States to take Possession of the Rich Valley of the Mississippi and the Prairies of the West to Rule that Great Republic—They want to put me at the Heart of the Work—My Lectures on Temperance at Detroit—Intemperance of the Bishops and Priests of that City Chapter 48 My Visit to Chicago in 1857—Bishop Vandeveld—His Predecessor Poisoned—Magnificent Prairies of the West—Return to Canada—Bad feelings of Bishop Bourget—I decline sending a Rich Woman to the Nunnery to enrich the Bishop—A Plot to destroy me Chapter 49 The Plot to destroy me—The Interdict—The Retreat at the Jesuit's College—The Lost Girl, employed by the Bishop, Retracts—The Bishop Confounded, sees his Injustice, makes Amends—Testimonial Letters—The Chalice—The Benediction before I leave Canada Chapter 50 Address presented me at Longueuil—I arrive at Chicago—I select the spot for my Colony—I build the first Chapel—Jealousy and Opposition of the Priests of Bourbounais and Chicago—Great Success of the Colony Chapter 51 Intrigues, Impostures, and Criminal Life of the Priests in Bourbounais—Indignation of the Bishop—The People ignominiously turn out the Criminal Priest from their Parish—Frightful Scandal—Faith in the Church of Rome seriously shaken Chapter 52 Correspondence with the Bishop Chapter 53 The Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary Chapter 54 The Abominations of Auricular Confession Chapter 55 The Ecclesiastical Retreat—Conduct of the Priests—The Bishop forbids me to distribute the Bible Chapter 56 Public Acts of Simony—Thefts and Brigandage of Bishop O'Regan—General Cry of Indignation—I determine to Resist him to his Face—He employs Mr. Spink again to send me to Gaol, and he Fails—Drags me as a Prisoner to Urbana in the Spring of 1856, and Fails again—Abraham Lincoln defends me—My dear Bible becomes more than ever my Light and my Counsellor Chapter 57 Bishop O'Regan sells the Parsonage of the French Canadians of Chicago, pockets the Money, and turns them out when they come to complain—He determines to turn me out of my Colony and send me to Kahokia—He forgets it the next day and publishes that he has interdicted me—My People send a Deputation to the Bishop—His Answers—The Sham Excommunication by Three Drunken Priests Chapter 58 Address from my People, asking me to Remain—I am again dragged as a Prisoner by the Sheriff to Urbana—Abraham Lincoln's Anxiety about the issue of the Prosecution—My Distress—The Rescue—Miss Philomene Moffat sent by God to save me—Lebel's Confession and Distress—My Innocence acknowledged—Noble Words and Conduct of Abraham Lincoln—The Oath of Miss Philomene Moffat Chapter 59 A Moment of Interruption in the Thread of my "50year Years in the Church of Rome," to see how my said Previsions about my defender, Abraham Lincoln, were to be realized—Rome the implacable Enemy of the United States Chapter 60 The Fundamental Principles of the Constitution of the United States drawn from the Gospel of Christ—My First Visit to Abraham Lincoln to warn him of the Plots I knew against his Life—The Priests circulate the News that Lincoln was born in the Church of Rome—Letter of the Pope to Jeff Davis—My last Visit to the President—His admirable Reference to Moses—His willingness to die for his Nation's Sake Chapter 61 Abraham Lincoln a true Man of God, and a true Disciple of the Gospel—The Assassination by Booth—The Tool of the Priests—John Surratt's House—The Rendezvous and Dwelling Place of the Priests—John Surratt Secreted by the Priests after the Murder of Lincoln—The Assassination of Lincoln known and published in the Town Three Hours before its occurrence Chapter 62 Deputation of Two Priests sent by the People and the Bishops of Canada to persuade us to submit to the will of the Bishop—The Deputies acknowledge publicly that the Bishop is wrong and that we are right—For peace' sake I consent to withdraw from the Contest on certain conditions accepted by the Deputies—One of those Deputies turns false to his Promise, and betrays us, to be put at the head of my Colony—My last Interview with him and Mr. Brassard Chapter 63 Mr. Desaulnier is named Vicar-General of Chicago to crush us—Our People more united than ever to defend their Rights—Letters of the Bishops of Montreal against me, and my Answer—Mr. Brassard forced, against his conscience, to condemn us—My answer to Mr. Brassard—He writes to beg my Pardon Chapter 64 I write to the Pope Pius IX, and to Napoleon, Emperor of France, and send them the Legal and Public Documents proving the bad conduct of Bishop O'Regan—Grand-Vicar Dunn sent to tell me of my Victory at Rome, and the end of our Trouble—I go to Dubuque to offer my Submission to the Bishop—The Peace Sealed and publicly Proclaimed by Grand-Vicar Dunn the 28th March, 1858 Chapter 65 Excellent Testimonial from my Bishop—My Retreat—Grand-Vicar Saurin and his Assistant, Rev. M. Granger—Grand-Vicar Dunn writes me about the new Storm prepared by the Jesuits—Vision—Christ offers Himself as a Gift—I am Forgiven, Rich, Happy, and Saved—Back to my People Chapter 66 The Solemn Responsibilities of my new Position—We give up the name of Roman Catholic to call ourselves Christian Catholics—Dismay of the Roman Catholic Bishops—My Lord Duggan, co-adjutor of St. Louis, hurries to Chicago—He comes to St. Anne to persuade the People to submit to his Authority—He is ignominiously turned out, and runs away in the midst of the Cries of the People Chapter 67 Bird's-eye View of the Principal Events from my Conversion to this day—My Narrow Escapes—The End of the Voyage through the Desert to the Promised Land
My father, Charles Chiniquy, [pronounced, "Chi-ni-quay"], born in Quebec, had studied in the Theological Seminary of that city, to prepare himself for the priesthood. But a few days before making his vows, having been the witness of a great iniquity in the high quarters of the church, he changed his mind, studied law, and became a notary.
Married to Reine Perrault, daughter of Mitchel Perrault, in 1803 he settled at first in Kamoraska, where I was born on the 30th July, 1809.
About four or five years later my parents emigrated to Murray Bay. That place was then in its infancy, and no school had yet been established. My mother was, therefore, my first teacher.
Before leaving the Seminary of Quebec my father had received from one of the Superiors, as a token of his esteem, a beautiful French and Latin Bible. That Bible was the first book, after the A B C, in which I was taught to read. My mother selected the chapters which she considered the most interesting for me; and I read them every day with the greatest attention and pleasure. I was even so much pleased with several chapters, that I read them over and over again till I knew them by heart.
When eight or nine years of age, I had learned by heart the history of the creation and fall of man; the deluge; the sacrifice of Isaac; the history of Moses; the plagues of Egypt; the sublime hymn of Moses after crossing the Red Sea; the history of Samson; the most interesting events of the life of David; several Psalms; all the speeches and parables of Christ; and the whole history of the sufferings and death of our Saviour as narrated by John.
I had two brothers, Louis and Achilles; the first about four, the second about eight years younger than myself. When they were sleeping or playing together, how many delicious hours I have spent by my mother's side, in reading to her the sublime pages of the divine book.
Sometimes she interrupted me to see if I understood what I read; and when my answers made her sure that I understood it, she used to kiss me and press me on her bosom as an expression of her joy.
One day, while I was reading the history of the sufferings of the Saviour, my young heart was so much impressed that I could hardly enunciate the words, and my voice trembled. My mother, perceiving my emotion, tried to say something on the love of Jesus for us, but she could not utter a word—her voice was suffocated by her sobs. She leaned her head on my forehead, and I felt two streams of tears falling from her eyes on my cheeks. I could not contain myself any longer. I wept also; and my tears were mixed with hers. The holy book fell from my hands, and I threw myself into my dear mother's arms.
No human words can express what was felt in her soul and in mine in that most blessed hour! No! I will never forget that solemn hour, when my mother's heart was perfectly blended with mine at the feet of our dying Saviour. There was a real perfume from heaven in those my mother's tears which were flowing on me. It seemed then, as it does seem to me to-day, that there was a celestial harmony in the sound of her voice and in her sobs. Though more than half a century has passed since that solemn hour when Jesus, for the first time, revealed to me something of His suffering and of His love, my heart leaps with joy every time I think of it.
We were some distance from the church, and the roads, in the rainy days, were very bad. On the Sabbath days the neighbouring farmers, unable to go to church, were accustomed to gather at our house in the evening. Then my parents used to put me up on a large table in the midst of the assembly, and I delivered to those good people the most beautiful parts of the Old and New Testaments. The breathless attention, the applause of our guests, and—may I tell it—often the tears of joy which my mother tried in vain to conceal, supported my strength and gave me the courage I wanted, to speak when so young before so many people. When my parents saw that I was growing tired, my mother, who had a fine voice, sang some of the beautiful French hymns with which her memory was filled.
Several times, when the fine weather allowed me to go to church with my parents, the farmers would take me into their caleches (buggies) at the door of the temple, and request me to give them some chapter of the Gospel. With a most perfect attention they listened to the voice of the child, whom the Good Master had chosen to give them the bread which comes from heaven. More than once, I remember, that when the bell called us to the church, they expressed their regret that they could not hear more.
On one of the beautiful spring days of 1818 my father was writing in his office, and my mother was working with her needle, singing one of her favourite hymns, and I was at the door, playing and talking to a fine robin which I had so perfectly trained that he followed me wherever I went. All of a sudden I saw the priest coming near the gate. The sight of him sent a thrill of uneasiness through my whole frame. It was his first visit to our home.
The priest was a person below the common stature, and had an unpleasant appearance—his shoulders were large and he was very corpulent; his hair was long and uncombed, and his double chin seemed to groan under the weight of his flabby cheeks.
I hastily ran to the door and whispered to my parents, "M. le Cur'e arrive ("Mr. Curate is coming"). The last sound was hardly out of my lips when the Rev. Mr. Courtois was at the door, and my father, shaking hands with him, gave him a welcome.
That priest was born in France, where he had a narrow escape, having been condemned to death under the bloody administration of Robespierre. He had found a refuge, with many other French priests, in England, whence he came to Quebec, and the bishop of that place had given him the charge of the parish of Murray Bay.
His conversation was animated and interesting for the first quarter of an hour. It was a real pleasure to hear him. But of a sudden his countenance changed as if a dark cloud had come over his mind, and he stopped talking. My parents had kept themselves on a respectful reserve with the priest. They seemed to have no other mind than to listen to him. The silence which followed was exceedingly unpleasant for all the parties. It looked like the heavy hour which precedes a storm. At length the priest, addressing my faith, said, "Mr. Chiniquy, is it true that you and your child read the Bible?"
"Yes, sir," was the quick reply, "my little boy and I read the Bible, and what is still better, he has learned by heart a great number of its most interesting chapters. If you will allow it, Mr. Curate, he will give you some of them."
"I did not come for that purpose," abruptly replied the priest; "but do you not know that you are forbidden by the holy Council of Trent to read the Bible in French."
"It makes very little difference to me whether I read the Bible in French, Greek, or Latin," answered my father, "for I understand these languages equally well."
"But are you ignorant of the fact that you cannot allow your child to read the Bible?" replied the priest.
"My wife directs her own child in the reading of the Bible, and I cannot see that we commit any sin by continuing to do in future what we have done till now in that matter."
"Mr. Chiniquy," rejoined the priest, "you have gone through a whole course of theology; you know the duties of a curate; you know it is my painful duty to come here, get the Bible from you and burn it."
My grandfather was a fearless Spanish sailor (our original name was Etchiniquia), and there was too much Spanish blood and pride in my father to hear such a sentence with patience in his own house. Quick as lightning he was on his feet. I pressed myself, trembling, near my mother, who trembled also.
At first I feared lest some very unfortunate and violent scene should occur; for my father's anger in that moment was really terrible.
But there was another thing which affected me. I feared lest the priest should lay his hands on my dear Bible, which was just before him on the table; for it was mine, as it had been given me the last year as a Christmas gift.
Fortunately, my father had subdued himself after the first moment of his anger. He was pacing the room with a double-quick step; his lips were pale and trembling, and he was muttering between his teeth words which were unintelligible to any one of us.
The priest was closely watching all my father's movements; his hands were convulsively pressing his heavy cane, and his face was giving the sure evidence of a too well-grounded terror. It was clear that the ambassador of Rome did not find himself infallibly sure of his position on the ground he had so foolishly chosen to take; since his last words he had remained as silent as a tomb.
At last, after having paced the room for a considerable time, my father suddenly stopped before the priest, and said, "Sir, is that all you have to say here."
"Yes, sir," said the trembling priest.
"Well, sir," added my father, "you know the door by which you entered my house: please take the same door and go away quickly."
The priest went out immediately. I felt an inexpressible joy when I saw that my Bible was safe. I ran to my father's neck, kissed and thanked him for his victory. And to pay him, in my childish way, I jumped upon the large table and recited, in my best style, the fight between David and Goliath. Of course, in my mind, my father was David and the priest of Rome was the giant whom the little stone from the brook had stricken down.
Thou knowest, O God, that it is to that Bible, read on my mother's knees, I owe, by thy infinite mercy, the knowledge of the truth to-day; that Bible had sent, to my young heart and intelligence, rays of light which all the sophisms and dark errors of Rome could never completely extinguish.
In the month of June, 1818, my parents sent me to an excellent school at St. Thomas. One of my mother's sisters resided there, who was the wife of an industrious miller called Stephen Eschenbach. They had no children, and they received me as their own son.
The beautiful village of St. Thomas had already, at that time, a considerable population. The two fine rivers which unite their rapid waters in its very midst before they fall into the magnificent basin from which they flow into the St. Lawrence, supplied the water-power for several mills and factories.
There was in the village a considerable trade in grain, flour and lumber. The fisheries were very profitable, and the game was abundant. Life was really pleasant and easy.
The families Tachez, Cazeault, Fournier, Dubord, Frechette, Tetu, Du-puis, Couillard, Duberges, which were among the most ancient and notable of Canada, were at the head of the intellectual and material movement of the place, and they were a real honour to the French Canadian name.
I met there with one of my ancestors on my mother's side whose name was F. Amour des Plaines. He was an old and brave soldier, and would sometimes show us the numerous wounds he had received in the battles in which he had fought for his country. Though nearly eighty years old, he sang to us the songs of the good old times with all the vivacity of a young man.
The school of Mr. Allen Jones, to which I had been sent, was worthy of its wide-spread reputation. I had never known any teacher who deserved more, or who enjoyed in a higher degree the respect and confidence of his pupils.
He was born in England, and belonged to one of the most respectable families there. He had received the best education which England could give to her sons. After having gone through a perfect course of study at home, he had gone to Paris, where he had also completed an academical course. He was perfectly master of the French and English languages. And it was not without good reasons that he was surrounded by a great number of scholars from every corner of Canada. The children of the best families of St. Thomas were, with me, attending the school of Mr. Jones. But as he was a Protestant, the priest was much opposed to him, and every effort was made by that priest to induce my relatives to take me away from that school and send me to the one under his care.
The name of the priest was Loranger. He had a swarthy countenance, and in person was lean and tall. His preaching had no attraction, and he was far from being popular among the intelligent part of the people of St. Thomas.
Dr. Tachez, whose high capacity afterwards brought him to the head of the Canadian Government, was the leading man of St. Thomas. Being united by the bonds of a sincere friendship with his nephew, L. Cazeault, who was afterwards placed at the head of the University of Laval, in Quebec, I had more opportunities of going to the house of Mr. Tachez, where my young friend was boarding.
In those days Dr. Tachez had no need of the influence of the priests, and he frequently gave vent to his supreme contempt for them. Once a week there was a meeting in his house of the principal citizens of St. Thomas, where the highest questions of history and religion were freely and warmly discussed; but the premises as well as the conclusions of these discussions were invariably adverse to the priests and religion of Rome, and too often to every form of Christianity.
Though these meetings had not entirely the character or exclusiveness of secret societies, they were secret to a great extent. My friend Cazeault was punctual in telling me the days and hours of the meetings, and I used to go with him to an adjoining room, from which we could hear everything without being suspected. From what I heard and saw in these meetings I most certainly would have been ruined, had not the Word of God, with which my mother had filled my young mind and heart, been my shield and strength. I was often struck with terror and filled with disgust at what I heard in those meetings. But what a strange and deplorable thing! My conscience was condemning me every time I listened to these impious discussions, while there was a strong craving in me to hear them that I could not resist.
There was then in St. Thomas a personage who was unique in his character. He never mixed with the society of the village, but was, nevertheless, the object of much respectful attention and inquiry from every one. He was one of the former monks of Canada, known under the name of Capucin or Recollets, whom the conquest of Canada by Great Britain had forced to leave their monastery. He was a clock-maker, and lived honourably by his trade. His little white house, in the very midst of the village, was the perfection of neatness.
Brother Mark, as he was called, was a remarkably well-built man; high stature, large and splendid shoulders, and the most beautiful hands I ever saw. His long black robe, tied around his waist by a white sash, was remarkable for its cleanliness. His life was really a solitary one, always alone with his sister, who kept his house.
Every day that the weather was propitious, Brother Mark spent a couple of hours in fishing, and I myself was exceedingly fond of that exercise, I used to meet him often along the banks of the beautiful rivers of St. Thomas.
His presence was always a good omen to me; for he was more expert than I in finding the best places for fishing. As soon as he found a place where the fish were abundant, he would make signs to me, or call me at the top of his voice, that I might share in his good luck. I appreciated his delicate attention to me, and repaid him with the marks of a sincere gratitude. The good monk had entirely conquered my young heart, and I cherished a sincere regard for him. He often invited me to his solitary but neat little home, and I never visited him without receiving some proofs of a sincere kindness. His good sister rivaled him in overwhelming me with such marks of attention and love as I could only expect from a dear mother.
There was a mixture of timidity and dignity in the manners of Brother Mark which I have found in on one else. He was fond of children; and nothing could be more graceful than his smile every time that he could see that I appreciated his kindness, and that I gave him any proof of my gratitude. But that smile, and any other expression of joy, were very transient. On a sudden he would change, and it was obvious that a mysterious cloud was passing over his heart.
The pope had released the monks of the monastery to which he belonged, from their vows of poverty and obedience. The consequence was that they could become independent, and even rich by their own industry. It was in their power to rise to a respectable position in the world by their honourable efforts. The pope had given them the permission they wanted, that they might earn an honest living. But what a strange and incredible folly to ask the permission of a pope to be allowed to live honourably on the fruits of one's own industry!
These poor monks, having been released from their vows of obedience, were no longer the slaves of a man; but were now permitted to go to heaven on the sole condition that they would obey the laws of God and the laws of their country! But into what a frightful abyss of degradation men must have fallen, to believe that they required a license from Rome for such a purpose. This is, nevertheless, the simple and naked truth. That excess of folly, and that supreme impiety and degradation are among the fundamental dogmas of Rome. The infallible pope assures the world that there is no possible salvation for any one who does not sincerely believe what he teaches in this matter.
But the pope who had so graciously relieved the Canadian monks from their vows of obedience and poverty, had been inflexible in reference to their vows of celibacy. From this there was no relief.
The honest desires of the good monk to live according to the laws of God, with a wife whom heaven might have given him, had become an impossibility the pope vetoed it.
The unfortunate monk was bound to believe that he would be for ever damned if he dared to accept as a gospel truth the Word of God which says:-
"Propter fornicationem autem, unusquisque uxorem suam habeat, unaquaque virum suum habeat. (Vulgate Bible of Rome.) Nevertheless to avoid fornication let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." (I Cor. vii. 2.) That shining light which the world contains and which gives life to man, was entirely shut out from Brother Mark. He was not allowed to know that God himself had said, "It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him an help-meet for him" (Gen. ii. 18.) Brother Mark was endowed with such a loving heart! He could not be known without being loved; and he must have suffered much in that celibacy which his faith in the pope had imposed upon him.
Far away from the regions of light, truth and life, that soul, tied to the feet of the implacable modern Divinity, which the Romanists worship under the same name of Sovereign Pontiff, was trying in vain to annihilate and destroy the instincts and affections which God himself had implanted in him.
One day, as I was amusing myself, with a few other young friends, near the house of Brother Mark, suddenly we saw something covered with blood thrown from a window, and falling at a short distance from us. At the same instant we heard loud cries, evidently coming from the monk's house: "O my God! Have mercy upon me! Save me! I am lost!"
The sister of Brother Mark rushed out of doors and cried to some men who were passing by: "Come to our help! My poor brother is dying! For God's sake make haste, he is losing all his blood!"
I ran to the door, but the lady shut it abruptly and turned me out, saying, "We do not want children here."
I had a sincere affection for the good brother. He had invariably been so kind to me! I insisted, and respectfully requested to be allowed to enter. Though young and weak, it seemed that my friendly feelings towards the suffering brother would add to my strength, and enable me to be of some service. But my request was sternly rejected, and I had to go back to the street, among the crowd which was fast gathering. The singular mystery in which they were trying to wrap the poor monk, filled me with trouble and anxiety.
But that trouble was soon changed into an unspeakable confusion when I heard the convulsive laughing of the low people, and the shameful jokes of the crowd, after the doctor had told the nature of the wound which was causing the unfortunate man to bleed almost to death. I was struck with such horror that I fled away; I did not want to know any more of that tragedy. I had already known too much!
Poor Brother Mark had ceased to be a man—he had become an eunuch!
O cruel and godless church of Rome! How many souls hast thou deceived and tortured! How many hearts hast thou broken with that celibacy which Satan alone could invent! This unfortunate victim of a most degrading religion, did not, however, die from his rash action: he soon recovered his usual health.
Having, meanwhile, ceased to visit him; some months later I was fishing along the river in a very solitary place. The fish were abundant and I was completely absorbed in catching them, when, on a sudden, I felt on my shoulder the gentle pressure of a hand. It was Brother Mark's.
I thought I would faint through the opposite sentiments of surprise, of pain and joy, which at the same time crossed my mind.
With an affectionate and trembling voice he said to me, "My dear child, why do you not any more come to see me?"
I did not dare to look at him after he had addressed me those words. I liked him on account of his acts of kindness to me. But the fatal hour when, in the street before the door, I had suffered so much on his account—that fatal hour was on my heart as a mountain which I could not put away—I could not answer him.
He then asked me again with the tone of a criminal who sues for mercy: "Why is it, my dear child, that you do not come any longer to see me? you know that I love you."
"Dear Brother Mark," I answered, "I will never forget your kindness to me. I will for ever be grateful to you! I wish that it would be in my power to continue, as formerly, to go and see you. But I cannot, and you ought to know the reason why I cannot."
I had pronounced these words with downcast eyes. I was a child, with the timidity and happy ignorance of a child. But the action of that unfortunate man had struck me with such a horror that I could not entertain the idea of visiting him any more.
He spent two or three minutes without saying a word, and without moving. But I heard his sobs and his cries, and his cries were those of despair and anguish, the like of which I have never heard since.
I could not contain myself any longer, I was suffocating with suppressed emotion, and I would have fallen insensible to the ground if two streams of tears had not burst from my eyes. Those tears did me good—they did him good also—they told him that I was still his friend.
He took me in his arms and pressed me to his bosom—his tears were mixed with mine. But I could not speak—the emotions of my heart were too much for my age. I sat on a damp and cold stone in order not to faint. He fell on his knees by my side.
Ah! if I were a painter I would make a most striking tableau of that scene. His eyes, swollen and red with weeping, were raised to heaven, his hand lifted up in the attitude of supplication: he was crying out with an accent which seemed as though it would break my heart—
"Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu! que je suis malheureux!"
My God! My God! what a wretched man am I!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The twenty-five years that I have been a priest of Rome, have revealed to me the fact that the cries of desolation I heard that day, were but the echo of the cries of desolation which go out from almost every nunnery, every parsonage and every house where human beings are bound by the ties of Romish Celibacy.
God knows that I am a faithful witness of what my eyes have seen and my ears have heard, when I say to the multitudes which the Church of Rome has bewitched with her enchantments: Wherever there are nuns, monks and priests who live in forced violation of the ways which God had appointed for man to walk in, there are torrents of tears, there are desolated hearts, there are cries of anguish and despair which say in the words of brother Mark: 50year01.htm
"Oh! que je suis malheureux!"
Oh! how miserable and wretched I am!