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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Religion

Father Gavazzi on "The Holy Inquisition"

Alessandro Gavazzi (1809-1889) Italian preacher.

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -

"Ages had rolled over the Church since the disappearance of its primitive holiness. Decked out and bedizened with borrowed pagan trumpery, with incoherence and repulsive finery once belonging to the idolatry of Rome, the papacy in the 13th century, must needs also adopt Mahommedan embellishments; the wrinkled harridan received them at the hands of a Spanish coiffeur, Don Guzman. Not content with the appropriating the Moorish rosary, (an innocent adaptation of Saracenic devotion,) she must learn from the camel driver of Mecca the use of the sword in promulgating the doctrines of our Redeemer. On the heads of the Albigenses fell the edge of her new plaything; and, as the tiger becomes tenfold more sanguinary after having first tasted blood, the Roman priesthood, and its head Mufti, quickly acquired an inveterate taste for human butchery. The parable of the Good Shepherd, of the Good Samaritan, of the Prodigal Son and his indulgent Father, were at once blotted from the Gospel. Then began a series of bloodthirsty decrees issuing from the Vatican; and, as if to eclipse in ferocity the scimitar of the Caliphs, fire and faggot were introduced as papal improvements on Turkish inhumanity. Peter, we all know, has been told to ‘put back the sword into the scabbard,’ an injunction never cancelled or repealed; but he resumed, in the persons of those who profess to hold his place, the brutal humours of his unconverted nature, and no longer confined himself to ‘cutting off the ears’ of Jew or Gentile, or better Christians than himself, but ran riot in promiscuous blood-shedding. A regular slaughter-house was, under the atrocious title of a ‘holy office,’ created next the shrine of the Apostle; and there were enacted in detail, for centuries, perpetrations far outrunning the wholesale carnage of St. Bartholomew, though uncommemorated, like that exploit, by a medal from the Papal mint, or a glorifying fresco in the Vatican. Have we not seen this Golgotha? Has not the whole population of the city thronged for days its dungeons and caverns of horror, so hideously contrasting with the voluptuous apartments overhead, where the ‘holy officials’ made merry over the groans of the under-groundings, and the bones of the entombed? Do I talk of bygone abominations? No; but of what is done at this hour! – of a system at work in every Italian confessional, a trade by which mitres and red hats are earned at this day, an organised espionage of which the infamous Nardonis are but the open and unblushing agents, but of which high church dignitaries are the secret satellites, and ministers of religion the humble scavengers…. Let England, let America, let civilized Europe, look at that gagged, crippled, shackled, manacled, and brutalized thing, - the press of Roman Italy! Aye, let them look, and bless God that the arm of Papal power is withered, and that the paralytic hag can only mumble in her toothless jaws empty curses and impotent maledictions against Transalpine and Transatlantic freedom! Look at yon conclave of ignorant bigots gathered round a table of the ‘holy office’ strewed with volumes bright with the scintillations of genius, and rich in the products of industry and intelligence. Mark how they wince, and scowl, and vent their impotent and imbecile rancour on the embodiments of immortal mind; as besotted in intellect as bigoted in heart, their acquirements are barely adequate to catalogue the book they abhor in what they call the ‘Index,’ and add the author’s name to tell him how they hate his beams.”