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stone for building walls and houses, and nobody then ever thought they would be places of refuge for the persecuted Christians. But God knew beforehand that it would be so, and when they had to flee from their cruel persecutors these places were ready for them.
But perhaps you will ask, how did the Christians know of these places, and how to find their way about them? Most likely in this way: The men who dug the sand out of these dreary places were very poor, and some of them heard of Christ, and loved Him; and so, when persecution came, these poor sand-diggers dug these passages longer and deeper, that they might hide themselves and their fellow-Christians in them, taking care not to let other people know. Sometimes, when they were driven away from their homes, they lived there for a long time, and met together to worship God, where their enemies could not find them.
But they were not always safe even there. After a time their persecutors found out the way to these places of refuge. It is said that once Christians were praying together, in a little chapel which they had cut out of the sand, where some martyrs were buried, and that the Roman emperor had the doorway blocked up, and then threw down the sand upon them and buried them alive. Another time the Roman soldiers found some of them worshipping God, and after the service was ended they pushed the minister back into his chair and beheaded him. Still it was not easy to find them, and a great many were thus preserved alive.
These passages were also used for burial-places for the Christians. First of all, perhaps, they only buried here in secret those who were martyrs, and others who desired to be buried near them. After a time most of the Christians when they died were laid here. Places were cut out in the sides of these passages, like shelves or long cupboards in the wall, and these were closed up in front with flat pieces of stone or marble, or with tiles, and plastered over; and on the stones or the plaster they carved the names of those who were buried there, and some words which reminded those who read them that those who were dead had gone to heaven to be with Christ for ever. After the times of persecution, these places were shut up for a long while; and when they were re-opened many of these tombs with their stone doors were found. You will like to know what was written upon some of them.
On one are these words:
“Alexander is not dead, but lives beyond the stars, and his body
rests in this tomb."
“Gemilla sleeps in peace."
On another there are these sentences :
In Christ, the First and the Last.
Aged twenty-eight years and three months.” Many were the tombs of those who had been put to death for Christ's sake; and on some of these, palm-branches were carved, which meant, that though they had been killed they were conquerors over death, because they lived with Christ. One of these, where Marius, a young officer, was buried, says:
“In Christ. In the time of the Emperor Hadrian, Marius, a young military officer, who had lived long enough when with his
blood he gave up his life for Christ." There is a palm-branch on this.
One is especially interesting. It is an inscription which a servant has put upon the tomb of her master. It is very badly carved, and badly spelt : the poor woman could not afford to have it done so well as the others, but she loved Christ, and she loved her master, so she had his sad story written over his grave :
“Here lies Gordianes, deputy of Gaul, who was murdered, with all his family, for the faith. They rest in peace. Theophila his
handmaid set up this." A Christian poet who lived at that time says, about these holy men who in different ways gave up their lives for Christ:
“The deep cold waters close o'er one,
Another sheds a crimson river.
A life to the Eternal Giver.
From Stories and Pictures from Church History.
I. The Legend of St. Christopher. 1. The Carthusian Cloister. A cloister is the covered arcade that surrounds a central court in a college or monastery. It is literally a place shut in,-from Latin, claudere, p.p. clausus, to shut or enclose, through the French cloitre (old French cloistre). It is generally used as a name for a monastery or convent, that is, a house where monks or nuns shut themselves up for some religious purpose. There were many kinds of monks or friars in the Church of Rome, such as the Franciscans, or Greyfriars, the Dominicans, or Blackfriars, the Carmelites, or Whitefriars, and the Augustin (or Austin) friars. Each order had its own rules and mode of life, as well as its distinctive dress-a black, white, grey or brown cloth garment, tied round by a girdle of rope, and with a hood that could be used as a covering for the head instead of a hat. The head was shaven.
The Carthusians were a religious order founded by Saint Bruno in 1084. With six companions he settled in a wild desert region among precipitous rocks near Chartreuse. There they hoped to forget the world, and subdue their passions by prayer and labour. The monks of this order live separately, not in common houses. Their dress is a thick white cloth. The name of the Charterhouse, in London, is a corruption of the word Chartreuse.
2. The lord prior. The Abbot and the Prior were the chief rulers of an abbey or priory. The superiors of Carthusian convents are called Priors. Those of the Benedictine order are called Abbots.
3. Prithee : a contraction of I pray thee.
4. Christo-pher. This is a Greek name, and means literally one who carries Christ.
IV. The Colubriad.
1. The Colubriad : a word coined by Cowper to signify the song of a serpent, from Latin, Coluber—a serpent. So the Iliad=the song of Ilium or Troy, and Dunciad=the song of a dunce.
2. Aghast : struck with horror ; unable to move through fright.
3. Count de Grasse's queue. Queue is a French word =tail (Latin, Cauda). At the time this poem was writtenin the reign of George III.—it was the fashion for gentlemen to wear wigs such as lawyers wear now. The wig had a little tail tied with ribbon, and this was called its queue.
Count de Grasse. A famous French admiral who fought with us in the wars of George III.
4. Phenomenon : a strange appearance.
5. Never to come there no more. It is considered bad grammar to have two negatives referring to the same word. Here the poet, for a joke, has never and no, both referring to time understood. In Early English men generally used double negatives ; and even in the writings of Bacon and Shakespeare we find a great many.
VI. The Inchcape bell. 1. The Inchcape Rock : This is a small islet overflowed by the tide, about fourteen miles east of the entrance to the Firth of Tay (Scotland). It has now a celebrated lighthouse on it, but formerly it was distinguished by a bell, the history of which is told in this poem. Inch : an old Northern word for island. Thus Shakespere says in Macbeth :
“ 'Till he disbursed at St. Colmes' Inch,
Ten thousand dollars to our general use. 2. The Abbot of Aberbrothock : the head of a monastery, or house of monks, at Aberbrothock or Arbroath, a sea-port eighteen miles N.E. of Dundee. The word Abbot=father, from a Syriac word Abba=father. See Romans viii. 15.