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many such festivals as I had the pleasure of witnessing this morning, and which reminded me strongly of those social parties so common to the ancient nobility of our country, when masques and other intellectual entertainments, were the amusements of their families and surrounding gentry. But now, William, we must attend to
the particular business of the evening; and let it be understood, that this month either receives its name from Mam, the mother of Mercury, to whom sacrifices were offered by the Romans; or, from Majores, given by Romulus in honour of the senators. The Saxons called it Tri Mild, as they then milked their cattle three times a day. The 1st of May is consecrated to the memory of two Apostles: what particulars have you gleaned concerning them 1
William. The apostles St. Philip and St. James, have their eminent virtues and great sufferings commemorated by appropriate church services. The day in the calendar bears their names jointly; but why they are placed in connexion no reason is assigned. Philip, one of the "chosen messengers" or apostles of our Saviour, was born atBethsaida, a small fishing-town, near the lake of Tiberias, in Galilee, where Andrew and Peter likewise dwelt. In the distribution made by the apostles of the several provinces in which they were appointed to preach the Gospel, Asia Minor appears to have been the scene of Philip's labours. After much travelling and arduous service in the good cause for which his Master suffered, he came to a place named Hierapolis, or the Sacred City, now called Aleppo, where the people worshipped a serpent of enormous size; and St. Philip exerting himself to oppose this strange superstition, and meeting with almost incredible success among his hearers, the magistrates caused him to be arrested and sent to prison; where he was severely scourged, and finally put to death in the year 52, either by being hanged on a pillar, or killed upon the cross by stones.
Maria. Was he not the particular friend of St. Bm«
William. He was:—Philip first introduced that worthy man to our Saviour, by whom he was highly esteemed. On the martyrdom of St. Philip, Bartholomew found an opportunity of taking down the body and burying it; for which act he narrowly escaped crucifixion. St. James, or, as he is sometimes called, St. James the Less, and also, from his eminent virtues, St. James the Just, was (the brother of Christ, being the son of Joseph by a former wife.
Mr, Constance. There are some doubts on that point, William. He is styled by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, "the brother of our Lord ;" but whether the word brother is used in the more extensive meaning of general relationship, or has reference to his being the offspring of Joseph by a former wife, is not a decided matter. Those who contend that St. James was not, by consanguinity, our Lord's brother, assert that he was the son of Cleophas, or Alpheus, and Mary, the sister of the Blessed Virgin, thereby making him the cousin-geruiau of Jesus.
'William. I was not aware, Sir, that it was a disputed point. It is, however, generally acknowledged, that this apostle bore a strong personal resemblance to our Saviour, which circumstance is supposed to have occasioned the traitor Judas to resort to the expedient of kissing Jesus, the more particularly to mark him out to the soldiers appointed to take him. Judas feared that St. James's sincere and ardent affection for his Master would prompt him to substitute himself for Jesus. It is also said, that, on account of his near affinity to Christ, he was elected bishop, or president of the metropolitan church of Jerusalem, an office of honourable trust and great danger. Here he constantly resided, strenuously, diligently, and ably discharging the duties of his situation, until, in the year 62, when he was ninety-four years of age, he was summoned before the rulers of the Jews, and every attempt made to induce him to renounce his belief; but, failing in their endeavours, they threw him headlong from the battlements of the Temple, in the hope of terminating his existence. The fall, however, notwithstanding the height from which he was thrown, did not kill him; he presently raised himself upon his knees, and prayed for his persecutors, when those relentless monsters striking him on the head with a club, instantly deprived him of life.
Charles. We generally see St. James portrayed, in old paintings, with a mitre on his head. I suppose it js in allusion to the dignity of his priestly office.
William. I believe it is. When called to the ministry, he was a priest of the order of Rechabites. And it was from one of this order, named Simeon, that he received the blow which caused his death. The miscreant was by trade a fuller; and the badge of St. James appropriately bears a fuller's pole, to denote the manner of his martyrdom.
Maria. Invention of the Cross is the name given to the 3d of this month; and as I have often found a difficulty in comprehending its real meaning, I shall feel pleasure, William, in hearing your account of it.
William, Your difficulty has arisen, no doubt, from having applied the common definition to the word invention; forgetting that it also signifies to find or discover. The day would therefore be better understood, if called Discovery of the Cross, that being the circumstance intended to be celebrated by the Catholic church. History informs us, that St. Helena, a lady of British extraction, found, on this day, the true cross of Christ, buried deep in the ground on Mount Calvary.
Angelina. What! and is there a church service performed in commemoration of that event?
William. By the Catholic church there is.
Mr. Constance. Restrain your surprise for a moment, Angelina. It was not, I imagine, merely to commemorate the finding of the cross that the day was first appropriated, but to perpetuate the many wonderful miracles which were said to have been performed through its influence. At the time of the discovery of the three crosses, (for those upon which the two thieves died were also dug up,) that upon which our Saviour suffered was distinguished, it is said, from the others, by a sick woman being healed on touching it; and that although the devout constantly, on Easter Sunday, (when it was exposed to view,) took away fragments of it, to be set as relics in gold or gems, it nevertheless remained entire and unimpaired. It was therefore to commemorate such deeds, and a thousand others which have been recorded by the monkish writers respecting it, that the day was first ordained a church festival.
Angelina. After your explanation, Sir, I am not so much surprised; but I wish to know how it was that a British lady was fortunate enough to make so important a discovery. ,
William. I believe, Angelina, I can satisfy you on that point. Helena is stated to have been the daughter of Coel, Duke of Colchester, and was married to Constantine. After having borne him a son, she was for some cause divorced; and it was not until her offspring, Constantine the Great, succeeded to the throne, that she was recalled. After having lived in a course of virtuous piety until her eightieth year, she travelled to the Holy Land, to contemplate the scene of Christ's resurrection from the tomb. A chapel, which was built on the spot by Adrian, and dedicated to the heathen goddess Venus, she caused to be razed, and had the gratification of discovering, deep buried in the ground, the original monuments of our redemption. The cause of attributing a miraculous power to this venerable relic, may be found in the fervent zeal and superstitious predilection of the age. But we will now pass to the consideration of a day celebrated by our own church, on the 6th of this month, in remembrance of St. John the Evangelist. You observe it is thus distinguished, John Evan. P. L. The initials have reference to the gate called Porta Latina, before which St. John was barbarously cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, during a severe persecution of the Christians, under the government of Domitian. By the interposition of Divine Providence, however, he was preserved from injury, and is said to have issued from the ordoal with renewed health and strength.
Mr. Constance. That circumstance, William, has been often related, but is now entirely exploded as a mere invention. Nor are you right in stating that our church still celebrates the event; for at the Reformation the observances of the day were discontinued, and the festival of St. John ordained for the 27th of December. It will, therefore, be better that we defer any further notice of the apostle until that month. Why the name is still retained in the calendar for the 6th of May, I am at a loss to know: perhaps, as the martyrdom was considered doubtful, it was thought right to let it remain as a proof of its having formerly been reverenced. But I perceive one of the moveable feasts, called Rogation Sunday, noted about this time: what are the particulars concerning it?
William. Rogation Sunday is merely a day of prayer and preparation ;-—the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, immediately following it, are also called Ro