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Mr. ConstanCE. Pray who is first commemorated in the calendar for October ?
WILLIAM. The 1st of October is dedicated to the memory of a pious and learned Frenchman, named Remigius, whose abilities were so strikingly displayed in the converting of his fellow-creatures to Christianity, as to obtain for him the appellation of the “ French Apostle, or second St. Paul.” He was born at Landen, in France, and passed his youthful days in the study of the Scriptures, and otherwise qualifying himself for the part he afterwards so ably sustained.
CHARLES. At what age did he commence his public career?
WILLIAM. It is not stated; though it must have been very early ; for when only twenty-two, he was elected Archbishop of Rheims, which appointment was not obtained through family influence or political intrigue, but bestowed at the request of the public, who anxiously desired to make some particular acknowledgment, expressive of their respect for his early display of ability and private worth. Although Remigius lived to the great age of ninety-six, and presided over the see of Rheims for the space of seventy years, few remarkable circumstances are recorded of him ; from which, I think, it may be inferred, that he passed his life in an unostentatious manner. His death happened on the 13th of January, 535, and he was buried with great pomp in the church of St. Christopher,
CHARLES. If he died in January, how is it that his name is not recorded in that month?
WILLIAM. Because he was honoured by a translation or removal, on the 1st of October, 1049, by order of Pope Leo the Ninth, and which day was then appointed for
NR. CONSTANCE. In reflecting on the character of
Remigius, it is matter of great satisfaction to know, that although he has the credit of converting a greater number of heathens than any other man of his time, not the slightest reflection has been cast upon the means which he used for so laudable a purpose :-he exercised no arts, nor claimed the performance of any miracles, neither did he persecute nor offer violence to unbelievers, and yet his proselytes are said to have been many and sincere. Of course he had great ability to enforce his doctrines; but his chief influence consisted, I believe, in the example he set of an unblemished conduct. These circumstances may perhaps account for the comparative barrenness of his biography. One important act of his life is however recorded, which was doubtless of incalculable benefit to the cause of Christianity. It is stated that he converted and afterwards baptized Clovis, the founder of the French monarchy, and the advice he then gave his royal master
is well deserving the attention of kings and governors. .“ Choose wise counsellors,” said he, “ who will be an
honour to your reign; respect the clergy; be the father and protector of your people ; let it be your study to
lighten, as much as possible, all the burdens which the · necessity of the state may oblige them to bear. Comfort
and relieve the poor, feed the orphans, protect the widows, suffer no extortion; and let the gate of your palace be open, that every one may have recourse to you for justice.” Which advice was given by a man whose life was spent
in the daily practice of what he so eloquently taught. * MARIA. St. Faith is the name standing opposite to the 6th of this month : she was also a native of France, I believe.
WILLIAM. She was; being born at Aquitaine, where she took the vow of celibacy ; by which act she obtained marked esteem and veneration. Nothing, however, is related of her parentage or character, nor the manner in which she met her death, more than that she suffered martyrdom about the year 287, under the tyrannic rule of Dacianus.
MR. CÓNSTANCE. You mistake, William; St. Faith is stated to have been a woman of strong mind, who voluntarily surrendered herself to her persecutors, and boldly defended her right to the exercise of her religious opinions. By some authors she is stated to have undergone similar cruelties to those practised on St. Lawrence, and, like that worthy martyr, to have borne her sufferings with fortitude and resignation. The inflexible adherence to principle displayed by St. Faith on her trial, inspired many Christians with courage openly to avow their sentiments, and assist in the overthrow of Paganism. But we will proceed, William, to the biography of St. Denys.
WILLIAM. Whether Șt. Denys, whose name stands. opposite the 9th of this month, was a native of France or not, I am at a loss to tell; but he is certainly considered the tutelar saint of that country.
Mr. Constance. True ; St. Denys is the tutelar saint of France, and with whom the St. Denys noted in our calendar has been confounded : some writers have asserted, that there were two saints bearing the same name, while others contend that the St. Denys, or rather Dio- , nysius, commemorated by us, was a native of Athens, and converted to Christianity by St. Paul; and that, in the course of his life, he travelled into Gaul, and there performed many miracles.
WILLIAM. Then it is Dionysius the Areopagite, you mean?
MR. CONSTANCE. The same: he was a man of great piety and learning, and suffered martyrdom in the reign of Domitian, about the year 69. In the 17th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, when mentioning the numerous .conversions effected by St. Paul, it is said that “among
the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.” Damaris is supposed to have been his wife. No doubt can, therefore, be entertained of his having been a man of celebrity ; while it is more than probable that he never travelled into France, and must consequently be a distinct person to the tutelar saint honoured by the French.
ANGELINA. Pray what is the meaning of Areopagite?
WILLIAM. It means a member of the court of Areopagus, anciently a seat of justice on a small eminence near Athens. The court was instituted by Solon; and its jurisdiction extended to murders, impiety, immoral behaviour, and particularly to idleness, which was wisely considered as the source of all vice. It was known by the name of the “ Court of Life and Death."
Mrs. CONSTANCE. Are there any particulars recorded concerning the early days of Dionysius?
MR. CONSTANCE. Prior to his conversion, though enveloped in the dark obscure of idolatrous Paganism, he is understood to have been remarkable for the excellence of his moral character, and one who had studied the polite arts and sciences to advantage. At the age of twenty-five he travelled into Egypt, to extend his knowledge of astronomy. On his return he was elected chief magistrate of his native city, and afterwards filled the office of judge, in which capacity he became a convert to the doctrines of Christ, as preached by St. Paul before the Areopagitæ. Subsequently he was appointed bishop of Athens, in which station he fell under the persecution of Domitian, and was beheaded.
CHARLES. Then it is only a tradition, I suppose, that St. Denys ever visited France.
MR. CONSTANCE. That is all ; but so strongly believed by the natives, as to induce them to consider him their tutelar saint.
CHARLES. Perhaps from his having been the first to preach Christianity among them, and perform many wonderful miracles.
MR. CONSTANCE. Wonderful, indeed. The story is (though too absurd to repeat), that he was beheaded on Mont-Martre, near Paris, and that he “ carried his head under his arm” as far as the city of St. Denys; and the monks of that place wishing the people to put faith in the legend, showed the head to all who desired to see it. But, unfortunately, there were others interested in keeping alive the cheat, besides the monks of St. Denys, and the head was exhibited at seven different places at one time. Thus there were no less than seven heads of the saint !
MARIA. Which absurdity of course convinced the people of their error.
· Mr. CONSTANCE. I believe not: so blind is superstition. Many volumes were formerly written on the subject; and such respect paid to the memory of the departed saint, aś to induce Dagobert, a prince of the Merovingian race, to found an abbey to his honour, at the little village of St. Denys, near Paris, which soon became a distinguished institution. The abbots were admired for their integrity and talents during many an eventful year; and so interwoven was its history with that of the country, that the annals of St. Denys became the records of France. The building is said to have been a splendid specimen of ancient architecture, and to have contained the ashes of the French monarchs. It, however, suffered much by fire during the inroads made by the Normans into that country; but was restored with increased magnificence, and some time after rebuilt, and decorated with fretted vaults, storied windows, rich shrines, and marble altars, in which state it remained till the period of the Revolution.
ANGELINA. When, I suppose, it was profaned by the rude hands of infidelity.