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The inhabitants of Roras, on being acquainted with these conditions, were filled with an honest indignation, and, in answer, sent word to the marquis that sooner than comply with them they would suffer three things, which, of all others, were the most obnoxious to mankind, viz. ? 1. Their estates to be seized. 2. Their houses to be burned. 3. Themselves to be murdered. ? Exasperated at this message, the marquis sent them this laconic epistle:
To the Obstinate Heretics Inhabiting Roras
You shall have your request, for the troops sent against you have strict injunctions to plunder, burn, and kill. PIANESSA.
The troops forced their way by the superiority of numbers, and having gained the rocks, pass, and defile, began to make the most horrid depradations, and exercise the greatest cruelties. Men they hanged, burned, racked to death, or cut to pieces; women they ripped open, crucified, drowned, or threw from the precipices; and children they tossed upon spears, minced, cut their throats, or dashed out their brains. One hundred and twenty-six suffered in this manner on the first day of their gaining the town.
Agreeable to the marquis of Pianessa's orders, they likewise plundered the estates, and burned the houses of the people. Several Protestants, however, made their escape, under the conduct of Captain Gianavel, whose wife and children were unfortunately made prisoners and sent under a strong guard to Turin.
The marquis of Pianessa wrote a letter to Captain Gianavel, and released a Protestant prisoner that he might carry it him. The contents were, that if the captain would embrace the Roman Catholic religion, he should be indemnified for all his losses since the commencement of the war; his wife and children should be immediately released, and himself honorably promoted in the duke of Savoy's army; but if he refused to accede to the proposals made him, his wife and children should be put to death; and so large a reward should be given to take him, dead or alive, that even some of his own confidential friends should be tempted to betray him, from the greatness of the sum.
To this epistle, the brave Gianavel sent the following answer.
My Lord Marquis, There is no torment so great or death so cruel, but what I would prefer to the abjuration of my religion: so that promises lose their effects, and menaces only strengthen me in my faith.
With respect to my wife and children, my lord, nothing can be more afflicting to me than the thought of their confinement, or more dreadful to my imagination, than their suffering a violent and cruel death. I keenly feel all the tender sensations of husband and parent; my heart is replete with every sentiment of humanity; I would suffer any torment to rescue them from danger; I would die to preserve them.
But having said thus much, my lord, I assure you that the purchase of their lives must not be the price of my salvation. You have them in your power it is true; but my comfort is that your power is only a temporary authority over their bodies: you may destroy the mortal part, but their immortal souls are out of your reach, and will live hereafter to bear testimony against you for your cruelties. I therefore recommend them and myself to God, and pray for a reformation in your heart. -- JOSHUA GIANAVEL.
This brave Protestant officer, after writing the above letter, retired to the Alps, with his followers; and being joined by a great number of other fugitive Protestants, he harassed the enemy by continual skirmishes.
Meeting one day with a body of papist troops near Bibiana, he, though inferior in numbers, attacked them with great fury, and put them to the rout without the loss of a man, though himself was shot through the leg in the engagement, by a soldier who had hid himself behind a tree; but Gianavel perceiving whence the shot came, pointed his gun to the place, and despatched the person who had wounded him.
Captain Gianavel hearing that a Captain Jahier had collected together a considerable body of Protestants, wrote him a letter, proposing a junction of their forces. Captain Jahier immediately agreed to the proposal, and marched directly to meet Gianavel.
The junction being formed, it was proposed to attack a town, (inhabited by Roman Catholics) called Garcigliana. The assault was given with great spirit, but a reinforcement of horse and foot having lately entered the town, which the Protestants knew nothing of, they were repulsed; yet made a masterly retreat, and only lost one man in the action.
The next attempt of the Protestant forces was upon St. Secondo, which they attacked with great vigor, but met with a strong resistance from the Roman Catholic troops, who had fortified the streets and planted themselves in the houses, from whence they poured musket balls in prodigious numbers. The Protestants, however, advanced, under cover of a great number of planks, which some held over their heads, to secure them from the shots of the enemy from the houses, while others kept up a well- directed fire; so that the houses and entrenchments were soon forced, and the town taken.
In the town they found a prodigious quantity of plunder, which had been taken from Protestants at various times, and different places, and which were stored up in the warehouses, churches, dwelling houses, etc. This they removed to a place of safety, to be distributed, with as much justice as possible, among the sufferers.
This successful attack was made with such skill and spirit that it cost very little to the conquering party, the Protestants having only seventeen killed, and twenty-six wounded; while the papists suffered a loss of no less than four hundred and fifty killed, and five hundred and eleven wounded.
Five Protestant officers, viz., Gianavel, Jahier, Laurentio, Genolet and Benet, laid a plan to surprise Biqueras. To this end they marched in five respective bodies, and by agreement were to make the attack at the same time. The captains, Jahier and Laurentio, passed through two defiles in the woods, and came to the place in safety, under covert; but the other three bodies made their approaches through an open country, and, consequently, were more exposed to an attack.
The Roman Catholics taking the alarm, a great number of troops were sent to relieve Biqueras from Cavors, Bibiana, Feline, Campiglione, and some other neighboring places. When these were united, they determined to attack the three Protestant parties, that were marching through the open country.
The Protestant officers perceiving the intent of the enemy, and not being at a great distance from each other, joined forces with the utmost expedition, and formed themselves in order of battle.
In the meantime, the captains, Jahier and Laurentio, had assaulted the town of Biqueras, and burnt all the out houses, to make their approaches with the greater ease; but not being supported as they expected by the other three Protestant captains, they sent a messenger, on a swift horse, towards the open country, to inquire the reason.
The messenger soon returned and informed them that it was not in the power of the three Protestant captains to support their proceedings, as they were themselves attacked by a very superior force in the plain, and could scarce sustain the unequal conflict.
The captains, Jahier and Laurentio, on receiving this intelligence, determined to discontinue the assault on Biqueras, and to proceed, with all possible expedition, to the relief of their friends on the plain. This design proved to be of the most essential service, for just as they arrived at the spot where the two armies were engaged, the papist troops began to prevail, and were on the point of flanking the left wing, commanded by Captain Gianavel. The arrival of these troops turned the scale in favor of the Protestants: and the papist forces, though they fought with the most obstinate intrepidity, were totally defeated. A great number were killed and wounded, on both sides, and the baggage, military stores, etc., taken by the Protestants were very considerable.
Captain Gianavel, having information that three hundred of the enemy were to convoy a great quantity of stores, provisions, etc., from La Torre to the castle of Mirabac, determined to attack them on the way. He, accordingly, began the assault at Malbec, though with a very inadequate force. The contest was long and bloody, but the Protestants at length were obliged to yield to the superiority of numbers, and compelled to make a retreat, which they did with great regularity, and but little loss.
Captain Gianavel advanced to an advantageous post, situated near the town of Vilario, and then sent the following information and commands to the inhabitants. ? 1. That he should attack the town in twenty-four hours. ? 2. That with respect to the Roman Catholics who had borne arms, whether they belonged to the army or not, he should act by the law of retaliation, and put them to death, for the numerous depredations and many cruel murders they had committed. ? 3. That all women and children, whatever their religion might be, should be safe. ? 4. That he commanded all male Protestants to leave the town and join him. ? 5. That all apostates, who had, through weakness, abjured their religion, should be deemed enemies, unless they renounced their abjuration. ? 6. That all who returned to their duty to God, and themselves, should be received as friends.
The Protestants, in general immediately left the town, and joined Captain Gianavel with great satisfaction, and the few, who through weakness or fear, had abjured their faith, recanted their abjuration and were received into the bosom of the Church. As the marquis of Pianessa had removed the army, and encamped in quite a different part of the country, the Roman Catholics of Vilario thought it would be folly to attempt to defend the place with the small force they had. They, therefore, fled with the utmost precipitation, leaving the town and most of their property to the discretion of the Protestants.
The Protestant commanders having called a council of war, resolved to make an attempt upon the town of La Torre.
The papists being apprised of the design, detached some troops to defend a defile, through which the Protestants must make their approach; but these were defeated, compelled to abandon the pass, and forced to retreat to La Torre.
The Protestants proceeded on their march, and the troops of La Torre, on their approach, made a furious sally, but were repulsed with great loss, and compelled to seek shelter in the town. The governor now only thought of defending the place, which the Protestants began to attack in form; but after many brave attempts, and furious assaults, the commanders determined to abandon the enterprise for several reasons, particularly, because they found the place itself too strong, their own number too weak, and their cannon not adequate to the task of battering down the walls.
This resolution taken, the Protestant commanders began a masterly retreat, and conducted it with such regularity that the enemy did not choose to pursue them, or molest their rear, which they might have done, as they passed the defiles.
The next day they mustered, reviewed the army, and found the whole to amount to four hundred and ninety-five men. They then held a council of war, and planned an easier enterprise: this was to make an attack on the commonalty of Crusol, a place inhabited by a number of the most bigoted Roman Catholics, and who had exercised, during the persecutions, the most unheard-of cruelties on the Protestants.
The people of Crusol, hearing of the design against them, fled to a neighboring fortress, situated on a rock, where the Protestants could not come to them, for a very few men could render it inaccessible to a numerous army. Thus they secured their persons, but were in too much hurry to secure their property, the principal part of which, indeed, had been plundered from the Protestants, and now luckily fell again to the possession of the right owners. It consisted of many rich and valuable articles, and what, at that time, was of much more consequence, viz., a great quantity of military stores.
The day after the Protestants were gone with their booty, eight hundred troops arrived to the assistance of the people of Crusol, having been despatched from Lucerne, Biqueras, Cavors, etc. But finding themselves too late, and that pursuit would be vain, not to return empty handed, they began to plunder the neighboring villages, though what they took was from their friends. After collecting a tolerable booty, they began to divide it, but disagreeing about the different shares, they fell from words to blows, did a great deal of mischief, and then plundered each other.
On the very same day in which the Protestants were so successful at Crusol, some papists marched with a design to plunder and burn the little Protestant village of Rocappiatta, but by the way they met with the Protestant forces belonging to the captains, Jahier and Laurentio, who were posted on the hill of Angrogne. A trivial engagement pursued, for the Roman Catholics, on the very first attack, retreated in great confusion, and were pursued with much slaughter. After the pursuit was over, some straggling papist troops meeting with a poor peasant, who was a Protestant, tied a cord round his head, and strained it until his skull was quite crushed.
Captain Gianavel and Captain Jahier concerted a design together to make an attack upon Lucerne; but Captain Jahier, not bringing up his forces at the time appointed, Captain Gianavel determined to attempt the enterprise himself.
He, therefore, by a forced march, proceeded towards that place during the whole, and was close to it by break of day. His first care was to cut the pipes that conveyed water into the town, and then to break down the bridge, by which alone provisions from the country could enter.
He then assaulted the place, and speedily possessed himself of two of the outposts; but finding he could not make himself master of the place, he prudently retreated with very little loss, blaming, however, Captain Jahier, for the failure of the enterprise.
The papists being informed that Captain Gianavel was at Angrogne with only his own company, determined if possible to surprise him. With this view, a great number of troops were detached from La Torre and other places: one party of these got on top of a mountain, beneath which he was posted; and the other party intended to possess themselves of the gate of St. Bartholomew.
The papists thought themselves sure of taking Captain Gianavel and every one of his men, as they consisted but of three hundred, and their own force was two thousand five hundred. Their design, however, was providentially frustrated, for one of the popish soldiers imprudently blowing a trumpet before the signal for attack was given, Captain Gianavel took the alarm, and posted his little company so advantageously at the gate of St. Bartholomew and at the defile by which the enemy must descend from the mountains, that the Roman Catholic troops failed in both attacks, and were repulsed with very considerable loss.
Soon after, Captain Jahier came to Angrogne, and joined his forces to those of Captain Gianavel, giving sufficient reasons to excuse his before-mentioned failure. Captain Jahier now made several secret excursions with great success, always selecting the most active troops, belonging both to Gianavel and himself. One day he had put himself at the head of forty-four men, to proceed upon an expedition, when entering a plain near Ossac, he was suddenly surrounded by a large body of horse. Captain Jahier and his men fought desperately, though oppressed by odds, and killed the commander-in-chief, three captains, and fifty-seven private men, of the enemy. But Captain Jahier himself being killed, with thirty-five of his men, the rest surrendered. One of the soldiers cut off Captain Jahier's head, and carrying it to Turin, presented it to the duke of Savoy, who rewarded him with six hundred ducatoons.
The death of this gentleman was a signal loss to the Protestants, as he was a real friend to, and companion of, the reformed Church. He possessed a most undaunted spirit, so that no difficulties could deter him from undertaking an enterprise, or dangers terrify him in its execution. He was pious without affectation, and humane without weakness; bold in a field, meek in a domestic life, of a penetrating genius, active in spirit, and resolute in all his undertakings.
To add to the affliction of the Protestants, Captain Gianavel was, soon after, wounded in such a manner that he was obliged to keep his bed. They, however, took new courage from misfortunes, and determining not to let their spirits droop attacked a body of popish troops with great intrepidity; the Protestants were much inferior in numbers, but fought with more resolution than the papists, and at length routed them with considerable slaughter. During the action, a sergeant named Michael Bertino was killed; when his son, who was close behind him, leaped into his place, and said, "I have lost my father; but courage, fellow soldiers, God is a father to us all."
Several skirmishes likewise happened between the troops of La Torre and Tagliaretto, and the Protestant forces, which in general terminated in favor of the latter.
A Protestant gentleman, named Andrion, raised a regiment of horse, and took the command of it himself. The sieur John Leger persuaded a great number of Protestants to form themselves into volunteer companies; and an excellent officer, named Michelin, instituted several bands of light troops. These being all joined to the remains of the veteran Protestant troops, (for great numbers had been lost in the various battles, skirmishes, sieges, etc.) composed a respectable army, which the officers thought proper to encamp near St. Giovanni.
The Roman Catholic commanders, alarmed at the formidable appearance and increased strength of the Protestant forces, determined, if possible, to dislodge them from their encampment. With this view they collected together a large force, consisting of the principal part of the garrisons of the Roman Catholic towns, the draft from the Irish brigades, a great number of regulars sent by the marquis of Pianessa, the auxiliary troops, and the independent companies.
These, having formed a junction, encamped near the Protestants, and spent several days in calling councils of war, and disputing on the most proper mode of proceeding. Some were for plundering the country, in order to draw the Protestants from their camp; others were for patiently waiting till they were attacked; and a third party were for assaulting the Protestant camp, and trying to make themselves master of everything in it.
The last of them prevailed, and the morning after the resolution had been taken was appointed to put it into execution. The Roman Catholic troops were accordingly separated into four divisions, three of which were to make an attack in different places; and the fourth to remain as a body of reserve to act as occasion might require.
"Fellow-soldiers, you are now going to enter upon a great action, which will bring you fame and riches. The motives of your acting with spirit are likewise of the most important nature; namely, the honor of showing your loyalty to your sovereign, the pleasure of spilling heretic blood, and the prospect of plundering the Protestant camp. So, my brave fellows, fall on, give no quarter, kill all you meet, and take all you come near."
After this inhuman speech the engagement began, and the Protestant camp was attacked in three places with inconceivable fury. The fight was maintained with great obstinacy and perseverance on both sides, continuing without intermission for the space of four hours: for the several companies on both sides relieved each other alternately, and by that means kept up a continual fire during the whole action.
During the engagement of the main armies, a detachment was sent from the body of reserve to attack the post of Castelas, which, if the papists had carried, it would have given them the command of the valleys of Perosa, St. Martino, and Lucerne; but they were repulsed with great loss, and compelled to return to the body of reserve, from whence they had been detached.
Soon after the return of this detachment, the Roman Catholic troops, being hard pressed in the main battle, sent for the body of reserve to come to their support. These immediately marched to their assistance, and for some time longer held the event doubtful, but at length the valor of the Protestants prevailed, and the papists were totally defeated, with the loss of upwards of three hundred men killed, and many more wounded.
When the Syndic of Lucerne, who was indeed a papist, but not a bigoted one, saw the great number of wounded men brought into that city, he exclaimed, "Ah! I thought the wolves used to devour the heretics, but now I see the heretics eat the wolves." This expression being reported to M. Marolles, the Roman Catholic commander-in-chief at Lucerne, he sent a very severe and threatening letter to the Syndic, who was so terrified, that the fright threw him into a fever, and he died in a few days.
This great battle was fought just before the harvest was got in, when the papists, exasperated at their disgrace, and resolved on any kind of revenge, spread themselves by night in detached parties over the finest corn fields of the Protestants, and set them on fire in sundry places. Some of these straggling parties, however, suffered for their conduct; for the Protestants, being alarmed in the night by the blazing of the fire among the corn, pursued the fugitives early in the morning, and overtaking many, put them to death. The Protestant captain Bellin, likewise, by way of retaliation, went with a body of light troops, and burnt the suburbs of La Torre, making his retreat afterward with very little loss.
A few days later, Captain Bellin, with a much stronger body of troops, attacked the town of La Torre itself, and making a breach in the wall of the convent, his men entered, driving the garrison into the citadel and burning both town and convent. After having effected this, they made a regular retreat, as they could not reduce the citadel for want of cannon.
An Account of the Persecutions of Michael de Molinos, a Native of Spain
Michael de Molinos, a Spaniard of a rich and honorable family, entered, when young, into priest's orders, but would not accept of any preferment in the Church. He possessed great natural abilities, which he dedicated to the service of his fellow creatures, without any view of emolument to himself. His course of life was pious and uniform; nor did he exercise those austerities which are common among the religious orders of the Church of Rome.
Being of a contemplative turn of mind, he pursued the track of the mystical divines, and having acquired great reputation in Spain, and being desirous of propagating his sublime mode of devotion, he left his own country, and settled at Rome. Here he soon connected himself with some of the most distinguished among the literati, who so approved of his religious maxims, that they concurred in assisting him to propagate them; and, in a short time, he obtained a great number of followers, who, from the sublime mode of their religion, were distinguished by the name of Quietists.
In 1675, Molinos published a book entitled "Il Guida Spirituale," to which were subjoined recommendatory letters from several great personages. One of these was by the archbishop of Reggio; a second by the general of the Franciscans; and a third by Father Martin de Esparsa, a Jesuit, who had been divinity-professor both at Salamanca and Rome.
No sooner was the book published than it was greatly read, and highly esteemed, both in Italy and Spain; and this so raised the reputation of the author that his acquaintance was coveted by the most respectable characters. Letters were written to him from numbers of people, so that a correspondence was settled between him, and those who approved of his method in different parts of Europe. Some secular priests, both at Rome and Naples, declared themselves openly for it, and consulted him, as a sort of oracle, on many occasions. But those who attached themselves to him with the greatest sincerity were some of the fathers of the Oratory; in particular three of the most eminent, namely, Caloredi, Ciceri, and Petrucci. Many of the cardinals also courted his acquaintance, and thought themselves happy in being reckoned among the number of his friends. The most distinguished of them was the Cardinal d'Estrees, a man of very great learmning, who so highly approved of Molinos' maxims that he entered into a close connection with him. They conversed together daily, and nevertheless the distrust a Spaniard has naturally of a Frenchman, yet Molinos, who was sincere in his principles, opened his mind without reserve to the cardinal; and by this means a correspondence was settled between Molinos and some distinguished characters in France.
Whilst Molinos was thus laboring to propagate his religious mode, Father Petrucci wrote several treatises relative to a contemplative life; but he mixed in them so many rules for the devotions of the Romish Church, as mitigated that censure he might have otherwise incurred. They were written chiefly for the use of the nuns, and therefore the sense was expressed in the most easy and familiar style.
Molinos had now acquired such reputation, that the Jesuits and Dominicans began to be greatly alarmed, and determined to put a stop to the progress of this method. To do this, it was necessary to decry the author of it; and as heresy is an imputation that makes the strongest impression at Rome, Molinos and his followers were given out to be heretics. Books were also written by some of the Jesuits against Molinos and his method; but they were all answered with spirit by Molinos.
These disputes occasioned such disturbance in Rome that the whole affair was taken notice of by the Inquisition. Molinos and his book, and Father Petrucci, with his treatises and letters, were brought under a severe examination; and the Jesuits were considered as the accusers. One of the society had, indeed, approved of Molinos' book, but the rest took care he should not be again seen at Rome. In the course of the examination both Molinos and Petrucci acquitted themselves so well, that their books were again approved, and the answers which the Jesuits had written were censured as scandalous.
Petrucci's conduct on this occasion was so highly approved that it not only raised the credit of the cause, but his own emolument; for he was soon after made bishop of Jesis, which was a new declaration made by the pope in their favor. Their books were now esteemed more than ever, their method was more followed, and the novelty of it, with the new approval given after so vigorous an accusation by the Jesuits, all contributed to raise the credit, and increase the number of the party.
The behavior of Father Petrucci in his new dignity greatly contributed to increase his reputation, so that his enemies were unwilling to give him any further disturbance; and, indeed, there was less occasion given for censure by his writings than those of Molinos. Some passages in the latter were not so cautiously expressed, but there was room to make exceptions to them; while, on the other hand Petrucci so fully explained himself, as easily to remove the objections made to some parts of his letter.
The great reputation acquired by Molinos and Petrucci occasioned a daily increase of the Quietists. All who were thought sincerely devout, or at least affected the reputation of it, were reckoned among the number. If these persons were observed to become more strict in their lives and mental devotions, yet there appeared less zeal in their whole demeanor at the exterior parts of the Church ceremonies. They were not so assiduous at Mass, nor so earnest to procure Masses to be said for their friends; nor were they so frequently either at confession, or in processions.
Though the new approval given to Molinos' book by the Inquisition had checked the proceedings of his enemies; yet they were still inveterate against him in their hearts, and determined if possible to ruin him. They insinuated that he had ill designs, and was, in his heart, an enemy to the Christian religion: that under pretence of raising men to a sublime strain of devotion, he intended to erase from their minds a sense of the mysteries of Christianity. And because he was a Spaniard, they gave out that he was descended from a Jewish or Mahometan race, and that he might carry in his blood, or in his first education, some seeds of those religions which he had since cultivated with no less art than zeal. This last calumny gained but little credit at Rome, though it was said an order was sent to examine the registers of the place where Molinos was baptized.
Molinos finding himself attacked with great vigor, and the most unrelenting malice, took every necessary precaution to prevent these imputations being credited. He wrote a treatise, entitled "Frequent and Daily Communion," which was likewise approved by some of the most learned of the Romish clergy. This was printed with his Spiritual Guide, in the year 1675; and in the preface to it he declared that he had not written it with any design to engage himself in matters of controversy, but that it was drawn from him by the earnest solicitations of many pious people.
The Jesuits, failing in their attempts of crushing Molinos' power in Rome, applied to the court of France, when, in a short time, they so far succeeded that an order was sent to Cardinal d'Estrees, commanding him to prosecute Molinos with all possible rigor. The cardinal, though so strongly attached to Molinos, resolved to sacrifice all that is sacred in friendship to the will of his master. Finding, however, there was not sufficient matter for an accusation against him, he determined to supply that defect himself. He therefore went to the inquisitors, and informed them of several particulars, not only relative to Molinos, but also Petrucci, both of whom, together with several of their friends, were put into the Inquisition.
When they were brought before the inquisitors, (which was the beginning of the year 1684) Petrucci answered the respective questions put to him with so much judgment and temper that he was soon dismissed; and though Molinos' examination was much longer, it was generally expected he would have been likewise discharged: but this was not the case. Though the inquisitors had not any just accusation against him, yet they strained every nerve to find him guilty of heresy. They first objected to his holding a correspondence in different parts of Europe; but of this he was acquitted, as the matter of that correspondence could not be made criminal. They then directed their attention to some suspicious papers found in his chamber; but Molinos so clearly explained their meaning that nothing could be made of them to his prejudice. At length, Cardinal d'Estrees, after producing the order sent him by the king of France for prosecuting Molinos, said he could prove against him more than was necessary to convince them he was guilty of heresy. To do this he perverted the meaning of some passages in Molinos' books and papers, and related many false and aggravating circumstances relative to the prisoner. He acknowledged he had lived with him under the appearance of friendship, but that it was only to discover his principles and intentions: that he had found them to be of a bad nature, and that dangerous consequences werre likely to pursue; but in order to make a full discovery, he had assented to several things, which, in his heart, he detested; and that, by these means, he saw into the secrets of Molinos, but determined not to take any notice, until a proper opportunity should offer of crushing him and his followers.
In consequence of d'Estree's evidence, Molinos was closely confined by the Inquisition, where he continued for some time, during which period all was quiet, and his followers prosecuted their mode without interruption. But on a sudden the Jesuits determined to extirpate them, and the storm broke out with the most inveterate vehemence.
The Count Vespiniani and his lady, Don Paulo Rocchi, confessor to the prince Borghese, and some of his family, with several others, (in all seventy persons) were put into the Inquisition, among whom many were highly esteemed for their learning and piety. The accusation laid against the clergy was their neglecting to say the breviary; and the rest were accused of going to the Communion without first attending confession. In a word, it was said, they neglected all the exterior parts of religion, and gave themselves up wholly to solitude and inward prayer.
The Countess Vespiniani exerted herself in a very particular manner on her examination before the inquisitors. She said she had never revealed her method of devotion to any mortal but her confessor, and that it was impossible they should know it without his discovering the secret; that, therefore it was time to give over going to confession, if priests made this use of it, to discover the most secret thoughts intrusted to them; and that, for the future, she would only make her confession to God.
From this spirited speech, and the great noise made in consequence of the countess's situation, the inquisitors thought it most prudent to dismiss both her and her husband, lest the people might be incensed, and what she said might lessen the credit of confession. They were, therefore, both discharged, but bound to appear whenever they should be called upon.
Besides those already mentioned, such was the inveteracy of the Jesuits against the Quietists, that, within the space of a month, upwards of two hundred persons were put into the Inquisition; and that method of devotion which had passed in Italy as the most elevated to which mortals could aspire, was deemed heretical, and the chief promoters of it confined in a wretched dungeon.
In order, if possible, to extirpate Quietism, the inquisitors sent a circular letter to Cardinal Cibo, as the chief minister, to disperse it through Italy. It was addressed to all prelates, informed them, that whereas many schools and fraternities were established in several parts of Italy, in which some persons, under the pretence of leading people into the ways of the Spirit, and to the prayer of quietness, instilled into them many abominable heresies, therefore a strict charge was given to dissolve all those societies, and to oblige the spiritual guide to tread in the known paths; and, in particular, to take care that none of that sort should be suffered to have the direction of the nunneries. Orders were likewise given to proceed, in the way of justice, against those who should be found guilty of these abominable errors.
After this a strict inquiry was made into all the nunneries of Rome, when most of their directors and confessors were discovered to be engaged in this new method. It was found that the Carmelites, the nuns of the Conception, and those of several other convents, were wholly given up to prayer and contemplation, and that, instead of their beads, and the other devotions to saints, or images, they were much alone, and often in the exercise of mental prayer; that when they were asked why they had laid aside the use of their beads and their ancient forms, their answer was that their directors had advised them so to do. Information of this being given to the Inquisition, they sent orders that all books written in the same strain with those of Molinos and Petrucci should be taken from them, and that they should be compelled to return to their original form of devotion.
The circular letter sent to Cardinal Cibo, produced but little effect, for most of the Italian bishops were inclined to Molinos' method. It was intended that this, as well as all other orders from the inquisitors, should be kept secret; but nevertheless all their care, copies of it were printed, and dispersed in most of the principal towns in Italy. This gave great uneasiness to the inquisitors, who used every method they could to conceal their proceedings from the knowledge of the world. They blamed the cardinal, and accused him of being the cause of it; but he retorted on them, and his secretary laid the fault on both.
During these transactions, Molinos suffered great indignities from the officers of the Inquisition; and the only comfort he received was from being sometimes visited by Father Petrucci.
Though he had lived in the highest reputation in Rome for some years, he was now as much despised as he had been admired, being generally considered as one of the worst of heretics.
The greater part of Molinos' followers, who had been placed in the Inquisition, having abjured his mode, were dismissed; but a harder fate awaited Molinos, their leader.
After lying a considerable time in prison, he was at length brought again before the inquisitors to answer to a number of articles exhibited against him from his writings. As soon as he appeared in court, a chain was put round his body, and a wax light in his hand, when two friars read aloud the articles of accusation. Molinos answered each with great steadiness and resolution; and nevertheless his arguments totally defeated the force of all, yet he was found guilty of heresy, and condemned to imprisonment for life.
When he left the court he was attended by a priest, who had borne him the greatest respect. On his arrival at the prison he entered the cell allotted for his confinement with great tranquillity; and on taking leave of the priest, thus addressed him: "Adieu, father, we shall meet again at the Day of Judgment, and then it will appear on which side the truth is, whether on my side, or on yours."
During his confinement, he was several times tortured in the most cruel manner, until, at length, the severity of the punishments overpowered his strength, and finished his existence.
The death of Molinos struck such an impression on his followers that the greater part of them soon abjured his mode; and by the assiduity of the Jesuits, Quietism was totally extirpated throughout the country.