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Title: The Life of St. Frances of Rome, and Others
Author: Georgiana Fullerton
Release Date: July, 2005 [EBook #8495]
[This file was first posted on July 16, 2003]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LIFE OF ST. FRANCES AND OTHERS ***
ST. FRANCES OF ROME,
An Introductory Essay
ON THE MIRACULOUS LIFE OF THE SAINTS,
BY J. M. CAPES, ESQ. _N.B. The proprietorship of this Series is secured
Her life by Mattiotti, her Confessor for ten years. Mattiotti enjoined
her, as a matter of obedience, to relate to him from time to time her
visions in the minutest detail. He was a timid and suspicious man,
and for two or three years kept a daily record of all she told him;
afterwards, as his confidence in her sanctity and sanity grew complete,
he contented himself with a more general account of her ecstasies, and
also put together a private history of her life. After her death, he
wrote a regular biography, which is now to be found in the Bollandist
collection (Venice, 1735, vol. ii.).
Early in the seventeenth century, Ursinus, a Jesuit, wrote a life, which was highly esteemed, but which was never printed, and, except in certain fragments, is now lost.
In 1641, Fuligato, a Jesuit, wrote the second life, in the Bollandist collection, which contains particulars of events that happened after Mattiotti's time.
In presenting to the general reader a newly-written Life of so
extraordinary a person as St. Frances of Rome, together with the
biographical sketches contained in the present volume, it may be useful
to introduce them with a few brief remarks on that peculiar feature in
the histories of many Saints, which is least in accordance with the
popular ideas of modern times. A mere translation, or republication of a
foreign or ancient book, does not necessarily imply any degree of assent
to the principles involved in the original writer's statements. The new
version or edition may be nothing more than a work of antiquarian or
literary interest, by no means professing any thing more than a belief
that persons will be found who will, from some motive or other, be glad
to read it.
Not so, however, in the case of a biography which, though not pretending
to present the results of fresh researches, does profess to give an
account new in shape, and adapted to the wants of the day in which
it asks its share of public attention. In this case no person can
honourably write, and no editor can honourably sanction, any statements
but such as are not only possible and probable, but, allowing
for the degree of authenticity in each case claimed, on the whole
historically true. No honest man, who absolutely disbelieves in all
documents in which the original chronicler has mingled accounts of
supernatural events with the record of his own personal knowledge,
could possibly either write or edit such Lives as those included in
the following pages; still less could they be made public by one who
disbelieves in the reality of modern miracles altogether.
In presenting, then, the present and other similar volumes to the
ordinary reader, I anticipate some such questions as these: "Do you
really put these stories into our hands as history? Are these marvellous
tales to be regarded as poetry, romance, superstitious dreaming, or as
historical realities? If you profess to believe in their truth, how do
you reconcile their character with the universal aspect of human life,
as it appears _to us and to our friends?_ And finally, if you claim for
them the assent to which proved facts have a right from every candid
mind, to what extent of detail do you profess to believe in their
authenticity?" To these and similar questions I reply by the following
The last of these questions may be answered briefly. The lives of Saints
and other remarkable personages, which are here and elsewhere laid in
a popular form before the English public, are not all _equally_ to be
relied on as undoubtedly true in their various minute particulars. They
stand precisely on the same footing as the ordinary events of purely
secular history; and precisely the same degree of assent is claimed
for them that the common reason of humanity accords to the general
chronicles of our race. No man, who writes or edits a history of distant
events, professes to have precisely the same amount of certainty as to
all the many details which he records. Of some his certainty is all but
absolute; of others he can say that he considers them highly probable;
of a third class he only alleges that they are vouched for by
respectable though not numerous authorities., Still, he groups them
together in one complete and continuous story, and gives them to the
world as _history;_ nor does the world impute to him either dishonesty,
ignorance, credulity, or shallowness, because in every single event he
does not specify the exact amount of evidence on which his statement
Just such is the measure of belief to be conceded to the Life of St.
Frances, and other biographies or sketches of a similar kind. Some
portions, and those the most really important and prominent, are well
ascertained, incontrovertible, and substantially true. Others again, in
all likelihood, took place very much, though not literally, in the way
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