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Chambers, Robert, 1802-1871 / Chambers's book of days, a miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, including anecdote, biography & history, curiosities of literature and oddities of human life and character
Vol. I (1879)

May,   pp. [unnumbered]-714 PDF (97.6 MB)


Page 570

ST ASAPHr.
THE BOOK
tery. More than this, when at length St Kenti-
gern's enemies in Scotland were appeased or
silenced, and he was recalled tohis native country,
he resigned his Welsh bishopric to Asaph, who
thus became bishop of Llanelwy, though what
he did in his episcopacy, or how long he lived, is
equally unknown, except that he is said, on very
questionable authority, to have compiled the
ordinances of his church, and to have written a
life of his master, St Kentigern, as well as some
other books. We can only say that nobody is
known to have ever seen any such works. After
his death, no bishops of Llanelwy have been
recorded for a very long period of years-that is,
till the middle of the twelfth century. The
church and see still retained the name of Llanel-
wy, which, the supposed second bishop having
been canonized, was changed at a later period to
St Asaph, by which name it is still known.
gogationl 5unhag. (18864.)
Rogation Sunday-the fifth after Easter- is
one of the moveable festivals of the Anglican
Church. It derived its name from the Gospel
for the day, teaching us how we may ask of God
so as to obtain. In former times there was a
perambulation, in the course of which, at certain
spots, thanksgiving psalms were sung.     (See
larger account under title ROGATION DAYs, May
2.)
Born.-William Lilly, astrologer, 1602, Di.eworth;
.Joseph Addison, miscellaneous writer, 1672, lJilston, near
Amesbury. Wilts; Sebastian de Vauban, 1633, Nivernois;
Arthur, Duke of Wellington, 1769 ; Dr John Woodwari,
naturalist, 1665, Derbyshire.
Died.-Arcadius, emperor of the East, 408 ; Maud,
Queen of Engliud, 1118; Pope Pius V., 1572; John
Dryden, poet, 1700, London; Frangois de Paris, 1727,
Paris; Miss Richnal Manguall, author of Miscellaneous
Questions, &c., 1820.
FRAN OIS DE PARIS.
In the history of the great Jansenist schism
which troubled the church in France for a hun-
dred years, the name of the Deacon Frangois de
Paris bears a conspicuous place, not on account
of anything he did or said in his life, but what
happened regarding him after his death. Dying
at thirty-seven, with a great reputation for
sanctity and an infinite number of charitable
works among the poor, his tomb in the cemetery
of St Medard came to be regarded with much
veneration among such of the Parisian populace
as had contracted any sympathies for Jansenism.
Within about four years of his interment, this
tomb was the daily resort of multitudes, who
considered it a good place for their extra devo-
tions. It then began to be rumoured that, among
such of these individuals as were diseased, mira-
culous cures took place at the tomb of Paris.
The French capital chanced to be then in want
of a new sensation. The strange tales of the
doings in the cemetery of St Medard came very
opportunely. It became a fashionable amuse-
ment to go there and witness the revivals of
h.alth which took place at the Deacon Paris's
tomb.   Scores of people afflicted with deep-
seated rheumatism, sciatica, and contractions of
570
OF DAYS.                             MAY-DAY
the limbs, or with epilepsy and neuralgia, went
away professing to have been suddenly and
entirely cured in consequence of their devotions
at the shrine of this quasi-Protestant saint. The
Jesuits were of course scornfully incredulous of
miracles wrought at an opposite shop.     But
nevertheless the cures went on, and all Paris
was excited.
In the autumn of 1731, the phenomena began
to put, on an even more striking shape. The
votaries, when laid on the deacon's tomb, which
was one slightly raised above the ground, began
to experience strange convulsive movements,
accompanied by dreadful pains, but always end-
ing in cure. Some of them would be suddenly
shot up several feet into the air, as by some
explosive force applied below. Demonstrations
of eloquence beyond the natural acquirements of
the individual, knowledge of things beyond the
natural scope of the faculties, powers of' physical
endurance above what seem to belong to human
nature-in short, many of the phenomena alleged
to happen in our own time under the influence of
mesmerism-began to be exhibited by the con-
vulsionaires. The scenes then daily presented
in the St Medard churchyard became a scandal
too great to be endured by the opponents of the
Jansenists, and a royal decree was issued, shut-
ting up the place except for its ordinary business
of receiving the bodies of the dead. As the
Parisian epigram went-for on what subject will
not the gay ones of such a city make jokes ?-
'De par le roi, defense & Dieu
De faire miracle en ce lieu.'
This prohibition, however, was only attended
with the effect of shiftig the scenes of the
alleged miracles. The convulsionaires continued
to meet in private, and it was found that a few
particles of earth from the grave of Paris sufficed
to produce all the usual phenomena. For years
there continued to be assemblages of people who,
under the professed influence of the deacon's mi-
raculous power, could sustain enormous weights
on their bellies, and undergo other tortures, such
as human beings usually shrink from with terror.
The Jesuits, unable to deny the facts, or account
for them on natural grounds, could only attri-
bute them to the devil and other evil spirits.
A gentleman of the name of Montgeron,
originally sceptical, afterwards made a believer,
employed himself for many years in collecting
fully certified proofs of the St Medard cures and
other phenomena.    He published three large
volumes of these evidences, forming one of the
most curious books in existence; bearing with
patience several imprisonments in the Bastile as
the punishment of his interference. There is no
doubt of the sincerity of Montgeron. It cannot
be disputed that few of the events of history are
nearly so well evidenced as the convulsionaire
phenomena. All that science can now say upon
the subject is that the alleged facts are imp ssible,
and therefore the evidence goes for nothing.
The outbreak into beauty which Nature makes
at the end of April and beginning of May ercites


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