isis unveiled, vol 2: chapter ii (sorcery)

“If it be objected that the Golden Legend is now but half supported by the Church; and that it is known to have been compiled by the writer from a collection of the lives of the saints, for the most part unauthorized, we can show that, at least in one instance, the biography is no legendary compilation, but the history of one man, by another one who was his contemporary.

Jortin and Gibbon demonstrated years ago that the early fathers used to select narratives, wherewith to ornament the lives of their apocryphal saints, from Ovid, Homer, Livy, and even from the unwritten popular legends of Pagan nations. But such is not the case in the above instances. St. Bernard lived in the twelfth century, and St. Dominick was nearly contemporaneous with the author of the Golden Legend. De Voragine died in 1298, and Dominick, whose exorcisms and life he describes so minutely, instituted his order in the first quarter of the thirteenth century.

Moreover, de Voragine was Vicar – General of the Dominicans himself, in the middle of the same century, and therefore described the miracles wrought by his hero and patron but a few years after they were alleged to have happened. He wrote them in the same convent; and while narrating these wonders, he had probably fifty persons at hand who had been eyewitnesses to that saint’s mode of living.

What must we think, in such a case, of a biographer who seriously describes the following: One day, as the blessed saint was occupied in his study, the Devil began pestering him, in the shape of a flea? He frisked and jumped about the pages of his book until the harassed saint, unwilling as he was to act unkindly, even toward a devil, felt compelled to punish him by fixing the troublesome devil on the very sentence on which he stopped, by clasping the book.

At another time the same devil appeared under the shape of a monkey. He grinned so horribly that Dominick, in order to get rid of him, ordered the devil-monkey to take the candle and hold it for him until he had done reading. The poor imp did so and held it until it was consumed to the very end of the wick; and, notwithstanding his pitiful cries for mercy, the saint compelled him to hold it till his fingers were burned to the bones!

Enough! The approbation with which this book was received by the Church, and the peculiar sanctity attributed to it, is sufficient to show the estimation in which veracity was held by its patrons. We may add, in conclusion, that the finest quintessence of Boccaccio’s Decameron appears prudery itself by comparison, with the filthy realism of the Golden Legend.”

H. P. Blavatsky

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