His characters feel and act real, they sometimes give in to temptation, feel guilt, and face the consequences of their actions. Saints and Heroes suffers from a slow start as it focuses on the boyhood of Anselm and the adolescence of Malcolm, but those sections set the stage for a much more riveting adventure story that climaxes about two-thirds into the book.
The final third is more of a history of how Malcolm and his venerated queen, Margaret, brought the Scots together into a single kingdom united around the castle they built on the great rock of Edinburgh. Although the books contains a few minor inaccuracies the Saxons Tostig and Harold Godwinson did not have mounted knights in their retinue and minor typos a dropped vowel here, a spacing error there , it is a masterfully written and well-researched tale.
Schultz includes a four-page bibliography of his sources, which include both standard histories and esoteric studies such as The Medieval Cookbook , Celtic Monasticism , and Sex in History. That he read these three works is evident in his descriptions of the local diet, religious way of life, and human interactions of an amorous or at least physical nature.
There is also a good bit of bashing about with swords and other adventures to keep the story moving and the reader turning pages. Reviewed by Mark McLaughlin January 29, This John took to be the sign that he must go at once to the beautiful Moorish city, where he arrived on the feast-day of the martyr San Sebastian which was being celebrated with much splendour, great crowds having assembled to listen to some famous preacher. The people, thinking he was possessed by a devil, seized hold of him, and scourged him, hoping by this means to set the evil spirit free.
But John still flung himself on the stones and bewailed his sins, and prayed for mercy till the preacher, hearing of his sad state, took pity on him and visited him. His soothing words were more powerful against the evil spirit than railings or scourgings, and, with a soul strengthened and comforted, John returned to his life-work among the poor. We do not know exactly who gave the money necessary for his purpose, and, of course, he had not a penny of his own, but in those days men and women were very generous in bestowing whatever was asked for by anyone whom they considered holy, though in many ways they were harsh and unkind to their labourers and servants.
So when John came round to their castles to beg for food and clothes, or anything he could get, they were showered on him willingly, and he carried them back joyfully to the deserted shed which he called his home. After he had collected three or four such cases the shed was full, and at night John lay outside on the ground, ready at any moment to jump up at the first moan from his charges.
Soon the fame of his little hospital began to spread abroad. Help was offered him of different kinds, and he accepted it all gladly. One would sit by a wounded man bathing his sores, and giving him now and then a little milk to drink; a woman would look over a bundle of garments sent by some rich noble and take them home to mend; a third would bring eggs or chickens for the patients dinner, and if anyone ever went hungry, it was John and not his people; and at last, best of all, a large round house was given him, a great big hall perhaps more than a house, with a huge fire in the middle of it, and sometimes as many as two hundred travellers would bask contentedly in the light and warmth, till the dawn beckoned them to continue their journey.
In this way began the first of the shelters for homeless people, which afterwards spread over Europe. For ten years John laboured at his work, and was never too tired or never too busy to give help when he was asked for it. But the best machine will not go on for ever, and at length men whispered to each other that The Father of the Poor for that was what they called him seemed weak and ill.
Very gradually he faded from them, and he was spared the pain which so many feel, that as far as could be seen, the task of his life would fall to pieces when his hand was removed. Most likely John would always have known that if it appeared to die, it would be carried on in some other way; but now he could rejoice from his heart that the seed he had sown was spreading under his eyes into a great tree, whose branches promised to cover the earth. He was only fifty-five when he died in Granada, in , and, in spite of his humility, pictures of him hung in every hospital that counted him as its founder.
You may always know him from any other saint, for he is dressed in a dark, brown tunic with a. At his feet a beggar is generally kneeling, and in the distance is a hospital. In the church of the Caridad or Charity in Seville he is represented again, this time with a man on his back, whom he is bearing to the hospital, while an angel by his side is whispering to him strengthening words. That angel must often have been there, and John would have known it and worked all the harder, though his eyes were holden and he could only guess why his burdens seemed so light and easy to bear.
It is difficult in these days when no one is ever still and our friends on their travels can send us news nearly as often as they choose, for us to understand how strange it must have felt to our forefathers when they deliberately set sail for countries which were almost unknown, and became practically dead to their families. Yet, of course, it was just this very fact that the countries were unknown which made their charm in the eyes of many, and induced bands of navigators to leave their homes and cast their bread upon very troubled waters.
Portugal was always first and foremost in these expeditions, and nine years before Francis Xavier was born, Vasco da Gama set sail from Lisbon, and, after planting a golden cross on the Cape of Good Hope, landed some months later at Goa, a town on the west or Malabar coast of India. During the forty years and more which elapsed before the arrival of the famous missionary, Goa grew into a beautiful city.
It was situated on a peninsula, and the soil was kept rich and green by the heavy rains attracted by the range of mountains called the Ghauts, which run along that part of the coast. In some places of the range they get as much as inches of rain in the year. Think of that, when we, in London, consider that it has been terribly wet with only 25 inches!
Well, under the rule of the Portuguese, Goa became larger and more wealthy. Factories were built, and barracks for the soldiers who were needed to keep order amongst the mixed population of Mohammedans, Indians, and Catholics; and by and by priests came out to work among the people of Goa and other towns further south, which were gradually conquered by the Portuguese. The Xaviers were a noble Spanish family whose castle was built near the city of Pamplona, in Navarre.
Francis was the youngest of many sons, and was looked upon by the other boys as a creature hardly human, because from his earliest days he preferred books to their rough games, though they allowed that he could if he liked run races and jump with the best of them. His father, however, had the same tastes; therefore, when Francis at seventeen, declared his wish to study in the famous University of Paris, he instantly gave his consent.
His son was, he knew, a good scholar already, and, though he was young, he could be trusted to take care of himself, and not get into any foolish scrapes, the echoes of which sometimes reached distant Navarre. Those were pleasant, peaceful years which Francis passed in Paris, first as a student, then as a teacher or lecturer.
On fine days he and his friends, Pierre Lefevre, and Ignatius Loyola, a countryman of his own much older than himself, took long walks by the river Seine, or, when their work was done, climbed the hill to Montmartre to visit the men who spent the time from dawn to dark hewing blocks of stone in the quarries.
Had he preferred an easy life to the one he ultimately chose he could have had it, for in the course of these years a canonry in the cathedral at Pamplona was offered him, and this might have led in time to a bishopric, and, perhaps who could tell? But Ignatius Loyola was stronger even than the ambitious dreams of a young man, and on a moonlight night in August, , six friends, of whom Francis was one, met secretly in the crypt of a church, and vowed to obey rules laid down by the former soldier of Charles V.
Francis first experience of travel was very rough, even for a poor scholar of those times.go to site
The Book of Saints and Heroes
It was agreed, in , that Ignatius should go to Spain and arrange his own affairs as well as those of Francis, who dared not trust himself to undergo the tears and reproaches of his family, and that the others should meet him at Venice, where, if you only waited long enough, ships could always be found sailing for the East.
But how to get there? That was the difficulty; for a war was raging between the Emperor Charles V and Francis I, King of France, so the natural way from Marseilles to Genoa and through the Lombard plains was closed to them. The only route open was by Lorraine, Switzerland, and the Tyrol, and snow lay on the ground; they had scarcely any money, and knew no German. Undaunted however, by these or any other obstacles, they tucked up the long garment worn by students of the University of Paris, put bibles and service books or breviaries into their knapsacks, and, taking stout sticks which would serve many pur poses, they started on their journey.
Considering the length and roughness of the walk it seems wonderful that they accomplished it so quickly, for it was in January, , two months after their departure from Paris, that they found themselves in Venice, where Ignatius had just arrived. Though it was now Lent, and March, this journey was scarcely less severe than the last. The pilgrims at once made up their minds to fast which perhaps was as well, as food was often not to be had and to live by begging. The incessant rains flooded the rivers and washed the roads; the people could not under stand who they were, but supposed they had formed part of the Spanish army which had sacked Rome in This was an insult which still burned deep, even amongst the peasants, and the Jesuits were made to feel it at every turn.
The beds given to them in the hospitals where they sheltered, were often so dirty that even for the sake of penance they could hardly force themselves to get into them; cottage doors were shut in their faces if they asked to be allowed to rest, ferrymen declined to take them over rivers unless they gave him a shirt or something in exchange. At length with sighs of relief, they reached Ravenna, and, without stopping to look at its wonders they embarked immediately for Ancona.
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But here, again, they experienced the fact that he who trusts to the charity of his neighbours in his travels, and neglects to supply himself with money, does a very foolish thing. The captain of the vessel refused to let them land at Ancona because they could not pay their fares, and of course, this was quite natural, but at last he consented that Francis should go into the town with Simon Rodriguez and obtain the passage money by pawning his breviary.
This done, Francis entered the market-place and threw himself upon the charity of the stall-keepers, begging for an apple or a radish or some thing no one would buy. But the kind-hearted peasant women, full of pity for his pale face and weak voice, gave him so much more than he asked that there was enough for himself and his friends to dine off, and the rest he sold for a sum which was sufficient to pay their passage. The Apennines were at last crossed, and Rome lay before them. Here, the pope received them most kindly, and arranged that a discussion on some points of church discipline and doctrine should be held during his dinner, between the Jesuits and some Roman priests, in order that he might see what manner of men they were.
The strangers bore themselves so much to his satisfaction that he not only granted permission to go to Jerusalem well knowing that a war was shortly to break out between Venice and the Turks, which would prevent their starting but also bestowed on them money to pay their passage to the Holy Land.
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It was a pity he did not likewise give them enough to carry them back to Venice, for they were frequently in great straits, and had nothing to eat but pine cones, which are neither agreeable nor nourishing. As the pope had foreseen, war was speedily declared, and it was impossible for them to sail to Jerusalem, but it is pleasant to be able to state that they honestly returned all the money which had been given them for the purpose.
For the next three years Francis remained in Italy, going wherever he was sent by Ignatius, and in spite of frequent illnesses brought on by too much fasting and many hardships, visiting hospitals, preaching, teaching children, and gaining many disciples to the order which was shortly confirmed by the pope. But six months before this happened Francis was told by his superior that he must now go further afield, and as Jerusalem was closed to Christians for the present, he must cany on his missionary labours in India.
The summons was sudden, for he was bidden to set out for Lisbon the following morning in company with Simon Rodriguez, as the Father whose place he was to fill had suddenly been seized with illness. In Lisbon, he was luckily far too busy to have time to think of his feelings. He had a hundred things to do and people to see; the royal family were deeply interested in all his plans and were ready to help him to the utmost, but the only gift he would accept was some warm clothes for the voyage.
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It was a terrible voyage, and always full of anxieties of various kinds: they might be becalmed and unable to proceed till their provisions were exhausted; they might be wrecked or be captured by pirates, or the crowded state of the vessels and the bad food might cause illness. At that period, the dread of the rocky coast off the Cape of Good Hope was so great that nervous passengers were in the habit of taking winding sheets, so that if the ship struck and they died they might be buried decently at sea, though it does not appear who was to have leisure at such a time to attend to their corpses.
However, as soon as he could possibly stand up he made friends with the crew and passengers, all of them apt to be lawless and undisciplined; and when scurvy broke out as they crossed the equator, so many were struck down that it was left to Francis and the two companions who had sailed with him, to nurse the poor plague-stricken creatures, and even to wash their clothes as well as their bodies.
The Cape of Good Hope with its golden cross, was at length reached and passed, but the voyage had taken so much longer than usual that the governor determined to spend the winter in the Portuguese settlement of Mozambique, opposite the island of Madagascar. Here Francis, worn out with all he had undergone, fell ill of a bad fever, and by his own desire was taken to the hospital. When, in March , orders were given for the fleet to put to sea, Xavier was well enough to go on board, but he left his companions, Father Paul of Camerino, and Mancias who was as yet unordained, to tend the sick till they also had recovered.
In two months Goa appeared on the horizon, the golden cross of Vasco da Gama glittering in the sun. Xavier lost no time in visiting the bishop, and in expressing his readiness to do whatever was required of him, although, as the pope had appointed him apostolical legate, he really owed obedience to nobody. He then went to the boys college, which had been founded a few years earlier, and was in a very flourishing state. It was hoped that by and by the boys, when well educated for as to this the Jesuits were very particular might in their turn, become missionaries and go out and teach others.
Xavier stirred up the governor to inspect the prisons and hospitals constantly, in order that he might at once perceive and check abuses, and during each day he spent hours in seeing the poor in their homes. Sometimes he would stand in public places preaching, and after lie had been in Goa a little while and had taught the children the catechism and the creed, they would all walk through the streets singing them, Xavier marching at the head. A long way to the south of Goa, the Indian peninsula ends in Cape Comorin, with the island of Ceylon lying opposite.
On the eastern side of the Cape is situated the most famous pearl fishing in the world, and here dwelt the tribe of Paravas, a poor and weak people who some years earlier had been drawn into a quarrel with the much stronger Mohammedans, and had appealed to the Portuguese for help. The Portuguese instantly offered their protection if the Paravas would become subjects of their king, which the natives, perceiving no other way of peace, willingly accepted.
The Portuguese fulfilled their part of the bargain; the enemies of the Paravas were put to flight, the pearl fisheries became again the property of the tribe, and they themselves were baptised wholesale. It reminds us of the baptism of the Russians in the time of the Grand Prince Vladimir, years before, when one group was sent into the river and all christened John, to be followed by another called Peter, and so on.
Having baptised the Paravas and made them nominal Christians, the Portuguese left them to themselves, and when Francis arrived amongst them they were as ignorant of Christianity as babies. He began, as usual, by instructing the children, whom he represents as being very eager to learn.
It often happens to me, he says, 4 to be hardly able to use my hands from the fatigue of baptising them, and their hatred for idolatry is marvellous. They run at the idols, dash them down and trample on them. Francis must have forgotten his own childhood and that of his brothers, if he thinks these actions were entirely due to holy zeal; or that their fearlessly witnessing against their parents in case of their quarrelling and using bad language and getting drunk, was wholly a sign of grace.
Having provided for the future teaching of the Christians along the fishing coast, and after having preached in many of the towns in that part of the country, Xavier found other work awaiting him on the opposite side of the Indian Ocean. Trade with Portugal had caused the kings of Celebes, and of several of the neighbouring islands, to make inquiries about Christianity, and many even to adopt it. At Malacca, on the Malay Peninsula, the great market for the goods of China and India, Arabia and Persia, there was already a Christian station, and when Francis heard that priests had been sent for from thence to preach to the various islanders, he made up his mind to join them without delay.