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The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

Life of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

by Charles Forbes comte de Montalembert


Beneath the stone baldachin, which formerly covered the shrine, he noticed that each step was worn away with a deep depression, and he was told that this was produced by the innumerable pilgrims who formerly came there to kneel, but who had come no more during the three past centuries. He knew, indeed, that there were in the city some of the faithful, and a Catholic priest; but there was neither mass, nor any remembrance whatsoever, of the Saint whose anniversary it was. Faith, which had left its impress so well upon the cold stone, had left none upon their hearts.

The stranger kissed the stone worn by faithful generations, and resumed his lonely course; but the sweet, sad remembrance of this forsaken Saint, whose forgotten feast he had come, an involuntary pilgrim, to celebrate, did not leave him.

He undertook to study her life; he searched, one after another, through the rich collections of ancient history which educated Germany offers in such great numbers.1 Captivated and charmed each day more and more by what he learned of her, this thought became little by little the guiding star of his progress. After having exhausted books and chronicles, and consulted the most neglected manuscripts, he wished, as the first of the early historians of the Saint had done, to examine localities and popular traditions. He went, therefore, from city to city, from castle to castle, from church to church, seeking everywhere traces of her who at all times in Catholic Germany has been called the dear Saint Elizabeth. He tried in vain to visit her birthplace at Presburg, in Hungary. But at least he was able to sojourn at the celebrated castle of Wartburg, to which she came when a mere child, where her early years were spent, and where she was married to a husband tender and pious like herself; he was permitted to climb the rough paths which she had trod when going to distribute among her dearest friends, the poor, her inexhaustible charity. He followed her to Creuzburg, where she first became a mother; to the Monastery of Reinhartsbrunn, where at the age of twenty, she was called upon to give up her dearly loved husband, who went forth to die for the tomb of Christ; to Bamberg, where she found a refuge from cruel persecutions; on to the holy mountain of Andechs, the cradle of her family, whither she brought as an offering her bridal robe; where from a tenderly loved wife she had become a wandering and exiled widow. At Erfurt he touched with his lips the poor glass which she had left as a souvenir to the humble religious. Finally to Marburg, where she consecrated the last days of her life to works of heroic charity, and where she died at the age

1 These researches were subsequently completed by others in different libraries of Flanders and Italy, especially in that of the Vatican and the Laurentian.

of twenty-four, he returned to pray over her profaned tomb, and painfully to gather some reminiscences from the mouth of a people who have renounced, with the faith of their fathers, all devotion to their benefactress.

The fruits of these long researches, of these pious pilgrimages, are contained in this book.

Often in wandering through our modernized cities, or through our provinces stripped of their ancient ornaments, where the monuments of the life of our ancestors are daily disappearing, the sight of some ruin which has escaped the hand of the destroyer—perhaps some statue buried in the soil, the arch of a doorway, or a broken rosette — will awaken the imagination; the mind as well as the eye is arrested; we are moved, and ask ourselves what part this fragment could have been in the whole structure; we permit ourselves to be drawn on involuntarily to reflection and study; little by little the entire edifice rises up before our mind, and when this work of interior reconstruction is completed we behold the abbey, the church, or the cathedral, standing forth in all its grandeur and beauty; we seem to wander beneath its majestic vaults, mingling in the crowd of faithful people, in the midst of the symbolic splendors and the ineffable harmonies of the ancient worship. Thus it was that he who has written this book, having travelled a long time through strange countries and bygone centuries, gathered these ruins, and offers them to those who have the same faith and the same affections that he has, to aid them to reconstruct in their thoughts the sublime edifice of Catholic ages.

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