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To the left of the high altar, on an enclosed wooden platform, was placed a tiny organ; before the choir appeared we mounted there just as the server was placing the chalice on the credence-table beneath. It was of gold or silver gilt, with three beautifully wrought figures of Faith, Hope, and Charity, seated round the base. As we descended the steps, we met some of the singers in their ordinary attire, for a white-robed chorister is often looked for in vain in the churches of the Romish Communion. Service soon commenced, Archbishop Mérode being celebrant. He came in wearing a long violet cassock and train, held up by two acolytes, and was immediately led to an episcopal chair, placed in the tribune, with its back to the altar, and there he was vested in full canonicals, including the mitre, which was of some white material, adorned with precious stones. This, however, was only worn at intervals during mass. He is a tall, fine looking man, and his intonation is remarkably clear, so it needed not to be close to hear many of the prayers distinctly.
The music was florid, a mixture of schools, ancient and modern, but the voices were sweet and well trained, and the Gloria in Excelsis and Credo especially fine. The legend says that "S. Cecilia sang with such ravishing sweetness, that even the angels descended from heaven to listen to her, or to join their voices with hers." It is from this, doubtless, that she has always been considered the patron saint of music, and whether the tradition be true or not, at any rate we confess our belief that with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify His glorious Name."
Directly after service we drove off to the Catacomb of S. Calixtus, where the cubiculum of Cecilia is always illuminated on the 22nd of November. Mass had been celebrated there that morning; and on the ground, under a low arch, wreaths and garlands of fresh flowers with sprigs of box, and ivy leaves, marked the spot where her body was laid by S. Urban in 224, and where it was discovered by Pope Paschal in 820. We found several gentlemen in the little chapel, among them a German priest, who kindly explained to us what the half obliterated frescoes on the walls were intended to represent. One is a figure of the Saint, richly attired, with bracelets and ornaments; near it is another of S. Urban in pontifical array, with his name inscribed, and a head of our LORD, large and roughly executed of the Byzantine type, said to be a work of the 6th or 7th century. In the chamber adjoining many of the early popes, several of them martyrs, were buried. The
dates are from 202-296. The walls are completely lined with shelves, partly supported by modern brickwork, to prevent, I suppose, the earth giving way altogether. An inscription of Pope Damasus, (366-384,) who is himself interred in a chapel above the entrance, is cut in beautifully formed letters over the site of the altar. It is so touching, I am tempted to give the translation, quoted by Hare in his Walks in Rome."
"Here, if you would know, lie heaped together a number of the holy,
These honoured sepulchres inclose the bodies of the Saints,
Their lofty souls the palace of heaven has received.
Here lie the companions of Xystus, who bear away the trophies from the enemy;
Here is a tribe of the elders which guards the altars of CHRIST;
Here is buried the priest who lived long in peace ;1
Here the holy confessors who came from Greece;
Here lie youths and boys, old men and their chaste descendants,
Who kept their virginity undefiled.
Here I Damasus wished to have laid my limbs,
But feared to disturb the holy ashes of the saints."
No other part of the Catacomb of S. Calixtus being open that day to visitors, we remounted the steep flight of steps which led us into daylight, and crossing the grassy broken ground of the vineyard soon regained the entrance gate. We drove home by the Appian Way, whose very name conjures up a host of recollections, sacred and historical, but how is their intensity deepened, when it is actually beheld! For miles and miles it is bordered with colossal tombs, and its heathen associations alone would make it dear to the classical scholar; but what feelings does it not arouse in the breast of the Christian who ponders on the thousands of redeemed souls, whose bodies were carried out to burial down that ancient way—many during the dark hours of night, more easily to elude the vigilant eye of the persecutor-many worthy to bear on their pall the crown of martyrdom. Bishops, confessors, saintly matrons, virgins, and youths were silently borne to those underground chambers. One beholds the slow procession, one hears the stifled sob; but above all rises one figure, as he paces firmly along. Had none but S. Paul ever trodden that road, it would still surpass in interest the grandest approach to the most princely palace in Europe. "And so we went towards Rome. . . . When the brethren heard of us, they
1 S. Melchiades, who lived long in peace after the persecution had ceased.
came to meet us as far as Appii Forum, and the Three Taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked GOD, and took courage.'
The grain of mustard seed was already planted, and the tree had already begun to strike its roots, watered with the blood of martyrs, when S. Cecilia, the outline of whose history we have been endeavouring to follow, bending her head meekly to the executioner's axe, took flight to those heavenly mansions "where alone her sweet sounds could be exceeded."
M. L. H.
BENEATH THE SHADOW OF THE PIERCED HAND.
A MEDITATION FOR ALL SOULS' DAY.
"They are Thine, O take them quickly,
Thou their Hope, O raise them high.
Ever hoping, ever trusting,
Unto Thee they strive and cry.
Day and night, both morn and even,
"When, O kind and radiant JESU,
Kneels the Queen Thy throne before;
Hearken, loving Friend of sinners,
"Beati mortui, qui in Domino moriuntur; requiescant a laboribus suis."Apoc. xiv. 13.
WE are all beneath the Pierced Hand. We do not think so always, when we are uplifted with high thoughts of self in the heyday of youth, strength and manhood. But yet so it is; on every side there are the marks of the dear LORD's pierced Hand on all creatures, both great and small.
In the time of mourning and sadness,
"When our heads are bowed with woe,
there is the dear LORD's pierced Hand,-yes, the very shadow of the pierced Hand,-passing all unseen before us. And in happier days, when ever and anon the bright sunlight in all its glory is gleaming
brightly upon our heads, and our hearts leap for joy, and we feel that we could rejoice and be happy for ever, there is still again the dear LORD's Hand, uplifted now to bless, for He is saying to the world around us words which He once said to Gennesaret's foaming billows, Peace, be still." And then it is He that maketh even our enemies to be at peace with us. Ah! that pierced Hand; ah! that Hand of the Divine Love, we have only to watch and to wait,-it will come; it will not tarry. It comes to us all at one time or other in life, those workings of the dear LORD Himself—those individual dealings-those sweet communings with the souls of each one of us.
Truly indeed it is written, "the heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger intermeddleth not with its joy," when like Isaac we go forth to meditate at the eventide, to hold sweet communion with ourselves, and the souls of the Blessed taken from us, and our GOD. So it often happens that those whose occupations take them out into the field, whose hand is ever on the hoe and the plough, and whose “talk is of oxen," are generally the deepest thinkers of GOD and His dealings with us men, for they read Him there before their eyes, and learn Him best from His own Creation-His own painted Book of Nature. So it ever is, He reveals Himself to the humble and meek, concerning whom it is written, "GOD has chosen."
And ever and anon the shadow of the Pierced Hand passes over us, and the Angel of Death cuts down His flowers, the old and the young, "the matron and the maid ;" some called through JESU's mercy from a life of prolonged and bitter suffering, by a sharp and quick passage to glory; others called away "in life's first dawning hours," dear "rosebuds snapped in tempest strife," from earth's most bitter misery, to bloom among GOD's dear flowers in the blessed Paradise. Shall we not then to-day thank GOD in them both? Shall we not think that He is glorified in them both? In the one tired and weary with life's long day, in the other taken away from the evil to come, innocent now among the most innocent. Yes, we will not grudge unto Him His own. They are but lent unto us of Him for His honour and His glory. Surely with the last words of Holy Church-" her comfortable words" -we will lay their dear bodies in the holy ground by the Church's side, thanking Him that from our midst He has deigned to cull sweet flowers, the earnest to us of our own Resurrection. And why? Because "JESUS lives," because we know that through Jesus Christ their bodies are not dead, but only sleeping, to awaken yet once again bright,
glorious and beautiful in the freshness of unearthly youth, when He shall call; when "the winter shall be past and gone, and the time of the singing birds have come," as saith the Bride in the glorious song of the Canticles.
And it is hard to lose our dearest ones, to go back to our homes, having like Jacob buried our dead. For well I know the loneliness which we all must feel, when the chair is empty and one has gone from our table and our home never to return—never again. But thus it is GOD wills. For this cause came we into the world, "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust." We can only say, His will be done. And what is it all? but the shadow of the Pierced Hand passing this way also, the dear LORD Himself coming nigh to us, drawing us with the cords of love nearer and nearer to Him, making us know, whether we will or not, that whatever betides, "in life or in death," we are ever beneath the pierced Hand, seeming as it were to us to say that this is not the place of our rest, that we are nothing better than pilgrims and strangers, that we seek a better country where Death and the shadow of Death are not. So they are good for us these sweet leave-takings, these blessed partings, these good and holy farewells of those who have sojourned with us awhile, and this calling away of us one after another by the King's messengers to the King's country, lest we should be too happy here; lest we should read the dear LORD's life, as if it never had been, and the cares and deceitfulness, and the vanities, and the troubles of this life by a false seeming, snatch us away from our dear Home which is above. So let us think that it is for this He takes away our blessed ones, and "stills His little lambs' brief weeping," to remind us that we are nothing of ourselves,—nothing, whether we be rich or poor, but a prey to the worms, a worthless thing, unless, O great blessedness, we be found in the way of righteousness. Then there is great treasure in the earthen vessels, stored up, made one day to adorn the Great King's Palace.
But is it not their great gain? So great that I cannot find words to tell it you. Before they went, they were as ourselves; now that they are gone, they can tell more than the wisest of the sons of men. the end has come to them, that end which they have been striving for all their life long. They have ceased from their labours—their works do follow them. Think then to-day of the dead in CHRIST to your great comfort. Think of what their eyes are looking on the great blessedness; the vision beautiful; the things most wonderful, past