Mrs. (Anna) Jameson.

Legends of the monastic orders, as represented in the fine arts. Forming the second series of Sacred and legendary art online

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ing before him, pronounced the words " Eyo vobis Romce
propitius ero." There is another Vision of St. Ignatius,
which I have seen represented, in which our Saviour
commands him to give to his new community the
divine name. An angel generally holds a tablet, on
which are the words " In hoc vocabkur tibi nomen."
Both these subjects I have seen in the Jesuit churches.

" Loyola haunted by demons in his sleep," is a fine
sketch by Rubens.

The statue of ~St. Ignatius, cast in silver from the
model by Pierre le Gros (in his usual bad taste), the
glory round the head being of precious stones, was for-
merly in the church of the Gesu at Rome, but disap-
peared soon after the suppression of the Order in 1773.
An imitation of it now stands in the same place.

Prints of St. Ignatius are without number. I believe
that the foregoing legend will sufficiently explain them.

St. Francis Xavier, the Patron Saint and Apostle
of the Indies, was born in 1505. He, also, was of a
most illustrious family, and first saw the light in his
father's castle among the Pyrenees. He was sent to
study philosophy and theology at Paris. Here, in the
college of St. Barbara, he became the friend and asso-
ciate of Loyola. It appears from his story that he did
not at once yield up his heart and soul to the guidance
and grasp of the stronger spirit. Learned himself, a
teacher in the chair of philosophy, gay, ardent, and in
the prime of life, he struggled for a while, but his sub-
jugation was afterwards only the more complete. He
took the vow of obedience ; and when John III., kiug
of Portugal, sent a mission to plant the Christian relig-
ion in the east, where the Portuguese were at one time
what the Spaniards had become in the west, lords of a
territory of which the boundaries were unknown, Fran-
cis Xavier was selected by his spiritual guide, Ignatius,
as leader of the small band of missionaries who sailed


for Goa : and, adds his biographer, a happier selection
could not have been. " Never was a summons to toil,
to suffering, and to death so joyously received. In the
visions of the night, he had often groaned beneath the
incumbent weight of a wild Indian, of ebon hue and
gigantic stature, seated on his shoulders. In those
dreams he had often traversed tempestuous seas, endur-
ing shipwreck, famine, and persecution in their most
ghastly forms ; and, as each peril was encountered, his
panting soul invoked yet more abundant opportunity
of making such glorious sacrifices for the conversion of
mankind. And now, when the clearer sense and the
approaching accomplishment of those dark intimations
were disclosed to him, passionate sobs attested the
rapture which his tongue was unable to speak. He
fell on his knees before Ignatius, kissed the feet of the
holy father, repaired his tattered cassock, and, with no
other provision than his breviary, left Rome on the
15th of March, 1540, for Lisbon, his destined port of
embarkation for the East."*

The rest of his life was wholly spent in India, prin-
cipally in Japan and on the coasts of Travancore and
Malabar. By such a spirit as his we can conceive
that toils and fatigues, chains and dungeons, would be
encountered with unfailing courage ; and death, which
would have been to him a glorious martyrdom, met
not only with courage, but exultation. But ruffian
vices, ahject filth, the society of the most depraved and
most sordid of mankind, — for such were the soldiery
and the traders of Portugal, who were the companions
of his voyages from coast to coast, — these must in
truth have been hard to bear, these must have tried him
sorely. Yet in the midst of these he writes of his
happiness, as if it were too great ; as if it were beyond
what ought to be the lot of mortals ! He never quailed

* Essays in Ecclesiastical Biography. My brief sketch of the
Jesuit saints is taken principally from these volumes ; from Baillet ;
and from Ribadeneira, himself one of the early Jesuits, and for
some time confessor to St. Francis Borgia.


under obstacles ; never hesitated when called upon :
his cheerfulness equalled his devotion and his charity.
" Whatever may have been the fate of Xavier's mis-
sions or the cause of their decay, it is nothing more
than wanton scepticism to doubt that, in his own life-
time, the apparent results were such as to justify the
most sanguine of his anticipations. Near Cape Comorin
he appointed thirty different teachers, who, under him-
self, were to preside over the same number of Christian
churches ; many an humble cottage there was sur-
mounted by a crucifix, the mark of its consecration to
public worship ; and many a rude countenance reflected
the sorrows and the hopes which they had been taught
to associate with that sacred emblem."

It was the happiness of Xavier that he died in the
full belief of the good he had done, and of the unspeak-
able, the everlasting benefits which, in conferring merely
the rite of baptism, he had obtained for hundreds of
thousands of human souls, thereby saved from perdi-

He died in an attempt to reach China. Its jealous
coasts were so guarded, that it was only by bribing a
mercenary Chinese trader that he obtained the boon of
being carried thither and left in the night-time on the
shore, or concealed till he could travel to the city of
Canton. He had reached the little island of Sancian,
where the Portuguese had a factory ; there he was
abandoned by his guide and his interpreter, and, being
seized with fever, he first took refuge on board a
crowded hospital-ship, among the sick sailors and sol-
diers : growing rapidly worse, he entreated to be taken
on shore : they took him out of the vessel and laid him
on the sands, where he remained for many hours, ex-
posed to the extremes of heat and cold, — the burning
sun, the icy night-blast, — and none were there to help,
or to soothe his last moments. A Portuguese, at
length moved with a tardy compassion, laid him under
a rude shelter ; and here he breathed his last breath,


regretting, it is said, that he should die a natural death,
instead of suffering a glorious martyrdom ; but after-
wards, repenting of this regret, he resigned himself to
believe that all was good which was in accordance with
the will of his Divine Master. He died in his forty-
sixth year.

His body was buried in a little sand-hill near the
shore ; a cross still marks the spot. His remains were
afterwards disinterred, and carried first to Malacca and
then to Goa, where, soon after his beatification by Paul
III., a magnificent church was built in his honor. He
was formally canonized by Gregory XV. in 1622, in
the same year with St. Ignatius, and the bull was pub-
lished by Urban VIII. in 1623.

In the figures of St. Francis Xavier which are to be
seen very commonly in the Jesuit churches and in the
prints published by his Order, he is represented in the
habit of a priest, wearing the surplice over a black
frock : he is tall and robust, generally bareheaded, and
with a short, full, black beard ; he holds aloft the cru-
cifix or presses it with uplifted eyes to his bosom, or
bears the lily in his hand.

It does not appear that St. Francis Xavier arrogated
to himself the power of working miracles, but many
were imputed to him by his biographers. In Japan
he is said to have imitated Moses in the wonders he
performed : and it is also said that the Bonzes of Japan
emulated these, just as the magicians of Egypt, with
their vain enchantments, counterfeited the miracles of
Moses and Aaron.

The extreme puerility of some of these legends of
St. Francis Xavier contrasts very painfully with the
truly Christian heroism of this extraordinary man, and
with the real majesty of his actions and his character.
His life was so wonderful, so varied, that it needed no
embellishment from vulgar inventions ; yet these have
not been spared. It is with some regret I refer to them,
but, as I am writing of legendary art, I must mention
those which I have seen represented.


In Japan he healed the sick, cast out devils, and
raised the dead to life : and it is particularly recorded
that at Cangoxima he restored to life a beautiful girl.
His miracles are combined into one grand dramatic
scene, in the fine picture painted by Rubens as a com-
panion to the " St. Ignatius " already described.

Here St. Francis Xavier is standing on a kind of
raised pedestal or platform, from which he has been
preaching to the people : he wears his black habit and
mantle ; the right hand extended, the left pointed up-
wards. Behind him, a novice of the Order carries the
book of the Gospel ; in front is a man raised from the
dead ; near whom is a group of three women, one of
whom removes the linen from his face, the others look
up to the saint, their features beaming with faith and
gratitude. Behind these is a group of a Japanese ris-
ing from his bier ; a Negro removes the grave-clothes ;
a Portuguese officer, in complete armor, looks up at
the resuscitated man with amazement. A blind man
is groping his way to the feet of the saint. A lame
man and several others complete the assemblage in the
foreground. In the background is a temple of classical
(not Indian) architecture, and a hideous idol tumbling
from -its altar. The Virgin (or Religion) appears in
the opening heavens holding the sacramental cup ;
angels bearing the cross seem floating downwards in a
stream of light. There are altogether more than thirty
figures ; and, in vigor and harmony of color, in char-
acter, in dramatic movement, this is even a more
wonderful picture than its companion. Rubens painted
the two with his own hand. He received from the
Jesuit fathers one hundred florins a day while he worked
upon them, and they were suspended in their great
church at Antwerp on the festival in honor of the can-
onization of St. Francis Xavier in 1623. On the sup-
pression of the Jesuit Order, Maria Theresa sent the
painter Rosa to purchase them for her gallery, and paid
for each picture 18,000 florins, — about £ 2,000. They
have since adorned the gallery of the Belvedere at


"We have the " Miracles of St. Francis Xavier" by
Poussin, treated in his usual classical style, which, in
this instance, spoils and weakens the truth of the repre-
sentation. The Japanese look like Athenians, and the
Bonzes might figure as high-priests of Cybele.

It is related that when Xavier was on his voyage to
India he preached and catechized every day, so that the
vessel in which he sailed was metamorphosed from a
floating inferno into a community of orderly and relig-
ious men. Like the Vicar of Wakefield in his prison,
he converted his own miseries and privations into a
means of solacing the wretched, and awakening the
most depraved and evil-minded to better hopes and
feelings. But the legend spoils this beautiful and
faithful picture of a true devotedness. It tells us that
one day, as Xavier was preaching to the sailors and
passengers, his crucifix fell into the sea, and was mirac-
ulously restored at his earnest prayer, for a craw-fish
or lobster appeared on the surface of the waters, bearing
the crucifix in its claws. I have seen this legend painted
in the Jesuit churches, and well remember the pulpit
of a little chapel in the Tyrol, dedicated to St. Francis
Xavier, on the top of which was a carving of a lobster
holding the cross or crucifix in its claws. It is also
related that St. Francis multiplied the fishes in the net
of a poor fisherman. This also I have seen represented,
and at first 1 supposed it to allude to the miraculous
draught of fishes, but it was explained by this legend.

There is a picture in the Fitzwilliam Museum at
Cambridge, which represents a vision of St. Francis
Xavier. It is by one of the Caracci.

St. Francis Xavier preaching to the Pagans in the
East is a very common subject. So is the death of
the saint, of which I remember two good pictures : one
by Carlo Maratta, in the Gesu ; and another, remark-
able for the pathos and the beauty of the treatment, by
Gianbattista Gauli, in the church of the Jesuit Novices
at Rome.



A picture by Seghers, which I only know from the
engraving of Bolswert, represents St. Francis Xavier,
in his sleepless nights, comforted by a vision of the B.
Virgin, surrounded by a glory of angels.

I have seen a picture entitled " St. Francis Xavier
baptizing a Queen of India," which probably refers to
the baptism of the queen of Saxuma in Japan : she
was converted by the beauty of a picture which Xavier
had shown her of the Madonna and the Infant Christ ;
" but," adds the faithful historian, " her conversion
was merely superficial." The Japanese queen con-
templating with reverence and admiration the image
of the Virgin-mother would be a most picturesque

On the whole, I have never seen a picture of St.
Francis Xavier which I could consider worthy either
of him, or of the rich capabilities of character and
scenerv with which he is associated.*

The third great saint of the Jesuit community is St.
Francis Borgia. His family was at once most illus-
trious and most infamous. On one side he was nearly
allied to the Emperor Charles V. ; on the other, he
was of the same race as Alexander VI. and Caesar
Borgia. Hereditary Duke of Gandia, a grandee of
Spain, distinguished in his youth and manhood as
courtier, soldier, statesman ; a happy husband, a happy
father, — nothing that this world could offer of great-
ness or prosperity seemed wanting to crown his felicity,
if this world could have sufficed for him. But what
was the world of this enthusiastic, contemplative, ten-
der, poetical nature ? It was the Spanish court in the
sixteenth century ; it was a subserviency to forms from
which there could have been but two means of escape,

* For an account of the miracles of St. Francis Xavier performed
in Japan, see the Life of the saint by the Pere Bouhours, trans-
lated by Dryden, 1688.


— that personal emancipation which his position ren-
dered impossible, or the exchange of the earthly for
the spiritual — I will not say bondage, but — obedience.
The manner in which this was brought about strikes us
like a coup-de-tlddtre, but has all the authority of a fact,
and all the solemnity of a sermon.

Several events of Borgia's young life had fostered in
his mind a deep religious feeling, " a melancholy fear
subdued by faith." The death of the poet Garcilasso
de la Vega, his dear and intimate friend ; some danger-
ous maladies from which he had with difficulty recov-
ered, — had predisposed him to set but little value upon
life, although his love for his beautiful consort Eleonora
de Castro, a numerous family of hopeful children, and
the high employments to which he was called by his
sovereign, had filled that life full of affections and
duties. He was in his twenty-ninth year when the
Empress Isabella, the first wife of Charles V., died in
the bloom of her youth and beauty, and at a moment
when her husband was celebrating his most brilliant
triumphs. Borgia as her master of horse, and his wife
Eleonora as her first lady of honor, were bound to
attend the funeral cavalcade from Madrid to Granada,
where Isabella was to be laid in the Capilla de los
Reyes. The court ceremonial also required that, at
the moment when the body was lowered into the tomb,
the duke should raise the lid of the coffin, uncover the
face, and swear to the identity of the royal remains
committed to his charge. He did so, — he lifted the
winding-sheet, he beheld the face of the beautiful and
benign empress who had been his friend not less than
his sovereign lady. It was a revelation of unspeakable
horror, a sight the fancy dare not attempt to realize.
He took the required oath ; but, in the same hour,
made a solemn vow to renounce the service of the
earthly and the perishable, for the service of the heavenly
and imperishable ; — to bend no more to mortal man,
but only to the unchangeable, eternal God.

Yet this vow could not be at once fulfilled. The


idea of throwing off his allegiance, of forsaking his
Eleonora, or withdrawing her from the world and from
her children, never entered his mind ; and in the mean
time the emperor appointed him viceroy of Catalonia.
He repaired to his government ; gave himself up to
active duties ; attended to the administration of justice ;
cleared the country of robbers ; encouraged agriculture ;
founded schools. At Barcelona, while occupied with
plans for the education of the people, he became
acquainted with one of the Jesuit Society, then in its
infancy, — Father Aroas. Pleased with his intelligence
and with the grand and comprehensive plan of educa-
tion conceived as the basis of the new community, he
entered into correspondence with Loyola, and thence-
forth became but as an instrument in the hands of that
wonderful man. The death of his wife, by which he
was at first struck down by grief, emancipated him from
the dearest of his earthly ties ; but his long-considered
resolve to quit the world was executed at last with a
deliberation and solemnity worthy of himself. He
spent six years in settling his affairs and providing for
the welfare of his children ; then, bidding a last fare-
well to every worldly care and domestic affection, he
departed for Rome to place himself and every faculty
of his being at the feet of St. Ignatius. That sagacious
chief seut him to preach in Spain and Portugal ; cal-
culating, perhaps, on the effect to be produced on the
popular mind by seeing the grandee of Spain, the favor-
ite and minister of an emperor, metamorphosed into
the humble Father Francis. It was in this character
that he visited his cousin Charles V. soon after his
abdication. What a conference must that have been !
In 1553, Father Francis was elected the third Gen-
eral of his Society, and filled the office for seven years.
Returning to Italy after an absence, he was taken ill at
Ferrara, and just lived to reach Rome, where he died,
spent with fatigues. He was at first buried in the
Gesu at Rome, near his predecessors, Loyola and Lay-
nez ; but, by order of his grandsou, the Cardinal Duke



of Lerma (the famous minister of Philip III.), his
remains were exhumed, and borne in state to Madrid,
where they now lie. To the last he had firmly refused
to lend the sanction of his name and eo-operation to
the Inquisition ; to the last he was busied with the
great scheme of education devised by Loyola, but per-
fected by himself. He was beatified by Pope Urban
VIII. in 1624, but not canonized till 1716.

Such is the mere outline of the history of this inter-
esting and admirable man ; — a life so rich in pict-
uresque incident, that we should wonder at the little
use which has been made of it by the artists of his own
country, did we not know to what a depth of degrada-
tion they had fallen at the time he took rank as a can-
onized saint ; and it is in his saintly character only, —
as the Jesuit preacher, not as the cavalier, — that he is
generally represented. With regard to the proper char-
acter of head, we must remember that no authentic por-
trait remains of St. Francis Borgia. He absolutely
refused, when General of the Order, to allow any pict-
ure to be painted of him. When he was seized with
his last illness, he again refused ; and when, in spite
of this refusal, in his dying moments a painter was
introduced into his room, he testified his disgust by
signs and gestures, and turned his face to the wall.
Those heads I have seen of him, particularly one en-
graved for the Jesuit Society by Wierx, represent a
narrow, meagre face, weak in the expression, with a
long aquiline nose : altogether such a face as we do not
like to associate with the character of Francis Borgia.
The picture by Velasquez, in the Duke of Sutherland's
gallery, I suppose to have been painted about the
period of his beatification. It represents him on his
arrival at Rome at the moment he is about to renounce
the world ; he appears to have just dismounted from
his horse, and with only two gentlemen in his train, is
received at the door of the Jesuit College by Ignatius
Loyola, and three others of the Society, one of whom


is probably intended to represent Laynez. The picture
is deeply interesting ; but, considering the fame and
acknowledged powers of the painter, and the singular
capabilities of the subject in expression, form, and
color, I confess it disappointed me : it ought to be one
to command, — to rivet, the attention ; whereas it is flat
and sombre in effect and not very significant in point
of character.

Goya painted a series of pictures from the life of S\
Francis Borgia, which are now in the cathedral at
Valencia. They must be bad and unworthy of the
subject, for Goya was a caricaturist and satirist by
profession, and never painted a tolerable sacred picture
in his life.

St. Francis Xavier baptizing in Japan, with St.
Francis Borgia kneeling in the foreground, is the sub-
ject of a large picture by Luca Giordano, painted at
Naples for the Church of San Francesco Saverio, — it
is said in three days, — thus justifying his nickname of
Luca- Fa-Presto. There are many other pictures of St.
Francis Borgia, unhappily not worth mentioning, being
generally commonplace ; with the exception, however,
of a very striking Spanish print, which I remember to
have seen I know not where; — Borgia in* his Jesuit
habit, with a fine melancholy face, holds in his hand a
skull crowned with a diadem, in allusion to the Em-
press Isabella.

St. Stanislas Kotzka, the son of a Polish noble-
man and senator, was among the first-fruits of the
Jesuit teaching, and distinguished for his youthful piety.
He was educated, till he was fourteen, chiefly by his
mother, studied afterwards at Vienna, and entered the
Jesuit community through the influence of St. Francis
Borgia. He did not, however, live to complete his
novitiate, dying at Rome at the age of seventeen. The
sanctity and purity of his young life had excited deep
interest and admiration, and he was canonized by Ben-
edict XIII. in 1727.


It is related that when he fell sick at Vienna, in the
house of a Protestant, an angel brought, to him the
Eucharist ; hence he is often represented lying on a
couch with an angel at his side. Prints and pictures
of this youthful saint are often met with. He is or was
regarded as joint patron of Poland with the young St.
Casimir, and like him bears the lily as his attribute.

In a picture by Pomerancia, he is represented caress-
ing, and caressed by, the Infant Christ.

One of the finest works of Carlo Maratta is the St.
Stanislas, over one of the altars in the Sant'-Andrea-in-
Monte-Cavallo. (Rome.) It represents the young saint
kneeling before a benign and beautiful Madonna. In
another part of the same church is a statue of St. Stan-
islas bv Pierre le Gros, once celebrated and admired
as a wonder of art : the drapery is of black marble, the
head, hands, and feet of white marble ; and he lies on
a couch of giaUo-antico. Nothing can be worse in point
of taste ; nothing more beautiful than the workmanship
and the expression of the head.

St. Louis Goxzaga (or St. Aloysius), eldest son
and heir of Ferdinand Gonzaga, Marchese di Castigli-
one, was "born in 1568. His mother, who watched
over his education in his infant years, had instilled into
his mind early feelings of piety. The religious move-
ment of the age, the influence of St. Charles Borromeo
and of the first Jesuit fathers, no doubt combined with
the impressions of his childhood and gave shape and
consistency to the native bias of his mind. With some
difficulty he obtained his father's consent to resign his
heritage to a younger brother, and entered the Society
of Jesus before he was eighteen. He continued his
studies under the direction of his superiors, distinguished
himself by his talents and his enthusiastic piety, and
died in consequence of a fever caught in attending the
sick during the ravages of an epidemic at Rome in the
summer of 1591. He was in his twenty-third year.
He was beatified by Gregory XV. in 1621, and canon-


ized by Benedict XIII. in 1726. He is represented in
the black frock of his Order, with a young-, mild, and

Online LibraryMrs. (Anna) JamesonLegends of the monastic orders, as represented in the fine arts. Forming the second series of Sacred and legendary art → online text (page 40 of 41)