Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/136

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
ACOSMISM
ACOSTA
108

Justice. As evidence of their origin these prelates still retain, at papal functions, many of the offices or duties described above.

According to the ancient discipline of the Roman Church the order of acolyte was conferred as the candidate approached adolescence, about the age of twenty, as the decree of Pope Siricius (385) to Himerius, Bishop of Tarragona, in Spain, was interpreted (P.L., XIII, 1142). Five years were to elapse before an acolyte could receive subdeaconship. Pope Zosimus reduced (418) this term to four years. The Council of Trent leaves to the judgment of bishops to determine what space should elapse between the conferring of the acolythate and subdeaconship; it is also interesting to note, with Dr. Probst (Kirchenlex., I, 385), that the Council's desire (Sess. XXIII, c. 17, de ref.) concerning the performance of ministerial services exclusively by minor-order clerics was never fulfilled. In ancient ecclesiastical Rome there was no solemn ordination of acolytes. At communion-time in any ordinary Mass, even when it was not stational, the candidate approached the Pope, or in his absence, one of the bishops of the pontifical court. At an earlier moment of the Mass he had been vested with the stole and the chasuble. Holding in his arms a linen bag (porrigitur in ulnas ejus sacculus super planetam; a symbol of the highest function of these clerics, that of carrying, as stated above, the consecrated hosts) he prostrated himself while the Pontiff pronounced over him a simple blessing (Mabillon, op. Cit., II, 85, ed. Paris, 1724). It may be well to mention here the two prayers of the ancient Roman Mass-book known as the "Sacramentarium Gregorianum" (Mabillon, Lit. Rom. Vetus, II, 407), said by the Pontiff over the acolyte, and the first of which is identical with that of the actual Roman Pontifical "Domine, sancte Pater, æterne Deus, qui ad Moysen et Aaron locutus es," etc.

According to the aforementioned "Statuta Ecclesiæ Antiqua," which give us the ritual usage of the most important churches in Gaul about the year 500, the candidate for acolyte was first instructed by the bishop in the duties of his office, and then a candlestick, with a candle extinguished, was placed in his hand by the archdeacon, as a sign that the lights of the church would be in his care; moreover, an empty cruet was given him, symbolical of his office of presenting wine and water at the altar for the holy sacrifice. A short blessing followed. (See Minor Orders; Fractio Panis; The Blessed Eucharist as a Sacrament; Sacrifice of the Mass.)

Duchesne, Christian Worship: Its Origin and Evolution (tr. 2d ed., London, 1904), 344, 352, 366; Joseph Bingham, Antiquities of the Christian Church; Field, History of the Church (new ed., Cambridge, Eng. 1853); Magni, L'antica liturgia Romana (Milan, 1897–99), III, 59–64; Leclerq in Dict. d'archéol. chrét. ed de liturgie, I, 348–356 (Paris, 1905); Maurice in Dict. de théol cath., I (Paris, 1905); Boissonet, Dict. des rites; Kraus, Real-Encykl. der christl. Alterthümer (Freiburg, 1880), I, 30, 31; Thomassin, Vet. et Nova Eccl. Disciplina (Paris, 1688); Ferraris, Prompta Biblioth. (Roma, 1885).

Acosmism. See Pantheism.

Acosta, Joaquín, a native of Colombia in South America, who served in the Colombian army and in 1834 attempted a scientific survey of the country between Socorro and the Magdalena River. Seven years later he explored western Colombia from Antioquia to Ancerma studying its topography, its natural history and the traces of its aboriginal inhabitants. In 1845 he went to Spain to examine such documentary material concerning Colombia and its colonial history as was then accessible, and three years later he published his "Compendio", a work on the discovery and colonization of New Granada (Colombia). The map accompanying this work, now out of date, was very fair for the time, and the work itself is still valuable for its abundant bibliographic references and biographic notes. What he says in it of the writings of Quesada the conqueror of New Granada, is very incomplete and in many ways erroneous, but his biographies of the the ecclesiastics to whom, following upon Quesada, our knowledge of the country, its colonization, is due, remain a guide to the student of Spanish-American history. Without him, we might yet be ignorant of the fundamental works of Zamora, Fresle, and of the linguistic labours of Lugo. One year after the "Compendio", the "Semenario" appeared at Paris, embodying the botanical papers of Caldas.

Compendio historico del descubrimiento y colonización de la Nueva Granada (1848); Biographie universelle, I; Ludwig, Literature of American Aboriginal Languages (London, 1858); Brinton, The American Race (New York, 1891).

Acosta, Jose de, the son of well-to-do and respected parents, b. at Medina del Campo in Spain, 1540; d. at Salamanca, 15 February, 1600. He became a novice in the Society of Jesus at the age of thirteen at the place of his birth. Four of his brothers successively joined the same order. Before leaving Spain, he was lecturer in theology at Ocana, and in April, 1569, was sent to Lima, Peru, where the Jesuits had been established in the proceeding year. At Lima, Acosta again occupied the chair of theology. His fame as an orator had proceeded him. In 1571 he went to Cuzco as a visitor of the college of the Jesuits then recently founded. Returning to Lima three years later, to again fill the chair of theology, he was elected provincial in 1576. He founded a number of colleges, among them those of Arequipa, Potosi, Chuquisaca, Panamá, and La Paz, but met with considerable opposition from the viceroy, Francisco de Toledo. He official duties obliged him to investigate personally a very extensive range of territory, so that he acquired a practical knowledge of the vast province, and of its aboriginal inhabitants. At the provincial council of 1582, at Lima, Acosta played a very important part. Called to Spain by the King in 1585, he was detained in Mexico, where he dedicated himself to studies of the country and people. Returning to Europe, he filled the chair of theology at the Roman college in 1594, as well as other important positions. At the time of his death, he was rector of the college at Salamanca.

Few members of the Society of Jesus in the sixteenth century have been so uniformly eulogized as Father Acosta. Independently of his private character, his learning and the philosophic spirit pervading his works attracted the widest attention in learned circles. Translations of his works exist in many languages of Europe, while the naturalists of the eighteenth century praise his knowledge of the flora of western South America. Aside from his publication of the proceedings of the provincial councils of 1567 and 1583, and several works of exclusively theological import, Acosta is best known as writer through the "De Natura Novi Orbis," "De promulgatione Evangelii apud barbaros, sive De Procurandâ Indorum salute", and above all, the "Historia natural y moral de las Indias." The first two appeared at Salamanca in 1588, the last at Seville in 1590, and was soon after its publication translated into various languages. It is chiefly the "Historia natural y moral" that has established the reputation of Acosta. In a form more concise than that employed by his predecessors, Gomara and Oviedo, he treats the natural and philosophic history of the New World from a broader point of view. Much of what he says is of necessity erroneous, because it is influenced by the standard of knowledge of his time; but his criticisms are remarkable, while always dignified. He reflects the scientific errors of the period in which he lived, but