Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/500

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444

AMYCL^ 444 AMTCLiE upon one side with many devices. Among the Greeks and Romans amulets" seem to have been largely employed as a defence against certain evil powers to whom they attributed no inconsiderable part in the government and control of the world. The Jews, so far as escape from this superstition Medal, IV Century was concerned, enjoyed an advantage not possessed by the pagan peoples of antiquity. They had the knowledge of the true God, and the Mosaic law, which gave such minute directions for the govern- ment of their religious and social life, contained severe proliibitions of magic and divination. That never- theless, even in patriarchal times, they were not altogether free from this contamination seems fairly Byzantine Med deducible from some passages in Genesis, xxxi, 19, XXXV, 4. Later on there is no doubt but that through their contact with the Egyptians and Babylonians, amongst whom the use of amulets was widespread, they had recourse to talismans in many ways. Whether the tephillin, that is, the small leathern pouches containing passages of the law, and later ktiovvn as phylacteries, were regarded as amulets at all times, is not susceptible of determination from the references to them in the Pentateuch. In the beginning, at any rate, they do not appear to have had any such purpose; subsequently, however, they unquestionably were employed as such, as is proven by the Targum (Canticle of Canticles, viii, 3) as well as Buxtorf (Synagoga Jud., ed. 1737). There is no doubt but that some of the ornaments used in the apparel of Jewish women were really amulets. This seems to be the proper interpretation of the phrase "little moons" which occurs in Isaias, iii, 18, a.s well as the "earrings" mentioned in verse 20 of the same chapter. This superstition dominated even more strongly the Jews of post-Biblical times, partly as a result of their freer intercourse with other people, aiul partly because of the extreme formalism of their religious fife. The Talmud contains evidence of this. The reliance placed upon amulets, like other form.s of superstition, grew out of popular ignorance and fear. With the coming of the Christian religion llierefore, it was destined to disappear. It would have been too much, however, to have expected the victory of Christianity in this matter to have been an eiuiy and instantaneous one. Hence it is intelligible that in the newest converts from paganism there remained a disposition, if not to cling to the forms they had of necessity abjured, at all events to attrib- ute to the Christian symbols of worsliip something of the power and value of the amulets with which they were so generously supplied in heathenism. From the beginning the Church was on the alert to detect the first signs of this abuse and set her face sternly against it. Thus, for instance, we find the Council of Laodicea, in the fourth century, after forbidding the clergy to be sorcerers, conjurers, etc., or to make amulets, deciding that those who wear amulets are to be excommunicated. Epiphanius {Eipositio fold Catholiccc, c. 24) witnesses pointedly to the prohibition by the Church of amulets. Ob- jects dear to Christian piety, such as in the early days the representation of the Good Shepherd, the Lamb, palms, relics of the martyrs, and in later days, pictures of the saints, medals, Agnus Deis, etc., were venerated in a relative sense. They were, in the mind of the Church, in no wise thought to have any latent power or divinity in them, or to be calcu- lated to assure, as of themselves, to their possessors, protection against harm or success in undertakings. The Council of Trent (Sess. XXV) is at some pains to formulate the authoritative teaching of the Church with regard to the honour paid to images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Saints. It does not deal professedly with the subject of amulets, but the words in which it sets forth its mind upon the worship of images describe with a peculiar apposite- ness the attitude of the Church towards all that array of pious objects, approved or tolerated by her, which have so improperly been stigmatized as amulets. "The Holy Synod commands that especially are images of Clirist, of the Virgin Mother of God and of the other Saints to be had and kept in churches: and that due honour and veneration be accorded to them: not because it is believed that any divinity or virtue is in them for which they are to be revered; or that anything may be asked from them; or that any confidence can be placed in the images as was done of old by the Gentiles . . . but because the honour Byzantine Medal which is exhibited to them is referretl to the proto- types which they represent ", etc. Thus they are sharply and definitively difterentiateil from the amulets and talismans of popular superstition whether of antiquity or of a later period. HfiDNKii, Amulitorum hisloria (Halle, 1710); Emelk, Utber Amulete (Mainz, 1827). Joseph V. Delany. Amyclse, a titular see of Peloponnesus in Greece, in the ecclesiastical province of Hellas, a suffragan of