Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/571

This page needs to be proofread.
509

ANGLO-SAXON 509 ANGLO-SAXON wergeld (i. e. maii-|)rice, a claim for compensation proportionate to dignity), and an increased muridbijrd, or right of protection. He ranked as a thane, and the parish priest together witli the reeve and the four best burghers of each township attended the hundred-moot as a niatterof riglit. On the other liand, the clergy and their proi)erty, at le;ist in later times, were not exempt from the public burdens conmion to all. Save for the option of the corsncd, a form of or- deal by blessed bread, the clergy were judged in the ordinarj' tribunals, and jrithhorh, or the duty of find- ing a mmit)er of sureties for their keeping the peace, was incumbent upon them as upon other men. i-o-Saxon .Stone Carving from Jepb V. KccLEsi sTic.<L Observances. — The close union of the religious and social aspects of Anglo- Saxon life is nowhere more clearly seen than in the penitential .system. (>)des of penalties for moral of- fences, which were known as Penitentials and were ascril)ed to such venerated names as Theodore, Bede, and I'^gbert, meet us from an early period. The aj>- plication of these codes, at least in some imperfect way, lasted on until the Conquest, and the public penance enforced upon the offenders seems almost to have had the effect of a system of police. Closely related with this was the practice of making confes- sion to the parish priest on Shrove Tuesday or shortly afterwards. In cases of public offences against morality, reconciliation was commonly de- ferred at least until Maundy Tliursday, at the end of Lent, and belonged of strict right to the bishop alone. Confession may have Iwen relatively infre- quent, and probably enough its necessity was only recognized wnen there was question of sins of a pal- pably grievous character, but it is certain that se- crecy was respected in the case of hidden sins, and that absolution was given, at least in the precatory form. The earliest example of our modern cfedarative form of alwolution in the West is probably of Anglo-Saxon origin. Of the general prevalence of confession no stronger proof can be given than the fact that the term commonly u.sed in Anglo-Saxon to denote a parish was HcriHucir (i. e. shrift shire, confession dis- trict). Like tlio observance of certain appointed fasts and festivals, the obligation of confession was made a subject of secular legislation by the king and his Witan. Another obligation enforced by le^al enactment in the Witena gemot (council of the wise men) was the Cijricsceal (i. e. church-shot, church dues). The nature of this payment is not quite dear, but it seems to have consisted in the first fruits of the seed-harvest (cf. Kemble, Saxons in Eng- land, II, ,5.59). It was apparently distinct from tithes and probably was even older than the forma- '11 of regular parishes (Baldwin Brown, Arts in I Illy Eiig., I, 314-31G). The payments of the iiilu' of increase was first plainly enjoined in the !■ i.':itine synod held at Cealcliythe (Chelsea?) in 787 and tlu; obligation was confirmed in an ordinance 111 .tliel.staii, 927. Soul-shot (saul sccat), also a I ayment enforced by legal sanction, seems to have I '(11 a due paid to the parish church with a view In the donor's burial in its churchyard. The im- I' itaiice attached to it shows how intimately bound 11] ■ with Anglo-Saxon religious conceptions was the ility of prayer for the dead. The offering of Masses I r I lie dead is legislated for in some of the earliest ■ ' ksiustical documents of the English Church which ! vc lj<'cn preserved to us, e. g. in the "Penitential" I hcddore. The same desire to obtain the prayers ilu- living for the souls of the departed is mani- ti'd alike in the wording of the land charters and III the earliest stone monuments. The cross erected ai Hewcastle in Cumlicrland about 671, in honour ■ 'I liie Northumbrian king .lchfrith, has a runic iii-cription asking prayers for his soul. Religious r. .iiiiimiiities;is early as the first half of the eighth i.iiuiry lianded themselves together in associations plrilKi'd to recite the psalter and offer Masses for their iliTcxsed members, and this movement which spread wulcly in C'lCrmany and on the Continent had its ■ Lrin in England. (See Ebner, Gebetsverbriider- -'in, .30.) Similarly among secular persons guilds ir formed, the main object of which was to secure I layers for the souls of their members after death (Kemble, Saxons, I, 511). For the same purpose, at the olxsequics of the great, doles of food were com- monly distributed, and slaves were manumitted. Another institution many times mentioned in the later Anglo-Saxon laws is that of Peter's-Pence (liom-jeoh, Uom-pcnnig) . It appears from a letter of Pope Leo III (795-816) that King Offa of Mercia promised to send 365 mancusses yearly to Rome for the maintenance of the poor and of lights, and Asser tells of some similar gift of Ethelwulf, the father of King Alfred, to St. Peter's. Not very long after, it seems to have taken the form of a regular tax col- lected from the people and annually transmitted to Rome. This voluntary contribution undoubtedly bears witness to a very close union between England and the Holy See, and indeed this is made clear to us in numerous other ways. It is Bede who directs special attention to the constant pilgrimages from England to the Holy City and to the abdication of kings, like Ca-dwalla and Ine, who resigned the crown and went to Rome to die. The prevalence of dedi- cations to St. Peter, the generous gifts of such men as the Abbot Ceolfrith, whose present to the Pojie, the magnificent Northumbrian manuscript now- known as the "Codex Amiatinus", is preserved to this day, together with the language of several of