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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/398

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MIRACLE


348


MIRACLE


St. Thomas. Coii/ra urnlrs. Ill.xoviii-cvii; Idem, Summn. I.Q. c «q.;lIl.Q.xliii-xlv; iinsKmcr XIW Dc sfrmrum Dei beatificaliom. IV (IVuto. 1S30); ZiGLlAHA, Propadeutica ad sacram Iheologiam (Rome, 1SS4); Le Camub, tr. Hickey. The Life of Christ (Now York. miKi) ; Coleridoe, The Public Li/e of Our Lord (London. l>7i.). Hay, The Doctrine of Miracles Explained (Now York. Is7:i): Newman, Essaus on Miracles (New York and London, is'.iiii; L\w-\Viu(ON, The Theoloou of Slwlern Thought (Kdin- Inirtili. 1S99); TuuilsTONin Brit. Med. Jour. (London. Avii;., lillO); GAsgi'ET. ibid.: Reich, Foi(ur« of Uie llnil"- i m' -. «, ili.mlon. 1910): Ward. Philosophu of Theism (Lon 1 , i - ! I ii-. i]i.i,. Christian Philosophy: God (t^ew York, \W< '■'.,, , ■ I n.rdrx, tr. GiBB9 (London, 1908); Benson, /,.nir./.. II, i u ; ■ I \\1I; John Ricic^bv, Ervlanation of .\lir,irl< ^ ^'y / nknuun A'ltural Forces in The Month (London, Jan.. IsTTi; II.mian. The Miracu- lous in Church History in .imer. Cat!,. Quart (llnlaaelphia, April, 1898); Calun, .\'<i(iire and Possibitih, <•/ .\l,j.i,i,s m Irish TheoL Quart. (Dublin, Oct., 1910).

John T. Driscoll.

Miracle Plays and Mysteries.— Tlie.so twoname,s are use. I todrsi^iniic the iclit,'iii\is d nulla which devel- oped anioni; ( hristiini luitions :it the end of the Middle Ages. It should lie noted th:il tile word "mystery" has often been applied to all Christian <lrama.s prior to the sixteenth century, whereas it .stiould be confined to those of the fifteenth century, which represent the great drainat ic ctTort anterior to the Renaissance. Be- fore this period dramatic pieces were called "plays" or "miracles". The embryonic representations, at first given in the interior of the churches, have been designated as liturgical dramas.

Liturgical Drama. — The origin of the medieval drama was in religion. It is true that the Church for- bade the faithful during the early centuries to attend the licentious representations of decadent paganism. But once this immoral theatre had disappeared, the Church allowed and itself contributed to the gradual development of a new drama, which was not only moral, but also edifying and pious. On certain solemn feasts, such as Easter and Christmas, the Office was interrupted, and the priests represented, in the presence of those assisting, the religious event which was being celebrated. At first the text of this liturgical drama was very brief, and was taken solely from the Gospel or the Office of the day. It was in pro.se and in Latin. But by degrees versification crept in. The earliest of such dramatic "tropes" (q. v.) of the Easter service are from England and date from the tenth century. Soon verse pervaded the entire drama, prose became the exception, and the vernacu- lar appeared beside Latin. Thus, in the French drama of the " Wise Virgins " (first half of the twelfth century), which does little more than depict the Go.spel parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the chorus em- ploys Latin, while Christ and the virgins use both Latin and French, and the angel spealcs only in French. When the vernacular had completely sup- planted the Latin, and intlividual inventiveness had at the same time asserted itself, the drama left the precincts of the Church and ceased to be liturgical, without, however, losing its religious character. This evolution seems to have been accomplished in the twelfth century. With the appearance of the ver- nacular a development of the drama along national lines became possible. Let us first trace this devel- opment in France.

1'lays a.nd Miracles of the Twelfth and Thir- teenth Centiiries. — The first French drama offered by the twelfth century is called "Adam", and was written by an Anglo-Norman author whose name is unknown. The subject extentls from the Fall in the terre-strial Paradise to the time of the Prophets who foretell the Keileemer, relating in pa-ssing the history of Cain and .\bel. It is written in French, though the directions to the actors are in Latin. It was played before the gate of the church. From the thirteenth century we have the "Play of St. Nicholas" by Jean Bodel, and the "Miracle of Theophilus" by Rutebeuf. Jean Bodel was a native of Arras, and followed St. Louis on the cru.sade to Egypt. He lays the scene of


his play in the East, and mingles witli heroic episodes of the crusade_s realistic pictures taken from taverns. His drama concludes with a general conversion of the Mussulmans secured through a miracle of St. Nicholas. Rutebeuf, who flourished in the second half of the thirteenth century, was born in ( 'hampagne, but lived in Paris. Though at first a gambler and itUer, he seems to have enileil his days in a cloister. His miracle depicts the legend, so famous in the Middle Ages, of Theophilus, the oeconomu^ of the Church of Aclana in Cilicia, who on losing his office bartered his soul to the devil for its recovery, but, hav- ing repented, obtained from the Blessed Virgin the miraculous return of the nefarious contract.

Miracles of Our Lady. — Save for the play of Griseldis, whose heroine, a poor shepherdess, married to the Marquis de Saluces, is subjected to cruel trials by her husband, and through the protection of St. Agnes triumphs over all obstacles, the entire dramatic activity of the fourteenth century was devoted to the miracles of Our Lady. Forty-two specimens of this style of drama are extant. Herein the Blessed Virgin saves or consoles through marvellous intervention those who are guiltless and unfortunate and some- times great sinners who have confidence in her. The author or authors of these works are unknown.

The My'STEries. — The fifteenth century is the cen- tury of the "mysteries". The word is doubtless de- rivetl from the Latin rninisterium and means "act". In the Middle Ages sacred dramas were also called by other names ; in Itsdyfuminne, in Spain autos (acts). Even to-day we say "drama", a word of analogous signification. But the dramatic and the dogmatic mysteries were soon confused, and it was thought that the former derived their name from the latter oecause the plays frequently took for subject the mysteries of Christian belief. However, the mysteries were often devoted to a saint, and, in exceptional cases, even represented matters which were not religious. Thus we have the "Mystery of the Siege of Orleans", and even the "Mystery of the Destruction of Troy", the only two profane mysteries which have been pre- served. The mysteries may be grouped under three cycles, that of the Old Testament, i^hat of the New Testament, and that of the saints. It must be borne in mind that in all these the authors mingled truth and legend without distinction. The most celebrated of these were the passion plays, by which must be tmderstood not only the plays devoted to the Passion properly so called, but also those which set forth the complete history of the Saviour. From 1400 to L^.TO the authors were numerous; about a hundred of them are known, many of them priests.

At first somewhat short, the dramas eventually became very long. Thus Arnoul Greban, canon of the church of Le Mans, wrote about 1450 a "Passion" consisting of about 3.5,000 verses. This play was still further developed more than thirty years later by a physician of Angers, Jean Michel, whose work was the most famous and the best of its kind. The same Greban and his brother Simon, a monk of St. Riquier, composed together an enormous mystery of the " Acts of the Apostles", consisting of nearly tV2,000 verses, which was played in its entirety at Bourges, the per- formance lasting forty days. The number of verses of mysteries still extant exceeds 1,000,000, and an equally large number may have been lost. These pieces were not played by professional actors, but by dramatic associations which were formed in all large towns for the purpose of representing them. Some were permanent, such as the "Confr^rie de la Pas- sion", which in 1402 secured the monopoly of the representations in Paris. For the people of the middle classes, artisans, and priests (all ranks in this matter being equal), it was an enviable honour to take part in this religious performance. To play it they condemned themselves to a labour to which few of our