Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/795

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

that time Italian and German merchants initiated the great combinations of the several orders of Hospital Brothers.

Their efforts were not isolated or altogether premature. For there existed a humanistic movement among the better classes of the Occident, on a Christian basis it is true, but spontaneous. Particularly in the cities, societies were formed for the purpose of nursing the sick and aiding the forlorn. Guy, of Montpellier, France, established a hospital in that city, of larger size, while up to that time all the institutions of a similar character were small and unavailing, and located outside the walls. The new hospital in Montpellier, and seven more French houses, and two under the same direction in Rome, are first mentioned in a bull of Pope Innocent III, in the year 1198. The secular character of the institutions was at that time fully recognized. In connecting four clergymen with them he commanded that they were to attend to spiritual duties only (“sine contradictione et murmuratione”), and not to interfere with the office of the superiors. In 1204 the same pope recognized the newly established Hospital of the Holy Ghost, on the old Tiber bridge, in Rome. With the peculiar mixture of ferocity and mildness so common to the mediæval age, the same man who humiliated emperors, dethroned kings, and persecuted the French heretics with fire and sword to extermination, looked for the helpless and sick in the streets and saved illegitimate babies from their watery graves. Guy de Montpellier's creation, the Order of the Holy Ghost, did not remain long in its original condition. Pope Gregory X (1271-'76) subjected all the houses belonging to the order to the one located in Rome, the first step in the attempt at depriving the order and its hospitals of their secular supervision. It was finally disposed of by the bull of Pope Sixtus IV, of the 21st of March, 1477. Meanwhile and afterward the order spread over all Europe. With its increasing wealth and power it degenerated in the seventeenth century. Though clerical by name, it was the most secular of all the institutions of dissipation. Grand-master and officers lived on the fat of the land and their immense income. In vain Louis XIV attempted to abolish it. The only change French royalty could work was its transmutation into a royal order. In some of the provinces laymen had succeeded, however, in controlling the management. Thus it was in many parts of Germany, where, between 1400 and 1600, several of the institutions belonging to the order were secularized. In Italy, however, the Order of the Holy Ghost remained exclusively clerical. As late as in the beginning of the eighteenth century it had great possessions in Europe and the West Indies.

The Order of St. Elizabeth was founded in 1225 by Elizabeth, daughter of Andrew II of Hungary, and wife of Landgrave Ludwig of Thuringia. Women need not complain that domestic virtues do not warm more than their own home, and do not immortally challenge the admiration of posterity. Her name will never die, when many a great