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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/596

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

than one poor victim had to bear alternately Lutheran, Romish, and perhaps Calvinistic exorcism.[1]

But far more serious in its consequences was another rivalry to which in the sixteenth century the clergy of all creeds found themselves subject. The revival of the science of medicine, under the impulse of the new study of antiquity, suddenly bade fair to take out of the hands of the Church the profession of which she had enjoyed so long and so profitable a monopoly. Only one class of diseases remained unquestionably hers—those which were still admitted to be due to the direct personal interference of Satan—and foremost among these was insanity,[2] It was surely no wonder that an age of religious controversy and excitement should have been exceptionally prolific in ailments of the mind; and to men who mutually taught the utter futility of that baptismal exorcism by which the babes of their misguided neighbors were made to renounce the Devil and his works, it ought not to have seemed strange that his victims now became more numerous.[3] But so simple an explanation did not satisfy these physicians of souls, or, rather, they devised a simpler one: their patients, they alleged, were bewitched, and their increase was due to the growing numbers of those human allies of Satan known as witches.

Already, before the close of the fifteenth century. Pope Innocent VIII had issued the startling bull by which he called on the archbishops, bishops, and other clergy of Germany to join hands with his inquisitors in rooting out these willing bond-servants of Satan, who were said to swarm throughout all that country, and to revel in the blackest crimes. A half-dozen popes had since reiterated the appeal; and, though none of these documents touched on the blame of witchcraft for diabolic possession, the inquisitors charged with their execution pointed it out most clearly in their infamous hand-book, the "Witch-Hammer," and prescribed the special means by which possession thus caused should be met. These teachings took firm root in religious minds everywhere; and, during the great age of witch-burning that followed the Reformation—when, in Germany alone, according to the most

  1. For instances of this competition, see Freytag, "Aus dem. Jahrh. d. Reformation," pp. 359-375. The Jesuit Stengel, in his "De judiciis divinis" (Ingolstadt, 1651), devotes a whole chapter to an exorcism, by the great Canisius, of a spirit that had baffled Protestant conjuration. Among the most jubilant Catholic satires of the time are those exulting in Luther's own alleged failure as an exorcist.
  2. For the attitude of the Catholic clergy, the best sources are the confidential Jesuit "Litteræ Annuæ." To this day the numerous treatises on "pastoral medicine" in use in the older Church devote themselves mainly to this sort of warfare with the devil.
  3. Baptismal exorcism continued in use among the Lutherans till in the eighteenth century, though the struggle over its abandonment had been long and sharp. See Krafft, "Historic vom Exorcismo" (Hamburg, 1750).