Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/305

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THE SPANISH INQUISITION AS AN ALIENIST.

namesake, San Vicente Ferrer, at Vannes; twice he had been to Rome and once to Monte Cassino and Sicily, besides traversing Spain and Portugal in all directions. About 1609 came the shadow which darkened his subsequent life. Fray Francisco de la Virgen, the master of the novices at Mataron, was Antichrist, and had bewitched him, since when all men whom he met were demons. He had ceased to attend mass or to confess and take communion, for he could find no priest who was not a demon. When, in the upper room of the prison, he was praying and heard the bell that told of the elevation of the Host, it was revealed to him that the officiating priest was a demon and the Host was another. In doing what he did he performed a service to God, and he would repeat it fifty millions of times if the occasion required. This Carmelite Antichrist, moreover, had in 1606 killed Philip III and his three children, and their places had since then been filled by demons. There was also some wild talk about Toledo being no longer Toledo, nor Madrid Madrid, for Saint Joseph had changed them all. Barcelona is now La Imperial de Santa Ana, and is on the Straits of Gibraltar, for Catalonia has grown so that it is now larger than all Spain was formerly. The emperor of La Imperial is Don Dalman de Queralt, who daily sends him food in prison, so that he has not to accept it from the demon alcaide and his attendants. The inquisitors have no power to burn him, for they are all demons and he is in the hands of God. With all this he was strictly orthodox in his replies to the searching questions of the inquisitors as to his belief in transubstantiation and other points, except that he attributed five persons to the Godhead—Michael and Gabriel being added to the Trinity. Throughout the course of his prolonged trial nothing could make him swerve from these hallucinations or modify his story. He defied the inquisitors, for he had a revelation in prison that they were demons and had no power to harm him.

Anxious as were the inquisitors to push the trial to a conclusion, they felt that evidence of his sanity was necessary. For this they examined the alcaide of the prison and his assistant and three fellow-prisoners confined in the same cell. All testified to Benito's soundness of mind as evinced in his daily actions, though he was silent and reserved and spent most of his time in prayer or in reading his breviary. Then three physicians were made to visit him several times, who reported that he talked sanely on most subjects but wildly on others; the insanity seemed feigned, and according to the rules of the medical art he was sane. Thus fortified, on November 23d, the inquisitors called together the regular consulta, an assembly of experts, to decide on the case. There were nine of them in all—the three inquisitors, the Vicar General as representative of the Archbishop of Toledo, and five