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Dial. ii. C.6.
make war upon Valentinian, as was his wish, he would come (A.D. 384.] off with victory at first, but that he would lose his life soon after. Maximus' often sent for him to the palace, and all Sulp. Sev. their discourse used to be upon the present life, the life to 5.9. tom. i. come, and the eternal glory of the saints.
The Empress, who attended day and night to the Bishop's discourses, sat always at his feet upon the ground, unable to tear herself from him, and being desirous of serving up a repast by herself begged the Emperor to further her plan; and both of them together were so urgent with St. Martin to accept the invitation, that he at last could not refuse them. Not but that he did it with the utmost reluctance, for he never had been touched by any woman; but he found it unavoidable in the palace, where he had several things to petition for, such as the delivery of prisoners, the recalling exiles, and restoring estates that had been confiscated. He was touched with the Empress's faith, and his age justified the act, for he was then seventy years old. The Empress did not sit down at table with him, but joyfully attended upon him. She herself spread a seat, placed a table by it, offered him water for his hands, and set the meat before him, which she had dressed with her own hands. All the time that he was eating she stood at a distance without moving, in the humble posture of a handmaid. She herself mixed his draught and presented it to him; and when the moderate repast was ended, she swept up with all carefulness the fragments of bread he had left, not leaving so much as the smallest crumbs.
But no more would St. Martin than St. Ambrose com- LIX. municate either with Ithacius, or with the Bishops who by communicommunicating with him had incurred the same reproach. Maximus supported them, and prevailed so far by his autho- cians, rity, that none ventured to condemn them : there was only c. 11. §. 15.
tom.i.p. 139. one Bishop, named Theognistus, who gave a sentence publicly (A.D.386.] against them. These Ithacian Bishops being assembled at Treves, to conduct the election of a Bishop, prevailed upon the Emperor to send military commissioners into Spain, with full power to search out, pillage, and kill all heretics. None doubted but that a great number of Catholics would fall in this search, for at that time it was usual to pronounce a man a heretic by his look, the paleness of his countenance, and
cates with the Itha
2 Dial. iii.
[A.D.387.) peculiarity of his dress, rather than by his confession of faith.
Having obtained this order, they heard the next day, when they least expected it, that St. Martin was close at hand and almost arrived at Treves, whither he was often obliged to go, about affairs of charity. They were greatly alarmed at it, well knowing that he would be displeased with their late procedure, and fearing that the authority of so great a man would draw over many to him. They consulted with the Emperor, and it was resolved to send officers to meet St. Martin, to command him not to come nearer the city, unless he would promise to maintain peace and unity with those Bishops who were in it. St. Martin skilfully eluded them, saying that he would come with the peace of Christ.
Having entered the city at night, he went into the church to offer his prayers, and the next day to the palace. The
object of his journey was concerning Count Narses and the [Præ. governor' Leucadius, who were obnoxious to Maximus, on side.]
account of their loyalty to Gratian. But that which now St. Martin had most at heart, was to prevent the tribunes being sent into Spain, with power of life and death; and he was troubled not only for the sake of the Catholics, who might be molested on this occasion, but even for the heretics whose lives he wished to save. The Emperor kept him in suspense the two first days, either in order to make him duly estimate the favours he was asking, or from an implacable
disposition, or it might be that avarice led him to wish to c. 12. p. profit by the spoils of the accused. In the mean time the
Bishops finding that St. Martin refused to communicate with them, went to the Emperor, and told him that their reputation would be destroyed, if the obstinacy of Theognistus [who had openly, though standing alone, passed a sentence of condemnation on their proceedings] was supported by the authority of Martin; that he ought not to have been permitted to enter the city, and that nothing would be gained by the death of Priscillian if Martin undertook to avenge it. In short they prostrated themselves before the Emperor, and besought him with tears to exert his utmost power against him.
However attached Maximus might be to these Bishops, he dared not use violent measures against a man so eminent for
sanctity. He took him aside privately, and using the utmost [A.D.387.] courtesy, represented to him that the heretics had been justly condemned, rather by the civil law than at the suit of the Bishops ; that he had no reason for refusing to communicate with Ithacius and his party: that Theognistus alone had separated from them, and that he had done it more from hatred than from any other cause; and that even a council held a few days before had declared Ithacius to be innocent. As St. Martin did not appear to be moved by these arguments, the Emperor fell into a passion, left him abruptly, and immediately gave orders for the execution of those for whom he had interceded. St. Martin being warned of it rushed to the palace, though it was already night, and promised to communicate, provided that these unhappy men were pardoned, and that the tribunes also who had been sent into Spain were recalled. Immediately, the Emperor' granted . c. 13. him every thing.
On the morrow, when the Ithacians were to ordain Felix [° SanctissiBishop, St. Martin that day communicated with them, pre- miri
e mi quidem ferring for a time to yield, rather than suffer those to perish, digni qui
“, maliore who were on the point of being put to death. But, whatever tempore efforts the Bishops could make to force him to subscribe in fieret. Sulp. writing to this act in sign of Communion, they could never s prevail on him to do so. The next day he hastened from Treves, groaning by the way for having engaged in this criminal communion. Having nearly reached a small town named Andethanna, now called Echternach, in Luxembourg, two leagues distant from Treves, he stopped for a short time in a wood while his attendants went on before him. There, while he was meditating upon the crime with which his conscience reproached him, an angel appeared to him, and said, " Thou hast cause, Martin, for thy compunction, but thou “couldest not have extricated thyself otherwise ; retrieve thy "virtue, resume thy constancy, lest thou endanger not thy "glory only, but thy salvation.” From that time he took great care never to communicate with the party of Ithacius ; and during the sixteen ? years that he lived afterwards, he was never seen at any council, and kept himself from every
Fleury places St. Martin's death in
died A. D. 397, he survived these events
(A.D.386.] assembly of Bishops. It is Sulpicius Severus who gives us
this account, and he adds: “ Indeed, finding his grace
“ diminished, and that he could not so readily as afore[' energu- “time deliver the possessed', he used to confess to us from menos.]
“ time to time with tears, that he felt in himself a dimi“ nution of power, in consequence of that unhappy commu“nion in which he had engaged, though but for a moment “ and that of necessity, not with his own will.” Felix, who
was ordained on this occasion, was, as is believed, Bishop of * Martyrol. Treves; a man of worth, and numbered amongst the Saints. Rom. Mart.
END OF THE EIGHTEENTH BOOK.
CONTENTS OF THE NINETEENTH BOOK.
XXIII. Suppression of the office of LI. Council at Constantinople.
Penitentiary at Constantinople. LII. Canonical Epistle of St. Gregory