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The entire history of the construction of this basilica is to appear in the three-volume work of August Schuchert, S. Mana Maggiore zu Rom. The first volume has been issued (1939) from the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archeology; it contains the early history of the first construction under the title, Die Grundungsgeschickte der Basilika und die ursprüngliche Apsisanlage. De Jerphanion has high praise for this volume; in the conclusion of his review he calls attention to a point not noted by Schuchert, namely, that in its form, dimensions, and proportions, the basilica of Our Lady CURRENT THEOLOGY 421 which Sixtus III built, is very nearly a replica of the church of St. Mary in Ephesus in which the Council of Ephesus was assembled. The similarity cannot have been coincidental; St. Mary Major, the "Bethlehem of Rome," is a monument of faith in Mary's motherhood of God. The lines of the Ephesian church are known through the excavations and studies of the Austrian Archeological Institute. Even today the ruins of this church at Capouli, near modern Ephesus, are named in the Turkish language, Panaghia, which is a memory of the ancient name of Our Lady, Panagios—The AllHoly One—among the Greeks.
De Jerphanion also remarks upon an opinion, "trop récente pour mériter le nom de tradition," which asserts that at Panaghia Capouli the tomb of Our Lady is to be found. This opinion became widespread after Brentano's publication of the visions of Sister Catherine Emmerich (1852), but history and archeology point definitely to a site near Jerusalem in which the body of Our Lady lay for the short time between her death and assumption.
RELIEFS IN CONSTANTINOPLE. The same bulletin of de Jerphanion notes from the report of archeological studies of the Manganes quarter of Constantinople by Demangel and Mamboury, the second appendix of the volume which deals with the Virgin Orante of Gulhané. The authors thus describe it: "De la beauté tout courte, pure, irréele, faite pour toucher par sa grâce spirituelle l'ame mystique des croyants qui venaient se prosterner devant elle."
This relief is the work of the ivory-carvers of Constantinople in the 10th century. There is a surprising detail in the relief—the hands are pierced "pour laisser jaillir des flots d'une eau sanctifiée. On en a d'autres examples."
VENERATION OF THE SAINTST H E CULT OF THE MARTYRS. An interesting, informative and welldocumented essay on the cult of the martyrs appears in Johannes Quasten's "Vêtus superstitio et nova religio. The Problem of Refrigerium in the Ancient Church of North Africa" [Harvard Theological Review, xxxiii (Oct. 1940) 4, 253-266]. The great number of martyrs in the early African church led to an early development of the martyr-cult; here ajso the danger of misconceiving the right doctrine which underlay the cult and the infiltration of abuses from somewhat analogous ceremonials among the pagan population occasioned problems for the leaders of the African church. The widespread devotion to the martyrs is seen in the many churches erected to their honor in Africa and in the many shrines built to contain their relics. The care of the bishops is seen also in the effort to procure accurate accounts of martyrdoms. St. Augustine insisted on first-hand accounts of witnesses and the attestation of the local bishops.
Again, precautions were taken not to admit these Acts to the rank of dignity of the Scriptures.
422 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES There were abuses to deal with and dangers to be avoided, as might be expected in a populace recently converted from and still living amidst pagans who honored their dead and celebrated city-heroes and semi-deities with religious pomp. The pagans were accustomed to bring decorations of flowers etc. to the graves of their ancestors, because they were benefactors, and they offered sacrifices to the heroes and demi-gods. The consumption of the sacrificial foods and libations often led to abuses, such as drunkenness and revelry. Among the Christians the practice of honoring the dead continued, and with it the attendant abuses were not always avoided.
Eventually the banquetings and sacrifices among the pagans are found to have distinctly Christian analogues among the Catholics. The honor done to departed pagans fell into desuetude among the Christians; the funeral Mass took its place. The sacrifices to the pagan heroes, being undiluted idolatry, had no place among Christians, but the martyr-cult with its ceremonial of honor and the invocation of the martyr and the plea for his intercession for the Church and people fully replaced whatever a convert had relinquished in the way of attachment to his former practices.
This substitution of a new world of underlying ideas was not the work of a day, nor was it accomplished without the presence of abuses. St.
Ambrose adopted direct and somewhat sudden measures to prevent abuses;
he prohibited the ceremonies which led to revelry and occasioned a danger of relapsing into pagan superstitions and errors. St. Augustine, in the view of Quasten, dealt more tactfully and successfully with similar dangers in Africa. He acted through councils rather than through edicts, the councils of Carthage leading the way; thus reform was slowly accomplished through the local bishops. There was no direct prohibition of honoring the dead;
first, there was clear instruction concerning the difference between the cult of the martyr and the honoring of the dead; next, the gifts which were made to the dead as benefactors were replaced by alms-giving to the poor— "a substitution of ideas," says Quasten, "of utmost importance both for the history of religion and for culture." The honor paid to the martyrs was allowed to develop separately; they were honored as benefactors of the whole Church and as intercessors for the Church and the individual faithful.
Quasten's essay touches upon a very delicate point in dealing with analogies between the pagan customs at a tomb and the Christian ceremonies at thè tomb of a martyr or an ancestor. In the history of religion there is no argument which has been abused more frequently in modern times than the argument from analogies, and nothing could be more desirable than that students and writers of that science give a slow and careful consideration to the legitimate procedure in concluding from analogies, such, for instance, as is outlined in the Lehrbuch der geschichtlichen Methode of Α. Feder, S.J.
(Pustet, 1924). Because of the many writers who have been careless in this
CURRENT THEOLOGYmatter, it will serve us here to recall certain points which have been legitimately omitted from or not emphasized in the essay just discussed.
First of all the Christian cult was directed to a martyr—and without any offering of sacrifice to the martyr. The martyr was a real person who had died for the faith. True, sometimes piosity added to the story of the martyr and occasional stories of pagan heroes are found attributed to Christian martyrs; again, because of obscurity of sources or careless procedure a saint was honored who never existed, though this happened more frequently in the Middle Ages than in the early centuries. But in all cases the honored martyr was considered a peculiar Christian possession and a reality of the Christian past. There is no case, as certain writers leaning more on puns than on history have asserted, where a pagan demi-god or hero became a Christian saint or martyr. Saint Pelagia was never Venus Pelagia; Saint Dennis did not evolve out of Dionysos. No missionaries ever converted a pagan populace by preaching that some local deity was in reality the Christian Saint So-andso. Whatever continuity between pagan and Christian cults is found, it is not applicable historically to the object of the respective cults.
Secondly, external ceremonials and ritual surround both the pagan and Christian worship. There are hundreds of similar features. Yet historians must be careful in drawing conclusions from the analogies. The attitude of the early Church writers should caution modern scholars against haste.
Intelligent men were living and writing at the very time when the alleged continuity from pagan to Christian customs was going on. In the days of Sts. Jerome and Augustine the same arguments from analogy were being put forth as are heard today. St. Jerome had this to say to the charge concerning the similarity of ceremonies offered by Vigilantius: "All that was done to idols, and hence is abominable; but this is done to martyrs, and so is to be received by all." (MPL 33, 346) Theodoret mentions that the Christian saints now replace the pagan deities. All writers of the time deny that any sacrifice is ever offered to a saint or martyr. Hence no matter how many similarities in ceremonials may be shown, the rituals are essentially different and are not in continuity.
Concerning the less fundamental similarities this important point is not to bé missed. The early Christians were men with men's instincts to develop the sensible accompaniments of religious adoration. Given the Christian reality of the martyr, and given the fact that human imagination and convention are externalized in certain more or less parallel lines in widely separated instances, there is less reason for asserting a dependence of the
Christian customs on the pagan practices. One runs the risk of the fallacy:
Post hoc; ergo, propter hoc. And especially in one very important point the martyr-cult fails to have any pagan analogue: in the preservation and honoring of the martyr's relics.
424 THEOLOGICAL STUDIES Finally, analogues cannot obscure the fact that in the spirit which animated the martyr-cult, Christian devotion was far removed from and even opposed to pagan worship. Against polytheism the Church preached an unquestioned monotheism, and no heresy against the first article of the Creed was threatened by the cult of the martyrs. The abuses we hear of are drunkenness and revelry, and the danger of being contaminated again with pagan superstitions and errors. Christians were clear on the fact that saints and martyrs were friends of God and could intercede for men. These doctrines had to be reiterated, true, and they were preached repeatedly, for it is clear that historians must recognize that every convert from paganism did not shed all his pagan attachments and superstitions at the church door. Yet he lost many of them, for the catechumenate was not short in the early centuries, and one of its most emphatic lessons was concerned in pointing out the difference between the Christian God and His court of saints and martyrs and the gay or gloomy Olympus of the pagan world.
T H E CULT OF HOLY IMAGES. Certain of the considerations put forth above and others also will need to be brought to bear on the recent book of Edwyn Bevan, Holy Images. An Inquiry into Idolatry and Image-Worship in Ancient Paganism and Christianity (London. Allen and Unwin.
1940. vii—184). In this work the author has developed into a book what was undertaken incidentally and as the topic of a digression in his Gifford Lectures of 1933, which appeared under the title, Symbolism and Belief.
Professor Bevan's book is a scientific work; with its presentation of facts one will need rarely to quarrel in essential matters, but with its interpretation of historical facts and inferences made from them there seem to be grave defects. If one may need to point to a definite tendentiousness of the writer, this is not to be set down to bias, but, it seems, to a lack of broadness and depth in dealing with a theme where training in theology is a requisite. The author divides views on image-worship into three large schools. The Jewish-Moslem view is anti-iconic; exception, however, is noted among the Jews; the brazen serpent was a representation, and there were symbols allowed in later worship. Another view is found, according to the author, in the early Church; representations are allowed for the stimulation of devotion; they are not honored. The Church is alleged to have "out-Puritaned the Puritans" in this respect before the time of Constantine. It seems that the Catacombs give singular rebuttal to this historical summary, as will be noted later. The third stage, wherein images are the object of worship, is set down as being crystallized out in dogmatic definition at Second Nicea in 787. Kisses, bows, prostrations are approved.
In dealing with the medieval writers, the author finds Saint Thomas "studiously restrained in his attitude toward image-worship." Finally, the
CURRENT THEOLOGYauthor is of the opinion that Protestant forms of religion have lost in taking an extreme position against images for the purposes of religious worship.
The tendentiousness of the book is evident in the impression given that the worship of images is an intrusion and a novelty in Christianity, that it is not genuinely Catholic, nor traditional. The bent of the author shows in the way in which several historical facts are treated. For instance, it is presumably significant that there are few allusions to the Crucifix (the cross with the figure) until the 7th century. True, any representations of the suffering Christ are only scattered in the 5 th and 6th centuries. But there is no ground for the inference that anti-iconic views explain this. Has Bevan reflected that the Christian art of the first six centuries portrayed the glories of Christ—a natural manner of acting in a persecuted sect?
Moreover, can Christians not have wished to spare the sensibilities of converts from paganism, in whose eyes the ignominy of the cross or the sufferings of Christ might offer unnecessary difficulties? In the Catacombs we see the portraits of Christ the King and the Good Shepherd, and these are the subjects of adornment in the basilicas of the 4th to the 7th centuries.
The cross appears, and, in fact, seems to have been the first representation which received relative cult; even among the Iconoclasts there was a group which exempted staurolatria from the charge of idolatry. The pointed question may be put to Bevan: Why is the conclusion drawn that images in the early centuries were not venerated? Why is he certain that they were only for the stimulating of devotion? He has made a distinction which is very subtle, and documentary evidence is asked to support it.