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year of our Lord a thousand, unto the time. now present, &c. Gathered and collected according to the true copies and writings certificatory, as well of the parties themselves that suffered, as also out of the bishops' registers, which were the doers thereof." He conceived the design of this work while a fugitive at Basil. In 1554, he had published at Strasburg, "Commentarii rerum in Ecclesia gestarum, Maximarumque per totam Europam persecutionum a Wiclavi temporibus ad hanc usque atatem descriptarum," in one book, to which he afterwards added five more printed together at Basil, 1559, folio. The larger work is at this time republishing in numbers.
His account of the dispute between the Franciscan and Dominican friars, towards the close of the fifteenth century, about the conception of the Virgin Mary, will be more amusing, I apprehend, than stories of martyrdoms, which could only lacerate the feelings, without utility.
The Franciscans were they which did hold of St. Francis, and followed the rule of his testament, commonly called Grey Friars, or Minorites. Their opinion was this-that the Virgin Mary, prevented by
the grace of the Holy Ghost, was so sanctified, that she was never subject one moment in her conception, to original sin. The Dominic friars were they, which holding of Dominic, were commonly called Black Friars, or Preaching Friars. Their opinion was, that the Virgin Mary was conceived as all other children of Adam be; so that this privilege only belongeth to Christ, to be conceived without original sin. Notwithstanding, the same blessed virgin was sanctified in her mother's womb, and purged from her original sin, so as was John Baptist, Jeremy, or any other privileged person. This frivolous question kindling and engendering between these two sects of friars, burst out into such a flame of parts and sides taking, that it occupied the heads and wits, schools and universities, almost through the whole church; some holding one part with Scotus, some the other part with Thomas Aquine. The Minorites holding with Scotus their master, disputed and concluded, that she was conceived without all spot or note of original sin; and thereupon caused the feast and service of the conception of St. Mary the virgin to be celebrate and solemnized in the church. Contrary, the Dominic friars, taking side with Aquinas, preached, that it was heresy to affirm that the blessed virgin was conceived without the guilt of original sin; and that they which did celebrate the feast of her concep
tion, or said any masses thereof, did sin grievously and mortally.
In the mean time, as this phantasy waxed hot in the church, the one side preaching against the other, came pope Sixtus the Fourth, anno 1476, who joining side with the Minorites or Franciscans, first sent forth his decree by authority apostolic, willing, ordaining, and commanding all men to solemnize this new found feast of the conception in holy church for evermore; offering to all men and women, which devoutly frequenting the church, would hear mass. and service from the first even-song of the same feast to the octaves of the same, as many days of pardon as pope Urban the Fourth and pope Martin the Fifth did grant for hearing the service of Corpus Christi day, &c. And this decree was given and dated at Rome, anno 1476.
Moreover, the same pope, to the entent that the devotion of the people might be the more encouraged to the celebration of this conception, added a clause more to the Ave Maria, granting great indulgence and release of sins to all such as would invocate the blessed virgin, with the same addition, saying thus: Ave Maria gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus Christus; et benedicta sit Anna Mater tua, de quá, sine macula, tua processit caro virginia. Amen. That is, hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with
thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus Christ, and blessed is Anna thy mother, of whom thy virgin's flesh hath proceeded without blot of original sin. Amen.
Wherein thou mayst note (gentle reader) for thy learning, three things: first, how the pope turneth that improperly into a prayer, which properly was sent of God for a message or tidings. Secondly, how the pope addeth to the words of the scripture, contrary to the express precept of the Lord. Thirdly, how the pope exempteth Mary the blessed virgin, not only from the seed of Abraham and Adam, but also from the condition of a mortal creature: for if there be in her no original sin, then she beareth not the image of Adam, neither doth she descend of that seed, of whose seed evil proceedeth upon all men and women to condemnation, as St. Paul doth teach, Romans v. Wherefore, if she descend of that seed, then the infection of original evil must necessarily proceed unto her. If she descend not thereof, then cometh she not of the seed of Abraham, nor of the seed of David, &c. Again, seeing that death is the effect and stipend of sin, by the doctrine of St Paul, Rom. vi. then had her flesh injury by the law, as Christ himself had, to suffer the malediction and punishment of death, and so should never have died, if original sin had no place in her, &c. But to re
turn unto our story. This constitution of the pope being set forth for the conception of the blessed virgin, which was the year of our Lord 1476, it was not long after, but the said Pope Sixtus, perceiving that the Dominic friars with their complices would not conform themselves hereunto, directed forth, by the authority apostolical, a bull in effect as followeth:
"Sane cum sancta Romana ecclesia de intemeratæ semperque virginis," &c, In English: "Whereas the holy church of Rome hath ordained a special and proper service for the public solemnization of the feast of the conception of the blessed Virgin Mary : certain orders of the black friars, in their public sermons to the people in divers places, have not ceased hitherto to preach, and yet daily do, that all they which hold or affirm the said glorious virgin to have been conceived without original sin be heretics; and they which celebrate the service of the said her conception, or do hear the sermons of them which do so affirm, do sin grievously, Also, not contented herewith, do write and set forth books, moreover, maintaining their assertions, to the great offence and ruin of godly minds: We therefore, to prevent and withstand such presumptuous and perverse assertions which have arisen, (and more hereafter may arise by such opinions and preachings aforesaid, in the minds of the faithful) by authority apostolical,