Paganism and Pagan Survivals in Spain up to the Fall of the Visigothic Kingdom

Stephen McKenna

Pagan Survivals in Galicia in the Sixth Century

[75] The arrival of the barbarian people in Spain in the early part of the fifth century abruptly changed the political, economic, and cultural life of the Peninsula. The invasions of the barbarians continued intermittently from the beginning of the fifth century up to the establishment of the Visigothic kingdom there. Our information on what occurred in the Peninsula during this period of turmoil is extremely meager. In his chronicle for the year 409 Idacius, bishop of Limica, says very succinctly: "The Alans, the Vandals, and the Sueves entered Spain." (1) Salvian, the stern moralist of Gaul, regarded this invasion as a divine punishment for the immorality of which the Spaniards were guilty. (2) Many of the people of Spain had welcomed the barbarians as a relief from the oppressive taxation of the imperial government, (3) but they doubtless changed their mind at the sight of the ruin and havoc caused by the invaders. Only two years later, in 411, when famine and disease had decimated their ranks, did the barbarians make peace. The whole of Spain with the exception of eastern Tarraconensis was parceled out by lot among the three barbarian peoples. The Sueves and Asdingian Vandals received Galicia, the Alans were given Lusitania and Carthaginiensis, while the Silingian Vandals occupied Baetica. In 416 the Visigoths, who had entered into an agreement with Rome, inflicted [76] a decisive defeat upon the Alans and the remnant of this people made their escape into Vandal territory. Not long afterwards the Visigoths defeated and exterminated the Silirigian Vandals of Baetica. In 418 the Visigoths withdrew from Spain, and were rewarded by the Roman authorities with Aquitania Secunda in southeastern France where they established the kingdom of Toulouse. The withdrawal of the Visigoths did not bring peace to the Peninsula. Gunderich, king of Asdingian Vandals, inflicted a series of defeats upon the imperial troops in Spain. After his death in 428, Gaiseric, his brother-in-law, became the ruler of the Vandals, and in the following year led his people into Africa. (4) Thus in the year 430 the Sueves were the only barbarians in the Iberian Peninsula.


The history of the Sueves, the first of the Germanic people to make a permanent settlement in Spain, deserves a careful study. We are rather well informed about pagan survivals in the Galician kingdom of the Sueves in the second half of the sixth century because of the determined efforts to uproot paganism made by St. Martin of Braga. Up to that time we know little about the religious situation there. The Sueves, as far as is known, were pagans when they entered Spain, and thus a new form of paganism, the Germanic, was to trouble the Peninsula. (5)But just how far the pagan beliefs and practices, which Caesar and especially Tacitus had attributed to the Germans, continued to be held and practiced, is a question that cannot be answered with the sources at our disposal. There is no mention of the religion of the Sueves in the extant writings of the first four centuries, nor in the chronicle of Idacius, our principal authority for the history of Spain during the fifth century.

During their early years in Spain the Sueves do not seem to [77] have been openly hostile to the Church. This is evident from the fact that the hierarchy of Galicia was able to take active measures against the Priscillianists. The Catholic bishops and priests were also spreading among the barbarians the knowledge of the Gospel, for in 448 when Rechiar mounted the throne, he had already embraced Catholicism. (6) Whether the ruler's example was followed by his subjects, as was often the case in this early period, is unknown, for Idacius says nothing about a conversion to Catholicism of a large number of the Suevian people of Galicia.

The change in religion did not produce a great change in the conduct of the new ruler. Not long after his accession to the throne, Rechiar resumed the Suevian habit of preying upon the natives of Spain. A number of his people murdered some Romans who were celebrating the feast of Easter at Astorga, and who believed that they were secure from attack during this solemn festival. The Sueves did not hesitate to seize Bishop Idacius, the chronicler above-mentioned, and imprison him for three months. (7) A raid, however, that they made in Tarraconensis had disastrous consequences for them. The Visigoths were at once commissioned to avenge this raid by Avitus, whom they had shortly before acclaimed as emperor. They did this so thoroughly in a battle against the Sueves at Astorga that Idacius believed the Suevian kingdom had come to an end. (8) His judgment proved premature, for a few years later the Sueves were reunited under Reismund. In 464 this ruler concluded an alliance with the Visigoths and obtained as his wife a woman of their nation. Soon after this marriage Ajax, an apostate Catholic, came to Galicia and, aided by Reismund, spread among the Sueves the Arian heresy. (9) As the chronicle of Idacius ends in 468 it is [78] impossible to determine how many of the people became Arians. But Idacius records that the Catholic Church in Galicia suffered very much as a result of the invasions. (10)

The history of the Suevian kingdom from 468 to 550 is veiled in the greatest obscurity. (11) Isidore merely informs us that many of the rulers of Galicia during this period remained Arians. But the Catholic hierarchy continued to exist there, for in 539 Pope Vigilius (538-555), in the letter to Bishop Profuturus of Braga mentioned in the previous chapter, was overjoyed to hear that a number of the Arians of Galicia were seeking admission to the Catholic Church. (12) In the year 550, however, according to Gregory of Tours, there began a series of remarkable events that brought about the conversion of the Suevian ruler and his household and also led to the awakening of Catholic life among the people. (13)


[80]In this year the son of Chararich, the ruler of the Sueves, fell desperately ill so that his life was despaired of. Seeing his son in such straits Chararich asked those around him what religion Martin of Tours, the great wonder-worker of Gaul, had professed. He was told that St. Martin believed in the equality of the Son with the Father and the Holy Ghost. The king decided to send legates to the tomb of St. Martin to seek the cure of his son, promising that if it were obtained through Martin's intercession he would embrace the Catholic faith. Envoys were sent to Tours with gifts of gold and silver equal in weight to that of the sick boy. The gifts were offered at the tomb and the legates prayed for the recovery of the king's son. On their return to Galicia they were surprised to learn that the boy had not recovered, since they had seen many miracles wrought at the saint's tomb. The king realized that the fault was his since he had not been sincere in giving up Arianism. He now renounced this heresy, as an earnest of his good-will causing a church to be built in honor of St. Martin, and again sent his legates with greater gifts, saying: "If I should merit to receive relics of this holy man, I will believe whatever the priests preach." On their arrival at Tours the legates would not accept the relics usually offered to pilgrims, but asked permission to suspend a silken cloth over the tomb of the saint. Permission was granted and the envoys placed a mantle above the tomb, saying that if it was heavier the following morning they would accept it as a sign of favor and depart from Tours. Vigil was held that night and the next morning the mantle weighed much more than on the previous evening. Taking up this object, now a precious relic, the legates began the return journey to Galicia. As they were passing through the streets of Tours, evidently with great ceremony, the prisoners of the city heard the voices of the singers and asked the guards what was taking place. The guards answered: "The relics of blessed Martin are being taken to Galicia and therefore they sing in this manner." The prisoners invoked the name of Martin and begged to be released. The terrified guards fled. The bars and locks of the prison were broken and the prisoners ran to the blessed relics and kissed them with tears and gratitude, while the people looked on. The bishop secured the [81] liberation of the prisoners, and the legates rejoicing at this new favor obtained by St. Martin said: "Now we know that the blessed prelate has deigned to show himself gracious to us sinners."

When the embassy arrived at Galicia the king's son, completely cured, hurried to the ship to meet the legates. The king with his household embraced the Catholic religion. The disease of leprosy which was especially prevalent in Galicia at this time was wiped out and those suffering from it were cured. Besides these wonderful events others too long to mention took place. Gregory concludes his narrative with one concise sentence: "The people (of Galicia) now manifested such love for Christ that all would willingly suffer martyrdom if a period of persecution were at hand."

Gregory of Tours is the only source for the events just narrated and hence it is impossible to check his account. Hagiographers, as far as is known, have not pronounced judgment upon Gregory's narrative. In spite of Gregory's known credulity, his account in the present instance seems reliable. He had come to Tours about the year 562, when there were certainly many people alive who had witnessed the coming of the two embassies sent by Charanich to the tomb of St. Martin. (14) Even if there is a perfectly natural explanation for the fact that the silken mantle placed over the grave weighed more in the morning than the evening before, still it seems evident from the church built in Galicia in honor of St. Martin that the saint played an important part in the conversion of the ruler. (15) Gregory would also be conversant with the religious conditions in Galicia from the Suevian legates who passed through Tours on their way to the Frankish courts. (16)

Gregory is also the sole authority for the statement that on the very day that the legates arrived from Tours, a stranger named Martin arrived there. All that is known of the latter's previous life [82] is that he had been born in Pannonia, and had visited the Holy Land where he had become acquainted with the monastic life. (17) Martin's motive in coming to Galicia is not known. Gregory says that Martin was moved to emigrate to this section of Spain by a divine inspiration, (18) and his words are confirmed by the epitaph written by Martin himself. (19)

Shortly after his arrival Martin founded a monastery at Dumium, not far from Braga, which was soon after honored by being chosen as the site of an episcopal see with Martin as its first bishop. His elevation to the episcopate must have taken place soon after his arrival, for at the first council of Braga, in 561, where the bishops signed according to seniority, Martin was third in rank. Besides the monastery at Dumium, he is also said to have established other monastic foundations, but their location is not known. Martin directed the proceedings of the second council of Braga in 572, for sometime between the years 561 and 372 he had been transferred from Dumium to the metropolitan see of Braga.

Martin was not only an able administrator but also a skilled writer. Gregory of Tours says of him that "he was second to none among the learned men of his time." (20) His knowledge of Greek, [83] unusual in the West in the sixth century, is attested by his translation of the Sayings of the Egyptian Fathers and of a collection of eastern canons into Latin. For the guidance of the Suevian king Miro, he wrote the Formula vitae honestae, and some treatises on the moral virtues. Presumably Martin was the author of the canons of the two councils of Braga in 561 and 572. His knowledge and his position would point to him as the one who would be called upon to draught them, and the canons reveal the use of the cursus which characterize his other known writings. (21) He was also the author of many letters full of wise counsels and practical suggestions on the practice of virtue. (22) The most interesting of his works is a sermon, De correctione rusticorum, (23) which is directed against pagan practices and affords the principal material for this chapter. Martin died, according to Gregory of Tours, in 580 and was probably buried near the monastery of Dumium.

The manifold activities during his thirty years in Galicia have won for Martin the title, "Apostle of the Sueves." Thus his friend and correspondent, Venantius Fortunatus, in an obscure poetic eulogy compares him to St. Martin of Tours and even to the Apostles. (24) St. Isidore of Seville says of him: "Theodomir (probably the immediate successor of Chararich) with the aid of Martin, bishop of the monastery of Dumium, renowned for his faith and learning, immediately restored the Sueves to the Catholic faith." (25)


The efforts of Martin to crush paganism in Galicia formed an important part of his pastoral activity. In his address opening the second council of Braga (572) Martin pointed to the fact that unity of faith reigned in Galicia. (26) While the first council of Braga (561) had been concerned mainly with enacting laws against the Priscillianists in Galicia, the second council could turn its attention to the abuses among the faithful themselves. The first canon of this council required the bishops in their annual visitation of the diocese to assemble the people and warn them against the practice of idolatry, and other serious crimes as murder, adultery, and perjury. (27) Moreover the Capitula which Martin translated from the Greek contained a number of canons on idolatry and superstition. (28) As the source of some of these canons on idolatry in the Capitula cannot be traced in previous conciliar legislation, it is not at all improbable, as Maasen (29) and Kruger (30) suggest, that they were drawn up by Martin himself. Added confirmation of this fact is that the canons in the Capitula on idolatry are in remarkable agreement with the practices censured by the saint in the De correctione rusticorum.

The canon of the second council of Braga ordering the bishops to warn the people against the practice of idolatry was undoubtedly [85] the cause of Martin's sermon, De correctione rusticorum. (31) This is evident from the opening words of the sermon addressed to Bishop Polemius of Astorga: "I received the letter of your holy charity, in which you asked me to write something on the origin of idols and their abomination . . . for the correction of the peasants." (32) A [86] second proof that the sermon was written after the council is the similarity between the plan of the sermon, as outlined by the council, and that followed in the De correctione rusticorum. The canon of the council said that the bishop should warn the people of the dangers of idolatry, murder, and fornication, and emphasize the future resurrection of the dead and the account each one would have to render to God after death. The sermon sent to Polemius follows this general plan. The sermon was probably written about the year 574. Whether it was used by the other bishops of Galicia cannot be ascertained. It is certain, however, that the sermon was known to St. Eligius (590-660), who was active in the struggle against paganism in northern France, for at times he quotes verbatim the pagan practices mentioned by Martin. (33) The abbot, Pirminius, founder of the monastery of Reichenau, in his Scarapsus (34) (written probably between the years 710-724) copies the De correctione rusticorum concerning pagan practices. (35) Caspari is of the opinion that a homily by an English monk, Aelfric, written in Anglo-Saxon about the year 1000, is borrowed in part from Martin. He bases his reason on the fact that both Martin and Aelfric follow the same general plan in regard to the origin of idolatry. (36) There is also a remarkable agreement between the two writers in their descriptions of the shameful lives led by Jupiter, Juno, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn, whom the people later worshiped as gods. Both writers may have been following a common patristic tradition.

The audience for whom Martin's sermon was intended is quite evidently people living in the country districts. This is clear from the opening words, which are directed to the "peasants." Most [87] of the superstitions were to be found in the country districts, as honoring the mice and moths, and worshiping stones, fountains, and trees. The language, too, is simple and adapted to the intelligence of the country people, for Martin wished "to season the food for peasants with peasant language." The "peasant language" (37) means the simple, popular style, as distinct from the elegant style affected at the time, which Martin sometimes used in his other writings. The racial origin of the country audience cannot be determined, since many of the superstitions which Martin censured were common to the Roman, the Celtic-Iberian, and the Germanic paganism. (38)

The sermon, which consists of eighteen chapters, is made up of two principal parts: the didactic, from chapter two to thirteen, and the exhortatory, from chapter fourteen to eighteen. Martin places the principal emphasis upon the instruction of the people. He believed that the cause of idolatry was not malice, but ignorance. This is seen from his opening words: "We wish to expound to you, my dear brethren, . . . a doctrine which either you have not heard, or if you have heard, have allowed yourselves to forget." (39) Throughout the sermon Martin constantly emphasizes ignorance as the cause of idolatry. (40)

This lack of knowledge among the people should not cause surprise. Galicia had been settled in the early part of its history by the Celts and Iberians, and, as was pointed out in the first chapter, the primitive religions had been deeply rooted there. While Christianity had come to the cities of northwestern Spain in the third century, it probably did not penetrate into the country districts until much later. (41) The first council of Braga lamented the little knowledge of [88] the true faith that existed in Galicia, "the extremity of the world." (42) Besides the Priscillianist errors had taken a deep root in Galicia during the years 388-561, and Arianism had been the state religion there from 464-550. If the first council of Braga had to censure the ignorance of the clergy, (43) it is hardly surprising that far greater ignorance existed among the laity, and consequently superstitious beliefs and practices would grow and continue among this people ignorant of the truths of the Catholic faith.

In keeping with the idea that idolatry was the result of ignorance, the saint did not approve of force being used against those who practiced idolatrous worship. Caesarius on the contrary had said: "Chastise them [people who practice superstition] most severely . . . so that they who are not concerned about the salvation of their soul, may fear the wounds of the body." (44) In the following chapter the harsh measures taken by the Visigothic councils against idolaters will be pointed out. Martin's attitude was similar to St. Isidore's that faith should not be extorted by violence, but inculcated by reason and example. (45)

De Correctione Rusticorum

Before entering into a discussion of the pagan survivals mentioned in Martin's sermon it is necessary to discuss the sources [89] whence he derived his knowledge of paganism. A recent writer, W. Boudriot, claims that the pagan practices mentioned by Martin are but extracts from the sermons of St. Caesarius of Arles (470-542), which were often directed against the survivals of paganism in southeastern France. (46) Boudriot bases his assertion upon the fact that the sermons of Caesarius were known in Spain, (47) and upon the similarity between the pagan practices mentioned by Caesarius and Martin. But despite these facts it is improbable that Martin was a mere copyist. In a dissertation written at Marburg in 1909 R. Boese compiled a list of the pagan practices mentioned by Caesarius, and compared them with the superstitions mentioned in the sermon of Martin. Because Martin censured the pagan practice of honoring mice and moths, which Caesarius did not mention, Boese concluded that Martin did not copy from Caesarius. (48) Boese apparently overlooked some other practices found in the De correctione rusticorum of which there is no record in the sermons of Caesarius, and to which attention will be called in the present chapter. In answer to the objection that Martin and Caesarius do not agree in regard to paganism, Boudriot asserts that Martin obtained his information from sermons of Caesarius which are no longer extant. (49) Such reasoning is arbitrary and open to question.

Both Boese and Boudriot have failed to note that Martin's attitude towards paganism is very different from that of Caesarius, and that the two do not always suggest the same means of overcoming the same superstitions. These writers also ignore the fact that the action of the second council of Braga against paganism in Galicia, and the agreement between the pagan practices in the sermon and Capitula of Martin are a strong indication that Martin was inveighing against actual abuses. The similarity of the pagan practices in northwestern Spain with those in southeastern France may [90] be merely a coincidence, for oftentimes the same types of paganism flourished in widely-separated localities.

The sermon of Martin opens with an account of the creation of the angels and of men. (50) He first describes the creation and rebellion of the angels, whom God punished by sending them into "the air which is below heaven." The creation of man followed upon the disobedience of the angels. (51) God promised Adam and Eve, our first parents, that if they remained faithful to the command not to eat the forbidden fruit, the human race would be rewarded with the eternal happiness of heaven, which the rebellious angels had forfeited. The devil, envying the glorious destiny that awaited man, appeared to Adam and Eve under the form of a serpent and tempted them to eat the forbidden fruit. Our first parents yielded to the temptation of the devil, and for this sin of disobedience were driven by God from the garden of paradise.

The belief that the devil dwelt in the air was not original with Martin, but had become familiar to the eastern and western world through the writings of Origen and Augustine. (52) The latter also emphasized the fact that God's principal purpose in the creation of the human race was to fill the places in heaven left vacant by the rebellion of the angels. (53)

Martin next proceeds to state that the Deluge, which took place two thousand, two hundred and forty-two years after the creation of man, was caused when the sins of the human race provoked God to anger. (54) It was only after this catastrophe, according to Martin, who here follows the scripture narrative, that men forgot their Creator and adored the creatures of God - the sun, the moon, and the stars. Perceiving this proneness of men to idolatry, the devils [91] appeared to them in various shapes and urged them to worship the gods who presided over the rivers and the summits of the mountains. Later the devils saw men adoring "wicked and abandoned men of the Greek race," such as Jupiter, Saturn, Juno, Mars, Mercury, and Venus. Consequently the demons appropriated to themselves the names of these gods, urging the people to worship them, erect statues to them, and offer them as libations the blood of animals and even of human beings. Besides the deities whom Martin mentioned by name, the gods and goddesses honored in the fountains were also "malignant spirits and wicked demons."

The view that the gods had once been men was quite common since the days of Euhemerus (about the year 300 B. C.). (55) The doctrine of the human origin of the gods was an effective weapon in the hands of the Christian apologists against the practice of idolatry. From various places in Sacred Scripture where the worship of the gods is called the worship of the demons, (56) the Christian apologists linked up idolatry with the worship of the devil. Martin's whole sermon is impregnated with the belief that the demons are an essential part of all idolatry.

Thus he stresses the fact that the primary purpose of the Incarnation was to free mankind from the worship of the devil: "God seeing that wretched men were so deceived by the devil and his angels that, forgetting their creator they adored the demons in His stead sent His Son . . . to lead them back from the delusion of the devil to the worship of the true God." (57) Before His return to heaven Christ commanded the Apostles to warn the people against the sin of idolatry: "After forty days had passed He commanded His disciples . . . to teach those who had been baptized to refrain from [92] evil works, that is, from idols, etc." (58) In keeping with this same idea he also emphasized the fact that the practice of idolatry is a violation of the pledges which they have made in baptism to renounce the devil and all his works and pomps: "Consider the nature of the covenant which you have made with God in baptism. You promised to renounce the devil and his angels. . . . Behold what a pledge and confession God holds from you. And how can anyone who has renounced the devil and his angels, his worship and his evil works, return again to the worship of the devil?" (59) Martin had no fear of the devil, nor should any true Christian fortified with the sign of the cross fear the evil spirits: "Why does no augury harm me or any other upright Christian? Because when the sign of the cross goes before, the sign of the devil is naught." (60) Finally Martin recalls to his hearers the grim fact that those who practice idolatry will one day be cast with the devil and his angels into the unending fire of hell. (61) Caspari sums up Martin's attitude towards idolatry as follows: "This view of the origin of idolatry through the instigation of the fallen angels dominates . . . the entire sermon, is its governing idea, gives it a constant tenor, and makes it a unified whole." (62)

After Martin had linked up idolatry with the worship of the demons, and thereby made the people aware of its gravity he proceeds to censure the various superstitious beliefs and practices. The first of these idolatrous practices consists in designating the days of the week by the names of the pagan gods, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, [93] Venus, and Saturn. (63) Martin looks upon these gods as historical personages who lived among the Greeks. He mentions the revolting and immoral lives which each one of them had lived while on earth. (64) Caesarius had cited the sinfulness of the gods as a reason for not calling the days of the week after them. (65) Martin, however, gives a second reason, not mentioned by Caesarius, for abandoning this practice: "Now when almighty God created heaven and earth, He created first the light, which alternated with the darkness seven times during the periods of His labors." (66) After describing what the Creator did from the first to the seventh day Martin continues: "The one period of light, therefore, which was created first among the works of God, was divided into seven parts after the division of God's labors, and was called the week. What madness then for a man baptized in the faith of Christ not to observe the Lord's day, on which Christ rose, and to say that he observes the days of Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, or Saturn who have no day, but were adulterers, sorcerers, and evil doers, and who came to an evil end in their own land." (67) Since a large part of the diocese of Braga belonged to modern Portugal, it is probable that the practice in Portugal of calling the days of the week "feira" from the Latin [94] "feria" may have been due to this sermon of Martin. (68) Portugal alone of all the Romance lands uses "feria" as the day of the week.

Some of the people of Galicia, according to Martin, continued the pagan practice of honoring Jupiter by not working on Thursday, the day set apart to honor this god. (69) Caesarius of Aries also censured this manner of honoring Jupiter on Thursday and suggested that the people abstain from all business and work in the field on Sunday and devote this day to the worship of God. (70) Martin forbade the people to perform any servile work on Sunday. He permitted them on this day to do whatever work was necessary for refreshing the body in preparing food, and in meeting the necessity of a long journey. As a further proof of his kindliness he allowed short journeys on Sunday for a good purpose, such as visiting a shrine or a friend, consoling a sick neighbor or aiding a good cause. (71) L. MacReavy in a recent article claims that Martin's step was revolutionary, and that his explanation of the Sunday repose from labor reduced Sunday to a species of Christian sabbath. (72) However, as Martin's sermon does not seem to have been very well known, his direct influence upon subsequent writers and ecclesiastical councils may not have been very great.

In connection with Mercury, venerated on Wednesday, Martin refers to the practice among some people of casting stones in a [95] heap and offering these to Mercury: "To him, as the god of gain, the avaricious when passing the crossroads cast stones together and offer heaps of stones in token of sacrifice." (73) The images of Mercury (the Grecian Hermes) were often placed at the crossroads to avert the harmful influences which were attributed to these places. (74) Perhaps this practice or some survival of it was still being followed in Galicia, for in this section of Spain the Lares viales had been very popular in pagan times. (75)

Besides these gods and goddesses, Martin refers to the Lamias, nymphs, and Dianas who rule over the sea, fountains and forests. (76) The cult of the Dianas seems to have been very widespread. In the life of St. Symphorianus, martyred at Autun during the reign of the emperor Aurelian, the pagan belief in the Dianas of the forests is mentioned. (77) Gregory of Tours tells how a Lombard monk, named Vulfolaic, during his life of asceticism in the forest met some people who had erected a huge statue in honor of Diana. (78) Cabal believes rightly that the name of the popular fairies of Asturia, the "xanas" is derived philologically from the "Dianae" to whom Martin refers. (79)

Besides setting apart the days of the week to honor Mars, Mercury, etc., the people of Galicia continued to take part in superstitious rites at the beginning of the year on the kalends of January. Probably [96] the same practice which Pacianus had mentioned as taking place among the people on this occasion, (80) namely masquerading in the skins of animals, was still in vogue in the time of Martin. The saint sought to eradicate this evil custom by showing that the eighth day before the kalends of April (March 25) was the beginning of the year and not the kalends of January: "God made a division between the light and darkness; but every correct division forms equal parts; thus on the eighth day before the kalends of April the day has the same number of hours as the night. And so it is not true that the kalends of January are the beginning of the year." (81) Martin did not recommend as Caesarius did the practice of fasting on the kalends of January to atone for the idolatry practiced on this occasion.

At the beginning of the year some of the peasants of Galicia set apart a day to honor the mice and moths, a pagan practice which Martin condemns and ridicules: "What must we now say with sorrow concerning that most foolish error whereby they keep the days of mice and moths, and if it dare be said, that a Christian should venerate mice and moths instead of God. For if bread or cloth be not protected from them by means of a cask or box, in no way will they forbear to attack things shown to them when they shall find them." (82) This practice of honoring the mice and moths [97] at the beginning of the year is not mentioned elsewhere in ancient literature. It seems similar, however, to the Roman festival of the Paganalia, celebrated at the beginning of the year in honor of Tellus and Ceres, who were asked to preserve the crops from harmful field mice. (83) Field mice in the days of Strabo had brought harm to the crops in Cantabria and also caused a pestilence. (84) Cabal states that owing to the great humidity of Galicia field mice are very numerous and are the plague of the farmer. (85) Caspari believes that Martin misunderstood the purpose of this superstitious practice, and that the people were not venerating the mice and moths but merely seeking to render them harmless. Even in the latter case they would be clearly using some magical means to prevent the mice and moths from doing harm to the crops.

[98] After censuring the people for regarding the kalends of January as the beginning of the year and for venerating the mice and moths at this time, Martin still referring to the pagan practices at the beginning of the year continues: "In vain does man make these prefigurations in order that as in the beginning of the year he rejoices in an abundance of everything, so it may happen to him throughout the whole year." (86) This passage in the sermon is somewhat vague, for Martin does not explain what is prefigured at the beginning of the year. However by referring to a sermon of Caesarius, Martin's words become intelligible. The bishop of Arles censures the people for placing eatables on the table at the beginning of the year. (87) They thought that the demons would eat this food and in return would grant them an abundance of everything during the rest of the year. (88) Very probably Martin was referring to this custom on the Kalends of January when in a later part of the sermon he condemns the people for "adorning the table." (89)

He censures the people of Galicia for observing the Kalends at the beginning of each month, as distinct from the Kalends of January. (90) The Kalends of each month were days sacred to Juno [99]and on them celebrations were usually held in the home. (91) Martin also condemns the people for "keeping the Vulcanalia," (92) a festival celebrated in Roman times on the twenty-third of August. (93) The belief in lucky and unlucky days seems to have been common in Galicia, since Martin inveighs against women who wait until the day of Venus (Friday) for their weddings and who are afraid to set out on a journey on certain days. (94) One of the canons of the Capitula, which Martin probably drafted, censures those who practice astrology in order to find out the best days for building a house, planting the crops, and getting married. (95)

From the De correctione rusticorum it is evident that the practice of augury and divination was in vogue among the people. Martin refers to those who seek to learn the future by the flight of birds and by means of sneezes. (96) Ascertaining future events by the flight of birds was a popular form of divination among the ancient Romans (97) and Germans. (98) Caesarius of Arles also makes mention in a sermon [100] of these two forms of divination. But, while Caesarius merely condemns such practices as a worship of the devil, Martin shows the absurdity and sinfulness of augury: "Do you not clearly perceive that the demons deceive you in those observances of yours, to which you vainly cling, and that only too often they deceive you in the auguries which you practice? . . . God has not commanded that man should know the future, but rather that, living ever in fear of it, man should hope for direction and assistance in this life from Him." (99)

Another superstitious practice which Martin mentions, "watching the foot," (100) is little known. St. Eligius speaks of the practice some people had of placing an image of the foot at the crossroads, and the saint ordered such images to be burned. (101) The Council of Auxerre (590) forbids the use of images made in the form of a foot. Caspari thinks that the practice referred to is similar to one mentioned in the Decretals of Burchard of Worms (written about 1020): "You have done what certain women are wont to do, who observe the footprints . . . of Christians and take away the soil upon which an imprint has been made; they keep a close watch over these footprints, and by means of them hope to deprive the persons of their health or life." (102) In this case there would be a reference to the common magical belief that an injury could be done to a person by harming something that had come in contact with him. Leite de [101] Vasconcellos supposes that "watching the foot" simply meant seeing with what foot a person entered the room, and drawing a good or evil omen from this action. (103)

Some of the superstitions which Martin censures were connected with the home. One of the canons of the Capitula forbids the people to admit magicians into their houses for the purpose of performing a purification ceremony. (104) According to Cabal in some parts of Asturia, before a family moves into a newly-built house, a fowl is slaughtered and the walls are sprinkled with its blood. (105) This may be a survival of the practice which Martin mentions. Martin also disapproves of the practice of placing laurel above the entrance to the home. (106) The use of laurel before the entrance was a custom in vogue among the ancient Romans. They thought that the branch of laurel would prevent all injury to the house and the members of the family, for the entrance was usually regarded as a place most susceptible to harmful influences. (107) Some women of Galicia during their hours of weaving were wont to invoke Minerva, the patroness of weavers. (108) Martin condemns this practice in his sermon, and in his Capitula probably refers to this custom of invoking Minerva, when he tells the people not to observe any foolish practice in the making of cloth but to invoke the name of God from Whom they have received this knowledge. (109)

Probably connected with the homes was the pagan practice which, [102] in the manuscript of Toledo, is described as "pouring fruit and wine over a log in the hearth." (110) Caspari, however, prefers the reading "pouring fruit and wine over a log," because there is no reference to the "hearth" in the manuscript of Berne, (111) nor in the homily of Pirminius, (112) where this practice is censured. Caspari finds a justification for his text in the fact that there is no mention of any superstitious practice which speaks of pouring fruit and wine over a log in the hearth, while a passage in a Pseudo-Augustinian sermon speaks of the trunk of a tree as the object of a special cult. (113) However the manuscript of Toledo, which speaks of the "hearth" seems to offer the better reading and is to be retained. It is improbable that the reference to the hearth was added by a later writer, while it is easy to see how a copyist might omit this word. The passage which Caspari cites from the Pseudo-Augustinian sermon, does not aid his theory, for the sermon merely refers to the fact that the log was honored, not to the practices which accompanied this worship. In favor of the manuscript of Toledo is the fact that the hearth in Roman times was regarded as the site of the deity of the home whom the paterfamilias propitiated at each meal by casting some food into the fire. (114) Such a custom as Martin describes may very well have been practiced, for, after all, our knowledge of many pagan rites is so limited that the argument from silence has little force.

Among a rustic population many of their superstitious practices would naturally take place out-of-doors, and hence it is not surprising that Martin should mention pagan customs which were observed in the fields, and at the sacred stones, fountains and trees. As an effective means of counteracting the practice of incantations over herbs Martin urges the people to repeat the sacred chant of the Creed and the Our Father, so that, as one of the canons of the [103] Capitula mentions, "only God, the Creator and Lord of all, may be honored." (115) In another passage Martin condemns those who mutter incantations over herbs and invoke the names of demons. (116) It might be added here that one of Martin's Capitula threatens excommunication to a cleric who uses incantations or ligatures. (117)

The first chapter of this study showed that the Celts and Iberians regarded certain stones as sacred. (118) As is evident from the De correctione rusticorum survivals of this primitive cult still continued in Galicia in the sixth century. In the course of the sermon Martin puts the question: "For what is lighting candles at stones . . . but the worship of the devil?" (119) Lighted candles, according to him, were also placed at the crossroads, and before certain fountains and trees. The burning of candles at these places was evidently a pagan practice, but its precise significance is not obvious.

At the fountains Martin censures the people for casting bread into the water. (120) As far as is known no writer before Martin refers to this practice. Perhaps the placing of bread in the fountain was in some way connected with human fertility, for in Italy, Scotland and Syria women were wont to invoke the fountain-deity for the gift of fertility. (121) Cabal in his study of the ancient religions of Asturia quotes a modern poem, which says that if young women go to a certain fountain and drink its waters, they will soon be [104] married. (122) The people of Galicia in Martin's time may have performed the ceremony he condemns in order to obtain fertility for their crops. Attention has already been called in the first chapter to the cult of Tongoenabiacus, who was honored as the god of a fountain outside of Braga. (123) In the inscription written on the stone over this fountain was the representation of a person, probably the god himself, bearing in his arms a basket of fruit. This illustration seems to indicate that this god was thought to give fertility to the fields. It is also possible that the bread was cast into the fountain in order to procure the relief of a sick person, for some of the wells of Galicia, especially those of Guimarens, a little southeast of Braga, were noted for their curative value. (124)

In Galicia in the sixth century certain trees were also the object of a special cult, but the only practice which Martin mentions in connection with them was that of lighting candles. (125) Such sacred trees were thought to be inhabited by benign spirits and were always dear to the people. Thus in the life of St. Martin of Tours we read how the pagans of a certain neighborhood permitted the saint to destroy one of their temples, but forbade him to injure their sacred trees. (126) In Gaul branches of trees were often placed in the water where animals drank in the belief that the beasts would be made fertile. (127) The Germans used the twigs of trees for purposes of divination. (128)

It is here apropos to call attention to another instance of Martin's characteristic mildness. Nowhere in his sermon or in the Capitula did he order the trees, stones and fountains - reminders of a bygone paganism - to be destroyed. This tolerance is in striking contrast to that of Caesarius (129) and Eligius, (130) who insisted upon the removal [105] or destruction of these "sacred" places. In the following chapter the stern measures taken by the various councils of Toledo against the places and objects desecrated by pagan rites will be mentioned.

All of the pagan practices which Martin mentions in the Capitula are also to be found in his sermon, De correctione rusticorum, with one exception. This is the canon prohibiting the people to bring food to the sepulchers and to offer up sacrifices of the dead to God. (131) The words of the canon refer evidently to the banquets held at the sepulchers of the departed, and which in the early Church were known as the "agape." This banqueting at the sepulcher had fallen into disfavor with the ecclesiastical authorities in the fourth century because of its similarity to the Roman practice of feasting at the grave and leaving food there in the belief that this was necessary for the sustenance of the departed, and also because of the abuses that occurred on such occasions. (132) Martin very probably prohibited these banquets at the graves because of some pagan practices that marked this ceremony, just as later on in the eighth century the ecclesiastical leaders of Germany felt it necessary to take action against the superstitious burial customs which persisted among some of the Christians of Germany. (133)

The practices which Martin mentioned in his sermon did not include all the pagan survivals, since the enumeration of all these, he says, would take too long. Probably the idolatrous practices that he censures were the more serious or the more common. After describing in vivid language the terrible punishment of idolatry in the [106] world to come where the guilty person would be cast into inextinguishable fire, the saint imagines such a one saying to himself: "Because I have committed such great evils after baptism perhaps God will not forgive me my sins." (134) To this objection Martin answers: "Do not doubt the mercy of God. . . .God awaits the penance of the sinner. True repentance consists in this, that a man no longer do the evil which he has done, but seek pardon for his past sins, and take care for the future not to fall back into them." (135) The sermon concludes with the thought that the speaker has distributed to his hearers the "money of the Lord," which they should so use that each one of them may be able to "render to the Lord with interest when He shall come on the day of judgment." (136)

The De correctione rusticorum is not a cold, lifeless tract, but a real sermon. In it Martin traces the origin of superstition and idolatrous practices back to the instigation of the devil, and then proceeds to show the people why they should avoid this sin which is so great an evil in the sight of God and entails such a severe penalty in the world to come. The sermon was admirably adapted to the simple peasants of the country (137) whom Martin had grown to know and love during his apostolate of thirty years. The vivid scenes where he reënacts the baptismal ceremony at which the baptized person solemnly renounced the devil and all idolatrous practices, and where he describes in graphic language the eternal punishment of hell, and his touching description of the mercy of the Lord must have made a powerful impression upon the minds of these simple country people, [107] whose principal fault was not malice, but ignorance. The sermon is a splendid example of the early mediaeval style of preaching.

In 585, a few years after Martin's death, Leovigild, king of the Visigoths, invaded Galicia, drove the Suevian ruler, Audeca, from the throne, and reduced his kingdom to the status of a province. (138)As there is no extant source-material on the history of Galicia in the period immediately following this conquest, it is impossible to determine whether Martin's efforts against the pagan survivals among the people had met with success or failure. While in the following chapter on Visigothic Spain attention will be called to the continued existence of paganism among some of the people in Galicia, this does not prove that Martin's efforts were unavailing. Years of determined struggle on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities were necessary before these pagan survivals completely disappeared.

Notes for Chapter Four

1.Continuatio chronicorum hieronymianorum, ed. T. Mommsen, MGH, Auct. ant., XI, n. 42. For the history of the Sueves, cf. M. Schönfeld, "Suebi," Pauly-Wissowa, Band VII, 564-579; L. Schmidt, Geschichte der deutschen Stämme bis zum Ausgang der Völkerwanderung, II, 2 ed., 139-198.

2."Dupliciter in illa Hispanorum captivitate ostendere Deus voluit, quantum et odisset carnis libidinem et diligeret castitatem, cum et Wandalos ob solam maxime pudicitiam superponeret, et Hispanos ob solam vel maxime impudicitiam subjugaret." -- De gubernatione Dei, VII, 7. Ed. C. Halm, MGH, Auct. ant, tomus I.

3.lbid., V, 5.

4.For an account of the wars in Spain in the early part of the fifth century, cf. F. Lot, Les invasions germaniques, pp. 79-89.

5.For a study of the early Germanic religion, cf. E. Mogk, Germanische Religionsgeschichte und Mythologie, 3 ed ; J. de Vries, Alt germanische Religionsgeschichte: Band I, Die Religion der Südgermanen, Band II, Die Religion der Nordgermanen.

6."Rechila rex Suevorum gentilis moritur mense Augusto; cui mox filius suus catholicus Rechiarius succedit in regnum." -- Idacius, op. cit., n. 137. Cf. Isidore, Historia Sueborum, n. 87: "Recciarius, Reccilani filius, catholicus factus succedit in regnum." As is evident from this passage the chronicle of Isidore is based almost entirely upon that of Idacius, and Isidore's work has therefore no independent value.

7.Idacius, op. cit., 140, 199, 207.

8.". . .regnum destructum et finitum est Suevorum." - Op cit., n. 175.

9."Aiax natione Galata effectus apostata et senior Arrianus inter Suevos regis sui auxilio hostis catholicae fidei et divinae trinitatis emergit. a Gallicana Gothorum habitatione hoc pestiferum inimici hominis virus advectum." -- Ibid., n. 232.

10.Preface to the Chronicle.

11.An inscription found near Braga and dated 485 (523 of the Spanish era) during the reign of King Veremundu, who is called "serenissimus," refers to a chapel which Marispalla, probably a nun (Deo vota) of noble birth had built. Inscriptiones Hispaniae christianae, n. 135. F. Görres, "Kirche und Staat im spanischen Suevenreiche," Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, XXVI (1893), 558, argues that this Marispalla was probably a Catholic, since monasticism was a form of asceticism abhorrent to the Arians. L. Schmidt, op. cit., I, 225, claims that a slight change in one letter (an M for a D) would make a difference of 500 years, and would place the inscription in the year 985 (1023 of the Spanish era) when Bermudo II of Leon (982-999) was reigning. Schmidt also says that the word "serenissimus" was not a customary royal title in the fifth century. However, this form of address was used in addressing the eastern emperors of the fifth century. Cf. M. B. O'Brien, Titles of Address in Christian Latin Epistolography, pp. v, 139, 166.

12.See above, p. 72.

13. "Chararici cuiusdam regis Galliciae filius graviter aegrotabat, qui tale taedium incurrerat, ut solo spiritu palpitaret. Pater autem eius faetidae se illius Arrianae sectae una cum incolis loci subdiderat. Sed et regio illa plus solito, quam aliae provintiae, a lepra sordebat. Cumque rex videret, urgueri filium in extremis, dicit suis: "Martinus ille, quem in Galliis dicunt multis virtutibus effulgere, cuius, quaeso, religionis vir fuerit, enarrate?" Cui aiunt: "Catholicae fidei populum pastorali cura in corpore positus gubernavit, adserens, Filium cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu aequali substantia vel omnipotentia venerari; sed et nunc caeli sede locatus, assiduis beneficiis non cessat plebi propriae provideri." Qui ait: "Si haec vera sunt quae profertis, discurrant usque ad eius templum fideles amici, multa munera deportantes; et si obtenent mei infantuli medicinam, inquisita fide catholica, quae ille credidit credam." Pensato ergo auro argentoque ad filii sui pondus, transmisit ad venerabilem locum sepulchri. Quo perlati, oblatis muneribus, exorant ad beatum tumulum pro aegroto. Sed insedente adhuc in patris pectore sectam, non continuo integram recipere meruit medicinam. Reversi autem nuntii narraverunt regi, se multas virtutes ad beati tumulum vidisse, dicentes: "Cur non sanaverit filius tuus, ignoramus." At ille intellegens, non ante sanari posse filium, nisi aequalem cum Patre crederet Christum, in honorem beati Martini fabricavit miro opere eclesiam, expeditamque proclamat: "Si suscipere mereor viri iusti reliquias, quodcumque praedicaverint sacerdotes, credam." Et sic iterum suos dirigit maiori cum munere. Qui venientes ad beatum locum, reliquias postulabant. Cumque eis offerrentur ex consuetudine, dixerunt: "Non ita faciemus, sed nobis, quaesumus, licentia tribuatur ponendi quae exinde iterum adsumamus." Tunc partem pallii sirici pensatam super beatum sepulchrum posuerunt, dicentes: "Si invenimus gratiam coram expetito patrono, quae posuimus plus insequenti pensabunt, eruntque nobis in benedictionem posita, quaesita per fidem." Vigilata ergo una nocte, facto mane, quae posuerunt pensitabant. In quibus tanta beati viri infusa est gratia, ut tam diu elevarent in sublimi aeream libram, quantum habere poterat quo ascenderet momentana. Cumque elevate fuissent reliquiae cum magno triumpho, audierunt voces psallentium qui erant in civitate detrusi in carcere, et admirantes suavitatem sonus, interrogant custodes, quid hoc esset. Qui dixerunt: "Reliquiae domni Martini in Gallicia transmittuntur, et ideo sic psallitur. "Tunc illi flentes invocabant sanctum Martinum, ut eos sua visitatione liberaret. Externitisque custodibus et in fugam versis, disruptis obicibus retenaculorum, liber populus surgit a vinculo, et sic usque ad sancta pignora, populo expectante venerunt, osculando flentes beatas reliquias simulque et gratias beato Martino pro sui absolutione reddentes, quod eos dignatus fuerit sua pietate salvare. Tunc, obtentis per sacerdotem a iudice culpis, incolomes dimissi sunt. Quod videntes gestatores reliquiarum, gavisi sunt valde, dicentes: "Nunc cognovimus, quod dignatur beatus antistis nobis peccatoribus propitium se praebere." Et sic gratias agentes, navigio prospero, sequente patroni praesidio, undis lenibus, temperatis flatibus, velo pendulo, mare tranquillo, velociter ad portum Galliciae pervenerunt. . . . Quae pignora cum summa veneratione suscipientes, fidem miraculis firmant. Nam filius regis, amissa omni aegritudine, sanus properat ad occursum. . . . Rex unitatem Patris et Filii et Spiritus sancti confessus, cum omni domo sua crysmatus est. Squalor leprae a populo pellitur, et omnes infirmi salvantur, nec unquam ibi usque nunc super aliquem leprae morbus apparuit. Talemque ibi gratiam in adventu pignorum beati patroni Dominus tnibuit, ut virtutes, quae ibidem illa die factae sunt enarrari perlongum sit. Nam tantum in amore Christi nunc populus ille prumptus est, ut omnes martyrium libentissime susciperent, si tempus persecutionis adesset." -- De virtutibus Martini, I, 11.

14.The work, De virtutibus Martini, was certainly written before 587. Cf. H. Leclercq, "Gregoire de Tours," DACL, VII, ii, 1713.

15.In the De virtutibus Martini, IV, 7, Gregory again refers to the basilica in honor of St. Martin which was built by Charanich.

16.Gregory, Historia Francorum, V, 41, describes the embassy of the Suevian king, Miro, in 580, to the court of Guntram. The numbering of the Historia Francorum, followed in the present study, is that of W. Arndt and B. Krusch, MGH, Scrip. rer. Merov., tomus I.

17.These facts about Martin are mentioned by Gregory, Historia Francorum, V, 37, and idem, De virtutibus Martini, I, 11.

18.De virtutibus Martini, I, 11.

19."Pannoniis genitus, transcendens aequora vasta
Galleciae in gremium divinis nutibus actus
Confessor Martine, tua hac dicatur in aula
Antistes cultum instituit ritumque sacrorum
Teque patrone, sequens famulus Martinus eodem
Nomine, non merito in Christi pace requiesco." -- MGH, Auct. ant., VI, ii, p. 195. It is impossible to determine whether this epitaph is genuine or not. For a bibliography of Martin, cf. É. Amann, "Martin de Braga," Dict. de théol. cath., X, i, 203-207; C. Caspari, De correctione rusticorum, pp. XXII-XLIII; perhaps the most complete treatment is to be found in W. Hinnebusch, St. Martin of Braga -- the Apostle of the Sueves (an unprinted master's thesis in the library of the Catholic University of America).

20."Martinus . . . in tantum se litteris imbuit ut nulli secundus sub temporibus haberetur." -- Historia Francorum, V, 37. There is no complete edition of Martin's work. Cf. Schanz-Hosius-Krüger, "Martinus von Bracara," Geschichte der römischen Literatur, IV, 2, 623-627; O. Bardenhewer, Geschichte der altkirchlichen Literatur, V, 379-388.

21.Cf. Hinnebusch, op. cit., pp. 84-93, where the cursus of Martin is studied.

22.These letters no longer extant are mentioned by Isidore in his brief life of Martin, De viris illustribus, Migne, P. L., LXXXIII, 1100.

23.This sermon is edited separately by C. Caspari.

24.Venantii Fortunatii, Opera poetica, V, ii, MGH, Auct. ant., tomus IV, p. 104.

25."Qui [Theodomirus] confestim Arrianae impietatis errore destructo Suevos catholicae fidei reddidit innitente Martino monasterii Dumiensis episcopo fide et scientia claro." -- Historia Sueborum, n. 90. G. Villada, Historia eclesiástica de España, II, i, 33, and other writers identify Chararich, the ruler of Spain in 550, with the Theodomirus, mentioned by Isidore. However, it is more probable that Charanich and Theodomirus are two distinct persons; cf. P. Gams, Kirchengeschichte von Spanien, II, 457; E. Florez, España Sagrada, XV, 117-118.

26."Et quia opitulante Christi gratia, de unitate et rectitudine fidei in hac provincia nihil est dubium . . ." -- Mansi, IX, 837.

27."Postquam ergo haec suos clericos discusserint vel docuerint episcopi allo die convocata plebe ipsius ecclesiae doceant illos, ut errores fugiant idolorum vel diversa crimina, id est homicidium, adulterium, perjurium, falsum testimonium, et ut credant resurrectionem omnium hominum et diem judicii in qua unusquisque secundum sua opera recepturus est." Canon 1, Mansi, IX, 840.

28.The Capitula consist of eighty-four canons addressed to Nitigus, metropolitan of Lugo and the suffragan bishops under his jurisdiction. Martin's intention was to clarify by a new Latin translation some of the canons of the eastern church the text of which had been corrupted by "ignorant or drowsy scribes." These canons of Martin were embodied in the Hispana and were frequently quoted in the Middle Ages by Burchand of Worms, Gratian, etc.

29.Geschichte der Quellen und der Literatur des kanonischen Rechts bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters, I, 805.

30.Schanz-Hosius-Krüger, "Martinus von Bracara," Geschichte der römischen Literatur, IV, 2, 626.

31.The sermon of Martin was first edited by E. Florez, España Sagrada, XV, 127 ff. from a manuscript of Toledo in which the last two chapters are missing. His edition was based on a copy of this manuscript by Burriel. According to G. Antolin, Real bibliotheca del Escorial, I, 186, this manuscript of Toledo is probably in the library of the monastery of Escorial, and is listed as b. III, 14, fol. 41. The collection of manuscripts in which the sermon of Martin is found dates probably from the sixteenth century. On the margin of this sermon are written the words: "Extractus fuit ex libro liters gothicis conscripto in membranis qui nuncupatur decreta canonum praesulum Romanorum et aseruatur in eclesia ouetensi." A. Mai (Classicorum auctorum e Vaticanis codicibus editorum, III, 379 ff.) edited the sermon from a manuscript found in the Vatican library, Codex Reginiensis, 460, pp. 126-128. It was written about the end of the twelfth century. (I am indebted for this information about the number and date of the manuscript to my confrère, the Reverend Philip Hoffmann, C.SS.R.).

Caspari was able to use five other copies of the sermon. The only complete copy is found in the city library of Berne. This manuscript is listed by H. Hagen, Catalogus codicum Bernensium, p. 311, as number 289, f. 43b-51a. It dates from the ninth century. Two manuscripts of the sermon are found in the monastery of St. Gall. G. Scherer, Verzeichnis der Handschriften der Stiftsbibliothek von St. Gallen, lists these manuscripts as Codices Sangallenses, number 558, pp. 297-312, and number 579, pp. 197-216. The second is evidently a copy of the first. In these manuscripts of St. Gall, which date from the ninth or tenth century, only the first two chapters of the sermon are missing. A. Leyden manuscript, Codex Perizonii, XVIII, Q. 17, fols. 6b-8b, dating from the twelfth century contains only the last third of the sermon (chapters 15-19). According to the Catalogue général des manuscripts des départements, I, 315, a copy of the sermon is found in ms. 40 of the library of the School of Medicine at the University of Montpellier. The manuscript dates from the eleventh century and gives a free paraphrase of the sermon.

Codex Reginiensis is the best preserved of all the manuscripts and in textual criticism must be placed first for the part that it contains (chapters 1-12). The manuscripts of Toledo and Berne seem to be rather closely related. In spite of serious mistakes in them they represent a better tradition than that of the manuscripts of St Gall, where the text is handled with considerable freedom. The manuscripts of Leyden and Montpellier are of little value in textual criticism, since they are free paraphrases rather than copies of the original.

32."Epistolam tuae sanctae caritatis accepi, in qua scripsisti ad me ut pro castigatione rusticorum . . . aliqua de origine idolorum et sceleribus ipsorum. . . ad te scripta dirigerem." -- Chapter 1.

33.These pagan practices are mentioned by Eligius in a sermon edited in the MGH, Scriptores rerum Merovingicarum, IV, 705.

34.There is a critical edition of this sermon by G. Jecker, Die Heimat des heiligen Pirminius des Apostels der Alemannen, Beiträge zur Geschichte des alten Mönchtums und des Benediktinerordens, Heft XIII, pp. 34-73.

35.Ibid., pp. 87, 88.

36.De correctione rusticorum, pp. XCV-CXIII. Caspari gives a translation in German of the homily. There is no English translation of this homily in the publications of the Early English Texts Society.

37.". . .cibum rusticis rustico sermone condire." - Chapter 1.

38.J. Zwicker, Fontes historiae religionis celticae, has compiled the Greek and Latin sources on the history of the Celtic religion, but he has overlooked entirely this sermon of Martin. He refers to the superstitious practices found in the sermons of St. Eligius and St. Pirminius, which are evidently copied from the De correctione rusticorum.

39."Desideramus adnunciare . . . quae aut minime audistis aut audlita fortasse obliuioni dedistis." -- Chapter 2.

40."Ignorantes rustici," chapter 8; "Error ignorantibus et rusticis hominibus subrepit." -- Chapter 10.

41.There are practically no Christian inscriptions in Galicia for the fourth and fifth centuries; cf. the excellent maps at the end of E. Smit's volume, De oud christelyke monumenten van Spanje, which show the places in Spain where the Christian inscriptions are found.

42."Ignari homines qui in ipsa extremitate mundi et in ultimis hujus provinciae regionibus constituti aut exiguam aut pene nullam rectae eruditionis notitiam contigerunt." - Mansi, IX, 773.

43.It is evident that at this time in Galicia the bishop alone was entrusted with the duty of preaching, while the priests prepared and instructed the neophytes for baptism. Caesarius of Aries at the council of Vaison (529) (cf. canon 2) ordered the priests to preach in the country districts. Perhaps Martin of Braga felt that the clergy of Galicia were incapable of the duty of preaching, for the ignorance of the priests was often mentioned at the first council of Braga (561).

44."Et ideo quoscumque tales [superstitiosos homines] esse cognoveritis, durissime castigate . . . ut vel plagam corporis timeant, qui de animae suae salute non cogitant." -- Sermon 13, Morin, pp. 66, 67.

45."Fides nequaquam vi extorquetur, sed ratione atque exemplis suadetur." -- Liber Sententiarum, II, 24. Migne, P. L, LXXXIII, 601.

46.Die altgermanische Religion in der amtlichen kirchlichen Literatur des Abendiandes vom 5 bis 11 Jahrhundert, p. 4.

47."Longe vero positis in Francia, in Gallias, atque in Italia, in Hispania, diversisque provinciis constitutis [Caesarius] transmisit per sacerdotes quod in ecclesiis praedicare facerent." -- Vita Caesarii, ed. B. Krusch, MGH, Scrip. rer. Merov., III, 480.

48.Superstitiones arelatenses a Caesario collectae, p. 20.

49.Op. cit., p. 40.

50.Chapters 3-5.

51.On the attitude of the early Church towards demonology, cf. L. Grandmaison, Jesus Christ, III, 268-273; E. Mangenot, "Démon," Dict. de théol. cath., IV, 32-409; F. Nau, "Démon," Dict. apol. de la foi cath, I, 926.

52.Cf. Isidore, Etymologiae, VIII, 11, 17: "Ante transgressionem quidem [daemones] coelestia corpora gerebant. Lapsi vero in aeream qualitatem conversi sunt, nec aeris illius puriora spatia, sed ista cailiginosa tenere permissi sunt, qui eis quasi carcer est . . ."

53.De civitate Dei, XXI, 1.

54.Chapters 6, 7.

55.Cf. Tertullian, Apologeticus, 10; Augustine, De civitate Dei, II, 10; VII, 33; Isidore, Etymologiae, VIII, 11, 1, G. Bareille, "Apologistes (les Pères) ," Dict. de théol. cath., I, 1580-1602; A. Michel, "Idolatrie," ibid., VII, 656-675.

56."For all the gods of the gentiles are devils," Psalm xcv. 5; "But the things which the heathens sacrifice they sacrifice to devils," I Corinthians x. 20.

57."Pro qua etiam causa, dum uidisset Deus, miseros homines ita a diabolo et angelis eius inludi, ut, obliuiscentes creatorem suum, pro Deo daemones adorarent, misit filium suum . . . ut illos ad cultum ueri Dei de diaboli errore reduceret." - Chapter 13.

58."Transactis autem XL diebus praecepit discipulis suis, ut . . . docerent illos, qui baptizati fuissent, recedere a malis operibus, id est ab idols, etc." - Chapter 13.

59."Ecce ergo considerate, quale pactum cum Deo fecistis in baptismo: Promisistis, uos abrenuntiare diabolo et angelis eius et omnibus operibus eius malis . . . Et quomodo aliqui ex uobis, qui abrenuntiauerunt diabolo et angelis eius et culturis eius et operibus eius malis, modo iterum ad culturas diaboli reuertuntur?" -- Chapters 15 and 16.

60."Quare mihi aut cuilibet recto Christiano non nocet augurium? Quia, ubi signum crucis praecesserit, nihil est signum diaboli." -- Chapter 16.

61.Chapter 14.

62."Die Ansicht von der Entstehung des Götzendienstes durch die gefallenen Engel oder die Dämonen durchzieht ... die ganze Predigt, beherrscht dieselbe, giebt ihr eine feste Haltung, und macht sie zu einem planvollen Ganzen." -- Op. cit., p. C.

63.The days of the week were called by the ancient Romans after the sun and the moon and the five planets known to them. Cf. F. Boll, "Hebdomas," Pauly-Wissowa, VII, ii. 2556-2558; H. Leclercq, "Las jours de la semaine," DACL, VII, ii, 2736-2745.

64."Iuppiter . . . fuerat magus et in tantis adulteriis inecstus, ut sororem suam haberet uxorem, quae dicta est Iuno, etc." -- Chapter 7.

65."Mercurius enim homo fuit miserabilis, avarus, crudelis, impius, etc."- Sermon 193, Morin, p. 744. Isidore in the Etymologiae, VIII, 11, stresses the human nature of the gods but he does not speak as harshly about them as Martin and Caesarius do.

66."Deus autem omnipotens, quando caelum et terram fecit, ipse tunc creauit lucem, quae per distinctionem operum Dei septies reuoluta est."-- Chapter 9.

67."Una ergo lux, quae prima in operibus Dei facta est, per distinctionem operum Dei septies reuoluta, septimana est appelata. Qualis ergo amentia est, ut homo baptizatus in fide Christi diem dominicum, in quo Christus resurrexit, non colat et dicat se diem Iouis colere et Mercurii et Ueneris et Saturni, qui nullum diem habent, sed fuerunt adulteri et magi et iniqui et male mortui in prouincia sua." -- Chapter 9.

68.Leite de Vasconcellos, Religiões da Lusitania, III, 569, n. 4. Cf. W. Meyer-Lübke, Romanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, s. v. feria.

69.Jupiter was sometimes identified with the Germanic god Thor, cf. J. de Vries, Die Religion der Südgermanen, pp. 175, 176. Perhaps the people of Galicia were honoring Thor under the Roman name of Jupiter.

70."Si enim infelices Iudaei tanta devotione celebrant sabbatum ut in eo nulla opera terrena exerceant, quanto magis Christiani in die dominica soli Deo vacare." -- Sermon 13, Morin, p. 68.

71."Opus seruile, id est agrum, pratum, uineam, uel si qua grauia sunt, non faciatis in die dominico praeter tantum quod ad necessitatem reficiendi corpusculi et pro excoquendo cibo et necessitate longinqui itineris. Et in locis proximis licet viam die dominico facere non tamen pro occasionibus malis, sad pro bonis, id est ad loca sancta ambulare, aut fratrem uel amicum uisitare, uel infirmum consolari, aut tribulanti consilium uel adiutorium pro bona causa portare." -- Chapter 18.

72."The Sunday Repose From Labor," Ephemerides theologicae levanienses, XII (1935), 312.

73."Alius deinde daemon Mercurium se appelare voluit . . . ; cui homines cupidi quasi Deo lucri, in quadriuiis transeuntes, iactatis lapidibus aceruos petrarum pro sacrificio reddunt." -- Chapter 7. Mercury was often identiñed with the Germanic god Wodan. Cf. De Vries, op. cit., pp. 166, 167; K. Steuding, "Mercurius," Roscher, Lexikon, II, 2830.

74.J. MacCulloch, "Crossroads," Hasting's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, IV, 330-335.

75.Cf. J. Keune, "Lares," Roscher, Lexikon, II, 279; see above, p. 8.

76."Et in mari quidem Neptunum appellant, in fluminibus Lamias, in fontibus Nymphas, in siluis Dianas, quae omnia maligni daemones et spiritus nequam sunt . . ." - Chapter 8. Caspari thought that Martin had misunderstood the function of the Lamiae in describing them as water-deities. But these goddesses were often regarded as such, cf. J. Stoll, "Lamia," Roseher, Lexikon, II. 1821.

77.Acta Sanctorum, Aug. IV, 496.

78.Hist. Franc., VIII, I5.

79.Los dioses de la vida, pp. 116-119. Cf. Meyer-Lübke, op. cit., s v. Diana, where this etymology is examined and confirmed.

80.See above, p. 47.

81." 'Diuisit Deus inter lucem at tenebras'; omnis autem recta diuisio aequalitatem habet, sicut et in VIII kal. Aprilis tantum spatium horarum dies habet, quantum et nox. Et ideo falsum est, ut Ianuariae Kalendae initium anni sit." -- Chapter 10. In his work, De trina mersione (Florez, España Sagrada, XV, 415 ff), Martin cites the text of Genesis i. 11, "Germinet terra omne foenum at omne pabulum et omne viride ligni. etc.," as a proof that the Spring is the beginning of the year, for he says: "In quo germinare omnia videmus atque ita in eo esse principium mundi non dubitamus. Sed cum tres menses vernum tempus habeat, horum trium medius est, qui initium mundi dedit. Nec solum mensis medius, sed etiam dies mensium medii." He then proceeds to show how the eighth day before the kalends of April (March 25) is really the first day of the year.

82. "Iam quid de illo stultissimo errore cum dolore dicendum est, quia dies tinearum et murium obseruant, et, si dici fas est, ut homo christianus pro deo mures et tineas ueneretur? Quibus si per tutelam cupellae aut arculae non subducatur aut panis aut pannus, nullo modo, proferri sibi exhibits, quod inuenerint, parcent." -- Chapter 11. Such is, I believe, the correct rendering of Martin's words, based on the manuscript of Toledo. Caspari has not followed the manuscript of Toledo in this instance, but has made a selection from the different manuscripts. His text is as follows: "Quibus si per tutelam cupellae aut arculae non subducantur, aut panis aut pannus, nullo modo, proferendo sibi exhibitis, quod inuenerint, parcent." -- De correctione rusticorum, p. 15 (the italics denote the differences between my text and that of Caspari). The verb subducatur in the manuscript of Toledo is given as subducantur in the manuscripts of Berne, St. Gall and the Codex Reginiensis The change from the singular to the plural form was evidently made by the copyists to agree with what appeared to them to be the nominative plural immediately preceding -- cupellae aut arculae. The manuscript of Toledo offers the more difficult reading and hence is to be preferred. The gerundive form proferendo which Caspari uses cannot be justified, for all the manuscripts have the passive infinitive proferri.

In the text I have taken panis aut pannus as subject of subducatur, cupellae aut arculae not as nominative plural but as genitive singlar dependent upon tutela, the expression non parcent as meaning "will not forbear," and proferri in the sense of "to march against" or "to attack."

The Toledo manuscript offers, therefore, an intelligible explanation of Martin's words. The saint wished to make the people realize the absurdity of the practice of honoring the mice and moths by pointing out to them the self-evident fact that these animals do not hesitate to consume whatever is not protected from them by a box or cask.

83.On the Roman festival of the Paganalia, cf. J. Marquardt, Römische Staatsverwaltung, III, 193; W. Fowler, Roman Religious Festivals, pp. 294, 295.

84.III, 4, 18.

85.Las costumbres asturianas, p. 85.

86."Sine causa autem miser homo sibi istas praefigurationes ipse facit, ut, quasi sicut in introitu anni satur eat et laetus ex omnibus, ita illi et in toto anno contingat." - Chapter 11.

87."Aliqui etiam rustici mensulas in ista nocte quae praeteriit, plenas multis rebus, quae ad manducandum sunt necessariae, conponentes tota nocte sic conpositas esse volunt, credentes quod hoc illis Kalendae Ianuariae praestare possint, ut per totum annum convivia illorum, in tali abundantia perseverent." -- Sermon 192, Morin, p. 740.

88.Cf. P. de Labriolle, "Lea infiltrations paiennes dans le christianisme." Fliche et Martin, Histoire de l'église, IV, 590.

89."Mensas ornare," -- Chapter 16. The table in ancient Roman times played an important part in the religious life of the family. Cf. G. Kruse, "Mensa," Pauly-Wissowa, XV, 945-948.

90."Kalendas obseruare . . . quid est aliud nisi cultura diaboli?" -- Chapter 16. As most of the pagan practices in the sermon are mentioned in Chapter16, the greater part of this chapter will be quoted here in order that the reader may have a better understanding of the pagan practices that follow. "Nam ad petras at ad arbores et ad fontes et per triuia cereolos incendere, quid est aliud, nisi cultura diaboli? Diuinationem et auguria et dies idolorum obseruare, quid eat aliud, nisi cultura diaboli? Uulcanalia et Kalendas obseruare, mensas ornare, lauros ponere, pedem obseruare, effundere in foco super truncum frugem et uinum, et panem in fontem mittere, quid est aliud, nisi cultura diaboli? Mulieres in tela sua Mineruam nominare et Ueneris diem in nuptias obseruare et, quo die in uia exeatur, adtendere, quid est aliud, nisi cultura diaboli? Incantare herbas ad maleficia et inuocare nomina daemonum incantando quid est aliud, nisi cultura diaboli? Et alia multa, quae longum est dicere."

91.Cf. F.  Pfister, "Juno," Roscher, Lexikon, II, 585.

92."Obseruare Uulcanalia," Chapter 16.

93.W. Fowler, The Religious Experience of the Roman People, p. 101; G. Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer, pp. 229-232.

94."Mulieres . . . Ueneris diem in nuptias obseruare et, quo die in uia exeatur, adtendere, quid est aliud, nisi cultura diaboli?" -- Chapter 16.

95."Non liceat Christianis tenere traditiones gentilium et observare vel colere elementa aut lunae aut stellarum cursum aut inanem signorum fallaciam pro domo facienda, vel ad segetes, vel arbores plantandas, vel coniugia socianda."-- Canon 72.

96."Dimisistis signum crucis, quod in baptismo accepistis, et alia diaboli signa per auicellas et sternutus et per alia multa adtenditis." -- Chapter 16.

97.Cf. Bouché-Leclercq, Histoire de Ia divination, I, 160-165.

98.De Vries, Religion der Südgermanen, p. 177. Cf. Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum, n. 13, "De auguriis vel avium vel equorum vel bovum stercora vel sternutationes." The "Indiculus" is a list of thirty superstitious practices which were condemned by the ecclesiastical authorities of Germany about the middle of the eighth century. As only the mention of the practices is extant, there is much dispute as to their meaning. They are edited by Boretius-Krause, MGH, Legum, sectio II. Capitularia regum Francorum. Tomus I, n. 108 (pp. 222, 223). For a discussion of the "Indiculus" cf. Hefele-Leclercq, Histoire des conciles, III, 836-844.

99."Non intellegitis aperta, quia mentiuntur uobis daemones in istis obseruationibus uestris, quas uane tenetis, et in auguriis, quae adtenditis, frequentius uos inludunt? . . . Non iussit Deus hominem futura cognoscere, sed ut, semper in timore illius uiuens, ab ipso gubernationem et auxilium vitae suae speret." -- Chapter 12.

100."Pedem obseruare." -- Chapter 16.

101."Pedum similitudines, quos per bivios ponunt, fieri vetate, at ubi inveneritis, igne cremate." -- MGH, Script. rer. Merov, IV, 707. Cf. Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum, n. 29: "De ligneis pedibus et manibus pagano ritu."

102."Fecisti quod quaedam mulieres facere solent, quae observant vastigia . . .Christianorum et tollunt de eorum vestigio at cespitem at illum observant et inde sperant sanitatem aut vitam auferre." -- Decretum, Liber XIX, Migne, P.L., CXL, 974.

103.Religiões da Lusitania, III, 571, n. 5.

104."Si quis paganorum consuetudinem sequens divinos et sortilegos in domo sua introduxerit, quasi ut malum foras mittant aut maleficia inveniant vel lustrationes paganorum faciant quinque annis poanitentiam agant." -- Capitula, Martini, n. 71. This canon was probably taken from canon 24 of the Council of Ancyra (314). On the ceremony of purification among the Romans, cf. G. Böhm, "Lustratio," Pauly-Wissowa, XIII, ii, 2032-2039.

105.Las costumbres asturianas, p. 12.

106."Lauros ponere," -- Chapter 16. Cf. Capitula, Martini, n. 73, "Non liceat iniquas observationes agere kalendarum . . . neque lauro aut viriditate arborum cingere domos."

107.Cf. J. Steier, "Lorbeer," Pauly-Wissowa, XIII, ii, 1431-1442.

108."Mulieres in tela sua Mineruam nominare." - Chapter 16.

109."Non liceat mulieribus Christians aliquam vanitatem in suis lanificiis observare, sed Dominum invocent adjutorem qui eis sapientiam texendi donavit." -- Capitula, Martini, n. 75.

110."Effundere in foco super truncum frugem et uinum" -- Chapter 16.

111.De correctione rusticorum, p. 32, n. 1.

112.G. Jecker, Die Heinust des heiligen Piriminius, Beiträge zur Geschichte des alten Mönchtums und des Benediktinerordens, XIII, 54.

113."Iuxta ripam ipsius fluminis stips erat magnus diversis imaginibus figuratus atque ibi in terram magna virtute immissus, qui nimio cultu more gentillium a rusticis colebatur." -- Mabillon, Acta SS., II, 84.

114.Fowler, Religious Experience of the Roman People, p. 172. Cf. Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum, n. 17 "De obsarvatione pagana in foco . ."

115."Non liceat in collectione herbarum quaa medicinales sunt aliquas observationes aut incantationes attendere, nisi tantum cum symbolo divino aut oratione dominica, ut tantum Deus creator omnium at dominus honoretur." -- Capitula, Martini, n. 74. On the use of incantation in magic, cf. J. Pfaff, "Incantatio," Pauly-Wissowa, IX, 1241-1244; R. Taubenschlag, "Maleficium," Pauly-Wissowa, XIV, 870-875.

116."Incantare herbas ad malaficia at inuocare nomina daemonis incantando." -- Chapter 16.

117."Non liceat clericis incantatores esse et ligaturas facare, quod est colligatio animarum. Si quis haec facit, de Ecclesia projiciatur." -- Capitula, Martini, n. 59.

118.See above, pp. 8, 9.

119."Nam ad petras et ad arbores et ad fontes at per triuia cereolos incendere, quid est aliud, nisi cultura diaboli ?" -- Chapter 16.

120."Panem in fontem mittere." -- Chapter 16.

121.J. Frazer, The Golden Bough, I. 159-161.

122.Los dioses de la vida, p. 51.

123.See above, p. 7.

124.Cabal, loc cit.

125.On the cult of trees among the ancient Rornans and Germans, cf. W. Fowler, The Roman Festivals, pp. 228, 229, and J. de Vries, Die Religion der Südgermanen, pp. 189, 190.

126.Vita Martini, CSEL, I, 122.

127.Pliny, Naturalis historia, XVI, 249.

128.Tacitus, Germania, Chapter 10.

129."Et ideo quicumque in agro suo, aut in villa, aut juxta villam aliquas arbores, aut aras, aut quaelibat vana habuerit, ubi miseri homines solent aliqua vota raddere; si eas non destruxerit atque succiderit, in illis sacrilegiis, quae ibi facta fuerint, sine dubio particeps erit." -- Sermon 54, Morin, p. 229.

130.".. . fontes vel arbores quos sacrivos vocant, succidite." -- Vita Eligii, MGH. Scrip. rer. Merov., IV, p. 707.

131."Non liceat christians prandia ad defunctorum sepulchra deferre et sacrificia reddere mortuorum Deo." -- Capitula, n. 69. See above, pp. 35, 36.

132.Cf. H. Leclercq, "Agape," DACL, I, i. 818-820.

133."De sacrilegio ad sepulchra defunetorum"; "De sacrilegio super defunctos id est dadsisas"; Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum, numbers 1 and 2. The meaning of dadsisas is not quite clear. According to Hefele-Leclercq, Histoire des conciles, III, 837, it meant a funeral banquet, while J. de Vries, op cit., p. 276, says it signified a funeral dirge.

134."Quia tanta mala feci post baptismum, fortasse non mihi indulget Dominus peccata mea." -- Chapter 17.

135."Noli dubitare de misericordia Dei. . . . Paenitentiam ergo peccatoris Deus expectat. Paenitantia autem ista uera est, ut iam amplius homo non faciat mala, quae fecit, sed de praeteritis peccatis indulgentiam petat, et de futuro caueat, ne ad ipsa iterum reuoluatur . . ." -- Chapter 17.

136."Ecce nos, sub testimonio Dei et sanctorum angelorum, qui nos audiunt, modo loquentas, persoluimus caritati uestrae debitum nostrum, et pecuniam Domini, sicut praecaptum habemus, fenerauimus uobis. Uestrum est amodo cogitare et procurare, quomodo unusquisque, quantum accepit, uenienti domino cum usuris in die iudicii repraesentet." -- Chapter 19.

137.M. James, "Learning and Literature till the Death of Bede," Cambridge Medieval History, III, 490.

138."Leovigildus rex Gallaecias vastat, Audecanam regem comprehensum regno privat, Suevorum gentem, thesaurum at patriam in suam redigit potestatem et Gothorum provinciam facit." -- Johannis abbatis biclarensis, chronica anno 585, ed. T. Mommsen, MGH, Auct. ant., tomus XI, p. 2l7.