Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gregory of Tours: The Bad and the Ugly.

"After the death of Silvester, the people of Langres once again petitioned for a bishop, and they were given Pappolus, who had been Archdeacon of Autun. I have heard it said that his behavior in Langres was extremely bad, but I will not record his evil deeds, for I do not wish to appear to be a denigrator of my fellow churchmen." - History of the Franks, V.5

Christianity is having a rough start in France. The Franks were a Germanic tribe who had been illiterate, so I am wondering how much of the issue was simply ignorance regarding Christianity mixed with enthusiasm. My impression overall is that there were more bad bishops than good ones. At this point, almost all the bishops are appointed by popular acclaim, so perhaps the bad result is what caused them to gradually relinquish this authority to the pope. In any case, it is a matter of serious lamenting for both Gregory and us is that those who are to lead Christianity often prove to be such bad examples.

Another point has a sad conflict with the Jews triggered by a Jewish convert to Christianity:

"Born again in God through the sacrament of baptism, he walked in procession in a white gown, in company with the other newly-baptized people who were similarly robed in white. As the populace was processing through the city gate, one of the Jews, no doubt put up to this by the Devil, tipped some rancid oil on the head of this new convert. The people were so infuriated by this that they wanted to stone the offender, butt the Bishop would not let them do so. On the blessed day on whcih our Lord ascended in glory into heaven after the redemption of man, while psalms were being sung and the Bishop was processing from the cathedral to one of the local churches, the crowd following him attacked the Jewish synagogue, destroyed it down to its very foundations and leveled it to the ground." - The History of the Franks, V.11.

Eventually the Jewish population was given the choice of conversion or expulsion and reportedly chose conversion. It is something to wish would not have happened, yet enthusiasm that isn't backed by maturity can cause such behavior in a variety of contexts.


Max Coutinho said...

Hey Looney,

Very important and beautiful post!

It reminded me of the Massacre of 1506 (also known as the Lisbon Pogrom): in Portugal, hundreds of Jews were persecuted, raped, tortured and killed just because a New-Christian explained a phenomenon considered a miracle by the Catholic Church.

If you have a good translator, try reading this:

Christianity, like so many religions, has made its mistakes but what is important is learning from the past and evolve.

Have a great week!


Looney said...

Max, thanks for that. I will try to pursue the link. There is one more post that I will put on this subject to keep things in context.

Max Coutinho said...


You are most welcome.

Great, I would like you to let me know when the post is up, please *bowing*!

Looney said...

Max, I had a chance to check on that incident. What is surprising to me is that I tend to view Lisbon as a more multicultural place - due to being a seaport - but apparently it wasn't in 1506. Of course that was also when the Reformation was getting hot, so there were other things at work.

My link is here.

Max Coutinho said...


Indeed, Lisbon is a multiculture, today; although it still holds a latent grudge against Jews (even though it has been proven that at least 35% of the Portuguese men have Jewish study has been done on women so far...Don't know why).

Thanks for the link, I will read it right away :D.