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Italian life. Every now and then the walls open and leave a little landing, with glimpses of purple mountains, of snowy distance, or of green depths of orchard and vineyard, kept ever fresh by the abundant streams of crystal water which are described by Italicus. There are dark archways, grimly overhung by massive vaulting, yet which seem quite illuminated by the stocks and valerians which fill their projecting cornices, and still more by the glorious costume of the people, whose blaze of colour catches and concentrates every flash of light as it falls. Now, we come upon the gateway of an old palazzo, built from the remains of temples, and with two huge Morgiana-pots filled with flowering oleanders, the last remaining of twelve Roman pots which were discovered, the rest having been broken up by the contadini, who believed them to be filled with treasure. Now, a pale olive hangs over a broad balustrade. Here, there is a ruined castle used as a bacon-shop, and beside it a palace with Venetian Gothic windows (the veritable "Casa Reale" in which S. Thomas was bom, and where a kitchen is shown in which he fought with demons), now let out in poor tenements. There, a grand old marble lion, with a ring, through his nose, stands in the piazza, amid a collection of Roman millstones and bases and capitals of columns. The winding street, with its pitilessly rugged pavement, is the place where all the business of life is carried on. The barber is shaving his patients in the street, the Friggitore is tossing up a frittura. One group of women is spinning, another is making lace. There are babies being rocked in baskets, and there are others—the "creatures "—being carried in baskets on their mothers' heads, taking the place of the grand painted vases with the twisted handles, so huge and heavy when filled with
.water, and which yet the women here poise so lightly. A boy is climbing up a wall to pick the golden oranges which are hanging over it; beneath, a flock of chickens are pecking at a sieve filled with almost more golden Indian maize; and through all this collection of life when we were there, the priest, in purple cassock and white pellerine, was moving from house to house, pronouncing his Easter benediction upon the furniture and cooking ^utensils, and followed by a man with a large basket to receive the dole of eggs, saffroncakes, and fenocchi, which he expected in return.
S. Thomas Aquinas was born in the old palace of Aquino, March 7, 1224, being the son of Count Landolfo and his wife Teresa Caracciolo. His grandfather married the sister of the Emperor Frederick I., and he was therefore greatnephew of that prince. It has been the custom to say he was born at Rocca-Secca, which however was never more than a mere "fortezza " of the Counts of Aquino, and never used by them as a residence, and all uncertainty has been cleared by the late discovery of a letter of the saint in the archives at Monte Cassino, saying that he was coming to seek the blessing of the Abbot Bernard before setting out upon a journey, and that he intended to visit his birthplace at Aquino on the way. Here the youngest sister of S. Thomas was killed by a flash of lightning while sleeping in the room with him and her nurse. At five years old S. Thomas was sent to school at Monte Cassino, but at twelve his masters declared themselves unable to teach him any more. On account of his stolid silence, he obtained the nickname of " the dumb ox," but his tutor Albertus Magnus, after some answers on difficult subjects, said—" We call him the dumb ox, but he will give such a bellow in learning as will astonish the whole world." At seventeen he received the habit of S. Domenico at Naples. His mother, the Countess Teodora, tried to prevent his taking the final vows, and he fled from her towards Paris. At Acquapendente he was intercepted by his brothers Landolfo and Rinaldo, who tore off his habit, and carried him to his father's castle of Rocca-Secca. Here his mother met him, and finding het entreaties vain, shut him up, and allowed him to see no one but his two sisters, whose exhortations she hoped would bend him to her will. On the contrary, he converted his sisters, and, after two years' imprisonment, one of thera let him down from a window, and he was received by some Dominicans, and pronounced the final vows.
Gradually S. Thomas Aquinas became the greatest theological teacher and writer of his time. When he refused a bishopric, the Pope made him always attend his person, and thus his lectures were chiefly given in the different towns of Papal residence — Rome, Viterbo, Orvieto, Fondi, and Perugia. Clement IV. tried hard to make him an archbishop, but he refused all preferment, and died at Fossanuova in 1274.
S. Thomas composed the office for the festival of Corpus Domini. His crowning work was the Summa Theologia., which may be called, "The Christian religion thrown into scientific form, and the orderly exposition of what man should be."
"The whole movement of the Summa Theologia is towards the Beatific Vision of God, which will be the occupation of man's eternity; and to tend towards it is the permanent duty and the one supreme interest of man on earth."—Roger Bede Vaughan.
But to ordinary readers S. Thomas is perhaps less known
LORETO AND PONTECORVO.
by his philosophy than by his hymns, of which the most celebrated are " O Sacrum Convivium," " Pange Lingua," "Tantum Ergo," " O Salutaris," and " Lauda Sion." His character is well summed up in an inscription beneath an old portrait of the saint in a church at Naples:
"O sapientiae coelestis optatissimum auspicium!
'C'est surtout depuis sa mort, que Dieu a glorifié Saint Thomas, et
qu'il l'a rendu un docteur universel Vous dirai-je que l'oracle
du monde chrétien, Rome même a vu souvent ses pontifes descendre du tribunal sacré, et y faire monter les écrits de notre saint pour prononcer sur les différends qui troubloient l'Eglise; que les conciles eux-mêmes, ces juges vénérables da la doctrine, ont formé leurs décrets eur ses décisions; que les partisans de l'erreur n'ont jamais eu de plus redoutable ennemi, et que comme les Philistins, ils ont désesperé de pouvoir exterminer l'armée de Dieu vivant, tandis que cette arche résiderait au milieu d'elle: Toile Thomam, et dissipabo Ecelesiam Dei."—Massillon, Sermons.
Not far from Aquino is the mountain castle of Lorcto, which belonged to the parents of S. Thomas. It was while they were staying here, th^ he, a boy, stole all the contents of the family larder to distribute to the poor. His father intercepted him and sternly commanded him to give up what his cloak contained—when a shower of roses is said to have fallen from it upon the ground.
Three miles beyond Aquino, the road which passes under the Arco S. Lorenzo leads to Pontecorvo, which was once an independent state like Monaco, a sort of "little kingdom of its own. In the middle ages it belonged alternately to the
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great family of Tomacelli, and to the Abbey of Monte Cassino. Napoleon gave it as a Duchy to Bernadotte.
Pontecorvo has a beautiful position on a plateau backed by soft swelling hills. It is approached by a triumphal arch surmounted by a figure of Pius IX. in the act of benediction. Some of the ancient walls remain. The streets are uninteresting. At the end of the town, overhanging the bridge over the Garigliano, is the Cathedral, standing on the substructions of an ancient temple and approached by a wide flight of steps. The magnificence of the costumes here, especially the scarlet draperies which are let down behind, make a blaze of colour during the church services.