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A Treatise on Relics   By: (1509-1564)

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A Treatise on Relics


John Calvin

Translated from the French Original

With An

Introductory Dissertation

On the Miraculous Images, as Well as Other Superstitions, of the Roman Catholic and Russo Greek Churches.

By the Late

Count Valerian Krasinski,

Author of "The Religious History of the Slavonic Nations," etc.

Second Edition.


Johnstone, Hunter & Co.



Preface. Preface To The Second Edition. Introductory Dissertation. Chapter I. Origin Of The Worship Of Relics And Images In The Christian Church. Chapter II. Compromise Of The Church With Paganism. Chapter III. Position Of The First Christian Emperors Towards Paganism, And Their Policy In This Respect. Chapter IV. Infection Of The Christian Church By Pagan Ideas And Practices During The Fourth And Fifth Centuries. Chapter V. Reaction Against The Worship Of Images And Other Superstitious Practices By The Iconoclast Emperors Of The East. Chapter VI. Origin And Development Of The Pious Legends, Or Lives Of Saints, During The Middle Ages. Chapter VII. Analysis Of The Pagan Rites And Practices Which Have Been Retained By The Roman Catholic As Well As The Græco Russian Church. Chapter VIII. Image Worship And Other Superstitious Practices Of The Graeco Russian Church. Calvin's Treatise On Relics, With Notes By The Translator. Postscript. List Of Works Published By Johnstone, Hunter, & Co., Edinburgh. Footnotes


The Treatise on Relics by the great Reformer of Geneva is not so generally known as it deserves, though at the time of its publication it enjoyed a considerable popularity.(1) The probable reason of this is: the absurdity of the relics described in the Treatise has since the Reformation gradually become so obvious, that their exhibitors make as little noise as possible about their miraculous wares, whose virtues are no longer believed except by the most ignorant part of the population of countries wherein the education of the inferior classes is neglected. And, indeed, not only Protestants, but many enlightened Roman Catholics believed that all the miracles of relics, images, and other superstitions with which Christianity were infected during the times of mediæval ignorance would be soon, by the progress of knowledge, consigned for ever to the oblivion of the dark ages, and only recorded in the history of the aberrations of the human mind, together with the superstitions of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Unfortunately these hopes have not been realised, and are still remaining amongst the pia desideria . The Roman Catholic reaction, which commenced about half a century ago by works of a philosophical nature, adapted to the wants of the most intellectual classes of society, has, emboldened by success, gradually assumed a more and more material tendency, and at length has begun to manifest itself by such results as the exhibition of the holy coat at Treves, which produced a great noise over all Germany,(2) the apparition of the Virgin at La Salette, the winking Madonna of Rimini, and, what is perhaps more important than all, the solemn installation of the relics of St Theodosia at Amiens; whilst works of a description similar to the Life of St Francis of Assisi, by M. Chavin de Malan, and the Lives of the English Saints, which I have mentioned on pp. 113 and 115 of my Introduction are produced by writers of considerable talent and learning. These are significant facts, and prove, at all events, that in spite of the progress of intellect and knowledge, which is the boast of our century, we seem to be fast returning to a state of things similar to the time when Calvin wrote his Treatise... Continue reading book >>

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