only to gain time, and to avoid coming to any conclusion.' A long discussion, therefore, took place, and a new convention was entered into, the 6th of March, 1498."*

On the 7th of April, 1498, the Signoria, though not yet having received the Pope's answer to their communication on the subject of the ordeal, having determined on its taking place, made all the necessary preparations for carrying it into execution “ before the people.”

On the morning of that day, Fra Girolamo celebrated a solemn mass in San Marco, in the presence of a large congregation, and took the sacrament, along with many of those present. For three days previously, he and the community had prayed almost constantly, and fasted on bread and water. After celebrating mass, on the 7th of April, he ascended the pulpit, and preached a short sermon, calling on his hearers to remain stedfast in the faith. So far as it had been revealed to him, in the event of the ordeal taking place, he was assured the victory would be with them, and Fra Domenico would come out unhurt. But whether it was to take place at all or not, it was not revealed to him.

If he was asked what he thought, he would say, reasoning as a man might reason in such a matter, it was more probable that it would take place than not. He desired the community, when Fra Domenico entered the fire, they should pray incessantly till such time as he should come forth.

Having given his benediction to the congregation, he was on the point of leaving the pulpit, when a messenger arrived from the Signoria, and informed him he was commanded by them to appear at the trial by ordeal, as all things were ready for it. Fra Girolamo proceeded to the square, where the ordeal was to be gone through, accompanied by all his community in a procession, they being ready to enter the fire, if necessary, or to be present at the trial.

Last in that procession were Fra Domenico da Pescia, in the vesture of a priest, with a red cope, with a crucifix in his hand, walking solemnly between a deacon and a

* Burlamacchi, p. 561.

sub-deacon of the order : and Fra Girolamo, also with a cope, and a silver reliquary in his hand, with the most holy sacrament inclosed, walking between Fra Francisco Salviati and Fra Malatesta, followed by a vast concourse of people, men and women, having lighted tapers in their hands.

As they advanced, the chaunters of the community sung in a loud voice, “ Exurgat Deus et dissepentur inimici ejus;" and all the people responded in the same tone, repeating the first verse of the same Psalm. They advanced to the


of the Signoria, singing in a loud voice. At the extremities of all the principal streets there were a great number of guards, and all necessary precautions were taken to prevent any tumult taking place, or attempt on the life of Fra Girolamo. There were also great numbers of the friends of the father, to provide against danger, “not without his wishes and consent placed there, that he might not tempt God, despising human means of defence."* “For it was well known,” says Burlamacchi, “that the real intention was not to make any trial by ordeal, but to take the life of Fra Girolamo."

In the middle of the square there was a platform constructed, about four braccia from the ground, on which was placed a quantity of earth, in order that the platform might not be set on fire. On this there was a very long pile of wood, of a sort easily ignited. In this pile there was much pitch, there were many greasy substances and also gunpowder, polvere de bom. barde, in order that it might burn all the better. In the middle of the pile there was a passage, through which those could pass who made the experiment of the ordeal, when the wood was set on fire.

Fra Girolamo, and his community and followers, on their arrival in the Piazza, were assigned a part of the gallery prepared for the Signoria, with a partition in that portion of it separating the accommodations for the Franciscans from that allotted to the Dominicans. Each party had a small altar in the place prepared for them. When Savonarola entered that set apart for

Burlamacchi, p. 563.

the Dominicans, he deposited the reliquary, with the sacrament, immediately on the altar, and kneeling down, remained for a length of time in earnest prayer. Fra Domenico remained kneeling before the blessed sacrament. The Franciscans, on the other hand, kept walking about here and there in their lodge, passan

dosi tempo.

The Franciscan, Fra Giulano Rondinelli, the friar who was to have entered the fire, never made his appearance, from which we may imagine what kind of desire he had to make the trial. Neither did Fra Francisco de Pulia even show himself, although some said he was in the palace at the time.*

On the appearance of Fra Girolamo in the Piazza, the people were much affected, tears were abundantly shed, and sighs and groans poured forth, and it is said that even some of his adversaries were seen to weep.

During the preparations it began to rain very heavily, and this circumstance was looked on as a presage that it was not the will of God the trial should take place. The rain, however, did not last long.

The Franciscans during this time were not idle. They began to cavil with the mode of making the experiment. They objected to Fra Domenico entering the fire with his clothes, alleging that his garments might be enchanted, and thus secure the wearer against the fire.

When the unreasonableness of this objection was pointed out, they waived it in part, and consented that Fra Domenico should enter with a Franciscan friar, but without his habit.

This he refused to do, saying he was a Dominican, and would not abandon the habit of his order.

This discussion went on for a considerable time. At length Fra Girolamo said that this trifling was only to consume time and to weary out the people, and that the Franciscans knew well there was not time then to prepare other habits.

He then proposed that Fra Domenico should change his habits with any other member of the order present. And the com

* Burla macchi.

missaries of the Signoria thought the offer a very fair one, and eventually the Franciscans agreed to it.

When Fra Domenico was brought into the palace to change his habit, the Franciscans, who accompanied him, insisted that before putting on the other habit he should remove the whole of his apparel, in order that they might be assured he had no amulets or objects to procure enchantment on his person, which scandalous proposal was indignantly rejected.

On the return of the parties to the lodges, the commissaries stated the Franciscans had raised a new objection : they would not consent that Fra Domenico should enter the fire with the crucifix.

To which objection, he answered: “ This is not just, for we being soldiers of Christ, and combating for Christ, we wish to enter the fire with the symbol of Christianity.”

But his faith was so great, that he would have entered the fire without any symbol, or even the blessed sacrament, were it not that Fra Silvestro Maruffi had declared it had been revealed to him that the trial should not be made by the Dominicans without the sacrament.

The commissaries returned to the Signoria, and reported everything that had passed.

Some Franciscans, who were present, began to exclaim: “It was impossible to allow the sacrament to be borne by those who entered the fire."

In fact, it had been previously concerted, says Burlamacchi, between the Franciscans and the leaders of the lay adversaries of Fra Girolamo, at an entertainment given only three days previously at the Pitti palace, that the Franciscans should not make the trial at all, and all that was necessary was, that Fra Girolamo and his community should be brought to the Piazza, and that Fra Domenico should be induced to enter the fire alone, he being deemed by the faction the Fattoraccio, the author of the proposed trial.

It now became manifest that there was no serious intention on the part of the Franciscans to venture on the trial, but solely a

purpose to protract discussions about arrangements, and to tire the patience of the people.

The commissaries returned to the lodges, and one of them said to Fra Girolamo, “ The Franciscans are raising so many objections, that it is impossible to satisfy them. It may be truly said, that, on your part, there has been nothing wanting for carrying the experiment into execution. The failure has been on theirs."

It was now near the hour of vespers, and the Dominicans were still at their post, waiting for the Franciscans to enter on the trial, when the Signoria sent word to Fra Girolamo that they were about to depart. To which he replied, that “ he hoped the Signoria would not fly in the face of God.”

Another message of a similar kind was then brought to him, to which he replied, that it would not be possible for them to restrain the people.

The Signoria then sent a strong guard to protect them, and in the midst of this force the Dominicans were conducted to their convent through an enraged populace, disappointed at not enjoying a great spectacle.

On their arrival at San Marco, Fra Girolamo directed the vast concourse of people to enter the church, and there, after praying for some time, he ascended once more the pulpit, the fitting

rena in which God had destined him to triumph, and had endowed him with his most precious gifts for the true ordeal of his sacred cause, and from which, in an evil hour, the Athlete of Christ had allowed himself to be seduced and forced on another stage unworthy of his cause and the holy interests he had at heart.

He preached a short sermon to the people, exhorting them, with great energy, to prayer and to holiness of life, and making the scenes that had been witnessed that day so many arguments for preparation for another and a better life.

So far, I have followed the narrative of Burlamacchi as to the termination of this extraordinary scene; and when I have given likewise the account of the adversaries of the Dominicans from the report in Burchard's Diary, the reader will be able to form his own opinions on the subject of the means proposed for the set

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