“This, then, was the result—that the Church was found to be eternally right in every plane. In plane after plane she had been condemned. Pilate—the Law of Separate Nations—had found her guilty of sedition; Herod—the miracle-monger at one instant and the sceptic at the next—the Scientist, in fact—had declared her guilty of fraud; Caiaphas had condemned her in the name of National Religion. Or, again, she had been thought the enemy of Art by the Greek-spirited; the enemy of Law by the Latins; the enemy of Religion by the Hebraic Pharisee. She had borne her title written in Greek and Latin and Hebrew. She had been crucified, and taunted as she hung there; she had seemed to die; and, to and behold! when the Third Day dawned she was alive again for evermore. From every single point she had been justified and vindicated. Men had thought to invent a new religion, a new art, a new social order, a new philosophy; they had burrowed and explored and digged in every direction; and, at the end, when they had worked out their theories and found, as they thought, the reward of their labours, they found themselves looking once more into the serene, smiling face of Catholicism. She was risen from the dead once more, and was seen to be the Daughter of God, with Power.”
There was a moment’s silence.
“There, gentlemen,” said Mr. Manners, dropping back again into the quiet professor, “that, I think, in a few words, is the outline for which Monsignor asked. I hope I have not detained you too long.”
“It is the most extraordinary story I have ever heard,” said Monsignor Masterman ten minutes later, as he threw himself down in his chair upstairs, with Father Jervis sitting opposite.
“Certainly he puts it very well,” said the old priest, smiling. “I think every one was interested. It’s not often that we can hear such a clear analysis of events. Of course Manners has it all at his fingers’ ends. It’s his special subject, and——”
“But the amazing thing to me,” interrupted the other, “is that this isn’t just a dream or a prophecy, but a relation of facts. . . . Do you mean to tell me that the whole world is Christian?”
The priest looked at him doubtfully.
“Monsignor, surely your memory isn’t——”
Monsignor made an impatient gesture.
“Father,” he said, “it’s exactly as I told you before lunch. I’ll promise to tell you if my memory comes back. At present I remember practically nothing at all, except instinctively. All I know is that this story we have heard simply astounds me. I had a sort of idea that Christianity was ebbing from the world; that most thinking men had given up all belief in it; and now I find it’s exactly the other way. Please treat me as if I had stepped straight out of the beginning of the century. Just tell me the facts as if for the first time. Is it really true that practically the whole world is Christian?”