On leaving, the knight was disgusted to find that the whole head had not been taken, and, on the pretext that he had left his gauntlet behind, a companion regained admittance to the church, while the knight again kept the monk in charge in conversation at the door. Dalmatius went to the chest behind the altar where the relic had been kept, stole the remainder, went out, mounted his horse and rode away. The head was placed with pious joy in the chapel of his house. He returned, disguised, some days after to the church, in order, as he pretended, to do reverence to the relic—in order really to ascertain that he had taken the right head, for there had been two in the chest. He was informed that the head of St. Clement had been stolen. Then, being satisfied as to its authenticity, he took a vow that he would give the relic to the Church of Cluny in case he should arrive safely. He embarked. The devil, from jealousy, sent a hurricane, but the tears and prayers before the relic defeated him, and the knight arrived safely home. The monks of Cluny received the precious treasure with every demonstration of reverent joy, and in the fullest confidence that they had secured the perpetual intercession of St. Clement on behalf of themselves and those who did honor to his head. The relics most sought after were those which related to the events mentioned in the New Testament, especially to the infancy, life, and passion of Christ, and to the saints popular in the West.
In the years which followed the conquest Latin priests were sent to Constantinople from France, Flanders, and Italy, to take charge of the churches in the city. These priests appear to have been great hunters after relics. Thus it came to pass that there was scarcely an important church or monastery in most Western countries which did not possess some share of the spoil which came from Constantinople.
For some years the demand for relics seemed to be insatiable, and caused fresh supplies to be forthcoming to an almost unlimited extent. The new relics, equally with the old, were certified in due form to be what they professed to be. Documents, duly attested and full of detailed evidence—sometimes, doubtless, manufactured for the occasion—easily satisfied those to whom it was of importance to possess certified relics, and throughout the West the demand for relics which might bring profit to their possessors continued to increase. At length the Church deemed it necessary to put a stop to the supply, and especially to that of the apocryphal and legendary acts which testified to their authenticity, and in 1215 the fourth Lateran council judged it necessary to make a decree enjoining the bishops to take means to prevent pilgrims from being deceived.
ITS FOUNDATION AND FALL
W.J. BRODRIBB AND SIR WALTER BESANT