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to his friend Hortensius, after whose death he married her again. Augustus compelled the husband of Livia to abandon her, that she might become his own wife. Sempronius Sophus was divorced from his wife, because she went once to the public games without his knowledge. Paulus Æmilius dismissed his wife, the mother of Scipio, without any reason whatever. Pompey was divorced and remarried a number of times. Sylla repudiated his wife during her illness, when he had her conveyed to another house.

If moral censors, philosophers, and statesmen, such as Cato, Cicero and Augustus discarded their wives with so much levity, how lax must have been the marriage-bond among the humble members of society, with examples so pernicious constantly before their eyes !

Wives emulated husbands in the career of divorces. Martial speaks of a woman who had married her tenth husband. Juvenal refers to one who had had eight husbands in five years. St. Jerome declares that there dwelt in Rome a wife who had married her twenty-third husband, she being his twenty-first wife. “There is not a woman left,” says Seneca, “who is ashamed of being divorced, now that the most distinguished ladies count their years not by the consuls, but by their husbands."5


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1 Plutarch's Life of Sylla.
2 Epig. VI., 7.
3 Sat. VI., 30.

* Ep., 2.
5 De Benef III., 14.



The world is governed more by ideals than by ideas; it is influenced more by living, concrete models than by abstract principles of virtue.

The model held up to Christian women is not the Amazon, glorying in her martial deeds and prowess; it is not the Spartan woman, who made female perfection consist in the development of physical strength at the expense of feminine decorum and modesty ; it is not the goddess of impure love, like Venus, whose votaries regarded beauty of form and personal charms as the highest type of female excellence ; nor is it the goddess of imperious will, like Juno. No; the model held up to woman from the very dawn of Christianity is the peerless Mother of our Blessed Redeemer.

She is the pattern of virtue alike to maiden, wife, and mother. She exhibits the virginal modesty becoming the maid, the conjugal fidelity and loyalty of the spouse, and the untiring devotedness of the mother.


The Christian woman is everywhere confronted by her great model. Mary's portrait gazes down upon her from the wall. Her name is repeated in the pages of the book before her. Her eulogy is pronounced from the pulpit. Altars and temples are dedicated in her honor. Festivals are celebrated in her praise. In a word, the Virgin Mother is indelibly stamped on the intellect, the heart, the memory, and the imagination of the Christian daughter.

The influence of Mary, therefore, in the moral elevation of woman can hardly be overestimated. She is the perfect combination of all that is great, and good, and noble in Pagan womanhood, with no alloy of degradation.

Hers is exquisite beauty, but a beauty more of the soul than of the body; it delights without intoxicating. The contemplation of her excites no inward rebellion, as too often happens with Grecian models. She is the mother of fair love devoid of sickly sentimentality or sensuality.

In her we find force of will without pride or imperiousness. We find in her moral strength and heroism without the sacrifice of female grace and honor-a heroism of silent suffering rather than of noisy action. What Spartan mother ever displayed so much fortitude as Mary exhibited at the foot of the cross ?

It seems to me that some writers are disposed to lay undue stress on the amiable and tender qualities of Mary and of holy Christian women without dwelling sufficiently on the strong and robust points


of their character. The Holy Scripture in one place pronounces a lengthened eulogy on woman. What does the Holy Ghost especially admire in her? Not her sweet and amiable temper or her gentle disposition, though of course she possessed these qualities, for no woman is perfect without them. No; He admires her valor, courage, fortitude, and the sturdy virtue of self-reliance. He does not say: “Who shall find a gentle woman?” but rather : “Who shall find a valiant woman? As things brought from afar and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her.” It is only heroic virtues or virtues practised in an heroic degree that the Church canonizes.

the Church abounds in women immeasurably surpassing in sturdy virtue the highest types of Pagan female excellence. What woman of ancient Greece or Rome can exhibit evidences of moral strength so sublime as have been manifested in the lives of an Agnes, an Agatha, or a Cecilia, who suffered death rather than tarnish their souls ? of a Felicitas and a Symphorosa, who encouraged their sons to endure torments and death rather than renounce their faith, and who shared also in their glorious martyrdom? Pagan history furnishes no instance of motherly devotedness comparable to the strong and tender love of Monica, who traversed land and sea that she might restore her son to a life of virtue.

In every age

* Prov., XXXI.

She was

Every impartial student of history is forced to admit that woman is indebted to the Catholic religion for the elevated station she enjoys to-day in family and social life. We may

recall in what contempt woman was held by the leading minds of Greece. kept in perpetual bondage or unending tutelage; she was regarded as the slave and the instrument of man's passions, rather than his equal and companion, by nearly every nation of antiquity; and she is still so regarded in all countries where Christianity does not prevail.

The Catholic Church, following the maxims of the Gospel and of St. Paul, proclaims woman the peer of man in origin and destiny, in redemption by the blood of Christ, and in the participation of His spiritual gifts. “Ye are all,” says the Apostle, “the children of God by faith which is in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither servant nor freeman; there is neither male nor female.The meaning is that in the distribution of His gifts God makes no distinction of person or sex. He bestows them equally on bond and free, on male and female. And as woman's origin and destiny are the same as man's, so is her dignity equal to his. As both were redeemed by the same Lord and as both aspire to the same heavenly inheritance, so should they be regarded as of equal rank on earth; as they are


Gal. III., 26–28.

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