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When the Church was yet in her infancy, lepers began to share in the beneficent spirit of Christianity. At a very - early age, pious confraternities were organized for the care of lepers. The Council of Orleans, in 549, and that of Lyons, in 583, prescribe to the Church authorities the duty of clothing and supporting lepers. The ravages of leprosy were most fearful in the eleventh and the twelfth centuries, having been spread by the Christian troops on their return from the East after the first Crusade. But works of charity kept pace with the disease, and leper hospitals were erected in great numbers over the continent of Europe.

Thanks to judicious sanitary laws, this terrible scourge is now well-nigh banished from civilized centres, though it still lingers on their confines. It prevails to a fearful extent in Molokai, one of the Sandwich Islands, whither the patients are consigned from the other islands of the group, and where from six to eight hundred are usually congregated.

In 1873, Father Damien, a young Belgian priest, volunteered to consecrate his life to the care of these lepers. After thirteen years of unremitting labor, he contracted the fatal malady to which he succumbed in 1889. His place was promptly supplied by Rev. Lambert Conrady who for several years had labored as a missionary priest in Oregon. A sacrifice more heroic than this can hardly be conceived;

1 Numerous victims of leprosy may also be found in India, China, Japan and Palestine,

for on entering this island, these apostles could apply to themselves the words of Dante: “You who enter here, leave hope behind.” Agathocles, king of Syracuse, lives in history because, when he carried the war into Africa, he burned his ships on reaching the coast of Carthage, that his army, having no means of escape, should determine to conquer or die. These soldiers of Christ, also, burned their ships, and voluntarily cut themselves off once for all from their kindred, their country, and the world.

Perhaps in the whole range of human wretchedness, there is no class of persons that should appeal more strongly to our sympathy than those whose reason is dethroned; since, possessing as they do an imbecile mind in a developed body, there are none so helpless as they.

History does not record that any nation outside of Christendom had institutions for the custody or care of the insane, or laws for their protection. But now every nation enlightened by the genius of Christianity regards special provision for the insane as a sacred duty; and in this humane work, the government is often aided by private corporations.

The Christian religion labors not only to assuage the physical and mental distempers of humanity, but also to reclaim the victims of moral disease.

The redemption of fallen women from a life of infamy, was never included in the scope of heathen philanthropy; and man's unregenerate nature is the same now as it was before the birth of Christ. He worships woman so long as she has charms to fas


cinate ; but she is spurned and trampled upon, as soon as she has ceased to please. It was reserved for Him who knew no sin to throw the mantle of protection over sinning woman. There is no page in the Gospel more touching than that which records our Saviour's merciful judgment on the adulterous woman.

The Scribes and Pharisees, who had perhaps participated in her guilt, ask our Lord to pronounce sentence of death upon her in accordance with the Mosaic Law. “Hath no one condemned thee?" asked our Saviour. “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Then,” said He, “neither will I condemn thee. Go, sin no more."

Inspired by this divine example, the Catholic Church shelters erring females in Homes not inappropriately called Magdalen Asylums and Houses of the Good Shepherd. Not to speak of other Institutions established for the moral reformation of women, the Congregation of the Good Shepherd at Angers, founded in 1836, has charge to-day of one hundred and fifty Houses, in which upward of four thousand Sisters devote themselves to the care of over twenty thousand females, who had yielded to temptation, or were rescued from impending danger.

But there is no good work, how benevolent and disinterested soever, that escapes the shafts of adverse

, criticism. And Magdalen Asylums and Foundling Hospitals are no exceptions to the rule. They have been vehemently assailed by Lord Brougham in the Edinburgh Review, as well as by other writers, who assert that the very protection which these Institutions afford to fallen women, are an incentive to sin. A more unjust or uncharitable statement could hardly be made. We have life-saving stations scattered along the Atlantic coast. No one will have the hardihood to maintain that sea-captains, from the knowledge they have of these humane establishments and from the hope of being rescued by them, are less vigilant for the safety of their vessels.

It would be equally unreasonable to suppose that the consciousness of the existence of Magdalen Asylums influences females in making a wreck of their virtue. I am convinced that ninety-five per cent. of the unfortunate women who enter them, never heard of these institutions till after their fall, and that not one of them was in the slightest degree influenced by the hope of finding shelter for her lost innocence. People do not launch on the sea of vice with all the foresight and calculation they exhibit when embarking on a voyage. They usually plunge into the tumultuous waves of pleasure reckless of consequences. It is only after the moral wreck that their eyes are opened. Like Eve, they become sensible of their condition; and filled with shame, hasten eagerly to hide their guilt in the asylums which religion provides.




Christianity has conferred another signal blessing on society by lessening the number and frequency of wars. Prior to the advent of the Prince of Peace, war was the rule; peace, the exception. So regular was the recurrence of military strife before the Christian era, that the sacred writer designates a certain season of the year as the usual time for the reopening of hostilities; and seems to regard war as the habitual occupation of kings : “And it came to pass at the return of the year, at the time when kings go forth to war.” 1

The temple of Janus in Rome was opened in time of war, and closed in time of peace. From the accession of Tullus Hostilius, the second successor of Romulus, till the reign of Augustus Cæsar,

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* II. Kings XI.

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