Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 4

(This saint we shall meet with again, and in person, on November 11.)

As a general proposition, it surely is most pious and most reverential to leave the dead at rest in their graves.
   Often, moreover, as in the case of this St. Martin, holy men have loved and observed an ascetic retirement which seems doubly indisposed towards posthumous translation.
   Had this well-meant rite been more charily practised, such reticence might at least in some measure have checked that scandalous multiplicity of relics, which has assigned duplicate heads and an overplus of members to the same Saint in the face of abashed Christendom.
   Not but what some exhumations for honorable enshrinement may have been praiseworthy: among which let us hope this of St. Martin ranks. Indeed, as a case more or less in point and "written for our learning," we read in Genesis how "Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence:" which oath being observed, the Patriarch's remains were transported out of Egypt into the Holy Land of Promise. But as bearing on ourselves and on our own practice, surely all Christendom is "holy ground."
   Now if I have betrayed prejudice, I beg my reader's pardon. Meanwhile I well remember how one no longer present with us, but to whom I cease not to look up, shrank from entering the Mummy Room at the British Museam under a vivid realization of how the general resurrection might occur even as one stood among those solemn corpses turned into a sight for sight-seers.
   And at the great and awful day, what will be thought of supposititious heads and members?

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