history, Spirituality

A Little Help with an Old Problem, Please

For the last, oh I don’t know, near a week, I’ve been bouncing between my normal, happy-and-slightly-pervy-Krissy-self, and Angry-and-plotting-vengeance-but-can’t-do-anything-about-it-so-maybe-just-gonna-cry-a little-Krissy. It’s complicated.

Have you ever felt mad like that? Mad over something you can do absolutely nothing about? Mine is pretty much the epitome of things it’s kinda silly to be mad over now, I suppose; a few hundred years too late, I’m pissed as hell over the Inquisition.

Okay, a little background here – I haven’t got enough space on this tiny little blog to describe the whole, shameful history of this thing. And I don’t honestly want to. I’ll probably just start crying again. Of course, I knew what the Inquisition was before this week; everyone’s heard of the Inquisition. But I didn’t KNOW. Does that make sense? But realizing by chance my knowledge of this area of history was pretty sketchy, and not just wanting to spout off little bits I’d gleaned from World History class in High School, or the made -for-tv version, I decided to do some research. 

While there’s many, many, MANY books, articles, treatises, etc. written on the Inquisition; some apologetic, some damning, some scholarly, some dismissive.

That’s the problem with history sometimes; ever heard the quote by L.P. Hartley, “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there”? Well, sometimes, when we hear about things in our distant past, no matter how awful they were, we tend to view them as if they happened in a strange, distant land to strange, distant semi-people, bearing almost no connection to present-us. It’s our way of coping, I guess. Time heals all wounds. But it means that every person in the modern era, myself included, no matter how well intentioned, is looking at the past most of the time as some disconnected semi-real thing. Not only that, but it has become fashionable it seems to point out facts like “The Inquisition never executed anyone”, and “most of these tales were fabricated by members of the Reformation.”

….Well, the first one is true. The Inquisition never technically executed anyone – the members of Mother Church cannot spill blood. Which is precisely way tortures like the rack and strappedo were so popular: they were bloodless. Once a confession was obtained, the victim was then handed over to local secular authorities for execution (along with a token plea for mercy which was never followed, because what if they came for your family next?). And the Protestant Reformation had little reason to make the Catholics look bad for killing “witches”. They executed almost as many themselves. 

These things are not pleasant to talk about, or even think about. It is much easier to dismiss it as “something everyone believed at the time”, or, as the case with apologists, “exaggerated”. 

But we can’t do that. We can’t at all. And it sucks. 

For one thing, as I said earlier, there is little reason to believe the numbers exaggerated- though I completely understand WANTING to believe they are. I am not a Christian myself, though I did grow up in a Christian household. And even I want to believe they’re exaggerated. But that seems unlikely. We forget it is a relatively recent thing for Christians of either Catholic OR Protestant background to think burning witches was a bad thing. Protestants were just as likely to do so, as mentioned above, and further, how would a Protestant (at the time) underdog gain access to records from the Vatican to falsify them? 

Further, this was NOT a simple case of what “that’s what everyone believed at the time”; many, many people spoke out or acted against these murders.

It’s just that these were often the first ones charged with heresy and silenced. Even churchman were not spared mercy here: when Franciscan Friar Bernard Delicieux dared express that St. Peter and St. Paul, if tried by the Inquisition’s cruel methods, would be found guilty of heresy; and even protected some accused heretics, he was promptly excommunicated, tortured, and burned alive. 

This site (warning – I have not perused the rest of this site, just this page. Some Christians may find it offensive, as it is very blunt) contains some of the basic details, along with sources, regarding the Inquisition. It is a much, much bigger deal than most people are aware, and directly affects lives today, sociologically I think, in many ways. But that’s just my opinion. Feel free, as with anything I write, to discard. And while some of it is historically imperfect (many doubt the Iron Maiden was ever actually used in torture, for example), the numbers, based directly off church sources, are accurate to my knowledge, based on research in books and on other sites.

But there is one thing I really, really want to ask, a favor sort of. You, the reader, are of course in no way obligated to do anything for me, but it isn’t for me. Or, if I’m being honest, I guess it kinda is.

…even if you don’t read the rest of the page I linked above, would you kindly still open it, and scroll to the bottom? There, there is a partial list of victims, many with names, of the Inquisition as well as several more recent witch-hunts. The partial list still numbers in the tens of thousands.

I know things are stressful right now, for many people. Especially my friends down in the states are going through a period of a lot of change. But we’re still alive. No matter what situation you are in, if you’re reading this, you are still alive. Not only that, but you are unlikely to be tortured and burned anytime soon. That doesn’t mean your, or my, problems aren’t serious. I don’t mean that at all.

But you likely have friends, or family, who, if they aren’t able to directly help, at least are wishing you well.

These people probably haven’t had anyone think of them at all since they were murdered, for ridiculous reasons, hundreds of years ago. In their own time they were demonized, tortured, killed, forgotten about, then in time even their killers were in some cases even became Popes themselves.

Two nights ago, I began to pray for the souls of these people, one by one, by name where possible. I made it through six, before my own sadness stopped me.

Six.

…maybe you think my favor earlier was to open the page I linked? It wasn’t. I hate to do this, to admit what I’m feeling but I can’t handle this alone. I know not everyone reading this will be religious, and that’s fine.

But could you please, just…pick a name? Any name off that long, long list and think for a moment “wow, it’s shitty that happened to you, sorry”? Not all of the people here were technically even executed for witchcraft if that helps those of you who are still tied to the Christian church; many suffered for the equally ridiculous crime of “heresy”: a catch-all term for anything the Vatican didn’t agree with at the time.

I know it happened a long time ago, and everyone has their own problems. And I’m going to slowly keep going through the list myself if only so I don’t feel so useless and sad now. And it would make me feel good…to know at least one other person is doing that too. So they’re not alone.

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2 thoughts on “A Little Help with an Old Problem, Please”

    1. HI Marcus! Sorry it took me so long to get back to you – no, I never remember hearing of the Inquisition at all in school. I’d heard the name of course, and knew they did awful things….just not HOW awful those things were. I wish it had been discussed in school, as I think it’s definitely one of those dark times from history that we could learn a lot from. Thank you for reading, and for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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