Tag Archives: speaking in tongues

Speaking in tongues Quiz 2

Gift of Tonques Quiz 2

Start

Congratulations - you have completed Gift of Tonques Quiz 2.

You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%.

Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%


Your answers are highlighted below.
Return
Shaded items are complete.
12345
678910
11121314End
Return

If you want to try the original test, here it is too:

Gift of Tongues Quiz 1

Start

Congratulations - you have completed Gift of Tongues Quiz 1.

You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%.

Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%


Your answers are highlighted below.
Return
Shaded items are complete.
12345
678910
1112131415
16End
Return

Three Welsh men speaking in tongues

The story of three sixth-century Welsh Christian Saints and their encounter with the gift of tongues.

St. David, Padarn, and Teilo are important figures in the history of Wales. Who exactly were they and how do they fit in the history of tongues speaking? It is necessary to narrate the lives of these revered Welsh icons before the coverage of speaking in tongues can begin.

The legends behind these people are interesting, especially that there is a connection between two of them and the legendary King Arthur.

The life of St. David has the most coverage and the most controversial. The Encyclopedia of World Biography describes his biography in this way:

Most information about Saint David comes from the writings of an eleventh-century monk named Rhygyfarch (also Rhygyvarch, Rhigyfarch, and Ricemarch), son of Bishop Sulien, of Saint David’s Cathedral, Saint David’s favorite of the churches he established. Rhygyfarch claimed to have gathered his information from old written sources, but those have not survived. Rhygyfarch’s life of Saint David is regarded by many scholars as suspect because it contains many implausible events and because he had a stake in enhancing Saint David’s history so as to support the prestige of the Welsh church and its independence from Canterbury, the center of the English church (still Catholic at the time). According to David Hugh Farmer in The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Rhygyfarch’s history of Saint David “should be treated as propaganda, which may, however, contain some elements of true tradition.” (1)http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Saint_David.aspx

Teilo, often written by his Cornish name Eliud, was a bishop and founder of monasteries and Churches in south Wales. “Reputed to be a cousin, friend, and disciple of Saint David.”(2)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Teilo He is the patron Saint of fruit trees and horses and there are more than 25 Churches in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany dedicated to him. A great feat, but St. David still has more Churches honoured to him.(3)http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofWales/St-Teilo/

Padarn, was an early 6th century British Christian who is considered one of the seven founding saints of Brittany. Padarn is one of a small group that mention King Arthur independently of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae.(4)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Padarn

These three made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Shortly after leaving Britain, they discovered linguistic barriers between themselves and the countries they were journeying through. The solution was a divine one. St. David was “endowed with the gift of tongues, just as the apostolic company was, so that when they were staying among foreign peoples they should not lack an interpreter, . . .”

There are different versions of the account that are not in complete agreement. Rhygyfarch’s text, which contains the above quote, is the most popular. His original work was written in the eleventh-century but there are so many variations of his text today, it is unclear which one is the original. The version used here is from Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David. Ed. and transl. Richard Sharpe and John Reuben Davies. They have done the comparative manuscript work. The English translation and the Latin text provided at the end of this article is from their contribution.

Rhygyfarch supports the idea that St. David had the same gift as the Apostles had, but fails to describe the miracle. This requires a further look into another version. The Nova legenda Anglie, a biographical collection of English Saints started by John of Tynemouth in the fourteenth-century, provides some insight. “He [Teilo] began to expound the sacred Scriptures. And each one of those standing heard him speaking in his own language.” The Nova legenda Anglie is promoting the miracle of hearing rather than speaking.

However, the Nova legenda Anglie takes a twist in the narrative. It was Teilo who first spoke in tongues. St. David and Padarn followed later. This is different from Rhygyfarch who emphasised St. David over Teilo and Padarn. This explanation may be connected to a rivalry between the Church organisations led by St. David and Teilo where each one later wanted to position themselves as a superior order. The demonstration of miracles, including the gifting of tongues, was to demonstrate their exclusive superiority. This is not the first time this has happened. This same competition was found between two religious orders in France; l’abbaye Saint-Clément and l’abbaye Saint-Arnould during the tenth and fourteenth centuries. L’abbaye Saint-Arnoud argued that their founder, St. Patiens of Metz, supernaturally spoke in tongues to support their claim as the more credible Church order.(5)see my article St. Patiens Speaking in Tongues.

The legends of St. David, Teilo, and Padarn speaking in tongues may be a later medieval interpretation and this is fine. Their story further reinforces how the medievalist biographers understood the Christian doctrine of tongues. They understood it as a divine infusion of either speaking or hearing a foreign human language. These texts demonstrate no connection to uttering incoherent words, speaking an angelic or prayer language.

Another text that closely parallels that of Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David is the one found in Acta Sanctorum. The text truncates a few lines when compared to Rhygyfarch. I wonder if the editors of Acta Sanctorum were concerned about the Rhygyfarch text being added and revised at a later date. Unfortunately, medieval textual criticism is not my forte and will have to leave that problem for a medievalist enthusiast to solve.

As per the goals of the Gift of Tongues Project three original texts in the Latin are provided. Two contain an English translation. The third does not have an English translation which is the Acta Sanctorum. This text is left only in the Latin because it closely parallels Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David. It is pointless to spend the time translating this text but may be of value to those Latin readers who like to see subtle shifts in textual transmission.

English translation of Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David.

§ 44. As his merits increased, so also did his rank and respect. For one night, an angel came to him, and said, “Tomorrow, put your shoes on and set out to travel to Jerusalem and make the journey you have longed for. I shall also call two others to be your companions on the way, namely Eliud” (who is now commonly called Teilo and was formerly a monk of this monastery), “and also Padarn” (whose life and miracles are contained in his own history). The holy father, wondering at the authority of the command, said, “How shall this be done? For those whom you promise to be my companions live three days’ distance or more away from us and from each other; therefore we cannot by any means meet tomorrow.” The angel said to him, “Tonight, I shall go to each of them, and they will come to the appointed place, which I shall now reveal.” Saint David made no delay, but having organized the useful things of his cell, he received the blessing of the brethren and began his journey early in the morning. He reached the appointed place, met the promised brethren there, and they went on their way together. They were equals as fellow travellers, no one considered himself to be above the other, each one of them was a servant, each one master. Constant in prayers, they watered the road with tears. The further their feet took them, the greater was their gain. They had one mind, one joy, and one sorrow.

§ 45. When they had sailed across the British sea and arrived in Gaul, they heard the strange languages of different nations, and father David was endowed with the gift of tongues, just as the apostolic company was, so that when they were staying among foreign peoples they should not lack an interpreter, and also that they should confirm the faith of others by the word of truth.(6)Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David. Ed. and transl. Richard Sharpe and John Reuben Davies. Boydell & Brewer. 2007. Pg. 139-140.

Latin source of Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David.

44 Crescentibus autem meritis, crescunt eta honorumb dignitates. Nam quadam nocte ad eum angelus affuit, cui inquit, ‘Crastina die precingens calciad te, Ierusalem usque pergeree proficiscens, optatam carpe uiam. Sed et alios duos comites itineris uocabo, Eliud, scilicet,’ qui nunc Teliau uulgo uocatur, qui quondam eius monasterio interfuit monachus, ‘necnon et Paternum,’ cuius conuersatio atque uirtutes in sua continentur hystoria. Sanctus autem pater, admirans imperii preceptum, dixit, ‘Quomodo hoc fiet, nam quos promittis comites trium uel eo amplius dierum spatio a nobis uel a semetipsis distant? Nequaquam ergo pariter crastina conueniemus die.’ Angelus ad eum nuntiat, ‘Ego hac nocte ad quemquam illorum uadam, et ad condictum, quod nuncf ostendo, conuenient.’ Sanctus autem [Dauid], nichil moratus, dispositis cellul” utilitatibus, accepta fratrum benedictione, primo mane iter incepit. Peruenit ad condictum, repperit ibi promissos fratres, pariter guiam intrant. Equalis commeatus, nullus enim mente alio prior, quique eorum minister, quique dominus, sedula oratio, lacrimis uiam rigant. Quo amplius pes incederet, merces excresceret, una illish anima, una leticia, unus dolor.

45 Cum autem trans mare Brittannicum uecti Gallias adirent ac alienigenas diuersarum gentium linguas audirent, linguarum gratia ceu apostolicus ille cętus ditatus est [pater Dauid], ut ne in extraneis degentes gentibus interprete egerent, et ut aliorum fidem ueritatis uerbo firmarent.(7)Rhygyfarch’s Life of St. David. Ed. and transl. Richard Sharpe and John Reuben Davies. Boydell & Brewer. 2007. Pg. 139-140.

An English translation from Nova Legenda Anglie 2:365-66.

However, in order to satisfy their desire and the people’s supplications, he [Teilo] began to expound the sacred Scriptures. And each one of those standing heard him speaking in his own language. Therefore, when all who had been moved by so great a pleasing speech and they heard him for such a long time, the more they desired to hear him. Lest one should appear to presume about the business regarding which he was going to speak, as if he was preaching on his own account, he said to the people: “Hear now the words of life from my brethren who are more perfect in life than me, and or more diligent in learning.” Therefore Saint David and Padarn arose and they preached to the people and everyone in their own language perfectly understood them.(8)translation is mine

The Latin source from Nova Legenda Anglie 2:365-66.

Vt tamen populo supplicanti et illorum voto satisfaceret, sacras scripturas exponere cepit: et unusquisque astantium illum sua lingua loquentem audiuit. Cumque omnes tanta dulcedine sermonis illius essent affecti, ut quanto eum diutius audirent, magis illum audire desidarent; ne predicandi officium videretur presumere si solus predicassset, populo dixit: ‘Audit iam a fratribus meis verba vite, qui me perfectiores in vita sunt, et diligentiores in doctrina.’ Surrexerunt ergo sanctus Dauid et Paternus, et predicauerunt populo, omnibusque in sua lingua perfect intelligentibus eos.”

Acta Sanctorum.

AASS Mar., I. 44-45. Pg. 45

Chapter IV

Quadam nocte Angelus S. Dewi apparens, ait : Crastina die cingens et calceans te, Jerusalem peregre proficiscens, optatam carpe viam. Sed et alios duos comites vocabo : Eliud scilicet, qui nunc Telion vulgo nonimatur, qui quondam ejus monasterio interfuit monachus, et Paternum, cujus virtutes in sua continentur historia. Sanctus autem Pater admirans imperii præceptum, dixit : Quomodo hoc fieret? Nam quos promittis socios, trium vel amplius dierum spatio a nobis vel a semetipsis distant : nequaquam ergo crastina conveniremus die. Cui Angelus : Ego hac nocte ad quemlibet illorum vadam : et ad condictum, quod tibi modo ostendo, convenient. Sanctus autem nihil moratus, dispositis cellulæ utilatibus, accepta Fratrum benedictione, primo mane incepit iter, pervenit ad condictum, reperit ibi præmissos Fratres, pariterque intrant viam : una illis anima, una lætitia, unus dolor. Cum autem trans mare Britannicum vecti, Gallias adirent, ac alienas diversarum gentium linguas audirent, linguarum gratia, sicut Apostolicus ille cœtus, ditatus est David Pater : ut ne in extraneis degentes gentibus, interprete egerent.

References   [ + ]

St. Norbert of Xanten Speaking in Tongues

Translation and analysis of St. Norbert of Xanten. A 12th-century Christian who is claimed to have spoken in tongues.

The medieval biography of the Saints called Acta Sanctorum only includes a brief reference to him and it is not clear whether it was a miraculous act. Perhaps it was a description of St. Norbert as a very charismatic and intelligent communicator. Great eloquence and showmanship can cross linguistic barriers even if the audience doesn’t understand the language being spoken.

Pope Benedict the 14th does not include St. Norbert in his historical examination of tongues in his 18th century treatise, De Servorum Dei Beatificatione et Beatorum Canonizatione. The Acta Sanctorum text suggests this as a miracle, but it is not a strong argument.

If the passage translated below is to be taken as a miraculous intervention, then this incident would be credited as a miracle of hearing.

St. Norbert name lives on as the founder of the Prémontré community – a Catholic organization that still exists throughout the world today. The official Prémontré website gives a brief biography as one who was very ascetic and sought for reforms within his original Xanten community but was rebuffed. He chose then, at the approval of the Pope, to become an itinerant preacher.(1)http://www.premontre.org/chapter/cat/people/perpetual-calendar-of-order-saints-and-blesseds/st-norbert-june-6/ He must have been a charismatic and passionate person because his preachings resulted in numerous monasteries, a substantial following and founder of a movement.

St. Norbert would have been relatively forgotten in the greater annals of history outside of the Prémontré community, but his narrative began a different discussion. His name resurfaced regarding which principle language was spoken in Belgium during the 12th-century. The debate brought in the miracle of tongues, not out of a theological enquiry, but collateral baggage in answering the above question. Fortunately, this discussion brought information on how the gift of tongues was applied and understood within the Church.

Xanten is a city situated in the north-east part of modern Germany. Valenciennes is a city found in northern France near the Belgium border. Valenciennes has traded territories throughout history. It was ceded to France under King Louis the XIV in the mid to late 1600s(2)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/County_of_Hainaut

The Valenciennes language of the 12th century was covered by Philip Mouskes in his 1836 work, Chronique rimée de Philippe Mouskes. This is a historical account of Belgium which included a brief description of city of Valenciennes through the lens of St. Norbert’s life. This is a French work with a good outline of St. Norbert. It is better to translate Mouskes, along with the Latin passage from Acta Sanctorum than to begin an entirely new exposition on the subject.

The following translation is from the Latin found in Acta Sanctorum. AASS, June I, 815 v. 24

When the three came to Valenciennes on Palm Sunday. On the next day then he gave a sermon to the people, clearly hardly knowing or understanding of this Romance language until now,(k) because he never learned it. But then he was without despair, so he began to address in his mother tongue. The Holy Spirit which had formerly taught the 120 people(3)Acts 1:15 different languages, then made the uncivilized of the German(4)Teutonic language and the difficulty of the eloquent Latin language suitable to be understood by the hearers. And therefore, through the grace of God, became acceptable to everyone that they compelled him to carry through to the end of the feast days and somewhat revive parts of the body. While to such an offer he did not wish to relax, in fact his face was of going to the Cologne Episcopate, on account of the people and language which he had familiarity with.

The footnote listed as (k) in Acta Sanctorum states “He understands the poor, the ignorant, unlearned, and the Rustic. It was the Romana language which is presently called Gallican or French.”

The Romana language was interpreted in the 1800s to mean a mixture of Latin and Celtic. Some writers preferred to use Rustic as the definition instead of Romana though the interchangeability between these two words is confusing. The Gallican language was styled after the Romana language.(5)The Southern Review. Vol. 5. February and May, 1830. Charleston: A.E. Miller. 1830. Pg. 376

As shown above, the text itself alludes to St. Norbert speaking in languages as the 120 did in the Book of Acts, but the example afterwards lacks strength. However, a Medieval theological portrait can be gleaned about speaking in tongues. When St. Norbert spoke in either German or Latin, the audience understood him speaking in their own Romana language. The author of Acta Sanctorum understood this was a miracle of hearing.

The following is translated from the book: Philip Mouskes. Chronique rimée de Philippe Mouskes. Vol. 1. Bruxelles: Le Baron De Reiffenberg. 1836. Pg. CXXVIff.

Note that the text was written in French but he sometimes left quotes in the original Latin, which are translated into English too.

“The life of saint Norbert, founder of the order of the Premonstratensians,(6) Prémontré – http://www.premontre.org/ is written by one of his contemporaries and gathered by the Bollandistes, gives us a subsequent and overabundant proof, that in 1119, the only common language in Valenciennes(7)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valenciennes and in Fosse,(8)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fosses-la-Ville near Namur, was the Romance language, and that the German language was entirely unknown by the people there.

Norbert was born in Xanten, in the land of Cleves. After his conversion, he embraced the austere missionary life. Having travelled in Germany, Italy and crossed a part of France, he arrived at Valenciennes with three companions, the eve of Palm Sunday, in 1119, with the intention of going to Cologne in order to preach there. Although he did not know how yet to speak the Romance language, which was the language of the land which he had not learned, the strength of his zeal gave him the determination to preach the following day in the presence of the people. He was so favourably received by the entire public that they vigorously solicited him to stay for the Easter celebrations at Valenciennes, and to rest there of his tiredness; to which he did not want to agree, (his intent was to go to the diocese of Cologne because he knew the language and the inhabitants), it happened through the dispensation of God, that his companions having been fallen upon with a sudden illness, that he could not then depart any further at that time.

[Translation from the Latin] When the three came to Valenciennes on Palm Sunday. On the next day then he gave a sermon to the people, clearly hardly knowing or understanding of this Romance language until now, because he never learned it. But then he was without despair, so he began to address in his mother tongue. The Holy Spirit which had formerly taught the 120 people(9)Acts 1:15 different languages, then made the uncivilized of the German(10)Teutonic language and the difficulty of the eloquent Latin language suitable to be understood by the hearers. And therefore, through the grace of God, became acceptable to everyone that they compelled him to carry through to the end of the feast days and somewhat revive parts of the body. While to such an offer he did not wish to relax, in fact, his face was of going to the Cologne Episcopate, on account of the people and language which he had familiarity with.[end of Latin and back to French]

This preaching probably consisted in a fervent elocution, of multiple gestures and expressions and these shouts, these vivid accents which rarely miss their effect on the multitude. It was a lively expressive gesture of some tonic phrases and where the enthusiasm of the actor connects with the spectators.

Norbert, despite his resistance, nevertheless had been forced to spend some time at Valenciennes because his associates had fallen sick and all three died in this city. Meanwhile, Burchard, Bishop of Cambrai, arrived there and Norbert, who had known him at the court of the emperor, thought that he ought to make a visit with him. He presented himself there under the most modest attire of a poor missionary who travelled by bare feet despite the hardship of the season.

The Bishop had a priest named Hugh for a chaplain, native of Fosse, near Namur, and who had been a student of the monastery of this city. Hugh showed Norbert into the mansion of the Bishop who had difficulty recognizing his old friend in a raiment so different than those which he formerly wore at the Court. But when he recognized him, he tenderly kissed him and showed him the most affectionate feelings. Hugh the priest, who was standing and present about their conversation, however, understood nothing from it because they were speaking in German, but astonished about the ways of the Bishop towards this singular character. He took the liberty to step forward near the Dignitary and asked him who this stranger was. Then the Bishop related to him the story of St. Norbert. Hugh was so touched by all this which he learned about this subject that, after a few days, he formed a resolution to follow the missionary and become his most faithful companion, the same one who many authors attribute the life of Saint Norbert and where they draw these details from.

[Translation from the Latin] In fact, while the previously mentioned cleric who introduced him stands and saw the affection of the Bishop towards the man, yet hardly understands at all their conversation because they are speaking in German, dared to venture closer and asked who then is this person? Immediately the Bishop says, etc.,(11)Mouskes took this from Pg. 816 of Acta Sanctorum. AASS, June I[end of Latin and back to French]

This account is a little long, but nothing of being boring. We have already documented the outcome that we claim to draw such out of.

Another point of interest that is yet longer, of where the result clearly is that at the City of Liége, the people did not speak German between each other. At the end of 1146 and what was the demarcation of languages the same as today – a state of affairs which might have been spontaneously realized and which the time had inevitably prepared.”

———-

For further info

References   [ + ]

St. Patiens Speaking in Tongues

The story of second-century St. Patiens going to the city of Metz in northeast France and speaking in tongues.

St. Patiens of Metz is a mysterious figure in the annals of ecclesiastical biographies. His existence is sure, but the details are sketchy. We do know he died around 157 AD,(1)https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_de_Metz and was the fourth bishop appointed to the city of Metz – a northeastern city in France that is a geographic intersection between many other European cultures and languages.

Where St. Patiens came from, it is not known. However, he was not originally from the Metz region, nor did he speak whatever language was spoken there. I hesitate to write that these people spoke French because the land of the Gauls (ancient France) did not have a unified language and some regions had no relationship to the French language at all. According to the Acta Sanctorum, the people of Metz spoke a barbaric language. The term barbaric is reserved for languages and peoples that are remote, isolated or hostile. French may have been included in the list of barbaric languages during this period, but this is not certain.

The following English translation is drawn from only one source, Acta Sanctorum . This book may be drawing from a fabricated myth relating to his name because of a fight between two religious orders. The religious orders, l’abbaye Saint-Clément and l’abbaye Saint-Arnould, had a strong competition between each other during the tenth and fourteenth centuries. L’abbaye Saint-Clément asserted their ministry was based on St. Clement of Metz, arguably the first-ever bishop of Metz.(2) This person had no association with Clement of Rome or by his other name Pope Saint Clement I Later mythology had Clement of Metz as a “vanquisher of a local dragon.”(3)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_of_Metz

The rival L’abbaye Saint-Arnoud countered with their version of St. Patiens. They argued that he was a follower of the Apostle John and met him on a trip to Asia minor.(4)https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patient_de_Metz They may have also supplied the myth that he supernaturally spoke in tongues to support their claim as the more credible church order. However, it is hard to validate any of these claims or to understand the actual dating of Clement of Metz or Patiens. There are many contradictions. There simply isn’t enough information to build a proper framework.

His biography demonstrates how the Medieval Catholic writers of Acta Sanctorum understood the Christian rite of speaking of tongues. Acta Sanctorum is an encyclopedic text of Christian saints organized on their feast day. It was first begun in the early 1600s with additions and corrections being made until 1940. It is not an old document in the literary sense, but has value in reflecting the beliefs of tongues at the time.

The definition of speaking in tongues is clearly defined in their story of St. Patiens. They believed this operation was the spontaneous speaking in a foreign language unknown beforehand. This is abundantly clear with no concept of an alternative definition. Nor do the authors delve deeply into the mechanics behind this miracle.

Enclosed is an English translation. Late Medieval Latin is new to me and there are definite variations from Classical Latin. I was unprepared for these challenges before starting the Medieval translation series. It is a work in progress.

My rough English translation from the Latin source text

————

7. Blessed Patiens is therefore emboldened by such a great miracle and with the ancestral recollection. He took up the pastoral office, he asks for the blessing of this very gift named by the many and relics of the Saints and by the Book of the Gospel. He takes an unknown road with those through sea bays of Illyria and the Adriatic. He avoids the wide-ranging difficulty of the journey with Christ as the guide and finally ended-up in the territory of the Gauls. O Miracle! The language of the uncivilized peoples, which he previously did not understand, he understood, and responded, and as necessity required. This was the sign of the miraculous relating to the first ones established in the Church, that whom the Apostles anointed and appointed for the purpose of preaching to the nations. Immediately they openly received the knowledge of languages, even as the Acts of the Apostles describes of Cornelius. And so with this certain proof, the blessed St. Patiens arrived at the city of Metz, who the ecclesiastical order along with the people of faith rejoice about the arrival. And then is encouraged from this state which from the revelation previously had been celebrated is registered as the successor of St. Felix who was the third after the blessed Clement ruled the city.

————

The Latin from Acta Sanctorum

AASS: Jan. 8 Pg. 469-70 verses 7 – 8(5)Joannes Bollandus. Acta Sanctorum. Godefrido Henscheno, Danielle Papebrochio. Joanne Camandet, ed. Paris: Victorem Palmé. 1867

————

7. Confortatur itaque tanto B. Patiens miraculo, et admonitione paterna. Pastorale suscepit officium, multisque Sanctorum pignoribus ac ipsius Evangelii codice donatus benedictionem petit, accipit : ignotum iter cum suis per Illyrici et Adriatici sinus maria arripit : tandemque Christo duce difficultatem itineris multimodam evadit, Gallorum fines intravit. Mirare ! Linguam Barbarorum, quam pridem ignorabat, intelligebat, et respondebat, necessariaque requirebat. Fuit hoc insigne miraculum in Ecclesia primitivorum, ut quos Apostoli chrismate præsignabant, vel ad prædicandum gentibus ordinabant, illico manifeste scientiam linguarum accipiebant, sicut de Cornelio Actus Apostolorum narrant. Itaque certo indicio B. Patiens Metim civitatem devenit : quo deveniente Ecclesiasticus ordo cum fideli populo lætatur,et tam ex habitu quam ex revelatione pridem celebrata, de successore S. Felecis, qui tertius post B. Clementem rexerat Urbem, certificatur, consolatur.

————

References   [ + ]

The Camisards, tongues and prophecy

The 18th century Camisards in southern France and their religious rite of speaking in tongues.

A Protestant Assembly surprised by Catholic troops by Karl Girardet, 1842.
A Protestant Assembly surprised by Catholic troops by Karl Girardet, 1842.

The Camisards have a special narrative in the annals of Christian history and it is a sad one. Their story would have been forgotten if their speaking in tongues and their habitual use of prophecy was their mark in history. However, these are mere expressions of a greater problem of political and religious persecutions that continually harassed and cost so many lives. It is estimated that 500,000 Camisards fled France or were killed.(1)Catharine Randall. From a Far Country: Camisards and Huguenots in the Atlantic World. Georgia, USA: The University of Georgia Press. 2009. Pg. 18 These pogroms are the more important story, but the persecutions opened new Protestant expressions of piety that were unique, especially the realms of speaking in tongues and prophecy.

A deep look at Maximilien Mission’s book, Le Théatre Sacré des Cévennes ou Recit de Diverses Merveilles, published in 1707, gives some vitals answers to the Camisard religious experience. This is the sole primary source for this article. He took eyewitness accounts of the Camisards from this period and organized them according to each person’s testimony. Le Théatre Sacré des Cévennes is a seminal work into the minds and workings of the Camisard movement.

This book piques those who are curious about the history behind the Christian doctrine of tongues.

His work clearly defines the Camisards speaking in tongues as a foreign language, especially the spontaneous waxing eloquence in French. There was no reference to a non-human or angelic language. Nor was there any association with the idea of glossolalia within the Camisard experience.

This miracle in the French language gave the Camisards a perceived divine approval. The empowering was their sign of judgement on the French King and the Catholic Church. The sign was specifically directed to the French universe and did not extend to other Protestant controlled countries such as England.

One must understand that the Camisards did not speak French as their native tongue. They spoke a language called Occitan that, at least in the 1700s, had a closer affinity to Spanish. The majority of Camisards were illiterate and uneducated.

The above statements cannot be left unqualified. The rest of this article will explore this statement along with the role of prophecy within the Camisard movement.

The Camisards were part of the Huguenot movement in the late 1600s and early 1700s in the rugged mountains of south-central France called Cévennes. The Huguenots were France’s version of the Protestant faith that had spread to various communities throughout Europe and the Americas.

They were a sub-culture of the greater Huguenot community. Because of the persecutions and the absence of any defined leadership, their forms of worship evolved into distinct expressions.

For political and religious reasons, the Catholic-influenced French Government called on the military to eradicate the Huguenots and its subsidiary Camisard movement within their borders. Soldiers were billeted to Huguenot homes and their mission was to dragonnade the Huguenots to Roman Catholicism. This dragonnade represented a special rank of the French military who were arguably scripted from the basest and worst elements of the army. They began an unbridled policy of brutality and suppression. In the eyes of the French soldiers, Huguenots had no legal rights to property, possessions, security or any protection under the law. These conditions were ripe for pecuniary gain and personal abuse by the soldiers. The Huguenots were ultimately given ultimatums; lose all property and personal rights, face imprisonment, death, rape, children removed and given to Catholic families, torture or exile. These conditions could all be revoked if they converted to Catholicism. Those who were leaders or teachers of the Protestant faith suffered an even worse judgement. They were immediately killed or forced to flee.

The testimonies contained in Maximilien Mission’s book showed a strong distaste to Catholic based authority. They believed the Pope was the Antichrist and the Catholic Church was the new whore of Babylon. These perceived signs, along with the severe persecutions, were signals heralding an end-of-world scenario.

The Camisards were poor and geographically isolated. The Huguenots in other regions of France were generally better-off and had easier access to neighbouring, non-hostile countries. These circumstances slowly forged the once pacifist Camisards into a reactionary force. The war between themselves and the better equipped French military can better be described as an insurrection. A war that the Camisards could never realistically win.

Prophecy strengthened the community resolve against the relentless pressure from King Louis XIV and his forces from 1685 to 1705. Prophecy was the vehicle by which they expressed their anxiety, tension, rhetoric and communal vision.

Catharine Randall definitively narrates the role of prophecy and tongues in the Camisard life. Her book, “From a Far Country: Camisards and Huguenots in the Atlantic World,” synthesizes the complex pieces of the Camisard faith and describes these two offices in detail:

Often, several prophets arose within the same family. Camisards gathered in great numbers to hear the prophecies; greatly consoled and inspired, some in the audience themselves experienced the “gifts.” In the absence of the clergy, the Camisards viewed these new, experiential manifestations as para-ecclesial ways to continue their conversations with Christ. The prophecies embodied the most literal understanding of the Protestant rejection of the Catholic doctrine of intercession and mediation, and of Calvinist reliance on scripture: these humble folk spoke directly with God through their prophesying, experiencing him face to face. In Relation sommaire des merveilles que Dieu fait en France (1694), Claude Brousson describes this belief in immediacy of access to the divinity: “Deprived of the word of God, of evangelism, of a regular worship service, of orderly sermons, of an emotionally appealing but also rational form of religiosity, the Camisards turned towards a belief in ‘inspiration.’”

As these prophecies evolved from consolation and instruction to calls for militancy, the Camisard began to select as leaders exclusively men who experienced this gift of tongues and prophecy. If such manifestations ceased, the leader was promptly replaced by another inspiré.(2) Catharine Randall. From a Far Country: Camisards and Huguenots in the Atlantic World. Georgia, USA: University of Georgia Press. 2009. Pg. 17

The Camisards believed that when a person went into a spiritual empowered state, it was usually demonstrated in these conditions:

  • grand agitations throughout the whole body, and particularly the chest(3) avait de grandes agitations de tout le corps, et particulièrement de la poitrine.
  • speaking while sobbing – a sign of humility and repentance (4)Il parlait avec sanglots
  • falling to the floor(5)tomba dans des agitations
  • prophesying or speaking divine things that is signified with the following introductory words, “Je te dis, mon enfant. . .”

One or more of these types of manifestations must take place in order for it to be a confirmed prophecy.

The Camisards then called this state l’inspiration and often employed the synonym, l’ecstaxy. The formal use of the article demonstrates a special religious significance. There may be a distinction between the two words, but the author did not supply enough material to make an informed declaration on the difference between the two. L’Ecstaxy could easily be interpreted by the modern French reader to mean excitement. However, this noun has a specific religious usage that is rooted into the Latin language and Roman Catholic mystical practices. The word was originally found in the Latin and made its way untouched into English. Unfortunately ecstasy presently has strong sexual connotations outside of religious usage in contemporary American society but there is no alternative solution. Ecstasy denotes a special divine religious experience in this context.

The Camisard testimonials are very quick to identify that the miracles of emboldened or miraculous speech happened to both male and females, infants, mothers, youth, and adults. This strengthened their perceived argument that the Camisards were a movement directly controlled by God.

In reference to miraculous tongues-speech, it is hard to tell whether they were especially relating to the gift of tongues or emphasizing boldness of speech. This boldness empowered anyone at any time who normally did not have the persuasive speech to speak against the established authority.

The Bible, specifically Matthew 10:17-19, contains references to a specially anointed boldness that God will endow people when they are put on trial, persecuted, or imprisoned for faith reasons. This persecution validated the Camisard experience, and conversely vilified the French Government and the Catholic Church.

This divine emboldening allowed illiterate people to articulate clearly and persuasively. Infants also had the power to persuasively preach the power of repentance in a foreign language unknown to them beforehand which they thought to be the divine sign of speaking in tongues. Infants speaking in tongues is a distinctive practice of the Camisards and cannot be traced to any other earlier influences, nor did it propagate after them. For example, this is the testimony of a Jean Vernet, given in 1707:

About a year before my departure, two of my friends (Antoine Coste and Louis Talon) and myself, went to visit our mutual friend Pierre Jaquet at Moulin de l’Eve near Vernou. As we were together, a girl of the house came calling her mother who was with us, and said to her, “Mother, come see the child.” After which the mother herself called us, saying to us that we should come see the little child who was speaking. She added that it was not meant to frighten us and that this miracle had already occurred before. We all immediately ran towards the child.

The infant, aged 13-14 months, was swaddled in the cradle, and had never yet spoken by himself or walked. When I entered with my friends, the child was speaking distinctly in French, of a fairly high voice given his age; in such a way that it was easy to hear him through the whole room. He exhorted (like the others I had seen in the inspiration) to works of repentance, but I was not paying close enough attention to what he was saying to recall any of the circumstances. There were at least twenty people in the room where this infant was, and we were all weeping and praying around the cradle After the ecstasy ceased, I saw the child in his ordinary state. His mother said to us that he had some agitations of the body at the beginning of the inspiration, but I did not notice this when I came. It was a difficult thing to acknowledge because he was wrapped-up in his swaddling clothes! I also heard of another small child at the breast who spoke too at Clieu, in Dauphine.(6)My translation from Les Prophètes Protestants. Réimpression de l’ouvrage intitulé, Le Théatre Sacré des Cévennes, ou Régit des Diverses Merveilles. A. Bost. ed. 1847. Pg. 141

Jacques Dubois, de Montpellier’s eyewitness account added to this concept of children miraculously speaking eloquent French. He related a remarkable story of a child speaking in French but also prophesying, “qu’une partie de la grande Babylone serait détruite l’an mil sept cent huit.” — “that a portion of Babylon the Great will be destroyed in 1708”.(7)My translation from Les Prophètes Protestants. Réimpression de l’ouvrage intitulé. Pg. 152-154 This testimony shows the blending of prophecy, tongues and apocryphal vision into one seamless theme.

He also stated that he had seen more than 60 children between the ages of three to twelve speak and prophesy under inspiration.(8)Les Prophètes Protestants. Réimpression de l’ouvrage intitulé. Pg. 152-154

The gift also was also found among the adult community. Jean Vernet explained about his mother and sisters who spoke in tongues and prophesied:

I left Montpellier around May 1702. The first people I saw in inspiration were my mother, my brother, my two sisters and a cousin Germaine. It has now been thirteen years at least since my mother received her gifts; she always had them since that time until my departure, and I learned from the various people who had seen her not long ago, she is still in the same state. She has been detained in prison for eleven years now.

My sisters received the gift some time after my mother had received it; one at the age of nineteen, the other eleven. They died in my absence. My mother’s greatest agitations were of the chest, which made her produce great tears. She spoke nothing but French during the inspiration; which gave me a great surprise the first time I heard her; because she had never tried to say a word in this language, nor has ever done since, at least to my recollection;. . .(9)My translation from Les Prophètes Protestants. Réimpression de l’ouvrage intitulé. Pg. 139

It is not understood why the Camisards emphasized women and children prophesying and speaking in tongues. From my understanding of the Irvingites later on in 19th century England, women speaking in public or taking any form of leadership was severely frowned upon. This may not extend to French Camisard life. However, one can make a consensus that the features of women and children in the forefront of the Camisard religion are a peculiar characteristic to them and relative to their times. Maybe it was because the majority of older men had fled, were imprisoned or had died.

Jean Cabanel witnessed a gathering of Camisards for worship in the woods – the Camisards were forced to hold their meetings in secret. He describes Occitan-speaking adult Camisards speaking in French – a language foreign to them, especially since they were uneducated.

I believe I saw at least fifteen people of one and the other sex speaking at different times under the inspiration. They were all speaking French and I am quite sure that some of these that I specifically knew, that did not know how to read, would not have had the ability to express themselves in such good French being outside of ecstasy.(10)My translation from Les Prophètes Protestants. Réimpression de l’ouvrage intitulé. Pg. 142

Jacque Dubois declared that sometimes the people under ecstasy spoke in foreign languages.

I have seen many people of one and the other sex who in ecstasy were pronouncing certain words that the assistants believed to be a foreign language. Afterwards, they that were speaking explained several times the meaning of those sayings which they had been uttered.(11)My translation from Les Prophètes Protestants. Réimpression de l’ouvrage intitulé. Pg.154

—————————

Notes:

References   [ + ]