domingo, 31 de enero de 2010


Bibliomancy, or divination by the Bible, had become so common in the fifth century, that several councils were obliged expressly to forbid it, as injurious to religion, and savoring of idolatry.

This kind of divination was named Sortes Sanctorum, or Sortes Sacrae, Lots of the Saints, or Sacred Lots, and consisted in suddenly opening, or dipping into, the Bible, and regarding the passage that first presented itself to the eye as predicting the future lot of the inquirer. The Sortes Sanctorum had succeeded the Sortes Homericse, and Sortes Virgilianse, of the Pagans ; among whom it was customary to take the work of some famous poet, as Homer or Virgil, and write out different verses on separate scrolls, and afterwards draw one of them, or else, opening the book suddenly, consider the first verse that presented
itself as a prognostication of future events. Even the vagrant fortune-tellers, like some of the gypsies of our own times, adopted this method of imposing upon the credulity of the ignorant. The nations of the East retain the practice to the
present day. The famous usurper. Nadir Shah, twice decided upon besieging cities, by opening at random upon verses of the celebrated poet Ilafiz.

This abuse, which was first introduced into the church about the third century, by the superstition of the people, afterwards gained ground through the ignorance of some of the clergy, who permitted prayers to be read in the churches for this very purpose. It was therefore found necessary to ordain in the Council of Vannes, held A.D. 465, '' That whoever of the clergy or laity should be detected in the practice of this art should be cast out of the communion of the church." In 506, the Council of Agde renewed the decree ; and in 578, the Council of Auxerre, amongst other kinds of divination, forbade the Lots of the Saints, as they were called, adding, '' Let all things be done in the name of the Lord ;" but these ordinances did not effectually suppress them, for we find them again noticed and condemned in a capitulary or edict of Charlemagne, in 793. Indeed, all endeavors to banish them from the Christian church appear to have been in vain for ages...

C. W. Cooke

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