[This is taken from Augustine Calmet's Phantom World, originally published in 1850, revised and edited by D. J. McAdam, 2010. Copyright as such.]
Peter, the venerable abbot of Cluny, relates the conversation which he had in the presence of the bishops of Oleron and of Osma, in Spain, together with several monks, with an old monk named Pierre d'Engelbert, who, after living a long time in his day in high reputation for valor and honor, had withdrawn from the world after the death of his wife, and entered the order of Cluny. Peter the Venerable having come to see him, Pierre d'Engelbert related to him that one day when in his bed and wide awake, he saw in his chamber, whilst the moon shone very brightly, a man named Sancho, whom he had several years before sent at his own expense to the assistance of Alphonso, king of Aragon, who was making war on Castile. Sancho had returned safe and sound from this expedition, but some time after he fell sick and died in his house.
Four months after his death, Sancho showed himself to Pierre d'Engelbert, as we have said. Sancho was naked, with the exception of a rag for mere decency round him. He began to uncover the burning wood, as if to warm himself, or that he might be more distinguishable. Peter asked him who he was. "I am," replied he, in a broken and hoarse voice, "Sancho, your servant." "And what do you come here for?" "I am going," said he, "into Castile, with a number of others, in order to expiate the harm we did during the last war, on the same spot where it was committed: for my own part, I pillaged the ornaments of a church, and for that I am condemned to take this journey. You can assist me very much by your good works; and Madame, your spouse, who owes me yet eight sols for the remainder of my salary, will oblige me infinitely if she will bestow them on the poor in my name." Peter then asked him news of one Pierre de Fais, his friend, who had been dead a short time. Sancho told him that he was saved.
"And Bernier, our fellow-citizen, what is become of him?" "He is damned," said he, "for having badly performed his office of judge, and for having troubled and plundered the widow and the innocent."
Peter added, "Could you tell me any news of Alphonso, king of Aragon, who died a few years ago?"
Then another specter, that Peter had not before seen, and which he now observed distinctly by the light of the moon, seated in the recess of the window, said to him—"Do not ask him for news of King Alphonso; he has not been with us long enough to know anything about him. I, who have been dead five years, can give you news of him. Alphonso was with us for some time, but the monks of Cluny extricated him from thence. I know not where he is now." Then, addressing himself to his companion, Sancho, "Come," said he, "let us follow our companions; it is time to set off." Sancho reiterated his entreaties to Peter, his lord, and went out of the house.
Peter waked his wife who was lying by him, and who had neither seen nor heard anything of all this dialogue, and asked her the question, "Do not you owe something to Sancho, that domestic who was in our service, and died a little while ago?" She answered, "I owe him still eight sols." From this, Peter had no more doubt of the truth of what Sancho had said to him, gave these eight sols to the poor, adding a large sum of his own, and caused masses and prayers to be said for the soul of the defunct. Peter was then in the world and married; but when he related this to Peter the Venerable, he was a monk of Cluny.
St. Augustine relates that Sylla, on arriving at Tarentum, offered there sacrifices to the gods, that is to say, to the demons; and having observed on the upper part of the liver of the victim a sort of crown of gold, the aruspice assured him that this crown was the presage of a certain victory, and told him to eat alone that liver whereon he had seen the crown.
Almost at the same moment, a servitor of Lucius Pontius came to him and said, "Sylla, I am come from the goddess Bellona. The victory is yours; and as a proof of my prediction, I announce to you that, ere long, the capitol will be reduced to ashes." At the same time, this man left the camp in great haste, and on the morrow he returned with still more eagerness, and affirmed that the capitol had been burnt, which was found to be true.
St. Augustine had no doubt but that the demon who had caused the crown of gold to appear on the liver of the victim had inspired this diviner, and that the same bad spirit having foreseen the conflagration of the capitol had announced it after the event by that same man.
The same holy doctor relates, after Julius Obsequens, in his Book of Prodigies, that in the open country of Campania, where some time after the Roman armies fought with such animosity during the civil war, they heard at first loud noises like soldiers fighting; and afterwards several persons affirmed that they had seen for some days two armies, who joined battle; after which they remarked in the same part as it were vestiges of the combatants, and the marks of horses' feet, as if the combat had really taken place there. St. Augustine doubts not that all this was the work of the devil, who wished to reassure mankind against the horrors of civil warfare, by making them believe that their gods being at war amongst themselves, mankind need not be more moderate, nor more touched by the evils which war brings with it.
The abbot of Ursperg, in his Chronicle, year 1123, says that in the territory of Worms they saw during many days a multitude of armed men, on foot and on horseback, going and coming with great noise, like people who are going to a solemn assembly. Every day they marched, towards the hour of noon, to a mountain, which appeared to be their place of rendezvous. Some one in the neighborhood bolder than the rest, having guarded himself with the sign of the cross, approached one of these armed men, conjuring him in the name of God to declare the meaning of this army, and their design. The soldier or phantom replied, "We are not what you imagine; we are neither vain phantoms, nor true soldiers; we are the spirits of those who were killed on this spot a long time ago. The arms and horses which you behold are the instruments of our punishment, as they were of our sins. We are all on fire, though you can see nothing about us which appears inflamed." It is said that they remarked in this company the Count Emico, who had been killed a few years before, and who declared that he might be extricated from that state by alms and prayers.
Trithemius, in his Annales Hirsauginses, year 1013, asserts that there was seen in broad day, on a certain day in the year, an army of cavalry and infantry, which came down from a mountain and ranged themselves on a neighboring plain. They were spoken to and conjured to speak, and they declared themselves to be the spirits of those who a few years before had been killed, with arms in their hands, in that same spot.
The same Trithemius relates elsewhere the apparition of the Count of Spanheim, deceased a little while before, who appeared in the fields with his pack of hounds. This count spoke to his curé, and asked his prayers.
Vipert, Archdeacon of the Church of Toul, cotemporary author of the Life of the holy Pope Leo IX., who died 1059, relates that, some years before the death of this holy pope, an infinite multitude of persons, habited in white, was seen to pass by the town of Narni, advancing from the eastern side. This troop defiled from the morning until three in the afternoon, but towards evening it notably diminished. At this sight all the population of the town of Narni mounted upon the walls, fearing they might be hostile troops, and saw them defile with extreme surprise.
One burgher, more resolute than the others, went out of the town, and having observed in the crowd a man of his acquaintance, called to him by name, and asked him the meaning of this multitude of travelers: he replied, "We are spirits which not having yet expiated all our sins, and not being as yet sufficiently pure to enter the kingdom of heaven, we are going into holy places in a spirit of repentance; we are now coming from visiting the tomb of St. Martin, and we are going straight to Notre-Dame de Farse." The man was so frightened at this vision that he was ill for a twelvemonth—it was he who recounted the circumstance to Pope Leo IX. All the town of Narni was witness to this procession, which took place in broad day.
The night preceding the battle which was fought in Egypt between Mark Antony and Caesar, whilst all the city of Alexandria was in extreme uneasiness in expectation of this action, they saw in the city what appeared a multitude of people, who shouted and howled like bacchanals, and they heard a confused sound of instruments in honor of Bacchus, as Mark Antony was accustomed to celebrate this kind of festivals. This troop, after having run through the greater part of the town, went out of it by the door leading to the enemy, and disappeared.
That is all which has come to my knowledge concerning the vampires and ghosts of Hungary, Moravia, Silesia, and Poland, and of the other ghosts of France and Germany. We will explain our opinion after this on the reality, and other circumstances of these sorts of revived and resuscitated beings. Here follows another species, which is not less marvelous—I mean the excommunicated, who leave the church and their graves with their bodies, and do not re-enter till after the sacrifice is completed.
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