Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II.: HOW THE TRIUMPH OF CHRIST TESTIFIES TO THE TRUTH OF OUR FAITH. - The Triumph of the Cross
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER II.: HOW THE TRIUMPH OF CHRIST TESTIFIES TO THE TRUTH OF OUR FAITH. - Girolamo Savonarola, The Triumph of the Cross 
The Triumph of the Cross, trans. from the Italian, edited, with an Introduction by the Very Rev. Father John Procter, S.T.L. With a frontispiece portrait of the author (London: Sands & Co., 1901).
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
HOW THE TRIUMPH OF CHRIST TESTIFIES TO THE TRUTH OF OUR FAITH.
As the power, wisdom and goodness of God are infinite, they could not be manifested (save most imperfectly) in one creature. Therefore, philosophers have been wont to contemplate the Divine Majesty, revealed in the harmony of the universe, resulting not from one but from numberless creatures, which, on account of their necessary dependence one on the other, can with ease be considered simultaneously. In like manner, we cannot understand the power and wisdom and goodness of Christ by contemplating only one of His works. We must recall to our minds all the wonders which He wrought. Thus we shall be constrained, not on one count alone, but for many reasons, to acknowledge His Divinity. For, should we not be convinced by one of His miracles or arguments, we cannot (unless we be obstinate) fail to be persuaded when we consider His works and teaching collectively. But, although it be easy, by reason of their mutual dependence, to consider all the marvels of nature collectively, it is not equally easy to contemplate all the works of Christ at once. It has, therefore, occurred to me to present them under the figure of a triumphal car, a similitude easy of comprehension to the feeblest intellect.
Let us, then, represent to our minds a four-wheeled chariot on which is seated Christ, as Conqueror, crowned with thorns, and bearing the marks of His wounds, thus showing that it is through His Passion and death that He has overcome the world. Over His Head shines a light like a triple sun. This represents the Blessed Trinity, which illuminates His Humanity and the whole Church with unspeakable splendour. In His left hand Christ holds the Cross and the instruments of His Passion, in His right the Old and the New Testaments. At His Feet are the Host and chalice; vessels of balsam and of oil; and the other symbols of the Sacraments. The Blessed Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, is seated beneath her Son. Around, and below her, are vessels of gold, silver and precious stones, filled with ashes and bones of the dead. The Apostles and Preachers go before the car, appearing to draw it. They are preceded by the Patriarchs, the Prophets, and innumerable men and women of the Old Testament. The chariot is encircled by the army of Martyrs, forming as it were a crown. They, again, are surrounded by the Doctors of the Church, bearing open books. Around them, again, circles a countless multitude of virgins, of both sexes, adorned with lilies. Behind the car follow innumerable men and women of all conditions—Jews, Greeks, Latins, barbarians, rich and poor, learned and simple, small and great, old and young; all of whom, with one accord, are praising Christ. And, all around this multitude, gathered from the Old and from the New Testaments, are the serried ranks of the enemies of the Church of Christ—emperors and kings; princes and men in power; sages; philosophers; heretics; slaves and freemen; men and women; people of every race and of every tongue. Whilst around them lie idols, prone and broken, heretical books burnt, and all sects, and every false religion confounded and destroyed.
Now the chariot which we have described symbolises a new world, from whence shall spring a new philosophy. Its first cause, and the invisible things which become known to philosophers by means of visible things, are represented by the figure of the Blessed Trinity, True God, above the Head of Christ which represents His Manhood, and by the innumerable company of Angels and Blessed Spirits, who are all unseen by us. We must arrive at the knowledge of these spiritual beings by means of the visible beings grouped around the chariot. And, just as philosophers teach that the heavens are the cause of all things produced beneath them, so we say that, after the Divine Majesty, the chief cause of grace and salvation is the Passion and Cross of Christ. Beneath the firmament are the elements, which derive all their activity from the heavens; so to the Passion of Christ succeed the Sacraments of the Church, deriving all their power from It. The elements are followed in the natural world by particular causes, such as seeds and the like. In our triumph, the seed is represented by the teaching of the Gospel, and by the works and example of the Saints whose relics repose in honour in glorious tombs, and the memory of whose merits and holy lives produces continual fruit in the Church. Particular causes are figured by the Apostles, Patriarchs, Prophets, Martyrs and Doctors; who, while they lived, regenerated, by their teaching, the whole world to Christ. Lastly, as in the natural order effect follows cause, we represent effect by the countless men and women who have been converted by the example and the preaching of the Saints. But, as in nature, every movement is from one contrary to another, and the generation of one thing is the destruction of something else (for in all reproductions there are two opposing forces, of which the stronger prevails), so, in the spiritual generation, Christ and His elect have vanquished His enemies, represented by heresy, prostrate around the triumphal car. The four wheels of the chariot signify the four quarters of the world, so marvellously enlightened by Christ, and by Him brought into subjection.
And, as philosophers, having before their eyes the order of the universe, and considering the wonderful effects of nature, did, by searching for their causes, ascend gradually from the lower to the higher, and attained to the knowledge of invisible things and of the Divine Majesty; so, if we examine attentively the works which Christ has performed, and still does perform, in His Church (represented by this chariot), we shall begin to be filled with wonder, and shall diligently seek the cause of those works, and thus shall, gradually, rise to the knowledge of invisible things, and of the Divine Majesty of Christ.