Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XII.: THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY MANIFESTED BY ITS VISIBLE EFFECTS ON THE LIVES OF CHRISTIANS. - The Triumph of the Cross
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CHAPTER XII.: THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY MANIFESTED BY ITS VISIBLE EFFECTS ON THE LIVES OF CHRISTIANS. - 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).
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THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY MANIFESTED BY ITS VISIBLE EFFECTS ON THE LIVES OF CHRISTIANS.
Another signal effect of the Christian religion is to be perceived in the exterior of those who profess it; for their countenance and manner constrain men to reverence them and hold them in honour. The fiercest men have become gentle, at the sight of devout Christians clad in lowly guise. Attila, the ferocious King of the Huns, beholding Saint Leo, the Pope, in the city of Ravenna, and hearing his words, abandoned the invasion of Italy. Totila, the savage King of the Goths, could not confront the poor and humble monk, St. Benedict; but, prostrating himself upon the ground, would only rise at the Saint’s behest. Theodosius, the Emperor, after the slaughter of the inhabitants of Thessalonica, was by St. Ambrose banished from the temple of God, and, not daring to disobey, humbled himself and did penance. Time would fail me were I to make mention of all the examples that I can recall; but it is not necessary to enlarge upon what is so clear. Even in our own time we have seen arrogant sinners, smitten with compunction at the sight of holy men; and this compunction has led them to an entire reformation of life.
Now the cause of this effect is supernatural grace, with the infusion of all virtues. For we know how the soul can, by means of the imagination, alter the whole countenance. Thus angry feelings express themselves openly on the face: we grow pale with fear, red with shame; joy makes the eye sparkle, etc. For, as the understanding makes use of those corporeal organs, the senses; the thoughts of the understanding (when they are very intense) often stamp themselves upon the body, especially on the eyes and countenance. Thus a haughty mind can be recognised by the arrogance of a man’s looks; cruelty by his rolling eye; light-mindedness by restless limbs. Nay, sometimes sin can infect the very air and the bodies of others—as we see in the case of malignant old women, who can bewitch little children. Good and bad habits, when they are deeply rooted in the soul, cannot be so completely disguised that they never appear in the face. As we know that every effect expresses its cause, the beautiful and venerable aspect of perfect Christians can proceed from nothing, save from the beauty of their soul, which is, of itself, most efficacious in the conversion of sinners. Even though a man be uneducated, if he leads a holy life, he will have more influence with his fellows than an eloquent and learned philosopher, or than miracles, either reported or witnessed. We see how attentively an audience will listen to the words of a learned preacher, without making any change in their lives; yet, although his eloquence may be much praised, it will remain barren if his life corresponds not to his words. In the same way, both in past days and in our own time, many miracles have been wrought, and crowds of men and women have flocked to see them; but they have produced but little fruit in the reformation of their lives.
A perfect Christian life, on the contrary, will convert to God numberless souls, not only among the poor and simple, but among the learned, and will fill them with compunction. Indeed many have been so strongly influenced by the holiness of life exhibited by perfect Christians, that they have left the world and retired into a cloister. There must, then, be some intrinsic power in those who lead holy lives, which enables them to produce such marvellous effects. I say intrinsic, for this power is not exterior, since the body does not, strictly speaking, act upon the spirit; and therefore the exterior of a perfect Christian could not have power to change the will and the understanding of other men. The chief virtue of a perfect Christian, and that which produces both his good life and his exterior beauty, is his Faith in, and love of Christ Crucified. And the more this Faith and love increase, the more beautiful and venerable does his exterior aspect become.
Truth is stronger than falsehood. Now there is, as we have already said, no more efficacious means of inducing men to lead a good life, than the example of a good Christian. For, the example of virtuous heathens led very few to heathen perfection; whereas those who have been converted by the example of Christianity are innumerable. Hence the root and essence of the Christian religion cannot be false or futile; otherwise it would produce less effect on the lives of men than does philosophy. This, as we know, is not the case.
God is the primary Cause of motion, without which nothing moves; and, as He does all things wisely, He produces the noblest effects from the noblest causes. Therefore, as the Christian life is a most noble effect, it springs from most noble causes, of which one is the good example exhibited by this life. One begets the other, as man begets man, and animals beget animals. Therefore we must acknowledge, that the example of a good life is a most noble cause and instrument, used by God to lead men to true virtue, and that, as this virtue is Faith informed by charity, Faith also must be true.