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Eight Hundred Years of Glory: A short history of Christianity
Eight Hundred Years of Glory: A short history of Christianity



by Darrell W. Conder



When Pope Innocent III was anointed as the Vicar of Christ in 1198, one problem that faced him was heresy ó a heretic being someone who asked questions about the Bible. Good old Innocent decided the best way to deal with this annoyance was a bit of Jehovah-style bloodletting. So his holiness cast an eye on Beziers, France to put the fear of God into his subjects. It is recorded that the last savage Christian persecution under a pagan Roman Emperor Diocletian, killed some 2,000 Christians. In Beziers, Pope Innocent killed at least six times that number ó 12,000 ó in one afternoon! For this dayís holy work, his holiness pronounced a special blessing for his soldiers and promised an indulgence from purgatory. Where was Jesus when Christian soldiers murdered Christian men, women and children in his name? In the same place when his soldiers sliced open pregnant Midianite girls back when he was calling himself Jehovah.

At least the victims of Christís love died somewhat quickly in Beziers. Those who fell into the hands of the Holy Inquisition, which was a Christian office set up to seek out and punish heretics and witches, had it a bit more rough. One eye witness wrote: "feet wrenched off legs, eyes torn from their sockets, and the prisoner burned with brimstone and basted with oil." This is no exaggeration.

First of all, letís understand that torturing non-believers has a precedent in Godís holy word. In 2 Samuel 12:31 we can read about David, a man after Godís own heart, taking the men, women and children of Rabbah and all the other Ammonite cities by putting man, woman and child "under saws, and under harrows [toothed plows] of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln [i.e., roasted them alive]." So the Holy Inquisition had its authority to torture and murder in Godís name by simply imitating the work of a man "after Godís own heart," the details of which were found in scripture.

When the Church arrested heretics they were taken to a torture chamber, stripped naked (in case the Devil had applied some secret mark to their body), and were made ready for the holy work of the ministers of Christ. Typically a victim was hoisted into the air by their hands, which were tied behind their back, effectively dislocating shoulders with horrific pain. While hanging in this agony, a priest might apply flaming balls of sulfur to the genitals, or feet, or breasts, or under the arms, or on the back. If the victim was a woman, there was a special device for spreading the vagina (called the vaginal pear), which allowed for the ripping of the cervix and also for placing flaming sulfur directly inside the vagina. In fact, genitalia were a special target for the Holy Inquisition, as historian Barbara Walker notes: ". . . [priests] liked to attack women's breasts and genitals with pincers, pliers, and red-hot irons." Even more terrible to contemplate is that in some cases there were no breasts to mutilate because under the rules of the Holy Inquisition, girls as young as nine years could be tortured in the name of Jesus. (Walker, Barbara G. The Womenís Encyclopedia of Myths & Secrets. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983, p. 445.)

Dr. Paul Carus, in his famous book The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil (Avenel, New Jersey: Gramercy Books, 1996: originally published in Chicago in 1900 as The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil From the Earliest Times to the Present Day) provides us with an example of what it was like to be arrested for heresy: "The hangman binds the woman, who was pregnant, and places her on the rack. Then he racked her till her heart would fain break, but had no compassion. When she did not confess, the torture was repeated, the hangman tied her hands, cut off her hair, poured brandy over her head and burned it. He placed sulphur in her armpits and burned it. Her hands were tied behind her, and she was hauled up to the ceiling and suddenly dropped down. This hauling up and dropping down was repeated for some hours, until the hangman and his helpers went to dinner. When they returned, the master-hangman tied her feet and hands upon her back; brandy was poured on her back and burned. Then heavy weights were placed on her back and she was pulled up. After this she was again stretched on the rack. A spiked board is placed on her back, and she is again hauled up to the ceiling. The master again ties her feet and hangs on them a block of fifty pounds, which makes her think that her heart will burst. This proved insufficient; therefore the master unties her feet and fixes her legs in a vise, tightening the jaws until the blood oozes out at the toes. Nor was this sufficient; therefore she was stretched and pinched again in various ways. Now the hangman of Dreissigacker began the third grade of torture. When he placed her on the bench he said: 'I do not take you for one, two, three, not for eight days, nor for a few weeks, but for half a year or a year, for your whole life, until you confess: and if you will not confess, I shall torture you to death, and you shall be burned after all. The hangman's son-in-law hauled her up to the ceiling by her hands. The hangman of Dreissigacker whipped her with a horsewhip. She was placed in a vise where she remained for six hours. After that she was again mercilessly horsewhipped. This was all that was done on the first day."

In 1599 in Bavaria, Germany, a convicted witch by the name of Anna Pappenheimer, after already being mercilessly tortured in prison, was taken into the public square where her flesh was peeled off with red-hot pincers, after which her breasts sawed off. But her tormentors were not through. The bloody severed breasts were forced into the mouths of her two sons, in a perverse parody by her Christian torturers of breast feeding the boys, who were later burned alive along with their mother. In the crowd, Annaís ten year old son was made to watch all this horror. The next day, he too was burned alive beneath the cross of the Lord Jesus.

The Church had special horrors for males, whose testicles and penis were targeted, and special devices were invented solely for this purpose such as a hollow, hinged devise that was heated glowing hot into which the victimís penis was placed ó this pain on top of seared flesh, smashed bones, fingernails that had been smashed or pulled out, and any other horror dreamed up in the minds of good God-loving priests.

Another special torture instrument invented solely for use during the Inquisition, include the brodequin, a device which was used to crush the legs by tightening, or by using a mallet for knocking in wedges to smash the bones until the bone marrow spurted out. This device was handy because when the victim inevitably passed out from the pain, it was proof of their guilt because losing consciousness was a trick of the Devil to spare his children pain.

Other tortures included applying oil to various parts of the body and slowly roasting them over an open fire. Sometimes an oversized boot was fitted on the victim and boiling water or sizzling hot grease was poured inside. (Imagine the pain we all have felt when we inadvertently burn our fingers on a hot pan; now consider the pain these helpless victims suffered, and the pain they endured afterwards from the horrific lingering pain of massive burns over the most delicate parts of their body.) And then there was the torture of squassation, which entailed strapping hundred-pound weights to a suspended victimís arms and legs, and then hoisting the weights up above the victim, and then releasing the ropes, which dislocated virtually every bone in the victimís body. It was said that several applications were often sufficient to kill even the strongest man.

The wheel was perhaps the worst torture device. A naked victim, who often had already been subjected to the tortures described above, was stretched spread-eagle on a large wheel. Wooden cross pieces were placed under the wrists, elbows, ankles, knees and hips. The inquisitor then used a wooden mallet to smash the victimís bones and joints in dozens of places, although taking special care not to kill his victim. According to the observations of a seventeenth-century German chronicler, the victim was transformed "into a sort of huge screaming puppet writhing in rivulets of blood, a puppet with four tentacles, like a sea monster, of raw, slimy and shapeless flesh (rohw, schleymig und formlos Fleisch wie di Schleuch eines TŁndenfischs) mixed up with splinters of smashed bones". In this indescribably horrid state, the victimís smashed noodle-like arms and legs were braided into the spokes of the wheel; then the wheeled victim was hoisted up on a pole and left to the elements to suffer a slow death. Eyewitnesses tell how crows would often feast on the helpless, screaming victims as they begged God for the mercy of death.

The water torture began with a naked victim strapped to a table. A funnel was inserted down their throat and gallons of water were poured in until the victimís stomach was literally ready to burst. The inquisitor would then beat the victimís stomach with mallets rupturing internal organs. Or, in another variation, a length of knotted cord was forced down the victimís throat with the water, and then yanked from the mouth, effectively resulting in disemboweling.

Cleansing the soul was accomplished by forcing a victim to swallow scalding water, grease or glowing coals. We can add to this list, the catís paw, the breast ripper, the testicle ripper, the rectal pear, the shin vice, the head crusher, Saint Elmoís belt, the rack, ducking the witch, the hereticís fork and numerous other ways to "discover" the mark of Satan.

During all of this sanctimonious horror Godís ministers practiced the ultimate absurdity by blessing the instruments of torture with "holy water" and invoking God's blessing: "Lord God we pray thee manifest thy truth on this thy servant [the instrument of torture]. Thou, O god, who hast, in former times, done great signs and wonders among thy people by fire . . . If this thy servant, who is about to undergo this trial, is guilty, let his hand be seared and burnt by the fire: but, on the other hand, if he is innocent, suffer not the fire to affect him. Lord God, thou to whom all secrets are known, fulfill, by thy goodness, the hope of our confidence and faith, while we undertake this examination; that the innocent may be set free, but the guilty detected and punished." von Bracht writes: "When the priest had finished this prayer, he sprinkled the red hot iron with holy water, and pronounced upon it the benediction; The blessing of God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, fall upon this iron, that we may by it form a righteous judgment." (von Bracht,The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians, p. 241.)

When all the torture was through, and if the victim had not died, he or she was returned to their prison cell awaiting their next "examination."

27
Kallistie on 01/31/2009 01:32

So the pro-life stance is recent. And Pope Palpatine says the 21st century is the culture of death?
This was stomach-turning. Shock I had forgotten how bad it really was, if that's possible.

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