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Page 408


In a shadowy chamber of a room overlooking the grand
square of Florence might be seen, on the next morning,
some of the principal personages of our story. Father
Antonio, Baccio della Porta, Agostino Sarelli, the Princess
Paulina, Agnes, with her grandmother, and a mixed crowd
of citizens and ecclesiastics, who all spoke in hushed and
tremulous voices, as men do in the chamber of mourners at a
funeral. The great, mysterious bell of the Campanile was
swinging with dismal, heart-shaking toll, like a mighty voice
from the spirit-world; and it was answered by the tolling of
all the bells in the city, making such wavering clangors and
vibrating circles in the air over Florence that it might
seem as if it were full of warring spirits wrestling for

Toll! toll! toll! O great bell of the fair Campanile! for
this day the noblest of the wonderful men of Florence is to
be offered up. Toll! for an era is going out, — the era of
her artists, her statesmen, her poets, and her scholars. Toll!
for an era is coming in, — the era of her disgrace and subjugation
and misfortune!

The stepping of the vast crowd in the squre was like the
patter of a great storm, and the hum of voices rose up like
the murmur of the ocean; but in the chamber all was so
still that one could have heard the dropping of a pin.

Under the balcony of this room were seated in pomp and


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state the Papal commissioners, radiant in gold and scarlet
respectability; and Pilate and Herod, on terms of the most
excellent friendship, were ready to act over again the part
they had acted fourteen hundred years before. Now has
arrived the moment when the three followers of the Man of
Calvary are to be degraded from the fellowship of His visible

Father Antonio, Agostino, and Baccio, stood forth in the
balcomy, and, drawing in their breath, looked down, as the
three men of the hour, pale and haggard with imprisonment
and torture, were brought up amid the hoots and obscene
jests of the populace. Savonarola first was led before the
tribunal, and there, with circumstantial minuteness, endued
with all his priestly vestments, which again, with separate
ceremonies of reprobation and ignominy, were taken from
him. He stood through it all serene as stood his Master
when stripped of His garments on Calvary. There is a
momentary hush of voices and drawing in of breaths in the
great crowd. The Papal legate takes him by the hand and
pronounces the words, “Jerome Savonarola, I separate thee
from the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant.”

He is going to speak.

“What says he?” said Agostino, leaning over the balcony.

Solemnly and clear that impressive voice which so often
had thrilled the crowds in that very square made answer, —

“From the Church Militant you may divide me; but
from the Church Triumphant, no, — that is above your
power!” — and a light flashed out in his face as if a smile
from Christ had shone down upon him.

“Amen!” said Father Antonio; “he hath witnessed a
good confession,” — and turning, he went in, and, burying
his face in his hands, remained in prayer.


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When like ceremonies had been passed through with the
others, the three martyrs were delivered to the secular executioner,
and, amid the scoffs and jeers of the brutal crowd,
turned their faces to the gibbet.

“Brothers, let us sing the Te Deum,” said Savonarola.

“Do not so infuriate the mob,” said the executioner, —
“for harm might be done.”

“At least let us repeat it together,” said he, “lest we
forget it.”

And so they went forward, speaking to each other of the
glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of
the prophets, the noble army of martyrs, and giving thanks
aloud in that great triumphal hymn of the Church of all

When the lurid fires were lighted which blazed red and
fearful through that crowded square, all in that silent chamber
fell on their knees, and Father Antonio repeated prayers
for departing souls.

To the last, that benignant right hand which had so often
pointed the way of life to that faithless city was stretched
out over the crowd in the attitude of blessing; and so loving,
not hating, praying with exaltation, and rendering blessing
for cursing, the souls of the martyrs ascended to the great
cloud of witnesses above.