A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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iv               THE ECCLESIA AND PNEUMATIC THERAPY            155
and also a girl of twelve who had been dumb from birth, by pouring oil into their mouths. During the episcopate of St. German, Bishop of Auxerre in the earlier part of the fifth century, a terrible epidemic broke out in a place where he was staying. Most of the victims died within three days. The principal symptom was an internal swelling of the jaws. When St. German anointed their swollen jaws with oil which had been blessed, the swelling subsided and they were able to take food.
Numerous similar stories could be cited, dating at least up to the seventh century, the records of which seem (as in the cases quoted) to be almost contemporary. Such narrations would weary the reader, and it is clearly impossible to treat the stories in a scientific manner ; but it seems that from the ninth century onward this rite ceased to have any value as suggestion. Because unction has been generally used in the Roman Catholic Church in extreme cases, it has thus come to be regarded as a preparation for death, instead of a healing factor as in the Eastern Church. The opinion was widely held in mediaeval times that, once anointed, a person ought to die. If he recovered, he had to behave as if he were dead to the world walk barefoot, eat no meat, refuse to enjoy the rights of marriage. If he had made a will, it was regarded as valid. In the eleventh century or earlier, public service books in France and Italy directed that after unction the patient should be laid on the floor to await death. In fact, unction had the same effect as black magic. A more encouraging attitude was taken by some leading schoolmen who taught that unction properly received gave the soul immediate entrance into heaven, temporal punishment in Purgatory being remitted. Dr. C. Harris points out in Liturgy and Worship that this doctrine has been revived by a Roman Catholic writer, Kerin, in this century, and that he has received a