Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Sale of Indulgences in the Medieval Church

A scandal of the medieval (Roman Catholic) church was the selling of indulgences. Clergymen and bankers' agents collect money in return for absolving the purchaser of his sins. The banner is a symbol of the pope's authorization.1
Listen to the voices of your dear dead relatives and friends, beseeching you and saying, "Pity us, pity us. We are in dire torment from which you can redeem us for a pittance." Do you not wish to? Open your ears. Hear the father saying to his son, the mother to her daughter, "We bore you, nourished you, brought you up, left you our fortunes, and you are so cruel and hard that now you are not willing for so little to set us free. Will you let us lie here in flames? Will you delay our promised glory?" Remember that you are able to release them, for "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings,/ The soul from purgatory springs."

- Johann Tetzel, famous indulgence salesman
1. A Lion Handbook: the History of Christianity, p.366


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