Slike strani
[blocks in formation]

'Neath the clouds was faintly beaming. In the ashen sky is gleaming,

What spell was here

To blight and sear

All life a phantom seeming?

And the evil owl

In feathered cowl

Is screaming, ever screaming.

Ah! such the grove

Where I love to rove

At the pallid hour of even,
Where the whip-poor-will
Doth lilt and trill

Like a Heart with sorrow riven,
In the nightly gloom

O'er the ancient tomb

With the single word "Forgiven."

[merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

'Twas put out-doors when warm winds blew, And, snail-like, inch by inch it grew.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]






IGH UP on the summit of "Baldy," "Hermit's Peak," in New Mexico, mountain of some nine thousand feet above sea level, there gathered on the eve of May 5, 1911, the most unique religious society in the world. Certainly it is the only one of the kind known to be in existence.

Now that eyes are turned on the new aspirant to Statehood, it is interesting to know something of its people and those societies or bodies which have a bearing on the political, religious or moral character of the people.

This "Brotherhood of the Holy Cross," which to all intents and purposes is for religious purposes only, has nevertheless a strong political influence as well. Its present President, Don Margarito Romero, is a politician, and while his devotion to the purposes of the society cannot be questioned, yet he naturally has the support of his co-members of the Brotherhood, in his political aspirations.

The society now numbers eighty or more members, and the story of its birth and of its practices and purposes is very interesting.

There are but two meetings of the society in the year, the first Friday in May, and in September. It has its bylaws and rules, as has any fraternal organization, and its founder was the hermit after whom the mountain was named "Hermit's Peak." The hermit —whose name was John Mary Augustiniani, was the son of noble parents in Sizzario, Lombardy, Italy. When he was about seventeen years of age, it is claimed that while walking in the park of his father's palace, he saw an apparition of the Virgin pointing afar

off, and interpreting this to mean that he was to travel to distant lands, and also moved by religious enthusiasm he decided to give up all luxuries and become a solitary wanderer.

Conforming to his parents' wishes, however, he consented to spend three years in study and reflection before starting on his travels. At the end of this time, his inclinations being still the same, he started for Rome, where he spent seven years in a solitary existence in caves. Five more years he spent in journeying afoot over Europe before sailing for the new world, eventually landing at Caracas, Venezuela. After traversing, on foot, Brazil, Chili and Argentina, working as a missionary among the Indians, he made his way to the volcano of Orizaba, Mexico, where, among the natives and Indians, he won considerable fame as a lecturer and doctor.

The civil authorities of Orizaba, on some trumped-up charge, threw the hermit into prison. He demanded a trial, the result of which was deportation to Cuba. From Cuba he sailed for New York, and from New York he walked to Montreal, Canada, thence across the American and Canadian wilds to the Mississippi River. Like Father Marquette, he traversed this stream in a small boat, reaching St. Louis December 30, 1861. He remained near this city during war times and little is known of his life during this period, but he is still remembered by a few old settlers. From St. Louis he walked to Westport, Missouri, preparatory to crossing the plains and preaching to the Indians, spending the winter in a cave and hollow tree near Westport.

The Mexican wagon drivers, who

made a business of following the old Santa Fe trail with huge wagon trains, were drawn to the hermit by his religious character and his knowledge of their native tongue, Spanish, which was but one of the nine languages with which the hermit was thoroughly conversant.

Domingo Gonzales, the owner of many wagons, invited the hermit to accompany him to Las Vegas, New Mexico. Declining the luxury of a carriage, or even of the prairie schooners which made up the train, he, with a pack of forty pounds of books on his back, walked all the way to Las Vegas on the flank of the wagons. Twice during the trip he was missed, once for eight days, and when he overtook the train he explained that he had been preaching to the Indians.

After reaching Las Vegas, he first made his way to a Catholic church, of which he was a devout member, and after performing his religious duties, started out in search of a cave in which to live. This he found in Kearney's Gap, three miles west of the city.

The piety and religious character of the hermit impressed the people, the majority of whom are Catholics, to such an extent that they soon began to make pilgrimages, in large numbers, to his lonely dwelling. As this interfered with his desire for a solitary life, the hermit went in search of a more inaccessible place of abode, which he found near the scraggy summit of Serro del Tecolate. Here, in this cave, high above all the surrounding country, he spent three years, and the cave is to-day as he left it then. On the first of every month, if the trail were at all passable, the hermit picked his way down the mountain side and trudged some eighteen miles to church, where, with the League of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic society which always received communion on the first Friday of each month, he prepared himself for and took part in this act of devotion.

In appearance the Hermit was unique, always carrying a staff which had five projections, from which were sus

pended five bells the tinkling of which gave warning of his approach. He wore his hair long, and wore the plainest and cheapest of clothing.

Don Margarito Romero says that he, together with the children of the few families where the hermit called on the occasion of his monthly visits to town, would always scamper to a place of hiding when they heard the tinkling of the hermit's bell, because his first inquiry was always for the children, and these he would cause to kneel and say various prayers, after which he would give them wise and kindly counsel.

He would never sleep in a bed or accept any luxuries or comforts, but he had with him a trunk of articles of faith used in the Catholic religion, which he gave here and there gratuitously, accepting in return, when pressed, nothing more than corn meal, which was the only food of which he partook. It is said that money and luxuries of all kinds would have been gladly showered upon him by the natives and Indians to whom he preached --but these he always refused.

During the winter, on account of the snow, he would be unable for four or more months at a time to leave his mountain home. He never built a fire in his cave, never used bed or blankets. His corn meal he cooked into a sort of hard mush over a fire some distance away, and this he kept in a covered can, slicing it off with a string as he needed it. For water he had a spring, sparkling and cold, which the natives to-day declare sprung from a rock which the hermit struck with his staff on his first arrival there. The spring is there and refreshes many a tourist and pleasure party to-day.

During the three years which the hermit spent on this peak, he erected on its top fourteen immense hewn crosses, some of which are standing to-day, and those which have been destroyed by the elements have been replaced by members of the Brotherhood.

In May, 1867, when the hermit told his followers that he was about to

[graphic][merged small]
« PrejšnjaNaprej »