Jun 18, 2010
He was a large man, both in physical size and in influence. A natural orator, Pelagius’s voice boomed loud and clear as he sought to bring the Gospel to the people. Whether in the woods where the unfortunates scraped out a living by hunting and salvaging for berries and roots, or in the coastal cities where the Roman church held mass in Latin and collected tithes from blacksmiths, tailors, and farmers, Pelagius had one message: The God of Creation calls you to his feast. Come, call on his name, turn from evil, embrace what is right. Jesus came for our salvation.
It wasn’t his preaching that had landed him in hot water, not initially. It was his letters. He was a scribe, educated in the monastery schools in Ireland and France. He answered questions with his stylus and ink, and the Church had gotten hold of his words and twisted them.
Pelagius slammed his large fist on the fishmonger’s table. He had gone to the marketplace, hungry like everyone else.
“You preach heresy,” a priest said, pointing a long, bony finger at him.
“I do no such thing!” Pelagius had gotten angry when he’d first come to the populated area from the monastery. There he’d seen people embracing an excuse to sin. They were saved from hell already, they reasoned. Why not do as we will?
“If the Holy Spirit cannot save us, then we denounce it. And to do that is an abomination against God!” the priest continued.
He had no intention of denouncing God. Pelagius argued until the sun slipped behind the fishing boats and the sky grew charcoal. Even with a voice that could be heard beyond the docks and to the little shacks where mothers were serving up ladles of fish stew for their children, Pelagius could not convince the priest. Where would it end?