THE BIBLE AND THE PRIEST OF ROME
(Excerpts from ch. 1 of *Fifty Years in the Church of Rome* by
Rev. Charles Chiniquy. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1886)
My father, Charles Chiniquy, born in Quebec, had studied in the
Theological Seminary of that city, to prepare himself for the
priesthood. But a few days before making his vows, having been
the witness of a great iniquity in the high quarters of the
church, he changed his mind, studied law and became a notary.
Married to Reine Perrault, daughter of Mitchel Perrault, in 1808
he settled at first in Kamoraska, where I was born on the 30th
Before leaving the Seminary of Quebec my father had received from
one of the Superiors a token of his esteem, a beautiful French
and Latin Bible.
On one of the beautiful spring days of 1818, my father was
writing in his office, and my mother was working with her needle,
singing one of her favorite hymns, and I was at the door, playing
and talking to a fine robin which I had so perfectly trained that
he followed me wherever I went. All of a sudden I saw the priest
coming near the gate. The sight of him sent a thrill of
uneasiness through my whole frame. It was his first visit to our
The priest was a person below the common stature, and had an
unpleasant appearance -- his shoulders were large and he was very
corpulent; his hair was long and uncombed, and his double chin
seemed to groan under the weight of his flabby cheeks.
That priest [Rev. Courtois] was born in France, where he had a
narrow escape, having been condemned to death under the bloody
administration of Robespierre.
His conversation was animated and interesting for the first
quarter of an hour. But of a sudden his countenance changed as
if a dark cloud had come over his mind, and he stopped talking.
The silence which followed was exceedingly unpleasant for all
parties. It looked like the heavy hour which precedes a storm.
At length the priest, addressing my father, said, "Mr. Chiniquy,
is it true that you and your child read the Bible?"
"Yes, sir," was the quick reply, "my little boy and I read the
Bible, and what is still better, he has learned by heart a great
number of its most interesting chapters."
"But do you not know that you are forbidden by the holy Council
of Trent to read the Bible in French?"
"It makes little difference to me whether I read the Bible in
French, Greek or Latin," answered my father, "for I understand
these languages equally well."
"But are you ignorant of the fact that you cannot allow your
child to read the Bible?" replied the priest.
"My wife directs her own child in the reading of the Bible, and I
cannot see that we commit any sin by continuing to do in future
what we have done till now in that maatter."
"Mr. Chiniquy," rejoined the priest, "you have gone through a
whole course of theology; you know the duties of a curate; you
know it is my painful duty to come here, get the Bible from you
and burn it."
I feared lest some very unfortunate and violent scene should
occur; for my father's anger at that moment was really terrible.
But there was another thing which affected me. I feared lest the
priest should lay his hands on my dear Bible, which was just
before him on the table.
At last, after having paced the room for a considerable time, my
father suddenly stopped before the priest, and said, "Sir, is
that all you have to say here?"
"Yes, sir," said the trembling priest.
"Well, sir," added my father, "you know the door by which you
entered the house; please take the same door and go away
The priest went out immediately. I felt an inexpressible joy
when I saw that my Bible was safe. I ran to my father's neck,
kissed and thanked him for his victory.