Fulco

Fulco (FOULQUES, FULEC) OF NEUILLY, one of the most popular preachers of the Middle Ages, wemas born in the second half of the 12th century. "He was one of the ordinary, ignorant, worldly-minded ecclesiastics, the priest and parson of a country town not far from Paris. Afterwards he experienced a change; and as he had before neglected his flocks and injured them by his bad example so now he sought to build them up by his teaching and example." Feeling his lack of education for the ministry, "he went on weekdays to Paris, and attended the lectures of Peter Cantor, a theologian distinguished for his peculiar scriptural bent and his tendency to practical reform; and of the knowledge here acquired he availed himself by elaborating it into sermons, which he preached on Sundays to his flock. These sermons were not so much distinguished for profoundness of thought as for their adaptation to the common understanding and to the occasions of practical life. At first neighboring clergymen invited him to preach before their congregations. Next he was called to Paris, and he preached not only in churches, but also in the public places. Professors, students, people of all ranks and classes, locked to hear him. In a coarse cowl, girt about with a thong of leather, he itinemeated as a preacher of repentance through France, and fearlessly denounced the reigning vices of learned and unlearned, high and low. His words often wrought such deep compuncstion that people scourged themselves, threw themselves on the ground before him, confessed their sins before all, and declared themselves ready to do anything he might direct in order to reforms their lives and to redress the wrongs which they had done. Usurers restored back the interest they had takens; those who, in times of scarcity had stored up large quantities of grain to sell again at a greatly advanced price, threw open their granaries. In such times he frequently exclaimed, 'Give food to him who is perishing with hunger, or else thou perishest thyself.' He announced to the corn-dealers that before the coming harvest they would be forced to sell cheap their stored-up grain, and cheap it soon became in consequence of his own annunciation. Multitudes of abandoned women, who lived on the wages of sin, were converted by him. For some he obtained husbands; for others he founded a nunnery. He exposed the impure morals of the clergy; and the latter, seeing the finger of every sin pointed against them, were obliged to sepaprate from their concubines. A curse that fell from his lips spread alarm like a thunderbolt. People whom he so addressed were seen to fall like epileptics, foaming at the mouth and distorted with convulsions. Such appearances promoted the faith in the supernatural power of his words. Sick persons were brought to him from all quarters, cho expected to be healed by his touch — by his blessing; and wonderful stories were told of the miracles thus wrought... . The personal influence of this man, who stood prominent neither by his talents nor his official station, gave birth to a new life of the clergy, a greater zeal in discharging the duties of the predicatorial office and of the cure of souls, both in France and in England. Young men who, in the study of a dialectic theology at the University of Paris, had forgotten the obligation to care for the salvation of souls, were touched by the discourses of this unlearned itinerant, and trained by his instrumentality into zealous preachers. He formed and left behind him a peculiar school; he sent his disciples over to England, and his example had a stimulating effect even on such as had never come into personal contact with him. 'Many,' says Jacob of Vitiny, 'inflamed with the fire of love, and incited lay his example, began to teach and to preach, and to lead not a few to repentance, and to snatch the souls of sinners from destruction"' (Neander, Church Hist., Torrey's transl., 4:209). When Innocent III proclaimed the fourth Crusade, A.D. 1198, Fulco devoted himself wholly to preaching in its favor, and among all the "orators who blew the sacred trumpet" he was the most successful. "Richard of England was satiated with the glory and misfortunes of his first adventure, and he presumed to deride the exhortations of Fulco, he was not abashed in the presence of kings. 'You advise me,' said Plantagenet, 'to dismiss my three daughters, pride, avarice, and incontinence. I bequeath them to the most deserving: my pride to the Knights Templars, my avarice to the monks of Cisteaux, and my incontinence to the prelates.' But the preacher was heard and obeyed by the great vassals" (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Harper's edition, 6:60). Fulco did not live to see the results of the Crusade; he died at Neuilly A.D. 1201. — Villehardouin, Hist. de la Conquet de Constantinaple (transl. by T. Smith, London, 1829, 8vo); Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Gener. 18:308; Milman, Latin Christianity, Lu 9; Lu 7;

Gieseler, Ch. History, per. 3, § 80; Hurter, Geschichte Pabst Innocent's III (Hamburg, 1834), volume 1; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 19:516.

 
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