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These Processions were first instituted by Pope Stephanus the second, who began his Popedom Anno 752. the intent of them is, as Platina reporteth, Ad placandam Dei iram. The first place that they ever went to in Procession, was the Church of our Lady in the Shambles, or ad Sanctam Dei genitricem ad praesepe, as the Historia calleth them. As for the Letany, which is a principal part of it, it was first compiled by Mamercus Bishop of Vienna in Daulphine, in the time of Pope Leo the first, which was 308. years after the time of Stephanus. The motive of it was the often danger to which France was subject by reason of the frequency of Earthquakes: Since those beginnings, which were fair and commendable, the Romish Church hath added much to them of magnificence, and somewhat of impiety and prophaneness. As for the Brethren de la Charite, I could not learn any thing of their [Page 354] original, but much of their office: for they are bound to visit all such as are infected with the Plague, to minister unto them all things necessary, and if they die, to shrowd them and carry them to their graves. These duties they perform very willingly, being possessed with this fancy, that they are priviledged from contagion by vertue of their Order; and to say the truth, they are most of them old, and so less subject to it; and indeed such sapless, thin, and unbodied fellows, that one would think almost no disease could catch them: yet hath their prerogative not alwayes held to them: Of thirty three of them in Callice three onely surviving the disease about four years since: But were the danger to which themselves are liable all the inconvenience of it, I should not much disallow it. There is a greater mischeif waiting upon it, and that is the infecting of others; they immediately after their return from the Pest-house mixing themselves with any of their neighbours: A most speedy meanes to spread the pestilence, where it is once begun, though neither they nor the people will be perswaded unto it.