Selected Writings On Roman Catholicism by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Curious Instance of Papal Infallibility

Sword and the Trowel, July 1888

Hardly can we remember so
singular an incident as that which Dr.
Wright records in the interesting pamphlet which now lies before us. If
we had
hitherto believed in the infallibility of the Pope of Rome, the fact
recorded would have delivered us from the delusion, and we trust the
making of
it known may have a like effect upon those who are now the victims of

It seems that a certain M.
Henri Lasserre found great benefit for
his sore eyes from his faith in the water of the Lourdes Grotto, and
invocations of the Blessed Virgin. Abundant facts prove that faith in
has a curative effect. Whether it is a doll dressed in satin, as at
or a doctor with a wide reputation, or a quack medicine, or an old
woman, or a
broom-stick; if you have confidence that you will be cured, it goes a
long way
towards curing you. That, however, is not the point. M. Lasserre was
for his cure, and, moved by that gratitude, wrote a book, entitled,
Dame de Lourdes." It was the making of the place. His pen caused Our
of Lourdes to be much sought after; for his writing was charmingly
and secured a host of readers.

On a happy day, M. Lasserre
discovered the Four Gospels, and was
greatly impressed by them. He thought that the fourfold story of Jesus
was the
very book that France wanted; and he thought most wisely. He devoutly
set to
work to translate the original into the French of the day; making, not
a literal translation, but one which would command a reading from the
Frenchman. Not in chapters and verses, but like an ordinary book, the
narrative flowed on in a charming manner. The version was as faithful
as Henri
Lasserre could make it; it would not quite satisfy an evangelical
believer, but
it was a wonderful performance for a Roman Catholic. For a preface, it
bore in
its forefront a lamentation over the neglect of the gospels by
Catholics. He
exclaims, "The gospel – the most illustrious book in the world – is
an unknown book." Strange that such a book, with such a preface, should
dedicated to "Notre Dame de Lourdes." But there was something
stranger. The book appeared with the imprimatur of the Archbishop of
Paris, and
the approval and benediction of the Pope!! Note this –

"The Holy Father has
received, in regular course, the French
translation of the Holy Gospels which you have undertaken and
accomplished, to
the delight and with the approval of the Archiepiscopal authority. His
commissions me to express to you his approval of the object with which
you have
been inspired in the execution and publication of that work, so full of
interest," .

Miracles will never cease;
the Pope had sanctioned a preface
extolling the reading of the Scriptures, and had also given his
countenance to
a popular translation of a portion of the New Testament.

The Gospels, thus
recommended, obtained a ready sale; edition
followed edition, till the twenty-fifth appeared. Probably one hundred
copies were sold, at four francs each. Not as cheap tracts, but as
books which are sure to be preserved, had the Gospels entered many
families, under the sanction of the Pope.

Suddenly "the Sacred Congregation"
discovered that an error had been committed, and a decree was issued from the
Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, with the approval of "OUR MOST HOLY LORD,
POPE LEO XIII.," condemning the translation of Henri Lasserre, to be
placed upon the index of forbidden books. An infallible benediction was removed
to make room for an equally infallible malediction in the space of twelve
months and fifteen days. The book has been withdrawn from circulation; but no
hand can gather up all the copies, or destroy the good which must have come of
their perusal. As for M. Henri Lasserre, he deserves our sympathy, and he
should be the object of the prayers of all who rejoice in gospel light, that on
him the fulness of truth and grace may dawn.

This very wonderful story
is set forth at length, with all the
documents, by our friend, Dr. William Wright, of the Bible society; and
who invest a shilling in the purchase of his pamphlet, which is
published by
Nisbet, will do well to keep the document. Hereafter, it will be
produced full
many a time as the clearest possible demonstration that the Pope is not
infallible – proof which must tell upon even a Catholic mind. We hear
that the
pamphlet is to be sown broadcast over Italy, and it will be good seed.

The stopping of the sale of
the Gospels may turn out to be for the
furtherance of the truth. Let our readers think of it and rejoice – it
is true
that a Milan newspaper is daily issuing the Gospels in numbers. It will
be a
charming novel for the Italians. Hundreds of thousands will read the
story of
our Lord’s life and death, and the Lord will make it to them as a voice
heaven. Courage, brethren! God is confounding his enemies, winning
and visiting his people!


(from Geese in Their Hoods: Selected Writings On
Catholicism by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Copyright © 1997 Timothy F


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