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0335 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 335 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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of Tolentino in the March of Ancona,' Friar James of Padua, and Friar Demetrius, a Georgian lay brother good at the tongues, (Friar Peter of Sienna being left at home to take care of their things), the cadi began at once to dispute with them about our Faith. And when the infidels disputed with them in this manner, alleging that Christ was mere

Thomas of Tolentino was a venerable soldier of his Order, whose name occurs several times in its annals. He had been twice in the preceding century imprisoned by his superiors for his unwelcome zeal in urging observance of the vow of poverty, and in disputing the Pope's authority to relax this obligation. Wadding says he suffered in his sixtieth year, but as his first imprisonment took place in 1275, and his death in 1321 or 1322, he must have attained nearly if not quite threescore and ten.

Raymund Fitz-Geoffry becoming general of the order in 1290, and finding Thomas and his friends in durance, released them with good words, but to prevent further trouble with their zeal, sent them on a mission to Armenia (i.e. Lesser Armenia, or Cilicia) the king of which country had invited a party of friars. In 1292 the king, apparently Hethum or Hayton II, sent Thomas and another monk to the kings of France and England to beg help against the Saracens. Again in 1302 he came to Europe to ask aid for the missionary work in which he was engaged, as holding out great promise of success. He obtained twelve chosen friars, and departed with them.

In 1307, Thomas, who had been preaching in Tartary, returned to the Papal Court, and gave the Pope an account of the success of John of Monte Corvino and others, a report which apparently led to the nomination of that missionary as Archbishop of Cambalec. As Thomas was himself the bearer of a letter from Monte Corvino, it is possible that he had been as far as Cathay himself. He probably returned to the east with the bishops who were then appointed to act under the archbishop in Cathay (see preface to Letters of Monte Corvino in this collection), but I trace him no more till he accompanied Jordanus to •India and suffered at Tana as the text relates.

Though Odoric claims to have carried the bones of all his martyred brethren to China, the (alleged) skull of Thomas was afterwards brought

from India to Italy, and was in the 17th century preserved, as it may be still, at his native place Tolentino. His feast also was celebrated by his townsmen, who held a fair on that day. (Wadding, v, 211, 236, 291; vi, 353 and seq. ; ix, 181; Acta Sanctorum, 1st April).

Nothing seems to be known of the three other friars beyond what their names tell. The account in Wadding, derived from the letter of one

Francis of Pisa, is substantially the same as that in the text. It calls the lay brother Demetrius of Teflis. On the cloister wall of St. Anthony's at Padua I have seen a rude fresco of Friar James, with a symbol of decapitation, and the label, SS Jacobus Martyr Patavinus.