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Estelle M. Hurll

(By Sir Peter Lely, after Van Dyck)

Charles I of England was the second king of the Stuart dynasty, whose despotic tendencies made the seventeenth century a memorable period in history. He ascended the throne at the age of twenty-five, and began at once to assert his belief in the divine right of kings. Indignant at the restraints which Parliament set upon his power, he dissolved this body and ruled alone.

On the summit of Monte Pellegrino, in the island of Sicily, stands a colossal statue of St. Rosalia. Like the old Greek statue of Victory on the island of Samothrace,[8] or to use a modern instance, like the statue of Liberty on Bedloe's Island in New York harbor, St. Rosalia serves as a beacon to mariners. The Sicilians hold the saint in great reverence, and celebrate her memory in two annual festivals. From the eleventh to the fifteenth of July are horse-races, regattas, illuminations, and all sorts of gayeties in her honor. In September there is a solemn procession to her chapel.

(Detail of Children of Charles I.)

The Prince Charles of our picture was the son of Charles I. and Henrietta Maria, and bore the title of the Prince of Wales. He was born on the morning of May 29, 1630, and there was great rejoicing in the royal household that he was a fine strong baby. The king at once rode in state to St. Paul's Cathedral to give thanks for the birth of an heir. While the procession was on its way a bright star appeared in the noonday sky. This was hailed as a good omen, and an epigram was composed on the occasion:—

St. Martin was born during the reign of the Emperor Constantine the Great, and was the son of a Roman soldier. He himself entered the army at an early age, and was sent into Gaul with a regiment of cavalry. Among his comrades he was loved for his mildness of temper and his generosity.

The life of our Lord, which began in the Bethlehem manger, culminated on the cross of Mount Calvary. In our picture we see the Man of Sorrows in his last moments of suffering. How it came about that he was crucified is fully related by the four evangelists.[19]

[19] St. Matthew, chapters xxvi. and xxvii.; St. Mark, chapters xiv. and xv.; St. Luke, chapters xxii. and xxiii.; St. John, chapters xviii. and xix.

James Stuart, Duke of Lennox, was one of the most prominent personages at the English court. His uncle was a cousin and trusted friend of King James I., and the relations between the nephew and Charles I. were even closer. Immediately upon taking a degree at Cambridge, the young nobleman entered the royal service as Gentleman of the King's Bedchamber. He was just thirteen years of age, and a born courtier. "His courtesie was his nature, not his craft," quaintly says one historian. While still in his minority, he visited France, Italy, and Spain.

It was a part of our Lord's ministry among men to restore to health the body as well as the soul. He was often moved with compassion by the disease and suffering which he saw as he went about Galilee or passed through the streets of Jerusalem. St. John, the evangelist (chapter v.), relates an incident which took place at a pool called Bethesda near a sheep market in Jerusalem.

Philip, Lord Wharton, was an English nobleman of nearly the same age as the Duke of Lennox, and the two were painted by Van Dyck at about the same time. In both young men are apparent the same signs of gentle birth and breeding, a dignity of bearing, and a repose of manner characteristic of their class. That they were quite different in essential character, however, we shall presently see.

A great company of people had followed Jesus to his crucifixion, including not only his enemies, but his friends. The beloved disciple John was accompanied by Mary. "And many women were beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him; among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.

by Estelle M. Hurll

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