Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire


Protestants, and above all, philosophical Protestants, regard transubstantiation as the most signal proof of extreme impudence in monks, and of imbecility in laymen. They hold no terms with this belief, which they call monstrous, and assert that it is impossible for a man of good sense ever to have believed in it. It is, say they, so absurd, so contrary to every physical law, and so contradictory, it would be a sort of annihilation of God, to suppose Him capable of such inconsistency. Not only a god in a wafer, but a god in the place of a wafer; a thousand crumbs of bread become in an instant so many gods, which an innumerable crowd of gods make only one god. Whiteness without a white substance; roundness without rotundity of body; wine changed into blood, retaining the taste of wine; bread changed into flesh and into fibres, still preserving the taste of bread — all this inspires such a degree of horror and contempt in the enemies of the Catholic, apostolic, and Roman religion, that it sometimes insensibly verges into rage.

Their horror augments when they are told that, in Catholic countries, are monks who rise from a bed of impurity, and with unwashed hands make gods by hundreds; who eat and drink these gods, and reduce them to the usual consequences of such an operation. But when they reflect that this superstition, a thousand times more absurd and sacrilegious than those of Egypt, produces for an Italian priest from fifteen to twenty millions of revenue, and the domination of a country containing a hundred thousand square leagues, they are ready to march with their arms in their hands and drive away this priest from the palace of Cæsar. I know not if I shall be of the party, because I love peace; but when established at Rome, I will certainly pay them a visit. — By M. Guillaume, a Protestant minister.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01