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HOME > Classical Novels > The Miracles of Antichrist > III ON THE BARRICADE
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When the rich Englishwoman awoke in the morning she missed the image and wondered where she should look for him. She believed that no one but the monks of Aracoeli could have taken him, and she hurried towards the Capitol to spy and search.

She came to the great marble staircase that leads up to the basilica of Aracoeli. And her heart beat wildly with joy, for on the lowest step lay he whom she sought. She seized the image, threw her cloak about him, and hurried home. And she put him back on his place of honor.

But as she now sank into contemplation of his beauty, she found that the crown had been dented. She lifted it off the image to see how great the damage was, and at the same moment her eyes fell on the inscription that she herself had scratched: “My kingdom is only of this world.”

Then she knew that this was the false Christ image, and that the right one had returned to Aracoeli.

She despaired of ever again getting it into her possession, and she decided to leave Rome the next day, for she would not remain there when she no longer had the image.

But when she left she took the forged image with her, because he reminded her of the one she[20] loved, and he followed her afterwards on all her journeys.

She was never at rest and travelled continually, and in that way the image was carried about over the whole world.

And wherever the image came, the power of Christ seemed to be diminished without any one rightly understanding why. For nothing could look more impotent than that poor image of elm wood, dressed out in brass rings and glass beads.

When the rich Englishwoman who had first owned the image was dead, he came as an inheritance to another rich Englishwoman, who also travelled continually, and from her to a third.

Once, and it was still in the time of the first Englishwoman, the image came to Paris.

As he passed through the great city there was an insurrection. Crowds rushed wildly screaming through the streets and cried for bread. They plundered the shops and threw stones at the houses of the rich. Troops were called out against them, and then they tore up the stones of the street, dragged together carriages and furniture, and built barricades.

As the rich Englishwoman came driving in her great travelling-carriage, the mass of people rushed towards it, forced her to leave it, and dragged the carriage up to one of the barricades.

When they tried to roll the carriage up among all the thousand things of which the barricade consisted, one of the big trunks fell to the ground. The cover sprang open, and among other things out rolled the rejected Christ image.

The people threw themselves upon him to plunder,[21] but they soon saw that all his grandeur was imitation and quite worthless, and they began to laugh at him and mock him.

He went from hand to hand among the agitators, until one of them bent forward to look at his crown. His eyes were attracted by the words which stood scratched there: “My kingdom is only of this world.”

The man called this out quite loudly, and they all screamed that the little image should be their badge. They carried him up to the summit of the barricade and placed him there like a banner.

Among those who defended the barricade was one man who was not a poor working-man, but a man of education, who had passed his whole life in study. He knew all the want that tortured mankind, and his heart was full of sympathy, so that he continually sought means to better their lot. For thirty years he had written and thought without finding any remedy. Now on hearing the alarm bell he had obeyed it and rushed into the streets.

He had seized a weapon and gone with the insurgents with the thought that the riddle which he had been unable to solve should now be made clear by violence and force, and that the poor should be able to fight their way to a better lot.

There he stood the whole day and fought; and people fell about him, blood splashed up into his face, and the misery of life seemed to him greater and more deplorable than ever before.

But whenever the smoke cleared away, the little image shone before his eyes; through all the tumult of the fight it stood unmoved high up on the barricade.


Every time he saw the image the words “My kingdom is only of this world” flashed through his brain. At last he thought that the words wrote themselves in the air and began to wave before his eyes, now in fire, now in blood, now in smoke.

He stood still. He stood there with gun in hand, but he had stopped fighting. Suddenly he knew that this was the word that he had sought after all his life. He knew what he would say to the people, and it was the poor image that had given him the solution.

He would go out into the whole world and proclaim: “Your kingdom is only of this world.

“Therefore you must care for this life and live like brothers. And you shall divide your property so that no one is rich and no one poor. You shall all work, and the earth shall be owned by all, and you shall all be equal.

“No one shall hunger, no one shall be tempted to luxury, and no one shall suffer want in his old age.

“And you must think of increasing every one’s happiness, for there is no compensation awaiting you. Your kingdom is only of this world.”

All this passed through his brain while he stood on the barricade, and when the thought became clear to him, he laid down his weapon, and did not lift it again for strife and the shedding of blood.

A moment later the barricade was stormed and taken. The victorious troops dashed through and quelled the insurrection, and before night order and peace reigned in the great city.

The Englishwoman sent out her servants to look for her lost possessions, and they found many, if not[23] all. What they found first of all on the captured barricade was the image ejected from Aracoeli.

But the man who had been taught during the fight by the image began to proclaim to the world a new doctrine, which is called Socialism, but which is an Antichristianity.

And it loves, and renounces, and teaches, and suffers like Christianity, so that it has every resemblance to the latter, just as the false image from Aracoeli has every resemblance to the real Christ image.

And like the false image it says: “My kingdom is only of this world.”

And although the image that has spread abroad the teachings is unnoticed and unknown, the teachings are not; they go through the world to save and remodel it.

They are spreading from day to day. They go out through all countries, and bear many names, and they mislead because they promise earthly happiness and enjoyment to all, and win followers more than any doctrine that has gone through the world since the time of Christ.

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