Such violations of holy things as making mock of the Scriptures, or even reciting them as one would ordinary literature, was sacrilege in the eyes of the rabbi.
The Ephesians even dragged out and slew those Romans who had fled to the precinct of Artemis for protection, notwithstanding which sacrilege they soon returned from their new to their former masters, and even had the effrontery to state, in an inscription preserved to this day, that their defection to Mithradates was a mere yielding to superior force.
A somewhat distorted, but well-substantiated use of the word sacrilegium in medieval Latin was its application to the fine paid by one guilty of sacrilege to the bishop.
Decreed the same penalty for sacrilege joined to superstition and impiety, and in the somewhat belated religious persecution of the duke of Bourbon in 1724 those convicted of larceny in churches, together with their accomplices, were condemned, the men to the galleys for life or for a term of years, the women to be branded with the letter V and imprisoned for life, or for a term.
He revoked numerous pensions and grants conferred by his predecessors upon idle courtiers, and, meeting the reproach of sacrilege made by the patriarch of Constantinople by a decree of exile, resumed a proportion of the revenues of the wealthy monasteries.
Yet even in the enlightened 18th century popular fanaticism made of sacrilege the most heinous offence.
The tendency of the later law has been to put the offence of sacrilege in the same position as if the offence had not been committed in a sacred building Thus breaking into a place of worship at night, says Coke, is burglary, for the church is the mansion house of Almighty God.
A raid on Delphi attempted by the Persians in 480 B.C. was said to have been frustrated by the god himself, by means of a storm or earthquake which hurled rocks down on the invaders; a similar tale is told of the raid of the Gauls in 279 B.C. But the sacrilege thus escaped at the hands of foreign invaders was inflicted by the Phocian defenders of Delphi during the Sacred War, 356-346 B.C., when many of the precious votive offerings were melted down.
In 1198 Hubert, who had inherited from his predecessors in the primacy a fierce quarrel with the Canterbury monks, gave these enemies an opportunity of complaining to the pope, for in arresting the London demagogue, William Fitz Osbert, he had committed an act of sacrilege in Bow Church, which belonged to the monks.
The worst sacrilege of all, defiling the Host, is mentioned frequently, and generally brought the death penalty accompanied by the cruellest and most ignominious tortures.