The Dominicans by Benedict M. Ashley, O.P.
The Age of Compromise (1800s)
Revival and Expansion
The 1800s began with the Napoleonic conquests, their collapse and the reaction we think of as the Victorian Age and the “Victorian Compromise” between Christianity and the Enlightenment, which only covered over the steady advance of the new culture of secular humanism with its faith in inevitable progress through science and technology. This meant also increasing urbanization and the rise of industrial capitalism and rivalry for colonial empires. England and a unified Germany became the chief powers, while the United States (united after its great Civil War) began to enter into the competition. This new non-Christian culture was internally polarized between a materialistic scientism and a subjective idealist romanticism. This strain generated still more radical revolutionary movements, including that of Marxism.
The Dominican Order seemed to be dying. When Quiñones departed for Spain he left two vicars in Rome; Pius-Joseph Gaddi and Angelico Fanelli. Gaddi, an Italian of stately bearing, fearing Quiñones might die in Spain and perhaps ambitious to be Master himself, obtained from Pius VI authority as vicar general until an elective Chapter. But his authority was resisted as unconstitutional for six years by the provincial of Spain, Joseph Muñoz. Muñoz was backed by the King of Spain who ordered a congress of the Provinces of Spain, Betica, Aragon and the Philippines to settle the matter. Through the efforts of another Spaniard, Joachim de Téran, former companion of Quiñones, this failed, but Téran, deviously intriguing to get the Mastership for himself, induced the king to request Pius VII to appoint a separate Master over the Spanish provinces, then the largest and healthiest part of the Order. Thus for the first time in its history (except for the time of the Great Western Schism) the Order was divided.
The Pope by the bull Inter graviores in 1804 limited the Master’s term to six years only and provided that if he were not Spanish, then the Spanish provinces could elect a Vicar resident in Spain, yet approved by the Master and consulting with him on graver matters. As Master the Pope appointed not Téran but Gaddi and as Vicar in Spain one Joseph Diaz, but Diaz promptly yielded to the Spanish King’s demand that Gaddi’s authority be ignored in Spain. The Spanish Dominicans took an active part in the heroic but futile resistance to Napoleon’s invasion of their country. Napoleon made a concordat with Piux VII, but the religious orders for a time remained suppressed. When Napoleon exiled Pius from Rome, Gaddi also was deported, first to Paris, then to Auxerre for 18 months, then to Milan for a year, and finally, still under surveillance, to his native Forli. On the fall of Napoleon in 1814 Pius returned to Rome, where Gaddi was accused to him of swearing fidelity to the secular government at Auvergne, but when Gaddi was able to clear himself the Pope appointed him Vicar General of the non-Spanish part of the Order, and Raymond Guerrero as Spanish Vicar. Guerrero, against the desires of the Spanish King, petitioned the Pope to unite the Order under one Master, but Gaddi died in 1819.
There followed those whom Mortier calls “the Masters of the Desolation.” Since the state of Europe made an elective Chapter impossible from 1819 to 1825, the popes named a succession of Vicars for both parts of the Order until Leo XII finally appointed Joachim Briz as Master in 1825, the only Master to live in Spain for his six-year term, but his New World Provinces were isolated from him by their nations’ wars of independence. Many friars in Spain failed to return to their convents, or did so only under the coercion of the King, and over 400 Brothers and Sisters had died between 1808 and 1815. In 1832 Briz became bishop of Segovia. Since the Roman Vicar, Thomas Ancaranai, died at the same time, Briz agreed to restore the unity of the Order under Ferdinand Jabalot, who however died in two years. The Pope next appointed Maurice Olivieri who resigned in two years because the Pope wanted to limit his powers by a council, and the Pope appointed Hyacinth Cipolletti.
Meanwhile in Spain the King, urged by anti-religious factions, instituted a Commission of Reform. Soon mobs began burning convents and massacring religious until in 1837 the Cortes suppressed all religious orders and forbade the wearing of the habit. The 200 convents of Spain were gone, leaving only the novitiate for the missions of the Philippines and China founded in 1830. Thus, except for Ocaña, in 1838 in France, Portugal, and Spain the Order was extinct.
In Holland the only Dominicans were parish priests without the habit or community. Only a few were left in Germany. The Province of Austria-Hungary had only 40 friars; Bohemia, 43. In Poland, Russia and Lithuania political troubles had almost or entirely annihilated the Order. A scattered few friars were in England and Ireland and a certain number of Irish were in exile in Rome, Louvain and Lisbon. In Italy a number of houses were recovering but the situation was still chaotic. In the New World the Spanish-speaking provinces also were undergoing the devastations brought by the struggles for independence from Spain. Yet in 1807 an American from Maryland, Edward Fenwick, educated by exiled English Dominicans in Belgium and later first Bishop of Cincinnati, founded St. Joseph Province in the United States, at St. Rose, Kentucky, and Joseph Sadoc Alemany, later first Bishop of San Francisco, founded communities in California in 1849 (made Holy Name province in 1912).
At the Chapter of 1838 were only the provincials of the eight Italian provinces, of Ireland and England, the Vicar General of Malta, and the delegate from the United States and they elected Angelo Ancaranai, brother of the Thomas Ancaranai who had been Vicar General. The great event of his Mastership was the reestablishment of the Order in France by Henri Lacordaire who had been a secular priest, a noted orator at Notre Dame, and a supporter of De Lamennais the influential journalist who advocated a Romantic, democratic Catholicism consistent with the ideals of the Revolution. Lacordaire broke with De Lamennais when the latter refused correction by Gregory XVI. Lacordaire then decided that the best way to work for renewal of Christianity in France was to become a Dominican; so he entered the Order and founded a first community at Nancy in 1843.
The Chapter of 1844 elected as Master, Vincent Ajello, who resided in Naples and because of ill health gave little leadership. Pius IX at the end of Ajello’s term in 1850 took matters in hand and, after inquiring carefully about the charges of “liberalism” which some had brought against Lacordaire and his friend Vincent Jandel, appointed the 40-year old Jandel as Vicar General and in 1855 made him Master, but he was regularly elected in 1862 when a twelve-year term replaced the six years set by Inter Graviores. Jandel was sometimes in conflict with Lacordaire, because Jandel, in the manner of Romantic Catholicism which looked back to the Middle Ages as the Age of Faith tended to emphasize monastic observance, while Lacordaire, although himself much attached to this Romantic ideal, nevertheless, insisted on the subordination of observance to the preaching mission. It was Jandel, however, who had Dominic’s talent for organization, and he adopted Bl. Raymond’s method of reform by establishing houses of observance in each province, beginning with Santa Sabina in Rome. Jandel himself tirelessly visited Italy, France, England, Germany, Bohemia, Hungary and Poland and the other provinces through visitators. He consolidated and reorganized what remained of the ruined provinces, and shortly before his death in 1872 reunited the Provinces of Spain, whose status had till then remained confused, to the Order.
Yet the decline in membership continued so that from 4,562 in 1844 it fell to 3,474 in 1876, the lowest since the thirteenth century. To offset this, however, during this period there was an amazing growth of congregations of Third Order Dominican religious women with active apostolates of charity, care of the sick, and education, something never anticipated by its founder. For example, in the United States at the turn of the century there were about 5,000 Sisters in rapidly growing communities. Thus Jandel, after 22 years of leadership, left an almost extinct Order well-organized, and vigorous.
Yet the situation in Europe made an elective Chapter impossible, so that for seven years it was administered by the Vicar General, Joseph M. Sanvito, until in 1879 Joseph M. Larroca, then acting as visitator in Manila, was elected by mail, the first Master elected by all the provinces since the devastation. He continued visitations of the whole Order, and the Chapter of Louvain in 1885 furthered devotion to the rosary and established the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem and the theology faculty at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. Perhaps the most important event for the Order was Leo XIII’s encyclical Aeterni Patris in 1879 making the Christian philosophy and theology expounded by the medieval scholastics, and especially that of St. Thomas Aquinas, the basis of all philosophical and theological education in Catholic schools.
Larocca died in 1891 after a long illness and an Austrian, Andreas Frühwirth, was elected. He re-established the regular meeting of General Chapters, promoted special convocations throughout the Order, issued encyclical letters on preaching and other topics, published new editions of the liturgical books and instituted the Leonine Commission for a critical edition of the works of Aquinas and the Analecta of the Order, and constantly promoted common life, before being made Archbishop in 1904 and Cardinal in 1914, serving the Holy See in many diplomatic missions, but always helpful to his Order.
It is obvious that until Lacordaire’s restoration of the Order in 1839 and the actual re-establishment of the Province of France in 1850 there is little to record about studies in an Order seemingly on its ways to extinction. There were a few writers such as Francis D.J. de Kinder (d. 1816), at Louvain, who wrote on apologetics; Domenico M. Pellegrini (d. 1820), a canonist who wrote on the history of matrimony; Ludovico V. Cassito (d. 1823) who produced a widely used manual of dogmatic theology and a book on Dominican liturgy. Thus Filippo Anfossi (d. 1825) wrote against Scipio Ricci, Bishop of Pistoia (a Josephist), on divorce, reason and faith, and indulgences; Thomas Lewis (d. 1827) an Englishman in Belgium who wrote on the principles of the Catholic faith and on the divinity of Christ; José Vidal (d. 1826) wrote on pastoral theology; Juan Antonio Diaz Merino (d. 1844), Bishop of Minorca known for his care of the poor and defense of the rights of the Church produced a collection of Spanish church documents; and Cardinal Francisco Gaude (d. 1860) was a defender of the temporal rights of the papacy, who in 1854 also wrote on the definition of the Immaculate Conception. Moreover, Dominicans still held the ancient office of the Pope’s theologian, the Master of the Sacred Palace.
The intellectual condition of the Order in these years is illustrated by the fact that when the newly converted John Henry Newman inquired about the Order he was told that it was “a noble ideal, now dead” and when he tried to find someone in Italy to guide him in the study of Aquinas he could find no one. The history of how Thomism came to be revived has been much researched. The General Chapter of 1748 recalled the older ordinances on the study of Aquinas, and in 1757 Master Boxadors insisted on their observance. In the Chapter of 1777 his letter was again promulgated, and Salvatore Roselli published his philosophy manual discussed in the last chapter. But the effective movement in the Church was not instituted by Dominicans but by a Canon Vincenzo Buzzetti (1777-1824) who had been a disciple of Locke but was led by a Spanish Jesuit, Baltasar Masdew (1741-1820), to read Roselli’s and Goudin’s manuals. Buzzetti began enthusiastically to teach Thomism as he had thus come to know it at the Vincentian Collegio Alberoni in Piacenza and wrote a manual of his own, too much influenced by the Leibnitzian idealism of Christian Wolff but essentially Thomistic.
As students Buzzetti had the brothers Serafino and Dominico Sordi and a Giuseppe Pecci, all of whom became Jesuits. Giuseppe Pecci drew his brother Gioachinno into this circle from which came the Jesuits, Luigi Tapparelli d’Azeglio, Matteo Liberatore, Carlo M. Curci, and Giuseppe Cornoldi, and finally a diocesan priest, Gaetano Sanseverino. Their writings, still lacking depth and historical sophistication and rather too polemically anti-modern, nevertheless, showed Thomism to be a viable alternative as against the positivistic and idealistic philosophies of the day. Gioachinno Pecci became Leo XIII and made Thomism the official basis of Catholic education by his encyclical Aeterni Patris in 1879.
In the meantime the professors of the Order’s chief intellectual center, the College of St. Thomas at the Minerva in Rome (closed from 1810-15 by the French), in an effort to modernize had been following the Wolffianism and Eclecticism of the Austrian Jesuit, Sigismund von Storchenau, and then that of Jaime Balmes. Alberto Guglielmotti (d. 1873) was moderator of the College from 1840, assisted by Mariano Spada who became Master of the Sacred Palace and Filippo M. Guidi, who as Cardinal of Bologna played an important role at Vatican I in 1870. Guglielmotti’s enthusiasm was for naval history and he produced a 10-volume History of the Pontifical Navy. The Peccis founded the Accademia Tomistica in 1846 and many Dominican students attended its classes, until the General Chapter of 1838 again ordered the revival of Thomism and the Summa Theologiae began to be used at the College of St. Thomas once more.
Jandel started a Thomist chair at the Casanatense Library in 1850 with Giacinto De Ferrari and Girolamo Gigli as first professors, then Guidi and Vincenzo Nardini (d. 1913) were added. Nardini, who took over the physics department, started an observatory and opposed mechanism in the philosophy of science. Other important professors were Mariano Spada, Narciso Puig (d. 1865), Paolo Carbo, Francisco Xarrie (d. 1866), Gaetano Lo-Cicero, an inventor, Gian Battista Embriaco, and especially Tommaso Zigliara who with Nardini founded the Academia Romano di San Tommaso in 1870. In 1873 the Dominicans were expelled by the government from the Minerva and had to move the school to various locations and then restricted their faculty to theology, adding philosophy in 1892 and canon law in 1896. Nardini had left for Ecuador but when the president Garcia Moreno was assassinated, went on to Peru to found a province, an observatory and an Institute of Physics at the Dominican college there in 1892.
Tommaso Zigliara (d. 1893) was a Corsican who studied at Rome, taught at Viterbo and the Collegium Divi Thomae and became regent of studies in 1873. Leo x111, who before his election as Pope had been Zigliara’s friend, in 1879 made him a cardinal. Zigliara became involved in the controversy over the saintly and liberal Rosmini-Serbati who had attempted a reconciliation of Thomism and idealism. Zigliara also helped prepare the great encyclicals Aeterni Patris and Rerum novarum and strongly opposed traditionalism and ontologism in favor of the moderate realism of Aquinas. His chief works were a Summa Philosophica in two volumes, which had 19 editions and a Propadeutica theologica with five editions, and an important essay, Intellectual light and ontologism, against an idealistic interpretation of Aquinas. These works, especially the first, became the basis of the Thomistic revival, at least as far as Dominicans were concerned. It was based largely on Goudin and Roselli rather than directly on Aquinas’ commentaries on Aristotle, but it was written in elegant Latin.
The Thomistic movement took on a more international character after 1891 when Leo XIII established an Institute of Philosophy at the University of Louvain under the leadership of Cardinal Mercier (not a Dominican), a psychologist of note. Moreover, with the Pope’s support the Jesuits and other Orders made Thomism the basis of their own theological and educational work. The other chief Dominican figure of this revival in the Order was Zephirino González y Diaz Tuñón (d. 1894), who reflected the fact that Thomism had remained a living tradition in the Spanish provinces even at their lowest ebb and especially around the world at the University of Manila where he taught for some years. He was made Bishop of Córdoba and then Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain and finally Cardinal by Leo XIII, as well as a member of the Royal Senate by the King of Spain. He wrote an Elements of Philosophy (1868, 1877) and a six-volume History of Philosophy (1885), two volumes of Religious Studies and The Bible and Science (1891). Like Mercier at Louvain, Gonzales was concerned that the Thomistic movement should be progressive, open to dialogue with modern philosophy and science.
In 1882 Leo XIII initiated and in 1894 entrusted to the Order the production of a critical edition of all the works of Aquinas (the Leonine Edition) which is still in progress over a hundred years later. Begun by Zigliara, Frati, Lyttleton, and Mackey, and then Clement Suermondt, its method was at first faulty but from the fifth volume of the Summa Theologiae and with the Summa Contra Gentiles improved and after interruptions is now of the highest standard. The growing understanding of the text of Aquinas assisted Zigliara and Alberto Lepidi (d. 1925), Master of the Sacred Palace to oppose efforts to interpret Aquinas in an ontologistic and Cartesian sense.
Dominicans also began important journals. The French began L Année Dominicaine in 1859 and the La Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Théologiques in 1907, the Revue de la Jeunesse 1909 and the Revue Thomiste (editor Thomas Coconnier) in 1908. The Analecta of the Order with important historical documents and studies was founded in 1893. The most important step, however, was the foundation of the Pcole Biblique with its Revue Biblique in 1898 in Jerusalem which placed Dominicans at the heart of the great development of biblical studies then taking place in the Church, soon to result in the Modernist crisis. Thus with amazing rapidity the Order, from its intellectual decline at the beginning of the century, had by the end taken its place at the frontlines of the modern scholarly battle.
Among the notables not already mentioned of this century were in biblical study: Francis Link (1812) who wrote a history of the Jews and was in correspondence with Protestant scholars; Giuseppe Montaldi (d. 1816) author of a dictionary of Hebrew and Aramaic (d. 1784); and Pietro Dandini (d. 1841), an apologist. In history were Augustinus Kratzer (d. 1811) on the history of liturgy; Bishop Filippo Angelo Becchetti (d. 1814), who continued Orsi’s church history to 1587 and was for awhile in difficulty with papal authority; Benedetto Maurus Ohvieri (d. 1835) author of a history of the Church in the eighteenth century; Francisco Rivaz y Madrazo (d. 1884), of an often published textbook of Church history; Emmanuel Ceslaus Bayonne (d. 1885) historian of the Monastery of Nagres and a life of Savonarola; Antomnus Danzas (d. 1888) antiquarian of things Dominican; Tommaso Michele Salzano (d. 1890) Archbishop of Edessa, author of many seminary textbooks including a Church history (four editions) and one in canon law. He also wrote on poverty, on the Immaculate Conception, and an essay on True and False Progress.
By far the most important historian, however, was the famous Joseph Denifle (d. 1905) born in the Tyrol, a student of the Jesuits at Graz, and then as a Dominican a student at Rome and St. Maximin. As a professor he always emphasized the study of sources and his own research was directed especially to the German mystics, then little known. His reputation in Austria as a preacher was great. In 1880 Master Larroca called him as Assistant and to work on the Leonine, and the Pope made him sub-archivist of Vatican. He wrote on the rise of the medieval universities, and a great work on the Chartularium of the University of Paris commissioned by the French government, then on the desolation of the Church in France by the Hundred Years War. With Franz Ehrle he founded the Archiv für Literatur and Kirche des Mittelalters. Posthumously published was the Quellenbelege of documents on German mysticism, a mosaic of whose writings, especially Tauler he had published in 1873. From 1899 he devoted himself to research for his Luther and Lutheranism, a refutation of misrepresentations of the medieval Catholic teaching on faith, grace, and good works. This work, with its exploration of sources, is now recognized to be a caricature of Luther but reaction to it was an enormous stimulus to Lutheran studies. Denifle’s researches were undoubtedly a major factor in the recovery of a historical understanding of the Middle Ages.
Thus, although all this century had a meager harvest of scholarship, it ended by a return to the sources of the Dominican tradition that was to bear great fruit in the twentieth century.
This revival by Denifle of the Northern Dominican tradition of spirituality was probably the greatest gift of the century to the Order’s prayer. The other was the emphasis placed by Jandel on a return to strict observance of the Dominican liturgy in all its details. Yet this return was not as yet backed up by profound historical understanding of liturgical development, nor even as yet by the enthusiasm of the romantic “liturgical movement” that began with the great reviver of the Benedictines, Dom Guéranger.
Yet there were many examples of sanctity among the founders of the numerous active congregations of women and among the friars both scholars and missionaries who are mentioned elsewhere in this chapter, and the reviving Order had a wide influence; as, for example, on Placidus Busher (d. 1851), a Neapolitan priest of great holiness who became a member of the Third Order. Moreover the revival itself had its source in the prayers of contemplatives such as Mother Dominic Clara Moes (d. 1895). We learn from her lengthy autobiography that from an early age she received revelations that she was to pray and suffer for a revival of an Order whose name she did not know. Under a Redemptorist director at Limpertsberg she became a stigmatic and founded a community which after many years she discovered should be affiliated to the Preachers, for whose renewal she had unknowingly been praying. Yet the Dominican Provincial agreed to this only after careful examination of the mystic.
Among the writers not mentioned elsewhere in this chapter were Joseph-Gonzalve Barthier (d. 1911) who wrote an important two-volume work on Christian and Religious Perfection according to St. Thomas and St. François de Sales and Thomas Faucillon (d. 1901) who was twice Provincial of France and founder of the first Dominican convents in Canada. A noted retreat master, he wrote on St. Mary Magdalene and other works of spirituality of a traditional but solid character.
If this record of spirituality for the nineteenth century seems meager, it is amply filled out by the record of preaching and works of charity. The most remarkable preacher of the century was undoubtedly the reviver of the Order Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire (1802-61), of a well-to-do family and whose brother was a noted zoologist. Lacordaire as a young man was a follower of Rousseau and remained after his conversion even to his death, as he said, “a repentant sinner, but an unrepentant liberal” i.e., a believer in the ideals of “equality, liberty, and fraternity” of the Revolution, values not very popular among most Catholics who were monarchists. As a lawyer he was deeply interested in politics. As a priest, trained at St. Sulpice and ordained in 1827, he became discouraged with the situation in France and almost accepted the invitation of Bishop Du Bois of New York to come to the United States as his vicargeneral; but he met the brilliant liberal priest Lamennais and after the Revolution of 1830 worked with him in publishing the newspaper, The Future, fighting for the rights of religious education until it was condemned by Gregory XVI for its identification of Christianity with democracy. He was supported and encouraged to greater moderation by a friend, Madame Sophie-Jeanne Swetchine (1782-1857), a Russian convert from Orthodoxy whose salon included Joseph de Maistre, Count Montalembert, Frédéric Alfred de Fallioux and Alexis de Tocqueville.
In 1834 he began preaching conferences at Collège Stanislas where he was regularly heard by Chateaubriand and Victor Hugo. After his lectures were subject to censorship because of his association with Lamennais, in 1835 he was invited by Archbishop of Paris to be Lenten preacher at Notre Dame where he attracted crowds of 6,000. These famous conferences lasted for ten years but were twice interrupted, the second time by his entry (he first thought of being a Jesuit) in 1839 to the Dominican novitiate and in 1840 his return to France in the habit (not seen there for fifty years). He wrote a life of St. Dominic, and went back to Rome with ten novices. In 1843 he founded a community at Nancy. In 1845 his sermons on the divinity of Jesus Christ were rated by Montalembert as the “greatest triumph of modern Christian oratory.” After the Revolution of 1848 (which he greeted from the pulpit with joy) he was elected as Deputy from Marseilles taking seat on the Extreme Left, but soon resigned as the Assembly degenerated. He gave up preaching in Paris when Napoleon III came to power. From 1854 his health declined and he retired to Sorèze Military Academy where in 1860 he wrote against Napoleon III’s interference with the States of Church. He was elected to the French Academy and spoke on his predecessor De Tocqueville. In 1861 he resigned as Provincial and soon died, leaving nine volumes of writings.
Lacordaire introduced a new manner of preaching, closely reasoned, but impassioned, which made use of current ideas but reinterpreted them in a Christian sense, and especially dwelt on the human attractiveness of Jesus and the Church. A sample is the following, making use of one of the basic themes of the French Revolution, “fraternity”:
Since human reason, under different colors, has begun to combat and enfeeble Christian doctrine in the world, what advance has fraternity made? Its name is in every mouth, it is the basis of systems and of desires; we hear nothing spoken of but the spirit of association and community; everywhere the hand of fellowship is held out: and, nevertheless, a profound sigh, an unanimous complaint denounce to the whole earth the coldness of hearts. When I hearken to the man who bears the burden of military service, to the magistrate devoted to the functions of justice, to the professor revealing to the soul of the young man the secret of his vocation, to the politician studying closely the mainsprings of life; when, in fine, I hearken to the voice of society issuing from every pore, but one word strikes upon my ear — egotism. Humanity is cold and void …. The resurrection will come, Christians, and will come through us. As the world, which desires not humility, which desires not chastity, which desires not the apostleship, desires fraternity; as it must desire it, and ever exercises its ingenuity to practice it, there is common ground whereon we may meet the world. Let us profit by it. Between the world and us, the question is who will spread abroad more of real love, who will give more while receiving less. In this conflict, no one can accuse us. Let us fling ourselves into it with generous hearts; we have received so much love that it costs us little to give it. Let us win over our brethren with benefits; and as coldness increases daily in the world, let warmth increase daily in us, to be communicated to the world.
I have already described the character and work of Alexander Vincent Jandel (d. 1872), but among Lacordaire’s other companions was Hyacinthe Besson (d. 1861), a talented painter, who attempted to apply some of the ideals and style of the “Nazarenes,” artists who wished to recapture pre-Raphaelite religious art. Rohault de Fleury a noted medievalist and expert on Gothic architecture also became a Tertiary. Jandel and Lacordaire both worked for the building of Sacre-Coeur on Montmarte in Paris as a national shrine of Catholicism. Throughout the century other Dominicans occupied Lacordaire’s pulpit in Notre Dame, notably Montsabré, Joseph Ollivier, Thomas Étourneau, and the most famous preacher of all was Henri Didon (d. 1900). These all published sermons, particularly Jacques-Marie Monsabré (1827-1907), ordained 1851, then a Dominican in 1855 at Paris until he was elected prior at Le Havre in 1881. Monsabré made his name as a preacher at Lyons in the Lent of 1857 and the same year he started conferences for youth at Paris. He preached at Notre Dame for Advent in 1869 and then for Lent in 1872. In 1873 he began a systematic exposition of the Creed which took until 1890! These conferences fill 18 volumes and he published other volumes of sermons and meditations on the rosary, two volumes of sermons on prayer, nine volumes of Easter retreats. His Ore and Dross in the Devout Life is more psychological and experiential.
The Dominican renewal touched many in France. Thus Charles Desgenettes (d.1860) priest of Our Lady of Victory, a church ruined by Revolution, heard the voice of the Immaculate Heart of Mary telling him to found a confraternity at the church. He met Lacordaire and in old age became a Tertiary who rejoiced to see the Dominicans fulfill the revelation made to him. Jean Joseph Lataste (d. 1869) rehabilitated women prisoners and offered his life for the declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. He founded the Dominican Sisters of Bethany in 1866, and also the Congregation of Bethany (de Venlo) in 1914, as well as the secular institute of the Mission of Our Lady of Bethany, and the Fraternities and Foyers Lataste. The Revolution of 1870 also resulted in the martyrdom of Luigi Raffaele Captier and 12 companions in Paris (Martyrs of Arcueil College) by the Commune in 1871. Captier, a priest of the First Order, was one of the first four recruits for Lacordaire’s Congregation of Third Order teaching priests. His companions were four other priests of the Congregation, a clerical student, a secular priest, four lay teachers, and twelve other employees, martyred without a trial.
Among the French women Dominicans we have already mentioned the Revolutionary heroine Catherine Jarrige (d. 1836). Others founded active congregations such as Thérèse Dominique Farré (d. 1894). Her father to whom she was much attached was a manual worker and she became breadwinner of her family at the age of 12. From the age of twenty-two she experienced interior graces and in 1860 founded the Dominican Sisters for the Care of the Sick (Bourg) which was soon affiliated to the Order of Preachers. She made only two foundations, then in the upheavals of 1870 offered herself for the Church and then lived for 24 years in sickness. She left a Spiritual Directory for her Congregation edited with her other works by A.M. Meynard, O.P. Her spirituality was laisser faire Dieu, but in an active not a quietist sense.
Mother Thérèse (Vincent Ferrer) Chupin (d.1896) was born in Brittany. For 12 years she cared for women prisoners of St. Lazare in Paris. Some of the ex-prisoners insisted she found a community for them, and their first Mass was said by Père Bourard, one of the martyrs of the Commune. Pius IX had them affiliated as Dominican Tertiaries in 1854, although Thérèse did not much like the Sister of Langres sent to discipline the community in Dominican ways. The novelist Alexander Dumas befriended her and her work.
But undoubtedly the most remarkable of these women was Marie-Pauline Jaricot (1799-1862) of Lyons. Converted 1816 after the death of her mother and a serious illness, she vowed chastity and worked for sometime for the poor in hospitals. In 1817 she wrote her autobiography and started a group “Réparatrices of the Heart of Jesus.” In 1820 her interest in the missions led her to join the newly founded Society for the Propagation of Faith and began her system of getting persons to subscribe a penny a week for the missions, which proved an enormous success. In 1823 she wrote Infinite Love in the Divine Eucharist. Following the Jubilee of 1825 she founded the Living Rosary, a devotion affiliated to the Order in 1836. Her circulars emphasized the value of communal prayer and the diffusion of good books. In 1830 Pauline founded “Daughters of Mary” for reparative adoration. An insurrection of workers in 1831 led her to found a “Bank of Heaven” but this undertaking failed and left her in poverty the rest of her life, begging to pay her debts. Her work for the Gospel was one of the fundamental forces for the Church’s expansion in the nineteenth century.
The Order had returned to England in the 1700s but had painful struggles to recover, assisted, however, by the Oxford Movement back to Catholicism of the Anglicans. Typical was Bertrand Wilberforce (d. 1904), a grandson of the famous abolitionist William Wilberforce. Bertrand became a Catholic, along with his father, and after his ordination became a Dominican in 1864. He was prior of St. Dominic’s in London 1872-5, and in 1877-78 chaplain to the Dominic nuns at Stone. From 1878 he served as a preacher and a notable spiritual director. He wrote works on the Japanese missions, a life of St. Luis Beltrán, a memoir of the nuns of Stone and a very popular work on mental prayer.
The Dominican women were re-established at Stone by the courageous Mother Margaret Hallahan (1803-1868), an Irish woman born in London who went to serve in a doctor’s family in Belgium where she became a Dominican Tertiary in 1835 and founded a Third Order Congregation in 1845 which, though she was often ill, she administered with great care. She was a friend of the chronicler of Vatican I, Bishop Ullathorne, and of Cardinal Newman. Margaret’s successor was an Oxford convert Mother Frances Raphael Drane (d. 1893). Her father was the manager of an East India mercantile house. She became a Catholic in 1850 and the next year a Tertiary. Guided by Lacordaire’s companion, Père Besson, in Rome she entered Margaret Hallahan’s community. She was prioress from 1861 and provincial from 1881. During her term she founded a community in Australia. She was an excellent writer and produced 19 works, including novels, and an outstanding life of St. Catherine of Siena. Her own life was written by Bertrand Wilberforce.
The Order, in spite of persecution, did not die in Spain, as is illustrated by the martyrdom in Vietnam of Saints Bishop Ignatius Delgado and Bishop Dominic Henares, along with Joseph Fernández, Augustine Schoeffler (a Tertiary) and 21 native members of the Rosary Confraternity in 1838, Bishops José Diaz Sanjurjo and Melchior Garcia Sampedro (d. 18578) and 23 companions, and Jerome Hermosilla and Valentine Berrio-Ochoa and Companions (d. 1861). In Spain itself BI. Francis Coll of the Aragon Province (1812-1875) born of a wool-carder’s family was ordained as a Dominican in 1836, but because of the suppression of the Order in Spain spent almost all his life as a Dominican without a community, yet wearing the habit and tirelessly carrying on itinerant preaching. He founded the Congregation of the Annunciation of Sisters in Europe, America and Africa. In his old age he became blind but rejoiced in the restoration of the Order. Dominic Canubio (d. 1864) Bishop of Segovia, a Dominican at 14, who experienced the same Revolutionary troubles as a student, first taught and then as a bishop was famous for his personal charity. He celebrated the declaration of the Immaculate Conception and was present at Jandel’s election. The record of other struggling provinces remains to be studied, but I would mention Jacques Zebedes Falkowski, (d. 1836) in Poland who wrote 12 volumes of sermons, works on the Rosary, etc., and also restored 50 church organs.
It was, however, in the United States that at the darkest hour of the Order’s history new provinces and congregations stemming from Italy, Spain, England, Germany had their birth. The father of all United States Dominicans, however, was Bishop Edward Dominic Fenwick (1768-1832). Born in the originally Catholic colony of Maryland, after an early education at home he was sent to the English Holy Cross College, Bornheim, Belgium, where he was professed as a Dominican in 1790 and ordained in 1793. When the English fled the French Revolutionary invasion, they left him in charge but he was briefly imprisoned and then joined the English Dominicans at Carshalton near London and was given permission to return to Maryland with three of his English confreres to found a college on his family estates.
But Bishop John Carroll, a member of the suppressed Jesuits who had recently founded a college at Georgetown, encouraged Fenwick to sell his estate and move across the mountains to Kentucky, as he did in 1806. By 1812 he had built St. Rose Church, a Priory and a College of St. Thomas Aquinas and initiated a community of Third Order Sisters at St. Catherine’s headed by Mother Angela Sansbury (d. 1839). He then traveled as a missionary through Kentucky and Ohio where after 1816 he concentrated his work at St. Joseph’s, Somerset, where he and Nicholas D. Young opened the first Catholic church of Ohio. As an itinerant preacher he gained the title of “Apostle of Ohio” and he was consecrated first Bishop of Cincinnati in 1822 by Benedict Flaget. In 1823 he went to Rome to obtain more priests and in 1828 established a Province of St. Joseph’s. He built a cathedral, St. Francis’ Seminary and Athenaeum and published the first diocesan paper. By 1832 his diocese had 22 churches and 24 priests, Fenwick died of cholera while on visitation at Wooster, Ohio, and was buried at St. Joseph’s. Humble, always conscious of the brevity of his education, and tireless in his ministry he fully realized St. Dominic’s ideal.
Among the men who struggled for the survival of St. Joseph’s Province which had only 32 priests in 1865 and barely 100 at the turn of the century, notable was Matthew Anthony O’Brien (1804-1871). Born in Ireland, he studied and taught at St. Mary’s College, Marion County, Kentucky, then entered the Dominicans at St. Rose. Ordained in 1839 by the Dominican Bishop Richard P. Miles of Nashville, he became novice
master at Somerset and in 1850 Provincial over no more than 20 missionary priests scattered throughout Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. He opened St. Joseph’s College in Somerset, and preached parish missions from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and east to the Alleghenies. As prior of St.Rose 1854-7 he reopened the College of St. Thomas and then resumed missionary preaching except for two years as pastor of St. Peter’s in London, Ontario.
In the Northwest Territories the founder of the Order was an Italian, Samuel Augustine Mazzuchelli (d. 1864). Born in Milan 1806 of wealthy parents, he entered the Order in Rome in 1822 and, still only a sub-deacon, sailed to America after meeting Fenwick in 1828. He studied at St. Joseph’s and was ordained in Cincinnati in 1830. He then went as a missionary to the Indians on Mackinac Island and in 1833 to the Winnebagos at Portage, Wisconsin, translating a prayer book into their dialect. Then in Galena, Illinois, and Dubuque, Iowa, he built the first churches in 1835, and became Vicar-General to the first bishop, Loras, in 1839.
Mazzuchelli built 20 churches and designed the Old Market House and courthouses in Galena, and also for Madison and Dodgeville and in part the old state capital in Iowa City. In failing health in 1843 he returned to Milan and published his Memoirs. Appointed a missionary apostolic in 1844 he was authorized by the Pope to establish a new province of the Order on the upper Mississippi and he founded a novitate, built several small churches and opened the Sinsinawa Mound College for boys in 1846. When in 1859 his collaborators deserted him he turned this property over to St. Joseph’s. Meanwhile he directed the Congregation of Sisters he had founded at Sinsinawa in 1847, moving them to Benton, Wisconsin in 1852. As pastor at Benton, he died after ministering to the sick during an epidemic.
His extraordinary mind, zeal and vision are best seen in his Memoirs (really an account of the missions) of which the following gives an idea:
The reader should not imagine that the intelligence of the American Indian is less fitted than his own to comprehend the truths of our holy religion. Such an entirely erroneous supposition would lead to the absurd belief that the Indian is incapable of becoming a perfect Christian who lives by faith. Unlike human teachings, Christ’s doctrine is intelligible to all without distinction. Otherwise, how could the Messiah have commanded his Apostles to teach all nations? . . . Among the Indians one had to be satisfied to find shelter in a lodge of mats and sleep as he could, wrapped in a blanket without a bed …. Sometimes during his many years of life on the missions, the circumstances of some families or the priest’s lack of money obliged him to sit at table with persons not only poor, but the coarsest, roughest, wildest of men; and what was still more repugnant to human pride, often to eat the plainest food given as charity. One who is not of ignoble birth and who knows that his education and ecclesiastical profession deserve some consideration is strongly tempted on such occasions to consider the humiliation too great. But then faith makes him think of Jesus in the company and at the table of sinners. The vow of poverty that the religious has taken extinguishes in the depths of his heart the most secret movements of pride and makes him reflect that, to eat what is given in charity, is most fitting for one who professes to be poor like his Divine Master . . . . “Do not go from house to house. Eat what is set before you” (Lk 10:8).
I am convinced that most of our Indian wars are the natural and unavoidable consequences of the misconduct of the whites. Most of our Indian treaties are badly planned by individuals, unfairly ratified and shamefully executed. Individuals make their fortunes at the expense of justice, government is deceived and the Indians abused. The President and the members of Congress judge from what they have read in statements, but the Indians, a little wiser than we are, judge from facts only.”
The most remarkable head of Mazzuchelli’s foundation of Sisters was Mother Emily Power (1844-1909). Her family came to St. Louis and her widowed mother moved to a farm near Sinsinawa where she entered Mazzuchelli’s academy at 13 and became a Sister at 17 in Benton. In 1867 she was made Mother General and moved the community back to Sinsinawa and continued in office until her death, building an apostolate of education at all levels that extended to 20 states, Europe, and South America. She was one of the first superiors to send her sisters to secular schools and The Catholic University of America. Nor did she neglect the social apostolate for laborers in Minnesota, Montana and the Chicago stock yards.
Other communities had European origins. Thus two choir nuns Augustina Neuhieral (d. 1877) and Josepha Witzlhofer with two lay sisters Francisca Retter and Jacobina Rieder from the thirteenth-century monastery of the Holy Cross in Regensburg at the invitation of Abbot Wimmer, founder of the abbey of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, were sent by Mother Benedicta Bauer to New York in 1853. They settled first in Brooklyn, then, Williamsburg, and finally Amityville, New York and began conducting schools. From this grew a great tree of similar congregations of Newburgh, New York (1869); Caldwell, New Jersey (1881); Mission San José, California (1888); Tacoma, Washington (1888); Blauvelt, New York (1890); Grand Rapids, Michigan (1896); Great Bend, Kansas (1902); Adrian, Michigan (1923); and Edmonds, Washington (1923). Racine, Wisconsin (1862) was also founded separately from Regensburg. The same process of vast expansion of Third Order Sisters was going on throughout the world in this century. Thus nine congregations in Ireland, New Zealand, Africa, the United States, etc., sprang from the Irish monastery-in-exile of Cabra, Spain; six from St. Catherine’s in Kentucky, four from Albi in France, and many were founded independently. In each case there were remarkable and holy women founders and leaders. Some 34 such congregations were added to the Order in this century and began greatly to surpass in numbers the friars and nuns.
Another notable preacher of this time was the Irishman Tom Burke (d. 1883) who entered the Order in Italy and was sent as novice master by Jandel to England at 21 when not yet ordained. Back to San Clemente in Rome, he became famous as a preacher. In Ireland at Daniel O’Connell’s funeral he preached to 50,000. He was a theologian at Vatican 1. Averaging at least two sermons a day, he preached for years in Europe and came to America, preaching through Kentucky, Ohio, and New York, and other eastern cities for a year and a half, although always in poor health. “I can only compare myself to Ned Burke’s dog during the famine; they had to support his back at the wall to enable him to bark.” He died at 54 after preaching in England for the starving children of Ireland.
Joseph Sadoc Alemany (1814-1888) was no less remarkable than Mazzuchelli. A Catalonian from a family of seven, all of whom became priests or religious, he was ordained in Viterbo in 1837 with the intention of going to China, but instead went with Bishop Miles of Nashville to America. He learned English at Somerset and then collected funds in Cuba, taught at the Nashville Seminary, was pastor in Memphis, became a United States citizen, novice master at Somerset, and then Provincial. But on a trip to Rome Pius IX made him bishop of Monterey, California, where he had been preceded by a Franciscan. He built three churches in San Francisco and two others in his diocese from which the Franciscans had been expelled 50 years before. At Vatican I and Baltimore III he made a strong impression and headed a commission to prepare the famous Baltimore catechism. In 1884 he returned to Spain and died three years later at Valencia. His original companion to California was Francisco Sadoc Vilarrasa (d. 1888) who founded the Dominican Holy Name Province on the West Coast. Vilarrasa was also a Catalonian who had served as Novice Master at Viterbo under Lacordaire and Jandel. In America he was novice master at Somerset and attended the General Chapter of Naples in 1849. He went with Alemany to California, taking Sister Mary Goemare, a young novice, to begin a Third Order community in 1850. He started the novitiate at Monterey with six Catalonian novices whom he taught strict observance, then he transferred the novitiate to Benicia. He went to St. Dominic’s in San Francisco in 1873 as Dominican superior until his death in 1888 and did not live to see the actual establishment of the Province in 1912.
Thus at the end of the century, the Order, almost dead at the beginning, was flourishing in many countries, and not least in the United States. Other than its renewal, the most striking feature was the proliferation of active Third Order women’s congregations, some 34 of them, throughout the world.