The New Evangelization - Europe

Virgin, Foundress of the Poor Clares – AD 1253 (August 11)

The Lady Clara, "shining in name, more shining in life," was born in the town of Assisi about the year 1193. Her mother was to become Blessed Ortolana di Fiumi. Her father is said to have been Favorino Scifi, Count of Sasso-Rosso, though whether he came of that noble branch of the Scifi family is not certain. Concerning Clara's childhood we have no reliable information. She was eighteen years old when St. Francis, preaching the Lenten sermons at the church of St. George in Assisi, influenced her to change the whole course of her life. It is likely that a marriage not to her liking had been proposed; at any rate, she went secretly to see Friar Francis and asked him to help her to live "after the manner of the Holy Gospel." Talking with him strengthened her desire to leave all worldly things behind and live for Christ. On Palm Sunday of that year, 1212, she came to the cathedral of Assisi for the blessing of palms, but when the others went up to the altar-rails to receive their branch of green, a sudden shyness kept Clara back. The bishop saw it and came down from the altar and gave her a branch. The following evening she slipped away from her home and hurried through the woods to the chapel of the Portiuncula, where Francis was then living with his small community. He and his brethren had been at prayers before the altar and met her at the door with lighted tapers in their hands. Before the Blessed Virgin's altar Clara laid off her fine cloak, Francis sheared her hair, and gave her his own penitential habit, a tunic of coarse cloth tied with a cord. Then, since as yet he had no nunnery, he took her at once for safety to the Benedictine convent of St. Paul, where she was affectionately welcomed. When it was known at home what Clara had done, relatives and friends came to rescue her. She resisted valiantly when they tried to drag her away, clinging to the convent altar so firmly as to pull the cloths half off. Baring her shorn head, she declared that Christ had called her to His service, she would have no other spouse, and the more they continued their persecutions the more steadfast she would become. Francis had her removed to the nunnery of Sant' Angelo di Panzo, where her sister Agnes, a child of fourteen, joined her. This meant more difficulty for them both, but Agnes' constancy too was victorious, and in spite of her youth Francis gave her the habit. Later he placed them in a small and humble house, adjacent to his beloved church of St. Damian, on the outskirts of Assisi, and in 1215, when Clara was about twenty-two, he appointed her superior and gave her his rule to live by. She was soon joined by her mother and several other women, to the number of sixteen. They had all felt the strong appeal of poverty and sackcloth, and without regret gave up their titles and estates to become Clara's humble disciples. Within a few years similar convents were founded in the Italian cities of Perugia, Padua, Rome, Venice, Mantua, Bologna, Milan, Siena, and Pisa, and also in various parts of France and Germany. Agnes, daughter of the King of Bohemia, established a nunnery of this order in Prague, and took the habit herself. The "Poor Clares," as they came to be known, practiced austerities which until then were unusual among women. They went barefoot, slept on the ground, observed a perpetual abstinence from meat, and spoke only when obliged to do so by necessity or charity. Clara herself considered this silence desirable as a means of avoiding the innumerable sins of the tongue, and for keeping the mind steadily fixed on God. Not content with the fasts and other mortifications required by the rule, she wore next her skin a rough shirt of hair, fasted on vigils and every day in Lent on bread and water, and on some days ate nothing. Francis or the bishop of Assisi sometimes had to command her to lie on a mattress and to take a little nourishment every day. Discretion, came with years, and much later Clara wrote this sound advice to Agnes of Bohemia: "Since our bodies are not of brass and our strength is not the strength of stone, but instead we are weak and subject to corporal infirmities, I implore you vehemently in the Lord to refrain from the exceeding rigor of abstinence which I know you practice, so that living and hoping in the Lord you may offer Him a reasonable service and a sacrifice seasoned with the salt of prudence." Francis, as we know, had forbidden his order ever to possess revenues or lands or other property, even when held in common. The brothers were to subsist on daily contributions from the people about them. Clara also followed this way of life. When she left home she had given what she had to the poor, retaining nothing for her own needs or those of the convent. Pope Gregory IX proposed to mitigate the requirement of absolute poverty and offered to settle a yearly income on the Poor Ladies of St. Damien. Clara, eloquent in her determination never to break her vows to Christ and Francis, got permission to continue as they had begun. "I need," she said, "to be absolved from my sins, but I do not wish to be absolved from my obligation to follow Jesus Christ." In 1228, therefore, two years after Francis' death, the Pope granted the Assisi sisterhood a <Privilegium paupertatis>, or Privilege of Poverty, that they might not be constrained by anyone to accept possessions. "He who feeds the birds of the air and gives raiment and nourishment to the lilies of the field will not leave you in want of clothing or of food until He come Himself to minister to you for eternity." The convents in Perugia and Florence asked for and received this privilege; other convents thought it more prudent to moderate their poverty. Thus began the two observances which have ever since been perpetuated among the Poor Clares, as they later came to be called. The houses of the mitigated rule are called Urbanist, from the concession granted them in 1263 by Pope Urban IV. But as early as 1247 Pope Innocent IV had published a revised form of the rule, providing for the holding of community property. Clara, the very embodiment of the spirit and tradition of Francis, drew up another rule stating that the sisters should possess no property, whether as individuals or as a community. Two days before she died this was approved by Pope Innocent for the convent of St. Damian. Clara governed the convent continuously from the day when Francis appointed her abbess until her death, a period of nearly forty years. Yet it was her desire always to be beneath all the rest, serving at table, tending the sick, washing and kissing the feet of the lay sisters when they returned footsore from begging. Her modesty and humility were such that after caring for the sick and praying for them, she often had other sisters give them furthur care, that their recovery might not be imputed to any prayers or merits of hers. Clara's hands were forever willing to do whatever there was of woman's work that could help Francis and his friars. "Dispose of me as you please," she would say. "I am yours, since I have given my will to God. It is no longer my own." She would be the first to rise, ring the bell in the choir, and light the candles; she would come away from prayer with radiant face. The power and efficacy of her prayers are illustrated by a story told by Thomas of Celano, a contemporary. In 1244, Emperor Frederick II, then at war with the Pope, was ravaging the valley of Spoleto, which was part of the patrimony of the Holy See. He employed many Saracens in his army, and a troop of these infidels came in a body to plunder Assisi. St. Damien's church, standing outside the city walls, was one of the first objectives. While the marauders were scaling the convent walls, Clara, ill as she was, had herself carried out to the gate and there the Sacrament was set up in sight of the enemy. Prostrating herself before it, she prayed aloud: "Does it please Thee, O God, to deliver into the hands of these beasts the defenseless children whom I have nourished with Thy love? I beseech Thee, good Lord, protect these whom now I am not able to protect." Whereupon she heard a voice like the voice of a little child saying, "I will have them always in My care." She prayed again, for the city, and again the voice came, reassuring her. She then turned to the trembling nuns and said, "Have no fear, little daughters; trust in Jesus." At this, a sudden terror seized their assailants and they fled in haste. Shortly afterward one of Frederick's generals laid siege to Assisi itself for many days. Clara told her nuns that they, who had received their bodily necessities from the city, now owed it all the assistance in their power. She bade them cover their heads with ashes and beseech Christ as suppliants for its deliverance. For a whole day and night they prayed with all their might- and with many tears, and then "God in his mercy so made issue with temptation that the besiegers melted away and their proud leader with them, for all he had sworn an oath to take the city." Another story, which became very popular in later times, told how Clara and one of her nuns once left their cloister and went down to the Portiuncula to sup with Francis, and how a marvelous light radiated from the room where they sat together. However, no contemporary mentions this story, nor any other writer for at least one hundred and fifty years, whereas Thomas of Celano says that he often heard Francis warning his followers to avoid injudicious association with the sisters, and he states flatly that Clara never left the enclosure of St. Damian. During her life and after her death there was disagreement at intervals between the Poor Clares and the Brothers Minor as to their correct relations. The nuns maintained that the friars were under obligation to serve their needs in things both spiritual and temporal. When in 1230 Pope Gregory IX forbade the friars to visit the convents of the nuns without special license, Clara feared the edict might lead to a complete severing of the ties established by Francis. She thereupon dismissed every man attached to her convent, those who served their material needs as well as those who served them spiritually; if she could not have the one, she would not have the other. The Pope wisely referred the matter to the minister general of the Brothers Minor to adjust. After long years of sickness borne with sublime patience, Clara's life neared its end in the summer of 1253. Pope Innocent IV came to Assisi to give her absolution, remarking, "Would to God I had so little need of it!" To her nuns she said, "Praise the Lord, beloved daughters, for on this most blessed day both Jesus Christ and his vicar have deigned to visit me." Prelates and cardinals gathered round, and many people were convinced that the dying woman was truly a saint. Her sister Agnes was with her, as well as three of the early companions of Francis-Leo, Angelo, and Juniper. They read aloud the Passion according to St. John, as they had read it at the death-bed of Francis twenty-seven years before. Someone exhorted Clara to patience and she replied, "Dear brother, ever since through His servant Francis I have known the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, I have never in my whole life found any pain or sickness that could trouble me." To herself she was heard to say, "Go forth without fear, Christian soul, for you have a good guide for your journey. Go forth without fear, for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother." Pope Innocent IV and his cardinals assisted at the funeral of the abbess. The Pope would have had her canonized immediately had not the cardinals present advised against it. His successor, Alexander IV, canonized her after two years, in 1255, at Anagni. Her body, which lay first in the church of St. George in Assisi, was translated to a stately church built to receive it in 1260. Nearly six hundred years later, in 1850, it was discovered, embalmed and intact, deep down beneath the high altar, and subsequently removed to a new shrine in the crypt, where, lying in a glass case, it may still be seen. In 1804 a change was made in the rule of the Poor Clares, originally a contemplative order, permitting these religious to take part in active work. Today there are houses of the order in North and South America, Palestine, Ireland, England, as well as on the Continent. The emblem of St. Clara is a monstrance, and in art she is frequently represented with a ciborium.  

Abbot, Confessor – AD 597 (June 9)

Columba, the most famous of the saints associated with Scotland, was actually an Irishman of the O'Neill or O'Donnell clan, born about the year 521 at Garton, County Donegal, in north Ireland. Of royal lineage on both sides, his father, Fedhlimidh, or Phelim, was great-grandson to Niall of the Nine Hostages, Overlord of Ireland, and connected with the Dalriada princes of southwest Scotland; his mother, Eithne, was descended from a king of Leinster. The child was baptized Colum, or Columba.[1] In later life he was given the name of Columcille or Clumkill, that is, Colum of the Cell or Church, an appropriate title for one who became the founder of so many monastic cells and religious establishments.

As soon as he was old enough, Columba was taken from the care of his priest-guardian at Tulach-Dugblaise, or Temple Douglas, to St. Finnian's training school at Moville, at the head of Strangford lough. He was about twenty, and a deacon, when he left to study in the school of Leinster under an aged theologian and bard called Gemman. With their songs of heroes, the bards were the preservers of Irish lore, and Columba himself became a poet. Still later he attended the famous monastic school of Clonard, presided over by another Finnian, who in later times was known as the "tutor of Erin's saints." At one time three thousand students were gathered here from all over Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and even from Gaul and Germany. It was probably at Clonard that Columba was ordained priest, although it may have been later, when he was living with his friends, Comgall, Kieran, and Kenneth, under the most gifted of all his teachers, St. Mobhi, by a ford in the river Tolca, called Dub Linn, the site of the future city of Dublin. In 543 an outbreak of plague compelled Mobhi to close his school, and Columba, now twenty-five years old and fully trained, returned to Ulster. He was a striking figure of great stature and powerful build, with a loud, melodious voice which could be heard from one hilltop to another. For the next fifteen years Columba went about Ireland preaching and founding monasteries, the chief of which were those at Derry, Durrow, and Kells.

The powerful stimulus given to Irish learning by St. Patrick in the previous century was now beginning to burgeon. Columba himself dearly loved books, and spared no pains to obtain or make copies of Psalters, Bibles, and other valuable manuscripts for his monks.-His former master Finnian had brought back from Rome the first copy of St. Jerome's Psalter to reach Ireland. Finnian guarded this precious volume jealously, but Columba got permission to look at it, and surreptitiously made a copy for his own use. Finnian, on being told of this, laid claim to the copy. Columba refused to give it up, and the question of ownership was put before Ring Diarmaid, Overlord of Ireland. His curious decision in this early "copyright" case went against Columba. "To every cow her calf," reasoned the King, "and to every book its son-book. Therefore the copy you made, O Colum Cille, belongs to Finnian." Columba was soon to have a more serious grievance against the King. Prince Curnan of Connaught, who had fatally injured a rival in a hurling match and had taken refuge with Columba, was dragged from his protector's arms and slain by Diarmaid's men, in defiance of the rights of sanctuary.

The war which soon broke out between Columba's clan and the clans loyal to Diarmaid was instigated, it is said, by Columba. At the battle of Cuil Dremne his cause was victorious, but Columba was accused of being morally responsible for driving three thousand unprepared souls into eternity. A church synod was held at Tailltiu (Telltown) in County Meath, which passed a vote of censure and would have followed it by excommunication but for the intervention of St. Brendan. Columba's own conscience was uneasy, and on the advice of an aged hermit, Molaise, he resolved to expiate his offense by exiling himself and trying to win for Christ in another land as many souls as had perished in the terrible battle of Cuil Dremne.

This traditional account of the events which led to Columba's departure from Ireland may well be correct, although missionary zeal and love of Christ are the motives mentioned for his going by the earliest biographers and by Adamnan,[2] our chief authority for his subsequent history. Whatever the impulse that prompted him, in the year 563, Columba embarked with twelve companions in a wicker coracle covered with leather, and on the eve of Pentecost landed on the island of Hi, or Iona.[3] The first thing he did there was to erect a high stone cross; then he built a monastery, which was to be his home for the rest of his life. The island itself was made over to him by his kinsman Conall, king of the British Dalriada, who perhaps had invited him to come to Scotland in the first place. Lying across from the border country between the Picts of the north and the Scots of the south, Iona made an ideal center for missionary work. Columba seems to have first devoted himself to teaching the imperfectly instructed Christians of Dalriada, most of whom were of Irish descent, but after some two years he turned to the work of converting the Scottish Picts. With his old comrades, Comgall and Kenneth, both of them Irish Picts, he made his way through Loch Ness northward to the castle of the redoubtable King Brude, near modern Inverness.

That pagan monarch had given strict orders that they were not to be admitted, but when Columba raised his arm and made the sign of the cross, it was said that bolts fell out and gates swung open, permitting the strangers to enter. Impressed by such powers, the King listened to them and ever after held Columba in high regard. As Overlord of Scotland he confirmed him in possession of Iona. We know from Adamnan that on several occasions Columba crossed the mountain chain which divides Scotland and that his travels also took him far north, and through the Western Isles. He is said to have planted churches as far east as Aberdeenshire and to have evangelized nearly the whole of the country of the Picts. When the descendants of the Dalriada kings became the rulers of Scotland, they were naturally eager to magnify the achievements of their hero and distant kinsman, Columba, and may have attributed to him victories won by others.

Columba never lost touch with Ireland. In 575 he was at the synod of Drumceatt in County Meath in company with King Conall's successor, Aidan, whom he had helped to place on the throne and had crowned at Iona, in his role as chief ecclesiastical ruler. His immense influence is shown by his veto of a proposal to abolish the order of bards and his securing for women exemption from all military service. When not on missionary journeys, Columba was to be found in his cell on Iona, where persons of all conditions visited him, some in want of spiritual or material help, some drawn by his miracles and sanctity. His biographer gives us a picture of a serene old age. His manner of life was austere; he slept on a bare slab of rock and ate barley or oat cakes, drinking only water. When he became too weak to travel, he spent long hours copying manuscripts, as he had done in his youth. On the day before his death he was at work on a Psalter, and had just traced the words, "They that love the Lord shall lack no good thing," when he paused and said, "Here I must stop; let Baithin do the rest." Baithin was his cousin. whom he had already nominated as his successor. When the monks entered the church for Matins, they found their beloved abbot lying helpless and dying before the altar. As his faithful attendant Diarmaid gently upraised him, he made a feeble effort to bless his brethren and then expired.

Iona was for centuries one of the famous centers of Christian learning For a long time afterwards, Scotland, Ireland, and Northumbria followed the observances Columba had set for the monastic life, in distinction to those that were brought from Rome by later missionaries. His rule, based on the Eastern Rule of St. Basil, was that of many monasteries of Western Europe until superseded by the milder ordinance of St. Benedict. Adamnan, who must have bee n brought up on memories and recollections of Columba, writes eloquently of him: "He had the face of an angel; he was of excellent nature, polished in speech, holy in deed, great in council. He never let a single hour pass without engaging in prayer or reading or writing or some other occupation. He endured the hardships of fasting and vigils without intermission by day and night; the burden of a single one of his labors would have seemed beyond the powers of man. And, in the midst of all his toils, he appeared loving unto all, serene and holy, rejoicing in the joy of the Holy Spirit in his inmost heart."


Alone am I upon the mountain;
O Royal Sun, be the way prosperous;
I have no more fear of aught
Than if there were six thousand with me.
If there were six thousand with me
Of people, though they might defend my body,
When the appointed moment of my death shall come,
There is no fortress that can resist it.
They that are ill-fated are slain even in a church,
Even on an island in the middle of a lake;
They that are well-fated are preserved in life,
Though they were in the first rank of battle, . . .
Whatever God destines for one,
He shall not go from the world till it befall him;
Though a Prince should seek anything more
Not as much as a mite shall he obtain....
O Living God, O Living God!
Woe to him who for any reason does evil.
What thou seest not come to thee,
What thou seest escapes from thy grasp.
Our fortune does not depend on sneezing.
Nor on a bird on the point of a twig,
Nor on the trunk of a crooked tree,
Nor on a sordan hand in hand,
Better is He on whom we depend,
The Father, the One, and the Son....
I reverence not the voices of birds,
Nor sneezing, nor any charm in the wide world,
Nor a child of chance, nor a woman;
My Druid is Christ, the Son of God.

Christ the Son of Mary, the great Abbot,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost;
My Possession is the King of Kings;
My Order is in Kells and Moone.
Alone am I.

(D. Macgregor, Saint Columba, Edinburgh, 1897.)


[1] Some records say he was baptized Crimthan, meaning the Fox, but that hisgentleness and goodness as a child so won all hearts that he was rechristened Colum, or Columba, Latin for dove.

[2] The historian Adamnan was born in Donegal about 624. He became abbot of Iona, being ninth in succession after Columba. His <Life of St. Columba> is a rich mine of anecdote.

[3] The original form of the word was Hy or I, which is Irish for island. Iona is one of the Inner Hebrides, just off the west coast of Scotland. It became known also as Icolmkill, "the island of Columba of the Cell." It had been a sacred place to the Druids before Columba landed there, and was to become the center of Celtic Christianity.

[4] Columba sang this song as he walked alone, it was thought to be a protection to anyone who sang it on a journey, like the "Lorica" of St. Patrick.

Confessor, Founder of the Order of Preachers – AD 1221 (August 8)

Dominic, founder of the great order of preaching friars which bears his name, was born in the year 1170 at Calaruega, Castile, Spain, of a noble family with illustrious connections. His father, Don Felix de Guzman, held the post of royal warden of the village; his mother, a woman of unusual sanctity, was to become Blessed Joan of Aza. Very early it was decided that Dominic should have a career in the Church. His call was so evident that while he was still a student, Martin de Bazan, bishop of Osma, appointed him canon of the cathedral, and the stipend he received helped him to continue his studies. Dominic's love of learning and his charity are both exemplified in a story of his student days. He had gathered a collection of religious books inscribed on parchment; these he greatly treasured, but one day he sold the whole lot that he might give the money thus obtained to some poor people. "I could not bear to prize dead skins," he said, "when living skins were starving and in need."

At the age of twenty-five he was ordained and took up his duties. The chapter lived under the rule of St. Augustine, and the strict observance gave the young priest the discipline that he was to practice and teach to others all his life. Someone who knew Dominic at this time wrote that he was first of all the monks in holiness frequenting the church day and night, and scarcely venturing beyond the walls of the cloister. He was soon made subprior, and when the prior, Diego d'Azevado, became bishop of Osma. about 1201, Dominic succeeded to his office. He had then been leading the contemplative life for six or seven years.

When, two years later, the bishop was appointed by the King to go on an embassy to negotiate a marriage for the King's son, he chose Dominic to accompany him. On the way, they passed through Languedoc, in southern France, where the Albigensian heresy was winning many adherents.[1] The host at an inn where they stopped was an Albigensian, and Dominic spent a whole night in discussion with him. By morning he had convinced the man of his error. From that day, it appears, Dominic knew with certainty that the work God required of him was an active life of teaching in the world The ambassadors returned to Castile after their mission was accomplished, then were sent back to escort the young woman to her future home, but they arrived only to assist at her funeral. Their retinue returned to Castile, while they went to Rome to ask leave of Pope Innocent III to preach the Gospel to the infidels in the East. The Pope urged them to stay and fight against the heresy which was threatening the Church in France. Bishop Diego begged to be allowed to resign his episcopal see, but to this the Pope would not consent, though he gave him permission to stay two years in Languedoc. They paid a visit to St. Bernard's monastery at Citeaux, whose monks had been appointed to go on a mission to convert the Albigensians. Don Diego put on the Cistercian habit and almost at once set out with Dominic and a band of preachers.

Albigensian doctrine was based on a dualism of two eternally opposing principles, good and evil, all matter being regarded as evil and the creator of the material world as a devil. Hence the doctrine of the Incarnation was denied, and the Old Testament and the Sacrament rejected. To be perfect or "pure" a person must refrain from sexual relations and be extremely abstemious in eating and drinking. Suicide by starvation was by some regarded as a noble act. In its more extreme form Albigensianism thus threatened the very existence of human society. The rank and file did not attempt such austerity, of course, but the leaders maintained high standards of asceticism, in contrast with which the easy-going observance of the Cistercian preachers away from home looked far from saintly. Dominic and Diego now advised those who had been in charge of the mission to give up their horses, retinues, and servants. Also, as soon as they won a hearing, they were to use the method of peaceful persuasion instead of threats. The way of life Dominic enjoined on others he was the first to follow himself. He rarely ate anything but bread and soup; if he drank wine it was two thirds water; his bed was the floor, unless-as sometimes happened-he was so exhausted that he lay down at the side of the road to sleep.

The missionaries' first meeting with the heretics took place at Servian in 1206, where they made several conversions; afterwards they preached at Carcassone and neighboring towns, but nowhere did they meet with unusual success. At one public debate the judges submitted Dominic's statement of the Catholic faith to the ordeal by fire, and three times, it is recorded, the parchment was left unharmed by the flames. The heresy, supported as it was by the great spiritual and temporal lords of the country, had a strong hold on the populace, who seemed unmoved either by preaching or miracles. Diego, disappointed with the results, returned to Osma, leaving Dominic in France.

Women often exerted great influence in the Middle Ages, and Dominic was struck by their share in the propagation of Albigensianism. He also observed that many Catholic girls of good family were exposed to wrong examples in their own homes or else were sent to Albigensian convents to be educated. On the feast of St. Mary Magdalen in 1206 he had a vision which led him to found a convent at Prouille, in the diocese of Toulouse, to shelter nine nuns, who had been converted from heresy. He wrote for them a rule of strict enclosure, penance, and contemplation, with the spinning of wool for their manual occupation. A house was founded a little later, in the same locality, for his preaching friars, whom he placed under a strict rule of poverty, study, and prayer.

In 1208, after the murder of a papal legate, Pope Innocent called on the Christian princes to suppress the heresy by force of arms. The Catholic forces were led by Simon de Montfort, the Albigensian by the Count of Toulouse. Everywhere Montfort was victorious, but he left behind him destruction and death. Dominic had no part in this terrible civil war. Courageously he continued to preach, going wherever he was called, seeking only the good of those who hated him. Many attempts were made on his life, and when he was asked what he would do if caught by his enemies, he answered, "I would tell them to kill me slowly and painfully, a little at a time, so that I might have a more glorious crown in Heaven." When Montfort's armies approached where he was preaching, he did all he could to save human life. Among the crusaders themselves, many of whom had joined the Catholic side for the sake of plunder, he discovered disorder, vice, and ignorance. Dominic labored among them with as much diligence and compassion as among the heretics. The Albigensian military forces were finally crushed in the battle of Muret, in 1213, a victory which Montfort attributed to Dominic's prayers. The victor was not satisfied, however, and, to Dominic's great distress, kept up for five years longer a campaign of devastation, until at last he was killed in battle.

Dominic had no illusions as to the righteousness or efficacy of establishing orthodoxy by armed force, nor had he himself anything to do with the episcopal courts of the Inquisition which were set up in southern France to work with the civil power. He never appears to have approved of the execution of those unfortunate persons whom the courts condemned as obdurate. His biographers say that he saved the life of a young man on his way to the stake, by assuring the judges that, if released, the man would die a good Catholic. The prophecy was fulfilled some years later, when the man entered the Dominican Order. Dominic rebuked the bishop of Toulouse for traveling with soldiers, servants, and pack-mules. "The enemies of the faith cannot be overcome like that," he said. "Arm yourself with prayer instead of a sword; be clothed with humility instead of fine raiment." Offered a bishopric three times, Dominic each time declined, knowing well that his work lay elsewhere.

He thus spent nearly ten years in Languedoc, with headquarters at Prouille, leading the mission and directing the work of his special band of preachers. His great desire was to revive a true apostolic spirit in the ministers of the altar, for too many of the Catholic clergy lived for their own pleasure, without scruple. He dreamed of a new religious order, not like the older ones, whose members led lives of contemplation and prayer in isolated groups, and who were not necessarily priests. His men would join to their prayers and meditation a thorough training in theology and the duties of a popular pastor and preacher; like the earlier monks, they would practice perpetual abstinence from meat and live in poverty, depending on alms for subsistence. They would be directed from a central authority, so that they could be moved about according to the need of the time. Dominic hoped thus to provide the Church with expert and zealous preachers, whose spirit and example would spread the light. In 1214 Bishop Foulques conferred on him a benefice at Fanjeaux, and gave his episcopal approval to the new order. A few months later he-took Dominic with him to Rome to attend the Fourth Lateran Council, as his theologian.

Pope Innocent III approved the convent at Prouille. He also issued a decree, which was counted as the tenth canon of the council, reminding all parish clergy of their obligation to preach, and stressing the need of choosing pastors who were powerful in both words and works. The current neglect of preaching, said the Pope, was one cause of the ignorance, disorders, and heresies then rampant. Yet Dominic did not find it easy to get formal approval for his preaching order; it contained too many innovations for sanction to be granted hastily; moreover, the council had already voted against the multiplication of religious orders.[2] It is said that Innocent had decided to withhold his consent, but on the next night dreamed he saw the Lateran Church[3] tottering as if on the verge of collapse; Dominic stepped forward to support it. Be that as it may, the Pope finally gave oral approval to Dominic's plan, bidding him return to his brothers and select one of the rules already approved.

The little company which met at Prouille in August, 1216, consisted of eight Frenchmen, eight Spaniards, and one Englishman. After some discussion, they chose the rule of St. Augustine, the oldest and least detailed of the existing rules, which had been written for priests by a priest who was himself an eminent preacher. He added certain special provisions, some borrowed from the more austere order of Premontre. Meanwhile Pope Innocent died, in July of 1216, and Honorius III was elected in his place. In October of that year, after Dominic had set up a friary in Toulouse, he went to Rome. Honorius formally confirmed his order and its constitutions in December. The brothers were to be, in the words of the Pope's bull, "the champions of the faith and the true lights of the world."

Instead of returning at once to France, Dominic stayed in Rome until the following Easter in order to preach. He suggested to the Pope that since many of the clerics attached to his court could not attend lectures and courses outside, a master of sacred studies in residence would be very useful. Honorius then created the office of Master of the Sacred Palace, who ex-officio serves as the Pope's personal canonist and theologian, nominates his preachers, and assists at consistories. He ordered Dominic to assume the office temporarily, and ever since it has been held by a member of the order. While at Rome, too, Dominic composed a commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul, much commended in his day, but, like his sermons and letters, it has not survived.

During this time Dominic formed friendships with Cardinal Ugolino and Francis of Assisi. The story goes that in a dream Dominic saw the sinful world threatened by the divine anger but saved by the intercession of the Virgin, who pointed out to her Son two figures, one of whom Dominic recognized as himself, while the other was a stranger. The next day in church he saw a poorly dressed fellow whom he recognized at once as the man in his dream. It was Francis of Assisi. He went up to him and embraced him, exclaiming, "You are my companion and must walk with me. For if we hold together no earthly power can withstand us." This meeting of the founders of the two great orders of friars, whose special mission was to go out into the world to save it, is still commemorated twice a year, when on their respective feast days the brothers of both orders sing Mass together, and afterwards sit at the same table. Dominic's character was in marked contrast to that of Francis, but they stood united on the common ground of faith and charity.

On August 13, 1217, the Friars Preachers, popularly known in later times as the Dominicans, first met as an order at Prouille. Dominic spoke to them on methods of preaching and urged them to unremitting study and training. He reminded them too that their primary duty was their own sanctification, for they were to be successors of the Apostles. They must be humble, putting their whole confidence in God alone; only thus might they be invincible against evil. Two days later, Dominic abruptly broke up his little band, dispersing them in different directions. Four he sent to Spain, seven to Paris, two returned to Toulouse, and two stayed at Prouille. Dominic himself went back to Rome. He had hopes that he might resign his post and set off to preach to the Tartars, but Pope Honorius would not give his consent.

The four remaining years of Dominic's life were spent in developing the order. Honorius gave him the church of St. Sixtus in Rome as a center for his activities. He preached in many of the city's churches, including St. Peter's. An old chronicle tells us that a woman named Gutadona, on coming home one day from hearing him preach, found her little child dead. In her grief she lifted him out of the cradle, and carried him to the church of St. Sixtus to lay him at Dominic's feet. He uttered a few words of fervent prayer, made the sign of the cross, and the child was straightway restored to life. The Pope would have had this miracle proclaimed from the pulpit, but the entreaties of Dominic checked him.

Large numbers of nuns were living in Rome at this time, uncloistered and almost unregulated, some scattered about in small convents, others staying in the houses of parents or friends Honorius now asked Dominic to assemble these nuns into one enclosed house. Dominic gave to the nuns his own monastery of St. Sixtus, which was then completed. For his friars he was given a house on the Aventine Hill, with the adjacent church of St. Sabina.

A house of the order had been founded at the University of Paris, and Dominic had sent a contingent to the University of Bologna, there to set up one of the most famous of his establishments. In 1218 he journeyed through Languedoc to his native Spain, and founded a friary at Segovia, another at Madrid, and a convent of nuns, directed by his brother. In April, 1219, he returned to Toulouse, and from there went to Paris, the first and only visit he paid to the city. On his way back he stopped to found houses at Avignon, Asti and at Bergamo in Lombardy. Towards the end of the summer Dominic reached Bologna, there to live until his death. In 1220 Pope Honorius confirmed his title as Master General of the Order of Brothers Preachers, and the first general chapter was held at Bologna. The final constitutions were then drawn up which made the order what it has since been called, "the most perfect of all the monastic organizations produced by the Middle Ages." That same year the Pope charged them, along with the monks of other orders, to undertake a preaching crusade in Lombardy. Under Dominic's leadership, a hundred thousand heretics are said to have been brought back to the Church.

Although Dominic had hoped to journey to barbarous lands to preach and eventually to achieve martyrdom, this was denied him. The ministry of the Word, however, was to be the chief aim of his great order. Those members who had a talent for preaching were never to rest, except during the intervals assigned to them for retirement They must prepare for their high calling by prayer, self-denial, and obedience. Dominic frequently quoted the saying: "A man who governs his passions is master of the world. We must either rule them, or be ruled by them. It is better to be the hammer than the anvil." He taught his friars the art of reaching the hearts of their hearers by animating them with a love of men. Once, after delivering a stirring sermon, he was asked in what book he had studied it. "In none," he answered, "but that of love."

Dominic never altered the severe discipline he had established at the start. When he came back to Bologna in 1220, he was shocked to find a stately monastery being built for his friars; he would not allow it to be completed. This strong discipline helped the rapid spread of the order. By the time of the second general chapter at Bologna in 1221, it numbered some sixty houses, divided into eight provinces. Already there were black- robed brothers in Poland, Scandinavia, and Palestine, and Brother Gilbert, with twelve to aid him, had set up monasteries in Canterbury, London, and Oxford. The Order of Preachers is world-wide and noted especially for its intellectual achievement; it has become the mouthpiece of scholastic theology and philosophy today. There are Dominican establishments adjacent to almost all the chief seats of learning, and the founder has sometimes been called "the first minister of public instruction in Europe." The Dominicans are cloistered, but there is also a Third Order for active workers in the world, religious and lay.

At the close of the second general chapter, Dominic visited Cardinal Ugolino in Venice. Afterwards he fell ill and was taken to the country. He knew the end was near, and made his last testament in a few simple, loving words: "These, my much loved ones, are the bequests which I leave to you as my sons; have charity among yourselves; hold fast to humility; keep a willing poverty." He asked to be carried back to Bologna, that he might be buried "under the feet of his brethren." Gathered about him on an August evening, they said the prayers for the dying; at the Subvenite, he repeated the words and died; he was only fifty-six years old. The saint died "in Brother Moneta's bed, because he had none of his own, in Brother Moneta's habit, because he had not another to replace the one he had long been wearing."

Jordan of Saxony, Dominic's successor as master-general of the order, wrote of him: "Nothing disturbed the even temper of his soul except his quick sympathy with every sort of suffering. And as a man's face shows whether he is happy or not, it was easy to see from his friendly and joyous countenance that he was at peace inwardly." When in 1234 Pope Gregory IX, formerly Cardinal Ugolino, signed the decree of canonization, he remarked that he no more doubted the sanctity of Dominic than he doubted that of St. Peter or St. Paul.


[1] Albigenses - A neo-Manichæan sect that flourished in southern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Albigenses asserted the co-existence of two mutually opposed principles, one good, the other evil. The former is the creator of the spiritual, the latter of the material world. The Old Testament must be either partly or entirely ascribed to [the bad principle]; whereas the New Testament is the revelation of the beneficent God.

[2] The Franciscan Order had been orally Confirmed only seven years before.

[3] The church of St. John Lateran has the highest rank of any church in the Catholic world. The palace of the Laterani family was bestowed by the Emperor Constantine on the pope, and the church built beside it is the cathedral church of the pope as bishop of Rome. The palace was the residence of the popes from the fourth century to the fourteenth, when it was destroyed by fire.

Founder of the Friars Minor - AD 1226 (October 4)

Francis was born in the stony hill-town of Assisi in Umbria, in the year 1181 or 1182. His father, Peter Bernadone, was a wealthy merchant. His mother, Pica, by some accounts was gently born and of Provencal blood. Much of Bernadone's trade was with France, and his son was born while he was absent in that country. Perhaps for this reason the child was called Francesco, "the French man," though his baptismal name was John. As a youth he was ardent in his amusements and seemed carried away by the mere joy of living, taking no interest at all in his father's business or in formal learning. Bernadone, proud to have his son finely dressed and associating with young noblemen, gave him plenty of money, which Francis spent carelessly. Though Francis was high-spirited, he was too fastidious to lead a dissolute life. It was the age of chivalry, and he was thrilled by the songs of the troubadours and the deeds of knights. At the age of twenty or thereabouts, during a petty war between the towns of Assisi and Perugia, he was taken prisoner. During a year of captivity he remained cheerful and kept up the spirits of his companions. Soon after his release he suffered a long illness. This he bore with patience.

After his recovery Francis joined the troop of a knight of Assisi who was riding south to fight under Walter de Brienne for the Pope against the Germans. Having equipped himself with sumptuous apparel and fine armor, he fared forth. On the way he met a knight shabbily clad, and was so touched with compassion that he exchanged clothes with him. That night he dreamed he saw his father's house transformed into a castle, its walls hung with armor, all marked with the sign of the cross; and he heard a voice saying that the armor belonged to Francis and his soldiers. Confident now that he would win glory as a knight, he set out again, but on the first day fell ill. While lying helpless, a voice seemed to tell him to turn back, and "to serve the Master rather than the man." Francis obeyed. At home he began to take long rambles in the country and to spend many hours by himself; he felt contempt for a life wasted on trivial and transitory things. It was a time of spiritual crisis during which he was quietly searching for something worthy of his complete devotion. A deep compassion was growing within him. Riding one day in the plains below Assisi, he met a leper whose loathsome sores filled Francis with horror. Overcoming his revulsion, he leapt from his horse and pressed into the leper's hand all the money he had with him, then kissed the hand. This was a turning point in his life. He started visiting hospitals, especially the refuge for lepers, which most persons avoided. On a pilgrimage to Rome, he emptied his purse at St. Peter's tomb, then went out to the swarm of beggars at the door, gave his clothes to the one that looked poorest, dressed himself in the fellow's rags, and stood there all day with hand outstretched. The rich young man would experience for himself the bitterness and humiliation of poverty.

One day, after his return from Rome, as he prayed in the humble little church of St. Damian outside the walls of Assisi, he felt the eyes of the Christ on the crucifix gazing at him and heard a voice saying three times, "Francis, go and repair My house, which you see is falling down." The building, he observed, was old and ready to fall. Assured that he had now found the right path, Francis went home and in the singleness and simplicity of his heart took a horse-load of cloth out of his father's warehouse and sold it, together with the horse that carried it, in the market at the neighboring town of Foligno. He then brought the money to the poor priest of St. Damian's church, and asked if he might stay there. Although the priest accepted Francis' companionship, he refused the money, which Francis left lying on a window sill. Bernadone, furious at his son's waywardness, came to St. Damian's to bring him home, but Francis hid himself and could not be found.

He spent some days in prayer, and then went bravely to see his father. He was now so thin and ill-clad that boys in the streets pelted him and called him mad. The exasperated Bernadone beat Francis, fettered his feet, and locked him up. A little later his mother set him free and Francis returned to St. Damian's. His father pursued him there and angrily declared that he must either return home or renounce his share in his inheritance-and pay the purchase price of the horse and the goods he had taken as well. Francis made no objection to being disinherited, but protested that the other money now belonged to God and the poor. Bernadone had him summoned for trial before Guido, the bishop of Assisi, who heard the story and told the young man to restore the money and trust in God. "He does not wish," the bishop said, "to have His church profit by goods which may have been unjustly acquired." Francis not only gave back the money but went even further. "My clothing is also his," he said, and stripped off his garments. "Hither to I have called Peter Bernadone father.... From now on I say only, 'Our Father, who art in Heaven."' Bernadone left the court in sorrow and rage, while the bishop covered the young man with his own cloak until a gardener's smock was brought. Francis marked a cross on the shoulder of the garment with chalk, and put it on.

Henceforth he was completely cut off from his family, and began a strange new life. He roamed the highways, singing God's praise. In a wood some robbers stopped him and asked who he was. When he answered soberly, "I am the herald of the Great King," they jeered and threw him into a ditch. He picked himself up and continued on his way singing. At a monastery, Francis was given alms and a job of work, as a poor traveler. Trudging on to the town of Gubbio, he was recognized by a friend, who took him to his house and gave him a proper tunic, belt, and shoes. These he wore for nearly two years as he walked about the countryside. When he returned to St. Damian's the priest welcomed him, and Francis now began in earnest to repair the church, begging for building stones in the streets of Assisi and carrying off those that were given him. He labored with the masons in the actual reconstruction, and, by the spring of 1208, the church was once more in good condition. Next he repaired an old chapel dedicated to St. Peter. By this time many people, impressed by his sincerity and enthusiasm, were willing to contribute to the work. Francis was now attracted to a tiny chapel known as St. Mary of the Portiuncula, belonging to a Benedictine monastery on Monte Subasio. It stood in the wooded plain, some two miles below Assisi, forsaken and in ruins. Francis rebuilt it as he had done the others, and seems to have thought of spending his life there as a hermit, in peace and seclusion. Here on the feast of St. Matthias, in 1209, the way of life he was to follow was revealed to him. The Gospel of the Mass for this day was Matthew X,7-19: "And going, preach, saying The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.... Freely have you received, freely give. Take neither gold nor silver nor brass in your purses . . . nor two coats nor shoes nor a staff.... Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves...." These words suddenly became Christ's direct charge to him. His doubts over, he cast off shoes, staff, and leathern girdle, but kept his rough woolen coat, which he tied about him with a rope. This was the habit he gave his friars the following year. In this garb he went to Assisi the next morning and, with a moving warmth and sincerity, began to speak to the people he met on the shortness of life, the need of repentence, and the love of God. His salutation to those he passed on the road was, "Our Lord give you peace."

An early disciple was Bernard Quintavalle, a rich and prudent merchant of the city, who invited Francis to stay at his house. At night they had long talks, and there was no mistaking Francis' passionate dedication. Bernard soon informed Francis that he would sell all his goods and give the proceeds to the poor and join him. Shortly afterward, a canon of the cathedral, Peter de Cattaneo, asked to come with them. The three then went down to the Portiuncula, where, on April 16, Francis "gave his habit" to these two companions and they built themselves simple huts. Brother Giles, a man of great gentleness and purity of spirit, was the next to come, and others soon followed.

For a year Francis and his now numerous companions preached among the peasants and helped them in the fields. A brief rule which has not been preserved was drawn up. Apparently it consisted of little more than the passages from the Gospel which Francis had read to his first followers, with brief injunctions to manual labor, simplicity, and poverty. In the summer of 1210 he and some of the others carried it to Rome to obtain the Pope's approbation. Innocent III, the great ruler of Catholic Europe, listened but hesitated. Most of the cardinals he consulted thought that the existing orders should be reformed before their number was increased and that the proposed rule for the new organization, taken though it was from Christ's own command, was impractical. Cardinal John Colonna, who pleaded for Francis, was deputed to examine him as to his orthodoxy, while Innocent considered the matter. Later the Pope dreamed he saw Francis propping up the Lateran Church with his shoulder. He was to see Dominic in a similar position five years later. Summoning Francis and his companions, he orally approved their mission of preaching penitence, only requiring that they always get the consent of the local bishop; also they must choose a leader with whom the ecclesiastical authorities might communicate. Francis was thereupon elected head, and Cardinal Colonna gave them the monk's tonsure.

Francis and his little band returned to Umbria rejoicing. A temporary shelter was found near the foot of Monte Subasio, and from there they went out in all directions preaching repentance, and the blessedness of doing God's will. The cathedral of Assisi was the only church large enough to hold the crowds that flocked to hear them, especially after it was known that their rule had papal approval. Soon the abbot of the Benedictine monastery gave them in perpetuity their beloved Portiuncula chapel and the ground on which it stood. Francis would accept only the use of the property. The spirit of holy poverty must govern their order, if they were to be disciples of Him who had not where to lay His head. In token of this arrangement, the friars sent to the Benedictines every year as rent a basket of fish caught in a neighboring river. In return, the monks gave the friars a barrel of oil. This annual exchange of gifts still goes on between the Benedictines of St. Peter's in Assisi and the Franciscans of the Portiuncula. On the ground around the chapel the friars quickly built themselves some huts of wood and clay, enclosing them by a hedge. This was the first Franciscan monastery.

Because the body was meant to carry burdens, to eat scantily and coarsely, and to be beaten when sluggish or refractory, Francis called it Brother Ass. When, early in his new life, he was violently tempted, he threw himself naked into a ditch full of snow. Again when tempted like Benedict he plunged into a briar patch and rolled about until he was torn and bleeding. Yet before he died he asked pardon of his body for having treated it so cruelly; by that time he considered excessive austerities wrong, especially if they decreased the power to labor. He had no use for eccentricity for its own sake. Once when he was told that a friar so loved silence that he would confess only by signs, his comment was, "That is not the spirit of God but of the Devil, a temptation, not a virtue."

Francis was reverently in love with all natural phenomena- sun, moon, air, water, fire, flowers; his quick warm sympathies responded to all that lived. His tenderness for and his power over animals were noted again and again. From his companions we have the story of his rebuke to the noisy swallows who were disturbing his preaching at Alviano: "Little sister swallows, it is now my turn to speak; you have been talking enough all this time." We hear also of the birds that perched attentively around when he told them to sing their Creator's praises, of the rabbit that would not leave him at Lake Trasymene, and of the tamed wolf of Gubbio-all incidents that have inspired innumerable artists and story tellers.

The early years were a time of training in poverty, mutual help, and brotherly love. The friars worked at their various trades and in the fields of neighboring farmers to earn their bread. When work was lacking, they begged, though they were forbidden to take money. They were especially at the service of lepers, and those who were helpless and suffering. Among the recruits soon to present themselves were the "Three Companions," Angelo, Leo, and Rufino, who were in time to write of their beloved leader; and the ''renowned jester of the Lord," Brother Juniper, of whom Francis said, "I would I had a forest of such junipers." It was he who, while a crowd was waiting to receive him at Rome, was found playing seesaw with some children outside the city.

In the spring of 1212, an eighteen-year-old girl of Assisi named Clara[1] heard Francis preach in the cathedral and left her father's castle to take the vow of poverty and become a disciple. The monks of Monte Subasio again aided Francis by giving him a place where Clara and her earliest followers could be lodged; to them he gave the same rules as the brothers had. In the autumn of that year Francis resolved to go as a crusader of peace to the Mohammedans of the East. With a companion he embarked for Syria, only to suffer shipwreck off the Dalmatian coast. Having no money for the return passage, they got back to Ancona as stowaways. The following year Francis preached up and down central Italy. In 1214 he made another attempt to reach the Mohammedans, this time by the land route through Spain. So eager was he to arrive that his companion could scarcely keep up with him on the road. But once more Francis was disappointed, for in Spain he was taken ill and had to return to Italy.

There, on his recovery, he resumed direction of the order and his tours of preaching. To the order he gave the name of Friars Minor, Little Brothers, to express his wish that they should never be in positions above their fellows. Many cities were now anxious to have the brothers in their midst to act as peace-makers in periods of civil strife, and small communities of them sprang up rapidly throughout Umbria, Tuscany, and Lombardy. In 1215 Francis went to Rome for the great Council of the Lateran, which was also attended by the future St. Dominic, who had begun his missionary work in Languedoc while Francis was still a youth.

At Pentecost in 1217 a general chapter of all Friars Minor was held at Assisi. They had now become so numerous and so widely dispersed that some more systematic organization was necessary. Italy was divided into provinces, each in charge of a responsible minister provincial. "Should anyone be lost through the minister's fault and bad example, that minister will have to give an account before our Lord Jesus Christ." Missions were sent to Spain, Germany, and Hungary, and Francis himself made plans to go to France, of which he had heard so much in childhood from his father. He was dissuaded by Cardinal Ugolino, who after the death of Cardinal John Colonna began to serve as advisor to the new convent. He sent instead Brother Pacifico and Brother Agnello; the latter was afterwards to establish the order in England.

Although still the head, Francis was prevailed on at times to submit to the prudent Ugolino. The cardinal actually presided at the general chapter of 1219, called, like its predecessor, a "mat chapter" because of the huts of wattles and straw hastily put up to shelter the five thousand friars present. The more learned and worldly-wise of the brothers were critical of the free and venturesome spirit of their founder, who, they claimed, was improvident and naive. They wanted more material security and a more elaborate rule, similar to that of the older orders. Francis defended his position with spirit: "My brothers, the Lord called me into the way of simplicity and humility, and this way He has pointed out to me for myself and for those who will believe and follow me.... The Lord told me he would have me poor and foolish in this world, . . . God will confound you by your own wisdom and learning, and, for all your fault-finding, bring you repentance whether you will or no."

From this chapter Francis sent some of his friars on missions to the infidels in Tunisia, Morocco, and Spain, while he himself undertook one to the Saracens of Egypt and Syria, embarking with eleven friars from Ancona in June, 1219. At the city of Damietta on the Nila Delta, which the crusaders were besieging, Francis was deeply shocked at the profligacy, the cynicism, and the lack of discipline of the soldiers of the cross. When in August the leaders prepared to attack, he predicted failure and tried to dissuade them from the attempt. The Christians were driven back with the slaughter of six thousand men, yet they continued the siege, and at last took the city. Meanwhile, a number of the soldiers had pledged themselves to live by Francis' rule. He also paid several visits to the Saracen leader, Melek-el-Kamil, Sultan of Egypt. There is a story to the effect that he first went among the enemy with only Brother Illuminato, calling out, "Sultan! Sultan!" When he was brought before the Sultan and asked his errand, Francis replied boldly, "I am sent by the Most High God, to show you and your people the way of salvation by announcing to you the truths of the Gospel." Discussion followed, and other audiences. The Sultan, somewhat moved, invited Francis to stay with him. "If you and your people," said Francis, "will accept the word of God, I will with joy stay with you. If you yet waver between Christ and Mohammed, order a fire kindled and I will go into it with your priests that you may see which is the true faith." The Sultan replied that he did not think any of his <imams> would dare to enter the fire, and he would not accept Francis' condition for fear of upsetting the people. He offered him many presents, which Francis refused. Fearing finally that some of his Moslems might desert to the Christians, he sent Francis, under guard, back to the camp.

Sickened by the senseless slaughter and brutality that marked the taking of the city, Francis went on to visit the Holy Places of Palestine. When he returned to Italy he found that in his absence his vicars, Matthew of Narni and Gregory of Naples, had held a general chapter and introduced certain innovations, tending to bring the Franciscans a little more into line with other orders and to confine them in a more rigid framework. At several of the women's convents, regular constitutions, drawn up on the Benedictine model, had been imposed by Cardinal Ugolino. In Bologna Francis found his brothers housed in a fine new monastery. He refused to enter it, and went for lodging to Dominic's Friars Preachers. Sending for his provincial minister, he upbraided him, and ordered the friars to leave the building. He felt that his fundamental idea was being betrayed. It was a serious crisis, but it ended in Francis' acceptance of some measure of change. Ugolino convinced him that he himself, not the order, was the owner of the new building; also that systematic supervision and regulation were necessary for such a far-flung organization. Francis' profound humility made him ready to blame himself for anything that went wrong. He would not give up his faith in the way of life that Christ had shown him, but he became less confident. He finally went to Pope Honorius III and asked that the cardinal be made official protector and counselor of the order. At the chapter meeting of 1220 he resigned his position as minister general; in May, 1221, he offered his draft for a revised rule, a long and confused document, containing a new requirement, a year's novitiate before a candidate could be admitted; there were long extracts from the New Testament, and passionate appeals to the brothers to preserve the old life of poverty and love. The jurists of the order, those who knew the problems of administration, and the provincial ministers all wanted something more precise, a rule which could be understood and followed anywhere in the world by men who had never seen Francis, and which would also keep Franciscans from diverging too widely from the established usages of the historic Church.

Once at least during the two years that followed, Francis broke away to the solitude of a mountain near Rieti, and worked over the rule alone. The final result he delivered to Brother Elias of Cortona, then minister general, but the copy was somehow lost, and Francis patiently dictated the substance of it to Brother Leo. In the form in which it was at last presented to the chapter general in 1223 and solemnly approved by Pope Honorius it has remained ever since. The words of Christ which made up almost all of the original rule of 1210 are omitted. It is explicit on a number of points which in 1210 had been left indefinite-methods of admission, times of fasting, government by ministers and triennial general chapters, requirements for preaching, obedience to superiors; at the head of all is a cardinal governor appointed by the pope. The early simplicity is gone, though now and again the fervor of Franciscan idealism breaks through the sober text. The brothers are still to receive no money, to labor as far as they are able, to own no house "nor anything." They are not to be ashamed to beg, since "the Lord made himself poor for us in this world." They are not to trouble to educate illiterate brothers but to strive instead for pure hearts, humility, and patience. The contrast, however, between the old rule and the new shocked and pained some of the members. Yet it seemed true that such a great institution could not be run without a system of uniform control or let its members wander as they pleased over the earth, with no churches of their own where they could preach regularly, and no house where they could live together. To Brother Elias, the able and masterful friar who with Cardinal Ugolino became the directing force, there was still too much of the unworkable Franciscan dream in the new rule and in later years he refused to be bound by it. In 1230 the cardinal, then Pope Gregory IX, issued an official interpretation of it.

Somewhat earlier Francis and the cardinal had drawn up a rule for the fraternity of lay men and women who wished to associate themselves with the Friars Minor and followed as best they could the rules of humility, labor, charity, and voluntary poverty, without withdrawing from the world: the Franciscan tertiaries or Third Order of today.[2] These congregations of lay penitents became a power in the religious life of the late Middle Ages.

The Christmas season of 1223 Francis spent near the village of Greccio in the valley of Rieti, weary in mind and body. There he remarked to his friend, the knight, Giovanni di Vellita, "I would make a memorial of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, and in some sort behold with bodily eyes the hardships of His infant state, lying on hay in a manger, with the ox and the ass standing by." So a rude stable was set up at the hermitage, with a live ox and ass, and a child lying on straw, and the people crowded to the midnight Mass, at which Francis as deacon read the Gospel story and then preached. His use of the creche gave impetus to its later popularity. Having become extremely frail, he remained at Greccio for some months longer.

In June, 1224, Francis attended his last chapter meeting, at which the new rule was formally delivered to the provincial ministers. In August, with a few of the brothers closest to him, he made his way through the Apennine forest to the peak of Alvernia, a place of retreat put at his disposal years earlier by the lord of Chiusi. A hut of branches was built for him, a little way from his companions. Brother Leo daily brought him food. His fears for the future of the order now increased and reached a climax. And here it was, on or about Holy Cross Day, September 14, that at sunrise, after a night of prayer, he had a vision of a winged seraph, nailed to a cross, flying towards him; he also felt keen stabs of pain in hands, feet, and sides. The vision vanished, and he discovered on his body the stigmata of the crucified Christ. During his lifetime, few persons saw the stigmata, called by Dante, "the ultimate seal." Thenceforth he kept his hands covered with the sleeves of his habit, and wore shoes and stockings. To those who were there with him, he disclosed what had happened, and within a few days composed the poem, "Praise of the Most High God."

After celebrating the feast of St. Michael on September 29, the now enfeebled friar rode down the mountain on a borrowed horse, and healed several persons who were brought to him in the plain below. Weak as he was, he insisted on preaching, riding from village to village on an ass. Young and ambitious members of the order, already set on rivaling the Dominicans as brilliant and popular preachers in the towns, were eager to outshine them in the schools as well. Francis realized that learning had its uses, but to fulfill their special mission, he knew that his brothers needed much time for prayer, meditation, and helpful labor. He feared the prescribed scholastic training, thinking it tended to feed conceit and extinguish charity and piety. Above all, Lady Learning was dangerous as a rival to Lady Poverty. Yet under pressure he yielded so far as to consent to the appointment of Antony of Padua as reader and teacher.

Francis' health was growing worse, the stigmata were a source of pain, and his eyes were failing. In the summer of 1225 Cardinal Ugolino and the vicar-general, Elias, made him consent to put himself in the hands of the Pope's physician at Rieti. On his way there he stopped to pay a final visit to Abbess Clara and the nuns of St. Damian He stayed for over a month, and seemed depressed by his apparent failure to accomplish his mission in life. For two weeks he lost his sight, but finally triumphed over suffering and gloom, and in a sudden ecstasy one day composed the beautiful, triumphant "Canticle of the Sun," and set it to music. The brothers might sing it as they went about their preaching. He went on to Rieti to undergo the agonizing treatment prescribed- cauterization of the forehead by white-hot iron, and plasters to keep the wound open. Strangely enough, he obtained some relief. During the winter he preached a little, and dictated a long letter to his brothers, which he hoped would be read at the opening of future general chapters. They were to love one another, to love and follow Lady Poverty, to love and reverence the Eucharist, and to love and honor the clergy. He also composed a still longer letter to all Christians, repeating his message of love and harmony.

Yearning to be at home, when spring came he was carried north to Assisi and lodged in the bishop's palace, but these fine surroundings depressed Francis, and he begged to be taken to the Portiuncula. As they bore him down the hill, he asked to have the stretcher set down, and turning back for a moment towards the city he blessed it and bade it farewell. At the Portiuncula he was able to dictate his Will, a final, firm defense of all he had been and done. No one coming after him must introduce glosses to explain away any part of the rule or of this Will, for he had written it "in a clear and simple manner" and it should be understood in the same way and practiced "until the end." Four years later Ugolino, then Pope Gregory IX, at the same time that he gave an official interpretation of the rule, announced that the brothers were not bound to observe the Will.

As the end drew near, Francis asked his brothers to send to Rome for the Lady Giacoma di Settesoli, who had often befriended him. Even before the messenger started, the lady arrived at his bedside. Francis also sent a last message to Clara and her nuns. While the brothers stood about him singing the "Canticle of the Sun," with the new stanza he had lately given them, in praise of Sister Death, he repeated the one hundred and forty-first Psalm, "I cried to the Lord with my voice; with my voice I made supplication to the Lord." At his request he was stripped of his clothing and laid for a while on the ground that dying he might rest in the arms of Lady Poverty. Back upon his pallet once more, he called for bread and broke it and to each one present gave a piece in token of their love. The Gospel for Holy Thursday, the story of the Lord's Passion as told by St. John, was read aloud. And as darkness fell on Saturday, October 3, 1226, Francis died.

He had asked to be buried in the criminals' cemetery in the Colle d'Inferno, but early the next morning a crowd of his fellow citizens came down and bore his body to the church of St. George in Assisi. Here it remained for two years, during which time a process of canonization was being carried through. In 1228 the first stone was laid for the beautiful basilica built in Francis' honor, under the direction of Brother Elias. In 1230 his body was secretly removed to it and, in fear that the Perugians might send a raiding party to steal it, buried so deep that not until 1818, after a fifty-two days' search, was it discovered beneath the high altar of the lower church.

Bishop, Doctor of the Church, Co-Founder of the Order of the Visitation – AD 1622 (January 24)

Francis de Sales was born at the Chateau de Sales in Swiss Savoy on August 21, 1567, and at his baptism in the parish church of Thorens was named Francis Bonaventura, for two greatly loved Franciscan saints. The room in which he was born was known as the "St. Francis room," from an old painting on the wall showing the friar of Assisi preaching to the birds; and it was this lover of all living creatures whom Francis de Sales was to choose as his patron in later years. His father, the Seigneur de Nouvelles, was an aristocrat who had served his country well in war and peace. On his marriage to the only child of Melchior de Sionnaz, who brought as her dowry the Signory of Boisy, he took the name of Boisy. When Francis was born, the eldest of thirteen children, his mother was only fifteen. The boy was frail at birth, but with devoted care he grew to vigorous maturity.

Young as she was, Francis' mother kept his early education largely in her own hands; after a few years she was aided by the excellent Abbe Deage, who acted as the boy's tutor and companion. Francis was obedient, truthful, and habitually generous to those less fortunate than himself. He was responsive in matters of religion, and seems to have loved books and knowledge. At the age of eight he was sent to the nearby college of Annecy, and there, in the church of St. Dominic (now called St. Maurice), he made his First Communion and received Confirmation. A year later he was permitted to take the tonsure, for he was set even then on consecrating himself to the Church, and this was regarded as the first step. His father, a worldly man, who planned a brilliant career for his son in public life, attached little importance to the ceremony. In his fourteenth year Francis went to the University of Paris, accompanied by the Abbe Deage. The University, with its fifty-four colleges, was still the most famous center of learning in Europe. Monsieur de Boisy had selected for his son the College of Navarre, for it was frequented by the sons of the noble families of Savoy, but Francis resolved to go to the College of Clermont which was under Jesuit direction, and renowned for both piety and scholarship.

At the College of Clermont Francis soon excelled in rhetoric and philosophy, and other subjects arousing his most fervent enthusiasm were theology and the Scriptures. To please his father, he took lessons in riding, dancing, and fencing, but cared for none of these gentlemanly accomplishments. During this time his heart became more and more fixed on giving himself to God, and he took a vow of perpetual chastity, placing himself under the special protection of the Blessed Virgin. He was, nevertheless, not free from trials. The love of God had always meant more to him than anything else, and now he became prey to the fear that he had lost God's favor. This obsession haunted him day and night. It was a heroic act of pure love that finally brought him deliverance. "O Lord," he cried, "if I am never to see Thee in Heaven, this at least grant me, that I may never curse or blaspheme Thy holy name. If I may not love Thee in the other world-for in Hell none praise Thee-let me at least every instant of my brief existence here love Thee as much as I can." Directly afterwards, as he knelt in the church, all fear and despair suddenly left him and he was filled with peace. This experience of his youth taught him to deal understandingly with the spiritual crises of those who, at a later period, looked to him for guidance.

After six years in Paris he was called home by his father, who sent him to the University of Padua to study jurisprudence. He was at Padua for four years, and there, as at Paris, he won a name for scholarship and virtuous conduct. At twenty-four he was given the degree of Doctor of Law. A pilgrimage to Loreto and a short stay at Rome followed, then he returned to his father's chateau. For some eighteen months, he led, at least outwardly, the life of a conventional young nobleman. That his son and heir should now settle down and marry was Boisy's desire, and this autocratic father had already chosen for him a charming bride. Francis, by his distant though courteous manner to the young lady, soon made it plain that in this matter, as in many others, he could not carry out his father's wishes. Not long afterwards he again annoyed his father by declining the honor offered him by the prince of Savoy of a seat in the senate, an unusual compliment to one so young.

The Catholic bishop of Geneva, Claude de Granier, was living at Annecy, his own diocese now being in Calvinist hands. The bishop, impressed by Francis' character, is reported to have made this prophetic utterance to those about him: "This young man will be a great personage some day! He will become a pillar of the Church and my successor in this see." So far Francis had confided only to his mother and a few friends his desire for a life in the Church; an explanation to his father now became inevitable. Monsieur de Boisy had been much chagrined by his son's refusal to marry and also by his rejection of the senatorship, but he was not prepared for this new disappointment. He withheld his consent. The unexpected death just then of the provost of the chapter of cathedral canons made Francis' cousin, Canon Louis de Sales, hope that Francis might be appointed to this honorable post, in which case his father might yield. The post was offered, Francis accepted it, and thus he finally obtained his father's permission to enter the priesthood. The young man was already so well prepared by his purity of life and by his theological studies that there was no need for the usual delay. On the very day his father gave his consent, Francis put on ecclesiastical dress and three weeks later took minor orders. Six months afterwards, on December 18, 1593, at the age of twenty-six, he was ordained priest by the bishop of Geneva in the parish church of Thorens.

Before offering the Holy Sacrifice, Francis went into a short retreat, during which he made several important resolutions. One of these was to use every moment of the day as a preparation for the morrow's Mass, so that if he were asked, "What are you doing at this moment?" he could always truly answer, "Preparing to celebrate Mass." On the feast of St. Thomas, December 21, in the cathedral of Annecy, he consecrated the Host for the first time, his parents being among those who received Communion at his hands. A few days later he was installed provost of the chapter of Geneva. He took up his duties with an ardor that never abated. He ministered lovingly to the poor and in the confessional devoted himself to the needs of the humblest with special care. His style of preaching was so simple that it charmed his hearers; scholar though he was, he refrained from filling his sermons with Greek and Latin quotations and theological subtleties, in the prevailing fashion.

Before long he was called on to undertake a far more difficult task. The Chablais, a section of Savoy on the south shore of Lake Geneva, had been invaded about sixty years earlier by militant Protestants from Berne, who took over the western part of it as well as the Pays de Vaud and the Pays de Gex, on the north shore of the lake. Catholic worship was outlawed, and churches were burned or razed when not appropriated for Protestant use. Religious orders were suppressed and priests expelled. Thirty years later the duke of Savoy, by giving up his claim to Vaud, had got back the Chablais and Gex, but on condition that the Catholic religion remain forbidden. In 1589 the Protestants of Berne again invaded the Chablais only to be repulsed, and by the Treaty of Nyon had agreed to allow the reestablishment of Catholic worship in the province and to restrict Protestant teaching to three towns, of which Thonon, the capital, was not to be one. But they soon broke their agreement and made a fresh attempt to conquer both the Chablais and Gex.

As soon as hostilities ceased, the duke appealed to the bishop of Geneva to send Catholic missionaries into the district. The pious ecclesiastic who undertook this mission was a timid soul who eventually withdrew in fear of personal violence and in despair of ever achieving success. The bishop now summoned his canons and put the situation before them, disguising none of the difficulties. When the bishop had concluded, Francis stood up to offer himself, saying simply, "Monseigneur, if you think I am capable, tell me to go. I am ready, and should rejoice to be chosen." To his delight, the bishop accepted Francis at once. Monsieur de Boisy tried to stop his son, but nothing could shake Francis' resolution. He departed without his father's blessing.

Traveling on foot with little money, Francis, accompanied by his cousin, Canon Louis de Sales, set out in September of 1594 to win the Chablais back to its ancient faith. The Chateau des Allinges, six or seven miles from Thonon, was a Catholic stronghold where the governor of the province was stationed with a garrison of soldiers, and to this fortress the two cousins were to return each night for the sake of safety. At Thonon, the Catholic population of the city had been reduced to about twenty persons, who were too intimidated to declare themselves openly. Francis sought them out one by one for private interviews and inspired them with renewed courage. He and his cousin gradually extended their efforts to the villages of the surrounding countryside.

The long walk night and morning to and from Allinges was a heavy tax on their strength and during the winter it exposed them to real dangers. Once Francis was set upon by wolves and only escaped by spending the night in a tree. When daylight came he was discovered by some peasants in such an exhausted condition that had they not helped him to reach their hut and revived him with food and warmth, he would have died. These good people were Calvinists. With his thanks Francis spoke words of enlightenment and charity and his rescuers were later restored to the faith. Twice in January, 1595, he was waylaid by Protestant fanatics who had sworn to take his life. On both occasions he was saved, seemingly, by a miracle.

Although at first the missionaries had little reward for their labors, they did not lose heart. Francis continually sought new ways to reach the minds of the people. He began to write brief leaflets, setting forth the leading dogmas of the Church as opposed to the tenets of Calvinism. These little papers, on which he worked in spare moments, were copied and recopied by hand and widely distributed. Later they were collected and printed in a volume called Controversies. Copies of these leaflets in the original written form are still preserved in the convent at Annecy.

To this work Francis added the spiritual direction of the soldiers quartered in the Chateau des Allinges, who, though nominally Catholic, were ignorant and dissolute. He instructed them and persuaded many to reform their lives. In the summer of 1595 he climbed the mountain of Voiron to restore an oratory to the Blessed Virgin which had been destroyed by the Bernese. On the way he was attacked by a hostile crowd, who beat him and drove him back. Soon after this his sermons at Thonon were drawing larger congregations. The little tracts or leaflets, scattered abroad, proved quietly effective, and in time there was a stream of lapsed Catholics asking for reconciliation with their Church.

Francis now went to live openly at Thonon. Oblivious of calumny and danger, he preached in the market place and held public disputations with leading Calvinist ministers of the district. Later on he was commissioned by Pope Clement VIII to debate with Theodore Beza, a distinguished Calvinist scholar. Francis was not able to bring Beza back into the Church, but many Protestants were convinced that Francis had the truth on his side. When, after three or four years, Bishop de Granier came to visit the mission, the results of Francis' untiring zeal were plain to see. Catholic faith and worship had been reestablished in the province, and by 1598 the whole district was once more predominantly Catholic.

Francis was very tender in his reception of sinners and apostates who had returned to the faith. He would greet them with the warmth of a father, saying, "Come, my dear children, come, let me put my arms around you. Ah, let me hide you in the bottom of my heart! God and I will help you, all I ask of you is not to despair; I will take on myself the rest of the burden." His affectionate care of them extended even to their bodily wants, and his purse was open to them as well as his heart. When told that his generosity would only encourage sinners, he replied: "Has not our Blessed Lord shed His blood for them, and shall I refuse them my tears? These wolves will be changed into lambs; a day will come when, cleansed of their sins, they will be more precious in the sight of God than we are. If Saul had been cast off, we should never have had St. Paul."

The bishop had long been considering Francis as a coadjutor and successor, but Francis declined the honor, thinking himself unworthy. In the end he yielded. No sooner was his decision made than he fell dangerously ill with a fever. When he had regained his strength, he started for Rome, accompanied by the Abbe de Chisse, who was to handle diocesan matters and arrange for the coadjutorship. At Rome Cardinal de Medici presented Francis to Pope Clement VIII. Having heard much praise of the young provost, the Pope suggested that he be examined in his presence. On the appointed day there was an assemblage of learned theologians, including the Church historian Baronius, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, and Cardinal Federigo Borromeo. They put to Francis thirty-five questions on points of theology. He answered all of them simply and modestly, yet in a way that demonstrated his profound understanding. The Pope declared himself completely satisfied, and embraced and congratulated the candidate. Francis' appointment as coadjutor for the diocese of Geneva was confirmed, and he returned to take up his local work with fresh energy. The following year, his father, aged seventy-nine, died at the Chateau de Sales, comforted during his last hours by his eldest son.

Early in 1602 Bishop de Granier sent Francis to Paris to negotiate with King Henry IV[1] on behalf of the French section of the diocese of Geneva. During his stay he was invited to preach a course of sermons in the Chapel Royal, which soon proved too small to hold the crowds that came to listen to his uncompromising words of truth. He was in high favor with King Henry, who said of him, "Monseigneur de Geneve has every virtue and not a fault." The King offered many inducements to Francis to remain in France, and renewed his persuasions when Francis was again in Paris some years later. But the young bishop would not forsake "my poor bride," as he called his mountain diocese.

On the death of Bishop de Granier in the autumn of 1602, he succeeded to the see of Geneva and took up residence at Annecy, living in a style appropriate to the office but with a household conducted on lines of strict economy. His personal life was one of evangelical poverty. He fulfilled his episcopal duties with devotion and along with the administrative work continued to preach and serve in the confessional. He instituted the teaching of the Catechism throughout his diocese, and at Annecy gave the instruction himself with such fervor that years after his death the "Bishop's Catechisms" were still remembered. Children loved him and followed him about, eager for his blessing.

Through an immense correspondence he brought encouragement and guidance to innumerable persons. For sixteen years a sharer in his work was Jeanne Francoise Fremyot (St. Jane Frances de Chantal), with whom he became acquainted in 1604, while he was preaching at Dijon. The baroness of Chantal was only twenty-four when, after the death of her husband, she decided to enter the religious life. One result of her meeting with Francis was the foundation, in 1610, of the Order of the Visitation, to meet the needs of widows and lonely women in poor health, "strong souls with weak bodies," who were deterred from joining other orders because of their physical condition. Some of St. Francis' best thought is to be found in the letters he wrote to this great woman, who was herself canonized in 1767. What is perhaps his most famous book, the Introduction to the Devout Life, grew out of a series of casual letters written to another woman, a cousin by marriage, Madame de Chamoisy, who had placed herself under his guidance. This little collection of short practical lessons on true piety and everyday living was published in 1608. It was soon translated into many languages, and has continued to find readers.

In 1610 came the heavy sorrow of Madame de Boisy's death. Francis was to survive his mother by twelve years-probably the most laborious of his life. His young brother, Jean-Francois de Sales, was consecrated bishop in 1621 and appointed coadjutor in the diocese of Geneva. His help was welcome to Francis, whose health was failing under the ever-increasing duties. The following year the duke of Savoy, traveling in state to meet King Louis XIII in Languedoc, invited the good bishop of Geneva to join him. Anxious to obtain from Louis certain religious privileges for the French part of his diocese, Francis accepted, although the journey promised to be chilly and uncomfortable. Before leaving Annecy he set his affairs in order, as if he had no expectation of returning. On his arrival at Avignon, he avoided the pomp and entertainments of the brilliant court gathered there, and tried to lead his customary austere life. But the famous bishop was much sought after; people wanted to see him and to hear him preach.

He was worn out, therefore, when he stopped at Lyons on his return. The convent of the Visitation provided him with a cottage on their grounds, where he stayed for a month. He spared himself no labor, giving the nuns instruction and advice, and continuing his preaching and ministrations through Christmas. On December 27 he had a paralytic seizure. He recovered speech and consciousness, and after receiving the Last Sacraments, he murmured words of Scripture, expressing all confidence in God's mercy. On December 28, while those kneeling about his bed recited the litany for the dying, he breathed his last. He was fifty-six, and in the twentieth year of his episcopacy. In his Treatise on the Love of God, Francis had written, "The measure of love is to love without measure," a precept which he had consistently taught and lived.

His body was embalmed and brought, all save the heart, to Annecy. It remained in a tomb near the high altar in the church of the first convent of the Visitation until the French Revolution, when it was removed for fear of desecration. Since then it has been restored to the church of the reconstructed convent at Annecy. Francis was beatified by Alexander VII in 1661, canonized by him in 1665, and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church during the pontificate of Pope Pius IX, in 1877. His heart was preserved in the church of the Visitation at Lyons, in a golden shrine given by Louis XIII.

Pope, Doctor of the Church – AD 604 (March 12)

Because of the general breakdown of civil institutions resulting from the great migrations, the Church assumed an important role in the secular life of sixth-century Italy, particularly during the pontificate of Pope Gregory I, called "The Great." It may be useful to dwell briefly on the historical events of the period preceding Gregory's birth. The line of Western emperors had ended in 476, after which Italy was under the German Odoacer, who, at the head of a barbarian army, ruled from Ravenna, subject to the Eastern emperors at Constantinople. Another barbarian, the Ostrogoth Theodoric, at the bidding of the Emperor Zeno, overran Italy, captured Rome, and, in 493, Ravenna also. Theodoric installed himself in this city, and from there dominated the rest of Italy as vice-emperor. After his death in 526, Emperor Justinian, bent on reconquering the West, sent Greek armies under Belisarius. He first retook North Africa from the Vandals, who had captured it in St. Augustine's time, and then gained possession of Italy. During this Italian war, which lasted from 535 to 553, Gregory was born, about the year 540, of one of the few patrician families left in Rome. As a boy he went through the horrors of a siege when Romans were reduced to eating grass and nettles. At this time, according to the historian Procopius, only five hundred persons remained alive in the city The Goths now advanced into Italy under a strong leader, Totila, who forced the sending of new armies from the East. During these years cities were taken and retaken, the farmlands were laid waste, and the people suffered from pestilence, famine, and looting.

The war was at length ended by Belisarius' successor, Narses, and Italy was again subject to the Emperor, and ruled from Ravenna by an exarch. In addition to their other sufferings, the people were now preyed upon by tax-gatherers, who extorted all they could, with the right of retaining one-twelfth of whatever they collected. Rome, once the proud mistress of the world, was in a lamentable state throughout Gregory's lifetime. Repeatedly besieged and sacked, the city was in ruins; the once fertile hinterland was almost a wilderness. No civil authority was left capable of dealing with the problems created by war and pillage, and to these recurrent evils were added fire, flood, and plague. The destruction of fine old buildings for the sake of their materials was so common that modern archeologists have found no structures erected later than the fourth century which were put up with newly quarried stone.

Gregory's family, famed for its piety, had given two sixth-century popes to the Church. His father, Gordianus, a government official, was a wealthy man, the owner of great estates in Sicily and a fine house on the Coelian Hill; his mother, Sylvia, was later venerated as a saint. Gregory early gave evidence of a brilliant mind and had the best education obtainable. He studied law and prepared to follow his father into public life. Rising steadily in government service, at the age of thirty he was appointed prefect of Rome. In this office, which he filled capably, the importance of law, order, and respect for constituted authority was impressed upon him. These lessons he was soon to apply in the ecclesiastical sphere, for within the year Gregory had abandoned his career to devote himself to the service of God. He went first to Sicily, where he founded six monasteries; then returning to Rome, he made his own home into a Benedictine monastery under the patronage of St. Andrew. By this time his father was dead, and his mother had gone to live at Cella Nova, a conventual retreat outside the city. After giving the remainder of his extensive property to charity, Gregory settled at St. Andrew's, as one of the monks.

He was afflicted now and throughout most of his life by gastric disorders, probably brought on by excessive fasting. Still, the three or four years he spent in the cloister were relatively happy, and it was with regret that he received from Pope Pelagius II an appointment as deacon, which meant a more active life in the world. Rome was under siege by the Lombards, and the Pope decided to send an embassy to Constantinople, to congratulate the new Emperor Tiberias II on his accession and to beg for military aid for the city. Gregory was to accompany this embassy, bearing the title of apocrisiarsus, or papal ambassador.

Gregory found his position most uncongenial. There was a great contrast between the magnificence of Constantinople and the miseries of Rome. To avoid the intrigues and elaborate etiquette of the court, Gregory passed much of his time in seclusion, writing a commentary on the Book of Job. The embassy itself was a failure; the Emperor claimed that he could render no aid since his armies were busy keeping off the Persians and other enemies. After six years, Gregory was recalled and he settled down in St. Andrew's, where they elected him abbot.

One day, the story goes, Gregory was walking through the Roman slave market when he noticed three fair, golden-haired boys. He asked their nationality and was told that they were Angles. "They are well named," said Gregory, "for they have angelic faces." He asked where they came from, and when told "De Ire," he exclaimed, "De ira (from wrath) —yes, verily, they shall be saved from God's wrath and called to the mercy of Christ. What is the name of the king of that country?" "Aella." "Then must Alleluia be sung in Aella's land." Some modern historians have viewed the tale skeptically, claiming that the serious-minded Gregory would not have descended to punning. However, it seems unlikely that anyone would have taken the trouble to invent this delightful anecdote. Gregory was so touched by the boys' beauty, and by pity for their ignorance, that he resolved to go himself to preach the Gospel in their land. To this end, he obtained the consent of the Pope, and journeyed northwards with several monks. When the Roman people heard of this, they raised such an outcry at the loss of their favorite cleric that Pope Pelagius sent envoys to bring the party back. Later, when Gregory became pope, the evangelization of Britain became one of his most cherished projects.

The custom of offering Thirty Day Masses or Gregorian Masses for the Dead is said to have originated at this time. Justus, one of Gregory's monks, while gravely ill, confessed to having secreted three golden coins, and the abbot forbade his brethren to communicate with the offender or to visit him on his deathbed. His body was denied burial in the monks' burying ground and was interred under a dunghill, along with the gold pieces. Since he died repentant, the abbot had Mass offered for thirty days for the repose of his soul, and Gregory tells us that at the end the dead man's soul appeared to Copiosus, a brother, and assured him that he had been in torment, but by grace of the Masses was now released.

A new outbreak of the plague carried off Pope Pelagius. By general consent Gregory was the candidate best fitted to succeed him, and, pending the arrival from the East of the Emperor's ratification, he carried on the government of the Church. To implore God's mercy he ordered a great processional litany through the streets of Rome. From seven of the more venerable churches streamed out seven columns of people, all to meet at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Gregory of Tours, a contemporary historian, heard the report of one who had been present, and gives a vivid picture: "While the plague still raged, the columns marched through the streets chanting Kyrie Eleison, and as they walked people were seen falling and dying about them. Gregory inspired these poor people with courage, for he did not cease preaching and asked to have prayers made continually." Following this, there was an abatement of the plague. During the crisis, Gregory devoted himself to the relief of the stricken. Yet his own preference was for the contemplative life, and he wrote privately to Emperor Maurioe, begging him not to confirm his election; and to friends at court, asking them to use their influence to the same purpose. His friends ignored his wishes, and the prefect of Rome not only intercepted Gregory's letter to the Emperor, but sent him word that the popular vote for Gregory had been unanimous. The Emperor promptly ratified the election. Dismayed, the pope-elect meditated flight, but was seized and carried off to the basilica of St. Peter, and there consecrated to the pontifical office. This took place on September 3, 590.

From the day he assumed office Gregory applied himself with vigor to his duties. He appointed a vice-dominus or overseer to look after the secular affairs and personnel of his household, and gave orders that only clerics should be attached to the service of the pope. He forbade the exaction of fees for ordination, for burial in churches, and for the conferring of the pallium.[1] Deacons were not to conduct the musical part of the Mass lest they be chosen for their voices rather than for their character. As a preacher Gregory liked to make his sermon a part of the sacred solemnity of the Mass, choosing as his subject the Gospel for the day. We possess a number of his homilies, ending always with a moral lesson.

In administering the great Patrimony of St. Peter,[2] Gregory showed a remarkable grasp of detail and administrative capacity. His instructions to his vicars in Sicily and elsewhere specified liberal treatment of tenants and farmers and ordered loans of money to those in need. This Pope was in fact the ideal landlord; tenants were content and revenues flowed into the papal coffers. Yet at his death the treasury was empty because of his huge charities, almost on the scale of state relief. He also spent large sums ransoming captives from the Lombards. Indeed he commended one of the bishops for breaking up and selling church plate for this purpose.

In anticipation of a threatened corn shortage, Gregory filled the granaries of Rome with the harvests of Egypt and Sicily; he had regular lists kept of the poor, to whom grants were periodically made. His conscience was so sensitive that once when a beggar died in the street, presumably of starvation, he pronounced an interdiction on himself and refrained for some days from performing his holy functions.

Gregory's sense of justice showed itself in enlightened treatment of the Jews, whom he would not allow to be oppressed or deprived of their synagogues. When the Jews of Cagliari in Sardinia complained that their synagogue had been seized by a converted member of the race, who had turned it into a Christian church and set up in it a cross and an image of Our Lady, he ordered the cross and image to be reverently removed, and the building restored to its former owners.

From the outset Gregory had to face the aggressions of the Lombards, who, from three fortresses they held, made destructive raids on Rome. He organized the city's defenses and even managed to send aid to other cities that were threatened. When in 593 King Agilulph with his Lombard army actually appeared before the walls, it was the Pope who went out to interview the invader. As much by his personality and prestige as by his promise of annual tribute, Gregory induced Agilulph to withdraw his army. For nine years he strove to bring about a political settlement between the Byzantine emperor and the Lombards, but when an agreement was at last arrived at, it was wrecked by the treachery of the Exarch. Then on his own account Gregory negotiated a truce for Rome and the surrounding districts. Agilulph's wife, Theodelinda, a Bavarian princess, was a Catholic, and became Gregory's powerful ally. She finally prevailed on the Lombards to give up the Arian creed which they had been taught and to accept the Catholic faith.

In the confusion and disorder of the times, Gregory must have turned with relief to his writing. Early in his pontificate he wrote the Regula Pastoralis, or Pastoral Rule, in which he describes the bishop as a physician of souls, with a special duty to preach and to enforce Church discipline. This little work met with tremendous success. Emperor Maurice had it translated into Greek and Bishop Leander gave it circulation in Spain. Licinianus, bishop of Carthage, praised it but feared it set so high a standard that candidates for the priesthood might be discouraged. Augustine took a copy to England, where three hundred years later King Alfred himself translated it into Anglo-Saxon. At a council summoned by Charlemagne all bishops were told to study it, and to give a copy to each new bishop as a part of the ceremony of consecration. For centuries Gregory's ideals were those of the clergy of the West. His Dialogues, a collection of contemporary visions, prophecies, and miracles, designed to comfort and hearten the Christian reader by showing him God's mercy, became one of the most popular books of the Middle Ages. The stories in it were obtained from persons still living who in many cases had been eye-witnesses of the events described. However, Gregory's methods were not critical, and the modern reader may often feel misgivings as to the reliability of his informants. In that credulous age any unusual happening was likely to be viewed as supernatural.

Gregory kept in touch with Spain chiefly through Bishop Leander of Seville. The Spanish Church governed itself, and, though loyal, had little to do with Rome. Gregory did much to extirpate the heresy of the Donatists[3] in Africa, while in Istria, a province on the Adriatic, he brought back certain schismatic bishops to the Catholic faith. In Gaul papal influence was not strong outside Provence, but through correspondence with King Childebert and with the Gallic bishops Gregory strove to correct abuses, especially simony and the placing of laymen in ecclesiastical offices.

Of all his work, that which lay nearest his heart was the conversion of England. It is probable that the first move towards the sending of a Roman mission to England was made by Englishmen themselves. News reached Gregory that they had appealed to the bishops of Gaul for preachers, and their appeals had been ignored. In 596 he began to make far-reaching plans. His first act was to order the purchase of some English slaves, boys of seventeen or eighteen, who might be educated in a monastery in Italy for service in their own land. Since he wished the work of conversion to proceed forthwith, from his own monastery of St. Andrew he chose a band of forty monks to proceed to England under the leadership of their prior, the saintly Augustine. The history of that mission is recounted later, in the life of St. Augustine of Canterbury.

During nearly the whole of his thirteen years as pope Gregory was in conflict with Constantinople, either with the Emperor or with the patriarch. He protested against the extortionate tax-collectors and against an imperial edict which forbade soldiers from becoming monks. With John Faster, bishop of Constantinople, he had a correspondence over the title of Ecumenical or Universal Patriarch, which John had assumed. The adjective had previously been applied only to a general council of the church. Gregory charged that the title savored of arrogance. John claimed that he used it in the limited sense of archbishop over many bishops. Gregory himself bore only the proudly humble title of servus servorum Dei, servant of the servants of God, which is still retained by his successors.

In 602 Emperor Maurice and his family were killed after a revolt led by the centurion Phocas, who on seizing power sent his portrait and that of his wife to Rome. The people and senate, cowed and abject, received them with acclamations. Gregory himself wrote a tardy and diplomatic letter to the murderous usurper, an act which has exposed him to criticism. In his defense it may be said that the letter consisted largely in hopes for peace; with the people defenseless, Gregory could scarcely risk denunciation. Phocas proved himself incapable of governing and was deposed after a few years.

Gregory never rested and wore himself down almost to a skeleton. Even as death drew near, he directed the affairs of the Church and continued his literary labors. He died in 604, and was buried in St. Peter's Church. The list of his achievements is a long one. He is credited with the compilation of the Antiphonary,[4] the introduction of new styles in church music, the composition of several famous hymns, and the foundation of the Schola Cantorum, the famous training school for singers. Only a small part of so-called Gregorian music dates from his time, but the type of chanting was fixed then for centuries to come. Gregory defined the calendar of festivals and the service of priests and deacons, enforced the celibacy of the clergy, and in general strengthened the papacy. He is venerated as the fourth Doctor of the Latin Church. In his homilies he popularized the great St. Augustine of Hippo, and until the medieval scholars went back to study Augustine himself, Gregory's was the last word on theology; he formulated several doctrines which had not previously been satisfactorily defined. Milman, in his History of Latin Christianity, writes: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great." In art Gregory is usually represented in a tiara and pontifical robes, carrying a book or musical instrument, or sometimes bearing a staff with a double cross; his symbol is the dove which his deacon Peter said he once saw whispering in his ear.


1 The pallium is a band of white wool ornamented with crosses which is worn by the pope and by archbishops; it is a symbol of archiepiscopal authority.

2 The Patrimony of St. Peter was the land, revenues, and other property with which the see of Rome was endowed after the Peace of Constantine, in 313,which marked the granting of toleration to Christians. The Peace was followed in the course of years by the bestowal of numberless privileges and possessions on the Church.

3 [The Donatists were a schismatical group who refused to accept as valid the consecration of Caecilian, Bishop of Carthage, charged with submitting holy things to state authorities during a time of persecution. At issue was the question of whether hierarchical powers are forfeited by moral unworthiness. A Council of Carthage (411) gave a negative answer, following the teaching of St. Augustine of Hippo.]

4 The antiphonary is a liturgical book for use in the choir; it contains music and texts of all sung portions of the Roman breviary.

Founder of the Society of Jesus – AD 1556 (July 31)

Youngest son of Don Beltrán Yañez de Oñez y Loyola and Marina Saenz de Lieona y Balda, b. in 1491 at the castle of Loyola above Azpeitia in Guipuscoa; d. at Rome, 31 July, 1556.…

I. Conversion (1491-1521)

At an early age he was made a cleric. We do not know when, or why he was released from clerical obligations. He was brought up in the household of Juan Velásquez de Cuellar, contador mayor to Ferdinand and Isabella, and in his suite probably attended the court from time to time, though not in the royal service. This was perhaps the time of his greatest dissipation and laxity. He was affected and extravagant about his hair and dress, consumed with the desire of winning glory, and would seem to heve been sometimes involved in those darker intrigues, for which handsome young courtiers too often think themselves licensed. How far he went on the downward course is still unproved. The balance of evidence tends to show that his own subsequent humble confessions of having been a great sinner should not be treated as pious exaggerations. But we have no details, not even definite charges. In 1517 a change for the better seems to have taken place; Velásquez died and Ignatius took service in the army. The turning-point of his life came in 1521. While the French were besieging the citadel of Pampeluna, a cannon ball, passing between Ignatius' legs, tore open the left calf. and broke the right shin (Whit-Tuesday, 20 May, 1521). With his fall the garrison lost heart and surrendered, but he was well treated by the French and carried on a litter to Loyola, where his leg had to be rebroken and reset, and afterwards a protruding end of the bone was sawn off, and the limb, having been shortened by clumsy setting, was stretched out by weights. All these pains were undergone voluntarily, without uttering a cry or submitting to be bound. But the pain and weakness which followed were so great that the patient began to fail and sink. On the eve of Sts. Peter and Paul, however, a turn for the better took place, and he threw off his fever.

So far Ignatius had shown none but the ordinary virtues of the Spanish officer. His dangers and sufferings has doubtless done much to purge his soul, but there was no idea yet of remodelling his life on any higher ideals. Then, in order to divert the weary hours of convalescence, he asked for the romances of chivalry, his favourite reading, but there were none in the castle, and instead they brought him the lives of Christ and of the saints, and he read them in the same quasi-competitive spirit with which he read the achievements of knights and warriors. "Suppose I were to rival this saint in fasting, that one in endurance, that other in pilgrimages." He would then wander off into thoughts of chivalry, and service to fair ladies, especially to one of high rank, whose name is unknown. Then all of a sudden, he became conscious that the after-effect of these dreams was to make him dry and dissatisfied, while the ideas of falling into rank among the saints braced and strengthened him, and left him full of joy and peace. Next it dawned on him that the former ideas were of the world, the latter God-sent; finally, worldly thoughts began to lose their hold, while heavenly ones grew clearer and dearer. One night as he lay awake, pondering these new lights, "he saw clearly", so says his autobiography, "the image of Our Lady with the Holy Child Jesus", at whose sight for a notable time he felt a reassuring sweetness, which eventually left him with such a loathing of his past sins, and especially for those of the flesh, that every unclean imagination seemed blotted out from his soul, and never again was there the least consent to any carnal thought. His conversion was now complete. Everyone noticed that he would speak of nothing but spiritual things, and his elder brother begged him not to take any rash or extreme resolution, which might compromise the honour of their family.

II. Spiritual Formation (1522-24)

When Ignatius left Loyola he had no definite plans for the future, except that he wished to rival all the saints had done in the way of penance. His first care was to make a general confession at the famous sanctuary of Montserrat, where, after three days of self- examination, and carefully noting his sins, he confessed, gave to the poor the rich clothes in which he had come, and put on garment of sack-cloth reaching to his feet. His sword and dagger he suspended at Our Lady's altar, and passed the night watching before them. Next morning, the feast of the Annunciation, 1522, after Communion, he left the sanctuary, not knowing whither he went. But he soon fell in with a kind woman, Iñes Pascual, who showed him a cavern near the neighbouring town of Manresa, where he might retire for prayer, austerities, and contemplation, while he lived on alms. But here, instead of obtaining greater peace, he was consumed with the most troublesome scruples. Had he confessed this sin? Had he omitted that circumstance? At one time he was violently tempted to end his miseries by suicide, on which he resolved neither to eat nor to drink (unless his life was in danger), until God granted him the peace which he desired, and so he continued until his confessor stopped him at the end of the week. At last, however, he triumphed over all obstacles, and then abounded in wonderful graces and visions. It was at this time, too, that he began to make notes of his spiritual experiences, notes which grew into the little book of "The Spiritual Exercises". God also afflicted him with severe sicknesses, when he was looked after by friends in the public hospital; for many felt drawn towards him, and he requited their many kind offices by teaching them how to pray and instructing them in spiritual matters. Having recovered health, and acquired sufficient experience to guide him in his new life, he commenced his long- meditated migration to the Holy Land. From the first he had looked forward to it as leading to a life of heroic penance; now he also regarded it as a school in which he might learn how to realize clearly and to conform himself perfectly to Christ's life. The voyage was fully as painful as he had conceived. Poverty, sickness, exposure, fatigue, starvation, dangers of shipwreck and capture, prisons, blows, contradictions, these were his daily lot; and on his arrival the Franciscans, who had charge of the holy places, commanded him to return under pain of sin. Ignatius demanded what right they had thus to interfere with a pilgrim like himself, and the friars explained that, to prevent many troubles which had occurred in finding ransoms for Christian prisoners, the pope had given them the power and they offered to show him their Bulls. Inatius at once submitted, though it meant altering his whole plan of life, refused to look at the proferred Bulls, and was back at Barcelona about march, 1524.

III. Studies and Companions (1521-39)

Ignatius left Jerusalem in thje dark as to his future and "asking himself as he went, quid agendum" (Autobiography, 50). Eventually he resolved to study, in order to be of greater help to others. To studies he therefore gave eleven years, more than a third of his remaining life. Later he studied among school-boys at Barcelona, and early in 1526 he knew enough to proceed to his philosophy at the University of Alcalá. But here he met with many troubles to be described later, and at the end of 1527 he entered the University of Salamanca, whence, his trials continuing, he betook himself to Paris (June, 1528), and there with great method repeated his course of arts, taking his M.A. on 14 March, 1535. Meanwhile theology had been begun, and he had taken the licentiate in 1534; the doctorate he never took, as his health compelled him to leave Paris in March, 1535. Though Ignatius, despite his pains, acquired no great erudition, he gained many practical advantages from his course of education. To say nothing of knowledge sufficient to find such information as he needed afterwards to hold his own in the company of the learned, and to control others more erudite than himself, he also became thoroughly versed in the science of education, and learned by experience how the life of prayer and penance might be combined with that of teaching and study, an invaluable acquirement to the future founder of the Society of Jesus. The labours of Ignatius for others involved him in trials without number. At Barcelona, he was beaten senseless, and his companion killed, at the instigation of some worldlings vexed at being refused entrance into a convent which he had reformed. At Alcalá, a meddlesome inquisitor, Figueroa, harassed him constantly, and once automatically imprisoned him for two months. This drove him to Salamanca, where, worse still, he was thrown into the common prison, fettered by the foot to his companion Calisto, which indignity only drew from Ignatius the characteristic words, "There are not so many handcuffs and chains in Salamanca, but that I desire even more for the love of God."

In Paris his trials were very variedfrom poverty, plague, works of charity, and college discipline, on which account he was once sentenced to a public flogging by Dr. Govea, the rector of Collège Ste-Barbe, but on his explaining his conduct, the rector as publicly begged his pardon. There was but one delation to the inquisitors, and, on Ignatius requesting a prompt settlement, the Inquisitor Ori told him proceedings were therewith quashed. We notice a certain progression in Ignatius' dealing with accusations against him. The first time he allowed them to cease without any pronouncement being given in his favour. The second time he demurred at Figueroa wanting to end in this fashion. The third time, after sentence had been passed, he appealed to he Archbishop of Toledo against some of its clauses. Finally he does not await sentence, but goes at once to the judge to urge an inquiry, and eventually he made it his practice to demand sentence, whenever reflection was cast upon his orthodoxy. (Records of Ignatius' legal proceedings at Azpeitia, in 1515; at Alclla in 1526, 1527; at Venice, 1537; at Rome in 1538, will be found in "Scripta de S. Ignatio", pp. 580-620.) Ignatius had now for the third time gathered companions around him. His first followers in Spain had persevered for a time, even amid the severe trials of imprisonment, but instead of following Ignatius to Paris, as they had agreed to do, they gave him up. In Paris too the first to follow did not persevere long, but of the third band not one deserted him. They were (St.) Peter Faber (q.v.), a Genevan Savoyard; (St.) Francis Xavier (q.v.), of Navarre; James Laynez, Alonso Salmerón, and Nicolás Bobadilla, Spaniards; Simón Rodríguez, a Portuguese. Three others joined soon afterClaude Le Jay, a Genevan Savoyard; Jean Codure and Paschase Broët, French. Progress is to be noted in the way Ignatius trained his companions. The first were exercised in the same severe exterior mortifications, begging, fasting, going barefoot, etc., which the saint was himself practising. But though this discipline had prospered in a quiet country place like Manresa, it had attracted an objectionable amount of criticism at the University of Alcalá. At Paris dress and habits were adapted to the life in great towns; fasting, etc., was reduced; studies and spiritual exercises were multiplied, and alms funded.

The only bond between Ignatius' followers so far was devotion to himself, and his great ideal of leading in the Holy Land a life as like as possible to Christ's. On 15 August, 1534, they took the vows of poverty and chastity at Montmartre (probably near the modern Chapelle de St-Denys, Rue Antoinette), and a third vow to go to the Holy Land after two years, when their studies were finished. Six months later Ignatius was compelled by bad health to return to his native country, and on recovery made his way slowly to Bologna, where, unable through ill health to study, he devoted himself to active works of charity till his companions came from Paris to Venice (6 January, 1537) on the way to the Holy Land. Finding further progress barred by the war with the Turks, they now agreed to await for a year the opportunity of fulfilling their vow, after which they would put themselves at the pope's disposal. Faber and some others, going to Rome in Lent, got leave for all to be ordained. They were eventually made priests on St. John Baptist's day. But Ignatius took eighteen months to prepare for his first Mass.

IV. Foundation of the Society

By the winter of 1537, the year of waiting being over, it was time to offer their services to the pope. The others being sent in pairs to neighboring university towns, Ignatius with Faber and Laynez started for Rome. At La Storta, a few miles before reaching the city, Ignatius had a noteworthy vision. He seemed to see the Eternal Father associating him with His Son, who spoke the words: Ego vobis Romae propitius ero. Many have thought this promise simply referred to the subsequent success of the order there. Ignatius' own interpretation was characteristic: "I do not know whether we shall be crucified in Rome; but Jesus will be propitious." Just before or just after this, Ignatius had suggested for the title of their brotherhood "The Company of Jesus". Company was taken in its military sense, and in those days a company was generally known by its captain's name. In the Latin Bull of foundation, however, they were called "Societas Jesu". We first hear of the term Jesuit in 1544, applied as a term of reproach by adversaries. It had been used in the fifteenth century to describe in scorn someone who cantingly interlarded his speech with repetitions of the Holy Name. In 1522 it was still regarded as a mark of scorn, but before very long the friends of the society saw that they could take it in a good sense, and, though never used by Ignatius, it was readily adopted (Pollen, "The Month", June, 1909). Paul III having received the fathers favourably, all were summoned to Rome to work under the pope's eyes. At this critical moment an active campaign of slander was opened by one Fra Matteo Mainardi (who eventually died in open heresy), and a certain Michael who had been refused admission to the order. It was not till 18 November, 1538, that Ignatius obtained from the governor of Rome an honourable sentence, still extent, in his favour. The thoughts of the fathers were naturally occupied with a formula of their intended mode of life to submit to the pope; and in March, 1539, they began to meet in the evenings to settle the matter.

Hitherto without superior, rule or tradition, they had prospered most remarkably. Why not continue as they had begun? The obvious answer was that without some sort of union, some houses for training postulants, they were practically doomed to die out with the existing members, for the pope already desired to send them about as missioners from place to place. This point was soon agreed to, but when the question arose whether they should, by adding a vow of obedience to their existing vows, form themselves into a compact religious order, or remain, as they were, a congregation of secular priests, opinions differed much and seriously. Not only had they done so well without strict rules, but (to mention only one obstacle, which was in fact not overcome afterwards without great difficulty), there was the danger, if they decided for an order, that the pope might force them to adopt some ancient rule, which would mean the end of all their new ideas. The debate on this point continued for several weeks, but the conclusion in favour of a life under obedience was eventually reached unanimously. After this, progress was faster, and by 24 June some sixteen resolutions had been decided on, covering the main points of the proposed institute. Thence Ignatius drew up in five sections the first "Formula Instituti", which was submitted to the pope, who gave a viva voce approbation 3 September, 1539, but Cardinal Guidiccioni, the head of the commission appointed to report on the "Formula", was of the view that a new order should not be admitted, and with that the chances of approbation seemed to be at an end. Ignatius and his companions, undismayed, agreed to offer up 4000 Masses to obtain the object desired, and after some time the cardinal unexpectedly changed his mind, approved the "Formula" and the Bull "Regimini militantis Ecclesiae" (27 September, 1540), which embodies and sanctions it, was issued, but the members were not to exceed sixty (this clause was abrogated after two years). In April, 1541,Ignatius was, in spite of his reluctance, elected the first general, and on 22 April he and his companions made their profession in St. Paul Outside the Walls. The society was now fully constituted.

V. The Book of the Spiritual Exercises

This work originated in Ignatius' experiences, while he was at Loyola in 1521, and the chief meditations were probably reduced to their present shapes during his life at Manresa in 1522, at the end of which period he had begun to teach them to others. In the process of 1527 at Salamanca, they are spoken of for the first time as the "Book of Exercises". The earliest extant text is of the year 1541. At the request of St. Francis Boria. the book was examined by papal censors and a solemn approbation given by Paul III in the Brief "Pastoralis Officii" of 1548. "The Spiritual Exercises" are written very concisely, in the form of a handbook for the priest who is to explain them, and it is practically impossible to describe them without making them, just as it might be impossible to explain Nelson's "Sailing Orders" to a man who knew nothing of ships or the sea. The idea of the work is to help the exercitant to find out what the will of God is in regard to his future, and to give him energy and courage to follow that will. The exercitant (under ideal circumstances) is guided through four weeks of meditations: the first week on sin and its consequences, the second on Christ's life on earth, the third on his passion, the fourth on His risen life; and a certain number of instructions (called "rules", "additions", "notes") are added to teach him how to pray, how to avoid scruples, how to elect a vocation in life without being swayed by the love of self or of the world. In their fullness they should, according to Ignatius' idea, ordinarily be made once or twice only; but in part (from three to four days) they may be most profitably made annually, and are now commonly called "retreats", from the seclusion or retreat from the world in which the exercitant lives. More popular selections are preached to the people in church and are called "missions". The stores of spiritual wisdom contained in the "Book of Exercises" are truly astonishing, and their author is believed to have been inspired while drawing them up.…

VI. The Constitutions of the Society

Ignatius was commissioned in 1541 to draw them up, but he did not begin to do so until 1547, having occupied the mean space with introducing customs tentatively, which were destined in time to become laws. In 1547 Father Polaneo became his secretary, and with his intelligent aid the first draft of the constitutions was made between 1547 and 1550, and simultaneously pontifical approbation was asked for a new edition of the "Formula". Julius III conceded this by the Bull "Exposcit debitum", 21 July, 1550. At the same time a large number of the older fathers assembled to peruse the first draft of the constitutions, and though none of them made any serious objections, Ignatius' next recension (1552) shows a fair amount of changes. This revised version was then published and put into force throughout the society, a few explanations being added here and there to meet difficulties as they arose. These final touches were being added by the saint up till the time of his death, after which the first general congregation of the society ordered them to be printed….

VII. Later Life and Death

The later years of Ignatius were spent in partial retirement, the correspondence inevitable in governing the Society leaving no time for those works of active ministry which in themselves he much preferred. His health too began to fail. In 1551, when he had gathered the elder fathers to revise the constitutions, he laid his resignation of the generalate in their hands, but they refused to accept it then or later, when the saint renewed his prayer. In 1554 Father Nadal was given the powers of vicar-general, but it was often necessary to send himm abroad as commissary, and in the end Ignatius continued, with Polanco's aid, to direct everything. With most of his first companions he had to part soon. Rodríguez started on 5 March, 1540, for Lisbon, where he eventually founded the Portuguese province, of which he was made provincial on 10 October, 1546. St. Francis Xavier (q.v.) followed Rodríguez immmediately, and became provincial of India in 1549. In September, 1541, Salmeron and Broet started for their perilous mission to Ireland, which they reached (via Scotland) next Lent. But Ireland, the prey to Henry VIII's barbarous violence, could not give the zealous missionaries a free field for the exercise of the ministries proper to their institute. All Lent they passed in Ulster, flying from persecutors, and doing in secret such good as they might. With difficulty they reached Scotland, and regained Rome, Dec., 1542. The beginnings of the Society in Germany are connected with St. Peter Faber, Blessed Peter Canisius, Le Jay, and Bobadilla in 1542. In 1546 Laynez and Salmeron were nominated papal theologians for the Council of Trent, where Canisius, Le Jay, and Covillon also found places. In 1553 came the picturesque, but not very successful mission of Nuñez Barretto as Patriarch of Abyssinia. For all these missions Ignatius wrote minute instructions, many of which are stll extant. He encouraged and exhorted his envoys in their work by his letters, while the reports they wrote back to him form our chief source of information on the missionary triumphs achieved. Though living alone in Rome, it was he who in effect lad, directed, and animated his subjects all the world over.

The two most painful crosses of this period were probably the suits with Isabel Roser and Simón Rodríguez. The former lady had been one of Ignatius' first and most esteemed patronesses during his beginnings in Spain. She came to Rome later on and persuaded Ignatius to receive a vow of obedience to him, and she was afterwards joined by two or three other ladies. But the saint found that the demands they made on his time were more than he could possibly allow them. "They caused me more trouble", he is reported to have said, "than the whole of the Society", and he obtained from the pope a relaxation of the vow he had accepted. A suit with Roser followed, which she lost, and Ignatius forbade his sons hereafter to become ex officio directors to convents of nuns (Scripta de S. Igntio, pp. 652-5). Painful though this mmust have been to a man so loyal as Ignatius, the difference with Rodríguez , one of his first companions, must have been more bitter still. Rodríguez had founded the Province of Portugal, and brought it in a short time to a high state of efficiency. But his methods were not precisely those of Ignatius, and, when new men of Ignatius' own training came under him, differences soon made themselves felt. A struggle ensued in which Rodríguez unfortunately took sides against Ignatius' envoys. The results for the newly formed province were disastrous. Well-nigh half of its members had to be expelled before peace was established; but Ignatius did not hesitate. Rodriguez having been recalled to Rome, the new provincial being empowered ti dismiss him if he refused, he demanded a formal trial, which Ignatius, foreseeing the results, endeavoured to ward off. But on Simón's insistence a full court of inquiry was granted, whose proceedings are now printed and it unanimously condemned Rodriguez to penance and banishment from the province (Scripta etc., pp. 666-707). Of all his external works, those nearest his heart, to judge by his correspondence, were the building and foundation of the Roman College (1551), and of the German College (1552). For their sake he begged, worked, and borrowed with splendid insistence until his death. The success of the first was ensured by the generosity of St. Francis Borgia, before he entered the Society. The latter was still in a struggling condition when Ignatius died, but his great ideas have proved the true and best foundation of both.

In the summer of 1556 the saint was attacked by Roman fever. His doctors did not foresee any serious consequences, but the saint did. On 30 July, 1556, he asked for the last sacraments and the papal blessing, but he was told that no immediate danger threatened. Next morning at daybreak, the infirmarian found him lying in peaceful prayer, so peaceful that he did not at once perceive that the saint was actually dying. When his condition was realized, the last blessing was given, but the end came before the holy oils could be fetched. Perhaps he had prayed that his death, like his life, might pass without any demonstration. He was beatified by Paul V on 27 July, 1609, and canonized by Gregory XV on 22 May, 1622. His body lies under the altar designed by Pozzi in the Gesù. Though he died in the sixteenth year from the foundation of the Society, that body already numbered about 1000 religious (of whom, however, only 35 were yet professed) with 100 religious houses, arranged in 10 provinces.

Virgin – AD 1431 (May 30)

(Jeanne d'Arc), by her contemporaries commonly known as la Pucelle (the Maid); born at Domremy in Champagne, probably on 6 January, 1412; died at Rouen, 30 May, 1431. The village of Domremy lay upon the confines of territory which recognized the suzerainty of the Duke of Burgundy, but in the protracted conflict between the Armagnacs (the party of Charles VII, King of France), on the one hand, and the Burgundians in alliance with the English, on the other, Domremy had always remained loyal to Charles. Jacques d'Arc, Joan's father, was a small peasant farmer, poor but not needy. Joan seems to have been the youngest of a family of five. She never learned to read or write but was skilled in sewing and spinning, and the popular idea that she spent the days of her childhood in the pastures, alone with the sheep and cattle, is quite unfounded. All the witnesses in the process of rehabilitation spoke of her as a singularly pious child, grave beyond her years, who often knelt in the church absorbed in prayer, and loved the poor tenderly. Great attempts were made at Joan's trial to connect her with some superstitious practices supposed to have been performed round a certain tree, popularly known as the "Fairy Tree" (l'Arbre des Dames), but the sincerity of her answers baffled her judges. She had sung and danced there with the other children, and had woven wreaths for Our Lady's statue, but since she was twelve years old she had held aloof from such diversions.

It was at the age of thirteen and a half, in the summer of 1425, that Joan first became conscious of that manifestation, whose supernatural character it would now be rash to question, which she afterwards came to call her "voices" or her "counsel." It was at first simply a voice, as if someone had spoken quite close to her, but it seems also clear that a blaze of light accompanied it, and that later on she clearly discerned in some way the appearance of those who spoke to her, recognizing them individually as St. Michael (who was accompanied by other angels), St. Margaret, St. Catherine, and others. Joan was always reluctant to speak of her voices. She said nothing about them to her confessor, and constantly refused, at her trial, to be inveigled into descriptions of the appearance of the saints and to explain how she recognized them. None the less, she told her judges: "I saw them with these very eyes, as well as I see you." Great efforts have been made by rationalistic historians, such as M. Anatole France, to explain these voices as the result of a condition of religious and hysterical exaltation which had been fostered in Joan by priestly influence, combined with certain prophecies current in the countryside of a maiden from the bois chesnu (oak wood), near which the Fairy Tree was situated, who was to save France by a miracle. But the baselessness of this analysis of the phenomena has been fully exposed by many non-Catholic writers. There is not a shadow of evidence to support this theory of priestly advisers coaching Joan in a part, but much which contradicts it. Moreover, unless we accuse the Maid of deliberate falsehood, which no one is prepared to do, it was the voices which created the state of patriotic exaltation, and not the exaltation which preceded the voices. Her evidence on these points is clear.

Although Joan never made any statement as to the date at which the voices revealed her mission, it seems certain that the call of God was only made known to her gradually. But by May, 1428, she no longer doubted that she was bidden to go to the help of the king, and the voices became insistent, urging her to present herself to Robert Baudricourt, who commanded for Charles VII in the neighbouring town of Vaucouleurs. This journey she eventually accomplished a month later, but Baudricourt, a rude and dissolute soldier, treated her and her mission with scant respect, saying to the cousin who accompanied her: "Take her home to her father and give her a good whipping." Meanwhile the military situation of King Charles and his supporters was growing more desperate. Orleans was invested (12 October, 1428), and by the close of the year complete defeat seemed imminent. Joan's voices became urgent, and even threatening. It was in vain that she resisted, saying to them: "I am a poor girl; I do not know how to ride or fight." The voices only reiterated: "It is God who commands it." Yielding at last, she left Domremy in January, 1429, and again visited Vaucouleurs. Baudricourt was still skeptical, but, as she stayed on in the town, her persistence gradually made an impression on him. On 17 Feb. she announced a great defeat which had befallen the French arms outside Orleans (the Battle of the Herrings). As this statement was officially confirmed a few days later, her cause gained ground. Finally she was suffered to seek the king at Chinon, and she made her way there with a slender escort of three men-at-arms, she being attired, at her own request, in male costumeundoubtedly as a protection to her modesty in the rough life of the camp. She always slept fully dressed, and all those who were intimate with her declared that there was something about her which repressed every unseemly thought in her regard. She reached Chinon on 6 March, and two days later was admitted into the presence of Charles VII. To test her, the king had disguised himself, but she at once saluted him without hesitation amidst a group of attendants. From the beginning a strong party at the courtLa Tremoille, the royal favourite, foremost among themopposed her as a crazy visionary, but a secret sign, communicated to her by her voices, which she made known to Charles, led the king, somewhat half-heartedly, to believe in her mission. What this sign was, Joan never revealed, but it is now most commonly believed that this "secret of the king" was a doubt Charles had conceived of the legitimacy of his birth, and which Joan had been supernaturally authorized to set at rest. Still, before Joan could be employed in military operations she was sent to Poitiers to be examined by a numerous committee of learned bishops and doctors. The examination was of the most searching and formal character. It is regrettable in the extreme that the minutes of the proceedings, to which Joan frequently appealed later on at her trial, have altogether perished. All that we know is that her ardent faith, simplicity, and honesty made a favourable impression. The theologians found nothing heretical in her claims to supernatural guidance, and, without pronouncing upon the reality of her mission, they thought that she might be safely employed and further tested.

Returning to Chinon, Joan made her preparations for the campaign. Instead of the sword the king offered her, she begged that search might be made for an ancient sword buried, as she averred, behind the altar in the chapel of Ste-Catherine-de-Fierbois. It was found in the very spot her voices indicated. There was made for her at the same time a standard bearing the words Jesus, Maria, with a picture of God the Father, and kneeling angels presenting a fleur-de-lis. But perhaps the most interesting fact connected with this early stage of her mission is a letter of one Sire de Rotslaer written from Lyons on 22 April, 1429, which was delivered at Brussels and duly registered, as the manuscript to this day attests, before any of the events referred to received their fulfilment. The Maid, he reports, said "that she would save Orleans and would compel the English to raise the siege, that she herself in a battle before Orleans would be wounded by a shaft but would not die of it, and that the King, in the course of the coming summer, would be crowned at Rheims, together with other things which the King keeps secret." Before entering upon her campaign, Joan summoned the King of England to withdraw his troops from French soil. The English commanders were furious at the audacity of the demand, but Joan by a rapid movement entered Orleans on 30 April. Her presence there at once worked wonders. By 8 May the English forts which encircled the city had all been captured, and the siege raised, though on the 7th Joan was wounded in the breast by an arrow. So far as the Maid went she wished to follow up these successes with all speed, partly from a sound warlike instinct, partly because her voices had already told her that she had only a year to last. But the king and his advisers, especially La Tremoille and the Archbishop of Reims, were slow to move. However, at Joan's earnest entreaty a short campaign was begun upon the Loire, which, after a series of successes, ended on 18 June with a great victory at Patay, where the English reinforcements sent from Paris under Sir John Fastolf were completely routed. The way to Reims was now practically open, but the Maid had the greatest difficulty in persuading the commanders not to retire before Troyes, which was at first closed against them. They captured the town and then, still reluctantly, followed her to Reims, where, on Sunday, 17 July, 1429, Charles VII was solemnly crowned, the Maid standing by with her standard, foras she explained"as it had shared in the toil, it was just that it should share in the victory."

The principal aim of Joan's mission was thus attained, and some authorities assert that it was now her wish to return home, but that she was detained with the army against her will. The evidence is to some extent conflicting, and it is probable that Joan herself did not always speak in the same tone. Probably she saw clearly how much might have been done to bring about the speedy expulsion of the English from French soil, but on the other hand she was constantly oppressed by the apathy of the king and his advisers, and by the suicidal policy which snatched at every diplomatic bait thrown out by the Duke of Burgundy. An abortive attempt on Paris was made at the end of August. Though St-Denis was occupied without opposition, the assault which was made on the city on 8 Sept. was not seriously supported, and Joan, while heroically cheering on her men to fill the moat, was shot through the thigh with a bolt from a crossbow. The Duc d'Alencon removed her almost by force, and the assault was abandoned. The reverse unquestionably impaired Joan's prestige, and shortly afterwards, when, through Charles' political counsellors, a truce was signed with the Duke of Burgundy, she sadly laid down her arms upon the altar of St-Denis. The inactivity of the following winter, mostly spent amid the worldliness and the jealousy of the Court, must have been a miserable experience for Joan. It may have been with the idea of consoling her that Charles, on 29 Dec., 1429, ennobled the Maid and all her family, who henceforward, from the lilies on their coat of arms, were known by the name of Du Lis. It was April before Joan was able to take the field again at the conclusion of the truce, and at Melun her voices made known to her that she would be taken prisoner before Midsummer Day. Neither was the fulfilment of this prediction long delayed. It seems that she had thrown herself into Compiègne on 24 May at sunrise to defend the town against Burgundian attack. In the evening she resolved to attempt a sortie, but her little troop of some five hundred encountered a much superior force. Her followers were driven back and retired desperately fighting. By some mistake or panic of Guillaume de Flavy, who commanded in Compiègne, the drawbridge was raised while still many of those who had made the sortie remained outside, Joan amongst the number. She was pulled down from her horse and became the prisoner of a follower of John of Luxemburg. Guillaume de Flavy has been accused of deliberate treachery, but there seems no adequate reason to suppose this. He continued to hold Compiegne resolutely for his king, while Joan's constant thought during the early months of her captivity was to escape and come to assist him in this task of defending the town.

No words can adequately describe the disgraceful ingratitude and apathy of Charles and his advisers in leaving the Maid to her fate. If military force had not availed, they had prisoners like the Earl of Suffolk in their hands, for whom she could have been exchanged. Joan was sold by John of Luxembourg to the English for a sum which would amount to several hundred thousand dollars in modern money. There can be no doubt that the English, partly because they feared their prisoner with a superstitious terror, partly because they were ashamed of the dread which she inspired, were determined at all costs to take her life. They could not put her to death for having beaten them, but they could get her sentenced as a witch and a heretic. Moreover, they had a tool ready to their hand in Pierre Cauchon, the Bishop of Beauvais, an unscrupulous and ambitious man who was the creature of the Burgundian party. A pretext for invoking his authority was found in the fact that Compiegne, where Joan was captured, lay in the Diocese of Beauvais. Still, as Beauvais was in the hands of the French, the trial took place at Rouen--the latter see being at that time vacant. This raised many points of technical legality which were summarily settled by the parties interested. The Vicar of the Inquisition at first, upon some scruple of jurisdiction, refused to attend, but this difficulty was overcome before the trial ended. Throughout the trial Cauchon's assessors consisted almost entirely of Frenchmen, for the most part theologians and doctors of the University of Paris. Preliminary meetings of the court took place in January, but it was only on 21 February, 1431, that Joan appeared for the first time before her judges. She was not allowed an advocate, and, though accused in an ecclesiastical court, she was throughout illegally confined in the Castle of Rouen, a secular prison, where she was guarded by dissolute English soldiers. Joan bitterly complained of this. She asked to be in the church prison, where she would have had female attendants. It was undoubtedly for the better protection of her modesty under such conditions that she persisted in retaining her male attire. Before she had been handed over to the English, she had attempted to escape by desperately throwing herself from the window of the tower of Beaurevoir, an act of seeming presumption for which she was much browbeaten by her judges. This also served as a pretext for the harshness shown regarding her confinement at Rouen, where she was at first kept in an iron cage, chained by the neck, hands, and feet. On the other hand she was allowed no spiritual privilegese.g. attendance at Masson account of the charge of heresy and the monstrous dress (difformitate habitus) she was wearing.

As regards the official record of the trial, which, so far as the Latin version goes, seems to be preserved entire, we may probably trust its accuracy in all that relates to the questions asked and the answers returned by the prisoner. These answers are in every way favourable to Joan. Her simplicity, piety, and good sense appear at every turn, despite the attempts of the judges to confuse her. They pressed her regarding her visions, but upon many points she refused to answer. Her attitude was always fearless, and, upon 1 March, Joan boldly announced that "within seven years' space the English would have to forfeit a bigger prize than Orleans." In point of fact Paris was lost to Henry VI on 12 Nov., 1437six years and eight months afterwards. It was probably because the Maid's answers perceptibly won sympathizers for her in a large assembly that Cauchon decided to conduct the rest of the inquiry before a small committee of judges in the prison itself. We may remark that the only matter in which any charge of prevarication can be reasonably urged against Joan's replies occurs especially in this stage of the inquiry. Joan, pressed about the secret sign given to the king, declared that an angel brought him a golden crown, but on further questioning she seems to have grown confused and to have contradicted herself. Most authorities (like, e.g., M. Petit de Julleville and Mr. Andrew Lang) are agreed that she was trying to guard the king's secret behind an allegory, she herself being the angel; but othersfor instance P. Ayroles and Canon Dunand--insinuate that the accuracy of the procès-verbal cannot be trusted. On another point she was prejudiced by her lack of education. The judges asked her to submit herself to "the Church Militant." Joan clearly did not understand the phrase and, though willing and anxious to appeal to the pope, grew puzzled and confused. It was asserted later that Joan's reluctance to pledge herself to a simple acceptance of the Church's decisions was due to some insidious advice treacherously imparted to her to work her ruin. But the accounts of this alleged perfidy are contradictory and improbable.

The examinations terminated on 17 March. Seventy propositions were then drawn up, forming a very disorderly and unfair presentment of Joan's "crimes," but, after she had been permitted to hear and reply to these, another set of twelve were drafted, better arranged and less extravagantly worded. With this summary of her misdeeds before them, a large majority of the twenty-two judges who took part in the deliberations declared Joan's visions and voices to be "false and diabolical," and they decided that if she refused to retract she was to be handed over to the secular arm-- which was the same as saying that she was to be burned. Certain formal admonitions, at first private, and then public, were administered to the poor victim (18 April and 2 May), but she refused to make any submission which the judges could have considered satisfactory. On 9 May she was threatened with torture, but she still held firm. Meanwhile, the twelve propositions were submitted to the University of Paris, which, being extravagantly English in sympathy, denounced the Maid in violent terms. Strong in this approval, the judges, forty-seven in number, held a final deliberation, and forty-two reaffirmed that Joan ought to be declared heretical and handed over to the civil power, if she still refused to retract. Another admonition followed in the prison on 22 May, but Joan remained unshaken. The next day a stake was erected in the cemetery of St-Ouen, and in the presence of a great crowd she was solemnly admonished for the last time. After a courageous protest against the preacher's insulting reflections on her king, Charles VII, the accessories of the scene seem at last to have worked upon mind and body worn out by so many struggles. Her courage for once failed her. She consented to sign some sort of retraction, but what the precise terms of that retraction were will never be known. In the official record of the process a form of retraction is in inserted which is most humiliating in every particular. It is a long document which would have taken half an hour to read. What was read aloud to Joan and was signed by her must have been something quite different, for five witnesses at the rehabilitation trial, including Jean Massieu, the official who had himself read it aloud, declared that it was only a matter of a few lines. Even so, the poor victim did not sign unconditionally, but plainly declared that she only retracted in so far as it was God's will. However, in virtue of this concession, Joan was not then burned, but conducted back to prison.

The English and Burgundians were furious, but Cauchon, it seems, placated them by saying, "We shall have her yet." Undoubtedly her position would now, in case of a relapse, be worse than before, for no second retractation could save her from the flames. Moreover, as one of the points upon which she had been condemned was the wearing of male apparel, a resumption of that attire would alone constitute a relapse into heresy, and this within a few days happened, owing, it was afterwards alleged, to a trap deliberately laid by her jailers with the connivance of Cauchon. Joan, either to defend her modesty from outrage, or because her women's garments were taken from her, or, perhaps, simply because she was weary of the struggle and was convinced that her enemies were determined to have her blood upon some pretext, once more put on the man's dress which had been purposely left in her way. The end now came soon. On 29 May a court of thirty-seven judges decided unanimously that the Maid must be treated as a relapsed heretic, and this sentence was actually carried out the next day (30 May, 1431) amid circumstances of intense pathos. She is said, when the judges visited her early in the morning, first to have charged Cauchon with the responsibility of her death, solemnly appealing from him to God, and afterwards to have declared that "her voices had deceived her." About this last speech a doubt must always be felt. We cannot be sure whether such words were ever used, and, even if they were, the meaning is not plain. She was, however, allowed to make her confession and to receive Communion. Her demeanour at the stake was such as to move even her bitter enemies to tears. She asked for a cross, which, after she had embraced it, was held up before her while she called continuously upon the name of Jesus. "Until the last," said Manchon, the recorder at the trial, "she declared that her voices came from God and had not deceived her." After death her ashes were thrown into the Seine.

Twenty-four years later a revision of her trial, the procès de réhabilitation, was opened at Paris with the consent of the Holy See. The popular feeling was then very different, and, with but the rarest exceptions, all the witnesses were eager to render their tribute to the virtues and supernatural gifts of the Maid. The first trial had been conducted without reference to the pope, indeed it was carried out in defiance of St. Joan's appeal to the head of the Church. Now an appellate court constituted by the pope, after long inquiry and examination of witnesses, reversed and annulled the sentence pronounced by a local tribunal under Cauchon's presidency. The illegality of the former proceedings was made clear, and it speaks well for the sincerity of this new inquiry that it could not be made without inflicting some degree of reproach upon both the King of France and the Church at large, seeing that so great an injustice had been done and had so long been suffered to continue unredressed. Even before the rehabilitation trial, keen observers, like Eneas Sylvius Piccolomini (afterwards Pope Pius II), though still in doubt as to her mission, had discerned something of the heavenly character of the Maid. In Shakespeare's day she was still regarded in England as a witch in league with the fiends of hell, but a juster estimate had begun to prevail even in the pages of Speed's "History of Great Britaine" (1611). By the beginning of the nineteenth century the sympathy for her even in England was general. Such writers as Southey, Hallam, Sharon Turner, Carlyle, Landor, and, above all, De Quincey greeted the Maid with a tribute of respect which was not surpassed even in her own native land. Among her Catholic fellow-countrymen she had been regarded, even in her lifetime, as Divinely inspired. At last the cause of her beatification was introduced upon occasion of an appeal addressed to the Holy See, in 1869, by Mgr Dupanloup, Bishop of Orleans, and, after passing through all its stages and being duly confirmed by the necessary miracles, the process ended in the decree being published by Pius X on 11 April, 1909. A Mass and Office of St. Joan, taken from the "Commune Virginum," with "proper" prayers, have been approved by the Holy See for use in the Diocese of Orleans. St. Joan was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

AD 1859 (August 4)

Cure of Ars, born at Dardilly, near Lyons, France, on 8 May, 1786; died at Ars, 4 August, 1859; son of Matthieu Vianney and Marie Beluze. In 1806, the cure at Ecully, M. Balley, opened a school for ecclesiastical students, and Jean-Marie was sent to him. Though he was of average intelligence and his masters never seem to have doubted his vocation, his knowledge was extremely limited, being confined to a little arithmetic, history, and geography, and he found learning, especially the study of Latin, excessively difficult. One of his fellow-students, Matthias Loras, afterwards first Bishop of Dubuque, assisted him with his Latin lessons. But now another obstacle presented itself. Young Vianney was drawn in the conscription, the war with Spain and the urgent need of recruits having caused Napoleon to withdraw the exemption enjoyed by the ecclesiastical students in the diocese of his uncle, Cardinal Fesch. Matthieu Vianney tried unsuccessfully to procure a substitute, so his son was obliged to go. His regiment soon received marching orders. The morning of departure, Jean-Baptiste went to church to pray, and on his return to the barracks found that his comrades had already left. He was threatened with arrest, but the recruiting captain believed his story and sent him after the troops. At nightfall he met a young man who volunteered to guide him to his fellow-soldiers, but led him to Noes, where some deserters had gathered. The mayor persuaded him to remain there, under an assumed name, as schoolmaster. After fourteen months, he was able to communicate with his family. His father was vexed to know that he was a deserter and ordered him to surrender but the matter was settled by his younger brother offering to serve in his stead and being accepted.

Jean-Baptiste now resumed his studies at Ecully. In 1812, he was sent to the seminary at Verrieres; he was so deficient in Latin as to be obliged to follow the philosophy course in French. He failed to pass the examinations for entrance to the seminary proper, but on re-examination three months later succeeded. On 13 August, 1815, he was ordained priest by Mgr. Simon, Bishop of Grenoble. His difficulties in making the preparatory studies seem to have been due to a lack of mental suppleness in dealing with theory as distinct from practice -- a lack accounted for by the meagreness of his early schooling, the advanced age at which he began to study, the fact that he was not of more than average intelligence, and that he was far advanced in spiritual science and in the practice of virtue long before he came to study it in the abstract. He was sent to Ecully as assistant to M. Balley, who had first recognized and encouraged his vocation, who urged him to persevere when the obstacles in his way seemed insurmountable, who interceded with the examiners when he failed to pass for the higher seminary, and who was his model as well as his preceptor and patron. In 1818, after the death of M. Balley, M. Vianney was made parish priest of Ars, a village not very far from Lyons. It was in the exercise of the functions of the parish priest in this remote French hamlet that as the "cure d'Ars" he became known throughout France and the Christian world. A few years after he went to Ars, he founded a sort of orphanage for destitute girls. It was called " The Providence" and was the model of similar institutions established later all over France. M. Vianney himself instructed the children of "The Providence" in the catechism, and these catechetical instructions came to be so popular that at last they were given every day in the church to large crowds. "The Providence" was the favourite work of the "cure d'Ars", but, although it was successful, it was closed in 1847, because the holy cure thought that he was not justified in maintaining it in the face of the opposition of many good people. Its closing was a very heavy trial to him.

But the chief labour of the Cure d'Ars was the direction of souls. He had not been long at Ars when people began coming to him from other parishes, then from distant places, then from all parts of France, and finally from other countries. As early as 1835, his bishop forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the diocesan clergy because of "the souls awaiting him yonder". During the last ten years of his life, he spent from sixteen to eighteen hours a day in the confessional. His advice was sought by bishops, priests, religious, young men and women in doubt as to their vocation, sinners, persons in all sorts of difficulties and the sick. In 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached twenty thousand a year. The most distinguished persons visited Ars for the purpose of seeing the holy cure and hearing his daily instruction. The Venerable Father Colin was ordained deacon at the same time, and was his life-long friend, while Mother Marie de la Providence founded the Helpers of the Holy Souls on his advice and with his constant encouragement. His direction was characterized by common sense, remarkable insight, and supernatural knowledge. He would sometimes divine sins withheld in an imperfect confession. His instructions were simple in language, full of imagery drawn from daily life and country scenes, but breathing faith and that love of God which was his life principle and which he infused into his audience as much by his manner and appearance as by his words, for, at the last, his voice was almost inaudible. The miracles recorded by his biographers are of three classes: first, the obtaining of money for his charities and food for his orphans secondly, supernatural knowledge of the past and future; thirdly, healing the sick, especially children. The greatest miracle of all was his life. He practised mortification from his early youth. and for forty years his food and sleep were insufficient, humanly speaking to sustain life. And yet he laboured incessantly, with unfailing humility, gentleness, patience, and cheerfulness, until he was more than seventy-three years old.

On 3 October, 1874 Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney was proclaimed Venerable by Pius IX and on 8 January, 1905, he was enrolled among the Blessed. Pope Pius X proposed him as a model to the parochial clergy. In 1925, Pope Pius XI canonized him. His feast is kept on 4 August.

Sources include the Catholic Encyclopedia, Butler's Lives of the Saints, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Church and L'Osservatore Romano.