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The life of St. Dominic and a sketch of the Dominican Order online

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if he would only consent to quit the religious habit.
But Father Barry rejected the offer with heroic disdain.
" These garments," he said, " are the livery of Christ,
and represent to me His Passion ; they are the banner
of my military service to Him ; I have worn them from
my youth upwards, and never will I put them off."
Enraged at his obstinacy, they determined to make an
example of him, and collecting a fire of sticks on the rock
of Cashel, they burnt him slowly from his feet upwards,
and at length ended his sufferings with a thrust of a sword.
Or again, how beautiful is the story of Father Lawrence
O'Ferall of Longford, who, being remanded for three
days, secretly prayed to God that the palm of martyrdom
should not be denied him. When led to the scaffold, he
threw his rosary round his neck, and meekly folding his
hands under his scapular after the manner of his order,
he submitted to the hangman with a sweet and cheerful
countenance. As he hung suspended in the air, by a
marvellous prodigy, he withdrew one of his hands from
his scapular, and with it held his cross high above his head,
in token of victory and triumph, until all was over.

But we must remember that we are not writing a



344 THE DOMINICAN ORDEK.

niartyrology. In spite of torrents of blood and con-
tinual banishments, the Irish province lived on, and its
succession of provincials has remained unbroken even to
our own time. We have already spoken of the grant
made by Clement VIII. to the Irish branch of the order,
of the convents of S. Clement and S. Sixtus at Home.
It likewise possesses other foreign establishments, such
as the college at Lou vain, erected by permission of
Philip IV. in 1655; and that at Lisbon founded in 1615,
whose first prior, F. Dominic O'Daly, has left several in-
teresting works on the history and sufferings of his order.
We must pass from this part of our subject to glance
for a moment at some of those great theologians whose
services were called forth by the peculiar exigencies of
the times. In the history of the Protestant Reforma-
tion, the names of some of these Dominican defenders of
the faith have attained an immortal celebrity. None,
perhaps, offered a more formidable opposition to the new
sectaries than John Faber, one of the chief Catholic
theologians at the celebrated Conference of Baden (in
which the doctrines of Luther and Zuinglius were defi-
nitively condemned), and at the subsequent Diet of
Spires. The two Soto's, Dominic and Peter, with Mel-
chior Cano, upheld the theological renown of the order
in Spain. Peter Soto was the friend of Cardinal Pole,
the last Dominican whose voice was heard in the schools
of Oxford. During the temporary restoration of the
faith in England under Philip and Mary, he was estab-
lished professor at the university, and revived for a brief
space the ancient scholastic and theological studies that
had formerly flourished there. Associated with him in
this work were several others of his order, amongst them
Bartholomew Carranza and John of Villagracia ; and we
are assured the conversions effected by them were very
numerous. Dominic Soto was one of that great body of
Dominican theologians who took so large a share in the
deliberations of the Council of Trent ; and during the first
six sessions of the council he was appointed to represent
the general of the order. He was placed, moreover, at
the head of all the theologians sent by the emperor \ and



THE COUNCIL OF TRENT. 345

among the fifty fathers of his order who were present in
that august assembly, he was considered the one of highest
repute. This certainly is no light praise, when we con-
sider who those Dominicans were who filled the ranks of
the Tridentine Fathers. There was, at a later period of
the sessions, Leonard Marinis, the archbishop of Lan-
ciano, who sat there as Papal legate, to whom, in company
with two others of his order, Giles Foscarari and Francis
Forerio, was committed the drawing up of the Catechism
of the Council of Trent. There was Bartholomew of the
Martyrs, the saintly archbishop of Braga, and the un-
flinching promoter of ecclesiastical reform, the friend and
adviser of S. Charles Borromeo, and, we might say, the
model on which he formed his idea of sanctity. There
also was the companion and chosen associate of Bartho-
lomew, Henry of Tavora, afterwards archbishop of Goa,
a man of singular and primitive simplicity: these, and
others equally illustrious, represented the order of
Preachers in that great council, where one and all dis-
tinguished themselves with extraordinary unity of senti-
ment as the champions of Church reform. No one will
mistake the sense in which we use these words, and
certainly the Dominican order is not the body which lies
open to the suspicion of favouring novelties and innova-
tions. The reform aimed at by the Tridentine Fathers
was the universal restoration of that primitive discipline
which we see carried out in the episcopates of such men
as Bartholomew of the Martyrs, S. Charles Borromeo,
Lanuza, and other saintly bishops who illustrated an age
rendered yet more distinguished as the age of ecclesiastical
reform by the pontificate of S. Pius V,

In fact, it is well known that some of the most stringent
measures of ecclesiastical reform originated with the
Dominican members of the council. One of the prelates
in attendance resolutely opposed some of these; and, in
particular, ventured to press the propriety of exempting
the cardinals from the effect of the reforming decrees.
" The most illustrious and reverend cardinals/' he said,
in the pompous style of a court eulogist, " can stand in
need of no reform." Bartholomew of the Martyrs iimne-



346 THE DOMINICAN ORDER.

diately rose to reply. " The most illustrious and reverend
cardinals shall have a most illustrious and most reverend
reform;" and his opponent was soon obliged to give up the
point before the determination of the Portuguese primate.
We have already alluded to his strictures on the building
tastes of Pius IV. His name is to be had in benediction
as one of the most glorious examples of pastoral excellence
the order ever produced, and as the guide and teacher
of one who surpasses him in the glory of actual canoniza-
tion, yet was but the disciple and imitator of his episcopal
■?a:eer. It was probably after some such scene as that we
ime described in the Belvidere gardens, that the young
Cardinal Borromeo followed him to his room, and opened
his whole heart to the first man who had ever seemed
worthy of his confidence. " There is none here but God
and ourselves," he said, closing the door behind him,
" and you must hear me, for I loved you from the first
moment that we met ; and I well know that it was for
my sake God sent you hither. You see what it is to be
nephew to a Pope ; I ^m young and care for none of
these things. I shall resign all my preferments and
retire to some monastery of strict observance, for I desire
only to save my soul." If S. Charles was preserved in
his exalted position, and exhibited to all future ages as
the model of the episcopate, it was owing to the advice
and guidance of Bartholomew at that critical moment.
His work, entitled the " Stimulus Pastorum" being
instructions for those entering on the pastoral office, is
said to have been the constant companion of the saint ; he
carried it in his bosom, and the living example of its
incomparable author was the rule by which he guided his
subsequent career.

We have alluded to the pontificate of S. Pius. Two
other members of the Order of Preachers had already
ascended the chair of S. Peter. Peter de Tarentasia,
under the title of Innocent V., in a short reign of five
months, had accomplished the reconciliation of the Guelph
and Ghibeline factions of Tuscany, and left a name so
dear and venerable, that though no office has been
granted in his honour, his name is often distinguished



DOMINICAN POPES. 347

with the popular title of Blessed. Nicholas Bocassini, the
ninth general of the Dominicans who, true to the loyal
instincts of his order, stood by the unfortunate pontiff
Boniface VIII., when all else deserted him, on the fatal
day of Anagni, became his successor, and is known in
history as the blessed Benedict XI. His pontificate lasted
but a single year; but, like that of Pope Innocent it was
long enough to be deemed illustrious, and to fill the dis-
tracted Church of the 14th century with the sweet and
gracious odour of peace. "Wars and dissensions fled from
Rome," says an ancient author, quoted by Oderic Ray-
naldus, "when Benedict appeared." Peace^oo was restored
by his fatherly hand between France and the Holy See;
and the grievances which had arisen in the reign of
Boniface were healed and reconciled. In every country
the legates of the blessed Benedict were to be found preach-
ing the same gospel of peace and reconciliation ; and if, as
is thought, his early death was caused by poison adminis-
tered by his enemies, we may pronounce his eulogium in
the words of Touron, and say that, " the victim and the
martyr of peace, he lived but to preach its doctrines, and
reigned only to make it reign."

Benedict XI. has received the solemn beatification of
the Church. It remained for her to bestow a yet higher
honour on the third Dominican who succeeded to the
sacred tiara. This was Michael Ghislieri, of whose
character as grand inquisitor we have already spoken.
The whole idea of the pontificate of S. Pius was one of
ecclesiastical reform ; and if something of severity appears
to attach to his government, let it be remembered that
this severity was directed in most cases, not against
seculars and heretics, but against the Catholic clergy
themselves. Borne under his rule became once more
worthy of the title of the Holy City: — nor was there a
country in the wide range of Christendom that did not
feel the effects of his parental solicitude. Tfe can find
in the annals of no single pontificate, if we except that of
Innocent III., such examples of vigilance over all people,
and all churches that owned the rule of Peter, as we find
in the history of S. Pius. And when we remember the



348 THE DOMINICAN ORDER.

period during which he held the reins of government, — •
a period when Europe was on one side revolutionized by
the madness of sectaries, whilst on the other the power of
the Ottomans was every day advancing nearer and nearer,
and destroying one by one her bulwarks of defence, — •
we shall be better able to do justice to the qualities of
one to whose greatness the world and the Church alike
bear witness in his threefold character of pontiff, prince,
and saint. His election to the chair of S. Peter was the
work of S. Charles Borromeo, whose influence was para-
mount in the conclave that assembled on the death of
Pius IV. He^may be considered the last, and in some
respects the greatest, of that long line of popes whose
temporal and political power almost equalled that of
their spiritual supremacy. After his time, the political
influence of the Roman pontiffs gradually declined; it
had rested on the religious unity of the European states,
and when that unity was broken, the Roman see, which
had formed its centre, naturally lost much of the power
it had hitherto possessed. But though the causes which
effected the change were already in operation during the
reign of Pius V., they had only begun to work, and the
crisis of extraordinary danger which, in the middle of
the 16th century, well nigh laid Europe at the mercy
of the Turks, was the last occasion when a Roman
pontiff was seen acting as the .father of the Christian -»
world, animating the distracted sovereigns to courage
and unity with his single voice, and directing all thip
was left in Europe of faith and chivalry against the
hosts of the Mussulman invaders. The Christian league,
whose victory at Lepanto broke the naval power of the
Turks, and saved Europe from unimaginable sufferings,
was the creation of S. Pius ; nothing short of his un-
wearied constancy, and the influence of his venerable
authority, could have cemented such a league in that
hour of discord ; the glorious result of the great struggle
belongs to him and to his order; and its results, as well
as the sagacity and pious zeal of him who was the
presiding spirit of the Christian confederacy, extorted
from Bacon the memorable words, " I marvel that the



s. Pius v. 349

Roman Church has not yet canonized- this great man."
In the following century, however, those honours were
formally granted to S. Pius which had long before been
his by popular acclamation. He had earned them, not
merely as the victorious defender of Christendom, but
by the merits of a pontificate which aimed at, and in no
small degree succeded in, restoring to the Church its
primitive purity and beauty. The part he had taken in
drawing up the reforming decrees of the Council of
Trent was very considerable, but still greater was his
share in enforcing them. And lest, in representing him as
the uncompromising advocate of ancient discipline, any
should think of him as acting on that narrow-minded
bigotry which refuses to mould itself to the views and
necessities of the age, let them remember that he was
the warm advocate of popular education, the founder of
the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and the liberal
patron of parish schools, and factories, on the foundation
of which latter establishments he expended 100,000
crowns, in order to supply some means for correcting
the idleness, as well as the ignorance, of his people. Nor
is the Church without her obligations to him in matters
which might be deemed of lighter import. True to the
traditions of his order, he supported the principles of
Christian art, against the abuses of the renaissance.*
The same sensuality which had debased the arts of
painting and sculpture had, towards the middle of the
16th century, infused its poison with no less subtlety
into music ; so that the Council of Trent, which had
passed a severe condemnation on the character of the
pictures and images then being introduced into the
churches, felt called on in like manner to censure tho
worldly and effeminate music which had taken the place
of church harmony. S. Pius, when cardinal, formed one
of the commission before whom the question was finally
brought, which was to decide whether, in consequence oi
these abuses, the use of all ornamental or figured musio

* By order of S. Pius all statuary of a reprehensible character in
the gallery of the Vatican was removed, and the pieces of any
artistic merit placed in the collection at the Capitol.



350 THE DOMINICAN ORDER.

should not be abandoned. It was the genius of Palestrina
which alone prevented such a result. The Mass, commonly
known as that of Marcellus II., on which the trembling
hands of the composer, who knew how much depended
on the judgment to be formed of his work, had traced
the words, " Deus adjuva me," convinced all who listened,
that music, like painting, in religious hands, could minister
to a religious end. The question remained undecided,
however, until the accession of S. Pius, who immediately
appointed Palestrina master of the papal chapel, where
the spirit and traditions of the great master of sacred
harmony still survive.

We may finally remind our readers, that by English
Catholics the name of S. Pins should ever be held in
peculiar veneration : he never failed to show a warm,
paternal sympathy in their sufferings; and his corres-
pondence with Mary Stuart, the unhappy victim of
Elizabeth's tyranny, is not among the least interesting
pages of his life.

The order of Friars Preachers still continued fruitful
m men of letters; and among them we find three who
attained to eminence as historians, — Leander Albert,
Malvenda, the annalist of his order, and Bzovius, to
whom was committed the task of completing the Annals
of Baronius. In Spain we seem to behold that group of
illustrious Dominicans whose names are associated with
the reform of S. Theresa, among whom are to be reckoned
S. Louis Bertrand himself, her friend and supporter in
many difficulties, and Dominic Bannez, her confessor
through the most stormy period of her life. Indeed the
close connection of the order with the life of this great
saint is not among the least interesting chapters of its
history ; and if, in God's Providence, many of its saintly
men were suffered to co-operate with her in her work, it
received its reward in the precious testimonies of esteem
which it has received from her pen.

The mention of the Spanish Dominicans of the 16th
century recalls one name, probably more familiar to our
readers' ears than any we have yet given, — that of Louis
of Granada, whose works have found a home in every



ITS LATER SAINTS. 351

language, and are esteemed even by those who widely
differ from his faith. Among the mystic writers of the
order, he has had a more world-wide influence and
reputation than any who preceded him. Doubtless in
his writings we miss the sweet antique pathos of Suso,
or the terrific majesty of Thaulerus ; he comes to us in a
more modern guise and spirit ; nevertheless, the author
of the " Guide of Sinners" is certainly one cf those to
whom the Christian world stands most indebted. In his
own day his works were read and esteemed in every
European country, and yet it is even more his sancity
than his genius that we love to commemorate. A peculiar
beauty ever attaches to the friendship of the saints, and
there are few more delightful passages in the history of
Louis of Grenada than those which exhibit him to us
in his familiar intercourse with S. Louis Bertrand, and
the great archbishop of Braga. No office or dignity in
the Church could have been too high for him to aspire to,
and hardly one exists which was not pressed on his
acceptance ; but he refused them all. and when his
acceptance of the purple was urged on him by Gregory
XIII. he replied to the pontiff's solicitations in the words
of Job, " In nidulo meo moriar j" — " I will die in my
little nest. "*

Once more we repeat, it is not as writers and men of
letters that we most desire our readers to admire the
posterity of S. Dominic. Even during this century,
when the heretics declaimed so loudly against the corruption
of the Church and her religious, it is remarkable that the
order, and we might add the Church at large, was richer in
saints, and saintly men and women, than at almost any
other period. f The religious spirit had not departed from
the cloisters of the Friars Preachers, and those whom the

-::- Job. xxix.18.

f The century of the Protestant Reformation was illustrated in
the Catholic Church by the lives of some of her very greatest saints.
We find all livirg at the same time, S. Pius V., S. Philip Neri,
S. Ignatius Loyola, S. Louis Bertrand, S. Francis Borgia, 8. The-
resa, S- Catherine of Ricci, S. Peter Alcantara, S. Charles Borromeo,
S. Andrew Avellino, S. Francis Xavier, S. Pascal Baylen, S. Stanis-
laus Kotska, fc*. Aloysius Gouzaga, and many others of almost equal
note.



352 THE DOMINICAN ORDER.

world celebrated for their learning and literary distinction
were rather valued among their own brethren for their
sanctity and prayer. And lest our readers should carry
away the idea that lectures and disputations, and the dan-
gers . of learned celebrity must necessarily have effaced
the monastic simplicity of the former ages, let them con-
sider the example of F. Bartholomew of Valenza, a disciple
of S. Louis Bertrand, and a great theological lecturer in his
day. When he addressed his scholars, we are told, do
what he would, his lectures fell into the language of prayer.
He always spoke in abstraction, to God, and not to them
— " Jesus, my love, 5 ' he would say, " Thy servant S.
Thomas in this question considers the difference between
time and eternity : do Thou deliver me from time, and
conduct me to a blessed eternity, even to Thyself, God.
Amen. But in the reasoning of Thy servant Thomas,
there arises difficulties which I know not how to answer ;
Master of my soul, give me Thy Holy Spirit to unc^r-
stand that which I shall one day see. Thy servant Caje^an
on the same subject says so and so. May he ever enjoy
Thy blessed vision who, by Thy inspiration, has spoken of
Thee so wisely and so well. But to me it seems that there
is such or such a distinction : pardon my arrogance,
Lord of angels, those beings drawn out of time, and now
tasting of eternity, and give to me, a sinner, grace to
enjoy it one day with them, through the merits of Thine
own blood. Amen." In this way he would go on,
mingling his speculations with devotions, oft rapt in
ecstasy, whilst his auditors heard him with tears, and
a feeling of solemn awe, as though listening to some
superhuman colloquy. We do not give his style as a
model for the imitation of theological professsors, but
merely to illustrate the fact that at this peiod of sharp
and bitter" controversy, when so much of the religious
feeling of the past was crumbling away, instances were
not wanting to prove that the Dominican professor was
still .onething more than a mere man of letters, and was
worthy of reckoning his descent from that noble ancestry
of the 13th century which filled the lecture-rooms of the
universities with beatified saints.



UtiAPTER VI.

Declension of religion in the 17th century. Distinguished re-
formers of the Order. Sebastian Michaelis. Anthony le
Qnieu. John B. Carre. Cardinal Howard. Massoulie. ISTa-
talis Alexander. Distinguished religious women. Juliana
MoreUe. Yittoria Dolara.

Although it can scarcely be doubted that the effect
of the revolution of the lGth century was eventually
beneficial to the Church, and brought about a real
reformation within her pale, of a different character
from the unhappy schism which assumed the name, yet
neither can we deny that its immediate results were
disastrous and ruinous in the extreme. "It would bo
impossible to paint in too lively colours," says Touron,
" the injury which the Church received in the 16th
century, from the spirit of error and licentiousness
which was supported by all the powers of hell." Not
to speak of the fatal contagion of such a spirit, the
religious orders of this period suffered in some measure,
as they had done during ihe great plague of the 14th
century, and with something of a similar result. Thou-
sands of religious fell under the swords of the Huguenots
and German sectaries, and the gaps left by their removal
were not easily filled up ; for those readiest to give their
lives for the faith were sure to be the worthiest members
of their body. All men are not purified by persecutions,
and when Vincent Giustiniani, one of the last who filled
the office of Provincial of England, was elected to the
mastership of his order, he found, in the course of tho
general visitation, together with much of noble zeal and
fidelity among his subjects, many tokens of relaxation
and decay. We have sufficient evidence that the evil
was only partial ; nevertheless, we know that even S.
Theresa, in the description she gives of the great order,
traditionally interpreted to signify that of S. Dominic,
2 A



354 THE DOMINICAN ORDER.

which was to revive in the latter times for the confusion
of heresy, represents it as being in her day in the com-
mencement of her decline. It can be no great matter of
wonder that it should be so, for it is with the religious
orders as with the dynasties and kingdoms ; they rise and
fall, and their history is full of variations. The order of
Friars Preachers was certainly neither superanuated nor
effete ; but its greatest era was past, and the new society
of Jesus, fresh in the vigour of a young foundation, and in
the full fervour of its first generation of saints and heroic
men, in some degree took its place, and became, if not the
most popular, at least the all-powerful order of the two
succeeding centuries.

Nevertheless, this period of partial declension was
illustrated by the zeal of many bold and fervent advo-
cates of religious reform. Whilst Hippolitus Beccaria
ruled the order and toiled with unwearied zeal for the
universal restoration of regular discipline, the province
of Provence was governed by one who was well fitted to
carry out the general's designs. This was F. Sebastian
Michaelis, who proposed to himself nothing short of an
exact return to the spirit and discipline of the first ages.
His visitations as provincial were made in the very
spirit and method of those of S. Dominic. Perhaps the
historical associations of his province, the very birth



Online LibraryR. S AlemanyThe life of St. Dominic and a sketch of the Dominican Order → online text (page 32 of 37)