Charles George Deuther.

The life and times of the Rt. Rev. John Timon, D. D. : first Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo online

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Online LibraryCharles George DeutherThe life and times of the Rt. Rev. John Timon, D. D. : first Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo → online text (page 20 of 30)
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plian Boys' Asylum, whilst Sisters of St. Bridget, an order founded
in the middle of the last century, in Ireland, by the Right Rev.
Dr. Lanigan, in honor of the Virgin Patroness of the island, de-
voted themselves to the instruction of poor girls at Buffalo and
Rochester. Tiiis impulse, given by Bishop Timon, penetrated
other parts of his diocese. On the 8th of December, 1854, the
very day when all the christian world exulted by its representa-
tive Bishops at Rome at the definition of the dogma of the
"Immaculate Conception," by His Holiness Pope Pius IX, a

colony of Sisters of St. Joseph arrived at Canandaigua from St.



Louis. Here these Sisters opened an academy. Besides teach-
ing the youth, they undertook other works of mercy, such as
providing a house for poor girls of good character, whose only
alternative, previously, was the poor-house or shame.

In the meantime, a council of suflPragan Bishops was convened
in ISTew York, by Archbishop Hughes. It was the first Ecclesias-
tical Council ever held in New York. To the Bishops of Albany,
Buffalo and Brooklyn, were referred the subjects of Catholic edu-
cation, and the Catholic press. The coimcil sat for a week,
during which period there were two solemn sessions. The cere-
monials attending the council were grand and imposing. The
decrees of the council, afterwards promulgated in the name of
all the prelates of the province by Archbishop Hughes, were six
in number :

'''•First^ Profession of obedience and devotion to the Holy

'"'' Second^ Promulgated a new decree of the seven Provincial
Councils of Baltimore.

'•''Third^ Forbade priests to mortgage Church property without
permission of the Bishop.

''^Fourih^ Repeated the injunctions of the ]^ational Council of
Baltimore, respecting Catholic education, and exhorted clergy-
men to labor zealously for the establishment of schools.

'"''Fifths Admonished priests that it was unlawful for them to
exercise functions ol the ministry requiring 'faculties,' except
within their own diocese or with the permission of the Bishop in
whose diocese they might be sojourning.

'"'' Sixth^ Enjoined on all parish priests the duty of providing, as
soon as possible, a pastoral residence adjacent to the church, the
title of which, as well as of all other Church property, was to be
in the name of the Bishop.""

The pastoral, among other things, continues :

"Two other subjects have engaged the attention of the fathers
in the council which has just been brought to a close. One is,
the indiscriminate reception in your families of journals not at all
calculated to impart either to you or those committed to your


care, those solid maxims of public instruction which would
tend to edification. We do not here intend to speak of merely
secular papers ; but we do speak rather of those which, taking
advantage of certain ffjelings supposed to be alive in your
breasts, whether in reference to kindred, country, or religion
involve you in political relations which it would be expedient
for you to avoid; except, indeed, in the sense in which it is the
right of every free man to give his vote freely, conscientiously,
individually, as often as the laws of the country call upon and
authorize him to do so. There appears to be abroad an ignorance
or prejudice on this subject, which it would be our desire
and your interest to ha'iie removed. It is to the effect that
every paper which advocates, or professes to advocate, the Cath-
olic religion, or which advocates some imaginary foreign interest
in this country, is, as a matter of course, under the direction of
priests and Bishops in the locality where it is published, and con-
secpiently authorized to speak for and in the name of the Catholic
Church. Hence, when the editors of such papers publish their
own sentiments by virtue of their indisputable right to exercise
the liberty of the press, it is assumed by persons outside of our
communion that they speak in the name of the Church, and
under direction of her pastors. Nothing could be more false
than this inference, and we exhort you, venerable and beloved
brethren, to leave nothing unsaid or undone to remove every
shadow of foundation for this inference, so absurd in itself, but
yet so injurious to us. "

The other subject related to the " association which is known
in Europe as the 'Propagation of the Faith;'" but as Bishop
Timon had no direct expression of views on this subject, we avoid
details. It will be enough to observe that this society has spread
all over Christendom. During the Winter of 1854:, an Informal
Council was to be held at Rome, at which it was expected that
tlie doctrine of the " Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Vir-
gin" would be defined as an article of faith. Pope Pius IX
invited aU the Bishops of the world, who could conveniently make
the journey, to assemble at Rome on that solemn occasion.


Accordingly, on the 18th of' October, 1854, Bishop Timon, in
company with Archbishop Hughes, of New York, set sail for


Before leaving he named the jubilee for his diocese, for which
he appointed three months time, from ISTovember 12th, 1854, up
to February 12th, 1855. Among many solicitations for the dif-
ferent institutions of his diocese, he observed :

"The interests of religion and of this diocese compel your
Bishop to undertake a voyage, painful to the aged and not with-
out peril. We beg your kind prayers, dearly beloved in Christ,
that God's holy angel may he our heeper^ hoth going hence a/nd
abiding there^ and returning from thence hither.''^


Franciscan Fathers. — The "Immaculate Conception" at Rome. — Bishop Timon's
Return.— Pastoeal on Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.— Church Prop-
erty Bill again. — Bishop Timon on Senator Putnam's Poetry. — Favors from
the Pope to the Diocese of Buffalo.

Whilst the pious Sisters of St. Joseph were diffusing the odor
of sanctity around Canandaigua, the cause of faith was advancing
multifold in every direction throughout the large diocese. The
following reminiscence will be found interesting :

* "Nicholas Devereux, Esq., of Utica, owned a large tract in
Allegliany and Cattaraugus counties, to which he had endeavored
to draw Catholic settlers, facilitating in every way the erection of
churches and the establishing of missions. But the progress of
Catholicity did not correspond to his zealous wishes, and having
visited Rome in 1854, he applied to the Irish College of St. Isidore
for Fathers of the Order of St. Francis, to found a mission in
New York, offering five thousand dollars and two hundred acres
of land for the new convent. He wished seven Fathers in order
to begin the mission, but as there were not so many able to speak

* Catholic Church in the United States, by De Courcy.


English who could be sent, it was resolved to deter the intended
colony for two years. The Rt. Rev, Bishop of Buffalo, however,
was in Rome, and from his zeal objected to any such delay. On
this, some of the Fathers so earnestly besought the General of
the Order for permission to go and restore the Franciscan Order
in that part of the world, where their own brothers had been the
first apostles,* that he consented, and the Fathers received all
due faculties.

" Of this new colony of Recollets, Father Pamphilus de Mag-
liano is the Warden or Superior, having under him Father Sixtus
de Gagliano, Father Samuel de Prezza and the Lay Brother
Salvador de Manarola. The3'' are all Recollets, or Reformed
Franciscans, of the same family as the early missionaries of
Canada, and the Chaplains whom we have had occasion to

"Two of the Fathers were professors of Theology at or near
Rome; the Superior at the Irish College, and Father Sixtus at the
Convent of St. Bernadine, at Urbino. Father Samuel was at the
College of San Pietro Montorio, in Rome, having just completed
his studies. Father Pamphilus and Father Sixtus had long
nourished a desire of devotino; themselves to the foreisrn missions,
and had selected the United States as their chosen field of labor ;
so much so, that a few days before Mr. Devereux's application,
they had declined an invitation to proceed to Buenos Ayres.

"With the blessing of the Holy Father, and the authority to
establish a province of their order, they left Rome on the 9th of
May, 1855, and reaching Kew York on the 19th of June, pro-
ceeded to Ellicottville, where tliey began their labors."

During the absence of the Bishop in Rome, the beautiful
churches of St. Mary's, Dunkirk, and St. Patrick's, Rochester,

* The Eecollets, or Reformed Franciscans, had already, as early as 1723, particularly under
Pather Emanuel Crespel, been in this section of the country.

t The Franciscans, or Friars Minor, comprise, 1st, the Observantines, the Recollets, and the
Alcantarines, who number about ninety thousand, and are subject to the Minister-General of
the Order of Minors. The present General is Father Venantius de Celano, a Recollet ; 2d, the
Capuchins; 3d, the Conventicals; 4th, the Tertiaries; the three last having each a General of
their own. The Capuchins number about forty thousand, the Conventicals about seven thou-
sand, and the Tertiaries a number almost incalculable.


were dedicated with appropriate ceremonies. Whilst the vine-
yard of religion was thus carefully nurtured, and gave promise
of an abundant harvest, afar, in the city of Rome, in solemn
council, was transpiring an event that filled Christendom with
joy. It was the defining of the dogma of the Immaculate Con-
ception. Bishop Timon assisted in this grand event, and in the
Spring of 1855 started on his journey to return early to his
diocese. He arrived in New York on Friday, April 6th, 1855.
On Saturday he reached Rochester, where he celebrated liigh
mass in St. Patrick's. On Sunday, the 8th, he said mass and
ofliciated at vespers in several of the churches of Buffalo.

In a pastoral issued on his return, he gave a very interesting
and learned explanation of the article of faith of the Immaculate

" The Holy Church has now defined as of faith the consoling
truth, which we always piously and fervently believed, that
Mary, mother of the Holy of Holies, was conceived without sin.
All praise and glory to the Divine Son, who thus elevates the
pious sentiment which glorifies Him in His holy mother to the
merit of faith, to the sublime rank of the highest honor which
our created intelligence can render to the God of truth. Divine
wisdom has, for some ages, been preparing the christian world
for this declaration, by the aspirations and petitions of learned
men ; by miracles, some in our own country, through prayers
addressed to God, under the invocation of Mary the immaculate,
or through the miraculous medal ; and by prophecies, like that
of the venerable Mary Magdalen of the Cross, who, in 1640,
predicted that in times of great trouble the dogma of the Im-
maculate Conception would be defined, and that soon, in China,
in Japan, and in Turkey, God would triumph ; or like that of
the blessed Leonard of Port Mauritio, who, before his death in
1751, most clearly predicted the solemn declaration of the
Immaculate Conception, with the grace of God and the blessings
which heaven would then bestow.

" About one hundred years after this prediction, the Sovereign
Pontiff, in days of trial and sorrow from his exile at Gaeta, looked


up to the ' Comfort of the afflicted,' to the ' Help of christians.' As
he shared more fully in the persecutions of the Divine Son, so
also did he in the spirit and sentiment of that adorable model.
Jesus loved and honored His mother, and oh, how He loved her
as she clung to the cross on which He hung ; His servant and
chief minister, too, loved Mary, and in exile, amidst persecutions
from his cross^ he felt more strongly within him ' the mind that
was in Christ Jesus.' For Jesus' sake, as minister of Jesus,
drinking of his bitter chalice, loving and honoring what Jesus
loved and honored, the Yicar of Christ, then loving and honoring
Mary with deeper reverence and tenderer love, felt himself
pressed to yield to the wishes and prayers of the holy and
learned throughout the christian world. But though the inspira-
tion came from above, he used all means of human, and even of
superhuman prudence ; he wrote to every Bishop to inquire
what were the traditions of each church, what the sentiments,
the faith and the devotion of their flocks regarding the Immacu-
late Conception. Five hundred and sixty-four Bishops answered,
fleclaring that their people firmly believed in the glorious mystery.
Only four out of the vast number desired, through fear of human
inconveniences, that the dogma should not be defined. The Holy
Father next formed a congregation of most learned theologians
to examine the questions.

" During nearly six years, in labor, in prayer, and in fasting,
the great work progressed. ' Certainly,' says our saintly Pope,
in his bull on the Immaculate Conception, ' we were filled with
no slight consolation when the replies of our venerable brethren
came to us. For, with an incredible jo^^fulness, gladness and
zeal, they not only declared their own singular piety, and that of
their clergy and faithful people, towards the Immaculate Concep-
tion of the most Blessed Virgin, but they even entreated us with
a common voice to define, by our supreme judgment and
authority, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin.
Nor, indeed, were we filled with less joy when the venerable
cardinals of the special congregation aforesaid, and the consult-
ing theologians chosen by US^ after a diligent examination,


demanded from US^ with equal alacrity and zeal, the definition
of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God.' Pius IX
has defined the sacred dogma, and the Catholic world has rejoiced,
and Triduans, that is, three days of sjjecial joy and holy exercises,
have been celebrated throughout the wide world, and continue
to be celebrated in honor of the glad event. Having been
appointed by the Bishop of the Provincial Council deputy to the
Holy Father, it was my duty and my good fortune to be present
on the glorious day of the declaration ; and never can I forget
the scene. Sublime in moral grandeur were even the preceding
days, when all the Bishops in private congress debated on a
human form of a definition, to which, in answering the Pope's
encyclical letter, they had already given their warmest assent.
These Bishops, of different nations, language and race, but all
using the one language of the Church, spoke, as in the presence
of God, w^ith humility, cordial deference, and charity. The
perfect unanimity of faith, the deep devotion to the centre of
Catholic unity, were shown in forms so touching, that on tlie last
day of our meeting the Cardinals who presided and the Bishops
were moved to tears ; it seemed as if the sacred dogma of unity,
one faith, one life, one sympathy and one love, in all the members
(however scattered,) of the mystic body of Christ, was there
rather an object seen and felt, than an article of faith. On the
solemn feast of the 8th of December, in the noble cathedral of
the christian world, (which, architects say, will contain eighty
thousand persons, and which was full of christians from every
land,) one hundred and forty-three Bishops in mitre and cope,
fifty-three Cardinals in mitre, and in the peculiar vestments of
their order, the Pope, with his attendants, and more than one
thousand priests, moved slowly down the long nave of the vast
edifice, singing in diiferent choirs the Litany of the Saints, in
order to beg the Church Triumphant to unite with the Cimrch
Militant, the Church in heaven with the Church on earth, in
placing so fair a garland on the brow of Mary. As always, when
the Pope celebrates the Pontifical high mass, the epistle and
gospel were sung in Latin and in Greek ; then the Dean of the



Sacred College, supported by Archbishops of different rites,
entreated the Holy Father to affix the seal of Church infallibility
to a doctrine which all believed. The Pope assented, knelt and
intoned the sacred invocation of the Holy Ghost, ' Veni Creator
Spiritus^ Come, Spirit Creator! The promise of Jesus Christ
seemed then verified. He, with His Divine Spirit, seemed in the
midst 'gathered together in His name,' animating to holy enthu-
siasm the mighty crowd. Spontaneously, as with one voice, they
joined in singing the noble invocation. It was heard above!
The response from on high seemed to move every soul. I felt,
others, too, no doubt felt, that had not the Almighty Spirit then
willed the solemn declaration. He, by some of the thousand
events which we call accidents, would have sealed the lips of the
Pontiff. But no, the time decreed bv the Divine Son for the
triumph on earth of His pure and humble mother, had come.

"The Pope began to read the bull ; sobs of deep emotion soon
mingled with each articulation ; his tears, too, fell copiously ; all
around laymen, and priests, and Bishops wept with the Yicar of
Christ, their sobs attesting their communion in the deep emotion
that filled his soul. An unusually deep silence reigned, each one
holding in his breath, that a word might not be lost ; hence the
noble voice of the Pope was heard afar off. As he advanced, his
tone of emotion changed, first into holy exultation, at being thus
chosen as the hand by which the Divine Son crowned His own
mother ; then to confidence in the power of the Son, and in the
protection of the mother. Around the scene, and on the suc-
cessor of St. Peter, over whose tomb he officiated, seemed to
shine some reflection from the Church Triumphant in the world
of glory, I thought, and many thought, that the sufferings and
dangers of a long journey were amply repaid by that hour of
almost blessed vision, as a christian world crowned a mother,
whilst on the first christian altar the adorable victim was offered
to the Almighty for the graces bestowed on Mary. Those most
touching emotions still movino; each soul, the high mass con-
tinned ; and never, perhaps, did such a crowd assist at the holy
sacrifice with feelings of religion so general, so deep and so holy.


God grant that the prayer I then offered uj) for my beloved flock
be heard, as I fervently invoked blessings on you all, most dearly
beloved in Christ ; not forgetting a few misguided men, for whom
I implored pardon, light of truth and peace ; placing you all,
each and every one, under the special protection of the Immacu-
late Yirgin Mother.

" God, by His Church, does not now reveal a new article of
faith. He only inspires her to declare that the belief in a
privilege so honorable to the Divine Son and to the Blessed
Mother, which was always held in the Church, forms, now as
ever, part of the sacred deposit of Revelation. As youth ad-
vances to age, some truths, always believed, become still more
clear and definite, as growing light shows their importance and
their relations to other truths ; so, also, in man's pilgrimage to
the eternal home, where the light of faith shall be eclipsed by
the brightness of blessed vision, doctrines, revealed and believed
from the first, often become clearer and brigliter, and sometimes
this accession of light comes from the very contrast of error.

"The Divinity of our Lord; His two natures in one Divine
Person ; the procession of the Divine Spirit from the Father and
the Son ; Divine grace, as the free gift of God ; the holiness of
the married state ; the beautiful vision after the death of the
Holy Virgin, were truths revealed at first, and ever believed in
the Church ; yet, in different ages, when error attacked now one,
now another, of these sacred dogmas, the Church uttered the
voice of the Teacher, who 'is wqth her all days, even to the
consummation of the world,' and defined each dogma as God's
truth, 'believed always, every where, and by all true christians.'
When the faithful, believing in the Catholic simplicity of faith,
and in the heroism of Divine love, died martyrs for that faith,
then, when none contradicted, some few articles of faith were
defined in the Apostles' Creed. As a fitting place for the highest
and holiest of mere creatures, immediately after the mention of
the three Adorable Persons of the Blessed Trinity, we find the
' Yirgin Mary.' In that venerable document, immediately after


professing onr faith in the Holy God, three in one, we declare
mr belief that the second person of the Sacred Trinity had a
uother ; He was a man; and that His mother was a virgin; thus
nsinuating that He, also, was God, and that, as befitted a God-
nan, He prepared for so holy an office the woman who was to
10 His mother. He was the Holy of Holies, and He was the Son
if Mary; He was from eternity before her, and He loved her
vith an 'eternal love.'

*^Tlien, for His own glory and for her honor. He not only
•leated her, the second and holier Eve, in that innocence in
N\ hich He created the firet, but also elevated her innocence to the
lighest order. The word virgin was taken by the first christians
n the widest sense, perpetual virginity, entire purity. As to per-
petual virginity, why, indeed, put the word virgin in the creed,
f it meant no more than what takes place daily in good women
>n earth? Yet this belief, though universal, was not an article
)f faith, till the year 390, when, in the Council of Rome, the
jrrors of Jovinian were condemned, and the perpetual virginity
)i the mother of the Holy of Holies defined. So also was it with
ihe Divine maternity. By the holy instinct of faith, deep in the
L^hristian heart sank the consequences of this apostolic teaching.
Jesus, who is God blessed for ever, 'was born of the Yirgin
Mary;' then He was her son, and she was His mother, and He
was God, and she^ His mother, was the mother of God. Yet, only
ages after, when some proud men, attempting to measure God
and His love by their standard and by their cold hearts, denied
to Mary the title of Mother of God, thus destroying both the
mystery of the incarnation, and that of redemption, only then, in
khe year 431, did the Universal Church utter, in the Council of
Ephesus, the voice of every christian heart, that she, the mother
of Him who died on the cross, was truly the mother of God; and
that thus, indeed, did ' God purchase us with His own blood, '
and that thus truly was accomplished the sacred promise, ' that
God Himself would come to save us. ' In the earliest liturgies
the Blessed Virgin is styled immaculate, unspotted, incorrupt,


and the Greek and Latin fathers not only use these negative
terms of immaculate, unspotted, uncorrupted, 'but also,' says our
Holy Father in the solemn decree:

'"To vindicate the original innocence and justice of the mother
of God, they not only compared her to Eve, as yet virgin, as yet
innocent, as yet incorrupt, and not yet deceived "by the most
deadly snares of the treacherous serpent; but they have preferred
her with wonderful variety of thought and expression. For Eve,
miserably obeying the serpent, fell from original innocence and
became his slave; but the most Blessed Virgin, ever increasing
her original gift, not only never lent an ear to the serpent, but
by a virtue Divinely received, utterly broke his power.

"'Wherefore they have never ceased to call the mother of God
the lily amongst thorns, earth entirely untouched, virgin unde-
filed, immaculate, ever blessed, and free from all contagion of
sin, from whom was formed the new Adam; a rejjroachless, most
sweet paradise of innocence, immortality, and delights planted
by God Himself, and fenced from all the snares of the malignant
serpent ; incorruptible branch, that the world of sin had never
injured; fountain ever clear, and sealed by the virtue of the Holy
Ghost; a most Divine temple or treasure of immortality, or the
sole and only daughter, not of death but of life; the seed, not of
enmity, but of grace, which, by the singular Providence of God,
has always flourished, reviving from a corrupt and imperfect
root, contrary to the settled and common laws.'

"But as if these encomiums, though most splendid, were not suf-
ficient, they proclaimed in proper and defined opinions, that when
sin would be treated of, no question of sin should be entertained

Online LibraryCharles George DeutherThe life and times of the Rt. Rev. John Timon, D. D. : first Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Buffalo → online text (page 20 of 30)