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 24 of 30)
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tained a vial of a portion of the martyr's blood. Though the
vial was unhappily broken, enough remains to show its curious

•Bom in May, 1787, and seventy-two years of age when he died.



PiTBLic School System.— Bishop Timon's Views.— Bishop Lynch.— PROvryciAL Council*
— Its Importance. — Signification op the Blood op St. Janaurius. — Peter Pence.
— Providence Insane Asylum. — Bishop Timon's Sermon. — Dean Richmond.

The agitation of the question of the present State Public School
system, is no new issue. It is an undeveloped and unsettled sub-
ject, that has provoked the consciences of a large class of people
for many years, in the United States particularly. Although
frequent efforts have been made through just legislation, to regu-
late and adjust the objections entertained against the present
system of public education, (all to no purpose,) still it will not be
inopportune in this connection to review at some length the views
advanced by Bishop Timon on this subject, as they will be found
not only interesting, but at the same time serve as another power-
ful instance of tlie Bishop's astute and keen judgment. As late
as November, 1859, he wrote :

"The Church of the living God, as spouse of the Incarnate
Word, and mother of His redeemed, has ever ' the mind which
was in Christ Jesus.' She wants ' little children ' to come to her^
that she may lead them to Him^ to consecrate the sweet morning
of life to God. Hence, even in the ages most unfavorable, amidst
the wildest tumult of war, and the threatened a])i5roach of a
second barbarian, she made gigantic efforts to instruct and edu-
cate youth. She covered the civilized world with seats of learning,
from the noble university down to the common school; and when
violently despoiled of the stately edifices which she had erected,
protesting against the unjust spoliation, she patiently, resignedly,
and confidingly set to work, and erected others in their stead.
Notwithstanding the unblushing hardihood with which, almost
daily, it is falsely stated that Catholic countries are deficient in
schools and in school attendance, it is a fact, vouched for by
learned Protestants, who have examined the question, that, in


proportion to population, non-Catholw countries are behind Catho-
lic governments (or countries,) in schools and in school attendance;
and that, in this particular, Rome and the Pontifical States are
far ahead of boasted England.

" But instruction without education may become a curse, not
a blessing. If, whilsj; cultivating the intellect, the heart becomes
corrupt, the additional force w^hich learning adds to a wicked
nature, increases the power for evil. The proverb that 'ignorance
is the mother of crime, ' is not true in its commonly received
meaning. Ignorance is barren, it cannot be a mother; but allied
to false principles in morals or dogma, that false teaching begets
in fallen nature the crimes which still further degrade it.

" An unlearned man who firmly believes in God, as his first
beginning and last end, can be more safely trusted with his
neighbor's fortune, honor, or life, than the smart, learned man,
who, scarcely believing in God, makes himself the last end of his

" We need but examine the dark record of crime, which dis-
graces our age, to be assured of this truth. Deceptive statistics
induce some to believe that a large proportion of crime is com-
mitted by the unlearned, but a close examination of details shows
that great numbers of the ignorant, who figure as criminals, are
punished for faults or crimes by no means of the darkest hue,
many, perhaps, of which would be overlooked if committed by
the respectahle.

" But suicide, parricide, poisoning of parents or relatives, cold
blooded murder under a false code of honor, murder long planned
for sordid gain, or dark revenge; forgery, arson, and swindling
on a gigantic scale, which destroys public confidence, and brings
on a commercial crisis and ruins thousands, are generally perpe-
trated by the well instructed, intellectual men and women, whom
false principles of religion or irreligion have led to substitute self
for God, and vice for virtue, and taught to call good evil, and
evil good.

"The wisdom of experience coincides with the wisdom of the
Bible, and the wisdom of the Church, in assuring us that to make


instruction profitable, for trae happiness in time, and for bound-
less happiness in eternity, it must be based on religion, and
' seasoned with the salt of the earth,' that is, seasoned with the
doctrines of Hira who is ' the truth, the way, and the life.' Cer-
tainly, in ancient Greece and Rome, the age of highest mental
culture was also the age of corniption and of wide spread crime,
which menaced to render human society impossible. God for-
bid that we should $eek by these remarks to disparage learning,
or to encourage ignorance. True learning, the highest intellec-
tual courage, leads to the Church, and is her boast, her glory, and
her strength. But learning or intellectual culture without reli-
gion or virtue, too often increases power for evil, and enables the
unprincipled man to heap greater treasures of wrath against the
day of wrath.

" Within these later years, from the chair of St. Peter, our
beloved and venerated Chief Bishop, the charitable, learned, and
holy Pope Pius IX, has frecpiently raised his saintly voice to
warn all parents, throughout the Christian world, of their strict
obligation to give their children a Catholic education, to remove
them from godless, and to send them to Catholic schools. His
honored voice has been re-echoed by Patriarchs, Primates, Arch-
bishops, Bishops and councils, throughout the Christian world.
Lately, the truly learned and pious Dr. Cullen, Archbishop of
Duljlin and Primate of Ireland, has, with all the Archbishops
and Bishops of our country, denounced the Irish system of public
or national schools, though it is far, very far less oppressive and
tyrannical than ours. . The Archbishops and Bishops of our coun-
try also denounce or deplore the evils of our public school system.
We, too, have often protested against the proselytizing, sectarian
spirit which often is displayed in its administration. And often
we have warned, as now we warn the faithful, not to send their
children to ' Godless Schools,' lest they awake, when too late, to
conviction of the danger, when their loved oflTspring will either
have lost the faith, or all will to practice the sacred duty of faith,
and, with faith, hanng lost reverence for their Heavenly Father,

reverence and obedience to their earthly parents will also depart.



"In many public schools the Protestant Bible is read; we con-
sider it as much a controversial work as any other. Protestants
themselves admit that it is mistranslated, and seek in vain to
make a new translation which their different sects can adopt.
Their Bible is also mutilated; many of the sacred books are
omitted. Can we, without sin, permit our children to read or
study as the word of God, a mistranslated, mutilated version of
Holy Writ? We have often most earnestly begged that, if our
Protestant fellow- citizens persist in using the Bible as a school
book, they would, at least, permit our children to make use of
thevr Catholic Bible, whilst the Protestant children still retained
their Protestant Bible; this just request has always been refused.
Our Catholic youth, at the wish and will of Protestant superin-
tendents or teachers, must read, or hear each morning read, as
the true word of God, a Bible, so mistranslated, so mutilated, as
to be, perhaps, the most efficient work of controversy against

" In many public schools Protestant prayers, and Protestant
hymns, commingle with the reading of the Protestant Bible, and
poor Catholic children must assist at such Protestant religious
exercises, or be flouted, or punished, whilst too often their favored
Protestant school fellows use the effective argument, which at
home or from teachers they learned too well, ' no wonder you' d
be poor, you go to the Catholic church ; no respectable people go
there.' Alas! even in the first age of the Church, we learn what
power such taunts had, when rich Gentiles used it against chris-
tians who were generally poor. Ko wonder, then, that we
consider each public school a proselytizing institution; and that
we deeply feel the injustice of making us pay a heavy tax for
them, and for libraries, in which some of the works against our
faith abound.

' Were Catholics the majority in this country, and did they
frame such a school system for Protestants, how awful would be
the outcry? Did a Catholic majority tax a Protestant minority
for the purchase of school libraries full of books that insult, ridicule,
and malign Protestantism, how would not Protestants protest?


Did Catholics tax them for schools in which the Catholic
Bible would be read and studied; tax them for Normal schools,
in which all the students, educated at great cost to be the future
teachers of youth, were Catholics; tax them in order to pay high
wages, almost without exception^ to Catholic teachers, who, in
many ways, by word or by gesture, would show their contempt
for Protestantism; ta"x them for splendid school houses, in which
poor Protestants could not study without danger of being, by a
thousand appliances, made ashamed of the faith of their fathers;
oh, were this the case, how the world would ring with Catholic
injustice, and Protestant suffering.

"But Catholics have never done this. See, in Lower Canada,
the just and liberal system which Catholics have enacted for
Protestant schools ; see, in Catholic France and Belgium, the
fair, just and liberal regulations in favor of Protestant schools ;
see, in the much maligned Austria, containing a population of
about forty millions, with scarcely three or four millions of
Protestants, (mostly Lutherans and Calvinists,) how, up to our
day, this handful of Protestants have, as regards instruction and
conscience, rights for which we, in this land of liberty, would be
most grateful. The London Times of last September, (13th,
1859,) tells us that these Protestant liberties in Austria have
lately been placed in the organic law, with the following clauses :

" ' The Protestant schools are, for the tiiture, to be under the
direction and inspection of their own ecclesiastical organs.

" ' No books can be used in Protestant schools which have not
been approved of by the general conference, (Protestant,) and by
the ministry for ecclesiastical aifairs.

" 'If a Protestant school is established at the expense of the
State, only Protestant teachers can be employed in it.'

" How ample is this liberty. If, in Austria, Protestants build
private schools, (where, of course, the teachers are Protestants,)
no one even talks of making laws to force their children to
frequent public schools hostile or dangerous to their faith ; yet,
in different States of our country, people have not only talked of
this, hut even tried to force it hy law. In Austria, when the


school buildings for Protestants are erected by the State, the
teachers must^ hy law, be Protestants. There no system of
proselytism is found in the schools, no insidious influence to warp
the judgment of unsuspecting youth. Oh, may God grant to
poor oppressed Catholics in this free country, the liberty of
conscience and education which Protestants enjoy in desj)otic
yet Catholic Austria."

"What force and reason are embodied in the foregoing extract.
What a just rebuke to the bigotry and prejudice that measure
out such injustice to a people of a free country.

On Sunday, ]^ovember 20th, 1859, the interesting ceremony
of the consecration of Rt. Rev. J. J. Lynch, as Bishop of To
ronto, C. W., took place. A number of Bishops and clergymen
assisted at the ceremonies, which were very imposing. Bishop
Timon was also present, and preached the consecration sermon,
which was very elaborate and evinced a great amount of learning.

In the meantime, in the beginning of the year (January 10th,)
1860, a solemn Provincial Council was held in New Tork, pre-
sided over by Archbishop Hughes, and assisted by the seven
suffragan Bishops of the Province. It was the most solemn of
any of the Provincial Councils until then convened, from the
earnestness of the questions that occupied its attention and judg-
ment. The principal point of interest that was discussed was the
(then) present state of affairs in Italy, including the sovereignty
of the Holy See. In the first session of the council, it was
considered by the Bishops whether their convention was meant
simply as a meeting for the purpose of j>resenting an address to
the Holy Father, or whether it should be considered as a Provin-
cial Synod, for the puq)ose of attaching more weight and
authority to the conclusions they might reach and publish. The
latter course was finally agreed upon, and when the council was
closed, a pastoral, signed by all the Bishops of the dioceses of the
Province, including the name of Bishop Timon, was drawn up
and published. Copies of this pastoral were sent to every
sovereign of Europe, excepting Queen Victoria and Yictor


Emmanuel. They were also sent to several Bishops of France,
and to all the Bishops of Great Britain and Ireland. As soon
as His Holiness, Pope Pius IX, received his copy, he was so
pleased with the views and kind sympathies it contained, that
he caused it to be " printed at the Propaganda, both in English
and Italian, — the only pastoral yet published in Rome by the
order of the Pope." Two or three months subsequently, a cor-
respondent of Archbishop Hughes wrote : " You will be glad to
hear that the Propaganda has received letters from many parts
of Italy, calling for a new edition of the pastoral."

The decided stand of the council wiis the key-note of an
expression of public opinion that echoed from one cortier of the
country to the other. Laymen as well as clergymen boldly
asserted their views, both orally and upon paper. In the bosom
of Bishop Timon, the temporal sovereignty of the Holy See
awakened an unbounded enthusiasm. In the columns of the
Buffalo Sentinel^ as leading editorials and in private pastorals,
he clearly and earnestly enunciated his sympathy and sentiment
on tliis question. In a note to the editor of the above-mentioned
paper, (the Bishop's official organ,) he said : '• Oh ! that God
would raise up among us many JlontalemberU^ to defend the
cause of true liberty, of order, virtue and truth, now warred
against, in the person of the Pope." Writing from I^aples about
the liquefaction of the blood of St. Janaurius,* a correspondent
of the Buffalo Courier observed: "What superstition I what
<;redulity! what absurdity! that thousands of men should be
gulled by a deception, the mystery of which a little chemistry
could unravel." Althouo;li it is not an article of faith in the
Church, for persons to believe that the process of liquefaction is
miraculous, still the circumstance is regarded with considerable
reverence by every pious christian in the world. The quoted

* In the cathedral at Naples is a vial said to contain a little of the blood of St. Janaurius,
in a congealed state. Twice each year the liquefaction of the blood takes place, and is re-
peated each time eight successive days. The blood of the saint was collected by some pious
christian, at the time of his martyrdom, A. D. 305.


extract of the Courier correspondent particularly j^rovoked the
feelings of Bishop Timon, and in an issue of his official organ
he very aptly replied :

"Does the writer not know that the blood and the above
process have, under the most favorable circumstances, been often
examined by most learned chemists? Does he not know that
Sir Humphrey Davy, one of the greatest chemists of this cen-
tury,* closely examined it, pronounced it miraculous, was
converted, and died a Catholic? "

It is no new circumstance to our readers to know that in this
century they have witnessed the efforts of unscrupulous, designing
men to rob and destroy the temporal possessions and power of
the Holy Father at Rome. But in the disposition of Divine
Providence the efforts made have been yearly- thwarted, and his
limited resources provided for by the two hundred million chris-
tians from all quarters of the globe. Much money and valuable
presents are from time to time donated to the Holy Father. In
the Spring of 1860, Bishop Timon remitted to the Pope four
thousand three hundred dollars, as the first instalment from the
laity of this diocese. This was gratefully acknowledged by the
Holy See, in a letter " given at Rome, St. Peter's, the 24th of
May, 1860."

The labors of Bishop Timon for his diocese were truly remark-
able. During the short period of his Episcoj)acy, he has raised a
barren mission into a vineyard, fruitful with a golden harvest.
We have seen how he has traveled miles for means to carry out
his purposes. We have seen his zeal more particularly directed
to fostering his charitable institutions, and how he has watched
over the morning of their infancy with unwearied anxiety and
zeal. They have grown well, and taken deep root in the soil of
the diocese. Their good influence has been frequently recognized
in the laudations from the pens of newspaper writers, both here
and abroad.

This much, at least, is true for the fine building erected in
September, 1860, and known as the "Providence Insane Asylum,"

* " Consolations of a Philosopher on his Travels."— Sir Humphrey Davy.


for lunatics. The asylum stands upon a tract of land covering
thirty acres, that w^ll yield, on an average, enough each year to
feed the cattle attached to the farms, as well as the inmates of
the institution itself. The land was bought in 1860, from Dr.
Austin Flint, of New York. Immediately after the purchase,
Bishop Timon commenced the erection of a commodious brick
building, and by his indefatigable zeal, succeeded in finishing it
80 as to be able to receive patients within a year afterwards. In
1861, he blessed the building with appropriate ceremonies. Visi-
tors in numbers thronged the spacious groimds, on which booths,
with refreshments, had been provided ; a band of music and
various civic societies were in attendance, to give animation to
the scene. During the ceremony. Bishop Timon delivered an
excellent discourse, in which he bestowed a fulsome tribute to the
labors and zeal of those good Sisters engaged in the cause of
christian charity. He alluded to similar institutions for lunatics,
and illustrated his remarks with a very fine example of humane
treatment over brute force, to be employed in the care and
nursing of those by misfortune deprived of the proper use of
their reason. He said it had been exemplified in France; that
once a man confined in an institution for lunatics, with whom
brute force had been employed to reduce him to subjection, was,
by way of experiment, transferred to the care of Sisters of
Charity for treatment. When the vehicle containing the unfor-
tunate man, (who, from the extreme paroxysms of his lunacy,
was bound hand and foot,) had arrived at the door of the Sisters'
asylum, it was received by the good Superioress herself. She
employed all the kno\vn arts of persuasion to induce him to
enter quietly, and with all the gentleness of a mother over the
woimds of a womided child, tried to gain his confidence. At
first he retiised point blank to be governed. But, by degrees, the
kind treatment of the Sister, to which he had been a stranger for
many months, began to assert its influence. Yielding gradually
to the impressions made by the good Sister, he finally consented
to leave the carriage and follow her, provided the manacles were
taken from his hands and feet. The attendants, accustomed to


see him often in the most violent fits of insanity, in which he not
only threatened his own, but even the lives of those happening
to be near him, at first hesitated to consent to this condition. But
the Sister, conscious of her control over him, finally prevailed over
these objections, ' and accordingly the handcufis and shackles
were removed. Immediately the man left the carriage with a
firm and reliant step, like a child obeyed the direction of the
Sister, and calmly entered the house. Very few months after-
wards he left the asylum, entirely restored to reason, the simple
result of kind and humcme t/reatment.

Since September, 1861, when the first patient was received,
over five hundred have already been treated in this " Providence
Insane Asylum."

Bishop Timon guarded its infancy with zealous care and a
watchful eye, and in every way worked for its success. Money
advanced to him liberally to the amount of six thousand dollars,
on his good credit, was expended in introducing all the imjjrove-
ments that could be commanded. He himself delivered a
lecture for its benefit, from which he realized the sum of four
hundred dollars. Nor has the good asylum, under the judicious
management of its Superioress, Sister Rosalind, been wanting for
kind friends and benefactors. Dean Richmond,* in whose praise
and honor the pen cannot be too lavish for frequent donations to
institutions of charity, presented this asylum with one thousand
four hundred dollars, and evinced a deep interest in its success.
A firm and warm friend of Bishop Timon, and an admirer of
the latter's sincere and indomitable labors for the good of man,
be it said to the memory of Mr. Richmond, he indirectly, to a
certain extent, strove to aid the progress of good works, although
widely diifering on religious points of doctrine from some of the
objects of his charity.

* Of Batavia, N. Y., President of the New York Central EaUroad.


Dean Richmond, with thy setting sun,

Full many a lesser orb shall rise,
Fired by the glories thou hast won—

Most marvelous of destinies I

The world will look, but long in vain,

Before another star shall dawn,
To lead the bright, illustrious train,

Whose beacon light is just withdrawn.

Thy memory can ne'er decay ;

Too many hearts enshrine it there ;
Nor circling years shall steal away

The fragrance of the flower fair.

'T was thine to right the cruel wrong,

To succor want, to comfort grief;
To raise the weak and make him strong.

And grant distress a sure relief.

Thy ready hand a bounty gave

For earth's forsaken, famished poor;
And ne'er the suppliant did crave

Unaided at thy generous door.

And every deed shajl have requite;

" A cup of water," saith the Lord,
If given in the cause of right,

Brings verily a bright " reward."

The world will mourn thee long and deep,

But deeper still the sacred woe
Of home, where stricken mourners weep

Unsoothed, beneath the bitter blow.— Anojtymous.



Fall of I860.— "War.— Bishop Timon's Positiok.— LrscouT. — Flag Raisesg.— Bishop
Timon's Remarks.— Second Provincial Couxcil.— Bishop Timor's Sermons.— Evi-
dences OF Declining Health. — St. Vincent's Asylum. — Bishop Timon goes to
Rome again.— Japanese ALarttes.— Guest of the Archbishop of Tuam.— Arrives

It was in the Fall of 1860. At the Tiovember elections, Hon.
Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, had been elected President of the
United States. Those who now survive that period will remem-
ber the portending shadows that darkened the political horizon
of the country. It was an hour full of foreboding, fear, and
uncertainty, and an hour, also, in which the patriotism of men


was to be tested. Events since then have shown the effects of a
civil war between two sections of the country, and pointed out
who were devoted to the cause of the Union and the Constitution.
Aside from the people in general, Catholic prelates and clergy-
men testified their devotion to their country in prayers, words of
exhortation, and upon the battle field. One in particular, (Ri
Rev. John Hughes, Archbishop of Kew York,) was a represent-
ative of the government to some of the courts of Europe. Thus,
throughout the length and breadth of the land, of the many who,
according to their station in life, contributed their services. Bishop
Timon was by no means an exception. As early as December

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 24 of 30)