George F Dillon.

War of antichrist with the Church and Christian civilization : lectures delivered in Edinburgh in October 1884 online

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ised. No polyglot exhibition of the many which have been
given in the Propaganda has ever been wanting in Irish
names — a proof in itself of the wonderful extent and in-
fluence of Irish faith in the missionary labours of the
Church. The number of Irish Propaganda students who


have rendered distinguished services to rehgion in foreign
lands is very great ; and since the formation of the Church
in North America, the number of the sons of Irishmen,
educated also in Propaganda, who have there attained con-
siderable eminence, is specially remarkable. It may be
also well to state that the schools of the Propaganda,
directed by the Sacred Congregation, and under the
immediate superintendence of the Cardinal Prefect, are
attended by the alumni of several Roman missionary
Colleges, amongst which I may number the Irish College
students, and those of the Greek, Armenian, and North
and South American Colleges. They are all taught gra-
tuitously ; and their Colleges, as well as other Missionary
Colleges not taught in the Propaganda Schools, share in
the solicitude of the Sacred Congregation, which watches
over every concern of a missionary character in the city
and in the world — in urbe et in orhe.

Besides the Urban College, and the great schools for
sacred science there are other departments taught within
the precincts of the Propaganda Palace, most interesting,
not only to the Catholic, but to the learned of every
nation. Foremost amonerst these comes




Qn this are collected rare books in every known and
spoken language, and in languages >Yhose literatures were
formed by the labours of Catholic Missionaries only. Of
the latter class are Avorks in the very difficult dialects of
innumerable Indian tribes, whose tongues had to be
learned, reduced to grammar, and made permanent by the
labour of the devoted men, who went to carry the light
of the Gospel, and with it brought, as Catholic Missionaries
have ever done, the light also of true civilization.
Through this means the Maori of New Zealand, the
natives of Fiji, and Samoa, and of Tonga-Taboo, can read
and write, and be brought into civilized contact with the
white man. Eastern literature gives to this library a
value still more extraordinary. In it learned men of
every rite into which Eastern Christianity is divided, have
left the wealth of their researches, during two centuries.
These not only illustrate the history of their several
nations, but throw an inestimable light upon biblical and
archaeological knowledge. The study of the Oriental lan-
guages is one which for obvious reasons the Propaganda
has never omitted to foster. And at the present
moment its professors are acknowledged to be
amongst the foremost in Europe in this valuable depart-
ment of linguistic science. I believe that since the time
of Cardinal Mezzofanti, no greater Oriental scholar has
appeared than Professor Ciasca of the Propaganda. He
is being fast approached by Professor Fen^ata, brother

of the late Papal Nuncio to Switzerland. The linguistic



capabilities of our own Cardinal Howard are of a high
order, and he occupies a distinguished j^lace amongst his
brother Cardinals who form the special council of the
Oriental Department of the Propaganda.

It is well known that a great part of the value of the
Projoaganda library depends upon another department of
that great institution which is foremost, if not unique, in its
kind in Europe. This is the famous Propaganda Stamperia




This magnificant department of Pontifical munificence,
enlightenment, and care, at first arose in Home, soon after
the art of printing was invented. The Vatican Printing
Press which preceded, it, is one of the oldest and most
prolific in Europe. By its means, Gregory XIII. , who, as
we have seen, commenced the formation of the Propaganda,
diff'used tens of thousands of catechisms in every known
tongue throughout the world. But it was not until the
Propaganda came into full working order as a distinct
department, that the now famous Polyglot Press was
established and became, then and since, the first institution
of the kind possessed by any corporation or nation in the

By the zeal and ability of its officials, many of whom
were priests, type was founded in all the known characters
of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The numerous ancient
liturgies of the East were printed in their original
characters for the benefit of the various rites using them ;
and uncivilized tongues were provided with a literature by
which Missionaries might teach the truths of Faith,
and advance their co-religionists or neophytes in the path
of the truest progress. In this way the gross ignorance
which had, by the action of schism, heresy, and the con-
quests of the Mahommedans, fallen upon the ancient
Christian lands and peoples of the once great Eastern Roman
Empire, was taken away, and a new light, not only ol
orthodox Christianity, but of knowledge and civilization,
diffused, where superstition and darkness had for centuries


prevailed. By this means a literature was given to the un-
letteredtribes in North and South America, and Missionaries
were enabled, even before setting out for these uncultivated
people, to learn the languages in Avhich they were to preach
and minister to them. By this means the literatures of
China, India, and Japan were made familiar to European
scholars ; and by this means, too, Catholics condemned by
penal legislation to ignorance — as were our Catholic fore-
fathers in these three kingdoms — ^^\vere supplied with the
means of education.




The various works connected with the Propaganda, of
course, imphed great expenses, and necessitated the pos-
session of large revenues fixed and well-secured. The care
of the Popes and the generosity of the faithful supplied
funds which went far, for there is not to be found
an establishment of its extent in the world managed at all
times with such scrupulous economy and care. Many
emulated the generosity of Monsignor Vives and of Cardinal
Barberini. Others left to the general purposes of the Pro-
pagation of the Faith large legacies — sometimes even their
whole inheritance. Besides that which Gregory XV.
bestowed upon it, and which Urban VIII. increased,
Innocent XII. gave the Institution 150,000 crowns in gold,
and Clement XII. gave it 70,000. From its first foundation,
all future Cardinals were by a decree of the Pope bound to
procure from it their Cardinal's ring, and to pay for this
ring a large donation, varying from £400 to double that
sum. This forms a most valual^le and perpetual source of
revenue. Other sources opened continually. The generosity
awakened by the two Pontiffs avIio were mainly instru-
mental in founding it, descended to their successors, and
spread throughout the entire Church, so that it may bo
well said that no institution ever existed which has been
more popular with Catholics, nor more unceasingly popular,
than the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of
the Faith.

And it deserved to be so, not only because of the
sacred objects to which it has devoted its unwearied


labours, but also because of that extreme economy which
has characterised its management from the beginning to
this hour. A very strong proof of the genuine excellence
of this economy lies in the fact that the Cardinals and
Prelates who willed it, either all, or a large portion of their
means were members of its management — a management
of great labour, for which the funds of the Propaganda
never paid them anything. All connected with its care,
except the absolutely necessary officials, gave to it the
whole of their services gratuitously. These knew well the
nature of the work which the sacred Institution did, and the
urgency of the wants it supplied. When, therefore, such
men have selected it from amongst the many objects
which Rome presents for Catholic zeal as the most
worthy and the most carefully conducted of all, we may
judge of the supreme excellency of its claims. Then the
whole of the work which it requires from the other
Congregations of Rome must be done gratuitously.
The Bulls for its numerous Bishops must be expedited, its
cases of conscience, coming, as they do, from all parts of
the earth, must be solved, its dispensations of every kind
granted, its rubrical, ceremonial, and technical difficulties
must be settled, its honours must be bestowed by every
department of Church government under the Pope,
without one farthing of cost to itself or to its innumerable
clients. Then, it was completely exempt, as we have
seen, from every kind of tax, for matters whether coming
by land or sea, and was freed from municipal burdens, under
the Pontificial Government. Its superior management
cost nothing, and for its work, secretaries and under-
secretaries, writers and teachers, gave their labours for less
than that paid by any other Institution in Rome. This
they do out of pure devotion to religion and the hope


of spiritual reward. In proof of this 1 will relate an
anecdote of one of its employes — Monsignor Agliardi,
at present Archbishop Delegate of the Holy See to
British India. This able ecclesiastic devoted his life until
well beyond fifty years of age to the severest labours
of the Institution. He was one of the overworked minutanti
or under secretaries, and in addition acted as Professor
of Moral Theology to the students of the Urban College.
I believe no more able, learned, or laborious ecclesiastic lived
in Rome. He worked as all the minutanti must do, in season
and out of season. The Propaganda official is a drudge who
seldom knows or looks for a holiday. When every other
office in Rome is closed for the terrible Roman, fever-giving
months, the Cardinal, the Secretary, and the minutanti
are still at their desks. Rome serves all the world> and at
the Propaganda all the world is served^ Now the particular
official I speak of, left a high and lucrative position in liis
native diocese for the work of the Propaganda ; and though
his duties placed him in constant correspondence with the
Church spread over Asia, and I may say over the islands of
the Southern and Indian Ocean, he was paid a great deal
less than would satisfv the humblest curate in anv English-
speaking country. He could at any moment leave this
])Osition and obtain dignity and comparative ease. But for
him, as for the rest of his brethren in harness, the work of
the Sacred Congregation had a strong fascination. They
seem somehow to thrive on hard work, and if not killed
soon by it, to get so used to it, that they cannot do without
it. The good Cardinal who now so worthily presides over
the whole work of the great institution, has gone through all
its grades, from the Minutant^'s desk to that of the Cardinal
Prefect. All who visit Rome on business to the Propa-
eranda are astonished to find him alwavs at their


service, from early morning to near midnight. It is so
with the Secretary, who is also an esteemed official of
the Institute. Their work is, no doubt, a deeply interesting
and a most res23onsible one. But there is, I found, a
far more powerful motive for attachment to this hard labour
for long years and small pay. It is that the officials
of the Propaganda, of every class, participate in every
good work performed in the world committed by the
Vicar of Christ to their care. They enjoy very many indul-
gences and are enriched with innumerable spiritual
privileges. This I found to be the secret of Archbishop
Agiiardi's long years of contented, severe, and ill-paid
labour. When we see other men immure themselves in
Cisterican and Carthusian cloisters, we can realise the
reason of so much devotion, but not till then. The work
of the Propaganda is necessary for the greatest ends of
God's service. Its officers are certain they are serving the
servants of God, the mart}Ts of China, Corea, and Japan,
the labourers in every part of the Lord's extended vineyard.
I speak of Monsignor Agiiardi, because he has left the Insti-
tution, and is now emjjloyed as Papal Delegate in the
great Mission of India. But there are others as devotedly
performing such duties as his in the Propaganda. There is
no lack of attention, and I believe that all, both Bishops
and Priests, who have ever had occasion to visit the Insti-
tution, will say that they have been forcibly struck with
the genuine goodness, prudence, learning, and general
superiority of the officials employed in every department of
that Sacred Institution.

It happens, by the care of the Popes, that only the
very first men in the Apostolic College are appointed
Prefects over the Propaganda. The men who occupied
the position in this century alone will prove this. I


have never seen the late ilhistrious Cardinal Barnabo, but
his fame still lives in all the Churches. Before him lived the
saintly Cardinal Fransoni, and he was preceded by one
who was taken from the position of Prefect to ascend the
throne of Peter in some of the most difficult days that have
tested a Pope's peculiar worth in this most trying century.
The present illustrious man who governs the Propaganda
was its Secretary in the days of Cardinal Barnabo.
He was taken from that position to discharge most
difficult diplomatic duties in Spain, and was afterwards
Secretary of State to Pius IX.-, in succession to the
late celebrated Cardinal Antonelli. In fact, his present
Hohness looks often to the officials of the Propaganda for his
diplomatic agents in places where rare tact, knowledge, and
sanctitv of life combined, are necessary ; and this has been
manifested within the present year in the missions confided
to Monsignors Agliardi and Chiavoni in India and South
America, respectively. Monsignor Vanutelli, who repre-
sented the Pope at the coronation of the Czar, and is now
engaged in the difficult nunciature of Lisbon, may be also
said to be a member of the Propaganda, in the service of
which he discharged the duties of Archiepiscopal Legate
at Constantinople.

Havino' now glanced at the nature and historv of this
Institution, we shall take a rapid survey of the work it has
done, and is doing, for the world.




At the very first meeting of the Cardinals, held by
order of Gregory XV., to settle upon the means of forming
the Sacred Congregation of the Propaganda,, it was resolved
that the heads of all the religious orders should be written
to for statistics relative to the state of the missions con-
fided to their subjects in every part of the world. It was
further resolved that the papers of the Provisional Congre-
gation called together by Gregory XIII. should be obtained
from the Bishop-Secretary. These two acts established the
identity of the Sacred Congregation with the vast work
carried on by the Roman Pontiff's for the spread of the
Faith in preceding ages, and especially with the work of
those Cardinals called in to assist Gregory XIII. The
new Congregation set instantly to work at the immense
amount of labour placed upon its members. Its responsi-
bility was very great; It had to look to the East and to
the West. The Church in the lands once Catholic, now
committed to its keeping, was everywhere in ruins. Four-
fifths of the population of the earth wandered still " in
darkness and in the shadow of death " outside the narrow
boundaries of Christendom. The interior of Africa re-
mained a closed book to the European, and within it
millions groaned in slavery under rulers who deemed it a
sacred duty to offer human victims in thousands annually
to idols. Budha and Vishnu held half the human race
captive. Savage hordes wandered over the steppes of
Asia, through the forests of America, and peopled the
innumerable islands of the Pacific with races almost as


destitute of the knowledge " of a God in this world " as
the lower animals upon which they subsisted. Where a
semi-civihzation created caste-prejudice, as in India, or
refined materiahsm, as in China, mankind in its masses
descended into depths of degradation still lower and more
worthy of commiseration than the wald tribes in savage
life. There was no mercy. The weak " went to the w\all."
Little children were slaughtered without pity, the poor were
regarded as the accursed of God, and the helpless were
trampled upon without hesitation or remorse. Islam had
extended its ravages over the fair Christian States which
once extended from the Pillars of Hercules to the Red Sea,
and from thence through Syria to the waters of the
Bosphorus. It was supreme in Persia, and spread its
Crescent over all the lands from the crests of the ranges
of Thibet to the Chersonesus. It had fixed its seat
in the city of Constantine, and its SAvay was undisputed
throughout the Balkan Peninsula^ and in the Isles of
Greece and of the Levant.

One of the first duties of the new Sacred Congregation
was to look after those Christian peoples who yet retained
any vestige of Christianity in the nations subjected by
Islam. They had become timid and abject slaves under
the persecuting lash of their masters. It w^as difficult for
missionaries to reach them at all, and then there was
another difficulty to be met with before Catholic mission-
aries could minister to them.

The Orientals were generally schismatics of various
rites and nations, imbued with a fanatical hatred for the
Church from wdiich their fathers had seceded. Great zeal
was therefore needed amongst these sects. The Mission-
aries of the Propaganda had to make their converts either
from Islam, which imnished what it called apostasy, with


terrible severity, or from Christians made vile by
ignorance and slavery in the lands of their ruthless
conquerors. Yet the grace of God j^revailed to a wonderful
extent, and innumerable souls were reconciled and be-
came Catholic.

The Aimenians, the Maronites, the Melchites, the
Copts, the Nestorians themselves, sometimes abandoned in
a body, their errors and schisms, or individually passed
over to communion with the Holy See-. In consequence,
to-day, we have a Eoman Catholic Archbishop in Athens,
another at Naxos ; and Catholic Bishops, Priests and
flocks at Skio, Pinos, Andros, Santoria and Lyra, and
other places in schismatical modern Greece. In the Turkish
Empire in Europe and Asia, there are no less than sixty-
six dioceses of various grades at present, not including
those in formation, which amount to thirteen, under Vicars
or Prefects Apostolic. The great Christian Community
of the Armenians have also, by the constant care of the
Propaganda, been kept in large measure from schism, and
in the graces which spring from union with the Church.
Incredible pains have been taken for the spread of the
Faith in Egji^t, Nubia, and the old Christian State of
Abyssinia. Apostolic prefectures have been established
in the remotest regions of Africa ; and the spread of French
and other European influences in Algeria and Tunis
promises to renew the Faith of the great St. Augustine in
the once fertile Christian Provinces which he enlightened
by word and pen when he ruled the famous See of Hippo.
A special congregation of Cardinals under the Cardinal
Prefect devote themselves to the numerous, difficult, and
important questions which arise from this department
of the work of the Propaganda. Under it are also two
flourishing Colleges — one for the Greeks, and the other for


the Armenians — Avliich latter was founded by Leo XIII.
under the able and zealous presidency of the late Cardinal

Further to the East, the Sacred Congregation directed
during the period which has passed from the opening-
efforts of St. Francis Xavier in India and Japan, to
our o^vn days, the missionary enterprise of the Church.
Under its care, Jesuits, Dominicans, and Franciscans
penetrated to China, and worked the wondervS we read
of during the long reign of Kang-he, and later on of
Keen-lung. Innumerable and bloody were the persecutions
its Missionaries had to suffer there, as well as in Corea,
Thibet, Cochin-China, and other nations bordering upon
the Celestial Empire. The Propaganda, besides, looked
with ceaseless solicitude upon the changing fortunes of the
missions in India, and nourished them amidst the wars and
diplomatic arrangements which transferred power from
Portugal and France to Great Britain, or to her East India
Company of traders. In America it never ceased to follow
the tracks of the red man in his forests, and those of the
poor negro in his slavery. The history of Indian tribes from
Canada to Patagonia, is the history of its Missionaries, of
their labours, travels, and martyrdom. It sent witli
equal zeal its Apostolic men to the islands of the
Southern Seas, as these became known by the exertions
of successive explorers. And in those vast regions, where
barbarous or uncivilized man yet walks in the darkness of
paganism and idolajtory, it never ceased its exertions until
now its bishops may be numbered by the hundred, its
priests by the thousand, and its converts liy millions. In
all, it spread the knowledge of Christ; and or]-)lian-
ages, hospitals, schools, and other pious institutions, con-
ducted bv Catholic brotherhoods and sisterhoods of various


forms, now give to the pagan a knowledge of the earnest
zeal and devotion of genuine Christianity.

But interesting, as this account is, of its labours — how
easy and pleasing it would be to prolong the record if time
permitted ! — it is not more interesting than that of the work
done by the Sacred Congregation for the salvation of the
nations which lapsed into heresy at the period of the
Reformation, and for the Faith in this country, and in
every land that speaks our language.

If the Faith has again penetrated into Norway, Sweden,
Denmark, Iceland, and those Northern regions whence it
was long banished by a vigilant and persecuting heresy, it
is owing entirely to the zeal of the Pi\)paganda ; and we
have only to recall the history of the Church in England,
Ireland, and Scotland, to know how sleepless was its care
of our fathers exposed to such long continued persecution in
the three kingdoms. Up to 1700, the law of the land pro-
hibited a Catholic priest to put his foot into Scotland. Yet
the few Scotch Catholic clans of the Highlands and the still
more scattered Catholic families of the Lowlands, were
never wholly without the ministrations of religion or the
means of a Christian education. We have only to look at
the annals of these dreary but sadly interesting times, to
know that it was the care and the funds of the Sacred
Congregation that kept both priest and schoolmaster in
this country and so kept the Faith alive and in progress,
until at length it needed a Superior over the missions, and
at last, a Bishop, to take charge of the gradually increasing-
flock. The increase consequent upon the influx of Irish
immigrants who swelled the Church to the proportions of
greatness, continued to occupy the zealous attention of
the Propaganda, until at length the moment came when
our present Holy Father was enabled to restore to the


land evangelized by Columba and Aidan, its ancient

Ireland occupied so distinct a portion of the care of
Propaganda, that I have been frequently led to think
the Sacred Congregation was chiefly, if not entirel}',
occupied with her concerns, And Ireland indeed deserved
it all, for she has proved to be amongst all nations, far the
most faithful daughter of the Holy See. Since the days
of the terrible peace which followed the long struggle of
Hugh O'Neill and O'Donnell for her freedom, and her
ancient Faith, the Propaganda applied its whole energies
to cure the woes of the Catholics of the country, to minister
to them and preserve their Faith, Not only during the
brief interval of national triumph secured by the Confeder-
ation of Kilkenny, when enormous assistance was given to
Ireland through the Legate, Cardinal Rinuccini, but before
and after that transient gleam of sunshine on the Church in
Ireland, the assistance given to the country by thePropaganda

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Online LibraryGeorge F DillonWar of antichrist with the Church and Christian civilization : lectures delivered in Edinburgh in October 1884 → online text (page 21 of 26)