Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

to the church its ancient influence and lustre, not a remnant of them was to be found. So generally had they been forgotten, that when the council of Trent gave the weight of its authority to their re-establishment, they were everywhere regarded as a new institute.

We cannot enter into Dr. Theiner's disquisitions on the causes of this decline. He ascribes it, partly to the decay of the pure feudal spirit which existed at the time of their institution, and partly to the establishment of the university system. The depravation of the pure feudal spirit, he thinks, was immediately followed by the dissolution of the “canonical life’ of the clergy. He does not state whether he means in monasteries, as well as in those laxer institutions, where persons lived in commons under a rule, but it would necessarily affect both, though not in equal degrees. The cause to which he ascribes the greatest influence, however, is the foundation of the universities of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, at the head of which for a time, stood those of Bologna and Paris. The terms in which we have censured the work as a whole, must not prevent our expressing the interest with which we have read this portion of it; it is, in our judgment, both sound in theory, and well written. Indeed, had the first and third parts possessed either the interest of the narrative from which we have so largely extracted, or the truth and force of the argument with which this second part closes, we should have spoken very differently of it, and have done so cheerfully. We must permit ourselves, before we pass on, one brief extract more, in which the author pours out his complaints on the decline of the seminaries which have been described:—

* Not to leave the narrow circle we have prescribed to ourselves, and to speak only of the seminaries, we must ask of this sublime academical epoch, [i. e. that of the universities] What had become of the holy zeal of the bishops for the instruction of the clergy Where were the prelates, who composed with so much ease and unction, pious hymns in Greek and Latin, to the praise of God, and the honour of the saints of his church 7 Where were the young clerical students, able to preach and write in the languages of Latium and Athens as fluently as in their mother tongues Where were those holy professors of literature and science, who looked up to heaven alone for the recompense of their labours and their efforts? Where those profound studies in astronomy and mathematics : What, in fine, had become of that holy manner of life, which equally distinguished the superior and inferior clergy, and which, in both classes, had produced men, whom their erudition, their virtues, and their piety, will render ever memorable as objects of admiration to the world, and who will ever be saluted with the title of benefactors of the human race? We may say, with reason, this pious and holy

epoch was that of the poetic infancy of christian art and science in Europe: it passed away modestly, and without noise, under the eye of the world, in holy aspirations towards God, and wished to leave no traces of itself but its own merits, of which it had too much humility itself to speak.

Admitting that the importance of the era in question was long overlooked, and that the age was even misrepresented, because it was little known, there is one material point on which we are at issue with Dr. Theiner. The monastic severity and seclusion which, as our extracts have shown, ruled in most of these institutions, prevented the good they might contain from being diffused over society; the world at large, therefore, had but little interest in preserving them; and we have no reason to doubt that it was with the seminaries as with the monasteries, that the want of a healthy action upon them from society at large caused them to become, in far too many instances, nurseries of indolence and secret vice-vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.

The third and last part, (which, with the supplementary documents, comprises three-fourths of the whole work, and is in the proportion of twelve to one to either of the other parts,) is headed History and Condition of the Institutions for Clerical Education, from the Council of Trent to the present Times.' Reckoning from 1563, when this council closed its sittings, till 1833, when Dr. Theiner's work was published, we have a period of 270 years; a period shorter in duration than either of the preceding periods, but richer both in facts and authorities than both of them put together.

The author has not contented himself in this part with the history of theological seminaries, but, towards the close espe. cially, has admitted many irrelevant, or at least unnecessary, details; having devoted nearly 150 pages to a narrative of the causes which led to the suppression of the Jesuits, and the spread of infidel principles in France and Germany, by the encyclopædists, the illuminati, and the various orders of freethinkers, who followed in their train. We shall briefly describe that portion of it which is occupied with the professed subject of the work.

Great phenomena,' says Dr. Theiner, ‘ are always followed by great reactions. On this principle, he, in common with all genuine Romanists, regards Ignatius Loyola as an instrument of Providence raised up to counteract the tremendous mischiefs of the schism of the sixteenth century. After the alliance of the reformers,' says he, 'came the Society of Jesus. They matched themselves against each other immediately in the eves of the world, and continued to be foes: for from their first entrance into history and life they have appeared as two opposite principles: the one as the principle of revolution and destruction, the other as the principle of reconciliation and the conservation of a renewed christian society.

The third part of the work, therefore, opens with an account of the efforts of Loyola on behalf of clerical education; and as the seminaries which were set up under the direction of the Council of Trent were for the most part placed under the direction of the Jesuits, and those which were not so, were usually erected on the model of Loyola's own seminary at Rome, we shall devote particular attention to the system of the Jesuits as here illustrated.

• Ignatius had obtained a deep insight into human nature and the state of society at the time in which he lived, when he declared that the amelioration of the establishments for the education of youth, and especially of the clergy, was the fundamental condition for the restoration of order in the church and in the world : for ignorance is the mother of all evil. . ... The education of youth therefore became the chief object of the labours of St. Ignatius. .... The reestablishment of the ancient ecclesiastical seminaries, which we have seen flourishing from the time of St. Augustine's immortal efforts in the first ages of the church, down to the twelfth century, when they gave way to the foundation of academies, which, unhappily, caused them first to decline from their ancient importance, and afterwards wholly disappear-this re-establishment appeared to him to be the only sure means of attaining the great end at which he aimed. He began, therefore, with forming a vast scheme of seminaries and colleges, which he wished to carry out first in Germany, because he judged that that was the country where it was most important to prevent the setting in of doctrines contrary to the church. While he was occupied in secret with the great plan which he had formed for Germany, in founding a theological school at Rome for young Germans of talent, his disciples were already working incessantly in that country, under the protection of enlightened and pious princes of the church, to procure a moral and scientific education for the clergy, and thus to sustain the ancient faith of the church in the midst of its thousand dangers.

• The seminary of St. Ignatius became the model of all the theolo. gical schools founded under the immediate protection of the Holy See, and even served, as we shall see, as a guide to the fathers of the Council of Trent in their celebrated decree respecting seminaries. Were it only for this reason, we should be sufficiently justified in relating the principal circumstances which attended the establishment of this seminary.

These circumstances, then detailed at length, we must treat briefly, though they possess considerable interest, reserving what room we can spare for the character of the system. Suffice it to say, that, after a meeting of the papal consistory, convened chiefly through the efforts of the cardinals Moronus and Cervinus, the latter of whom had laid before the pope Ignatius's plan for a theological school at Rome for young people of the German nation, a bull for the erection of such a school was published by Julius III. on the 31st of August, 1552; copies were immediately printed and dispatched in large numbers to each of the princes and ecclesiastical dignitaries of Germany; and Ignatius, without loss of time, wrote to Cologne, Prague, and Vienna, where his disciples were already in full activity, engaging them to choose young people of talent, and send them to Rome to his seminary. Before the end of the year a sufficient number had been obtained to open the college. The first matriculation took place on the 21st of November, which, in memory of the event, was fixed for the anniversary festival of the college. The numbers considerably increased, and soon the fame of the establishment had spread from one end of Germany to the other. From the moment that his plan appeared likely to be carried into execution, however, Ignatius's first care had been to arrange the laws for the government of the college, which he divided into two rubrics, containing the rules to be observed respecting the entrance and dismission of students, as well as during their residence in it. Besides this, he founded a chapel and formed a library; and as our author tells us, in addition to the three ancient languages, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, the study of which was usual at this epoch, there were also taught, by the special permission of the Holy See, which Ignatius urgently sought for, and obtained with great difficulty, (moral] philosophy, physics, exegesis, and all the higher sciences.

The warlike spirit of Paul IV. sapping the resources of the church, the colleges were in his reign reduced to great straits.

The celebrated cardinal of Augsburg himself, who had hitherto been a most ardent advocate of the institution, drew back, and expressed himself in strong terms respecting the perpetual contributions of money which Ignatius required for its support. Ignatius replied, with calm dignity, that if any persons repented of the benevolence which they had extended to the institution, they had only to abandon it at once; that he would make every effort to sustain it, and would perish rather than leave his beloved Germans .... that he should rely upon the help of God, and then the difficulties he might meet with would only encourage him the more in his work. In a private conversation, Ignatius, animated with an enthusiasm almost prophetic, expressed his conviction that the time would come, when a pope would not only deliver the college from its embarrassments, but would become its father, its most generous benefactor, and would feel constrained to secure for it a perpetual existence. This pope, as we shall soon see, was Gregory XIII.

Passing the account our author gives of the skilful management by which the cardinal, assisted by Canisius, the restorer of learning in catholic Germany, engaged the interest of Gregory XIII, on behalf of the college; and also of that pope's visit to it, and his becoming its second founder, we come to the reorganization of the college code, which has since continued conformable to the following draught.

‘These are in few words the fundamental laws of the institution. The pupils admitted into the college must be natives of Upper Germany, that is to say, of Alsace, the Rhine district, Bavaria, Swabia, Franconia, Westphalia, Saxony, Silesia, Prussia, Austria, the Tyrol, or Hungary. They must be of honourable [legitimate] birth, sound health, and have attained the age of about twenty years. Youths of noble families might, however, be received at the age of sixteen years. After residing six months in the college, during which time it was supposed they would have had time to reflect on the great and the sacred duties of the institution, so as not in after times to repent of the step they took, they were required to take the oath of consecration to the ecclesiastical life; and that they would, on their return to Germany, give themselves up exclusively to this life, and not profess or teach at the same time other faculties, such as medicine or law. The piety necessary to the ecclesiastical state, as well as the exercise of the spiritual virtues it requires, were particularly recommended to them. The manner of living was common to all. No one could leave the house, without the permission of the rector, and without a sufficient reason. The severest discipline was exercised over all the pupils as to morality, religion and learning. The time of study was limited to ten years, the first three of which were consecrated to philosophy and the higher branches of learning, the following four to scholastic [doctrinal], and the last three to moral, [ethical and practical] theology. After having finished their studies, the pupils must remain thirty days in the college, after which clothes and money were given them for their return to Germany. Those who gave proofs of superior talent might remain some time longer at Rome, if the rector of the college considered that it would be useful to them. If any of them wished to enter any [monastic] order, he was free to do so, but only in Germany. Students' places might not continue vacant more than a year. The most distinguished scholars might, after undergoing the necessary examinations, obtain academical degrees, such as the baccalaureate, the licence [degree of licentiate] and the doctorate. The appointment of the rector and professors, as well as the whole spiritual and temporal direction of the establishment, was confided to the fathers of the society of Jesus in perpetuity.

“Thus,” adds Dr.Theiner, arose by degrees the establishment which, from its origin, excited the admiration of the Italians and of all catholic nations, and became a source of glory to the fathers of the Society of Jesus. A third portion of the sequel of the

« ZurückWeiter »