It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare. — Edmund Burke

History of the Church: Early Modern Times - Notre Dame

The Catholic Reaction in Europe

It must not be forgotten that momentous events had been occurring in England, France, Germany, and the Netherlands during the eighteen years over which the sessions of the Council of Trent were spread. But during these troublous times the work of God, too, had been going on, and the state of the Church was full of promise. The reforms already noticed were bearing rich fruit. Institutes for the formation of a holy secular clergy Lad sprung up under the hands of St. Philip Neri and St. Charles Borromeo—the older Orders had been reformed, new religious congregations had arisen, and the nations severed from the Church by heresy were in many places being won back to the unity of the faith. The impetus given to the Christian education of youth was little short of 76 marvellous, and from recently-discovered lands stories were coming of hosts of the heathen being received into the bosom of the Church. Everything seemed to promise a Golden Age. But, though these glorious works developed as time went on, there has never been a truce in the deadly warfare waged against them by Protestant sectaries; and that so little, comparatively speaking, has been realized by such splendid activities must be reckoned to the account of the hand-to-hand struggle going on all over the globe between the Church and the spirit of heresy and of infidelity engendered by the great revolt of the sixteenth century.

I. Rejuvenescence of Older Religious Orders

The reform of the older congregations of the Church seems to have been the work of numerous holy members, whose silent influence gradually leavened the whole body, and brought about a renewal of the ancient fervour which had made them such powerful instruments for good. The fresh fields of labour opened up by the discoveries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries seem to have invigorated these holy federations with a new ardour; and the religious of several of them—notably the Franciscans and Dominicans—are to be found everywhere in the wake of the pioneers of the New World.

St. Teresa

The ever-living story of St. Teresa's grand work in the Church is but an exquisitely finished example or a type of what was going on in the silent cloisters of many lands.

It is unnecessary to rehearse the oft-told tale of the Spanish saint's holy childhood and girlhood, with its brief interlude of a vanity we should be tempted to call innocent had not Teresa, with eyes enlightened by heavenly intuition, looked on it as so grave a misconduct.

Thirty years of exemplary religious life (1533–1562), not unmarked by human faults and frailties, but closed with a complete surrender of her whole self—with all the rich treasures of heart and mind with which she was dowered—to the absolute following out of the Divine Will, prepared her for her life's work: the reform of the ancient Order of Carmel, which claims descent from the Old Testament Schools of the Prophets founded by Elias.

With no other thought but that of leading a life of perfection in company with a few generous souls, Teresa led the way by founding, not without great opposition, a poor little convent, which she dedicated to St. Joseph, in Avila itself, the city where she had been born, and in which she had lived so long as a religious in the convent of the Incarnation. Here the young community followed the primitive rule in extreme poverty and fervour. Nine years later (in 1571) the General of the Order, seeing the immense good likely to spring from the multiplication of convents such as Teresa governed, gave her leave to extend her work, and bade her make other foundations, not only for women, but also for men. Her inimitable narrative records the story of the seventeen convents for nuns and the fifteen for friars which she established during the eleven years of life which were left to her. In 1580 St. Teresa had the happiness of seeing her work placed on a firm basis by the separation of the reformed convents from those of the mitigated rule.

She died on October 4, 1582. It was the year in which the correction of the calendar, made by order of Pope Gregory XIII., was to take effect; the precise ten days to be omitted were those intervening between October 4 and 15. Hence the Feast of St. Teresa, fixed for the day after her death, falls on October 15.

Strictly speaking, St. Teresa did not reform existing convents—at least, of women; she founded communities which embraced the reformed rule. Her institute spread into other lands after her death, and in many a quiet cloister her heroic daughters still follow in her footsteps, and, like their glorious foundress, are a powerful means of grace to the cities which afford them, perhaps too often, only a grudging hospitality.

II. Foundation of New Institutes

So many of the great works of zeal enumerated at the head of this section owe their existence either directly or indirectly to the Society of Jesus, that it would be impossible to follow their history without giving some brief account of the source to which they are due.

There is some analogy between the peace-loving patriarch of monks (St. Benedict) and the warrior general of the Jesuits (St. Ignatius of Loyola),and still more between the position held by their respective foundations in the ages in which their lot was cast. Owing something of their individuality to the times which gave them birth, both saints impressed strong characteristics on their own and later days—something of which is mirrored in the titles by which they are known to posterity. As the Benedictine Order embraced within its wide horizon every activity tending towards improvement in early mediaeval days, whether in literature, law, medicine, or ancient and contemporary lore, so did the Society of Jesus easily hold the front rank among the men who regenerated Europe after a worse than pagan scourge had smitten the nations. And what they did not accomplish personally was almost undoubtedly the result of their influence, for there is scarcely a measure of reform instigated in Europe subsequent to 154o—the date when the Society was approved by the Holy See—that may not be traced to a man brought up under Jesuit auspices or converted by the spiritual exercises.

St. Ignatius Loyola

Ignatius of Loyola, to whose marvellous personality these results are, under God, due, was a noble Spaniard, forming in his own person a link between medieval and modern times. A typical knight of the most romantic chivalry, he yet had all the clear intuition, practical common sense, and long-sighted prudence of a man of business of to-day; grace and an indomitable will wrought these constituents into a monumental sanctity whose effects the world will feel till its last day.

Converted on a bed of suffering, in 1522, while reading the lives of Jesus Christ and His saints, Ignatius, by severe penance, long prayers, and pilgrimages, sought to repair the frivolities of his early life. During this time he went through every kind of trial and suffering, both mental and physical, thus gaining that deep knowledge of human nature, with its aspirations, struggles, temptations, and victories, which made him henceforth a leader of souls. He early felt that the defects of his education would prove an obstacle to apostolic work of any kind, and on his return from Palestine in 1524 he bent himself to acquire the rudiments of Latin and philosophy, without giving up a species of missionary work in which he was engaged. But he soon found that his method was faulty, and that he must follow the beaten track of knowledge; and in the Paris University he began to lay solid foundations of scholastic learning. It was not until ten years had elapsed that, in 1534, he finally gathered round him the little band of men who were to form the nucleus of his Society, the idea of which, shown to him at Manresa, was not yet fully developed in his mind. Favre, Bobadilla, Rodriguez, Xavier, and Laynez—all professors or students of the University—were they who, on the now famous Montmartre, made their vows and prepared to enter on a life of apostleship. Gradually the plan of\ the great Society he was to found, and the work he was to do, unfolded itself before Ignatius. In 1539 he presented to Pope Paul III. the draft of the new Institute. This was approved the following year. Meanwhile, members had been multiplying, for the famous exercises learned by Ignatius from Our Lady herself at Manresa had been producing great fruits. Each of the disciples of Loyola brought the unanswerable logic of this master-piece of spiritual science to bear on the souls with whom they came in contact, and something like the enthusiasm which followed the preaching of the Dominicans or the ministrations of the Franciscans in the thirteenth century was witnessed wherever the new missionaries appeared. To follow the footsteps of any one of the first Jesuits throughout his career is to read.the ever-recurring story of spiritual renovation in belief and practice. Such is the glory of Laynez in Venice, Padua, Trent, Sicily, and among the fleets sent against the famous corsair Dragut. Rodriguez had equal success in Portugal. Salmeron, Le Jay, and Favre—with his great conquest, disciple, and successor, Canisius—did the same for Germany. Each nation had its apostles, and the same scenes are recounted again and again.

Meanwhile Laynez and Salmeron had been sent as papal theologians to Trent. Their action in the Council had enormous influence on the after-history of the Society. The virtue of the men themselves won universal admiration, their learning and the extreme prudence of their manner of acting conciliated esteem for their Order, and the solemn approbation of the Society given by the Council placed it on so secure a basis that it has weathered every storm by which it has hitherto been assailed. Before the Council closed, St. Ignatius was dead, and Laynez ruled the Society in his stead; but the founder had framed the grand plan of his Company, had laid down principles of guidance for his sons, and had started every class of work for souls which they have since made their own.

Unlike many another great originator, Ignatius had lived to see the chief desires of his heart realized: his institute had been confirmed by more than one pope, the book of the spiritual exercises had been approved, and the constitutions of. his Order had been promulgated in every place where his sons were labouring. This body of rules was solemnly adopted by the General Congregation of the Society which met on the death of St. Ignatius to nominate his successor, and it was also again approved by the Holy See.

Some of the works begun by this saint have since been taken up by other Orders as their special end, and the Society no longer engages in them, but St. Ignatius has perhaps made no greater mark on the subsequent history of the world than by his educational foundations. From the first, teaching was recognized as a fundamental duty of the Society, and there was not a centre in which Jesuits were stationed that had not its school, its college, or its university. When St. Ignatius died, about a hundred establishments already existed; and they multiplied with a rapidity that speaks volumes for the influence of the movement, when it is remembered how carefully the saint had laid down the law that the staff of professors should be not only adequate in number, but efficient in qualifications. It would be impossible to follow the spread of these centres of renovation and of culture. It must suffice to say that one hundred and fifty years after the death of St. Ignatius there were more than seven hundred of them scattered over the face of the globe, the lowest number of students recorded as attending any of them being given as three hundred. And it must be remembered that these colleges were directed by men eminent not only for virtue, but for learning, who gave as a sacred duty their best years to the cultivation of the minds and hearts of the youth committed to their care. St. Ignatius and his successors in the generalate required from those who demanded a college or a university for their town that a modest endowment should be provided, enough to cover the expenses of the professors. This was in order that no fee should be asked or received for tuition, and that thus the benefit of the most complete and thorough education should be within the reach of all. These Jesuit establishments were to the Catholic youths of the early modern times what the great universities had been to the European world in the Middle Ages, with this difference—that the students of the Jesuits, with no small gain to themselves, were more directly under the guidance and control of the masters than in the earlier scholastic bodies.

Under the fifth general of the Society, Claudius Aquaviva, a man of commanding sanctity and genius, a complete system of studies was drawn up—the famous Ratio Studiorum. It was the fruit of long experience, of wide research and broad principles, and was the work of a series of committees of great Jesuit educators called together from the most famous teaching-centres of Europe. It regulates not only the subjects to be taught, but lays down the scope and aims, the principles and practice, of the great art of teaching.

It would be an interesting but almost endless task to record the names of the most famous professors and students of Jesuit colleges, and the libraries of precious works which are due to their patient researches or inspired genius. In every walk of knowledge their names are to be found.

Perhaps the most famous of the Jesuit colleges were two begun by St. Ignatius himself. That established for the youth of the eternal city had for its temporal founder St. Francis Borgia, and came to be known as the Roman College. On account of its free tuition, it at first met with great opposition, but the unqualified success of its teaching silenced all criticism and defeated its enemies, while popes and cardinals were loud in its praises. It was here that public distribution of prizes, with an exhibition of the powers of the students in oratory, declamation, and music was first established—an institution due, it is said, to Laynez, the second general. Twenty colleges at different times sent their students to assist at the Jesuit courses, so great was their fame. Here the most promising of the young members of the Society were sent to study: hence we find St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Stanislaus Kostka, and St. John Berchmans numbered among the students of the Roman College, which has, moreover, given eight popes to the world, besides a crowd of men eminent in every line of intellectual life or moral excellence.

The second foundation which Ignatius also settled in Rome was the Germanic College. Its aim was—though not closing its doors to seculars—to form a highly educated body of clergy for Germany. The great disciples whom their founder had sent to labour among the nations in which Lutheranism had its head-quarters were instructed to send to Rome young men whom they considered fit for the priesthood. These were trained under the eye of Ignatius, and soon became so grounded in science and virtue that, on their return to their native country, they did wonders in bringing back to the faith many whom ignorance and heresy had perverted. It is a patent fact that Protestantism made no further advances after the Council of Trent; and that it did not is due to the heroic stand made against it by the Jesuits and their colleges. As Guizot says: "The Society was instituted to fight the Religious Revolt." In spite of its immense importance, the Germanic College suffered extreme penury for a long period. In 1573 Gregory XI II. placed it beyond the possibility of distress by an adequate endowment. The students of this college still form a marked feature in Roman streets, with their picturesque orimson cassocks and broad black sashes. Few of the great names of the next generation of German rulers, lawyers, prelates, warriors, and scientists but are to be found on the bead-roll of the Germanic College.

Perhaps no other feature of the period was more powerful in effecting a return to Catholicism in heretical countries, and in arousing anew the true spirit of the faith where the fundamentals had not been lost, than the Jesuit schools. But there were many other influences at work, though perhaps more local in character than those due to the Society of Jesus. The city of Rome itself owes its spiritual renovation to St. Philip Neri. The ministrations of this gentle saint were long almost unnoticed, for his method was unostentatious, and his works of zeal of the humblest character. He frequented hospitals, aided the dying, talked cheeringly and lovingly of the good God and the way of serving Him, and exercised an almost magnetic influence over all that came under the spell of his gracious presence and winning manners. Men gathered round him instinctively; where he led they followed, whether it was to perform self-denying acts of charity for the sick or for pilgrims, or to make the stations of Rome, or to assist at exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. At length his director insisted on his embracing the priesthood, and Philip, without changing his methods, found his power over men grow. The results of his sacred ministration in the confessional, and his familiar but priestly conversations, will be known only at the last day. Philip loved to gather the young around him, and to make virtue attractive by surrounding it with sweet and beautiful associations. Wise religious superiors sent their novices to join the happy throng of lads that sang and prayed and played round that gentle master on the fair slopes of the Aventine.

St. Philip Neri.

Among the disciples who clustered round St. Philip, a little bind of priests attached themselves more closely to him and lived under his guidance, forming something like a community, though Philip had no thought or desire of becoming a religious founder. The first church where they met, and whither crowds repaired to assist at the simple sermons and glorious choral services which, from the first, characterized the meeting of St. Philip's sons, was called the Oratory. Though one church after another was taken—as each in turn became too small to admit the ever-increasing number that flocked thither—the name remained. St Philip's churches are Oratories, his sons Oratorians; and a species of sacred drama set to music, first brought to perfection in the church of St. Philip, and under his inspiration, is still called an oratorio.

Palestrina, the prince of Church musicians, was a disciple of St. Philip, and held for ten years the post of maestro in the Oratory at the same time that he conducted the papal choir at Santa Maria Maggiore. It was in the arms of St. Philip that (in 1594) the great composer breathed his last, "true, even upon the brink of death, to that sympathy with piety and purity which had drawn him, during half a century, to devote to their illustration and furtherance all the beauties of his fancy, and all the resources of his learning."

St. Philip, in spite of his retiring humility, was drawn into most of the stirring events of his day. The very spirit of the Council of Trent seemed to be alive in him, and his action lent effective aid to the popes and bishops in carrying out its decrees by training good priests, by making Church services splendid and, at the same time, attractive, and by adopting a style of preaching understood by all, thus popularizing holiness of life. To combat Protestantism in one of its strongholds, Philip caused his great disciple Baronius to compile the "Annals of the Church." This was to answer the "Magdeburg Centuries"—a series of historical works purporting to be an account of thirteen centuries of Church history. The preparations were worthy of the work. Baronius was commanded to treat only of ecclesiastical history in his sermons, and to repeat the course over and over again for thirty years. Then Philip bade him write. Baronius was able to complete the story of only twelve centuries, but his work is a monument of painstaking research and noble devotion to the Church.

When King Stephen Bathori reinstated Catholicism in Poland, St. Philip founded the Polish College at Rome, on the model of the Germanic College of St. Ignatius About the same time Pope Gregory XIII. founded the English College to provide priests for our country, then under the stress of the Elizabethan persecution; and Philip, when meeting the young collegians, was wont to salute them as "Flores Martyrum."

As we have already seen, St. Philip had a good deal to do in securing for Henry IV. of France the long-sought-for absolution which brought peace to France. Shortly after this event, at a ripe old age, though with undimmed lustre of intellect and warmth of heart, Philip's bright and happy spirit passed to eternal joy, May 26 1595.

Perhaps the greatest work of St. Philip was the silent moulding of the hearts of the great men around him, till one and all who came under his influence became transformed, or were strengthened to lead a more than usually holy life. Not only was he the friend of all the saints of his) day, but he was the centre of cardinals, prelates and religious: he inspired each with lofty aims, and each in his turn became a means of holiness to others. Among the most famous of this group of saintly men were St. Charles Borromeo, Cardinal and Archbishop of Milan, and his nephew, Cardinal Frederic Borromeo, who succeeded him in his diocese. Twenty-three years younger than St. Philip, St. Charles was yet of mature sanctity when they first met, and the two saints instinctively recognized each other's holiness. None was more indefatigable in working for the interests of the Church than St. Charles Borromeo. To him it is largely due that the Council of Trent was called and brought to a successful conclusion by his uncle, Pope Pius IV. He, too, had the principal share in compiling and producing the Trent Catechism. To aid him in reforming his diocese he would have had the sons of St. Philip in his episcopal city, but some little difference of views in the two saints frustrated this project. He called in the Jesuits to his aid, gave them charge of the secular college, and entrusted to them the ecclesiastical seminary until his own oblates were able to take charge of it. St. Charles died in 1584, at the early age of forty-six; but by princely munificence in restoring churches, by zealous preaching, by the training of his clergy, and by self-sacrificing labours, he had completely changed the face of his diocese: his Helvetic College had provided for a supply of well-qualified priests for Switzerland. He had also brought about an alliance of the seven Catholic Cantons—the Borromean League—for the defence of the faith of these peoples who were placed, as it were, in the stronghold of Calvinism.

St. Charles Borromeo.

Another eminent bishop and apostle of the age was St. Francis of Sales, a pupil of the Jesuits both at the Paris and Paduan Universities With the assistance of his cousin, Louis of Sales, who obtained for him the provostship of the Genevan Chapter, he overcame his father's opposition to his vocation, and was ordained priest, at twenty-six years of age, in 1593. He was a Savoyard, and his whole career was passed within the limits of this Alpine land, which now forms two departments of France, but was then an independent dukedom. In the great duel between Clarles V. and Francis I., the dukes of Savoy sided with the former. They thus found themselves placed between two enemies—the French on the west, and the Calvinistic Cantons of Switzerland on the northeast—and cut off from their ally, the German Emperor. During the long wars between France and Germany, Savoy was repeatedly invaded, and large slices of her territory were absorbed by France and by the Swiss. In 1536 the Chablais, a very important section of the duchy—that lying to the south of the Lake of Geneva, and a rich and populous part of it—was seized by the Canton of Berne, and retained for more than fifty years. The people changed faith when they changed masters, so that when Charles Emmanuel of Savoy regained the Chablais by treaty with Henry IV. (1589) the inhabitants were bitter Calvinists.

St. Francis de Sales.

Shortly after the ordination of St. Francis the duke begged the Bishop of Geneva to send some priests to convert the restored province. It was a dangerous mission, and the bishop felt that none could be better entrusted with it than the young provost, who was already attracting much attention by his talents for preaching and his priestly. virtues. Again the aged father interposed, and' strove to prevent his son from undertaking the perilous task;, but Francis was firm, and, with his cousin, set out on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, 1594. For a year and a half almost no results were seen, though Francis had exposed himself unceasingly and with dauntless courage to every hardship and danger, seeking the mountaineers among the snow-clad fastnesses, crossing frozen torrents to say Mass for a few faithful Catholics, braving assassins, or preaching to congregations whose numbers could be counted on the fingers. At length people began to be interested in this intrepid missionary who toiled on so patiently at his thankless task, and by Lent, 1596, his sermons were listened to with profound attention. Then Francis boldly defied the Calvinistic ministers to prove the truth of their belief. They met to concert a plan of attack and defence, but not being able to come to a common ground of agreement, excused themselves by alleging the imprudence of holding a conference without the consent of the duke. Private conferences, however, were held, and great numbers were reconciled to the Church. the most influential being the Governor of Thonon, who henceforth was of great assistance to St. Francis. By order of the Pope, St. Francis on three occasions presented himself before the aged Beza, successor of Calvin, and strove to win the old man to reconsider his position. Though he is reported to have been greatly disturbed by the arguments of the saint, he finally declared: "My side is chosen." And if he ever desired to return to the Church, guards placed around him, to watch him night and day, prevented any such attempt. Beza died in 1605.

Though Francis began to work marvels, he felt that single-handed he could not hope to win back the whole country to the faith. He therefore begged the duke to send Jesuits and Capuchins to his aid, to set up a Catholic press for the dissemination of popular pamphlets on Catholic belief, and to open an establishment at Thonon where converts could in peace earn their own livelihood, or at least be secured against want. But what seems to have been the most fruitful measure employed by Francis was the solemn Exposition of the Forty Hours, which he held first at Thonon and afterwards in other places. Most wonderful results followed these times of fervent prayer, and the people simply flocked into the Church. Five years were passed in this way, and then Francis was named coadjutor to the aged Bishop of Geneva. He was able to carry out his idea of a Holy House of Refuge and Formation for Converts, and he joined to it three other departments, the whole forming a sort of university on a novel plan. The special needs of the diocese suggested the attempt. It was founded at Thonon, 1599, and comprised a seminary and residence for priests; a body of missionaries under the control of Capuchins; a college for the young, directed by Jesuits; and the home where converts were instructed in the faith, and provided with means of earning their livelihood. St. Francis also set on foot the Confraternity of Our Lady of Compassion for the conversion of heretics, which, three centuries later, Pope Leo XIII. confirmed and encouraged, giving for its special object the conversion of England.

As administrator of the diocese after the death of Claude de Granier, Francis was able to complete the conversion of all his people. Throughout the summer months he insisted on catechism being given on each Sunday during the two hours preceding vespers, himself setting the example at Annecy. He watched carefully over the education of his clergy, and examined with the greatest care all the candidates for Holy Orders. He held half-yearly synods, visited the various monasteries under his jurisdiction, and with the prudence, patience, and gentle tact for which he was renowned, he succeeded in rousing anew the religious spirit in hearts that had long been dead to its influence. When, after a lengthy visitation of his flock, he sent a report to the Holy Father, he was able to give the consoling testimony that, except in the Swiss section, not one single person in the diocese was a heretic. It is calculated that he won over fifty thousand sectaries to embrace the true faith.

Henry IV. had the greatest esteem for St. Francis, and showed it in many ways. The Swiss promised him their allegiance, and the use of their troops against the Duke of Savoy, on condition that he would re-establish Protestantism in the Chablais. But, at the solicitation of Francis, Henry declined an offer so advantageous from a military point of view. Later he permitted Francis to send missionaries into his Swiss possessions, and did his best to secure the saint for one of the French dioceses, treating him with the utmost honour when he visited Paris.

St. Francis of Sales will always be held in veneration for his splendid writings, which are as perfect models of literature as they are of simple and lovable piety, the "Introduction to a Devout Life" being the most widely known. He founded, with St. Jane Frances de Chantal, the Order of the Visitation, being one of the earliest saints to recognize the need for communities of women who would devote themselves to works of mercy outside their convent walls. The times were not ripe for such an immense step in the development of religious life, and the project had to be dropped, though the name remains to testify to the clear-sighted wisdom of the holy man. He had a good deal to do with the foundation of the Oratory in France, having suggested the idea to Cardinal de Berulle, and done all in his power to foster the new institute. He helped the saintly Madame Acarie in carrying out her project of bringing St. Teresa's Carmelites into France. In his own diocese he multiplied communities, and proved himself a true father to the religious under his care. He toiled without respite at his numerous works of zeal—always gentle, always full of winning gaiety and attractive piety—till struck down by apoplexy, December 28, 1622.

In France the movement towards reform was much retarded by the civil wars which lasted up to the close of the sixteenth century, and by the bitter quarrels between the religious parties which characterize the whole period. When once the tide turned, the splendour of the reaction was almost unprecedented. The mere enumeration of the names of those who made the France of the seventeenth century glorious with sanctity would fill a page, but would give very little idea of the work accomplished. Every kind of zealous labour was cultivated: the reform of religious Orders, the foundation of schools, of confraternities to honour the Blessed Sacrament, to stop swearing and dueling, and to provide poor girls with marriage portions—such are a few of the projects set on foot. Everything was undertaken on a large scale; but several new features were added whose usefulness has been recognized more fully as time has gone on. Such were the work of the priests of the mission, of the training of secular clergy, and of active Orders of charity. This last, however, did not originate in France, though some of its most illustrious propagators belong to that country.

St. Vincent de Paul.

St. Vincent of Paul's Lazarist Fathers, founded in 1624, were the pioneers in the work of giving missions among the people. During eight months in each year the members of the Society dispersed in bands whose numbers were proportioned to the density of the population to be evangelized, and passed from village to village and from town to town preaching, catechizing, hearing confessions, and winning thousands to the profession and practice of their faith. Other bodies of priests having the same object were formed from time to time, and it is touching to read of the avidity with which these ministrations were almost everywhere received.

Most of the societies of religious men which sprang up subsequent to the Council of Trent had for object the supplying of worthy priests for the ministry of the altar and the care of souls; but the training of the so-called secular priests had not made much progress, though the establishment of seminaries for the purpose was one of the special means of reformation pointed out by the Council. It was reserved for an extraordinarily holy group of men of the first half of the seventeenth century to realize this important ideal. Pere de Condren, successor of Cardinal de Berulle as Superior-General of the French Oratory, was, under God, the originator of the project. Its accomplishment was due to Monsieur Olier, whose influence on his contemporaries was almost unbounded. He gathered around him a band of devoted priests, and with them evangelized the disreputable parish of St. Sulpice, which contained the notorious Faubourg St. Germain—the scene of the worst excesses of the dissolute Parisian nobility—and made it the model for a spontaneous reform that, reaching in turn every parish in the great city, spread throughout France, and so changed the face of the land that vice became unfashionable. During this period of renovation the project of an ecclesiastical training college was developed, and the seminary of St. Sulpice became the type on which were moulded the very numerous establishments of the same nature which gradually covered the land.

The religious Orders of charity are exceedingly numerous. To mention a few of the best known must suffice: St. Jerome Emilian, of a noble Italian house, and his disciples—the Somaschans—became the protectors of orphans. The Barnabites undertook many charitable works among the poor, and devoted themselves with great zeal to religious instruction; and St. Joseph Calasanctius founded schools for the most forsaken outcasts of great cities. The first Order devoted exclusively to the education of girls dates from the sixteenth century. St. Angela of Merici is claimed as the foundress, though she did little more than suggest the idea and make a first essay. She was witness of the distressing state of things consequent on religious revolt, and with womanly intuition recognized the utter neglect of the education of girls as largely chargeable with the evils of the time. A vision in which Our Lord told her she was to found an educational Order, strengthened her convictions, and she gathered a number of little girls around her, and began to teach them household arts and sacred science. However, she seems to have interrupted the work for many years, until Our Lord reproached her for her neglect of His wishes. Then she set to work to draw up a rule and to gather helpers. There was no question of founding an Order, so the members remained at home, merely assembling for prayers, teaching, and visiting the poor for the purpose of giving religious instruction. They chose St. Ursula as their patron, and were called Ursulines. For five years all went on very prosperously, then Angela died (1540). In many different centres the work was taken up and separate foundations were made, though a kind of union was preserved by each being placed under the patronage of St. Ursula. Hence there is considerable diversity in the various branches or congregations of which the Order is composed. The freedom of action which St. Angela established was gradually exchanged for conventual life, and though some Ursulines are cloistered and others are not, all have adopted a religious costume, live in community, and take the vows of religion.

The Paris house, which became the model of many of the French convents, grew out of the attempt of Madame Acarie to found a Carmelite convent. While negotiating their coming, she was preparing a number of young girls to be presented to the daughters of St. Teresa when they should arrive. As she did not find signs of a contemplative vocation in all, she had them trained to teach, foreseeing the great good that would result from an institute which should devote itself to the education of girls. Her cousin, the celebrated Madeleine de Ste. Beuve, warmly took up the idea when it was laid before her, and in 1610 she built a convent which she dedicated for this purpose. She had the consolation of seeing a numerous and fervent community grow up, many affiliations started, and multitudes of young girls receiving the blessing of a thorough Christian training. From the Paris foundation sprang another yet more famous—that of Canada—shortly to be mentioned. The Bordeaux congregation was very numerous, and others had their centres in Dijon, Lyons, Arles, etc., each of which has some distinctive characteristic.

St. Charles Borromeo introduced the congregation into his diocese, endeavouring to get Ursuline nuns established in all the large cities of Northern Italy. He had founded eighteen convents in the Milanese province before his death. During the first hundred years of its existence the Order spread into almost every country of Europe.

But perhaps the best known of all the institutes of charity are the Daughters of St. Vincent of Paul, whose devotedness wherever suffering reigns, whether in hospital or on the battlefield, in prisons or in orphanages, is beyond all praise.

This was the earliest example of a religious community of uncloistered women devoting itself to works of zeal. Founded in 1633 by St. Vincent of Paul, with the co-operation of Madame le Gras, it was approved by the Holy See as early as 1655 and incalculable are the effects of the example of this pioneer Order of charity. Since then every form of ministration that womanly hearts can plan and womanly hands can carry out has been opened up; and countless multitudes of consecrated virgins will bless God for the inspiration executed by the devoted father of the poor, St. Vincent of Paul, which has thrown open to them a career of such holy usefulness.

It would be possible thus to follow up saintly bishops and priests, religious and seculars, in their work of renewing again the face of the Church, but the task would be too long. It may safely be said that, thanks to these devoted men and women, by the middle of the seventeenth century a marked change had come over most of the European nations. Nowhere was there complete success, but the spirit of this age was very different from the apathetic decadence of the sixteenth century. Regarded from a merely human point of view, it can scarcely be doubted that the frenzy of the Protestant sectaries had aroused a corresponding ardour in Catholics, but it is as absolutely certain that rarely has any period of Church history to show in such exuberance the marvellous effects of Divine grace working in the souls of men and women of every age and condition. On the whole, in spite of a nascent heresy in France and the sad scenes still being enacted in many parts of Europe, notably in the British Isles, it may be said that the outlook was hopeful for the faith, if not for the political prosperity, of Catholics when the peace of Westphalia (1648) closed the story of the Protestant revolt.

But Europe was no longer the only continent which owned the sway of St. Peter. While thousands on her soil had been throwing off allegiance to the Holy See, thousands in far-distant lands had been gathering under the banner of the Cross, and enrolling themselves in the army of the Church Militant.