The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Joseph Benedict Cottolengo

detail of a painting of Saint Joseph Benedict Cottolengo; Agostino Cottolengo, c.1850; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsThe example of the Venerable Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, by no means a solitary one, proves how unjust is the man of our day who thinks that there are no longer souls which rise to the loftiest heights of the love of God and their neighbor, and accomplish all things by their immovable confidence in God. Pius IX called the “Little House of Providence”, Cottolengo’s foundation in Turin, “a house of miracles.” But the whole man himself was a continual proof of the power of the supernatural.

The house of Joseph Cottolengo’s parents can still be seen in Bra, a little town of Piedmont. The day of his birth was 3 May 1786. It is said that study was at first very difficult for the boy; but he applied with childlike confidence to that light of knowledge, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and, to the astonishment of his teachers and classmates, was soon at the head of the class. At seventeen he resolved to become a priest. He made his theological studies in the seminary of Asti, where he was ordained priest on June 8, 1811. After a short but very successful career in Cornegliano, Cottolengo went to Turin to obtain the degree of Doctor of Theology. After receiving this dignity he joined the “Corpus Domini/’ a congregation of secular priests, and was made a canon of the church of the Holy Trinity.

In all large cities there is a great amount of misery, both spiritual and corporal, and Cottolengo soon found how plentiful it was in Turin. One day he was called to a sick woman who, with her little children, was in sad destitution. She had been refused admission at all the hospitals. Cottolengo’s heart was deeply moved. At once his plan was resolved on. A hospital must be founded where such forlorn creatures could find a refuge. He first asked light and strength in prayer, and then went to work at once. He hired a small house, to which a benevolent lady donated four beds. This was the beginning of the foundation which he called “La Piccola Casa della Divina Providensa” “The Little House of Divine Providence.” A physician and a pharmacist voluntarily offered their services. Patients applied in increasing numbers. He had to hire more room. He obtained women to attend the female patients and men for the men. The former he called “Ladies of Christian Charity”; the latter, “Brothers of Saint Vincent.” The work continually grew in extent, and with it Cottolengo’s enterprise and confidence in God increased daily.

But the storm did not fail to come. Among his colleagues he found vehement opponents who considered him rash and extravagant. When the cholera broke out in Turin in 1831, the neighbors, fearing infection, induced the government to close the Piccola Casa. Cottolengo pleasantly remarked: “In my country they say that cabbage thrives better if it be transplanted, so I will transplant my hospital.” Before a half year had passed the apostle of charity had secured a little house in a remote quarter of the city, called Valdocco, where he began his work anew. In fact, the transplanted hospital prospered more than before. Soon there rose, beside the Piccola Casa, the House of Faith, the House of Hope, the House of Charity, and the House of Bethlehem. Each of them served a special purpose of charity. The houses of evil repute in the vicinity soon disappeared and good conduct and fear of the Lord prevailed in that formerly disreputable part of the city. At the entrance of the Piccola Casa gleamed Cottolengo’s motto: “Charitas Christi urget nos”; “The Charity of Christ presseth us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

But it was yet far from remedying every misery. “Noe’s Ark,” as Cottolengo called his work, was not yet spacious enough. Near the department for orphans he erected for boys and girls who had been neglected in spirit and in body, a “Home for good boys” and a “Home for good girls.” He provided for the future of the orphan boys who showed talent and disposition for study or for vocation to the religious state. He had long before transformed his nursing staff into religious Congregations. For girls who were too weak for the service of the sick, he founded the “Society of the Good Shepherdesses,” who were to attend to the instruction of cretins and orphans. For elderly sisters he created the “Convent of Intercession” with strict enclosure, for the purpose of helping the souls in purgatory. Soon after he organized a similar institution, “The Daughters of the Pieta,” who were to imitate the women on Calvary and pray for the dying. For those who wished to devote themselves to a severe manner of life, he introduced the rule of the Discalced Carmelites. Nor did he forget the men. Besides his Brothers of Saint Vincent, he created the “Hermits of the Holy Rosary,” who followed the rule of Saint Romuald. When fallen girls were disposed to do penance for their sins he placed them in a new establishment under the patronage of the holy penitent Thais, from whom they were called Thaidines. Five of his Carmelite Sisters were selected to develop this foundation. Finally, he added a congregation of secular priests, whose duty it was to attend to the spiritual welfare of the various foundations.

It would be wrong to think that Cottolengo was led by a blind zeal. All his works were successful. Most of them still exist. His genius for organization was wonderful. There was no disorder in his establishments – he watched over all, provided for all. What is most remarkable is that he founded all these works and kept them up with the help of charitable contri- butions alone.

Often times his purse was empty; his creditors pressed him hard; but in due time help was ever at hand and often from least expected quarters. If sometimes Providence seemed to be tardy and even to interfere, Cottolengo spent hours upon his knees and struggled with God in prayer, and never in vain. Such was his trust in God that he kept no account of receipts and expenses. In his enterprises he never considered his material resources, but only the needs of his fellowman. Of course, he knew that the fountain whence he drew help would never run dry. It was the treasure of an all-beneficent Providence. If any one wondered at his great success he used to say that it was simply a clear proof that Providence, not Cottolengo, was the founder and director of these works, and that he knew himself to be a bungler.

It would carry us too far were we to do more than mention Cottolengo’s heroic spirit of faith, his extraordinary humility and mortification, his ecstasies, his familiar converse with the Queen of Heaven and with the saints, his wonderful knowledge of consciences, and the spiritual and corporal cures he effected. All who dwelt in his institutions had their lives sweetened by the great charity with which they were treated.

When new patients arrived, the founder himself, if possible, cordially welcomed them at the door. He conversed with all like an affectionate father, and their greatest joy was to have him appear among them. It did not need long converse with him to feel that one was dealing with a saint. His fame spread throughout the world. Gregory XVI sent him a Brief full of praise and thanks. King Charles Albert of Savoy was his intimate friend. Even the Marquis Cavour, Syndic of Turin and father of the statesman Camillo Cavour, every year sent him a gift of wine on the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul. The French Academy, learning of him from Baron Monyton, once voted him the prize of virtue and solemnly presented him with it through King Charles Albert. Cottolengo replied that he considered it not an honor for himself but a recognition of Divine Providence which accomplished everything in his institutions. The street leading to the Piccola Casa bears to-day the name of Cottolengo.

The strength of the holy man had broken down in the service of charity toward his neighbor and he clearly saw his end approaching. The physicians ordered a sojourn in the country. When leaving, he gave “his blessing to all and bade them be cheerful in the Lord and full of trust in Divine Providence. He said to a Sister who anticipated misfortune: “Be at peace. When I am in heaven, where everything is possible, I will help you more than ever. I will hold fast to the cloak of the Mother of God and never turn my eyes away from you.” Scarcely had Cottolengo reached his brother’s house in Chieri when his condition grew worse. He received the last sacraments with great devotion. No care disquieted him – on the contrary, he jwas now serenity itself. While they were saying the prayers for the dying, he said softly: “My Mother Mary.” Then he raised his voice: “Laetatus sum in his qua dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibitnus,” “I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 121:1). The next moment this father of the poor and the orphan was no more. It was on the evening of 20 April 1842. Cottolengo had not yet completed his fifty-sixth year. King Charles Albert wept at the loss of such a friend and Gregory XVI exclaimed “Turin has lost a saint.” God has glorified Cottolengo since his death with so many miracles that we may expect his beatification in a short time.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Venerable Joseph Benedict Cottolengo”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 February 2018. Web. 24 February 2018. <>

The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Louis Mary Baudouin

Venerable Louis-Marie BaudouinThe Venerable Louis Mary Baudouin won for himself the name of an apostle of loyal La Vendee. His early years were quietly and peacefully spent in the bosom of his deeply religious family at Montaigu in La Vendee and in the seminary at Lugon. But he had hardly been ordained priest when the terrible tempest broke forth which demanded of him the martyrs courage. In fact, Baudouin was the first priest imprisoned by the revolutionists in the diocese of Lugon. He had refused the oath of the new constitution and had dared energetically to resist an apostate who pretended to be bishop of Lugon. This was only the beginning of afflictions. In 1792, Baudouin, along with several other priests, was banished to Spain. Their life in exile was very hard. They were often obliged to change their abode, to live on alms, and had no occupation suitable to their calling. The ever dreadful tidings that came from their native land quite robbed them of every joy and consolation and we read that many of these noble and faithful priests became ill from sheer heaviness of heart.

The thought of the misery of so many souls and of the faithful Vendeans, who were deprived of all priestly services, gave Baudouin no rest. Disguised as a laborer he crossed the Pyrenees in July, 1797, and in Bordeaux found good friends who took him aboard a ship and brought him safely to La Vendee. The fugitive found a hiding-place in the house of a rich lady at Les Sables d’Olonne. Here he remained concealed for three years, praying continually that Heaven might have mercy upon his poor country. Only in the darkness of night could he exercise his ministry. Like the Christians in the catacombs, so here the few faithful were often surprised by an unexpected visit during the celebration of the Holy Mysteries. Many a time it seemed a miracle that the priest escaped the bailiffs.

Finally, about the middle of 1800, the First Consul permitted the free exercise of the Christian religion. There was plenty of work for the zealous priest. The people had experienced how empty and disconsolate they could be when the churches were closed or burned down, when the sacraments were no longer administered and the sublime truths of religion no longer preached. The good Vendeans everywhere called for priests, but these were very few. Pere Baudouin accomplished superhuman deeds. For eight or nine years there had been no public First Communion, no Church Wedding, no Baptism, no Confession. He tried to restore all. The crimes of the Revolution, moreover, had brutalized many and had opened the way to evil customs. It is not strange, then, that the zeal of God’s servant met with resistance. His life was more than once in the greatest peril. But his unselfish charity and patience conquered everything. He went from house to house seeking all who might not be reconciled to the Church. Chavagnes, where he lived as pastor after 1801, venerated him as a saint.

Baudouin saw that it was above all necessary to educate the young in Christian principles. But competent teachers were altogether wanting. So, assisted by a former nun, he founded a congregation of women for the education of girls. He named it the “Ursulines of Jesus,” commonly known as the Ursulines of Chavagnes. It grew rapidly and later spread into North America, Africa, and China. The training of a clergy had also to be provided for, because the Revolution had destroyed all institutions for the education of priests. Trusting in Providence, he started, in 1802, a little seminary in his parish. In this enterprise the hand of God was visibly manifest. Unfortunately, in 1812, it was closed for a time by command of the government, which forbade private institutions of the kind. Baudouin, who had proved himself an able educator, was appointed superior of the great Seminary of La Rochelle. When his native diocese of Lu^on was afterward re-established, he was sent there to fill the same office. But his activity extended over the whole diocese; he took care of schools, religious establishments, the holding of missions, and many works of importance.

Broken down by his many labors, he retired to his beloved seminary of Chavagnes, which, to his joy, had been re-established. He was always happiest when among these lighthearted boys, whom he so well understood. There, on 12 February 1835, he died a holy death. He was always distinguished by his extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Virgin, especially in the Immaculate Conception. It is touching to read how familiar and intimate were his dealings with Our Blessed Mother. During his active life he founded several pious institutions; in Spain, a society of Mary among the banished priests; at Les Sables d’Alonne, a union for the propagation of devotion to the Immaculate Conception; and later, in Chavagnes, a congregation of secular priests under the title “Society of the Children of Mary,” whose purpose was to give instruction in little seminaries and to give missions to the country folk. His biographer narrates many miraculous cures which were wrought even within recent years. May it please God to hasten his beatification.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Venerable Louis Mary Baudouin”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 February 2018. Web. 24 February 2018. <>

The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable André Soulas

Father André SoulasA contemporary of the Cure of Ars in southern France, the Venerable Andrew Soulas, also won the renown of perfect holiness. He was born at Viols-le-Fort near Montpellier on 25 February 1808. As a boy he was beloved by all for his modesty, and even at this period of his life he is said to have worked miracles. To the consternation of his mother he often donated his shoes, clothing, food, and so on, to the poor. When called to account, he said: “I can wear my older brother’s shoes, they do not suit him any more. A life of Saint Vincent de Paul, given to him by his pastor, afforded him inexpressible joy and aroused in him the desire of becoming an apostle of the poor. He began his studies at the parish house, but had to interrupt them because his parents were unable to provide for his support. Andrew then betook himself to the Blessed Virgin with tearful prayer. His prayers were heard.

In the seminary he distinguished himself by his notable gift of eloquence. In a sermon on hell he spoke so fervently that the president and students interrupted their meal to listen and were moved to tears. On this account the preparation of the children in the city for first communion was confided to him and his superiors occasionally employed him in giving sermons and religious instructions.

The chief characteristic of the life of this servant of God was magnanimity. Every noble trait he found in the lives of the saints he was bound to imitate. So when he was ordained in 1835, he desired to devote himself to the foreign missions. But his bishop, hoping great profit for his own diocese from the young priest, refused the permission. Soulas at first labored in Salvetat and Montpellier. Then he was sent to give missions to the people in the diocese of Montpellier. The result exceeded all expectations. Later his missionary activity extended over the whole south of France.

This external labor did not hinder his intimate intercourse with God. As a boy, he had delighted in prayer and always visited the church on his way home from school. His companions styled him “the saint.” As a priest he spent whole nights before the Tabernacle. At Holy Mass in particular his countenance glowed with devotion. Two priests had gone astray. He did penance for them and by his prayers obtained their conversion. His favorite saints throughout life were Saint John Francis Regis and Saint Aloysius. A Congregation of Sisters for the service of the sick and orphans owes its foundation to him. When the zealous missionary died, 4 May 1857, all Montpellier was stirred; and both great and small, noble and lowly, made haste to see his body. The streets through which the funeral procession was to pass were crowded for hours. The process of beatification already begun brings to light very numerous and remarkable miracles performed by the Venerable Soulas both during his life and after his death.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Venerable André Soulas”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 February 2018. Web. 24 February 2018. <>

The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Blessed John Baptist Vianney

statue of Saint John Mary Vianney, sculptor unknown, Saint John Marie Vianney Retreat House, Norzagaray, Bulacan, Philippines; swiped off the flickr account of dcfdelacruzThe Blessed John Baptist Vianney, parish priest of Ars, is certainly one of the noblest figures among the saints of the nineteenth century. If one would know holiness in all its charms, in its ineffable gentleness and amiability, let him read the life of this illustrious ornament of the French clergy. The supernatural power revealed in him is so grand and so clearly manifest that only the ill-disposed can deny it.

John Baptist Vianney, born 8 May 1786, in the village of Dardilly, near Lyons, was the son of simple peasants. Grace attracted him heavenward from the beginning. Reason had hardly dawned in him when it turned toward God. The boy of three or four years was often found praying in some secluded corner of the house. When, at the age of seven, he was sent to tend the cows, he was able to spend almost the entire day in the sweetness of prayer. Even then he gave promise of his future calling. He used to gather the shepherd boys of the neighborhood around him from time to time and give them a little exhortation on the duty of avoiding evil and of persevering in good. He had always before his eyes the best example in his parents, who were models of piety and were most careful to preserve their children from every taint of evil.

Then came the French Revolution, closing the churches and expelling the priests. Blessed John received his first Holy Communion in a barn during the darkness of night. Finally, in 1803 a priest, the zealous Charles Bailey, was appointed to Ecully, about three miles from Dardilly. His attention was soon attracted to the virtuous John Vianney. He offered to help John to become a priest. The young man gladly agreed, lodged with relations at Ecully and began to learn Latin. He was then seventeen years old, but had had scarcely any schooling. Study, therefore, proved very difficult for him, for his natural talent appeared to be rather poor. But his tutor, convinced that this upright and innocent youth would serve the Church well by his holiness, if not by his learning, did not lose patience. Vianney sought help from God and vowed a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint John Francis Regis at Lalouvesc. While he advanced steadily but slowly in his studies, it brought him many humiliations. In the little seminary of Verrieres he had to suffer much from his fellow-students and he failed in his examination for entrance into the great seminary of Lyons. It was only through the intercession of his tutor Bailey that he was granted a second examination and admission to the seminary. On 9 August 1815, the end was at last attained. Vianney was a priest. His former teacher, Father Bailey, asked to have him for an assistant. Ecully rejoiced, for it already knew the profound piety and modesty of the newly-ordained priest. Vianney’s good sense in the direction of souls soon showed itself. His zeal was prodigious but not indiscreet or excessive, and he began at once to achieve noble triumphs.

At the beginning of February, 1818, Vianney was appointed parish priest of Ars. The vicar-general said to him: “My friend, you are pastor of Ars. It is a small parish where there is little love for God. Bring it to them. Ars was in bad repute and not without reason. Even among the good attendance at divine service and the reception of the sacraments were limited to what was just necessary. The rest sometimes attended, but only exteriorly. Dissolute pleasure-seeking allowed religion only scant existence.

Still all admired the edifying example of the new pastor in the church and in his humble and modest manner of life. If the sheep did not come to the shepherd the shepherd sought out the sheep. Vianney went from house to house, showed interest in their welfare and their troubles and spoke kinds words of encouragement and consolation. In this way the ice was broken. Sunday after Sunday more came to church, They ventured even to approach the sacraments outside the great feasts. Those who had once experienced in confession what gentleness flowed from the heart of the priest and how refreshing were his words, soon came again. With his heart glowing with love and speaking as only saints can speak he preached on God, death, heaven, hell, and on the Blessed Sacrament so movingly that from eyes which on like occasions had never wept there welled up fountains of tears. In the whole village only one voice was heard: “Our pastor is a saint.” In the course of time no one could escape the influence of his personality. It was indeed a long struggle and many years passed before all hearts were conquered, for the love of pleasure made a most stubborn resistance.

The news of this change in Ars and of the holiness of its pastor soon spread throughout the neighboring country round about, penetrating at length to the limits of France and thence abroad. Every day the roads that led to Ars brought greater pilgrimages. Monnin says of them: “These pilgrimages, which went on for more than thirty years with extraordinarily great crowds and under exceptional circumstances, will fill a large page in Christian annals. They give the monograph we now publish a color so living and original, a framing so splendid, that it seems to be poetry as well as history. We find here on a large scale all those wonders with which our ancient hagiographers loved to adorn their narratives. But we have no mythical antiquity before us and no one can find excuse for the belief that our history of this man who is still our contemporary will show any trace of fanciful or exaggerated elaboration. It is a history of our own time which can bring forward witnesses to its truth by thousands and hundreds of thousands, yet we find in it all that we marvel at in the legends of the past – all that in our own day we may regard as extraordinary heroism, perfect mortification, wonderful self-denial, incomparable humility, boundless love of God and our neighbor, and a dominion over souls – a power to draw them from afar, to move them, to convert and to gain them for heaven; and further, as if in proof of this spiritual dominion, a miraculous power over nature, the power to change the ordinary course of things, to heal bodily diseases, to read the depths of conscience as an open book, to foretell the future – in a word, he possessed the miraculous gift of knowledge and of power. This does not constitute, it is true, what is most sublime in the lives of the saints, but it is most convincing with the people – one of them told us: ‘Before I came to Ars and saw the good Father [so the pilgrims used to call our saint], I found it hard to believe all that is related in the lives of the saints. Much in them seemed to me impossible. But now I believe it all, for I have seen all those things with my own eyes and even more!’

In fact, Ars proved to be a constant miracle. Men could not say precisely what it was that attracted these vast crowds from near and far. They saw only a poor little church and a poorly-clad priest. Yet they stood there close-thronged and waited patiently two or three days to confess to him and to listen to his simple catechism, which powerfully stirred their consciences. Many came out of mere curiosity, but on these, too, fell the rays of grace. They could not resist going in and confessing their sins to the holy priest. To these wonders of grace were added the most astonishing cures of the sick, which he effected through the intercession of Saint Philomena, and his wise admonitions, which were certainly inspired by divine enlightenment.

These labors demanded of him the heaviest personal sacrifices. He could hardly allow himself one or two hours of rest at night. A little after midnight he hurried to the confessional, there to remain the whole day except during the times of Mass, of the brief instruction, and of his very scanty meal. One can not understand whence he derived the physical strength for such uninterrupted exertions. Still, not satisfied with all this, he afflicted his body with the severest penances, and it pleased God to send him the most grievous interior trials. His combats with the evil one, which are verified by the best authorities, remind us of what Saint Athanasius relates of the hermit Anthony.

All that is related of the gifts of grace and the fullness of virtue possessed by the holy Cure of Ars and of the wonderful cures and conversions wrought by him, is full of consolation. What faith teaches of the power, the beauty, and the grandeur of the soul of the just man was embodied in him. Vianney was to be set against the unbelieving spirit of the age as a visible proof of the truth of Christian teaching.

On 29 July 1859, the Cure, then seventy-three years of age, had been, as usual, for sixteen or seventeen hours in the confessional, and there his strength suddenly gave way. On the morning of the fourth of August his soul took its flight to heaven while Abbe Monnin was reciting the prayer of the dying: “Veniant Mi obviam sancti angeli Dei et perducant eum in civitatem coelestem Jerusalem.” (“May the holy angels of God meet him and guide him into the city of the heavenly Jerusalem.”) But his influence was not ended with his death. All Christendom rejoiced when Pius X, on 8 January 1905, numbered this ideal pastor of souls among the beatified.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Blessed John Baptist Vianney”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 February 2018. Web. 24 February 2018. <>

The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Anastasius Hartmann

Venerable Anastasius HartmannIn the footsteps of Xavier walked the Swiss Capuchin, Anastasius Hartmann. And it was Xavier’s spirit, too, that breathed in the soul of this far-sighted, self-denying, and bitterly tried missionary bishop. If the missionary life in itself is beset with privations, it was doubly so for Bishop Hartmann, since he had not only to contend against the blind specter of heathenism but also with the fanatical passions of a schism that threatened to rend his flock. But the desire to spread God’s kingdom was too deep-rooted in the servant of God to permit him to grow disheartened and feeble in this harassing strife or to be moved to unjust concessions.

Anastasius Hartmann was born on 24 February 1803, at Altwis, in the parish of Hitzkirch in the canton of Lucerne, studied at Solothurn and when eighteen years old joined the Capuchins at Baden in Aargau. Though still a young religious he filled with gteat success the offices of professor, novice-master, and missionary in his own country. His superiors would not gratify his desire for the heathen missions chiefly because the Swiss province of the Capuchins had no mission-field of its own. But in 1841 Father Anastasius presented a petition so eloquent and so inspired with burning zeal that his superiors no longer made objection to this clearly declared vocation.

After two years spent in Rome preparing for mission life Father Hartmann was sent to the vicariate-apostolic of Agra, in British India. He so fully met the expectations of his superiors that before two years had passed he was made titular bishop of Derbe and was appointed the first vicar-apostolic of Patna on the Ganges in West Bengal.

The heathen population of this new mission-district was not less than thirty-seven millions, with about four thousand Christians who had remained loyal. Formerly there had been a flourishing Christian community in Patna, but it gradually fell away. “I began to weep like a child,” writes Bishop Hartmann when he beheld upon his arrival the horror of desolation. But he was a man of deeds and did not despair, although, having but four missionaries under him, he was almost without assistance. Exerting all his powers, he organized his extensive diocese, studied the conditions on the spot and obtained money and new auxiliaries from Europe. The unwearying shepherd was almost continuously engaged in pastoral journeys which, being in the Tropics and with poor means of intercommunication, were extremely painful. The bishop had hardly begun to reap the first fruits of his activity when the confidence of the Apostolic See called him to another field of labor. In spite of the papal Bulls, the archbishop of Goa claimed jurisdiction over the whole of India. The schism arising from these pretensions found most of its adherents in the Presidency of Bombay – principally a portion of the clergy who stirred up disobedience to Rome by word and evample. In the year 1850 Bishop Hartmann was given charge of the vicariate of Bombay that he might try to reconcile the schismatics with the Church. But at his arrival, party hatred broke forth with violence. The schismatical priests, for the greater part uneducated men who had been hurriedly ordained in Goa, left no means untried to pervert the people. They succeeded in stirring up even the Irish colonists against the bishop. The press incessantly declaimed against the legitimate pastor. He found it necessary to start a newspaper of his own to defend the cause of the Church – “The Bombay Catholic Examiner,” which remains to this day one of the best advocates of the good cause in India. For a while Bishop Hartmann was himself obliged to assume the editorship. Three Goanese priests, who had treacherously deceived the bishop, were the soul of the schismatical movement. Once he was on the point of martyrdom. The schismatics had held him prisoner in a tightly closed church for eight days and nights during a time of extreme heat in order to make him surrender. He was almost dead of hunger and thirst when help arrived from Bombay. But by his tenacious constancy, prudent management, and charitable patience he broke the storm of schism. He had, of course, to pay the price in all the insults and injuries of which the hatred of apostates alone is capable. But the courage of the confessor was on this account all the more admired by the Christian nations of the West.

He had much also to endure from the British-Indian government in the defense of the rights of his flock. Protestant proselytism among Catholics was favored by the government in every way possible, especially by grants of money. So, too, was the schismatical movement much encouraged by the official body. At all times the undaunted confessor paid special attention to the foundation and improvement of schools and educational institutions. For this purpose he called the Jesuits to Bombay in 1851, to begin there an establishment for higher education. Much weakened by incessant suffering and hardship, the bishop in 1856 made a journey to Europe. After protracted negotiations with the Propaganda, an entire transfer of the Bombay mission to the Jesuits was effected. The physicians forbade Bishop Hartmann’s return to the Indies, so he resigned his vicariate and assumed charge of the mission college of his Order in Rome. As soon as his health was restored, however, he was obliged again to take up the apostle’s staff and for the second time to govern the vicariate of Patna. This had been frightfully devastated during the Sepoy rebellion (1857) and it was believed that the surest remedy for the evils done lay in the well-known efficiency and prudence of Hartmann. The venerable bishop set to work among the ruins of his vicariate with the enthusiastic zeal of a young missionary. For nearly six years, undeterred by any sacrifice or by any labor, he consecrated his remaining strength to the work. His love of immortal souls gave him no time for rest. In the midst of his labors and during a toilsome journey, the dreadful visitor of the Indies, cholera, came and bore him away on 26 April 1866.

A great life had come to an end. In spite of his love for exterior labors, the servant of God did not forget to work for the perfection of his interior life. The inner life of faith was the renewing source of his never failing courage. A heartfelt confidence in God, devout prayer, sincere humility and mortification, and his remarkable mildness were the weapons of his success. All who were well acquainted with him saw in him the type of a perfect missionary.

Bishop Hartmann was also unwearyingly active with his pen in the cause of Christ. Besides publishing many articles in the “Bombay Catholic Examiner” he was the author of a whole series of ascetical, philosophical, and theological treatises, of many translations into the Hindu language and of a grammar of the same.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Anastasius Hartmann”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 February 2018. Web. 24 February 2018. <>

The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Justin de Jacobis

detail from an Italian holy card of Saint JustinAnother true vir apostolicus was the Venerable Justin de Jacobis, Lazarist, bishop of Nicopolis. Justin, born on October 9, 1800, at San Fele, a town near Melfi, in the province of Potenza, Italy, had the fiery temperament of the genuine Southerner. But his pious parents knew how to inspire his lively spirit with the beauty of true ideals alone. At eighteen he joined the Lazarists in Naples, became priest in 1824, then superior in Lecce and finally novice-master. His sermons had great power in attracting souls. They were, indeed, very simple and without rhetorical display, but they came from the heart and therefore went to the heart. They had that supernatural persuasiveness which is peculiar to the words of the saints and this is why they worked such astonishing conversions. It was a great joy to the servant of God when in 1839 the ardent longing of his youth to preach the Gospel to the pagans was brought to fulfillment. He was sent to Abyssinia as prefect-apostolic. God’s blessing rested visibly on his labors; many heretics returned to the Church. When he was appointed bishop of Nicopolis in 1847, he refused for fourteen months to accept this dignity and afterward he sought when possible to conceal the insignia of his rank.

By the contrivance of the schismatical bishop, the prefect-apostolic was put in fetters and imprisoned by the emperor Theodore. Such was his reputation for holiness, however, that the tyrant dared not put him to death, and five months later, still in chains, he was transported across the frontier. But it was not long before the pastor returned to his flock. He took up his abode in a secluded village and journeyed unweariedly to find his scattered sheep. His death was quite like that of his great model, Saint Francis Xavier. He died on 31 July 1860, during one of his apostolic journeys, under the shade of a tree in a vast plain, his head resting upon a stone. Even the heretics and the Mohammedans disputed for his body. Remarkable miracles occurred when his remains were brought away in the year 1889. The preliminary process is surpassingly rich in miracles. The apostolic process began in 1905.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Venerable Justin de Jacobis”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 February 2018. Web. 24 February 2018. <>

The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Anthony Mary Claret y Clara

Saint Anthony Mary Claret y ClaraSalient, high in the Pyrenees near the frontier of France and not far from grace-bestowing Lourdes, is the birthplace of an archbishop whose holy life may soon receive the acknowledgment of the Church. Anthony Mary Claret y Clara, archbishop of Santiago de Cuba and afterward of Trajanopolis, was born into this world on December 23, 1807. His parents were poor weavers, obliged to work hard the whole day long to provide for their family. But they possessed great riches in their profoundly religious spirit. The father insisted on his children’s going to Mass every morning. He recited the Rosary every day with his workmen and apprentices and was inexorable in dismissing those whose moral conduct might be dangerous to the othfers. He had many a jeer to suffer from his neighbors on account of his piety.

The little Anthony showed himself worthy of such a father. Besides hearing Mass devoutly every morning he again visited the church in the evening to worship Our Saviour in the Blessed Sacrament. From his earliest years the Holy Eucharist and the Mother of God were the greatest attractions to his pure heart. The boys of Salient yielded an involuntary respect to the authority of Anthony Claret, who always admonished them energetically for any ill-conduct. The gifted boy had begun to learn Latin, but unfortunately his teacher soon died, and so nothing was left for him but to take up the trade of his father. He showed very great skill in the work, but he made himself still more useful by his good example and by his beneficial influence upon his fellow-workmen. The father hoped through his talented son to make the business more profitable, and, with this end in view, sent the boy with his brother to Barcelona in 1821, to perfect himself in the weaver’s art.

Claret mastered all the new inventions of the time with such facility that he was appointed foreman over the other workmen in the Barcelona factory. He took lessons, besides, in French and drawing. But his heart constantly drew him toward the priesthood; and for this reason he again applied his leisure to the study of Latin grammar. Once while bathing in the sea he narrowly escaped drowning. A great wave had surprised him and had carried him far out from the beach. In his distress he called upon Mary, and against all hope, as it seemed, one of his companions happily succeeded in saving him from the waves. This accident made a deep impression on him and he resolved for once and for all to put into effect his purpose of giving himself entirely to God. About this time his father came to Barcelona to consult with his sons about increasing his business and to inquire into the new inventions in the sphere of the textile industry. Anthony surprised his father with his unlooked-for resolution. But the father was too good a Christian to resist the pious desire of his son.

In his studies at the seminary of Vich, Anthony Claret distinguished himself so notably by the steadfastness of his character that the bishop ordained him on his name-day, 13 June 1835, some time before his fellow-students. On the feast of Saint Aloysius he celebrated his first Mass and began his first labors as assistant to the old pastor of his native town. He soon won the confidence of his neighbors. No one could resist the power of his words and in all the surrounding country he was venerated as a saint. But this field of activity was too small for the zeal of the young priest and he longed for the foreign missions. He went to Rome, made the Spiritual Exercises and applied for admission into the Society of Jesus. But he had hardly begun his novitiate when he was attacked by a disease of the foot, which forced him to leave the Order after a few months. Following the advice of his former superiors, he returned to Spain. After a brief employment in parish work, he devoted himself entirely to giving missions for the people, principally in Catalonia. What he accomplished there is almost incredible. He made his long journeys always on foot, preached three or four times a day, and was indefatigable in the confessional. His activity brought upon him the hatred and persecutions of the impious, but it won at the same time the repute of a true apostle from the good. To have able co-laborers in his mission work, he founded in 1849 a Congregation called the Sons of the Immacu- late Heart of Mary, which developed into a flourishing establishment. In 1900 it numbered sixteen hundred and seventy members distributed among fifty-six residences. By command of the papal Nuncio at Madrid, Anthony Claret accepted, in 1850, his appointment as archbishop of Santiago de Cuba. Accompanied by several priests and religious women he set out for his distant diocese. On the voyage he preached every day and brought the whole crew of the vessel, without an exception, to confession.

Sad, indeed, was the decay of religion in Cuba. But the new bishop did not despair. He went from place to place through his diocese and gave missions everywhere. The results were truly wonderful. At the end of the mission in Santiago, which lasted during the whole of Lent, the distribution of Holy Communion covered six hours. During a mission in another city he brought to their duty about four hundred couples living in concubinage. He did not forget to take precautions that these beginnings might be lasting in effect. He erected schools, provided for religious houses, and opened a seminary for the training of priests. Pius IX, who had heard of this new Spring of spiritual regeneration in Cuba, sent a letter of special approbation to Archbishop Claret, praising him for his apostolic zeal.

The enemy, however, did not lay down his arms. It was especially Claret’s successful effort against concubinage that excited the degenerate to make an attempt on the archbishop’s life. A secret plot was concocted, and an attack was made upon him which resulted in his being dangerously wounded. Prevented from efficient activity by the constant peril to his life, he asked the Pope to remove him from his archbishopric. The honorable appointment of confessor to Queen Isabella was given to him in i860. Obedience alone prevailed on him to accept this office, but he remained the same apostle as before, full of zeal for souls. He withdrew as much as possible from life at the court and instead gave missions in the churches of Madrid, soon becoming the most beloved confessor in the city. His influence with the queen, which was very great, he used only for the benefit of the poor. Whenever he was traveling with the court, he preached and taught the catechism wherever they stopped. Seeing the evil caused by bad literature, he wrote and distributed very many good pamphlets, and founded the academic society of Saint Michael for the spreading of good books.

In 1869, he went to Rome to participate in the Vatican Council. After its adjournment, he intended to seek rest for a time in the Pyrenees, but he was taken with a serious illness, and on 8 October 1870 received the reward of his tireless labors in the vineyard of the Lord. The process of his beatification was introduced in 1899.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Anthony Mary Claret y Clara”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 February 2018. Web. 24 February 2018. <>

The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Anthony Gianelli

Saint Anthony Mary GianelliThe Venerable Anthony Gianelli, bishop of Bobbio on the Trebbia, was held in high repute throughout Upper Italy. The most prominent feature of his sanctity was his unwearying zeal for souls. His natural gifts of eloquence served him greatly in this. While professor of Rhetoric in the seminary of Genoa he used his spare time in giving missions to the country folk. Later, when archpriest at Chiavari, he devoted himself entirely to this work and founded a Society of secular priests, called the Oblates of Saint Alphonsus of Liguori, for the purpose of giving missions and spiritual exercises. After his appointment as bishop of Bobbio, he verily consumed himself by his zeal in keeping far from his flock whatever might bring it harm. His life, says his biographer, recalls to mind the most amiable and consoling traits found in hagiography. Widely mourned, this distinguished bishop died in 1846, in the fifty-seventh year of his age. A Congregation of Sisters – the Daughters of Mary del Orto – founded by him when archpriest, is widely distributed throughout Italy and South America.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Venerable Anthony Gianelli”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 February 2018. Web. 24 February 2018. <>

The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Vincent Mary Strambi

Saint Vincent StrambiThe Venerable Vincent Mary Strambi, Passionist, bishop of Macerata and Tolentino, had even in his earlier years the reputation of a saint. After his ordination to the priesthood he joined the Congregation of the Passionists in 1768 and enjoyed the most intimate relations with its founder, Saint Paul of the Cross. His energy and activity contributed much to the internal unity of the Order. He became successively provincial, consultor, and general definitor. In 1801 Pius VII appointed him bishop of Macerata and Tolentino. But as bishop he still remained the same poor and mortified religious with the motto: Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi (The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ). When in 1808 he refused to take the oath of allegiance to Napoleon, which had been forbidden by the Pope, he was transported to Novara and was not permitted to return to his diocese until 1814. By the holiness of his life he exercised a wholesome influence on all who came into contact with him. When on account of old age he resigned his bishopric in 1823, Leo XII appointed him his consultor. Soon after, the Pope fell dangerously ill. Then Strambi during the sacrifice of the Mass made an offering of his life for that of the Holy Father. After Mass he went to the sick-bed of the Pope and told him that he would not die because God had accepted the sacrifice of a life for that of the Pope. And as the effect proved, the Pope recovered from that hour, but Strambi, a few days later, was called to his reward. He died on 1 January 1824, at the age of seventy-nine years.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Venerable Vincent Mary Strambi”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 February 2018. Web. 24 February 2018. <>

The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – János Hám

János HámThe Hungarian episcopate is represented by the servant of God, John Ham, bishop of Szatmar on the Szamos. He was born on 5 January 1781, in the town of Gyongyos and was the son of a tradesman of moderate means. A Franciscan priest, observing the excellent qualities of his mind and character, assisted him in his studies and remained a prudent and watchful admonitor to him during the years of his development. A few months after his ordination to the priesthood, which took place on 17 March 1804, John Ham was appointed professor of theology in the seminary of his native diocese of Erlau (Eger). He afterward became regent of the seminary and canon of the cathedral. While exercising these offices he unexpectedly received his nomination as bishop of Szatmar in 1827. A striking feature in Bishop Ham was his unaffected, deep humility. He shunned every mark of honor. He made himself the servant of all, not only of his clergy but even of his domestics. It was thus that he won the confidence of all. They knew that he did not seek his own advantage, but only the welfare of his flock. It was said that his mildness was like that of Saint Francis of Sales. If a priest, so it was remarked, received a reproof in the forenoon, he was sure to get an invitation to dinner. In the episcopal residence everything was as simple as possible. It was like the house of a religious community. The same was true of the bishop’s own life. The time was accurately distributed between prayer and work, and the whole household had to be present at appointed common prayers in the domestic chapel. “To pray more interiorly and with greater devotion than Bishop John is given to few mortals,” says his biographer. He had had for himself satisfactory experience of the blessings of prayer. His demeanor during celebration of the Holy Mass and at liturgical ceremonies made a deep impression on all. They could see how convinced he was of the sacredness of these functions. The servant of God crucified his body by severe practices of penance. On Fridays and Saturdays he ate, as a rule, only bread and fruit, and for his rest at night he rarely used a bed.

The good bishop was indefatigable in the care of the flock entrusted to him. He considered it his first duty to train up a clergy distinguished for knowledge and virtue. As far as his occupations permitted he devoted himself to preaching the word of God. Again and again he exhorted his priests not to neglect the religious instruction of the people, knowing well that the enemies of the Faith could prevail little on a people well instructed in their religion. Therefore, he contributed willingly from his own means to the erection of schools and of new parishes. In the city of Szatmar alone, not to mention other works of less importance, he founded a large institution for the education of girls, which he confided to the Sisters of Saint Vincent, a college for boys under the direction of the Jesuits, a convent of Franciscans, and a hospital of the Brothers of Charity of Saint John of God. He was, in truth, a good shepherd who had no other interest than to lead his flock into green pastures and to protect it from the attacks of the wolves.

To be sure, the enemy of all good was unceasingly at work to hinder the bishop’s activity. He was calumniated at the court in the expectation that he would be deposed. But the Catholic population, knowing the falsity of these groundless misrepresentations, stood firmly with its pastor. For a long time they had looked on him as a saint and at the blessed death of the beloved bishop, on 30 December 1857, the whole of Catholic Hungary overflowed with praise for this true successor of the apostles, whom it hopes to have as its powerful intercessor in heaven.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “János Hám”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 21 February 2018. Web. 24 February 2018. <>