Catholic Encyclopedia – Fioretti di San Francesco d’Assisi

Saint Francis of Assisi by El GrecoArticle

Little Flowers of Francis of Assisi, the name given to a classic collection of popular legends about the life of Saint Francis of Assisi and his early companions as they appeared to the Italian people at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Such a work, as Ozanam observes, can hardly be said to have one author; it is the product rather of gradual growth and must, as Sabatier remarks, remain in a certain sense anonymous, because it is national. There has been some doubt as to whether the “Fioretti” were written in Italian in the first instance, as Sbaralea thought, or were translated from a Latin original, as Wadding maintained. The latter seems altogether more probable, and modern critics generally believe that a larger Latin collection of legends, which has come down to us under the name of the “Actus B. Francisci et Sociorum Ejus’, represents an approximation to the text now lost of the original “Floretum”, of which the “Fioretti” is a translation. A striking difference is noticeable between the earlier chapters of the “Fioretti”, which refer to Saint Francis and his companions, and the later ones which deal with the friars in the province of the March of Ancona. The first half of the collection is, no doubt, merely a new form given to traditions that go back to the early days of the order; the other is believed to be substantially the work of a certain Fra Ugolino da Monte Giorgio of the noble family of Brunforte, who, at the time of his death in 1348, was provincial of the Friars Minor in the March. Living as he did a century after the death of Saint Francis, Ugolino was dependent on hearsay for much of his information; part of it he is said to have learned from Fra Giacomo da Massa who had been well known and esteemed by the companions of the saint, and who had lived on terms of intimacy with Fra Leone, his confessor and secretary. Whatever may have been the sources from which Ugolino derived his materials, the fifty-three chapters which constitute the Latin work in question seem to have been written before 1328. The four appendixes on the Stigmata of Saint Francis, the life of Fra Ginepro, and the life and the sayings of the Fra Egidio, which occupy nearly one half of the printed text of the “Fioretti”, as we now have it, form no part of the original collection and were probably added by later compilers. Unfortunately the name of the fourteenth-century Franciscan friar who translated into Italian fifty-three of the seventy-six chapters found in the “Actus B. Francisci” and in translating immortalized them as the “Fioretti”, remains unknown. The attribution of this work to Giovanni di San Lorenzo rests wholly upon conjecture. It has been surmised that the translator was a Florentine. However this may be, the vernacular version is written in the most limpid Tuscan and is reckoned among the masterpieces of Italian literature.

The “Fioretti” have been described as “the most exquisite expression of the religious life of the Middle Ages”. That perhaps which gives these legends such a peculiar charm, is what may be called their atmosphere; they breathe all the delicious fragrance of the early Franciscan spirit. Nowhere can there be found a more childlike faith, a livelier sense of the supernatural, or a simpler literalness in the following Christ than in the pages of the “Fioretti”, which more than any other work transport us to the scenes amid which Saint Francis and his first followers live, and enable us to see them as they saw themselves.

These legends, moreover, bear precious witness to the vitality and enthusiasm with which the memory of the life and teaching of the Poverello was preserved, and they contain much more history, as distinct from mere poetry, than it was customary to recognize when Suyskens and Papini wrote. In Italy the “Fioretti” have always enjoyed an extraordinary popularity; indeed, this liber aureus is said to have been more widely read there than any book, not excepting even the Bible or the Divine Comedy. Certain it is that the “Fioretti” have exercised an immense influence forming in the popular conception of Saint Francis and his companions. The earliest known manuscript of the “Fioretti”, now preserved at Berlin, is dated 1390; the work was first printed at Vicenza in 1476. Manzoni has collected many interesting details about the wellnigh innumerable codices and editions of the “Fioretti”. The best edition for the general reader is unquestionably that of Father Antonio Cesari (Verona, 1822) which is based on the epoch-making edition of Filippo Buonarroti (Florence, 1718). The Crusca quote from this edition which has been often reprinted. The “Fioretti” have been translated into nearly every European language and in our day are being much read and studied in Northern countries. There are several well-known English versions.

MLA Citation

  • Paschal Robinson. “Fioretti di San Francesco d’Assisi”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2018. Web. 21 October 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Pope Eugene II

Pope Eugene IIArticle

Elected 6 June 824; died 27 Augustu 827. On the death of Pascal I (February-May 824) there took place a divided election. The late pope had wisely endeavoured to curb the rapidly increasing power of the Roman nobility, who, to strengthen their positions against him, had turned for support to the Frankish power. When he died these nobles made strenuous efforts to replace him by a candidate of their own; and despite the fact that the clergy put forward a candidate likely to continue the policy of Paschal the nobles were successful in their attempt. They secured the consecration of Eugene, archpriest of S. Sabina on the Aventine, although by a decree of the Roman Council of 769, under Stephen IV, they had no right to a real share in a papal election. Their candidate is stated, in earlier editions of the “Liber Pontificalis” to have been the son of Boemund; but in the recent and better editions his father’s name is not given. Whilst archpriest of the Roman Church he is credited with having fulfilled most conscientiously the duties of his position and after he became pope he beautified his ancient church of S. Sabina with mosaics and with metal work bearing his name, which were intact in the sixteenth century. Eugene is described by his biographer as simple and humble, learned and eloquent, handsome and generous, a lover of peace, and wholly occupied with the thought of doing what was pleasing to God.

The election of Eugene II was a triumph for the Franks, and they resolved to improve the occasion. Emperor Louis the Pious accordingly sent his son Lothair to Rome to strengthen the Frankish influence. Those of the Roman nobles who had been banished during the preceding reign, and who had fled to Frankland (Francia), were recalled, and their property was restored to them. A concordat or constitution was then agreed upon between the pope and the emperor (824). The “Constitutio Romana”, in nine articles, was drawn up seemingly with a view of advancing the imperial pretensions in the city of Rome, but at the same time of checking the power of the nobles. It decreed that those who were under the special protection of the pope or emperor were to be inviolable, and that proper obedience be rendered to the pope and his officials; that church property be not plundered after the death of a pope; that only those to whom the right had been given by the deceased Stephen IV, in 769, should take part in papal elections; that two commissioners (missi) were to be appointed, the one by the pope and the other by the emperor, who should report to them how justice was administered, so that any failure in the administration might be corrected by the pope, or, in the event of his not doing so, by the emperor; that the people should be judged according to the law (Roman, Salic, or Lombard) they had elected to live under; that its property be restored to the Church; that robbery with violence be put down; that when the emperor was in Rome the chief officials should appear before him to be admonished to do their duty; and, finally, that all must obey the Roman pontiff. By command of the pope and Lothair the people had to swear that, saving the fidelity they had promised the pope, they would obey the Emperors Louis and Lothair; would not allow a papal election to be made contrary to the canons; and would not suffer the pope-elect to be consecrated save in the presence of the emperor’s envoys.

Seemingly before Lothair left Rome, there arrived ambassadors from Emperor Louis, and from the Greeks concerning the image-question. At first the Greek emperor, Michael II, showed himself tolerant towards the image-worshippers, and their great champion, Theodore the Studite, wrote to him to exhort him “to unite us [the Church of Constantinople] to the head of the Churches of God, viz. Rome, and through it with the three Patriarchs”; and in accordance with ancient custom to refer any doubtful points to the decision of Old Rome. But Michael soon forgot his tolerance, bitterly persecuted the image-worshippers, and endeavoured to secure the co-operation of Louis the Pious. He also sent envoys to the pope to consult him on certain points connected with the worship of images (Einhard, Annales, 824). Before taking any steps to meet the wishes of Michael, Louis sent to ask the pope’s permission for a number of his bishops to assemble, and make a selection of passages from the Fathers to elucidate the question the Greeks had put before them. The leave was granted, but the bishops who met at Paris (825) were incompetent for their work. Their collection of extracts from the Fathers was a mass of confused and ill-digested lore, and both their conclusions and the letters they wished the pope to forward to the Greeks were based on a complete misunderstanding of the decrees of the Second Council of Nicæa. Their labours do not appear to have accomplished much; nothing at any rate is known of their consequences.

In 826 Eugene held an important council at Rome of sixty-two bishops, in which thirty-eight disciplinary decrees were issued. One or two of its decrees are noteworthy as showing that Eugene had at heart the advance of learning. Not only were ignorant bishops and priests to be suspended till they had acquired sufficient learning to perform their sacred duties, but it was decreed that, as in some localities there were neither masters nor zeal for learning, masters were to be attached to the episcopal palaces, cathedral churches and other places, to give instruction in sacred and polite literature (can. xxxiv). To help in the work of the conversion of the North, Eugene wrote commending Saint Ansgar, the Apostle of the Scandinavians, and his companions “to all the sons of the Catholic Church” (Jaffé, 2564). Coins of this pope are extant bearing his name and that of Emperor Louis. It is supposed, for no document records the fact, that, in accordance with the custom of the time, he was buried in Saint Peter’s.

MLA Citation

  • Horace Mann. “Pope Eugene II”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2018. Web. 21 October 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist


The real presence as a fact

According to the teaching of theology a revealed fact can be proved solely by recurrence to the sources of faith, viz. Scripture and Tradition, with which is also bound up the infallible magisterium of the Church.

Proof from Scripture

This may be adduced both from the words of promise (John 6:26 sqq.) and, especially, from the words of Institution as recorded in the Synoptics and Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 11:23 sqq.).

The words of promise (John 6)

By the miracles of the loaves and fishes and the walking upon the waters, on the previous day, Christ not only prepared His hearers for the sublime discourse containing the promise of the Eucharist, but also proved to them that He possessed, as Almighty God-man, a power superior to and independent of the laws of nature, and could, therefore, provide such a supernatural food, none other, in fact, than His own Flesh and Blood. This discourse was delivered at Capharnaum (John 6:26-72), and is divided into two distinct parts, about the relation of which Catholic exegetes vary in opinion. Nothing hinders our interpreting the first part [John 6:26-48 (51)] metaphorically and understanding by “bread of heaven” Christ Himself as the object of faith, to be received in a figurative sense as a spiritual food by the mouth of faith. Such a figurative explanation of the second part of the discourse (John 6:52-72), however, is not only unusual but absolutely impossible, as even Protestant exegetes (Delitzsch, Kostlin, Keil, Kahnis, and others) readily concede. First of all the whole structure of the discourse of promise demands a literal interpretation of the words: “eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood”. For Christ mentions a threefold food in His address, the manna of the past (John 6:31, 32, 49,, 59), the heavenly bread of the present (John 6:32 sq.), and the Bread of Life of the future (John 6:27, 52). Corresponding to the three kinds of food and the three periods, there are as many dispensers — Moses dispensing the manna, the Father nourishing man’s faith in the Son of God made flesh, finally Christ giving His own Flesh and Blood. Although the manna, a type of the Eucharist, was indeed eaten with the mouth, it could not, being a transitory food, ward off death. The second food, that offered by the Heavenly Father, is the bread of heaven, which He dispenses hic et nunc to the Jews for their spiritual nourishment, inasmuch as by reason of the Incarnation He holds up His Son to them as the object of their faith. If, however, the third kind of food, which Christ Himself promises to give only at a future time, is a new refection, differing from the last-named food of faith, it can be none other than His true Flesh and Blood, to be really eaten and drunk in Holy Communion. This is why Christ was so ready to use the realistic expression “to chew” (John 6:54, 56, 58: trogein) when speaking of this, His Bread of Life, in addition to the phrase, “to eat” (John 6:51, 53: phagein). Cardinal Bellarmine (De Euchar., I, 3), moreover, calls attention to the fact, and rightly so, that if in Christ’s mind the manna was a figure of the Eucharist, the latter must have been something more than merely blessed bread, as otherwise the prototype would not substantially excel the type. The same holds true of the other figures of the Eucharist, as the bread and wine offered by Melchisedech, the loaves of proposition (panes propositionis), the paschal lamb. The impossibility of a figurative interpretation is brought home more forcibly by an analysis of the following text: “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6:54-56). It is true that even among the Semites, and in Scripture itself, the phrase, “to eat some one’s flesh”, has a figurative meaning, namely, “to persecute, to bitterly hate some one”. If, then, the words of Jesus are to be taken figuratively, it would appear that Christ had promised to His enemies eternal life and a glorious resurrection in recompense for the injuries and persecutions directed against Him. The other phrase, “to drink some one’s blood”, in Scripture, especially, has no other figurative meaning than that of dire chastisement (cf. Isaiah 49:26; Apocalypse 16:6); but, in the present text, this interpretation is just as impossible here as in the phrase, “to eat some one’s flesh”. Consequently, eating and drinking are to be understood of the actual partaking of Christ in person, hence literally.

This interpretation agrees perfectly with the conduct of the hearers and the attitude of Christ regarding their doubts and objections. Again, the murmuring of the Jews is the clearest evidence that they had understood the preceding words of Jesus literally (John 6:53). Yet far from repudiating this construction as a gross misunderstanding, Christ repeated them in a most solemn manner, in John (6:54 sqq.). In consequence, many of His Disciples were scandalized and said: “This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” (John 6:61); but instead of retracting what He had said, Christ rather reproached them for their want of faith, by alluding to His sublimer origin and His future Ascension into heaven. And without further ado He allowed these Disciples to go their way (John 6:62 sqq.). Finally He turned to His twelve Apostles with the question: “Will you also go away?

Then Peter stepped forth and with humble faith replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God” (John 6:68 sqq.). The entire scene of the discourse and murmurings against it proves that the Zwinglian and Anglican interpretation of the passage, “It is the spirit that quickeneth”, etc., in the sense of a glossing over or retractation, is wholly inadmissible. For in spite of these words the Disciples severed their connection with Jesus, while the Twelve accepted with simple faith a mystery which as yet they did not understand. Nor did Christ say: “My flesh is spirit”, i.e. to be understood in a figurative sense, but: “My words are spirit and life”. There are two views regarding the sense in which this text is to be interpreted. Many of the Fathers declare that the true Flesh of Jesus (sarx) is not to be understood as separated from His Divinity (spiritus), and hence not in a cannibalistic sense, but as belonging entirely to the supernatural economy. The second and more scientific explanation asserts that in the Scriptural opposition of “flesh and blood” to “spirit”, the former always signifies carnal-mindedness, the latter mental perception illumined by faith, so that it was the intention of Jesus in this passage to give prominence to the fact that the sublime mystery of the Eucharist can be grasped in the light of supernatural faith alone, whereas it cannot be understood by the carnal-minded, who are weighed down under the burden of sin. Under such circumstances it is not to be wondered at that the Fathers and several Ecumenical councils (Ephesus, 431; Nicæa, 787) adopted the literal sense of the words, though it was not dogmatically defined (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. XXI, c. i). If it be true that a few Catholic theologians (as Cajetan, Ruardus Tapper, Johann Hessel, and the elder Jansenius) preferred the figurative interpretation, it was merely for controversial reasons, because in their perplexity they imagined that otherwise the claims of the Hussite and Protestant Utraquists for the partaking of the Chalice by the laity could not be answered by argument from Scripture. (Cf. Patrizi, “De Christo pane vitæ”, Rome, 1851; Schmitt, “Die Verheissung der Eucharistie bei den Vütern”, 2 vols., Würzburg, 1900-03.)

The words of Institution

The Church’s Magna Charta, however, are the words of Institution, “This is my body — this is my blood”, whose literal meaning she has uninterruptedly adhered to from the earliest times. The Real Presence is evinced, positively, by showing the necessity of the literal sense of these words, and negatively, by refuting the figurative interpretations. As regards the first, the very existence of four distinct narratives of the Last Supper, divided usually into the Petrine (Matthew 26:26 sqq.; Mark 14:22 sqq.) and the double Pauline accounts (Luke 22:19 sq.; 1 Corinthians 11:24 sq.), favors the literal interpretation. In spite of their striking unanimity as regards essentials, the Petrine account is simpler and clearer, whereas Pauline is richer in additional details and more involved in its citation of the words that refer to the Chalice. It is but natural and justifiable to expect that, when four different narrators in different countries and at different times relate the words of Institution to different circles of readers, the occurrence of an unusual figure of speech, as, for instance, that bread is a sign of Christ’s Body, would, somewhere or other, betray itself, either in the difference of word-setting, or in the unequivocal expression of the meaning really intended, or at least in the addition of some such mark as: “He spoke, however, of the sign of His Body.” But nowhere do we discover the slightest ground for a figurative interpretation. If, then, natural, literal interpretation were false, the Scriptural record alone would have to be considered as the cause of a pernicious error in faith and of the grievous crime of rendering Divine homage to bread (artolatria) — a supposition little in harmony with the character of the four Sacred Writers or with the inspiration of the Sacred Text. Moreover, we must not omit the important circumstance, that one of the four narrators has interpreted his own account literally. This is Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 11:27 sq.), who, in the most vigorous language, brands the unworthy recipient as “guilty of body and of the blood of the Lord”. There can be no question of a grievous offense against Christ Himself unless we suppose that the true Body and the true Blood of Christ are really present in the Eucharist. Further, if we attend only to the words themselves their natural sense is so forceful and clear that Luther wrote to the Christians of Strasburg in 1524: “I am caught, I cannot escape, the text is too forcible” (De Wette, II, 577). The necessity of the natural sense is not based upon the absurd assumption that Christ could not in general have resorted to use of figures, but upon the evident requirement of the case, which demand that He did not, in a matter of such paramount importance, have recourse to meaningless and deceptive metaphors. For figures enhance the clearness of speech only when the figurative meaning is obvious, either from the nature of the case (e.g. from a reference to a statue of Lincoln, by saying: “This is Lincoln”) or from the usages of common parlance (e.g. in the case of this synecdoche: “This glass is wine”), Now, neither from the nature of the case nor in common parlance is bread an apt or possible symbol of the human body. Were one to say of a piece of bread: “This is Napoleon”, he would not be using a figure, but uttering nonsense. There is but one means of rendering a symbol improperly so called clear and intelligible, namely, by, conventionally settling beforehand what it is to signify, as, for instance, if one were to say: “Let us imagine these two pieces of bread before us to be Socrates and Plato”. Christ, however, instead of informing His Apostles that he intended to use such a figure, told them rather the contrary in the discourse containing the promise: “the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world” (John 6:52), Such language, of course, could be used only by a God-man; so that belief in the Real Presence necessarily presupposes belief in the true Divinity of Christ, The foregoing rules would of themselves establish the natural meaning with certainty, even if the words of Institution, “This is my body — this is my blood”, stood alone, But in the original text corpus (body) and sanguis (blood) are followed by significant appositional additions, the Body being designated as “given for you” and the Blood as “shed for you [many]”; hence the Body given to the Apostles was the self same Body that was crucified on Good Friday, and the Chalice drunk by them, the self same Blood that was shed on the Cross for our sins, Therefore the above-mentioned appositional phrases directly exclude every possibility of a figurative interpretation.

We reach the same conclusion from a consideration of the concomitant circumstances, taking into account both the hearers and the Institutor. Those who heard the words of Institution were not learned Rationalists, possessed of the critical equipment that would enable them, as philologists and logicians, to analyze an obscure and mysterious phraseology; they were simple, uneducated fishermen, from the ordinary ranks of the people, who with childlike naïveté hung upon the words of their Master and with deep faith accepted whatever He proposed to them, This childlike disposition had to be reckoned with by Christ, particularly on the eve of His Passion and Death, when He made His last will and testament and spoke as a dying father to His deeply afflicted children. In such a moment of awful solemnity, the only appropriate mode of speech would be one which, stripped of unintelligible figures, made use of words corresponding exactly to the meaning to be conveyed. It must be remembered, also, that Christ as omniscient God-man, must have foreseen the shameful error into which He would have led His Apostles and His Church by adopting an unheard-of metaphor; for the Church down to the present day appeals to the words of Christ in her teaching and practice. If then she practices idolatry by the adoration of mere bread and wine, this crime must be laid to the charge of the God-man Himself. Besides this, Christ intended to institute the Eucharist as a most holy sacrament, to be solemnly celebrated in the Church even to the end of time. But the content and the constituent parts of a sacrament had to be stated with such clearness of terminology as to exclude categorically every error in liturgy and worship. As may be gathered from the words of consecration of the Chalice, Christ established the New Testament in His Blood, just as the Old Testament had been established in the typical blood of animals (cf. Exodus 24:8; Hebrews 9:11 sqq.). With the true instinct of justice, jurists prescribe that in all debatable points the words of a will must be taken in their natural, literal sense; for they are led by the correct conviction, that every testator of sound mind, in drawing up his last will and testament, is deeply concerned to have it done in language at once clear and unencumbered by meaningless metaphors. Now, Christ, according to the literal purport of His testament, has left us as a precious legacy, not mere bread and wine, but His Body and Blood. Are we justified, then, in contradicting Him to His face and exclaiming: “No, this is not your Body, but mere bread, the sign of your Body!”

The refutation of the so-called Sacramentarians, a name given by Luther to those who opposed the Real Presence, evinces as clearly the impossibility of a figurative meaning. Once the manifest literal sense is abandoned, occasion is given to interminable controversies about the meaning of an enigma which Christ supposedly offered His followers for solution. There were no limits to the dispute in the sixteenth century, for at that time Christopher Rasperger wrote a whole book on some 200 different interpretations: “Ducentæ verborum, ‘Hoc est corpus meum’ interpretationes” (Ingolstadt, 1577). In this connection we must restrict ourselves to an examination of the most current and widely known distortions of the literal sense, which were the butt of Luther’s bitter ridicule even as early as 1527. The first group of interpreters, with Zwingli, discovers a figure in the copula est and renders it: “This signifies (est = significat) my Body”. In proof of this interpretation, examples are quoted from scripture, as: “The seven kine are seven years” (Genesis 41:26) or: “Sara and Agar are the two covenants” (Galatians 4:24), Waiving the question whether the verb “to be” (esse, einai) of itself can ever be used as the “copula in a figurative relation” (Weiss) or express the “relation of identity in a metaphorical connection” (Heinrici), which most logicians deny, the fundamental principles of logic firmly establish this truth, that all propositions may be divided into two great categories, of which the first and most comprehensive denominates a thing as it is in itself (e.g. “Man is a rational being”), whereas the second designates a thing according as it is used as a sign of something else (e.g, “This picture is my father”). To determine whether a speaker intends the second manner of expression, there are four criteria, whose joint concurrence alone will allow the verb “to be” to have the meaning of “signify”. Abstracting from the three criteria, mentioned above, which have reference either to the nature of the case, or to the usages of common parlance, or to some convention previously agreed upon, there remains a fourth and last of decisive significance, namely: when a complete substance is predicated of another complete substance, there can exist no logical relation of identity between them, but only the relation of similarity, inasmuch as the first is an image, sign, symbol, of the other. Now this last-named criterion is inapplicable to the Scriptural examples brought forward by the Zwinglians, and especially so in regard to their interpretation of the words of Institution; for the words are not: “This bread is my Body”, but indefinitely: “This is my Body”. In the history of the Zwinglian conception of the Lord’s Supper, certain “sacramental expressions” (locutiones sacramentales) of the Sacred Text, regarded as parallelisms of the words of Institution, have attracted considerable attention. The first is to be found in 1 Corinthians 10:4: “And the rock was [signified] Christ”, Yet it is evident that, if the subject rock is taken in its material sense, the metaphor, according to the fourth criterion just mentioned, is as apparent as in the analogous phrase “Christ is the vine”. If, however, the word rock in this passage is stripped of all that is material, it may be understood in a spiritual sense, because the Apostle himself is speaking of that “spiritual rock” (petra spiritalis), which in the Person of the Word in an invisible manner ever accompanied the Israelites in their journeyings and supplied them with a spiritual fountain of waters. According to this explanation the copula would here retain its meaning “to be”. A nearer approach to a parallel with the words of Institution is found apparently in the so-called “sacramental expressions”: “Hoc est pactum meum” (Genesis 17:10), and “est enim Phase Domini” (Exodus 12:11). It is well known how Zwingli by a clever manipulation of the latter phrase succeeded in one day in winning over to his interpretation the entire Catholic population of Zurich. And yet it is clear that no parallelism can be discerned between the aforesaid expressions and the words of Institution; no real parallelism, because there is question of entirely different matters. Not even a verbal parallelism can be pointed out, since in both texts of the Old Testament the subject is a ceremony (circumcision in the first case, and the rite of the paschal lamb in the second), while the predicate involves a mere abstraction (covenant, Passover of the Lord). A more weighty consideration is this, that on closer investigation the copula est will be found to retain its proper meaning of “is” rather than “signifies”. For just as the circumcision not only signified the nature or object of the Divine covenant, but really was such, so the rite of the Paschal lamb was really the Passover (Phase) or Pasch, instead of its mere representation. It is true that in certain Anglican circles it was formerly the custom to appeal to the supposed poverty of the Aramaic tongue, which was spoken by Christ in the company of His Apostles; for it was maintained that no word could be found in this language corresponding to the concept “to signify”. Yet, even prescinding from the fact that in the Aramaic tongue the copula est is usually omitted and that such an omission rather makes for its strict meaning of “to be”, Cardinal Wiseman (Horæ Syriacæ, Rome, 1828, pp. 3-73) succeeded in producing no less than forty Syriac expressions conveying the meaning of “to signify” and thus effectually exploded the myth of the Semitic tongue’s limited vocabulary.

A second group of Sacramentarians, with Œcolampadius, shifted the diligently sought-for metaphor to the concept contained in the predicate corpus, giving to the latter the sense of “signum corporis”, so that the words of Institution were to be rendered: “This is a sign [symbol, image, type] of my Body”. Essentially tallying with the Zwinglian interpretation, this new meaning is equally untenable. In all the languages of the world the expression “my body” designates a person’s natural body, not the mere sign or symbol of that body. True it is that the Scriptural words “Body of Christ” not infrequently have the meaning of “Church”, which is called the mystical Body of Christ, a figure easily and always discernible as such from the text or context (cf. Colossians 1:24). This mystical sense, however, is impossible in the words of Institution, for the simple reason that Christ did not give the Apostles His Church to eat, but His Body, and that “body and blood”, by reason of their real and logical association, cannot be separated from one another, and hence are all the less susceptible of a figurative use. The case would be different if the reading were: “This is the bread of my Body, the wine of my Blood”. In order to prove at least this much, that the contents of the Chalice are merely wine and, consequently, a mere sign of the Blood, Protestants have recourse to the text of Saint Matthew, who relates that Christ, after the completion of the Last Supper, declared: “I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine [genimen vitis]” (Matthew 26:29). It is to be noted that Saint Luke (22:18 sqq.), who is chronologically more exact, places these words of Christ before his account of the Institution, and that the true Blood of Christ may with right still be called (consecrated) wine, on the one hand, because the Blood was partaken of after the manner in which wine is drunk and, on the other, because the Blood continues to exist under the outward appearances of the wine. In its multifarious wanderings from the old beaten path being consistently forced with the denial of Christ’s Divinity to abandon faith in the Real Presence, also, modern criticism seeks to account for the text along other lines. With utter arbitrariness, doubting whether the words of Institution originated from the mouth of Christ, it traces them to Saint Paul as their author, in whose ardent soul something original supposedly mingled with his subjective reflections on the value attached to “Body” and on the “repetition of the Eucharistic banquet”. From this troubled fountain-head the words of Institution first found their way into the Gospel of Saint Luke and then, by way of addition, were woven into the texts of Saint Matthew and Saint Mark. It stands to reason that the latter assertion is nothing more than a wholly unwarrantable conjecture, which may be passed over as gratuitously as it was advanced. It is, moreover, essentially untrue that the value attached to the Sacrifice and the repetition of the Lord’s Supper are mere reflections of Saint Paul, since Christ attached a sacrificial value to His Death (cf. Mark 10:45) and celebrated His Eucharistic Supper in connection with the Jewish Passover, which itself had to be repeated every year. As regards the interpretation of the words of Institution, there are at present three modern explanations contending for supremacy — the symbolical, the parabolical, and the eschatological. According to the symbolical interpretation, corpus is supposed to designate the Church as the mystical Body and sanguis the New Testament. We have already rejected this last meaning as impossible. For is it the Church that is eaten and the New Testament that is drunk? Did Saint Paul brand the partaking of the Church and of the New Testament as a heinous offense committed against the Body and Blood of Christ? The case is not much better in regard to the parabolical interpretation, which would discern in the pouring out of the wine a mere parable of the shedding of the Blood on the Cross. This again is a purely arbitrary explanation, an invention, unsupported by any objective foundation. Then, too, it would follow from analogy, that the breaking of the bread was a parable of the slaying of Christ’s Body, a meaning utterly inconceivable. Rising as it were out of a dense fog and laboring to take on a definite form, the incomplete eschatological explanation would make the Eucharist a mere anticipation of the future heavenly banquet. Supposing the truth of the Real Presence, this consideration might be open to discussion, inasmuch as the partaking of the Bread of Angels is really the foretaste of eternal beatitude and the anticipated transformation of earth into heaven. But as implying mere symbolical anticipation of heaven and a meaningless manipulation of unconsecrated bread and wine the eschatological interpretation is diametrically opposed to the text and finds not the slightest support in the life and character of Christ.

Proof from Tradition

As for the cogency of the argument from tradition, this historical fact is of decided significance, namely, that the dogma of the Real Presence remained, properly speaking, unmolested down to the time of the heretic Berengarius of Tours (d. 1088), and so could claim even at that time the uninterrupted possession of ten centuries. In the course of the dogma’s history there arose in general three great Eucharistic controversies, the first of which, begun by Paschasius Radbertus, in the ninth century, scarcely extended beyond the limits of his audience and concerned itself solely with the philosophical question, whether the Eucharistic Body of Christ is identical with the natural Body He had in Palestine and now has in heaven. Such a numerical identity could well have been denied by Ratramnus, Rabanus Maurus, Ratherius, Lanfranc, and others, since even nowadays a true, though accidental, distinction between the sacramental and the natural condition of Christ’s Body must be rigorously maintained. The first occasion for an official procedure on the part of the Church was offered when Berengarius of Tours, influenced by the writings of Scotus Eriugena (d. about 884), the first opponent of the Real Presence, rejected both the latter truth and that of Transubstantiation. He repaired, however, the public scandal he had given by a sincere retractation made in the presence of Pope Gregory VII at a synod held in Rome in 1079, and died reconciled to the Church. The third and the sharpest controversy was that opened by the Reformation in the sixteenth century, in regard to which it must be remarked that Luther was the only one among the Reformers who still clung to the old Catholic doctrine, and, though subjecting it to manifold misrepresentations, defended it most tenaciously. He was diametrically opposed by Zwingli of Zurich, who, as was seen above, reduced the Eucharist to an empty, meaningless symbol. Having gained over to his views such friendly contemporary partisans as Carlstadt, Bucer, and Œcolampadius, he later on secured influential allies in the Arminians, Mennonites, Socinians, and Anglicans, and even today the rationalistic conception of the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper does not differ substantially from that of the Zwinglians. In the meantime, at Geneva, Calvin was cleverly seeking to bring about a compromise between the extremes of the Lutheran literal and the Zwinglian figurative interpretations, by suggesting instead of the substantial presence in one case or the merely symbolical in the other, a certain mean, i.e. “dynamic”, presence, which consists essentially in this, that at the moment of reception, the efficacy of Christ’s Body and Blood is communicated from heaven to the souls of the predestined and spiritually nourishes them. Thanks to Melanchthon’s pernicious and dishonest double-dealing, this attractive intermediary position of Calvin made such an impression even in Lutheran circles that it was not until the Formula of Concord in 1577 that the “crypto-Calvinistic venom” was successfully rejected from the body of Lutheran doctrine. The Council of Trent met these widely divergent errors of the Reformation with the dogmatic definition, that the God-man is “truly, really, and substantially” present under the appearances of bread and wine, purposely intending thereby to oppose the expression vere to Zwingli’s signum, realiter to Œcolampadius’s figura, and essentialiter to Calvin’s virtus (Sess. XIII, can. i). And this teaching of the Council of Trent has ever been and is now the unwavering position of the whole of Catholic Christendom.

As regards the doctrine of the Fathers, it is not possible in the present article to multiply patristic texts, which are usually characterized by wonderful beauty and clearness. Suffice it to say that, besides the Didache (9, 10, 14), the most ancient Fathers, as Ignatius (Smyrnæans 7; Ephesians 20; Philadelphians 4), Justin (First Apology 66), Irenæus (Against Heresies IV.17.5, IV.18.4 and V.2.2), Tertullian (On the Resurrection of the Flesh 8; On Pudicity 9; On Prayer 19; On Baptism 16), and Cyprian (Treatise 3.16 and Treatise 4.18), attest without the slightest shadow of a misunderstanding what is the faith of the Church, while later patristic theology bears witness to the dogma in terms that approach exaggeration, as Gregory of Nyssa (Great Catechism III.37), Cyril of Jerusalem (Mystagogical Catechesis 4, no. 2 sqq.), and especially the Doctor of the Eucharist, Chrysostom [Homily 82 on Matthew, 1 sqq.; Homily 46 on John, 2 sqq.; Homily 24 on First Corinthians, 1 sqq.; Homily 9 de pœnit., 1], to whom may be added the Latin Fathers, Hilary (On the Holy Trinity VIII.4.13) and Ambrose (On the Mysteries 8.49, 9.51 sq.). Concerning the Syriac Fathers see Th. Lamy “De Syrorum fide in re eucharisticâ” (Louvain, 1859).

The position held by Saint Augustine is at present the subject of a spirited controversy, since the adversaries of the Church rather confidently maintain that he favored their side of the question in that he was an out-and-out “Symbolist”. In the opinion of Loofs (“Dogmengeschichte”, 4th ed., Halle, 1906, p. 409), Saint Augustine never gives the “reception of the true Body and Blood of Christ” a thought; and this view Ad. Harnack (Dogmengeschichte, 3rd ed., Freiburg, 1897, III, 148) emphasizes when he declares that Saint Augustine “undoubtedly was one in this respect with the so-called pre-Reformation and with Zwingli”. Against this rather hasty conclusion Catholics first of all advance the undoubted fact that Augustine demanded that Divine worship should be rendered to the Eucharistic Flesh (Enarration on Psalm 33, no. 1), and declared that at the Last Supper “Christ held and carried Himself in His own hands” (Enarration on Psalm 98, no. 9). They insist, and rightly so, that it is not fair to separate this great Doctor’s teaching concerning the Eucharist from his doctrine of the Holy Sacrifice, since he clearly and unmistakably asserts that the true Body and Blood are offered in the Holy Mass. The variety of extreme views just mentioned requires that an attempt be made at a reasonable and unbiased explanation, whose verification is to be sought for and found in the acknowledged fact that a gradual process of development took place in the mind of Saint Augustine. No one will deny that certain expressions occur in Augustine as forcibly realistic as those of Tertullian and Cyprian or of his intimate literary friends, Ambrose, Optatus of Mileve, Hilary, and Chrysostom. On the other hand, it is beyond question that, owing to the determining influence of Origen and the Platonic philosophy, which, as is well known, attached but slight value to visible matter and the sensible phenomena of the world, Augustine did not refer what was properly real (res) in the Blessed Sacrament to the Flesh of Christ (caro), but transferred it to the quickening principle (spiritus), i.e. to the effects produced by a worthy Communion. A logical consequence of this was that he allowed to caro, as the vehicle and antitype of res, not indeed a mere symbolical worth, but at best a transitory, intermediary, and subordinate worth (signum), and placed the Flesh and Blood of Christ, present under the appearances (figuræ) of bread and wine, in too decided an opposition to His natural, historical Body. Since Augustine was a strenuous defender of personal co-operation and effort in the work of salvation and an enemy to mere mechanical activity and superstitious routine, he omitted insisting upon a lively faith in the real personality of Jesus in the Eucharist, and called attention to the spiritual efficiency of the Flesh of Christ instead. His mental vision was fixed, not so much upon the saving caro, as upon the spiritus, which alone possessed worth. Nevertheless a turning-point occurred in his life. The conflict with Pelagianism and the diligent perusal of Chrysostom freed him from the bondage of Platonism, and he thenceforth attached to caro a separate, individual value independent of that of spiritus, going so far, in fact, as to maintain too strongly that the Communion of children was absolutely necessary to salvation.

If, moreover, the reader finds in some of the other Fathers difficulties, obscurities, and a certain inaccuracy of expression, this may be explained on three general grounds:

because of the peace and security there is in their possession of the Church’s truth, whence resulted a certain want of accuracy in their terminology;

because of the strictness with which the Discipline of the Secret, expressly concerned with the Holy Eucharist, was maintained in the East until the end of the fifth, in the West down to the middle of the sixth century;

because of the preference of many Fathers for the allegorical interpretation of Scripture, which was especially in vogue in the Alexandrian School (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Cyril), but which found a salutary counterpoise in the emphasis laid on the literal interpretation by the School of Antioch (Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret). Since, however, the allegorical sense of the Alexandrians did not exclude the literal, but rather supposed it as a working basis, the realistic phraseology of Clement (The Pedagogue I.6), of Origen (Against Celsus VIII.13; Hom. ix, in Levit., x) and of Cyril (in Matt., xxvi, xxvii; Contra Nestor., IV, 5) concerning the Real Presence is readily accounted for. (For the solution of patristic difficulties, see Pohle, “Dogmatik”, 3rd ed., Paderborn, 1908, III, 209 sqq.)

The argument from tradition is supplemented and completed by the argument from prescription, which traces the constant belief in the dogma of the Real Presence through the Middle Ages back to the early Apostolic Church, and thus proves the anti-Eucharistic heresies to have been capricious novelties and violent ruptures of the true faith as handed down from the beginning. Passing over the interval that has elapsed since the Reformation, as this period receives its entire character from the Council of Trent, we have for the time of the Reformation the important testimony of Luther (Wider etliche Rottengeister, 1532) for the fact that the whole of Christendom then believed in the Real Presence. And this firm, universal belief can be traced back uninterruptedly to Berengarius of Tours (d. 1088), in fact — omitting the sole exception of Scotus Eriugena — to Paschasius Radbertus (831). On these grounds, therefore, we may proudly maintain that the Church has been in legitimate possession of this dogma for fully eleven centuries. When Photius started the Greek Schism in 869, he took over to his Church the inalienable treasure of the Catholic Eucharist, a treasure which the Greeks, in the negotiations for reunion at Lyons in 1274 and at Florence in 1439, could show to be still intact, and which they vigorously defended in the schismatical Synod of Jerusalem (1672) against the sordid machinations of the Calvinistic-minded Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople (1629). From this it follows conclusively that the Catholic dogma must be much older than the Eastern Schism under Photius. In fact, even the Nestorians and Monophysites, who broke away from Rome in the fifth century, have, as is evident from their their literature and liturgical books, preserved their faith in the Eucharist as unwaveringly as the Greeks, and this in spite of the dogmatic difficulties which, on account of their denial of the hypostatic union, stood in the way of a clear and correct notion of the Real Presence. Therefore the Catholic dogma is at least as old as Nestorianism (A.D. 431). But is it not of even greater antiquity? To decide this question one has only to examine the oldest Liturgies of the Mass, whose essential elements date back to the time of the Apostles (see articles on the various liturgies), to visit the Roman Catacombs, where Christ is shown as present in the Eucharistic food under the symbol of a fish (see EARLY SYMBOLS OF THE EUCHARIST), to decipher the famous Inscription of Abercius of the second century, which, though composed under the influence of the Discipline of the Secret, plainly attests the faith of that age. And thus the argument from prescription carries us back to the dim and distant past and thence to the time of the Apostles, who in turn could have received their faith in the Real Presence from no one but Christ Himself.

The totality of the real presence

In order to forestall at the very outset, the unworthy notion, that in the Eucharist we receive merely the Body and merely the Blood of Christ but not Christ in His entirety, the Council of Trent defined the Real Presence to be such as to include with Christ’s Body and His Soul and Divinity as well. A strictly logical conclusion from the words of promise: “he that eateth me the same also shall live by me”, this Totality of Presence was also the constant property of tradition, which characterized the partaking of separated parts of the Savior as a sarcophagy (flesh-eating) altogether derogatory to God. Although the separation of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Logos, is, absolutely speaking, within the almighty power of God, yet then actual inseparability is firmly established by the dogma of the indissolubility of the hypostatic union of Christ’s Divinity and Humanity. In case the Apostles had celebrated the Lord’s Supper during the triduum mortis (the time during which Christ’s Body was in the tomb), when a real separation took place between the constitutive elements of Christ, there would have been really present in the Sacred Host only, the bloodless, inanimate Body of Christ as it lay in tomb, and in the Chalice only the Blood separated from His Body and absorbed by the earth as it was shed, both the Body and the Blood, however, hypostatically united to His Divinity, while His Soul, which sojourned in Limbo, would have remained entirely excluded from the Eucharistic presence. This unreal, though not impossible, hypothesis, is well calculated to throw light upon the essential difference designated by the Council of Trent (Sess, XIII, c. iii), between the meanings of the words ex vi verborum and per concomitantiam. By virtue of the words of consecration, or ex vi verborum, that only is made present which is expressed by the words of Institution, namely the Body and the Blood of Christ. But by reason of a natural concomitance (per concomitantiam), there becomes simultaneously present all that which is physically inseparable from the parts just named, and which must, from a natural connection with them, always be their accompaniment. Now, the glorified Christ, Who “dieth now no more” (Romans 6:9) has an animate Body through whose veins courses His life’s Blood under the vivifying influence of soul. Consequently, together with His Body and Blood and Soul, His whole Humanity also, and, by virtue of the hypostatic union, His Divinity, i.e. Christ whole and entire, must be present. Hence Christ is present in the sacrament with His Flesh and Blood, Body and Soul, Humanity and Divinity.

This general and fundamental principle, which entirely abstracts from the duality of the species, must, nevertheless, be extended to each of the species of bread and wine. For we do not receive in the Sacred Host one part of Christ and in the Chalice the other, as though our reception of the totality depended upon our partaking of both forms; on the contrary, under the appearance of bread alone, as well as under the appearance of wine alone, we receive Christ whole and entire (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. XIII, can. iii). This, the only reasonable conception, finds its Scriptural verification in the fact, that Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 11:27, 29) attaches the same guilt “of the body and the blood of the Lord” to the unworthy “eating or drinking”, understood in a disjunctive sense, as he does to “eating and drinking”, understood in a copulative sense. The traditional foundation for this is to be found in the testimony of the Fathers and of the Church’s liturgy, according to which the glorified Savior can be present on our altars only in His totality and integrity, and not divided into parts or distorted to the form of a monstrosity. It follows, therefore, that supreme adoration is separately due to the Sacred Host and to the consecrated contents of the Chalice. On this last truth are based especially the permissibility and intrinsic propriety of Communion only under one kind for the laity and for priests not celebrating Mass (see COMMUNION UNDER BOTH KINDS). But in particularizing upon the dogma, we are naturally led to the further truth, that, at least after the actual division of either Species into parts, Christ is present in each part in His full and entire essence. If the Sacred Host be broken into pieces or if the consecrated Chalice be drunk in small quantities, Christ in His entirety is present in each particle and in each drop. By the restrictive clause, separatione factâ the Council of Trent (Sess. XIII, can. iii) rightly raised this truth to the dignity of a dogma. While from Scripture we may only judge it improbable that Christ consecrated separately each particle of the bread He had broken, we know with certainty, on the other hand, that He blessed the entire contents of the Chalice and then gave it to His disciples to be partaken of distributively (cf. Matthew 26:27 sq.; Mark 14:23). It is only on the basis of the Tridentine dogma that we can understand how Cyril of Jerusalem (Mystagogical Catechesis 5, no. 21) obliged communicants to observe the most scrupulous care in conveying the Sacred Host to their mouths, so that not even “a crumb, more precious than gold or jewels”, might fall from their hands to the ground; how Cæsarius of Arles taught that there is “just as much in the small fragment as in the whole”; how the different liturgies assert the abiding integrity of the “indivisible Lamb”, in spite of the “division of the Host”; and, finally, how in actual practice the faithful partook of the broken particles of the Sacred Host and drank in common from the same cup.

While the three foregoing theses contain dogmas of faith, there is a fourth proposition which is merely a theological conclusion, namely, that even before the actual division of the Species, Christ is present wholly and entirely in each particle of the still unbroken Host and in each drop of the collective contents of the Chalice. For were not Christ present in His entire Personality in every single particle of the Eucharistic Species even before their division took place, we should be forced to conclude that it is the process of dividing which brings about the Totality of Presence, whereas according to the teaching of the Church the operative cause of the Real and Total Presence is to be found in Transubstantiation alone. No doubt this last conclusion directs the attention of philosophical and scientific inquiry to a mode of existence peculiar to the Eucharistic Body, which is contrary to the ordinary laws of experience. It is, indeed, one of those sublime mysteries, concerning which speculative theology attempts to offer various solutions [see below under (5)].


Before proving dogmatically the fact of the substantial change here under consideration, we must first outline its history and nature.

(a) The scientific development of the concept of Transubstantiation can hardly be said to be a product of the Greeks, who did not get beyond its more general notes; rather, it is the remarkable contribution of the Latin theologians, who were stimulated to work it out in complete logical form by the three Eucharistic controversies mentioned above, The term transubstantiation seems to have been first used by Hildebert of Tours (about 1079). His encouraging example was soon followed by other theologians, as Stephen of Autun (d. 1139), Gaufred (1188), and Peter of Blois (d. about 1200), whereupon several ecumenical councils also adopted this significant expression, as the Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215), and the Council of Lyons (1274), in the profession of faith of the Greek Emperor Michael Palæologus. The Council of Trent (Sess. XIII, cap. iv; can. ii) not only accepted as an inheritance of faith the truth contained in the idea, but authoritatively confirmed the “aptitude of the term” to express most strikingly the legitimately developed doctrinal concept. In a closer logical analysis of Transubstantiation, we find the first and fundamental notion to be that of conversion, which may be defined as “the transition of one thing into another in some aspect of being”. As is immediately evident, conversion (conversio) is something more than mere change (mutatio). Whereas in mere changes one of the two extremes may be expressed negatively, as, e.g., in the change of day and night, conversion requires two positive extremes, which are related to each other as thing to thing, and must have, besides, such an intimate connection with each other, that the last extreme (terminus ad quem) begins to be only as the first (terminus a quo) ceases to be, as, e.g., in the conversion of water into wine at Cana. A third element is usually required, known as the commune tertium, which, even after conversion has taken place, either physically or at least logically unites one extreme to the other; for in every true conversion the following condition must be fulfilled: “What was formerly A, is now B.” A very important question suggests itself as to whether the definition should further postulate the previous non-existence of the last extreme, for it seems strange that an existing terminus a quo, A, should be converted into an already existing terminus ad quem, B. If the act of conversion is not to become a mere process of substitution, as in sleight-of-hand performances, the terminus ad quem must unquestionably in some manner newly exist, just as the terminus a quo must in some manner really cease to exist. Yet as the disappearance of the latter is not attributable to annihilation properly so called, so there is no need of postulating creation, strictly so called, to explain the former’s coming into existence. The idea of conversion is amply realized if the following condition is fulfilled, viz., that a thing which already existed in substance, acquires an altogether new and previously non-existing mode of being. Thus in the resurrection of the dead, the dust of the human bodies will be truly converted into the bodies of the risen by their previously existing souls, just as at death they had been truly converted into corpses by the departure of the souls. This much as regards the general notion of conversion. Transubstantiation, however, is not a conversion simply so called, but a substantial conversion (conversio substantialis), inasmuch as one thing is substantially or essentially converted into another. Thus from the concept of Transubstantiation is excluded every sort of merely accidental conversion, whether it be purely natural (e.g. the metamorphosis of insects) or supernatural (e.g. the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor). Finally, Transubstantiation differs from every other substantial conversion in this, that only the substance is converted into another — the accidents remaining the same — just as would be the case if wood were miraculously converted into iron, the substance of the iron remaining hidden under the external appearance of the wood.

The application of the foregoing to the Eucharist is an easy matter. First of all the notion of conversion is verified in the Eucharist, not only in general, but in all its essential details. For we have the two extremes of conversion, namely, bread and wine as the terminus a quo, and the Body and Blood of Christ as the terminus ad quem. Furthermore, the intimate connection between the cessation of one extreme and the appearance of the other seems to be preserved by the fact, that both events are the results, not of two independent processes, as, e.g. annihilation and creation, but of one single act, since, according to the purpose of the Almighty, the substance of the bread and wine departs in order to make room for the Body and Blood of Christ. Lastly, we have the commune tertium in the unchanged appearances of bread and wine, under which appearances the pre-existent Christ assumes a new, sacramental mode of being, and without which His Body and Blood could not be partaken of by men. That the consequence of Transubstantiation, as a conversion of the total substance, is the transition of the entire substance of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, is the express doctrine of the Church (Council of Trent, Sess. XIII, can. ii). Thus were condemned as contrary to faith the antiquated view of Durandus, that only the substantial form (forma substantialis) of the bread underwent conversion, while the primary matter (materia prima) remained, and, especially, Luther’s doctrine of Consubstantiation, i.e. the coexistence of the substance of the bread with the true Body of Christ. Thus, too, the theory of Impanation advocated by Osiander and certain Berengarians, and according to which a hypostatic union is supposed to take place between the substance of the bread and the God-man (impanatio = Deus panis factus), is authoritatively rejected. So the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation sets up a mighty bulwark around the dogma of the Real Presence and constitutes in itself a distinct doctrinal article, which is not involved in that of the Real Presence, though the doctrine of the Real Presence is necessarily contained in that of Transubstantiation. It was for this very reason that Pius VI, in his dogmatic Bull “Auctorem fidei” (1794) against the Jansenistic pseudo Synod of Pistoia (1786), protested most vigorously against suppressing this “scholastic question”, as the synod had advised pastors to do.

(b) In the mind of the Church, Transubstantiation has been so intimately bound up with the Real Presence, that both dogmas have been handed down together from generation to generation, though we cannot entirely ignore a dogmatico-historical development. The total conversion of the substance of bread is expressed clearly in the words of Institution: “This is my body”. These words form, not a theoretical, but a practical proposition, whose essence consists in this, that the objective identity between subject and predicate is effected and verified only after the words have all been uttered, not unlike the pronouncement of a king to a subaltern: “You are a major”, or, “You are a captain”, which would immediately cause the promotion of the officer to a higher command. When, therefore, He Who is All Truth and All Power said of the bread: “This is my body”, the bread became, through the utterance of these words, the Body of Christ; consequently, on the completion of the sentence the substance of bread was no longer present, but the Body of Christ under the outward appearance of bread. Hence the bread must have become the Body of Christ, i.e. the former must have been converted into the latter. The words of Institution were at the same time the words of Transubstantiation. Indeed the actual manner in which the absence of the bread and the presence of the Body of Christ is effected, is not read into the words of Institution but strictly and exegetically deduced from them. The Calvinists, therefore, are perfectly right when they reject the Lutheran doctrine of Consubstantiation as a fiction, with no foundation in Scripture. For had Christ intended to assert the coexistence of His Body with the Substance of the bread, He would not have expressed a simple identity between hoc and corpus by means of the copula est, but would have resorted to some such expression as: “This bread contains my body”, or, “In this bread is my Body.” Had He desired to constitute bread the sacramental receptacle of His Body, He would have had to state this expressly, for neither from the nature of the case nor according to common parlance can a piece of bread be made to signify the receptacle of a human body. On the other hand, the synecdoche is plain in the case of the Chalice: “This is my blood”, i.e. the contents of the Chalice are my blood, and hence no longer wine.

Regarding tradition, the earliest witnesses, as Tertullian and Cyprian, could hardly have given any particular consideration to the genetic relation of the natural elements of bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ, or to the manner in which the former were converted into the latter; for even Augustine was deprived of a clear conception of Transubstantiation, so long as he was held in the bonds of Platonism. On the other hand, complete clearness on the subject had been attained by writers as early as Cyril of Jerusalem, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, Gregory of Nyssa, Chrysostom, and Cyril of Alexandria in the East, and by Ambrose and the later Latin writers in the West. Eventually the West became the classic home of scientific perfection in the difficult doctrine of Transubstantiation. The claims of the learned work of the Anglican Dr. Pusey (The Doctrine of the Real Presence as contained in the Fathers, Oxford, 1855), who denied the cogency of the patristic argument for Transubstantiation, have been met and thoroughly answered by Cardinal Franzelin (De Euchar., Rome, 1887, xiv). The argument from tradition is strikingly confirmed by the ancient liturgies, whose beautiful prayers express the idea of conversion in the clearest manner. Many examples may be found in Renaudot, “Liturgiæ orient.” (2nd ed., 1847); Assemani, “Codex liturg.” (13 vols., Rome 1749-66); Denzinger, “Ritus Orientalium” (2 vols., Würzburg, 1864), Concerning the Adduction Theory of the Scotists and the Production Theory of the Thomists, see Pohle, “Dogmatik” (3rd ed., Paderborn, 1908), III, 237 sqq.

The permanence and adorableness of the Eucharist

Since Luther arbitrarily restricted Real Presence to the moment of reception (in usu, non extra), the Council of Trent (Sess. XIII, can. iv) by a special canon emphasized the fact, that after the Consecration Christ is truly present and, consequently, does not make His Presence dependent upon the act of eating or drinking. On the contrary, He continues His Eucharistic Presence even in the consecrated Hosts and Sacred particles that remain on the altar or in the ciborium after the distribution of Holy Communion. In the deposit of faith the Presence and the Permanence of Presence are so closely allied, that in the mind of the Church both continue on as an undivided whole. And rightly so; for just as Christ promised His Flesh and blood as meat and drink, i.e. as something permanent (cf. John 6:50 sqq.), so, when He said: “Take ye, and eat. This is my body”, the Apostles received from the hand of the Lord His Sacred Body, which was already objectively present and did not first become so in the act of partaking. This non-dependence of the Real Presence upon the actual reception is manifested very clearly in the case of the Chalice, when Christ said: “Drink ye all of this. For [enim] this is my Blood.” Here the act of drinking is evidently neither the cause nor the conditio sine qua non for the presence of Christ’s Blood.

Much as he disliked it, even Calvin had to acknowledge the evident force of the argument from tradition (Instit. IV, xvii, sect. 739). Not only have the Fathers, and among them Chrysostom with special vigor, defended in theory the permanence of the Real Presence, but the constant practice of the Church has also established its truth. In the early days of the Church the faithful frequently carried the Blessed Eucharist with them to their homes (cf. Tertullian, “Ad uxor.”, II, v; Cyprian, Treatise 3.26) or upon long journeys (Ambrose, De excessu fratris, I, 43, 46), while the deacons were accustomed to take the Blessed Sacrament to those who did not attend Divine service (cf. Justin, Apol., I, n. 67), as well as to the martyrs, the incarcerated, and the infirm (cf. Eusebius, Church History VI.44). The deacons were also obliged to transfer the particles that remained to specially prepared repositories called Pastophoria (cf. Apostolic Constitutions, VIII, xiii). Furthermore, it was customary as early as the fourth century to celebrate the Mass of the Presanctifed (cf. Synod of Laodicea, can. xlix), in which were received the Sacred Hosts that had been consecrated one or more days previously. In the Latin Church the celebration of the Mass of the Presanctified is nowadays restricted to Good Friday, whereas, ever since the Trullan Synod (692), the Greeks celebrate it during the whole of Lent, except on Saturdays, Sundays, and the feast of the Annunciation (25 March). A deeper reason for the permanence of Presence is found in the fact, that some time elapses between the confection and the reception of the sacrament, i.e. between the Consecration and the Communion, whereas in the case of the other sacraments both the confection and the reception take place at the same instant. Baptism, for instance, lasts only as long as the baptismal action or ablution with water, and is, therefore, a transitory sacrament; on the contrary, the Eucharist, and the Eucharist alone, constitutes a permanent sacrament (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. XIII, cap. iii). The permanence of Presence, however, is limited to an interval of time of which the beginning is determined by the instant of Consecration and the end by the corruption of the Eucharistic Species. If the Host has become moldy or the contents of the Chalice sour, Christ has discontinued His Presence therein. Since in the process of corruption those elementary substances return which correspond to the peculiar nature of the changed accidents, the law of the indestructibility of matter, notwithstanding the miracle of the Eucharistic conversion, remains in force without any interruption.

The Adorableness of the Eucharist is the practical consequence of its permanence. According to a well known principle of Christology, the same worship of latria (cultus latriæ) as is due to the Triune God is due also to the Divine Word, the God-man Christ, and in fact, by reason of the hypostatic union, to the Humanity of Christ and its individual component parts, as, e.g., His Sacred Heart. Now, identically the same Lord Christ is truly present in the Eucharist as is present in heaven; consequently He is to be adored in the Blessed Sacrament, and just so long as He remains present under the appearances of bread and wine, namely, from the moment of Transubstantiation to the moment in which the species are decomposed (cf. Council of Trent, Sess. XIII, can. vi).

In the absence of Scriptural proof, the Church finds a warrant for, and a propriety in, rendering Divine worship to the Blessed Sacrament in the most ancient and constant tradition, though of course a distinction must be made between the dogmatic principle and the varying discipline regarding the outward form of worship. While even the East recognized the unchangeable principle from the earliest ages, and, in fact, as late as the schismatical Synod of Jerusalem in 1672, the West has furthermore shown an untiring activity in establishing and investing with more and more solemnity, homage and devotion to the Blessed Eucharist. In the early Church, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was restricted chiefly to Mass and Communion, just as it is today among the Orientals and the Greeks. Even in his time Cyril of Jerusalem insisted just as strongly as did Ambrose and Augustine on an attitude of adoration and homage during Holy Communion (cf. Ambrose, De Sp. Sancto, III, ii, 79; Augustine, In Ps. xcviii, n. 9). In the West the way was opened to a more and more exalted veneration of the Blessed Eucharist when the faithful were allowed to Communicate even outside of the liturgical service. After the Berengarian controversy, the Blessed Sacrament was in the eleventh and twelfth centuries elevated for the express purpose of repairing by its adoration the blasphemies of heretics and, strengthening the imperiled faith of Catholics. In the thirteenth century were introduced, for the greater glorification of the Most Holy, the “theophoric processions” (circumgestatio), and also the feast of Corpus Christi, instituted under Urban IV at the solicitation of Saint Juliana of Liège. In honor of the feast, sublime hymns, such as the “Pange Lingua” of Saint Thomas Aquinas, were composed. In the fourteenth century the practice of the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament arose. The custom of the annual Corpus Christi procession was warmly defended and recommended by the Council of Trent (Sess. XIII, cap. v). A new impetus was given to the adoration of the Eucharist through the visits to the Blessed Sacrament (Visitatio SS. Sacramenti), introduced by Saint Alphonsus Liguori; in later times the numerous orders and congregations devoted to Perpetual Adoration, the institution in many dioceses of the devotion of “Perpetual Prayer”, the holding of International Eucharistic Congresses, e.g. that of London in September, 1908, have all contributed to keep alive faith in Him Who has said: “behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

Speculative discussion of the real presence

The principal aim of speculative theology with regard to the Eucharist, should be to discuss philosophically, and seek a logical solution of, three apparent contradictions, namely:

the continued existence of the Eucharistic Species, or the outward appearances of bread and wine, without their natural underlying subject (accidentia sine subjecto);

the spatially uncircumscribed, spiritual mode of existence of Christ’s Eucharistic Body (existentia corporis ad modum spiritus);

the simultaneous existence of Christ in heaven and in many places on earth (multilocatio).

(a) The study of the first problem, viz. whether or not the accidents of bread and wine continue their existence without their proper substance, must be based upon the clearly established truth of Transubstantiation, in consequence of which the entire substance of the bread and the entire substance of the wine are converted respectively into the Body and Blood of Christ in such a way that “only the appearances of bread and wine remain” (Council of Trent, Sess. XIII, can. ii: manentibus dumtaxat speciebus panis et vini). Accordingly, the continuance of the appearances without the substance of bread and wine as their connatural substratum is just the reverse of Transubstantiation. If it be further asked, whether these appearances have any subject at all in which they inhere, we must answer with Saint Thomas Aquinas (III:77:1), that the idea is to be rejected as unbecoming, as though the Body of Christ, in addition to its own accidents, should also assume those of bread and wine. The most that may be said is, that from the Eucharistic Body proceeds a miraculous sustaining power, which supports the appearances bereft of their natural substances and preserves them from collapse. The position of the Church in this regard may be readily determined from the Council of Constance (1414-1418). In its eighth session, approved in 1418 by Martin V, this synod condemned the following articles of Wyclif:

“Substantia panis materialis et similiter substantia vini materialis remanent in Sacramento altaris”, i.e. the material substance of bread and likewise the material substance of wine remain in the Sacrament of the Altar;

“Accidentia panis non manent sine subjecto”, i.e. the accidents of the bread do not remain without a subject.

The first of these articles contains an open denial of Transubstantiation. The second, so far as the text is concerned, might be considered as merely a different wording of the first, were it not that the history of the council shows that Wyclif had directly opposed the Scholastic doctrine of “accidents without a subject” as absurd and even heretical (cf, De Augustinis, De re sacramentariâ, Rome, 1889, II, 573 sqq.), Hence it was the intention of the council to condemn the second article, not merely as a conclusion of the first, but as a distinct and independent proposition; wherefore we may gather the Church’s teaching on the subject from the contradictory proposition; “Accidentia panis manent sine subjecto,” i.e. the accidents of bread do remain without a subject. Such, at least, was the opinion of contemporary theologians regarding the matter; and the Roman Catechism, referring to the above-mentioned canon of the Council of Trent, tersely, explains: “The accidents of bread and wine inhere in no substance, but continue existing by themselves.” This being the case, some theologians in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, who inclined to Cartesianism, as E, Maignan, Drouin, and Vitasse, displayed but little theological penetration when they asserted that the Eucharistic appearances were optical illusions, phantasmagoria, and make-believe accidents, ascribing to Divine omnipotence an immediate influence upon the five senses, whereby a mere subjective impression of what seemed to be the accidents of bread and wine was created. Since Descartes (d. 1650) places the essence of corporeal substance in its actual extension and recognizes only modal accidents metaphysically united to their substance, it is clear, according to his theory, that together with the conversion of the substance of bread and wine, the accidents must also be converted and thereby made to disappear. If the eye nevertheless seems to behold bread and wine, this is to be attributed to an optical illusion alone. But it is clear at first blush, that no doubt can be entertained as to the physical reality, or in fact, as to the identity of the accidents before and after Transubstantiation, This physical, and not merely optical, continuance of the Eucharistic accidents was repeatedly insisted upon by the Fathers, and with such excessive rigor that the notion of Transubstantiation seemed to be in danger. Especially against the Monophysites, who based on the Eucharistic conversion an a pari argument in behalf of the supposed conversion of the Humanity of Christ into His Divinity, did the Fathers retort by concluding from the continuance of the unconverted Eucharistic accidents to the unconverted Human Nature of Christ. Both philosophical and theological arguments were also advanced against the Cartesians, as, for instance, the infallible testimony of the senses, the necessity of the commune tertium to complete the idea of Transubstantiation [see above, (3)], the idea of the Sacrament of the Altar as the visible sign of Christ’s invisible Body, the physical signification of Communion as a real partaking of food and drink the striking expression “breaking of bread” (fractio panis), which supposes the divisible reality of the accidents, etc. For all these reasons, theologians consider the physical reality of the accidents as an incontrovertible truth, which cannot without temerity be called in question.

As regards the philosophical possibility of the accidents existing without their substance, the older school drew a fine distinction between modal and absolute accidents, By the modal accidents were understood such as could not, being mere modes, be separated from their substance without involving a metaphysical contradiction, e.g. the form and motion of a body. Those accidents were designated absolute, whose objective reality was adequately distinct from the reality of their substance, in such a way that no intrinsic repugnance was involved in their separability, as, e.g., the quantity of a body. Aristotle, himself taught (Metaphys., VI, 3rd ed. of Bekker, p. 1029, a. 13), that quantity was not a corporeal substance, but only a phenomenon of substance. Modern philosophy, on the other hand, has endeavored since the time of John Locke, to reject altogether from the realm of ideas the concept of substance as something imaginary, and to rest satisfied with qualities alone as the excitants of sensation, a view of the material world which the so-called psychology of association and actuality is trying to carry out in its various details. The Catholic Church does not feel called upon to follow up the ephemeral vagaries of these new philosophical systems, but bases her doctrine on the everlasting philosophy of sound reason, which rightly distinguishes between the thing in itself and its characteristic qualities (color, form, size, etc.). Though the “thing in itself” may even remain imperceptible to the senses and therefore be designated in the language of Kant as a noumenon, or in the language of Spencer, the Unknowable, yet we cannot escape the necessity of seeking beneath the appearances the thing which appears, beneath the colour that which is colored beneath the form that which has form, i.e. the substratum or subject which sustains the phenomena. The older philosophy designated the appearances by the name of accidents, the subject of the appearances, by that of substance. It matters little what the terms are, provided the things signified by them are rightly understood. What is particularly important regarding material substances and their accidental qualities, is the necessity of proceeding cautiously in this discussion, since in the domain of natural philosophy the greatest uncertainty reigns even at the present day concerning the nature of matter, one system pulling down what another has reared, as is proved in the latest theories of atomism and energy, of ions and electrons.

The old theology tried with Saint Thomas Aquinas (III:77) to prove the possibility of absolute accidents on the principles of the Aristotelean-Scholastic hylomorphism, i.e. the system which teaches that the essential constitution of bodies consists in the substantial union of materia prima and forma substantialis. Some theologians of today would seek to come to an understanding with modern science, which bases all natural processes upon the very fruitful theory of energy, by trying with Leibniz to explain the Eucharistic accidentia sine subjecto according to the dynamism of natural philosophy. Assuming, according to this system, a real distinction between force and its manifestations, between energy and its effects, it may be seen that under the influence of the First Cause the energy (substance) necessary for the essence of bread is withdrawn by virtue of conversion, while the effects of energy (accidents) in a miraculous manner continue. For the rest it may be said, that it is far from the Church’s intention to restrict the Catholic’s investigation regarding the doctrine of the Blessed Sacrament to any particular view of natural philosophy or even to require him to establish its truth on the principles of medieval physics; all that the Church demands is, that those theories of material substances be rejected which not only contradict the teaching of the Church, but also are repugnant to experience and sound reason, as Pantheism, Hylozoism, Monism, Absolute Idealism, Cartesianism, etc.

(b) The second problem arises from the Totality of Presence, which means that Christ in His entirety is present in the whole of the Host and in each smallest part thereof, as the spiritual soul is present in the human body [see above, (2)]. The difficulty reaches its climax when we consider that there is no question here of the Soul or the Divinity of Christ, but of His Body, which, with its head, trunk, and members, has assumed a mode of existence spiritual and independent of space, a mode of existence, indeed, concerning which neither experience nor any system of philosophy can have the least inkling. That the idea of conversion of corporeal matter into a spirit can in no way be entertained, is clear from the material substance of the Eucharistic Body itself. Even the above-mentioned separability of quantity from substance gives us no clue to the solution, since according to the best founded opinions not only the substance of Christ’s Body, but by His own wise arrangement, its corporeal quantity, i.e. its full size, with its complete organization of integral members and limbs, is present within the diminutive limits of the Host and in each portion thereof. Later theologians (as Rossignol, Legrand) resorted to the unseemly explanation, according to which Christ is present in diminished form and stature, a sort of miniature body; while others (as Oswald, Fernandez, Casajoana) assumed with no better sense of fitness the mutual compenetration of the members of Christ’s Body to within the narrow compass of the point of a pin. The vagaries of the Cartesians, however, went beyond all bounds. Descartes had already, in a letter to P. Mesland (ed. Emery, Paris, 1811), expressed the opinion, that the identity of Christ’s Eucharistic with His Heavenly Body was preserved by the identity of His Soul, which animated all the Eucharistic Bodies. On this basis, the geometrician Varignon suggested a true multiplication of the Eucharistic Bodies upon earth, which were supposed to be most faithful, though greatly reduced, miniature copies of the prototype, the Heavenly Body of Christ. Nor does the modern theory of n-dimensions throw any light upon the subject; for the Body of Christ is not invisible or impalpable to us because it occupies the fourth dimension, but because it transcends and is wholly independent of space. Such a mode of existence, it is clear, does not come within the scope of physics and mechanics, but belongs to a higher, supernatural order, even as does the Resurrection from the sealed tomb, the passing in and out through closed doors, the Transfiguration of the future glorified risen Body. What explanation may, then, be given of the fact?

The simplest treatment of the subject was that offered by the Schoolmen, especially Saint Thomas (III:76:4), They reduced the mode of being to the mode of becoming, i.e. they traced back the mode of existence peculiar to the Eucharistic Body to the Transubstantiation; for a thing has to so “be” as it was in “becoming”, Since ex vi verborum the immediate result is the presence of the Body of Christ, its quantity, present merely per concomitantiam, must follow the mode of existence peculiar to its substance, and, like the latter, must exist without division and extension, i.e. entirely in the whole Host and entirely in each part thereof. In other words, the Body of Christ is present in the sacrament, not after the manner of “quantity” (per modum quantitatis), but of “substance” (per modum substantiæ), Later Scholasticism (Bellarmine, Francisco Suárez, Billuart, and others) tried to improve upon this explanation along other lines by distinguishing between internal and external quantity. By internal quantity (quantitas interna seu in actu primo) is understood that entity, by virtue of which a corporeal substance merely possesses “aptitudinal extension”, i.e. the “capability” of being extended in tri-dimensional space. External quantity, on the other hand (quantitas externa seu in actu secundo), is the same entity, but in so far as it follows its natural tendency to occupy space and actually extends itself in the three dimensions. While aptitudinal extension or internal quantity is so bound up with the essences of bodies that its separability from them involves a metaphysical contradiction, external quantity is, on the other hand, only a natural consequence and effect, which can be so suspended and withheld by the First Cause, that the corporeal substance, retaining its internal quantity, does not extend itself into space. At all events, however plausibly reason may seem to explain the matter, it is nevertheless face to face with a great mystery.

(c) The third and last question has to do with the multilocation of Christ in heaven and upon thousands of altars throughout the world. Since in the natural order of events each body is restricted to one position in space (unilocatio), so that before the law proof of an alibi immediately frees a person from the suspicion of crime, multilocation without further question belongs to the supernatural order. First of all, no intrinsic repugnance can be shown in the concept of multilocation. For if the objection be raised, that no being can exist separated from itself or show forth local distances between its various selves, the sophism is readily detected; for multilocation does not multiply the individual object, but only its external relation to and presence in space. Philosophy distinguishes two modes of presence in creatures:

the circumscriptive, and

the definitive.

The first, the only mode of presence proper to bodies, is that by virtue of which an object is confined to a determinate portion of space in such wise that its various parts (atoms, molecules, electrons) also occupy their corresponding positions in that space. The second mode of presence, that properly belonging to a spiritual being, requires the substance of a thing to exist in its entirety in the whole of the space, as well as whole and entire in each part of that space. The latter is the soul’s mode of presence in the human body. The distinction made between these two modes of presence is important, inasmuch as in the Eucharist both kinds are found in combination. For, in the first place, there is verified a continuous definitive multilocation, called also replication, which consists in this, that the Body of Christ is totally present in each part of the continuous and as yet unbroken Host and also totally present throughout the whole Host, just as the human soul is present in the body. And precisely this latter analogy from nature gives us an insight into the possibility of the Eucharistic miracle. For if, as has been seen above, Divine omnipotence can in a supernatural manner impart to a body such a spiritual, unextended, spatially uncircumscribed mode of presence, which is natural to the soul as regards the human body, one may well surmise the possibility of Christ’s Eucharistic Body being present in its entirety in the whole Host, and whole and entire in each part thereof.

There is, moreover, the discontinuous multilocation, whereby Christ is present not only in one Host, but in numberless separate Hosts, whether in the ciborium or upon all the altars throughout the world. The intrinsic possibility of discontinuous multilocation seems to be based upon the non-repugnance of continuous multilocation. For the chief difficulty of the latter appears to be that the same Christ is present in two different parts, A and B, of the continuous Host, it being immaterial whether we consider the distant parts A and B joined by the continuous line AB or not. The marvel does not substantially increase, if by reason of the breaking of the Host, the two parts A and B are now completely separated from each other. Nor does it matter how great the distance between the parts may be. Whether or not the fragments of a Host are distant one inch or a thousand miles from one another is altogether immaterial in this consideration; we need not wonder, then, if Catholics adore their Eucharistic Lord at one and the same time in New York, London, and Paris. Finally, mention must be made of mixed multilocation, since Christ with His natural dimensions reigns in heaven, whence he does not depart, and at the same time dwells with His Sacramental Presence in numberless places throughout the world. This third case would be in perfect accordance with the two foregoing, were we per impossible permitted to imagine that Christ were present under the appearances of bread exactly as He is in heaven and that He had relinquished His natural mode of existence. This, however, would be but one more marvel of God’s omnipotence. Hence no contradiction is noticeable in the fact, that Christ retains His natural dimensional relations in heaven and at the same time takes up His abode upon the altars of earth.

There is, furthermore, a fourth kind of multilocation, which, however, has not been realized in the Eucharist, but would be, if Christ’s Body were present in its natural mode of existence both in heaven and on earth. Such a miracle might be assumed to have occurred in the conversion of Saint Paul before the gates of Damascus, when Christ in person said to him: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” So too the bilocation of saints, sometimes read of in the pages of hagiography, as, e.g., in the case of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, cannot be arbitrarily cast aside as untrustworthy. The Thomists and some later theologians, it is true, reject this kind of multilocation as intrinsically impossible and declare bilocation to be nothing more than an “apparition” without corporeal presence. But Cardinal De Lugo is of opinion, and justly so, that to deny its possibility might reflect unfavorably upon the Eucharistic multilocation itself. If there were question of the vagaries of many Nominalists, as, e.g., that a bilocated person could be living in Paris and at the same time dying in London, hating in Paris and at the same time loving in London, the impossibility would be as plain as day, since an individual, remaining such as he is, cannot be the subject of contrary propositions, since they exclude one another. The case assumes a different aspect, when wholly external contrary propositions, relating to position in space, are used in reference to the bilocated individual. In such a bilocation, which leaves the principle of contradiction intact, it would be hard to discover an intrinsic impossibility.

MLA Citation

  • Joseph Pohle. “The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2018. Web. 21 October 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Pope Donus

Pope DonusArticle

(or Domnus) Son of a Roman called Mauricius; he was consecrated Bishop of Rome 2 November 676, to succeed Adeodatus II, after an interval of four months and seventeen days; died 11 April 678. Of his life and acts but little is known. The “Liber Pontificalis” informs us that he paved the atrium or quadrangle in front of Saint Peter’s with great blocks of white marble. He also restored the church of Saint Euphemia on the Appian Way, and repaired the basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, or, according to Duchesne’s conjecture, the little church on the road to Saint Paul’s, which marks the spot where Saints Peter and Paul are said to have parted on their way to martyrdom. During the pontificate of Donus, Reparatus, the Archbishop of Ravenna, returned to the obedience of the Holy See, thus ending the schism created by Archbishop Maurus who had aimed at making Ravenna autocephalous. In the time of this pope a colony of Nestorian monks was discovered in a Syrian monastery at Rome — the Monasterium Boetianum. The pope is said to have dispersed them through the various religious houses of the city, and to have given over their monastery to Roman monks. After a brief reign of one year, five months, and ten days, Donus died and was buried in Saint Peter’s. His portrait in mosaic was at one time to be seen in the church of Saint Martina in the Forum.

MLA Citation

  • Thomas Oestereich. “Pope Donus”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2018. Web. 21 October 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Pope Damasus II

Pope Damasus IIArticle

(previously called Poppo) A native of Bavaria and the third German to be elevated to the See of Peter. On the death of Clement II, July, 1047, the Tusculan faction reasserted its power in Rome, and, with the secret aid of Boniface, Margrave of Tuscany, restored its wretched creature Benedict IX, who continued in his wonted manner to disgrace the papacy for a further period of eight months before disappearing entirely from history. On Christmas Day, 1047, an embassy sent by the Roman people brought the tidings of Clement’s death to Henry III, at Pölthe in Saxony, and besought the emperor as Patricius of the Romans to appoint a worthy successor. The envoys, according to their instructions, suggested as a suitable candidate, Halinard, Archbishop of Lyons, who had a perfect command of the Italian tongue and was popular in Rome. Henry, however, in January, 1048, appointed Poppo, Bishop of Brixen, in Tyrol, and at once directed the Margrave Boniface to conduct the pope-designate to Rome. Boniface at first refused, alleging the installation of Benedict, but Henry’s decisive threat soon reduced him to obedience. After Benedict’s removal, the Bishop of Brixen at length entered the city and was enthroned at the Lateran as Damasus II, 17 July 1048. His pontificate, however, was of short duration. After the brief space of twenty-three days, he died — a victim of malaria — at Palestrina, whither he had gone shortly after the installation to escape the summer heat of Rome. The pope was buried in San Lorenzo fuori le mura.

MLA Citation

  • Thomas Oestereich. “Pope Damasus II”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2018. Web. 21 October 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – The True Cross


Growth of the Christian cult

The Cross to which Christ had been nailed, and on which He had died, became for Christians, quite naturally and logically, the object of a special respect and worship. Saint Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ sent me not to baptize; but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void”; in Galatians 2:19: “With Christ I am nailed to the cross”; in Ephesians 2:16: Christ . . . . “might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross”; in Philippians 3:18: “For many walk . . . enemies of the cross of Christ”; in Colossians 2:14: “Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross”; and in Galatians 6:14: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world”.

It seems clear, therefore, that for Saint Paul the Cross of Christ was not only a precious remembrance of Christ’s sufferings and death, but also a symbol closely associated with His sacrifice and the mystery of the Passion. It was, moreover, natural that it should be venerated and become an object of a cult with the Christians who had been saved by it. Of such a cult in the Primitive Church we have definite and sufficiently numerous evidences. Tertullian meets the objection that Christians adore the cross by answering with an argumentum ad hominem, not by a denial. Another apologist, Minucius Felix, replies to the same objection. Lastly we may recall the famous caricature of Alexamenos, for which see the article Ass. From all this it appears that the pagans, without further consideration of the matter, believed that the Christians adored the cross; and that the apologists either answered indirectly, or contented themselves with saying that they do not adore the cross, without denying that a certain form of veneration was paid to it.

It is also an accepted belief that in the decorations of the catacombs there have been found, if not the cross itself, at least more or less veiled allusions to the holy symbol.

This cult became more extensive than ever after the discovery of the Holy Places and of the True Cross. Since the time when Jerusalem had been laid waste and ruined in the wars of the Romans, especially since Hadrian had founded upon the ruins his colony of Ælia Capitolina, the places consecrated by the Passion, Death, and Burial of Christ had been profaned and, it would seem, deserted. Under Constantine, after peace had been vouchsafed to the Church, Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, caused excavations to be made (about A.D. 327, it is believed) in order to ascertain the location of these holy sites. That of Calvary was identified, as well as that of the Holy Sepulchre; it was in the course of these excavations that the wood of the Cross was recovered. It was recognized as authentic, and for it was built a chapel or oratory, which is mentioned by Eusebius, also by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, and Silvia (Etheria). From A.D. 347, that is to say, twenty years after these excavations, the same Saint Cyril, in his discourses (or catecheses) delivered in these very places speaks of this sacred wood. An inscription of A.D. 359, found at Tixter, in the neighbourhood of Sétif in Mauretania, mentions in an enumeration of relics, a fragment of the True Cross. Silvia’s recital (Peregrinatio Etheriae), which is of indisputable authenticity, tells how the sacred wood was venerated in Jerusalem about A.D. 380. On Good Friday, at eight o’clock in the morning, the faithful and the monks assemble in the chapel of the Cross (built on a site hard by Calvary), and at this spot the ceremony of the adoration takes place. The bishop is seated on his chair; before him is a table covered with a cloth; the deacons are standing around him. The silver-gilt reliquary is brought and opened and the sacred wood of the Cross, with the Title, is placed on the table. The bishop stretches out his hand over the holy relic, and the deacons keep watch with him while the faithful and catechumens defile, one by one, before the table, bow, and kiss the Cross; they touch the Cross and the Title with forehead and eyes, but it is forbidden to touch them with the hands. This minute watchfulness was not unnecessary, for it has been told in fact how one day one of the faithful, making as though to kiss the Cross, was so unscrupulous as to bite off a piece of it, which he carried off as a relic. It is the duty of the deacons to prevent the repetition of such a crime. Saint Cyril, who also tells of this ceremony, makes his account much more brief but adds the important detail, that relics of the True Cross have been distributed all over the world. He adds some information as to the silver reliquary which contained the True Cross. In several other passages of the same work Silvia (also called Egeria, Echeria, Eiheria, and Etheria) speaks to us of this chapel of the Cross (built between the basilicas of the Anastasis and the Martyrion) which plays so great a part in the paschal liturgy of Jerusalem.

A law of Theodosius and of Valentinian III forbade under the gravest penalties any painting, carving, or engraving of the cross on pavements, so that this august sign of our salvation might not be trodden under foot. This law was revised by the Trullan Council, A.D. 691. Julian the Apostate, on the other hand, according to Saint Cyril of Alexandria, made it a crime for Christians to adore the wood of the Cross, to trace its form upon their foreheads, and to engrave it over the entrances of their homes. Saint John Chrysostom more than once in his writings makes allusion to the adoration of the cross; one citation will suffice: “Kings removing their diadems take up the cross, the symbol of their Saviour’s death; on the purple, the cross; in their prayers, the cross; on their armour, the cross; on the holy table, the cross; throughout the universe, the cross. The cross shines brighter than the sun.” These quotations from Saint Chrysostom may be found in the authorities to be named at the end of this article. At the same time, pilgrimages to the holy places became more frequent, and especially for the purpose of following the example set by Saint Helena in venerating the True Cross. Saint Jerome, describing the pilgrimage of Saint Paula to the Holy Places, tells us that “prostrate before the Cross, she adored it as though she had seen the Saviour hanging upon it”. It is a remarkable fact that even the Iconoclasts, who fought with such zeal against images and representations in relief, made an exception in the case of the cross. Thus we find the image of the cross on the coins of the Iconoclastic emperors, Leo the Isaurian, Constantine Copronymus, Leo IV, Nicephorus, Michael II, and Theophilus. Sometimes this cult involved abuses. Thus we are told of the Staurolaters, or those who adore the cross; the Chazingarii (from chazus, cross), a sect of Armenians who adore the cross. The Second Council of Nicæa (A.D. 787), held for the purpose of reforming abuses and putting an end to the disputes of Iconoclasm, fixed, once for all, the Catholic doctrine and discipline on this point. It defined that the veneration of the faithful was due to the form “of the precious and vivifying cross”, as well as to images or representations of Christ, of the Blessed Virgin, and of the saints. But the council points out that we must not render to these objects the cult of latria, “which, according to the teaching of the faith, belongs to the Divine nature alone . . . . The honour paid to the image passes to the prototype; and he who adores the image, adores the person whom it represents. Thus the doctrine of our holy fathers obtains in all its force: the tradition of the Holy Catholic Church which from one end of the earth to the other has received the gospel.” This decree was renewed at the Eighth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople, in 869 (can. iii). The council clearly distinguishes between the “salutation” (aspasmos) and “veneration” (proskynesis) due to the cross, and the “true adoration” (alethine latreia), which should not be paid to it. Theodore the Studite, the great adversary of the Iconoclasts, also makes a very exact distinction between the adoratio relativa (proskynesis schetike) and adoration properly so called.

Catholic doctrine on the veneration of the Cross

In passing to a detailed examination of the Catholic doctrine on this subject of the cult due to the Cross, it will be well to notice the theories of Brock, the Abbé Ansault, le Mortillet, and others who pretend to have discovered that cult among the pagans before the time of Christ. With reference, in particular, to the ansated cross of Egypt, Letronne, Raoul-Rochette, and Lajard discuss with much learning the symbolism of that simple hieroglyphic of life, in which the Christians of Egypt seem to have recognized an anticipatory revelation of the Christian Cross, and which they employed in their monuments. According to the text of the Second Council of Nicæa cited above, the cult of the Cross is based upon the same principles as that of relics and images in general, although, to be sure, the True Cross holds the highest place in dignity among all relics. The observation of Petavius should be noted here: that this cult must be considered as not belonging to the substance of religion, but as being one of the adiaphora, or things not absolutely necessary to salvation. Indeed, while it is of faith that this cult is useful, lawful, even pious and worthy of praise and of encouragement, and while we are not permitted to speak against it as something pernicious, still it is one of those devotional practices which the church can encourage, or restrain, or stop, according to circumstances. This explains how the veneration of images was forbidden to the Jews by that text of Exodus (20:4 sqq.) which has been so grossly abused by Iconoclasts and Protestants: “Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them: I am the Lord thy God,” etc. It also explains the fact that in the first ages of Christianity, when converts from paganism were so numerous, and the impression of idol-worship was so fresh, the Church found it advisable not to permit the development of this cult of images; but later, when that danger had disappeared, when Christian traditions and Christian instinct had gained strength, the cult developed more freely. Again, it should be noted that the cult of images and relics is not that of latria, which is the adoration due to God alone, but is, as the Second Council of Nicæa teaches, a relative veneration paid to the image or relic and referring to that which it represents. Precisely this same doctrine is repeated in Sess. XXV of the Council of Trent: “Images are not to be worshipped because it is believed that some divinity or power resides in them and that they must be worshipped on that account, or because we ought to ask anything of them, or because we should put our trust in them, as was done by the gentiles of old who placed their hope in idols but because the honour which is shown to them is referred to the prototypes which they represent; so that through the images which we kiss, and before which we kneel, we may adore Christ, and venerate the saints, whose resemblances they bear.”

This clear doctrine, which cuts short every objection, is also that taught by Bellarmine, by Bossuet, and by Petavius. It must be said, however, that this view was not always so clearly taught. Following Bl. Albertus Magnus and Alexander of Hales, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Thomas, and a section of the Schoolmen who appear to have overlooked the Second Council of Nicæa teach that the worship rendered to the Cross and the image of Christ is that of latria, but with a distinction: the same worship is due to the image and its exemplar but the exemplar is honoured for Himself (or for itself), with an absolute worship; the image because of its exemplar, with a relative worship. The object of the adoration is the same, primary in regard to the exemplar and secondary in regard to the image. To the image of Christ, then, we owe a worship of latria as well as to His Person. The image, in fact, is morally one with its prototype, and, thus considered, if a lesser degree of worship be rendered to the image, that worship must reach the exemplar lessened in degree. Against this theory an attack has recently been made in “The Tablet”, the opinion attributed to the Thomists being sharply combated. Its adversaries have endeavoured to prove that the image of Christ should be venerated but with a lesser degree of honour than its exemplar.

The cult paid to it, they say, is simply analogous to the cult of latria, but in its nature different and inferior. No image of Christ, then, should be honoured with the worship of latria, and, moreover, the term “relative latria”, invented by the Thomists, ought to be banished from theological language as equivocal and dangerous.– Of these opinions the former rests chiefly upon consideration of pure reason, the latter upon ecclesiastical tradition, notably upon the Second Council of Nicæa and its confirmation by the Fourth Council of Constantinople and upon the decree of the Council of Trent.

Relics of the True Cross

The testimony of Silvia (Etheria) proves how highly these relics were prized, while Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, her contemporary, testifies as explicitly that “the whole inhabited earth is full of relics of the wood of the Cross”. In 1889 two French archæologists, Letaille and Audollent, discovered in the district of Sétif an inscription of the year 359 in which, among other relics, is mentioned the sacred wood of the Cross (de ligno crucis et de terrâ promissionis ubi natus est Christus). Another inscription, from Rasgunia (Cape Matifu), somewhat earlier in date than the preceding, mentions another relic of the Cross. Saint John Chrysostom tells us that fragments of the True Cross are kept in golden reliquaries, which men reverently wear upon their persons.

The passage in the “Peregrinatio” which treats of this devotion has already been cited. Saint Paulinus of Nola, some years later, sends to Sulpicius Severus a fragment of the True Cross with these words: “Receive a great gift in a little [compass]; and take, in [this] almost atomic segment of a short dart, an armament [against the perils] of the present and a pledge of everlasting safety”. About 455 Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, sends to Pope Saint Leo a fragment of the precious wood. The “Liber Pontificalis”, if we are to accept the authenticity of its statement, tells us that, in the pontificate of Saint Sylvester, Constantine presented to the Sessorian basilica (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme) in Rome a portion of the True Cross. Later, under Saint Hilary (461-68) and under Symmachus (498-514) we are again told that fragments of the True Cross are enclosed in altars. About the year 500 Avitus, Bishop of Vienne, asks for a portion of the Cross from the Patriarch of Jerusalem.

It is known that Radegunda, Queen of the Franks, having retired to Poitiers, obtained from the Emperor Justin II, in 569, a remarkable relic of the True Cross. A solemn feast was celebrated on this occasion, and the monastery founded by the queen at Poitiers received from that moment the name of Holy Cross. It was also upon this occasion that Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers, and a celebrated poet of the period, composed the hymn “Vexilla Regis” which is still sung at feasts of the Cross in the Latin Rite. Saint Gregory I sent, a little later, a portion of the Cross to Theodolinda, Queen of the Lombards, and another to Recared, the first Catholic King of Spain. In 690, under Sergius I, a casket was found containing a relic of the True Cross which had been sent to John III (560-74) by the Emperor Justin II. The work of Rohault de Fleury, “Mémoire sur les instruments de la Passion”, deserves more prolonged attention; its author has sought out with great care and learning all the relics of the True Cross, drawn up a catalogue of them, and, thanks to this labour, he has succeeded in showing that, in spite of what various Protestant or Rationalistic authors have pretended, the fragments of the Cross brought together again would not only not “be comparable in bulk to a battleship”, but would not reach one-third that of a cross which has been supposed to have been three or four metres in height, with transverse branch of two metres, proportions not at all abnormal. Here is the calculation of this savant: Supposing the Cross to have been of pine-wood, as is believed by the savants who have made a special study of the subject, and giving it a weight of about seventy-five kilograms, we find that the volume of this cross was 178,000,000 cubic millimetres. Now the total known volume of the True Cross, according to the finding of M. Rohault de Fleury, amounts to above 4,000,000 cubic millimetres, allowing the missing part to be as big as we will, the lost parts or the parts the existence of which has been overlooked, we still find ourselves far short of 178,000,000 cubic millimetres, which should make up the True Cross.

Principal feasts of the Cross

The Feast of the Cross like so many other liturgical feasts, had its origin at Jerusalem, and is connected with the commemoration of the Finding of the Cross and the building, by Constantine, of churches upon the sites of the Holy Sepulchre and Calvary. In 335 the dedication of these churches was celebrated with great solemnity by the bishops who had assisted at the Council of Tyre, and a great number of other bishops. This dedication took place on the 13th and 14th of September. This feast of the dedication, which was known by the name of the Encnia, was most solemn; it was on an equal footing with those of the Epiphany and Easter. The description of it should be read in the “Peregrinatio”, which is of great value upon this subject of liturgical origins. This solemnity attracted to Jerusalem a great number of monks, from Mesopotamia, from Syria, from Egypt, from the Thebaïd, and from other provinces, besides laity of both sexes. Not fewer than forty or fifty bishops would journey from their dioceses to be present at Jerusalem for the event. The feast was considered as of obligation, “and he thinks himself guilty of a grave sin who during this period does not attend the great solemnity”. It lasted eight days. In Jerusalem, then, this feast bore an entirely local character. It passed, like so many other feasts, to Constantinople and thence to Rome. There was also an endeavour to give it a local feeling, and the church of “The Holy Cross in Jerusalem” as intended, as its name indicates, to recall the memory of the church at Jerusalem bearing the same dedication.

The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross sprang into existence at Rome at the end of the seventh century. Allusion is made to it during the pontificate of Sergius I (687-701) but, as Dom Bäumer observes, the very terms of the text show that the feast already existed. It is, then, inexact, as has often been pointed out, to attribute the introduction of it to this pope. The Gallican churches, which, at the period here referred to, do not yet know of this feast of the 14th September, have another on the 3rd of May of the same signification. It seems to have been introduced there in the seventh century, for ancient Gallican documents, such as the Lectionary of Luxeuil, do not mention it; Gregory of Tours also seems to ignore it. According to Mgr. Duchesne, the date seems to have been borrowed from the legend of the Finding of the Holy Cross. Later, when the Gallican and Roman Liturgies were combined, a distinct character was given to each feast, so as to avoid sacrificing either. The 3rd of May was called the feast of the Invention of the Cross, and it commemorated in a special manner Saint Helena’s discovery of the sacred wood of the Cross; the 14th of September, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, commemorated above all the circumstances in which Heraclius recovered from the Persians the True Cross, which they had carried off. Nevertheless, it appears from the history of the two feasts, which we have just examined, that that of the 13th and 14th of September is the older, and that the commemoration of the Finding of the Cross was at first combined with it.

The Good Friday ceremony of the Adoration of the Cross also had its origin in Jerusalem, as we have seen, and is a faithful reproduction of the rites of Adoration of the Cross of the fourth century in Jerusalem which have been described above, in accordance with the description of the author of the “Peregrinatio”. This worship paid to the Cross in Jerusalem on Good Friday soon became general. Gregory of Tours speaks of the Wednesday and Friday consecrated the Cross—probably the Wednesday and Friday of Holy Week. The most ancient adoration of the Cross in Church is described in the “Ordo Romanus” generally attributed to Saint Gregory. It is performed, according to this “Ordo”, just as it is nowadays, after a series of responsory prayers. The cross is prepared before the altar; priests, deacons, subdeacons, clerics of the inferior grades, and lastly the people, each one comes in his turn; they salute the cross, during the singing of the anthem, “Ecce lignum crucis in quo salus mundi pependit. Venite, adoremus” (Behold the wood of the cross on which the salvation of the world did hang. Come, let us adore) and then Psalm 118. The Latin Church has kept until today the same liturgical features in the ceremony of Good Friday, added to it is the song of the Improperia and the hymn of the Cross, “Pange, lingua, gloriosi lauream certaminis”.

Besides the Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday and the September feast, the Greeks have still another feast of the Adoration of the Cross on the 1st of August as well as on the third Sunday in Lent. It is probable that Gregory the Great was acquainted with this feast during his stay in Constantinople, and that the station of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, on Lætare Sunday (the fourth Sunday in Lent), is a souvenir, or a timid effort at imitation, of the Byzantine solemnity.

MLA Citation

  • Fernand Cabrol. “The True Cross”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2018. Web. 21 October 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Pope Conon

Pope CononArticle

Date of birth unknown; died, after a long illness, 21 September 687. The son, seemingly, of an officer in the Thracesian troop, he was educated in Sicily and ordained priest at Rome. His age, venerable appearance, and simple character caused the clergy and soldiery of Rome, who were in disagreement, to put aside their respective candidates and to elect him as pope. He was consecrated (21 October 686) after notice of his election had been sent to the Exarch of Ravenna, or after it had been confirmed by him. He received the Irish missionaries, Saint Kilian and his companions, consecrated Kilian bishop, and commissioned him and the others to preach the Faith in Franconia. He was in favour with the savage Emperor Justinian II who informed him that he had recovered the Acts of the Sixth General Council, by which, he wrote, it was his intention to abide. Justinian also remitted certain taxes and dues owing to the imperial exchequer from several papal patrimonies.

MLA Citation

  • Horace Mann. “Pope Conon”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2018. Web. 21 October 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – The Communion of Saints

The Communion of SaintsArticle

(communo sanctorum, a fellowship of, or with, the saints)

The doctrine expressed in the second clause of the ninth article in the received text of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe . . . the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints”. This, probably the latest, addition to the old Roman Symbol is found in:

the Gallican Liturgy of the seventh century;

in some letters of the Pseudo-Augustine, now credited to Saint Caesarius of Arles (c.543);

in the “De Spiritu Sancto”, ascribed to Faustus of Riez (c.460);

in the “Explanatio Symboli” of Nicetas of Remesiana (c.400); and

in two documents of uncertain date, the “Fides Hieronymi”, and an Armenian confession.

On these facts critics have built various theories. Some hold the addition to be a protest against Vigilantius, who condemned the veneration of the saints; and he connects that protest with Faustus in Southern Gaul and probably also with Nicetas in Pannonia, who was influenced by the “Catecheses” of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem. Others see in it at first a reaction against the separatism of the Donatists, therefore an African and Augustinian conception bearing only on church membership, the higher meaning of fellowship with the departed saints having been introduced later by Faustus. Still others think that it originated, with an anti-Donatist meaning, in Armenia, whence it passed to Pannonia, Gaul, the British Isles, Spain, etc., gathering new meanings in the course of its travels till it finally resulted in the Catholic synthesis of medieval theologians. These and many other conjectures leave undisturbed the traditional doctrine, according to which the communion of saints, wheresoever it was introduced into the Creed, is the natural outgrowth of Scriptural teaching, and chiefly of the baptismal formula; still the value of the dogma does not rest on the solution of that historical problem.

Catholic doctrine

The communion of saints is the spiritual solidarity which binds together the faithful on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the saints in heaven in the organic unity of the same mystical body under Christ its head, and in a constant interchange of supernatural offices. The participants in that solidarity are called saints by reason of their destination and of their partaking of the fruits of the Redemption (1 Corinthians 1:2 — Greek Text). The damned are thus excluded from the communion of saints. The living, even if they do not belong to the body of the true Church, share in it according to the measure of their union with Christ and with the soul of the Church. Saint Thomas teaches (III:8:4) that the angels, though not redeemed, enter the communion of saints because they come under Christ’s power and receive of His gratia capitis. The solidarity itself implies a variety of inter-relations: within the Church Militant, not only the participation in the same faith, sacraments, and government, but also a mutual exchange of examples, prayers, merits, and satisfactions; between the Church on earth on the one hand, and purgatory and heaven on the other, suffrages, invocation, intercession, veneration. These connotations belong here only in so far as they integrate the transcendent idea of spiritual solidarity between all the children of God. Thus understood, the communion of saints, though formally defined only in its particular bearings (Council of Trent, Sess. XXV, decrees on purgatory; on the invocation, veneration, and relics of saints and of sacred images; on indulgences), is, nevertheless, dogma commonly taught and accepted in the Church. It is true that the Catechism of the Council of Trent (1st Peter 10) seems at first sight to limit to the living the bearing of the phrase contained in the Creed, but by making the communion of saints an exponent and function, as it were, of the preceding clause, “the Holy Catholic Church”, it really extends to what it calls the Church’s “constituent parts, one gone before, the other following every day”; the broad principle it enunciates thus: “every pious and holy action done by one belongs and is profitable to all, through charity which seeketh not her own”.

In this vast Catholic conception rationalists see not only a late creation, but also an ill-disguised reversion to a lower religious type, a purely mechanical process of justification, the substitution of impersonal moral value in lieu of personal responsibility. Such statements are met best, by the presentation of the dogma in its Scriptural basis and its theological formulation. The first spare yet clear outline of the communion of saints is found in the “kingdom of God” of the Synoptics, not the individualistic creation of Harnack nor the purely eschatological conception of Loisy, but an organic whole (Matthew 13:31), which embraces in the bonds of charity (Matthew 22:39) all the children of God (Matthew 19:28; Luke 20:36) on earth and in heaven (Matthew 6:20), the angels themselves joining in that fraternity of souls (Luke 15:10). One cannot read the parables of the kingdom (Matthew 13) without perceiving its corporate nature and the continuity which links together the kingdom in our midst and the kingdom to come. The nature of that communion, called by Saint John a fellowship with one another (“a fellowship with us” – 1 John 1:3) because it is a fellowship with the Father, and with his Son”, and compared by him to the organic and vital union of the vine and its branches (John 15), stands out in bold relief in the Pauline conception of the mystical body. Repeatedly Saint Paul speaks of the one body whose head is Christ (Colossians 1:18), whose energizing principle is charity (Ephesians 4:16), whose members are the saints, not only of this world, but also of the world to come (Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 12:22). In that communion there is no loss of individuality, yet such an interdependence that the saints are “members one of another” (Romans 12:5), not only sharing the same blessings (1 Corinthians 12:13) and exchanging good offices (1 Corinthians 12:25) and prayers (Ephesians 6:18), but also partaking of the same corporate life, for “the whole body . . . by what every joint supplieth . . . maketh increase . . . unto the edifying of itself in charity” (Ephesians 4:16).

Recent well-known researches in Christian epigraphy have brought out clear and abundant proof of the principal manifestations of the communion of saints in the early Church. Similar evidence, is to be found in the Apostolic Fathers with an occasional allusion to the Pauline conception. For an attempt at the formulation of the dogma we have to come down to the Alexandrian School. Clement of Alexandria shows the “gnostic’s” ultimate relations with the angels and the departed souls; and he all but formulates the thesaurus ecclesiae in his presentation of the vicarious martyrdom, not of Christ alone, but also of the Apostles and other martyrs. Origen enlarges, almost to exaggeration, on the idea of vicarious martyrdom and of communion between man and angels; and accounts for it by the unifying power of Christ’s Redemption), ut caelestibus terrena sociaret and the force of charity, stranger in heaven than upon earth. With Saint Basil and Saint John Chrysostom the communion of saints has become an obvious tenet used as an answer to such popular objections as these: what, need of a communion with others? (Saint Basil the Great) another has sinned and I shall atone? (Saint John Chrysostom). Saint John Damascene has only to collect the sayings of the Fathers in order to support the dogma of the invocation of the saints and the prayers for the dead.

But the complete presentation of the dogma comes from the later Fathers. After the statements of Tertullian, speaking of “common hope, fear, joy, sorrow, and suffering” (On Penance 9-10); of Saint Cyprian, explicitly setting forth the communion of merits (De lapsis 17); of Saint Hilary, giving the Eucharistic Communion as a means and symbol of the communion of saints (in Psalm 64:14), we come to the teaching of Ambrose and Saint Augustine. From the former, the thesaurus ecclesiae, the best practical test of the reunion of saints, receives a definite explanation (On Penance I.15; De officiis, I, xix). In the transcendent view of the Church taken by the latter (Enchiridion 66) the communion of saints, though never so called by him, is a necessity; to the Civitas Dei must needs correspond the unitas caritatis, which embraces in an effective union the saints and angels in heaven (Enarration on Psalm 36, nos. 3-4), the just on earth (On Baptism III.17), and in a lower degree, the sinners themselves, the putrida membra of the mystic body; only the declared heretics, schismatics, and apostates are excluded from the society, though not from the prayers, of the saints. The Augustinian concept, though somewhat obscured in the catechetical expositions of the Creed by the Carlovingian and later theologians, takes its place in the medieval synthesis of Peter Lombard, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Thomas, etc.

Influenced no doubt by early writers like Yvo of Chartres, Abelard, and probably Alexander of Hales, Saint Thomas reads in the neuter the phrase of the Creed, communio sanctorum (participation of spiritual goods), but apart from the point of grammar his conception of the dogma is thorough. General principle; the merits of Christ are communicated to all, and the merits of each one are communicated to the others. The manner of participation: both objective and intentional, in radice operis, ex intentione facientis (Supplement 71:1). The measure: the degree of charity. The benefits communicated: not the sacraments alone but, the superabundant merits of Christ and the saints forming the thesaurus ecclesia. The participants: the three parts of the Church; consequently the faithful on earth exchanging merits and satisfactions, the souls in purgatory profiting by the suffrages of the living and the intercession of the saints (Supplement 71), the saints themselves receiving honour and giving intercession, and also the angels, as noted above. Later Scholastics and post-Reformation theologians have added little to the Thomistic presentation of the dogma. They worked rather around than into it, defending such points as were attacked by heretics, showing the religious, ethical, and social value of the Catholic conception; and they introduced the distinction between the body and the soul of the Church, between actual membership and membership in desire, completing the theory of the relations between church membership and the communion of saints which had already been outlined by Saint Optatus of Mileve and Saint Augustine at the time of the Donatist controversy. One may regret the plan adopted by the Schoolmen afforded no comprehensive view of the whole dogma, bur rather scattered the various components of it through a vast synthesis. This accounts for the fact that a compact exposition of the communion of saints is to be sought less in the works of our standard theologians than in our catechetical, apologetic, pastoral, and even ascetic literature. It may also partly explain, without excusing them, the gross misrepresentations noticed above.

In the Anglo-Saxon Church

That the Anglo-Saxons held the doctrine of the communion of saints may be judged from the following account given by Lingard in his “History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church.” They received the practice of venerating the saints, he says, together with the rudiments the Christian religion; and they manifested their devotion to them both in public and private worship: in public, by celebrating the anniversaries of individual saints, and keeping annually the feast of All-Hallows as a solemnity of the first class; and in their private devotions, by observing the instructions to worship God and then to “pray, first to Saint Mary, and the holy apostles, and the holy martyrs, and all God’s saints, that they would intercede for them to God”. In this way they learned to look up to the saints in heaven with feelings of confidence and affection, to consider them as friends and protectors, and to implore their aid in the hour of distress, with the hope that God would grant to the patron what he might otherwise refuse to the supplicant.

Like all other Christians, the Anglo-Saxons held in special veneration “the most holy mother of God, the perpetual virgin Saint Mary”. Her praises were sung by the Saxon poets; hymns in her honour were chanted in the public service; churches and altars were placed under her patronage; miraculous cures were ascribed to her; and four annual feasts were observed commemorating the principal events of her mortal life: her nativity, the Annunciation, her purification, and assumption. Next to the Blessed Virgin in the devotion was Saint Peter, whom Christ had chosen for the leader of the Apostles and to whom he had given the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, “with the chief exercise of judicial power in the Church, to the end that all might know that whosoever should separate himself from the unity of Peter’s faith or of Peter’s fellowship, that man could never attain absolution from the bonds of sin, nor admission through the gates of the heavenly kingdom” (Bede). These words of the Venerable Bede refer, it is true, to Peter’s successors as well as to Peter himself, but they also evidence the veneration of Anglo-Saxons for the Prince of the Apostles, a veneration which they manifested in the number of churches dedicated to his memory, in the pilgrimages made to his tomb, and by the presents sent to the church in which his remains rested and to the bishop who sat in his chair. Particular honours were paid also to Saints Gregory and Augustine, to whom they were chiefly indebted for their knowledge of Christianity. They called Gregory their “foster-father in Christ” and themselves “his foster-children in baptism”; and spoke of Augustine as “the first to bring to them the doctrine of faith, the sacrament of baptism, and the knowledge of their heavenly country”. While these saints were honoured by the whole people, each separate nation revered the memory of its own apostle. Thus Saint Aidan in Northumbria, Saint Birinus in Wessex, and Saint Felix in East Anglia were venerated as the protectors of the countries which had been the scenes of their labours. All the saints so far mentioned were of foreign extraction; but the Anglo-Saxons soon extended their devotion to men who had been born and educated among them and who by their virtues and zeal in propagating Christianity had merited the honours of sanctity.

This account of the devotion of the Anglo-Saxons to those whom they looked up to as their friends and protectors in heaven is necessarily brief, but it is amply sufficient to show that they believed and loved the doctrine of the communion of saints.

Protestant views

Sporadic errors against special points of the communion of saints are pointed out by the Synod of Gangra, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint Epiphanius, Asteritis Amasensis, and Saint Jerome. From the forty-second proposition condemned, and the twenty-ninth question asked, by Martin V at Constance, we also know that Wyclif and Hus had gone far towards denying the dogma itself. But the communion of saints became a direct issue only at the time of the Reformation. The Lutheran churches, although commonly adopting the Apostles’ Creed, still in their original confessions, either pass over in silence the communion of saints or explain it as the Church’s “union with Jesus Christ in the one true faith” (Luther’s Small Catechism), or as “the congregation of saints and true believers” (Augsburg Confession, ibid., III, 12), carefully excluding, if not the memory, at least the invocation of the saints, because Scripture “propoundeth unto us one Christ, the Mediator, Propitiatory, High-Priest, and Intercessor” (ibid., III, 26). The Reformed churches generally maintain the Lutheran identification of the communion of saints with the body of believers but do not limit its meaning to that body. Calvin (Inst. chret., IV, 1, 3) insists that the phrase of the Creed is more than a definition of the Church; it conveys the meaning of such a fellowship that whatever benefits God bestows upon the believers should mutually communicate to one another. That view is followed in the Heidelberg Catechism, emphasized in the Gallican Confession, wherein communion is made to mean the efforts of believers to mutually strengthen themselves in the fear of God. Zwingli in his articles admits an exchange of prayers between the faithful and hesitates to condemn prayers for the dead, rejecting only the saints’ intercession as injurious to Christ. Both the Scotch and Second Helvetic Confessions bring together the Militant and the Triumphant Church, but whereas the former is silent on the signification of the fact, the latter says that they hold communion with each other: “nihilominus habent illae inter sese communionem, vel conjunctionem”.

The double and often conflicting influence of Luther and Calvin, with a lingering memory of Catholic orthodoxy, is felt in the Anglican Confessions. On this point the Thirty-nine Articles are decidedly Lutheran, rejecting as they do “the Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints”, because they see in it “a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God”. On the other hand, the Westminster Confession, while ignoring the Suffering and the Triumphant Church, goes beyond the Calvinistic view and falls little short of the Catholic doctrine with regard to the faithful on earth, who, it says, “being united to one another in love, have communion in each other’s gifts and graces”. In the United States, the Methodist Articles of Religion, 1784, as well as the Reformed Episcopal Articles of Religion, 1875, follow the teachings of the Thirty-nine Articles, whereas the teaching of the Westminster Confession is adopted in the Philadelphia Baptist Confession, 1688, and in the Confession of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1829. Protestant theologians, just as Protestant confessions, waver between the Lutheran and the Calvinistic view.

The cause of the perversion by Protestants of the traditional concept of communion of saints is not to be found in the alleged lack of Scriptural and early Christian evidence in favour of that concept; well-informed Protestant writers have long since ceased to press that argument. Nor is there any force in the oft-repeated argument that the Catholic dogma detracts from Christ’s mediatorship, for it is plain, as Saint Thomas had already shown (Suppl., 72:2, ad 1), that the ministerial mediatorship of the saints does not detract from, but only enhances, the magisterial mediatorship of Christ. Some writers have traced that perversion to the Protestant concept of the Church as an aggregation of souls and a multitude of units bound together by a community of faith and pursuit and by the ties of Christian sympathy, but in no way organized or interdependent as members of the same body. This explanation is defective because the Protestant concept of the Church is a fact parallel to, but in no way causative of, their view of the communion of saints. The true cause must be found elsewhere. As early as 1519, Luther, the better to defend his condemned theses on the papacy, used the clause of the Creed to show that the communion of saints, and not the papacy, was the Church: “non ut aligui somniant, credo ecclesiam esse praelatum . . . sed . . . communionem sanctorum”. This was simply playing on the words of the Symbol. At that time Luther still held the traditional communion of saints, little dreaming that he would one day give it up. But he did give it up when he formulated his theory on justification. The substitution of the Protestant motto, “Christ for all and each one for himself”. In place of the old axiom of Hugh of Saint Victor, “Singula sint omnium et omina singulorum” (each for all and all for each–P.L., CLXXV. 416), is a logical outcome of their concept of justification; not an interior renovation of the soul, nor a veritable regeneration from a common Father, the second Adam, nor yet an incorporation with Christ, the head of the mystical body, but an essentially individualistic act of fiducial faith. In such a theology there is obviously no room for that reciprocal action of the saints, that corporate circulation of spiritual blessings through the members of the same family, that domesticity and saintly citizenship which lies at the very core of the Catholic communion of saints. Justification and the communion of saints go hand in hand. The efforts which are being made towards reviving in Protestantism the old and still cherished dogma of the communion of saints must remain futile unless the true doctrine of justification be also restored.

MLA Citation

  • Joseph Sollier. “The Communion of Saints”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2018. Web. 21 October 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Pope Clement XIV

Pope Clement XIVArticle

(Lorenzo – or Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio – Ganganelli) Born at Sant’ Arcangelo, near Rimini, 31 October 1705; died at Rome, 22 September 1774.

At the death of Clement XIII the Church was in dire distress. Gallicanism and Jansenism, Febronianism and Rationalism were up in rebellion against the authority of the Roman pontiff; the rulers of France, Spain, Naples, Portugal, Parma were on the side of the sectarians who flattered their dynastic prejudices and, at least in appearance, worked for the strengthening of the temporal power against the spiritual. The new pope would have to face a coalition of moral and political forces which Clement XIII had indeed manfully resisted, but failed to put down, or even materially to check. The great question between Rome and the Bourbon princes was the suppression of the Society of Jesus. In France, Spain, and Portugal the suppression had taken place de facto; the accession of a new pope was made the occasion for insisting on the abolition of the order root and branch, de facto and de jure, in Europe and all over the world.

The conclave assembled 15 February 1769. Rarely, if ever, has a conclave been the victim of such overweening interference, base intrigues, and unwarranted pressure. The ambassadors of France (d’Aubeterre) and Spain (Azpuru) and the Cardinals de Bernis (France) and Orsini (Naples) led the campaign. The Sacred college, consisting of forty-seven cardinals, was divided into Court cardinals and Zelanti. The latter, favourable to the Jesuits and opposed to the encroaching secular, were in a majority. “It is easy to foresee the difficulties of our negotiations on a stage where more than three-fourths of the actors are against us.” Thus wrote Bernis to Choiseul, the minister of Louis XV. The immediate object of the intriguers was to gain over a sufficient number of Zelanti. D’Aubeterre, inspired by Azpuru, urged Bernis to insist that the election of the future pope be made to depend on his written engagement to suppress the Jesuits. The cardinal, however, refused. In a memorandum to Choiseul, dated 12 April, 1769, he says: “To require from the future pope a promise made in writing or before witnesses, to destroy the Jesuits, would be a flagrant violation of the canon law and therefore a blot on the honour of the crowns.” The King of Spain (Charles III) was willing to bear the responsibility. D’Aubeterre opined that simony and canon law had no standing against reason, which claimed the abolition of the Society for the peace of the world. Threats were now resorted to; Bernis hinted at a blockade of Rome and popular insurrections to overcome the resistance of the Zelanti. France and Spain, in virtue of their right of veto, excluded twenty-three of the forty-seven cardinals; nine or ten more, on account of their age or for some other reason, were not papabili; only four or five remained eligible. Well might the Sacred College, as Bernis feared it would, protest against violence and separate on the plea of not being free to elect a suitable candidate. But d’Aubeterre was relentless. He wished to intimidate the cardinals. “A pope elected against the wishes of the Courts”, he wrote, “will not be acknowledged”; and again, “I think that a pope of that [philosophical] temper, that is without scruples, holding fast to no opinion and consulting only his own interests, might be acceptable to the Courts”. The ambassadors threatened to leave Rome unless the conclave surrendered to their dictation. The arrival of the two Spanish cardinals, Solis and La Cerda, added new strength to the Court party. Solis insisted on a written promise to suppress the Jesuits being given by the future pope, but Bernis was not to be gained over to such a breach of the law. Solis, therefore, supported in the conclave by Cardinal Malvazzi and outside by the ambassadors of France and Spain, took the matter into his own hands. He began by sounding Cardinal Ganganelli as to his willingness to give the promise required by the Bourbon princes as an indispensable condition for election. — Why Ganganelli? This cardinal was the only friar in the Sacred College. Of humble birth (his father had been a surgeon at Sant’ Arcangelo), he had received his education from the Jesuits of Rimini and the Piarists of Urbino, and, in 1724, at the age of nineteen, had entered the Order of Friars Minor of Saint Francis and changed his baptismal name (Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio) for that of Lorenzo. His talents and his virtues had raised him to the dignity of definitor generalis of his order (1741); Benedict XIV made him Consultor of the Holy Office, and Clement XIII gave him the cardinal’s hat (1759), at the instance, it is said, of Father Ricci, the General of the Jesuits. During the conclave he endeavoured to please both the Zelanti and the Court party without committing himself to either. At any rate he signed a paper which satisfied Solis. Crétineau-Joly, the historian of the Jesuits, gives its text; the future pope declared “that he recognized in the sovereign pontiff the right to extinguish, with good conscience, the Company of Jesus, provided he observed the canon law; and that it was desirable that the pope should do everything in his power to satisfy the wishes of the Crowns”. The original paper is, however, nowhere to be found, but its existence seems established by subsequent events, and also by the testimony of Bernis in letters to Choiseul (28 July, and 20 November, 1769). Ganganelli had thus secured the votes of the Court cardinals; the Zelanti looked upon him as indifferent or even favourable to the Jesuits; d’Aubeterre had always been in his favour as being “a wise and moderate theologian”; and Choiseul had marked him as “very good” on the list of papabili. Bernis, anxious to have his share in the victory of the sovereigns, urged the election. On 18 May, 1769, Ganganelli was elected by forty-six votes out of forty-seven, the forty-seventh being his own which he had given to Cardinal Rezzonico, a nephew of Clement XIII. He took the name of Clement XIV.

The new pope’s first Encyclical clearly defined his policy: to keep the peace with Catholic princes in order to secure their support in the war against irreligion. His predecessor had left him a legacy of broils with nearly every Catholic power in Europe. Clement hastened to settle as many as he could by concessions and conciliatory measures. Without revoking the constitution of Clement XIII against the young Duke of Parma’s inroads on the rights of the Church, he refrained from urging its execution, and graciously granted him a dispensation to marry his cousin, the Archduchess Amelia, daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria. The King of Spain, soothed by these concessions, withdrew the uncanonical edict which, a year before, he had issued as a counterblast to the pope’s proceedings against the infant Duke of Parma, the king’s nephew; he also re-established the nuncio’s tribunal and condemned some writings against Rome. Portugal had been severed from Rome since 1760; Clement XIV began his attempt at reconciliation by elevating to the Sacred College Paulo de Carvalho, brother of the famous minister Pombal; active negotiations terminated in the revocation, by King Joseph I, of the ordinances of 1760, the origin and cause of the rupture between Portugal and the Holy See. A grievance common to Catholic princes was the yearly publication, on Holy Thursday, of the censures reserved to the pope; Clement abolished this custom in the first Lent of his pontificate. But there remained the ominous question of the Jesuits. The Bourbon princes, though thankful for smaller concessions, would not rest till they had obtained the great object of their machinations, the total suppression of the Society. Although persecuted in France, Spain, Sicily, and Portugal, the Jesuits had still many powerful protectors: the rulers, as well as the public conscience, protected them and their numerous establishments in the ecclesiastical electorates of Germany, in the Palatinate, Bavaria, Silesia, Poland, Switzerland, and the many countries subject to the sceptre of Maria Theresa, not to mention the States of the Church and the foreign missions. The Bourbon princes were moved in their persecution by the spirit of the times, represented in Latin countries by French irreligious philosophism, by Jansenism, Gallicanism, and Erastianism; probably also by the natural desire to receive the papal sanction for their unjust proceedings against the order, for which they stood accused at the bar of the Catholic conscience. The victim of a man’s injustice often becomes the object of his hatred; thus only the conduct of Charles III, of Pombal, Tanucci, Aranda, Moniño can be accounted for.

An ever-recurring and almost solitary grievance against the Society was that the Fathers disturbed the peace wherever they were firmly established. The accusation is not unfounded: the Jesuits did indeed disturb the peace of the enemies of the Church, for, in the words of d’Alembert to Frederick II, they were “the grenadiers of the pope’s guard”. Cardinal de Bernis, now French ambassador in Rome, was instructed by Choiseul to follow the lead of Spain in the renewed campaign against the Jesuits. On the 22nd of July, 1769, he presented to the pope a memorandum in the name of the three ministers of the Bourbon kings, “The three monarchs”, it ran, “still believe the destruction of the Jesuits to be useful and necessary; they have already made their request to Your Holiness, and they renew it this day.” Clement answered that “he had his conscience and honour to consult”; he asked for a delay. On 30 September he made some vague promises to Louis XV, who was less eager in the fray than Charles III. This latter, bent on the immediate suppression of the order, obtained from Clement XIV, under the strong pressure of Azpuru, the written promise “to submit to His Majesty a scheme for the absolute extinction of the Society” (30 November, 1769). To prove his sincerity the pope now commenced open hostilities against the Jesuits. He refused to see their general, Father Ricci, and gradually removed from his entourage their best friends; his only confidants were two friars of his own order, Buontempo and Francesco; no princes or cardinals surrounded his throne. The Roman people, dissatisfied with this state of things and reduced to starvation by maladministration, openly showed their discontent, but Clement, bound by his promises and caught in the meshes of Bourbon diplomacy, was unable to retrace his steps. The college and seminary of Frascati were taken from the Jesuits and handed over to the bishop of the town, the Cardinal of York. Their Lenten catechisms were prohibited for 1770. A congregation of cardinals hostile to the order visited the Roman College and had the Fathers expelled; the novitiate and the German College were also attacked. The German College won its cause, but the sentence was never executed. The novices and students were sent back to their families. A similar system of persecution was extended to Bologna, Ravenna, Ferrara, Modena, Macerata. Nowhere did the Jesuits offer any resistance; they knew that their efforts were futile. Father Garnier wrote: “You ask me why the Jesuits offer no defence: they can do nothing here. All approaches, direct and indirect, are completely closed, walled up with double walls. Not the most insignificant memorandum can find its way in. There is no one who would undertake to hand it in” (19th Jan., 1773).

On 4 July 1772, appeared on the scene a new Spanish ambassador, Joseph Moniño, Count of Florida Blanca. At once he made an onslaught on the perplexed pope. He openly threatened him with a schism in Spain and probably in the other Bourbon states, such as had existed in Portugal from 1760 to 1770. On the other hand, he promised the restitution of Avignon and Benevento, still held by France and Naples. Whilst Clement’s anger was roused by this latter simoniacal proposal, his good, but feeble, heart could not overcome the fear of a widespread schism. Moniño had conquered. He now ransacked the archives of Rome and Spain to supply Clement with facts justifying the promised suppression. Moniño must be held responsible for the matter of the Brief “Dominus ac Redemptor”, i.e. for its facts and provisions; the pope contributed little more to it than the form of his supreme authority. Meanwhile Clement continued to harass the Jesuits of his own dominions, perhaps with a view to preparing the Catholic world for the Brief of suppression, or perhaps hoping by his severity to soothe the anger of Charles III and to stave off the abolition of the whole order. Until the end of 1772 he still found some support against the Bourbons in King Charles Emmanuel of Sardinia and in the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. But Charles Emmanuel died, and Maria Theresa, giving way to the importunate prayers of her son Joseph II and her daughter the Queen of Naples, ceased to plead for the maintenance of the Society. Thus left to himself, or rather to the will of Charles III and the wiles of Moniño, Clement began, in November, 1772, the composition of the Brief of abolition, which took him seven months to finish. It was signed 8 June, 1773; at the same time a congregation of cardinals was appointed to administer the property of the suppressed order. On 21 July the bells of the Gesù rang the opening of the annual novena preceding the feast of Saint Ignatius; the pope, hearing them, remarked: “They are not ringing for the saints but for the dead”. The Brief of suppression, signed on 8 June, bears the date 21 July, 1773. It was made known at the Gesù to the general (Father Ricci) and his assistants on the evening of 16 August; the following day they were taken first to the English College, then to Castel Sant’ Angelo, where their long trial was commenced. Ricci never saw the end of it. He died in prison, to his last moment protesting his innocence and that of his order. His companions were set free under Pius VI, their judges having found them “not guilty”.

The Brief, “Dominus ac Redemptor” opens with the statement that it is the pope’s office to secure in the world the unity of mind in the bonds of peace. He must therefore be prepared, for the sake of charity, to uproot and destroy the things most dear to him, whatever pains and bitterness their loss may entail. Often the popes, his predecessors, have made use of their supreme authority for reforming, and even dissolving, religious orders which had become harmful and disturbed the peace of the nations rather than promoted it. Numerous examples are quoted, then the Brief continues: “Our predecessors, in virtue of the plenitude of power which is theirs as Vicars of Christ, have suppressed such orders without allowing them to state their claims or to refute the grave accusations brought against them, or to impugn the motives of the pope.” Clement has now to deal with a similar case, that of the Society of Jesus. Having enumerated the principal favours granted it by former popes, he remarks that “the very tenor and terms of the said Apostolic constitutions show that the Society from its earliest days bore the germs of dissensions and jealousies which tore its own members asunder, led them to rise against other religious orders, against the secular clergy and the universities, nay even against the sovereigns who had received them in their states”. Then follows a list of the quarrels in which the Jesuits had been engaged, from Sixtus V to Benedict XIV. Clement XIII had hoped to silence their enemies by renewing the approbation of their Institute, “but the Holy See derived no consolation, the Society no help, Christianity no advantage from the Apostolic letters of Clement XIII, of blessed memory, letters which were wrung from him rather than freely given”. At the end of this pope’s reign “the outcry and the complaints against the Society increasing day by day, the very princes whose piety and hereditary benevolence towards it are favourably known of all nations — our beloved Sons in Jesus Christ the Kings of France, Spain, Portugal, and the two Sicilies — were forced to expel from their kingdoms, states and provinces, all the religious of this Order, well knowing that this extreme measure was the only remedy to such great evils.” Now the complete abolition of the order is demanded by the same princes. After long and mature consideration the pope, “compelled by his office, which imposes on him the obligation to procure, maintain, and consolidate with all his power the peace and tranquillity of the Christian people — persuaded, moreover, that the Society of Jesus is no longer able to produce the abundant fruit and the great good for which it was instituted — and considering that, as long as this order subsists, it is impossible for the Church to enjoy free and solid peace”, resolves to “suppress and abolish” the Society, “to annul and abrogate all and each of its offices, functions, and administrations”. The authority of the superiors was transferred to the bishops; minute provisions were made for the maintenance and the employment of the members of the order. The Brief concludes with a prohibition to suspend or impede its execution, to make it the occasion of insulting or attacking anyone, least of all the former Jesuits; finally it exhorts the faithful to live in peace with all men and to love one another.

The one and only motive for the suppression of the Society set forth in this Brief is to restore the peace of the Church by removing one of the contending parties from the battlefield. No blame is laid by the pope on the rules of the order, or the personal conduct of its members, or the orthodoxy of their teaching. Moreover, Father Sydney Smith, S.J. (in “The Month”, CII, 62, July 1903), observes: “The fact remains that the condemnation is not pronounced in the straightforward language of direct statement, but is merely insinuated with the aid of dexterous phrasing”; and he contrasts this method of stating grounds for the suppression of the Society with the vigorous and direct language used by former popes in suppressing the Humiliati and other orders. If Clement XIV hoped to stop the storm of unbelief raging against the Bark of Peter by throwing its best oarsmen overboard, he was sorely mistaken. But is unlikely that he entertained such a fallacy. He loved the Jesuits, who had been his first teachers, his trusty advisers, the best defenders of the Church over which he ruled. No personal animosity guided his action; the Jesuits themselves, in agreement with all serious historians, attribute their suppression to Clement’s weakness of character, unskilled diplomacy, and that kind of goodness of heart which is more bent on doing what is pleasing than what is right. He was not built to hold his head above the tempest; his hesitations and his struggles were of no avail against the enemies of the order, and his friends found no better excuse for him than that of Saint Alphonsus: What could the poor pope do when all the Courts insisted on the suppression? The Jesuit Cordara expresses the same mind: “I think we should not condemn the pontiff who, after so many hesitations, has judged it his duty to suppress the Society of Jesus. I love my order as much as any man, yet, had I been in the pope’s place I should probably have acted as he did. The Xompany, founded and maintained for the good of the Church, perished for the same good; it could not have ended more gloriously.”

It should be noted that the Brief was not promulgated in the form customary for papal Constitutions intended as laws of the Church. It was not a Bull, but a Brief, i.e. a decree of less binding force and easier of revocation; it was not affixed to the gates of Saint Peter’s or in the Campo di Fiore; it was not even communicated in legal form to the Jesuits in Rome; the general and his assistants alone received the notification of their suppression. In France it was not published, the Gallican Church, and especially Beaumont, Archbishop of Paris, resolutely opposing it as being the pope’s personal deed, not supported by the whole Church and therefore not binding on the Church of France. The King of Spain thought the Brief too lenient, for it condemned neither the doctrine, nor the morals, nor the discipline of his victims. The court of Naples forbade its publication under pain of death. Maria Theresa allowed her son Joseph II to seize the property of the Jesuits (some $10,000,000) and then, “reserving her rights”, acquiesced in the suppression “for the peace of the Church”. Poland resisted a while; the Swiss cantons of Lucerne, Fribourg, and Solothurn never allowed the Fathers to give up their colleges. Two non-Catholic sovereigns, Frederick of Prussia and Catherine of Russia, took the Jesuits under their protection. Whatever may have been their motives, whether it was to spite the pope and the Bourbon Courts or to please their Catholic subjects and preserve for them the services of the best educators, their intervention kept the order alive until its complete restoration in 1804. Frederick persevered in his opposition only for a few years; in 1780 the Brief was promulgated in his dominions. The Jesuits retained possession of all their colleges and of the University of Breslau until 1806 and 1811, but they ranked as secular priests and admitted no more novices. But Catherine II resisted to the end. By her order the bishops of White Russia ignored the Brief of suppression and commanded the Jesuits to continue to live in communities and to go on with their usual work. Clement XIV seems to have approved of their conduct. The empress, in order to set at rest the scruples of the Fathers, engaged in several negotiations with the pope and had her will. In France, too, the persecuted Jesuits were not altogether without friends. Madame Louise de France, daughter of Louis XV, who had entered the Carmelite Order and was, with her sisters, the leader of a band of pious women at the court of her royal father, had worked out a scheme for re-establishing the Jesuits in six provinces under the authority of the bishops. Bernis, however, defeated their good intentions. He obtained from the pope a new Brief, addressed to himself and requesting him to see that the French bishops conformed, each in his diocese, to the Brief “Dominus ac Redemptor”.

After the death of Clement XIV it was rumoured that he had retracted the Brief of abolition by a letter of 29 June 1774. That letter, it was said, had been entrusted to his confessor to be given to the next pope. It was published for the first time in 1789, at Zurich, in P. Ph. Wolf’s “Allgemeine Geschichte der Jesuiten”. Although Pius VI never protested against this statement, the authenticity of the document in question is not sufficiently established (De la Serviére).

The first and almost the only advantage the pope reaped from his policy of concessions was the restoration to the Holy See of Avignon and Benevento. These provinces had been seized by the Kings of France and Naples when Clement XIII had excommunicated their kinsman the young Duke of Parma (1768). The restitution, following so closely on the suppression of the Jesuits, seemed the price paid for it, although, to save appearances, the duke interceded with the two kings in favour of the pope, and Clement, in the consistory of 17 January, 1774, took occasion from it to load the Bourbon princes with praises they little deserved. The hostile and schismatical manœuvres against the Church continued unabated in many Catholic countries. In France a royal commission for the reformation of the religious orders had been at work for several years, notwithstanding the energetic protests of Clement XIII; without the pope’s consent it had abolished in 1770 the congregations of Grandmont and of the exempt Benedictines; it had threatened the Premonstratensians, the Trinitarians, and the Minims with the same fate. The pope protested, through his nuncio to Paris, against such abuses of the secular power, but in vain. The Celestines and the Camaldolese were secularized that same year, 1770. The only concessions Louis XV deigned to make was to submit to Clement the general edict for the reformation of the French religious before its publication. This was in 1773. The pope succeeded in obtaining its modification in several points.

In 1768 Genoa had ceded the Island of Corsica to France. At once a conflict arose as to the introduction of “Gallican usages”. The pope sent a visitor Apostolic to the island and had the gratification of preventing the adoption of usages in opposition to the Roman practice. Louis XV, however, revenged himself by absolutely refusing to acknowledge the pope’s suzerainty over Corsica. Louis XV died in 1774, and one is rather surprised at the eulogy which Clement XIV pronounced in a consistory on “the king’s deep love for the Church, and his admirable zeal for the defence of the Catholic religion”. He also hoped that the penitent death of the prince had secured his salvation. It may be surmised that he was prompted by a desire to please the king’s youngest daughter, Madame Louise de France, Prioress of the Carmelites of Saint-Denis, for whom he had always shown a great affection, attested by numerous favours granted to herself and to her convent.

During Clement XIV’s pontificate the chief rulers in German lands were Maria Theresa, of Austria, and Frederick the Great, of Prussia. Frederick, by preserving the Jesuits in his dominions, rendered the Church a good, though perhaps unintended, service. He also authorized the erection of a Catholic church in Berlin; the pope sent a generous contribution and ordered collections for the same purpose to be made in Belgium, the Rhineland, and Austria. Maria Theresa lived up to the title of Regina Apostolica bestowed on her by Clement XIII. But the doctrines of Febronius were prevalent at her court, and more than once she came into conflict with the pope. She refused to suppress a new edition of Febronius, as Clement XIV requested; she lent a willing ear to the “Grievances of the German nation”, a scheme of reforms in the Church making it more dependent on the prince than on the pope; she legislated for the religious orders of her dominions without consulting Rome. She maintained her edict on the religious against all the pope’s remonstrances, but withdrew her protection from the authors of the “Grievances”, the Electors of Cologne, Mainz, and Trier. She also obtained from Clement in 1770 the institution of a Ruthenian bishop for the Ruthenian Catholics of Hungary. In other parts of Germany the pope had to face similar difficulties. The number and wealth of the religious houses, in some instances their uselessness, and occasionally their disorders, tempted the princes to lay violent and rapacious hands on them. Numerous houses were to be suppressed in Bavaria for the endowment of the new University of Ebersberg, in the Palatinate the reception of new religious was to be stopped; Clement opposed both measures with success. Westphalia is indebted to him for the University of Münster, erected 27 May, 1773.

In Spain Clement approved the Order of the Knights of the Immaculate Conception, instituted by Charles III. The king also desired him to define the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, but France blocked the way. Portugal, whilst it made a certain outward show of goodwill towards Rome, continued to interfere in ecclesiastical affairs and to impose on colleges and seminaries an education more in accord with French philosophism than with the spirit of the Church. At Naples the minister Tanucci hindered the recruitment of religious orders; episcopal acts required the royal placet; the anti- religious press enjoyed high protection. Poland and Russia were another source of deep grief for Clement XIV. Whilst, politically, Poland was preparing its own ruin, the Piarists openly taught the worst philosophism in their schools and refused to have their houses visited by the papal nuncio at Warsaw. King Stanislaus planned the extinction of the religious orders and favoured the Freemasons. The pope was powerless; the few concessions he obtained from Catherine II for the Catholics of her new province were set at naught by that headstrong woman as soon as it suited her politics. Of her own authority she created for the annexed Catholic Ruthenians a new diocese (Mohileff) administered by a bishop (Siestrencewicz) of schismatic temper. Clement XIV had the satisfaction of seeing his nuncio, Caprara, favourably received at the Court of England, and of initiating measures for the emancipation of English Catholics. This turn in the relations between Rome and England was due to the granting of royal honours to the king’s brother when he visited Rome in 1772; the same honours being refused to the Pretender. In the East, the Nestorian Patriarch, Mar Simeon, and six of his suffragans, were reunited to Rome. In Rome the pope found little favour with either the Roman patriciate or the Sacred College; none of the many measures he took for the betterment of his people could atone, in their eyes, for his subserviency to the Bourbon Courts and for the suppression of the Jesuits. The last months of his life were embittered by the consciousness of his failures; at times he seemed crushed under the weight of sorrow. On the 10th of September, 1774, he took to his bed, received Extreme Unction on the 21st and died piously on the 22nd of the same month. Many witnesses in the process of canonization of Saint Alphonsus of Liguori attested that the saint had been miraculously present at the death-bed of Clement XIV to console and fortify him in his last hour. The doctors, who opened the dead body in presence of many spectators, ascribed death to scorbutic and hæmorrhoidal dispositions of long standing, aggravated by excessive labour and by the habit of provoking artificial perspiration even during the greatest heat. Notwithstanding the doctors’ certificate, the “Spanish party” and historical romancers attributed death to poison administered by the Jesuits. The mortal remains of Clement XIV rest in the church of the Twelve Apostles.

MLA Citation

  • Joseph Wilhelm. “Pope Clement XIV”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2018. Web. 21 October 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Pope Clement XIII

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(Carlo Della Torre Rezzonico)

Born at Venice, 7 March 1693; died at Rome, 2 February 1769. He was educated by the Jesuits at Bologna, took his degrees in law at Padua, and in 1716 was ppointed at Rome referendary of the two departments known as the “Signatura Justitiæ” and the “Signatura Gratiæ”. He was made governor of Rieti in 1716, of Fano in 1721, and Auditor of the Rota for Venice in 1725. In 1737 he was made cardinal-deacon, and in 1743 Bishop of Padua, where he distinguished himself by his zeal for the formation and sanctification of his clergy, to promote which he held a synod in 1746, and published a very remarkable pastoral on the priestly state. His personal life was in keeping with his teaching, and the Jansenist Abbé Clément, a grudging witness, tells us that “he was called the saint (by his people), and was an exemplary man who, notwithstanding the immense revenues of his diocese and his private estate, was always without money owing to the lavishness of his alms-deeds, and would give away even his linen”. In 1747 he became cardinal-priest, and on 6 July, 1758, he was elected pope to succeed Benedict XIV. It was with tears that he submitted to the will of the electors, for he gauged well the force and direction of the storm which was gathering on the political horizon.

Regalism and Jansenism were the traditional enemies of the Holy See in its government of the Church, but a still more formidable foe was rising into power and using the other two as its instruments. This was the party of Voltaire and the Encyclopedists, the “Philosophers” as they liked to call themselves. They were men of talent and highly educated, and by means of these gifts had drawn over to themselves many admirers and adherents from among the ruling classes, with the result that by the time of Clement XIII, they had their representatives in power in the Portugese and in all the five Bourbon Courts. Their enmity was radically against the Christian religion itself, as putting a restraint on their licence of thought and action. In their private correspondence they called it the Infâme (the infamous one), and looked forward to its speedy extinction through the success of their policy; but they felt that in their relations with the public, and especially with the sovereigns, it was necessary to feign some kind of Catholic belief. In planning this war against the Church, they were agreed that the first step must be the destruction of the Jesuits. “When we have destroyed the Jesuits”, wrote Voltaire to Helvétius in 1761, “we shall have easy work with the Infâme.” And their method was to persuade the sovereigns that the Jesuits were the chief obstacle to their Regalist pretensions, and thereby a danger to the peace of their realms; and to support this view by the diffusion of defamatory literature, likewise by inviting the co-operation of those who, whilst blind to the character of their ulterior ends, stood with them for doctrinal or other reasons in their antipathy to the Society of Jesus. Such was the political situation with which Clement XIII saw himself confronted when he began his pontificate.


His attention was called in the first instance to Portugal, where the attack on the Society had already commenced. Joseph I, a weak and voluptuous prince, was a mere puppet in the hands of his minister, Sebastião Carvalho, afterwards Marquis de Pombal, a secret adherent of the Voltairian opinions, and bent on the destruction of the Society. A rebellion of the Indians in the Uruguay Reductions gave him his first opportunity. The cause of the rebellion was obvious, for the natives had been ordered to abandon forthwith their cultivated lands and migrate into the virgin forest. But, as they were under the care of the Jesuit missionaries, Carvalho declared that those must have instigated the natives. Moreover, on 3 September 1758, Joseph I was shot at, apparently by the injured husband of a lady he had seduced. Pombal held a secret trial in which he pronounced the whole Tavora family guilty, and with them three Jesuit Fathers, against whom the sole evidence was that they had been friends of the Tavoras. Then, on the pretext that all Jesuits thought alike, he imprisoned their superiors, some hundred in number, in his subterranean dungeons, and wrote in the king’s name to Rome for permission from the Holy See to punish the guilty clerics. Clement did not see his way to refuse a request backed by the king’s assurances that he had good grounds for his charges, but he begged that the accused might have a careful trial, and that the innocent might not be included in a punishment they had not deserved. The pope’s letter was written with exquisite courtesy and consideration, but Pombal pronounced it insulting to his master and returned it to the sender. Then he shipped off all the Jesuits from Portugal and its colonies, save the superiors who were still detained in their prisons, and sent them to Civitavecchia, “as a present to the pope”, without a penny from their confiscated funds left to them for their maintenance. Clement, however, received them kindly, and provided for their needs. It was to be expected that diplomatic relations would not long continue after these events; they were severed in 1760 by Pombal, who sent back the nuncio, Acciajuoli, and recalled his own ambassador; nor were these relations restored till the next pontificate. Pombal had seen the necessity of supporting his administrative measures by an endeavour to destroy the good name of his victims with the public. For this purpose he caused various defamatory publications to be written, chief among which was the “Brief Relation”, in which the American Jesuits were represented as having set up an independent kingdom in South America under their own sovereignty, and of tyrannizing over the Indians, all in the interest of an insatiable ambition and avarice. These libels were spread broadcast, especially through Portugal and Spain, and many bishops from Spain and elsewhere wrote to the pope protesting against charges so improbable in themselves, and so incompatible with their experience of the order in their own jurisdictions. The text of many of their letters and of Clement XIII’s approving replies may be seen in the “Appendices” to Père de Ravignan’s “Clément XIII et Clément XIV”.


It was to be expected that the Society’s many enemies in France would be stimulated to follow in the footsteps of Pombal. The attack was opened by the Parlement, which was predominantly Jansenist in its composition, in the spring of 1761. Taking advantage of the financial difficulties into which the French Jesuits had been driven over the affair of Father Lavalette, they proceeded to examine the constitutions of the Society in which they professed to find grave improprieties, and to demand that, if the Jesuits were to remain in the country, these constitutions should be remodelled on the principle of reducing the power of the general and practically substituting for him a commissioner appointed by the Crown. They also drew up a famous document, named the “Extraits des assertions”, made up entirely of garbled extracts from Jesuit writers, and tending to show that their method was to establish their own domination by justifying almost every form of crime and licentiousness, particularly tyrannicide. Louis XV, like Joseph I, had a will enervated by lust, but unlike him, was by no means a fool, and had besides an underlying respect for religion. Thus he sought, in the first instance, to save a body of men whom he judged to be innocent, and for that purpose he referred their constitutions to the French bishops assembled at Paris in December, 1761. Forty-five of these bishops reported in favour of the constitutions, and of the Jesuits being left as they were, twenty-seven or more, not then in Paris, sending in their adhesion; but the king was being drawn the other way by his Voltairian statesmen and Madame de Pompadour, and accordingly preferred the advice of the one bishop who sided with the Parlement, Bishop Fitz-James of Soissons. He therefore issued an edict in March, 1762, which allowed the Society to remain in the kingdom, but prescribed some essential changes in their institute with the view of satisfying the Parlement.

Clement XIII intervened in various ways in this crisis of the French Jesuits. He wrote to the king in June, 1761, and again in January, 1762, on the former occasion to implore him to stay the proceedings of his Parlement, on the latter to protest against the scheme of setting a French vicar- general, independent of the general in Rome, over the French provinces; it was likewise on this latter occasion that, whilst blaming their general for the compliance of some of his French subjects, he used the famous words “Sint ut sint aut non sint”. To the French bishops who wrote to him protesting against the doings of the Parlement, he replied in words of thankfulness and approval, e.g. to the Bishop of Grenoble on 4 April, 1762, and to the Bishop of Sarlat (with special reference to the “Extraits des assertions”) on 14 November. 1764; and to the bishops collectively in June, 1762, exhorting them to use all their influence with the king to induce him to resist his evil counsellors. To the arrét of 2 August, 1762, by which the Parlement suppressed the Society in France, and imposed impossible conditions on any of its members wishing to remain in the country, Clement replied by an Allocution of 3 September, in which he protested against the invasion of the Church’s rights, and annulled the arréts of the Parlement against the Society. Finally, when the king, weakly yielding to the pressure of his entourage, suppressed the French provinces by his edict of November, 1764, the Holy Father felt it his duty, besought as he was by so many bishops from all parts, to publish the Bull “Apostolicum”, of 9 January, 1765. Its object was to oppose to the current misrepresentations of the Society’s institute, spiritual exercises, preaching missions, and theology, a solemn and formal approbation, and to declare that the Church herself was assailed in these condemnations of what she sanctioned in so many ways.


The statesmen who had the ear of Charles III were in regular correspondence with the French Encyclopedists, and had for some years previously been projecting a proscription of the Society on the same lines as in Portugal and France. But this was not known to the public, or to the Jesuits, who believed themselves to have a warm friend in their sovereign. It came then as a surprise to all when, on the night of 2-3 April, 1767, all the Jesuit houses were suddenly surrounded, the inmates arrested and transferred to vehicles ordered to take them to the coast, thence to be shipped off for some unknown destination—forbidden to take anything with them beyond the clothes which they wore. Nor was any other explanation vouchsafed to the outer world save that contained in the king’s letter to Clement XIII, dated 31 March. There it was stated that the king had found it necessary to expel all his Jesuit subjects for reasons which he intended to reserve for ever in his royal breast, but that he was sending them all to Civitavecchia that they might be under the pope’s care, and he would allow them a maintenance of 100 piastres (i.e. Spanish dollars) a year—a maintenance, however, which would be withdrawn for the whole body, should any one of them venture at any time to write anything in self-defence or in criticism of the motives for the expulsion. The pope wrote back on 16 April a very touching letter in which he declared that this was the cruelest blow of all to his paternal heart, beseeching the king to see that if any were accused they should not be condemned without proper trial, and assuring him that the charges current against the institute and the whole body of its members were misrepresentations due to the malice of the Church’s enemies. But nothing could be extracted from the king, and it is now known that this idea of a royal secret was merely a pretext devised in order to prevent the Holy See from having any say in the matter.

Foreseeing the difficulty of so large an influx of expelled religious into his states, Clement felt compelled to refuse them permission to land, and after various wanderings they had to settle down in Corsica, where they were joined by their brethren who had been similarly sent away from Spanish America. When, a year and a half later, they were forced to move again, the pope’s compassion overcame his administrative prudence, and he permitted them to take refuge in his territory. On the throne of Naples was seated a son of Charles III, and on that of Parma his nephew. Both were minors, and both had Voltairian ministers through whose instrumentality their policy was directed from Madrid. Accordingly the Jesuits in their dominions were similarly banished, and their banishment drew similar remonstrances from the pope. But in the case of Parma there was a complication, for this state having been for centuries regarded as a fief of the Holy See, the pope had felt himself bound to condemn by his Monitorium of 30 January, 1768, some laws passed by the duke to the detriment of the Church’s liberties. The Bourbon Courts thereupon united in demanding the withdrawal of the Monitorium, threatening, if refused to deprive the pope by armed force of his territories of Avignon and the Vanaissin in France, and of Benevento and Montecorto in Italy. Finally, on 18, 20, 22 January, 1769, the ambassadors of France, Spain, and Naples presented to him identical notes demanding the total and entire suppression of the Society of Jesus throughout the world. It was this that killed him. He expired under the shock on the night of 2-3 February. In one sense, no doubt, his pontificate was a failure, and he has been blamed for a lack of foresight which should have made him yield to the exigencies of the times. But in a higher sense it was a splendid success. For he had the insight to see through the plausible pretences of the Church’s enemies, and to discern the ultimate ends which they were pursuing. He viewed the course of events ever in the light of faith, and was ever faithful to his trust. He always took up sound positions, and knew how to defend them with language conspicuous for its truth and justice, as well as for its moderation and Christian tenderness. His pontificate, in short, afforded the spectacle of a saint clad in moral strength contending alone against the powers of the world and their physical might; and such a spectacle is an acquisition forever.

There were other aspects under which Clement XIII had to contend with the prevailing errors of Regalism and Jansenism in France, Germany, Holland, Poland, and Venice, but these by comparison were of minor moment. Among the pernicious books condemned by him were the “Histoire du peuple de Dieu” of the Jesuit Berruyer, the “Esprit” of Helvétius, the “Exposition de la doctrine chrétienne” of Mésenguy, the “Encyclopédie” of D’Alembert and Diderot, and the “De Statu Ecclesiæ” of Febronius. He greatly encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart, and ordered the Preface of the Blessed Trinity to be recited on Sundays.

MLA Citation

  • Sydney Smith. “Pope Clement XIII”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 October 2018. Web. 21 October 2018. <>