Historical Highlights of Barnabite Fathers
- Message of the Holy Father for Mission Sunday 2008*
- The diversity of charisma*
- Special devotions*
- Chronology of foundation*
- Clerics Regular of St. Paul - Barnabites, Angelic Sisters of Paul and Laity of St Paul*
- Interview with Most Rev Fr Giovanni Maria Villa, Prepositor General of the Clerics Regular of St Paul*
- February 18 marks the official birthday of The Clerics Regular of St. Paul
“Dear Brothers and Sisters, "duc in altum"! Let us set sail in the vast sea of the world and, following Jesus' invitation, let us cast our nets without fear, confident in his constant aid. St Paul reminds us that to preach the Gospel is no reason to boast (cf. 1 Cor 9: 16), but rather a duty and a joy. Dear brother Bishops, following Paul's example, many each one feel like "a prisoner of Christ for the Gentiles" (Eph 3: 1), knowing that you can count on the strength that comes to us from him in difficulties and trials. (…)
And you, dear men and women religious, whose vocation is marked by a strong missionary connotation, bring the proclamation of the Gospel to everyone, especially those who are far away, through consistent witness to Christ and radical following of his Gospel..”
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - The inclusion of St Paul's name in the title of an Institute is relatively recent. In the past, numerous monasteries bore the name of the Apostle of the Gentiles, but only after the centralisation of Institutes in modern times, did certain founders, with deep personal devotion for the saint or a precise apostolic programme, choose him as the patron saint of their Institute and their activity.
Saint Antonio Maria Zaccaria (1502-1539), founder of the Clerics Regular of St Paul (Barnabites) and the Angelical Sisters of St Paul, founded the first religious family placed under the protection of St Paul, animated by a generous programme of reform on the eve of the Council of Trent.
Over a century later, in 1696, the Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres– a fruit of the spirituality of St Vincent de Paul– owe their name to the local Bishop Paul Godet de Marais. As time passed reference to St Paul showed itself to be fecund and appropriate for communities of women religious with a marked missionary identity. The Sisters of Charity of St Paul in Birmingham, England, are a branch derived from Chartres (1847). The same is true of the Sisters of St Paul of Angoulême, founded in 1825 and then merged in 1854 with the Society of the Sacred Heart.
Paul. Whereas the Blind Sisters of St Paul (1852) took a motto drawn from the Letter to the Ephesians (“Now we are the Light of the Lord ”, Eph 5,8), Isaac Hecker, in 1858, saw missionary activity principally in the ecumenical sense. Canon Joseph Schorderet, in 1873, chose St Paul as the patron saint of his Work to diffuse good literature, explicitly supported by Pius IX.
Two other founders in the early 20th century underlined the connection between St Paul and the means of social communications: Greek Melchite Bishop Germanos Mouakkad (Missionaries of St Paul) in 1903 and Rev Giacomo Alberione (Society of St Paul and the Daughters of St Paul) in 1914-15. The Society of St Paul (1920), founded by Cardinal Andrea Carlo Ferrari, works partly in the same field and partly pursuing a programme of social assistance and development.
In the social field at the end of the 17th century, Jakob Friedrich Bussereau succeeded in uniting a group of priests and women religious in a religious fraternity to care for persons suffering from mental deficiency. A few years later, a Maltese priest, Fr Giuseppe De Piro (1877-1933), transmitted his strong attachment to St Paul as an ideal, to the 'Little Missionary Society'.
To mark this special year of St Paul, Fides presents this Dossier on Religious Families which draw inspiration from St Paul the Apostle, highlighting the challenges past and present, the state of mission and initiatives connected with the Year of the St Paul. We thank various religious superiors and directors for their help and contributions.
These religious Institutes honour St Paul with special liturgical devotions, both on his feast days – celebrating the important events of the Apostle's life – and in daily prayer. Some founders left writings on spirituality, catechesis or commentaries on the person and the letters of St Paul, which are contained in the Constitutions or in prayer books: this is the case of Sant'Antonio Maria Zaccaria, Marie Anne de Tilly, Giacomo Alberione, Germanos Mouakkad, Giuseppe De Piro and Isaac Hecker.
The two Institutes founded by Alberione (Società San Paolo and Figlie di San Paolo) follow a particularly rich cycle of devotions. In 1918 the small community dedicated the whole of the month of June to St Paul with the daily recitation of the “Coroncina a San Paolo”, a series of invocations focussed on conversion, the evangelical counsels and the apostolate. In 1958 Rev Alberione called a “Jubilee of St Paul” for the St Paul family to mark the 19th centenary of the Letter to the Romans. Alberione is the author of special prayers to St Paul, who is a protector of good literature.
Other Institutes also recite prayers for this specific charisma. The apostle is invoked for missionary zeal, teaching, vocations and conversions.
The very first religious family inspired by St Paul was founded in 1530 in Milan by Sant'Antonio Maria Zaccaria (1502-1539). Rated today for his work of reform together with Saint Gaetano de Thiene and St Ignatius of Loyola, Zaccaria developed deep Eucharistic spirituality and particular devotion to St Paul the Apostle, in the years of preparation for the priesthood. Having obtained a degree in medicine, he began to care for the poor sick people and only later at the age of 26 chose the priestly life.
He entered the Oratorio Eterna Sapienza in Milan, and, after sharing his ideas of reform with some Milanese aristocrats, formed a first group called “I Figliuoli di Paolo Apostolo”. “You can be certain – he wrote –, you will build, upon the foundation of Paul, not hay or wood, but gold and specious stones, and over you and yours heaven and its treasures will be opened”.
In 1533 Pope Clement VII approved the male branch; then, with the Bull of Paul III dated 24 July 1535, it took the name of Clerics Regular of St Paul decapitated. A Brief of the same year approved the female branch, Angeliche di San Paolo (Angelic Sisters of St Paul) Converso (the name was officially approved in 1549 by Paul III) co-founded by Countess Guastalla Ludovica Torelli, who provided funds and participated in the Congregation's charitable work. Mention must be made of Sister Angelica Paola Antonia Negri, who acted as a guide for her sisters and also for the Barnabiti (Clerisc Regular of St. Paul - Barnabites) and Coniugati (Layity of St. Paul) di San Paolo following the sudden early death of the Founder. The Clerics established their community in the church of San Barnaba in Milan taking the popular name we know today Barnabites.
“We run like mad for God and neighbour ”
The programme of Sant'Antonio Maria Zaccaria foresaw radical reform of the Church in Lombardy, afflicted by problems which in that epoch were widespread: dioceses without a bishops, clergy with inadequate theological formation, a decrease in religious practice, monasteries and convents in decline. In a letter in 1531 the Saint wrote to his friends: “We run like mad for God and neighbour”.
The Society started pastoral activity among the working classes and in monasteries. In 1537 it launched its first mission outside the Duchy of Milan, in Venice, but here the Barnabiti, Angeliche and Coniugati (as the lay members were initially called) were badly received by the authorities which reported them to the Inquisition. Cleared of the charges, the “Figli di San Paolo” were nevertheless reprimanded by the Sant'Uffizio, and told to abide by the canons of religious life issued by the Council of Trent. In this vision must be set the re-organisation of the Angeliche, who changed in 1552 to an enclosed Order .
In the early 17th century, the Barnabites gradually entered the field of education – work which was to remain a mark of their apostolate– they undertook the first missionary endeavours, in China and Burma, while in Europe new foundations appeared in France, Austria and Bohemia.
The 17th century is still referred to as the Congregation's “golden century” , when it reached the main Italian Courts thanks to the science demonstrated by many of its members and to the protection of Pope Benedict XIV.
In 1810 the suppression of religious orders decreed by Napoleon led to a drastic decline in the Zaccariana Family, a decline which was to continue until the end of the century. The Barnabites, at first dispersed, managed to re-establish a community in Rome in 1814, whereas the community in Milan was not re-established until 1825. In the meantime the female branch suffered an even worse trauma with the death, in 1846, of the last Angelica, Mother Maria Teresa Trotti Bentivoglio. In 1879 Barnabite Father Pio Mauri took in hand the old documents of the Congregation which had been in the custody of Mother Bentivoglio and fostered the re-establishment of a small community of Angeliche in Cremona. In the same years the male branch concentrated its efforts on education for boys, opening oratories which later served as models for Don Bosco.
In 1903 the congregation opened to the missions with the arrival of the first Barnabites in Brazil. This mission expanded for the whole century in every continent and today the Congregation is present in 15 countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Philippines, India, Albania, Belgium, Spain, Poland, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, United States of America, Mexico (most recent foundation in 2003). The Angeliche followed the missionary evolution of the male branch thanks, above all, to the charismatic leadership of Venerable Mother Flora Bracaval (1861-1935), first Superior General of the newly established Congregation. Under her direction the Angeliche were allowed to leave the cloister and return to the original charisma chosen by Saint Antonio Maria Zaccaria.
Today the entire Zaccariana Famiglia, born in the Lombard climate of the Tridentine pre-reform, is projected towards the new challenges of evangelisation and inculturation in the style of St Paul. The lay members are an important part of this programme being involved in all the activities animated by the two religious Institutes, whereas the youth section, Movimento Giovanile Zaccariano, spiritually directed by the Angeliche, leads young people to live a Christian life through the charisma of St Paul.
“Our Founder, Saint Antonio Maria Zaccaria, in the 16th century, involved all the categories of the Church: priests – with the Clerics Regular of Saint Paul –, women religious – with the Angeliche of St Paul – and the laity– once called 'Maritati di San Paolo', today, Lay people of St Paul. His goal was a programme of reform which, besides the connotation of this term connected with the vicissitudes of the epoch, he saw as interior renewal for all walks of life in the light of the Word of God ”.
Why refer to St Paul the Apostle?
“Our charisma is to convert people and help them live as Christians, this explains why our founder drew inspiration from St Paul whom he considered his own guide and protector. In the 16th and 17th century among the Barnabites there were several great scholars of St Paul, a tradition which continues today. At first the Barnabites worked essentially in the different dioceses under the local Bishop. They did not run schools or charitable centres themselves. Instead they collaborated with spiritual direction and pastoral activities. This is true also today. Our congregation has never been very numerous, if we consider the period of maximum development, the 18th century, its members were no more than 800 and today we are about 400. However during the centuries our commitment extended to specific sectors such as teaching and, from the mid 18th century onwards, evangelisation ad gentes, starting with Burma”.
How do you live the missionary charisma today?
“The missionary charisma of Saint Paul became more accentuated at the beginning of the 20th century in Brazil and then after World War II in north America, Africa and the Philippines. In our missions we focus on the formation of missionary communities and the consolidation of what has been achieved before our arrival. In the Philippines and Latin America we have a good number of vocations and 60 temporary professed members ”.
What are your initiatives and your goals for the Year of St Paul?
“For this Year of St Paul, in October we had a three day programme involving Barnabiti, Angeliche and lay members, to reflect on our charisma and our history and to celebrate this event all together at St Paul's Basilica in Rome. Of course during the year other initiates will be organised locally. We hope this return to St Paul will be an opportunity to vivify ourselves and help renew the Christian communities entrusted to our care”.
LIVING BISHOPS (2 Bishops)
OTHER PRERENT PRELATES (1)
DECEASED BISHOPS (7 Cardinals, 4 Archbishops, 30 Bishops)
OOTHER FORMER PRELATES (1)
|1987: Fr. Virginio Colciago, B., Magister emeritus of Pontifical Academy Cultorum Martyrum|
Source : www.gcatholic.com
Text of the Breve of approval
Pope Clement VII
Beloved sons, greetings and apostolic blessings.
Gladly we grant and accompany with appropriate privileges your desire, so that, in a spirit of humility, you could provide for the salvation of your own soul and those of others. You have asked us to expose that you, with other three companions who have the same feelings, to be able to dedicate yourselves with more freedom to the will of God and to what pertains to Him, you desire to profess the three substantial vows of religion in the hands of the our venerable brother the Archbishop of Milan or the Vicar General, and at the same rime to establish yourselves and to live in some place of your choice in the city or in the diocese of Milan; for this reason you have implored us that we deign, according to our apostolic benevolence, to paternally condescend to such pious desire of yours. We, then, adhering to your petition, in virtue of the apostolic authority, with this letter which will always be in vigor also in the future, by special grace, notwithstanding the Constitutions and the general or special Ordinances issued by the Holy See or by provincial or synodal Councils and notwithstanding any other disposition on the contrary, we grant and allow you and each one of you to make such profession in the hands of the said Archbishop or his Vicar; and to those who, in the future, will join you, we grant to make the same profession of the three Vows in the hands of either one of you two or in the ones of the Superior Pro Tempore of your Congregation; and so also we grant you to live together and in common in the place you will select, but under the jurisdiction of the local Ordinary: and moreover we grant the power to freely and licitly make all the ordinances and rules which will favor your spiritual good and the development of your institution provided that they me reasonable and honest and not contrary to the sacred canons, likewise the power to modify, abrogate and substitute with others totally new, according to your best judgment and the conditions of the times.
In the rather quaint language of the day, one of the original Barnabites thus describes the origin of the Order:
“The beginning of our Congregation was in the year 1533 in St. Catherine’s by Porta Ticinese (Milan). The Superior was the very Reverend Sir Anthony Mary Zaccaria, a gentleman from Cremona and an only son; with him was the noble Sir Bartholomew Ferrari and the magnificent Sir James Anthony Morigia, Sir Francis da Lecco, Sir Camillus de Negri, Sir Melchior Soresilia, Sir Francis da Grippa, Sir John James de Caseis, and (Dionysius da Sesto)—all Milanese.”
The Barnabite Order was practically a direct and natural outcome of the friendship of five people, namely, Fra Battista da Crema, Ludovica Torelli, Anthony Mary Zaccaria, James Anthony Morigia and Bartholomew Ferrari.
A member of the noble Carioni family of the Venetian city of Crema, Battista (1460-1536) belonged to one of the two Dominican monasteries of Milan; but he was an itinerant reformer. Anthony Mary met him sometime in 1527; it was a crucial encounter. Recognizing Anthony Mary’s potential, the experienced Battista persuaded him to enter the priesthood. The following year, Anthony Mary was ordained. He was 26.
Toward the end of 1529, Battista met the remarkable young widow, Ludovica Torelli, countess of Guastalla (a county seat located 90 miles southeast of Milan and 40 miles southeast of Cremona.) Soon after their initial meeting in the early part of 1530, at Battista’s urging, Ludovica went with him to Milan and set about to gather a group of young women interested in charitable activities. On their return to Guastalla, Battista and Ludovica spent some time in Cremona where Anthony Mary was introduced to Ludovica by Battista. Shortly after this meeting, Anthony Mary joined Battista and Ludovica in Guastalla where Battista had just established a cenobitic community. Anthony Mary was given the double task of county chaplain and Ludovica’s personal legal advisor.
No doubt, capitalizing on the spiritual affinity of his two young disciples, Anthony Mary, he was 28, and Ludovica, 30, the aging Battista lost no time in returning to Milan with both of them. It must be remembered that six years earlier, in 1524, Battista had prompted Cajetan Thiene to establish the first Order of Clerics Regular, the Theatines, and was constantly on the lookout for opportunities to promote Christian reform.
In Milan, which was emerging from the worst period of its history, politically and religiously leaderless, Battista, Anthony Mary and Ludovica joined the Oratory of Eternal Wisdom, a fraternity of clergy and laity dedicated to personal reform. Here they met James Anthony Morigia and Bartholomew Ferrari, two young men in their early thirties.
Morigia belonged to a wealthy and aristocratic Milanese family, and had studied mathematics and architecture. His widowed mother wanted him to be an active member of Milan’s high society but her son had different ideas and through some aunts, who were nuns in a Milanese convent, he began turning toward a serious Christian life style and eventually joined the Oratory of Eternal Wisdom.
Ferrari too belonged to a wealthy and aristocratic Milanese family. Having lost both parents and an older brother, he was fortunate to enjoy the loving care and ability of another brother, Basilio, a notary public. When Bartholomew was 19, the ambitious Basilio joined the clergy, but not as a priest, with the remunerative title of Canon. Not satisfied with this position, Basilio made a big move. He went to Rome to find success in the papal curia. He became an “apostolic writer,” that is, a secretary for the pope, and found what he was after: money and influence. Fortunately for our Order, he remained very close to his brother, Bartholomew, although in no way did he share his religious ideas. In the heady atmosphere of Renaissance Rome, Basilio even sired an illegitimate child!
Meanwhile, in Milan, Battista, Ludovica, Anthony Mary, Morigia and Ferrari quickly discovered the great similarities of their views. During the next two years, 1530-1532, they kept meeting, sometime in Milan and sometime in Guastalla.
As early as 1530, Anthony Mary, Morigia and Ferrari had decided to start a religious Congregation, but Anthony Mary was still chaplain in Guastalla, where he was usually staying in a modest room of Ludovica’s palace. Morigia and Ferrari lived in Milan: Morigia, still a layman, in his paternal mansion, and Ferrari, a simple cleric, in rented homes. Something had to be done. In fact, in a long letter of January 4, 1531, Anthony Mary discussed with both his friends the need of firmness and determination. Quite humbly, the young priest confessed: “Oftentimes I am deeply annoyed at my grave indecisiveness which holds sway and for so long has hold sway over my soul.” (One may sense here a pious exaggeration!). Then, referring to their embryonic Order, he continued: “One must think well, over and over again, ponder and ruminate, when something important is to be decided upon. But once the thing has been thought over and one has received proper counsel, one should not hesitate to carry out what has been decided upon. The reason is that in the ways of God what is required above all else is promptness and expeditiousness” (Letter III). And he concluded stirringly: “Come, come Brothers! If up to now we have known any irresolution, let cast it off together with all negligence, and let us run like madmen not only toward God but also toward our neighbor. It is our neighbor alone who can receive what we cannot give to God who does not need anything from us.” (The words stressed above are etched in the soul of every Barnabite since the earliest days of his formation).
As it happened, a favorable circumstance was seized upon to eliminate any further procrastination and a formal petition was sent to Pope Clement VII in 1532. The favorable circumstance was that the Pope was in Bologna for some business with the emperor, Charles V, and Bologna was far closer to Milan than Rome. Furthermore, Ferrari’s brother, Basilio, was able to exercise his influence on the Pope.
We must take note that while the original petition is not extant, we do have a complete copy of it (Premoli, I, 415).
Logically, the petition opened first with Bartholomew Ferrari’s name, followed by that of Anthony Mary Zaccaria, priests of Milan and Cremona, respectively. Then, three unnamed petitioners are also mentioned. We know who they were: Morigia, John James De Caseis, and Francis da Lecco.
The object of the petition was quiet modest. Obviously, there was no question of establishing a teaching order. Also there was no mention of systematic reforming activities among the clergy and the laity (as Premoli states, in a classic blunder, Ibid, p. 16). The petitioners simply requested the authorization of professing the three vows of obedience, chastity and poverty before the Archbishop of Milan or his Vicar General in spiritual matters (Professionem trium votomm substabtialium religionis in manibus Archiepiscopi Mediolanensis seu eius in spiritualibus vicarii generalis emittere) and to begin common life somewhere in the Milan diocese (in loco Mediolanensis civitatis seu diocesis... Morari et permanere) “in order to devote themselves more vigorously and unrestrictedly to God’s gracious purposes and to probe more deeply matters pertaining to God (ut liberius divinis beneplacitis insistere et quae Dei sunt perquirere possint).
In an unusually prompt reply, Clement VII granted all their requests on February 18, 1533. It was also unusual, and probably a unique instance, to have an Order approved before it ever started. In 1533 there was no house, no community, no name, no habit. But, judging from hindsight, the Vicar of Christ acted prophetically.
For one thing, the acceptance of the petition prompted Anthony Mary to secure a house in order to begin common life. On September 29, 1533, together with Bartholomew Ferrari, he took possession of a small house near the church of St. Catherine dei Fabbri, at Porta Ticinese, but this house could only accommodate two people. By a special authorization of the Duke of Milan (October 17, 1533), they acquired a second house close to the first one and to the Monastery of St. Bernardine. The following summer, Anthony Mary bought a third house located between the first two. The money was supplied by himself, Ferrari and Torelli.
As for the habit, they opted for the simplified version of the cassock used by the Milanese clergy. It was dark brown because black was not yet customary, at least in Milan. For a hat, they chose the older round hat instead of the new biretta, the square hat with three projections above the crown, preferred by the younger clergy.
As the Theatines, they called themselves Clerics Regular without further specification, that is, members of the clergy living under a special rule. Their private name was Sons of Paul. The name of Clerics Regular of St. Paul was officially adopted after receiving a second and more comprehensive approbation in a solemn Bull of Paul III on July 24, 1535 in which the pope confirmed the title of Clerics Regular (sub nomine et nuncupatione Clericorum Regularium) and acknowledged their special devotion to St. Paul (Qui speciali devotionis affectu ducti erga doctorem gentium Paullum) by granting them permission to build a church in his honor (ecclesiam...ut primum templum...sub Paulli nomine et invocatione habere liceatas denominare!). The official name of Clerics Regular of St. Paul was finally formalized in the Constitutions of 1579 which lasted until 1976. The more familiar name Barnabites (which prevailed over Barnabines) was given by the people in the 1550’s while the Fathers officiated the church of St. Barnabas, their historical motherhouse in Milan!
THE FIRST BARNABITE COMMUNITY: 1534
A. General Characteristics
1. YOUTH The average age of the community was 30. The youngest member was 20, the oldest, 37. The Founder himself was 32 which was the median age of the group. Seven died young, between the age of 35 and 49; the Founder himself died young at 36. Generally speaking, youth spells enthusiasm, a certain recklessness and, in the case of serious young people, unstinting dedication. This leads us to the second trait of our first community.
2. PASSIONATE COMMITMENT I borrow this expression from Joseph Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago. In his beautiful homily for evening prayer upon taking up residence in his new see, Bernardin defined priesthood as “a passionate commitment, a fiery-eyed vision and an insatiable thirst for holiness.” I can find no better way to describe our first confreres. Bernardin’s following words would apply as well: “The Priest is called to be a challenger, enabler, life-giver, poet of life, music-maker, dreamer of dreams.”
3. PROFESSIONALISM There was no dilettantism in our first confreres. They were dead serious about prayer, about ministry and whatever preparation was required for it, like study and self-discipline.
B. Individual Characteristics
1. St. ANTHONY MARY ZACCARIA (1502-1539)
Without overlooking Anthony Mary’s debt to Battista da Crema and to Ludovica Torelli, we must unhesitatingly state that his major contribution was in the realm of leadership. His remarkable accomplishments must also be viewed against the background of a short life. He was a priest for eleven years and a founder for nine. His untimely death left quite an amount of unfinished business, to be sure. However, let me mention his role in guiding and animating his congregation of men, working on a first constitutional draft, adopting the chapter system, inspiring his men on a very crucial moment at the eve of a trial set up by the Inquisition twenty months after the official approval of the Order. Let me recall his role in the guidance of the Angelic Sisters after Battista’s death on January 1, 1534 and in the summoning of the laity to work side by side with his priests and sisters, an approach to the apostolate fully sanctioned only by Vatican II. Let me recall his contribution to the format of the Forty-Hour Devotion, his stress on frequent communion and the institution of toiling the church bells at 3:00 p.m. every Friday as a sign of devotion to Christ Crucified. And let me recall his enthusiastic response to a cardinal’s invitation to extend his work outside the familiar boundaries of Milan by establishing the first Barnabite mission in the city of Vicenza in 1537. Finally, let me recall Anthony Mary’s leadership in preaching and practicing his famous trilogy:
2. JAMES ANTHONY MORIGIA (1497-1546)
He was the first Superior General of the Order (1536-1542) and secured out the historical motherhouse of St. Barnabas by bringing to a successful conclusion the process initiated by Anthony Mary. St. Barnabas was also our only house until 1557. Morigia distinguished himself by his remarkable contemplative prayerfulness, charity and prudence.
3. BARTHOLOMEW FERRARI (1499-1544)
He was the second Superior General from 1542 to 1544, the year of his death. Rather withdrawn and introvert, he nevertheless succeeded Anthony Mary as director of the Vicenza Mission. He nourished his tireless activity with contemplative prayer and was excellent in religious instruction of children.
4. FRANCIS DA LECCO (1498-1569)
He was already a priest and a canon when he joined Anthony Mary’s group in 1535 at the age of 36. Due to sickness, he soon left for home but returned after eight years, fully recovered. In the meantime, however, Anthony Mary prevailed upon him to direct the Vicenza Mission together with Ferrari. Francis gave an excellent account of himself back in St. Barnabas. He distinguished himself in religious observance and active apostolate. He returned to Vicenza several times. The last twelve years of his long and busy life he spent as director of a convent in Milan. His ill health was no obstacle. Francis kept his youthful enthusiasm to the end.
5. CAMILLUS NEGRI (1509-1544)
He was the brother of the famous Angelic Sister, Paola Antonia, who was extremely esteemed by Anthony Mary. In his ten years as a Barnabite, Camillus gave himself unsparingly. In one of his letters, Anthony Mary refers to him as “the tireless Sir Camillus.”
6. FRANCIS CRIPPA (1502-1542)
Already a priest when he joined Anthony Mary’s community, Francis distinguished himself by his humility. Anthony Mary himself called him “the humble Sir Francis.”
7. JOHN JAMES DE CASEIS (1509-1545)
He had the distinction of being the first to receive the religious habit from Anthony Mary after the two co-founders, on June 10, 1534. Anthony Mary referred to him as “the faithful John James,” in a possible reference to his unflinching determination to remain in the young community when they were accused of imperiling public order, individual dignity and the authenticity of the faith by their public display of penance, humility and devotion. This was the time of the formal trial which began on October 4, 1534.
8. DIONYSIUS DA SESTO (1506-1546)
He was the brother of the remarkable Angelic Sister, Battista da Sesto, who was the first Prioress of St. Paul’s Convent in Milan. Anthony Mary referred to him as “my beloved.” He opened a Barnabite Mission in Venice in 1543 which greatly benefited the Saints John and Paul’s Hospital and attracted several remarkable people to join the Order: two doctors in law, one doctor of medicine, one scholarly nobleman, and the nephew of Cardinal Contarini.
9. JOHN BAPTIST (MELCHIOR) SORESINA (1514-1601)
As a young man of barely twenty years of age, Soresina was the youngest member of our community. During his long life, he remained worthy of Anthony Mary’s predilection for him. “Beloved and sweet son in Christ” was one way Anthony Mary addressed him. As a true father, Anthony Mary did not hesitate to correct him when needed. For instance, shortly before his death, Anthony Mary reminded him in a letter that true, humble obedience must be based, not on the personality of the Superiors, but strictly on faith. In all Superiors, not only in himself, Anthony Mary, Soresina must be able to see Christ, “the Shepherd of his soul,” and to act with them as he would with Christ Jesus Himself. A priest for 63 years, Soresina was the first Vicar of our Order. He accompanied Fr. Besozzi, our third Superior General, to the Verona Mission and remained there as its main animator. Among other things, he overcame his natural reluctance and assisted a man condemned to death. Back in St. Barnabas, he excelled in contemplative prayer and in the direction of the Congregation of the Married. With great skill, he managed to reform a monastery in only three months. He also initiated three new foundations. For the last 23 years of his life, he was excellent as a spiritual director. Because of his longevity, he became an unequalled source of information to our first historians. He himself authored one of our three earliest memoirs, known as Chronicles A, B, and C which were written soon after Anthony Mary’s death in 1539. Soresina wrote Chronicle C from which my opening quotation is taken.
The Barnabites Throughout History
The Barnabites are a religious order founded in Milan around 1530 by St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria of Cremona, together with Giacomo Antonio Morigia and Bartolomeo Ferrari, two Milanese gentlemen he met at the Oratory of Eternal Wisdom, the meeting place of the pre-Tridentine Reformation coterie that may be considered the birthplace of the congregation. Father Battista de Crema, Zaccaria’s and St. Gaetano Thiene’s Dominican confessor, as well as the noblewoman Ludovica Torelli, Countess of Guastalla, took a great part in the foundation of the Congregation.
Pope Clemente VII issued his approval brief “Vota Per Quea” on February 18, 1533, which was fully confirm by Paul III’s Bull “Dudum Felicis Recordationis” issued on July 25, 1535 and finally by Bull “Pastoralis Officii Cura” of December 25, 1543.
It had been ten years of hard collective work, which was examined by several of the General Chapters. The actual drawing up was carried out by a committee guided by St. Charles Borromeo, who was charged with the examination, correction, amendment and ratification of the new Constitutions and their application by commanding their observance4. The servant of God, Carlo Bascape and were approved by Gregory XIII with his “Cum Sicut Accepimus” of November 7, 1579. Except for some marginal amendments and revisions required by Canon Law (the sixth edition was issued in 1946), their letter was unchanged up to the end of Vatican II. In 1971 in was decided that they should be kept unabridged as “Regula” (rule) expressing the original Barnabite spirit, having an historical and ascetical value; meanwhile a new edition of the “Constituiones” was to be prepared “taking into account the urgency of the present times.
The original apostolic intentions and the juridical and institutional outline were clearly described in that text which was divided into four Books of Chapters. The first one rules the acceptance and the education of the candidates in the religious way of life; some simple but rigorous rules especially those governing the novitiate. The second deals with the essential elements of Barnabitic life and its characteristics: the three solemn vows with emphasis on obedience “quae huius Instituti caput est” and very strict personal poverty, the oath not to aspire to personal dignities and to observe the rules;; the communitary mental prayer, both morning and evening; equality and good fellowship between the members pervaded by charity and brotherly correction; various spiritual and corporal penances and whatever pertains to the everyday discipline. The third book briefly lists the pastoral and ministerial functions: confessions, preaching, devotional and works of charity, sacred studies. Finally in the fourth book the whole inner regulations and government of the Congregation are set forth in detail; they are based on the General Chapter which originally met once a year, then every three years and from 1939 on, every six years. The Superior General and his four Assistants hold their office for six years and may be re-elected.
The Barnabite Congregation still includes two kinds of members: priests and coadjutors (coadjutor brothers); the latter may become Deacons. The monastic way of life is proved by the Communitary life organization which holds as very important the various chapters, the spiritual conferences, meetings on moral and liturgical matters, the former sins and censure chapters, silence and lectures at refectory time. Daily communitary prayer and meditation, very suggestive rites such as those for the novitiate and the solemn profession of faith, the first Mass celebration sine solemnitate, etc.
A second aspect comprehends the spiritual guidance which was always undertaken with particular care by those members of the Congregation that were devoted to the sanctification of people, who lived in an age of personalism and mysticism, were chosen to guide female monasteries, often introduced in aristocratic environments, even preceptors of monarchs-to-be, teachers and writers who conquered a vast public. Books such as Apis Religiosa, (Milan 1625) by Fr. Cristofaro G, which may be defiarda written for the Religious, Speculum Ecclesiasticum (Prague 1648) by Fr. Pio Cassetta written for the priests, Speculum Asceticum (Milan 1719) by Fr. Francesco Marinoni for the laity, conform perfectly to the true Barnabitic spirit. Generally speaking the same may be said of the retreats for any kind of people, intended not only as effective means to attain a renewal in God’s people but also to obtain a specifici vocation of “reformers”. Starting from Zaccaria’s first followers and their “missions” in Lombardy and Venice, up to the St. Barnaba and Carrobio ascetic centers in Milan and Monza respectively, even to the present Opera Ritiri Spirituali in Eupilio (Como), which receives yearly approximately 10,000 people seeking an encounter with God. A writing by Fr. Anacelto Sacco, Devout Meditation Exercises For Spiritual Renewal To Do On Annual Retreat (Milan 1635) became a model and rule for the Barnabites Regulae Officiorum, a kind of practical directive supporting the Constitutions. We should emphasize a particular love for the formality of ritual liturgy which may be defined traditional, and which is in accordance with the spirit of the Constitutions that prescribe “pmnia honeste et secundum ordinem fieri debere”. (N. 1) and “Omnis suppellex divino cultui dicata, munda, pura, integra, incorrupta omni studio conservetur” (n. 167, cfr. N. 146).
Some of the distinctive features that characterized the Barnabite Order are – up to these days – a spontaneous and joyous familiar spirit among the members of the Congregation; the latter has been small as to number of members and geographical dislocation, which makes it a very proper milieu to set sincere and lasting friendships. As a matter of fact, almost all Barnabites know each other personally and come from the same social environment and have the same cultural curriculum; an exquisite gentlemanlike bearing, defined by Pius XI “spiritual aristocracy” approaching Christian humanism and the sweet and gentle style of St. Francis de Sales. It was obvious that the Geneva Bishop should link to the Barnabites and later become an affiliate of the Order. He became their esteemer, friend and benefactor; he kept them as collaborators in his pastoral activity in France and Savoy, and lived in friendly familiarity with them in their houses and was served with warm brotherly love. They certainly experienced a mutual spiritual benefit, since the Saint wrote” “Our good Barnabites are really good people, sweeter than you can tell, very helpful, humble and kind, more than is customary in their country”. (Letter of April 12, 1615); a discrete and moderate mysticism based on the control of their will and on generous obedience that on corporal penances, nevertheless equally exacting and stimulating. The Constitutions insist that such “discretion” be applied by the Superiors in the brotherly correction (N. 185), in the every-day discipline (N. 201), in the government (N. 43) and by all confreres at mealtime (N. 161) and in external mortifications (N. 162). There are but a few exceptional rigorous and intransigent theoretical and practical trends. “The Barnabites are a doctor’s children and they heal wounds themselves” as someone once said; a distinguished pedagogical and cultural tradition, although the Barnabites were not meant for the education of the young, despite what is the current opinion. A multitude of illustrious students in every field came from Barnabite schools and Colleges; even some great masters among the University teachers and scientifical researchers. They must, however, be considered one by one as they proved to be quite singular and free from stereotype structures (Cfr. Constitutions N. 240).
As to apostolic activities, we should insist on their adaptability and versatility intended in the best of the meaning, which made them deserve the title of “Episcoporum adiutorers” (Cfr. Constitutions N. 215, 247, 277); their preference however has always been for the pulpit and confessional ministry, being the first “our most important office” and the second “munum Instituti nostri maxime proprium” (Cfr. Constitutions N. 210). Within a generally conservative and prudent attitude there have been some ecclesiastical, missionary and ecumenical openings although these may be more to occasional circumstances and to individual and pioneeristic charisms than to an actual planning.
One of the most evident characteristics is the well-known fidelity to the Holy See and the ready service rendered to the Popes by the 64 Bishops, including seven Cardinals, by the numerous Congregation and Commission Consultors, and by the Delegates sent to the various courts with confidential charges. We might compare all these characteristics with St. Paul’s readiness towards any kind of apostolate, which may often turn into a really hard, vast, generous, and pressing work, which on the other hand is not in contrast with the various branches of human knowledge.
Concluding, we ought to remember that none of these characteristics describing more than defining the Barnabite human and pastoral way of living throughout almost four centuries and a half exceeded or excluded any other. St. Paul’s Clerics have been a compact and aggressive force like others. Among them have been some very strong personalities, with a rare intelligence and a deep culture. They have no proper mystical school, although they have had some esteemed authors and spiritual masters; they do not sustain a particular philosophical or theological trend, although there have been a number of well-learned writers and thinkers. Should we try to find out a prevailing doctrine among them, we would certainly discover it is the Thomist theology. The French Barnabites clearly and solemnly affirmed referring to their teachings “We abominate Jansen’s new theories, reject Molinos’ inventions, and strictly follow St. Thomas’s doctrine;” just as clear was the declaration by the Superior General of the Order, Fr. Alessandro Maderni, against the assertions of the Gallican clergy, “They are all against St. Thomas’ doctrine and consequently contrary to the feeling of all Barnabites who follow but the teachings of the Angelic Doctor” (Letter of July 20, 1602). They have, however, never had an univocal pedagogical and education method. From a historical point of view the Barnabites rather seem to follow an equilibrated and wide syncretical line especially as far as the religious doctrine is concerned, in accordance with the Apostle’s “Omnia probate, quod bonum est tenete.”
Anthony Mary Zaccaria’s premature death, the difficult start, the extreme strictness in accepting new postulants, the refusal of audacious initiatives, the poor economical means, and the attitude of certain superiors were some of the causes that prevented around the 16th century the Barnabites’ territorial and numerical expansion. Apart from the “missions” in some Venetian cities and in Ferrara, the first permanent foundations established out of Milan were in Pavia (1557), Cremona (1570), Monza and Casale Monferrato (1571), Rome (1575), and Vercelli (1576), with some short appearances in Malta (1582-1583) and in Valtellina (1583-1584). At the end of the 16th century it shall be the turn of the University cities like Pisa (1595), Bologna and Novara (1599). As to the number of Barnabites, we know that in 1540 the professed were not more than forty and they were only about 20 in 1557, due to some peculiar defections. Two years later a sort of minor Seminary was opened in Milan for “good-tempered boys who showed a religious vocation.” In 1576, that is right before the famous Chapter, which was to approve the new Constitutions, the Barnabites numbered up to forty-five priests, twenty-one coadjutor Brother and fifteen Clerics. In the succeeding decenniums the number of professed rapidly rose up to reach 157 Fathers and 119 Clerics in 1608.
Other saints had friendly relationships with the first Barnabites: St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Pius V and St. Philip Neri helped them generously in their hard times in Rome; St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Aloysius Gonzaga and St. Joseph Calasansio profited spiritually by their friendship. We already spoke of St. Francis of Sales; we shall just add that the Barnabites replied to his benevolence devoting themselves to his glorification, proclaiming and writing a beautiful biography of the Saint in 1648.
In the second half of the 16th century we have the noble figure of St. Alexander Sauli (1534-1592), Superior General of the Order at the early age of 33, Bishop of Aleria in Corsica for over 20 years, who died while Bishop in Pavia and was canonized in 1904. He was a very learned man, born to be a leader, and marked deeply the Congregation way of living with new enthusiasm and faith in the future. Being pastor in a spiritually and economically depressed area, he chose “to be a Corse by own choice” in spite of all solicitations and proposals to reach more prestigious dioceses in Italy. He was an excellent theologian and orator, visited and reformed the clergy and for the latter he wrote and published the “Doctrine of Roman Catechism” (Pavia 1581). He will deserved the title of “apostle of whole Corsica”. Pope Benedict XIV gave him in his beatification brief (April 9, 1741). Like his friend and confidant Charles Borromeo, St. Alexander Sauli was the ideal bishop required by the Catholic reformation and the Council of Trent: his activity, teachings and the example of his strong virtues inspired the pastoral activities in Corsica and still are a model for other Barnabite bishops.
II – The 17th Century
Another important date was 1665 when the so-called Barnabites’ Ratio Studiorum written by Fr. Melchiorre Gorini designated for the job by the General Chapter of 1662 was published under the title Exterarum Scholarum discipline apud Clericos Regolares Sancti Pauli (Milan 1666): it marked the Order’s official start in the educational and pedagogical field. A little later boarding schools for outsider students were opened with the utmost prudence and ad experimentum in view of the strong resistance by traditionalists. The first boarding school was opened at Montargis, France in 1690.
Another typical preacher was Fr. Romolo Marchelli (1610-1688) whose Lenten Preachings (Rome 1677) and Sacred Panegyrics (Genoa 1687) – owing to the daring neighbors and stylistic exaggerations – were paradoxal expressions of the literary and ecclesiastic 17th century. He was followed by Fr. Ildefonso Manara (1653-1726), Lenten preacher in the Cathedrals of Bologna, Milan, Vienna, Venice and Turin; he was also elected Superior General of the Order and Bishop of Bobbio. Among the pastors of souls we should mention two singular religious who excelled in the ascetical and mystical field. They were the Venerable Fr. Bartolomeo Acnale (1605-1681) and Fr. Francis Lacombe (1643-1715). Fr. Canale from Milan was the author – among other things - of a Spiritual Diary (Milan 1670) which was published in some twenty editions and translations: it is a collection of meditations for each day of the year inspired by St. Bernard’s doctrine. This book revealed him a master of preaching while he was already well known among his confreres as a model of austerity. Fr. Laccombe from Savoy had a dramatic and still not fully clear experience. His problems started when he published his Orationis metalis analysis (Vercelli 1686), which was put to the Index two years later owing to, supposed giving in quietism. Fr. Lacombe was accused of immorality and was a victim together with Madame Guyon in the harsh dispute between Boussuet and Fenelon. He was imprisoned in various places throughout France (he spent 10 years in the Lourdes Castle) and died insane in the hospital of Vincennes.
Yet, in spite of the outward pomp, the Barnabites reached the end of the 17th century in an economic slump caused by inexperience in some business, by inexperience in some business, by the continuous wars and consequent destructions which took place in Italy, Germany and France, by the higher taxes imposed by the Spaniards who – as people used to say – “nibbled in Sicily, ate in Naples, and devoured in Milan.”
III – The 18th Century
This “Eastern” chapter of the Barnabite history, which was celebrated in Europe as a missionary activity, closed after over a century. The enthusiasm of those who left lit with fervor the whole Congregation and spread among all Brothers and students who remained in Italy. Letters were received uninterruptedly telling the marvels of the Asiatic world, so dear to the romantics and illuminists of that time; the sad news hit their fellings as well as the cries for help, the majority of the missionaries were young and died young too. The cultural contribution of the Barnabite missionaries was one of the most remarkable, valid and lasting. Although they had no experience, they worked with cleverness and far-sightedness, not only building schools to prepare local clergy, but also and above all penetrating the language and customs of the evangelized peoples, raising their true human value, proving that a serious humanistic and scientific education could be put to the service of the Christian message.
Fr. Percoto composed the first Burmese alphabet, a grammar and the first Latin-Portuguese-Burmese dictionary. He also translated the Gospels and Paul’s epistles, catechisms, prayers and religious dialogues. Fathers M. Cortenovis and D’Amato worked on the translation with transcription and notes from “pali” – Buddhist sacred language – of the Talapoins ceremonial and rules. Fr. D’Amato also created a zoological museum and made a four-volume zoology and botanics collection. Fr. Melchiorre Carpani left an Alphabetum Burmanum (Rome 1776) printed in particular type by the “Propaganda Fide” typography, and some manuscripts with observations written on palm-leaves codes. Fathers Sangermano and Mantegazza drew geo-hydro-topographic maps and wrote historical and geographical reports in English and Italian (one wasn’t edited until 1950); Fr. Sangermano was a medicine expert and had a hospital built in Rangoon. If we consider that all these apostolic works and studies were carried out in far-away and cut-off places, among bloody conflicts and political contrasts, persecutions, poor means, ambiental discomfort and hostility, we must admit that the Barnabite missionaries wrote one of the most positive chapters in the history of the Congregation.
The editio princeps of his works (Rome 1806-1821) includes 20 volumes with the following topics: pedagogy, logics, and metaphysics, mathematics and physics, moral and jurisprudence, religion, theology and apologetics. Gerdil was a Cartesian Christian spiritualist philosopher; he criticized Locke and adhered to Malebranche’s anthologism; he professed an eclectic Platonism, especially in his masterpiece Introduction to the Study of Religion (Turin 1755). A pedagogist he dealt with man’s moral and social problems, polemizing with Rousseau and anti-religious empyrism and his Anti-Emilio or Considerations on education theory and practice in opposition to J.J. Rousseau’s principles (Turin 1763). In his essays and “study plans for the young” he disclaimed the too easy and hasty learning methods and insisted on education of the mind based on practical exercises. As apologist, he wrote a wonderful Description of the Characteristics of True Religion (Turin 1767), which had over 70 editions in five different languages. As theologian he fought Febronio’s and Raynal’s theories in his Assay on Theological Instruction (Rome 1776) and wrote the Bull Auctorem Fidei (1796) condemning the Pistoia synod. While his rational religious apology affirms God’s existence against the 18th century atheism, his life was consecrated to the service of the Holy See and to the progress of study, so that he is to be considered the originator of a new culturally and ecclesiastically lively era within the Congregation.
IV – The 19th Century
When the Jesuits were suppressed (1774) the Barnabites reluctantly took their place in the scholastic activities in various cities of the Italian peninsula; but this didn’t last long. The illuminist governments first then the various republics had religious schools closed, and preceded the Napoleonic suppression of 1810.
Let’s make at this point some considerations. All along the 18th century the Barnabites had reached a privileged position within a frivolous and decadent society; they particularly endeared themselves to the aristocracy and intellectual bourgeoisie and did not disdain comprises with the mundane elites that were rather skeptical and formalistic as to religion…They were even too engaged in loud and barren as well as scarcely constructive literary disputes, thus wasting precious talents…Perhaps persecution and anticlericalism brought forth some positive, purifying and retrenching consequences, as was noted by the contemporary Fr. Gobio, as “they were conducted by God ad corruptionem.” The Barnabites were certainly called back to evangelical poverty and humility, which had been quite abandoned, to the austere and fervent zeal of the first times.
Even though the Imperial edict was mildly applied in several cities, especially where the Barnabites had schools (for instance in Lodi, Bologna, Arpino) in the first two decades of the 19th century the Clerics Regular of St. Paul were scattered and often secularized, sheltered with some families or with some parish with pastoral assignments; they taught in public schools or worked in Government offices. The Congregation was reorganized in Rome and in the pontifical States by a rescript by Pius VII in August 1814, thanks to the cardinals to be Luigi Lambruschini and Francesco Fontana, the latter being called “The Barnabites second founder in the 19th century.”
The 15 Barnabites who replied to the call and gathered in Milan in November 1825 to celebrate the revival were old and in poor health, but the next year the arrival of ten novices allowed them to breathe with hope.
The reorganization of the other Italian regions allowed the General Chapter to gather again in Rome in 1823, for the first time since 1807. In 1825 the Barnabites that had gathered again numbered only 166, instead of 300 members as in 1800, and they were divided in the three Provinces (Lombard, Piemontese, Ligurian, and Roman), with a total of 19 houses. In 1833 the Fathers, Brothers and professed Clerics were 197, spread in 27 houses; this meant a slow gradual revival which took place even in the Congregational life and in the apostolate organized according to the tradition into preaching and pastoral activities (retreats, novenas, forty hours devotion, popular missions).
There were even some changes as a consequence of events that took place in that period, defined as the century of Cardinals and of devoted men. May we add that for the Barnabites that was also a century of patriotism, ecumenism, of ecclesiastic and social works, of culture and schools.
The five Barnabite Cardinals were bound to the Roman milieu as to their intellectual education and theological teachings, for their curial services and their promotion to the top of the ecclesiastical hierarchy; their being raised to the dignity of Cardinals undoubtedly threw luster on the 19th century Congregation. We already mentioned Fathers Morigia and Gergil who lived at the beginning and end of the 18th century and Fr. Fontana. We shall now briefly speak of the remaining ones in chronological sequence.
Cardinal Luigi Lambruschini (1776-1854) was mainly a diplomat and statesmen; he was Bishop of Genoa, Apostolic Delegate in Paris and Secretary of State to Pope Gregory XVI from 1836 to 1846. Though the historians judgment on his reactionary politics against the Italian risorgiomento is hard, in accordance with Gregorovius who defined him “grown old in the cult of theocracy, tireless promoter of Church absolutism, one of the last survivors of the old times and school,” yet his intolerance should be seen in the light of a true passion and a firm adherence to the principles of the Holy See which he held as sacred and inviolable. His firm character and ability in temporal affairs are a complement to his devoutness, versatile talent, pastoral fervor and tender devotion to the Virgin. An unknown aspect of his personality is represented in his many ascetical and mystical works written for spiritual counseling. His is Polemic treatise on Mary’s Immaculate Conception (Rome 1843), which unofficially preluded to the dramatic proclamation of 1854. Pius IX used to repeat that “both the definition of the Immaculate Conception and the convocation of the Ecumenical Council was suggested, recommended and based on the very principle of his pontificate, by the cited Cardinal”. We should add that in a certain way Cardinal Lambruschini antagonized Lammenais, his confrere and patriot Ugo Bassi, his own nephew, pedagogist Raffaello, and the members of revolutionary sects. On the other hand he was in spiritual friendship with his penitent in Macerata, St. Vincenzo Strambi, with his priest in Genoa, St. Antonio Gianelli, with his confessor in Rome, St. Vincenzo Pallotti, with Cottolengo, St. Pier Luigi Chanel, St. M. Sofia Barat, and other Saints of his time. “A dignified and clean conscience,” he retired from the political scene, nobly though embittered, “to pray, love and suffer,” as he declared in 1848.
Cardinal Lugi Bilio from Alessandria (1826-1884) was a great theologian and director, and personally lived some events that were decisive for the Church and modern society; he is considered responsible and protagonist of the last writing out of the Syllabus, which gained him the Cardinal dignity when he was only 40. Being “the most talented theologian of the Sacred College,” he was president of the theological and dogmatic commission preparing the Council and then of the faith delegation at Vatican Council I. He was one of the five Presidents of the general Congregations of the Council, and revealed his equilibrium and moderation, opposing the too obstinate infallibilists, yet receptive to the requests of minorities, proving to be the most important personage after Pius IX. One of the possible candidates to the Papacy in the Conclave of 1878, he continued to be pious, humble, courteous, learned, coherent in this thought, free from pendatism and extremism, fully in the spirit of the Congregation.
There is finally Cardinal Giuseppe Granniello from Naples (1834-1896) who had a long experience in the study and teaching of theology and jurisprudence; he was a fervent ecumenist from his youth and member of the new Roman committee “for the reconciliation of dissidents,” consulter of many political offices, archbishop first, then Cardinal in 1893. He spent all his energies in the offices of the Curia until he died of fatigue. He was the last Barnabite Cardinal.
The practical and dynamic character of the Lombards originated many social apostolate activities. The Fathers stationed at St. Barnabas in Milan were working at orphanages, reformatories, shelter-houses, and female religious houses in addition to the priestly apostolate from the Motherhouse. The Immaculate Guild was formed there in 1850 to assist young workers. Fr. Francesco Vandoni (1800-1860) created the “night charity schools” at the St. Alexander’s Church in 1843, and opened the Longone imperial boarding school in 1845; he also founded free shelter houses.
Fr. Giulio Barbetta created the “chimney-sweepers association” and that of the “little artisans” in Monza, which was entrusted to the Pavonians in 1827.
Fr. Clemente Tanzi, still at St. Alexander’s gave impulse to the “Eastern Schools” while Father Michele Mazzucconi transformed the parish into a Christian life center for the whole city of Milan.
The spirit of charity, devoutness and organization seemed to have communicated to all Carrobiolo Barnabites. Fr. John-Phillip Leonardi (1783-1847) sponsored the Sunday youth centers, the institution for the “Propagation of the Faith,” the devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the installation in Monza of the Canossian Nuns whom he entrusted the female section of the youth organization directed by Fr. Redolfi from 183`; Fr. L. Cornaggia (1806-1876) started organizing the “Pauline Institute” for the press apostolate (1849) with a typography that diffused among the people two series of books: the “Saints” and the “Classics” for the schools; Fr. Gian Pietro Curti collaborated in the foundation of the Sacramentine Nuns of Monza; Fr. Giusto Pantalini encouraged the birth of the “Preziosine” or Nuns of the Most Precious Blood; the Carrobiolo most beautiful flower was the first St. Vincent de Paul Conference; Fr. Pio Mauri created in 1872 the “Catholic Male Workers Mutual Benefit Society” in opposition to Masonic associations…
In Lodi the Barnabite work was inspired by Fr. Antonio Confalonieri, brother of Count Federico. Fr. Agostino Calcagni taught the young there for 60 years, and Fr. Priamo Amani was a model of ascetism and strong discipline; Fr. Mauri restored the Angelic Sisters in the St. Francis Church for 37 years.
In Cremona Bishop Bonomelli received the Barnabites in their Founder’s birthplace: thanks to the wise Fr. Tommaso Zoia (1825-1907) they replaced the Capuchin Friars in the Church of St. Luke and opened the Sacred Heart Minor Seminary which was going to prepare for over a century a great number of students for their religious and priestly life. The next year they inaugurated a Sunday youth center and later on two clubs: one for workers and the other for students. From 1883 to 1896 they also direct the St. Secondo schools. They presently lead a high school co-sponsored by the diocese.
In Bologna an old tradition revived in the late 19th century engaging the Barnabites in all kinds of apostolate. Fr. Paolo Venturi (1800-1850) distinguished himself in the first decades in the scholastic and cultural field; he was a well-known professor and man of letters, and was considered “one of the illustrious men of the Congregation;” from 1848 he was also President of the University. Other confreres continued the teaching tradition in the St. Lucia schools, which annexed a public library, both before and after their municipalization of 1866 just as they had done from 1797 on in the unified St. Francesco Saverio and St. Luigi boarding schools. The letter was finally situated in the Montalto palace in 1873. In this school strictly “for aristocrats” we find valuable teachers such as Fr. Giuseppe Albini (1808-1876), former student, then rector and finally Superior General of the Order; Fr. Domenico Mongiardini (1833-1881) whose pedagogic qualities are still remembered; Fr. Pietro Rosati (1834-1915), an elegant Latin versifier who won prizes at International poetry competitions, was highly esteemed by Leo XIII and by Giovanni Pascoli. There were then students successful in the Italian public life, such as Marco Minghetti, Alfredo Oriani and many others.
In Leghorn the ancient St. Sebastian school, after the alternate events caused by reformation and Napoleonic secularization, started its activity in full and improved up to 1885 (in 1846 its enrollment was 300 students). Famous professors taught “to poets, writers, pedagogists, patriots, musicians and bishops,” such as Giovanni Merradi, Renato Fucini, Enrico Mayer, Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi, Pietro Mascagni, Alberto Del Corona “through a benevolent mild and fatherly approach.” After the school was closed, Fr. Filippo Villa (1836-1912), also called the “Don Bosco from Leghorn” created an educational center for the students together with the “Cesare Cantu” Academy, the Catholic Society promoting social works among which there were free meal services to the poor, an evening school and the Charitable Association of Christian Mothers.
In Perugia the Barnabites returned to officiate the Church of Jesus in 1838. In spite of their subsequent dispersion, they worked with zeal and spread their doctrine, especially through Fr. Giovanni Nanni, successful preacher, and Fr. Giuseppe Orlandi, a true apostle, thus acquiring a fame of God’s people.
At Sanseverino, Marche the Barnabites took up in 1803 the direction of the diocesan Seminary and of the city schools. From 1829 to 1862 they also had a Novitiate House, which was successful even in hard times. A similar scholastic activity was carried out in Massa Carrara from 1821 to 1837 to the citizens’ great satisfaction.
In Macerata the Barnabites even directed the University from 1802 to 1810; here like in other places they organized studies and public academies on scientific and philosophical subjects. There taught, among others, the Cardinals-to-be Lambruschini and Cadolini. From 1848 to 1862 they also officiated the St. Philip’s Church.
Also in Vercelli they were entrusted with the direction of the Royal schools from 1832-1855) which immediately increased the enrollment to 433 students and has some very good teachers such Fr. Bruzza. The Barnabites obtained also the St. James parish in 1837 with St. Christopher’s Church, well known for its pictures by Gaudenzio Ferrari.
In Parma they held from 1834 to 1872 the Maria Luigia ducal boarding school, well known for its teachers such as Bilio and Bruzza, Milone and Notari, whose fields went from mathematics to science, from philosophy to philology. Fr. Maresca started publishing the “Sacred Heart Messenger” diffusing the devotion throughout Italy.
In Teramo the St. Matthew’s Royal boarding school (1849-1861) had a group of exemplary and wise Barnabites.
In Naples, thanks to the Concordat of 1818 between the Holy See and Ferdinand I, the Barnabites began to officiate St. Joseph’s Church at Pontecorvo; the next year they added thereto the Province novitiate and a boarding school. In 1821 the government gave them St. Mary’s boarding school at Caravaggio, where humanistic studies flourished; the students were 500 in 1829. When the Neapolitan Province became autonomous in 1850, a scholasticate for philosophy seminarians was established, which lasted from 1853 to 1866. The Fathers were well accepted both by the sovereigns and by the people.
Fr. Giacobbe Priscolo (1761-1853) whose diocesan beatification process was started, and Fr. Leonardo Matera (1811-1871, confessor of God’s servant Caterina Volpicelli, were both virtuous and wise priests. The “Bianchi” boarding school opened in 1870 a new chapter written by the Barnabite Fathers Luigi Aguilar (1814-1892), who became Archbishop of Brindisi, and Tranquillino Moltedo (1839-1919), at first student then rector, poet, man of letters and hagiographer. Many of confreres then collaborated in the education of thousands of students from Southern Italy, who learned to love their country and appreciate the classics in the typical Neapolitan friendly and familiar atmosphere.
As a mater of fact, St. Francis Boarding School in Lodi gave a reliable instruction to the medium classes and to the Padan agriculturalists and favorably influenced the local environment offering many extra-scholastic activities. Right beside the school there was the monumental church dedicated to St. Francis, so dear to the Ada Negri who sang of its mystical fascination and its “frail 14th century Madonnas.”
The Royal “Carlo Alberto” boarding school of Moncalieri (Turin) which had been entrusted to the Barnabites by the Savoyard King in 1838 with the purpose to have the Piedmontese and Italian ruling class educated, soon became one of the most prestigious ones in the whole peninsula, thanks to the fame of its faculty “whose capacity and good results in the difficult art of teaching are praised by everyone” (Gioberti).
We cannot list all the religiouses who from the mid-18th century on taught to Princes, Dukes, generals, ambassadors, marquises and high officials. We need just mention the most famous three: Fr. Francesco Salesio Canobbie (1825-1906), the rector for antonomasia, who covered his position with great dignity for 40 years; Fr. Francesco Denza, professor and scientist above all; Fr. Paolo Frediani (1820-1896), a spiritual director, a fatherly guide for the young for 40 years.
In 1867 it is the turn of Florence, where the Barnabites following the Italian political events, founded the “Alla Querce” boarding school and day students, attended by upper class students coming from all over the country to learn Dante’s language and human, religious and civic virtues, teaching the highest levels as to seriousness and cultural engagement. Also in Florence do we find some of the best Barnabites: the founder and first rector of “Alla Querce,” Fr. Luigi Cacciari, a strong and ever present guide; Fr. Timoteo Bertelli, a scientist mentioned before; Fr. Raffeaele Martini (1840-1905), who taught their moral and rational philosophy for 32 years; Fr. Leopoldo De Feis (1844-1909) a philogist and archeologist, very attentive to the problems of his time; Fr. Camillo Melzi d Eril (1851-1929) who taught for 50 years mathematics and natural sciences; Fr. Giovanni Mantica (1855-1918) also called “the greatest rector” having opened the school to day students in 1904, set up technical schools and strengthened the Institute in hard times; Fr. Alessandro Ghignoni (1857-1924), an artist and brilliant lecturer, a student of Dante and refined writer, as well as lively representative of the religious and modernistic environment; Fr. Domenico Bassi (1870-1040), a well-known pedagogist from the Christian spiritualistic school, with a bibliography of 132 publications. Fr. Giuseppe Boffito (1869-1944) deserves a particular mention. He was a most learn bibliophile and bibliographer (191 entries are his), as well as science historian and student of Dante; he was perhaps the most representative of all. The Barnabites owe him their “Barnabite writers encyclopedia) in four large volumes (Florence 1933-1937), a real masterpiece for the quantity and the accuracy of the biographic, bibliographic, and iconographic information contained.
Although they did not belong to the Florentine environment, still we want to mention here some other worthy historians: Fr. Giuseppe Columbo (1838-1884) a deep history, art and letters scholar who left among other things Bibliographical portraits of great Barnabites (Lodi 1871) and Italian History points for the School (Lodi 1874); Fr. Orazio Premoli (1864-1928), tireless researcher and illustrator of history and of the various personages of the Order and of the Church (112 works of his were printed); his main works are History of the Barnabites in three volumes (Rome 1913, 1922, 1925), so far the only scientific one; Fr. Lugi Levati (1858-1936), scholar and writer on Genoese history, main compiler of the Menology of the Barnabites (Genoa 1932-1937) in 12 volumes containing biographical portraits divided into each day of the year and written for the purpose of inspiring to a better religious life.
The 19th century was also a promising era of the “missions to the Scandinavian countries,” with Fr. Paul Stub (1814-1892) a Norwegian Lutheran converted to Catholicism, a rich ascetics and apologetics writer, tireless preacher; he returned to his motherland as missionary and parish priest; the Venerable Karl Halfdan Schilling (1835-1907) also a converted Norwegian, a romantic painter, as Sigrid Undset defined him, led such a simple, humble, charitable, religious life as to reach perfection; when he died he was called “the Mouscron Saint;” Fr. Gregorio Almerici (1822-1917) had in common with the above Fathers both the yearnings and the apostolic spirit. He was a marquis from Cesena, in Rome he attended the Mazzinian Assocation and volunteered in the 1848 independence war; he then became a Barnabite; in Paris he was friends with St. Peter Julian Eymard and Mother Barat and helped the diffusion of the Eucharist and Sacred Heart devotions’ was the Queen’s chaplain of the Swedish Court, and advocated the unity of Churches. Other confreres dedicated themselves to the promotion of the Catholic belief in Norway, like the polemist Fr. Gian Carlo Moro from Brescia (1827-1904) who was confessor of the musician Gounod.
The uncomposed elegance of Fr. Alessandro Gavazzi (1809-1889) spread abroad; he was a passionate Jacobin of the Gospel who worked all his life to gather the scattered Italian Protestant groups, and founded in 1870 the “Free Christian Church of Italy:” the former Barnabite and “preacher of the two worlds” became a militant of “democratic” politics and vehement antipope.
The perspectives and worries for the future led to the creation of the first minor seminaries for the education of new recruits: at Gien, France (1874-1903) where there was also a novitiate house at Aubigny (1860-1880), which was transferred in 1866 to Mouscron, near the Belgian border. The same year the Franco-Belgian Province was set up, having pastoral centers in both nations. As to Italy, the first “seminarians” appeared in Genoa in 1878, and then they moved to Cremona where they remained until recently. Other minor seminarians were established even though for a short period, in Perugia (1863), Naples (1885), and Asti (1896); they were all breeding-grounds for Barnabite vocations. While the Barnabites were 286 in 1875, they were 338 in 1900, which is however little if compared with their works and merits.
V – The 20th Century
Fr. Giovanni Semeria (1867-1931) shared Fr. Gazzola’s ideals but was poles apart as to exuberance. He was well known in Italy and left mark in this country’s cultural, spiritual and social life “especially for his attachment to the Catholic faith” (Paul VI). He was a Bible student and Christian origins historian, fascinating lecturer both from the pulpit and the rostrum of large portion of Europe. He was also the enlivener of the Genoese intelligentsia, correspondent of the most lively spirits of that time, shared interests and took part in battles not only in the political, organizational and social fields, but also in connection with the peculiar religious aspect of modern Catholicism, the history of devotion, the dialogue with separate and straying brothers, we might say in the best of faith, science and charity. He too suffered for his “humbly free and untamed conscience;” he was accused of the most absurd things, silenced by the authorities and sent into exile in Belgium in 1912. The outbreak of war, which hit him in the deepest of soul, induced him to join the army as Chaplain of the General Cadorna’s supreme headquarters to bring comfort to the soldiers. When the tragedy was over, he consecrated himself to the orphans of the deceased soldiers, founded for them together with Fr. Giovanni Minozzi the still operating “National Institute for South Italy.” Turning himself into a sleepless pilgrim and beggar, “selling himself” little by little …”. Fr. Semeria’s innovative ideas, his courageous requests anticipated the times, yet they were perfectly within orthodoxy and faithfulness. His contribution to the revival of the Council Church is an historical fact.
Fr. Francesco Fracassetti (1855-1932), rector of St. Luigi’s Boarding School in Bologna and Provincial Superior, showed an unending goodness and care to relieve the unhappiness and loneliness of a multitude of persons. To this purpose he set up in Bologna the “Little Refuge House” for young workwomen, the “Family House” for single ladies, the “Family Work House for Blind Women.”
Fr. Vittorio De Marino (1863-1928), who became a Barnabite at the age of 47 while he was already a physician, emulated the Holy Founder in the care of souls in the area around Naples, and worked among the war wounded and the people hit by the Spanish influenza. His heroic virtues caused an ecclesiastic process, which is being presently carried out.
The war unfortunately caused a great victim: the practical dispersion of the German Barnabite Province caused by its decaying, and consequent canonical suppression decreed by the 1919 General Chapter. At the same time the foundation of the “League of St. Paul” was approved perhaps not as an approach to the outer world but rather to have the priestly ministry supported by selected groups of lay collaborators – both male and female – according to the spirit of the Apostle and the original intuition of Anthony Maria Zaccaria. These groups of generous people gathered here and there, and together with the members of the various fraternities (Our Lady of Divine Providence, the members of Missionary Association, the benefactors, etc.) worked at the Barnabite houses with apostolic zeal.
1928 was the year of the true return to the missions. Pius XI expressly entrusted the Order with the Gurupy prelacy, which was going to take in 1934 the name of Guama, having its Episcopal Center in Braganca. The first apostolic administrator was Fr. Francesco Richard (1874-1945); he was followed in 1940 by the still living Italian Prelate, Bishop Eliseo Caroli.
In almost 50 years of strenuous apostolate the Barnabite missionaries had to face untellable sacrifices in an equatorial climate among forests, rivers, and impassable roads, in exhausting “desobrighe” which produced their victims. They built dozens of churches, organized many elementary and high schools, basic communities, set up a radio station for the broadcasting of catechism and the education of the people of the interior. They even set up a maternity hospital, which was entrusted to the St. Teresina Missionary Nuns, a young wholly Brazilian Congregation founded by Bishop Caroli.
The presence in Afghanistan of the only Catholic priest authorized by the government may be considered a return to the East and a wider horizon for the Congregation. Ever since January 1, 1933, Fr. Egidio Caspani (1891-1962) who was considered one of the greatest experts of Afghan problems, and his successors act as Chaplains of the Italian Embassy in Kabul and give spiritual assistance to Catholics of all nationalities residing there, discreetly attempting a very difficult approach with the Moslems.
We can similarly consider the shortest diplomatic mission of Bishop Mario Giardini (1877-1947), who was the first Apostolic Delegate in Japan from 1922 to 1931; he managed to set up a situation of reciprocal respect between the Vatican and the Rising Sun Throne, diffused the Catholic culture in a refractory territory, and prepared the institution of the local ecclesiastic hierarchy. The Most Reverend Mario Giardini was Archbishop of Ancona from 1931 to `940.
As to Brazil, a missionary expansion took place in Guama, and new residences were set up at Ourem and Vizeu in 1930 and at Irutia and S. Domingos in 1934. In the Southern part of Central Brazil the Barnabites greatly engaged themselves in their pastoral activity with “St. Paul’s” Parish and the annexed “Guy de Fontgallant” boarding school in the Copacabana residential area of Rio de Janeiro (1933). They are both still fully active. Another parish was established in 1935 and is still operating in the industrial outskirts of San Paulo (St. Raphael’s at Mocca). 1933 was also a lucky year for the vocations, and the Barnabites reached 417. Another significant year was 1939, Fourth Centenary of Anthony Mary Zaccaria’s death. The Saint’s relics were brought in pilgrimage to various cities in Lombardy and were accompanied by a group of orators who exalted his virtues. We shall mention here Fr. Angelo Confalonieri (1886-1957), beloved by the whole Congregation whom he dedicated his mighty mind “like a brave soldier of Christ;” Fr. Erminio Rondini (1895-1943), a burning and fascinating man who founded in 1935 the “Sacred Heart Little Workwomen” Institute having its Motherhouse at Trani (Bari); Fr. Aldo Borsieri (1878-1948), a clear mind and extremely human person, pervaded by the spirit of St. Paul and Alessandro Manzoni, who became together with the Pope-to-be Monsignor Montini, Vice Assistant General of the Italian Catholic University Federation; and finally Fr. Michele Favero (1885-1965), a wise teacher to the clergy and laity and rich author of ascetical works.
In outburst of faith and interpreting the signs of the time, the Barnabites settled in some Southern American countries, such as Chile (1948) and Argentina (1951): never had they dared venture so far. The merit of this should be ascribed to the far sightedness of the Superior General, Fr. Idlefonso Clerici (1883-1970) of whom we spoke before for his manual on the Barnabite pedagogic system, as well as to a group of daring and obedient young confreres. Fr. Clerici was a quick agiographer and spirituality writer (his bibliography sums up to 130 entries) and deeply loved his religious family, which he governed from 1937 to 1952 leaving a mark of his personal dynamism.
The two most important aspects of our presence in Chile were and still are: the schools in La Serena and Sant Vicente de Tagua Tagua started respectively in 1948 and 1953; these schools have a typical “local church” context, and have associated scientifical and apostolic works, dealt in full cooperation with the student’s families; the pastoral evangelization in St. Sofia’s Parish, Santiago (since 1951); this was and still is a center of social and charitable activities regardless of the most difficult political situation. Also in the suburb of Quillayes, the Barnabite seminarians receive their education and training.
A similar ministry is being carried out ever since 1951 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in S. Antonio Maria Zaccaria’s Parish and in St. Therese’s Institute attended by approximately 500 students. The Barnabites have been working from 1953 in the nearby village of San Pablo where they teach the children and hold adult education courses. In 1976 they were requested by the respective Bishops to accept the vast parishes of Quilmes and Bahia Blanca, which had been lacking a priest for years.
As to the U.S.A., the Barnabites have been officiating a vast and beautiful open air Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima in Youngstown, New York; the shrine is the yearly destination of thousands of pilgrims. A wide circulating monthly magazine and other publications diffuse Mary’s prayer and conversion message. After having taught in the North Tonawanda, New York diocesan high school from 1961-1971, the Barnabites still teach at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; they also direct the Italian immigrants parish in San Diego, California.
In Canada, besides the Oakville parish (1961), they have recently accepted two other parishes in Elfrida and Guelph, fully getting into the life and structures of the local Church.
The Barnabites have also been in Spain ever since 1964 with their “Diego Martinez” Seminary at Palencia, attended by over a hundred students, the flourishing and popular S. Antonio Maria Zaccaria’s Parish in Madrid and at Silla near Valencia.
In the Franco-Belgian Province the Barnabites are engaged since 1967 in the Holy Family Parish at Pre-Saint-Gervais, in the worker’s outskirts of Paris, as well as in the old Barnabite communities of Mouscron, Kain, and Brussels. Recently the Barnabites established a “House of Prayer” in Brussels for a great number of God seeking people, and the parishes of Pont-a-Celles and Gou-lez-Pieton (1965).
A particular mention should be reserved to the Zaire mission (formerly Belgian Congo) established by our Belgian confreres and then carried on by the Lombard confreres. Since 1954 the Barnabites built, organized and directed the Kitumaini (formerly Saint Paul’s) boarding school in Bukavu for young natives, this school soon became one of the local institutions preparing the Zaire republic ruling class, in spite of the great turmoil that followed the political independence. Since they had to abandon this fruitful apostolate field (although not completely) the missionaries dedicated themselves more intensely to the pastoral ministry. In 1970 they established, with the generous help of the European friends, “Our Lady of Divine Providence Parish” in Biravu on the shores of Lake Kivu, and furnished it with chapels, schools, dispensaries, etc. St. Paul’s Parish was established in Mbobero in 1974, and the hard work caused the first victim: young pastor Luciano Landoni (+1977). The Barnabites are settling in Rwanda in the large Muhura Parish, which seems to have a promising future.
More recently we could see here and there other traditional ascetic personalities that have left behind a good memory and stimulating examples. In Brazil there were Fr. Agostino Carugo (1891-1954), Fr. Rocco Carenzi (1884-1964), and Fr. Fiorenzo Dubois (1878-1964). The first was an extremely zealous pastor that helped all poor and comforted the sick; the second was an exceptionally virtuous man who spent 50 years as missionary in the virgin forests of Guama; the third was bright apologist of the Catholic faith both in writing and word.
In Belgium there was Fr. Achille Desbuquoit (1874-1961), a learned commentator of St. Paul’s Letters and a spiritual guide.
As to Italy, we should remember: Fr. Francesco Castelnuovo (1911-1961) who chose to live a sort of martyrdom and was constantly aiming to reach religious perfection; he was constantly aiming to reach religious perfection; he was an unforgettable teacher to novices and theology students; Fr. Agostino Mazzucchelli (1886-1966), a serene and tireless worker of God, a pious and good Samaritan towards all without distinction; Fr. Luigi Manzini (`875-1968), a venerable and austere looking man who throughout the 70 years of his priesthood was a scholar of domestic events and an authoritative Provincial Superior and Assistant General.
Let’s now recall a few significant events: in 1951 the Blessed Francesco Saverio M. Bianchi, apostle of Naples between the 18th and the 19th century, was solemnly canonized by Pius XII; two years later Fr. Placido Cambiaghi, former rector at Moncalieri and in Florence, was elected Bishop of Crema and subsequently promoted by Pope John XXIII to the Church of Novara (1962-1971) where he bestowed the gifts of his heart and mind; he finally retired in Rome where he still is Vicar of the Lateran Basilica. In 1959 the Barnabites started officiating again the marvelous S. Paolo Maggiore Basilica in Bologna. The two terms of generalship of the Belgian Fr. Emile Schot from 1952-1964) marked a strengthening of the Congregation’s inner structures before Vatican Council II. Also the number of the members was growing and in 1958 for the first time after two centuries the Barnabites numbered over 600.
The crisis that characterized the Church after the last Council had some repercussion on the Congregation root level. In particular there were some tensions between the young and the elder members, some defections, a remarkable decrease in the number of vocations, changes in the religious customs, etc. Such a precarious situation is proved by the decreasing number of professed: on January 1, 1971 there were 562 assigned to 75 houses; two years later there were 518, and in 1976 only 505.
Some great personalities who were well known for their dynamism and attachment to the Order passed away. They were Fr. Antonio Beati (1878-1973) a sterling character, tireless and versatile educator; Fr. Francesco Giuseppe De Ruggiero (1889-1978), a brilliant priest, poet, orator and writer. Well known students of both sacred and profane subjects presently Fr. Vincenzo Cilento, a scholar of Plotino and very cultured philologist as well as member of the Academy of “The Lincei”, and Fr. Umberto Fasola, archeologist and Secretary of the Pontifical Sacred Archeology Committee, and others. The Italo-American Fr. Steven Grancini was elected to the highest office in 1976, and proported to the Congregation the message of the “Renewal” and spiritual rebirth. This is the Barnabites aim today.
The first house and the Congregation itself were called “St. Paul’s House,” “St. Paul’s College,” etc.
The people simplified such names into “Paolini” or even “Guastallini” (from Countess L. Torelli of Guastella, a great benefactor of the Order); the name changed into “Barnabites” (1545) from the first church they officiated in Milan and dedicated to the Saints Paul and Barnabas.
The official name of “Clerics Regular of St. Paul Decapitated” was composed subsequently. “Clerics Regular” is first mentioned in Paul III’s Bull of July 25, 1535; “Decapitated” (from 1540 on) was chosen to distinguish the Clerics from the Angelics of St. Paul the “Convert” and in memory of the Apostle’s martyrdom. The complete name, “Clerics Regular of St. Decapitated,” appears in Julius III’s Bull of February 22, 1550.
Along the centuries the official name of “Clerics Regular of St. Paul” and the common one “Barnabites” became known, sometimes with a slight variation (with or without “decapitated”). Similarly the Latin name of the Order remained “Congregatio Clericorum Regularium S. Pauli.”
As to the abbreviations, we can hardly establish the exactness and their most frequent use. The most frequent appear to be: in Latin “Cler. Reg. S. Pauli;” more recently in Italian “Barn” “Barn.,” “B. ta,” “B.” Only in the U.S.A. is the abbreviation “C.R.S.P.” used.
From the Fifties on the official abbreviation is “B.” and it is used in the Pontifical Year Book.
We cannot determine the origin nor the disuse of some abbreviations, as their use depends on the taste of the single authors and on possible variations as well on the little importance that was given to them.
- 1534 The first Barnabite Community: 9 members; average age, 30. The youngest was 20, the oldest, 37, the Founder himself, 32. Seven died young, between the age of 35 and 49, the Founder dying at 37. All outstanding Religious.
- 1545 Acquisition of St. Barnabas Church and House, our historical motherhouse.
- 1551 Temporary Constitutions.
- 1575 First parish, Rome, Italy.
- 1579 Permanent Constitutions under the guidance of St. Charles Borromeo.
- St. Alexander Sauli (1534-1592) makes his mark: Superior General and Bishop, he is considered the ideal Barnabite, a man of deep learning, piety, and enthusiastic pastoral ministry.
- Expansion outside Italy: Savoy (1614), France (1620), Austria (1626), Czechoslovakia (1627).
- 1608 First school, Milan, Italy.
- 1613 First school outside Italy, Savoy.
- 1622 General Curia transferred from the historical motherhouse in Milan to Rome.
- 1630-1631 Thirty one Barnabites give their life ministering to the plague-stricken in Northern Italy.
- 1666 "Barnabite Rules of Study."
- 1680 First Boarding School, France.
- 1699 First Barnabite Cardinal, Giacomo Antonio Morigia, Archbishop of Florence, 1683-1708.
- Learning flourishes in history, rubrics, architecture, astronomy, spirituality, theology, canon law, exegesis, epigraphy, literature.
- Fr. Redento Baranzano (1590-1622) precursor of Galileo Galilei and author of Uranoscopia (1617) where he favored theCopernican system over the Ptolemaic system.
- Fr. Ottavio Boldoni (1600-1680) is appointed by Pope Clement IX First Curator of the Vatican Library.
- 1701 First Province outside Italy, France.
- 1722-1830 Burma Mission.The Barnabites published the first Burmese dictionary and grammar, studies of Burmese history, geography, and ethnography, a pioneering study of 300 flowers and 200 animals, a description of precious stones, and a study of Burmese pharmacology. Even more fundamental was the compilation of the first Burman alphabet (1776) which produced 60,000 Burmese typographic characters.
- 1732 Beginning of Barnabite devotion to Our Lady, Mother of Divine Providence.
- 1749 Barnabite schools in Italy are granted the right to confer doctorates in theology and to be titled universities.
- Eminent Barnabites:
- Cardinal Sigismondo Gerdil (1718-1802), the major Christian philosopher of the century and encyclopedic scholar, author of 20 large volumes on education, logic, metaphysics, mathematics, physics, law and theology. His Description of the Characteristics of True Religion had 70 editions in 5 languages.
- St. Francis Xavier Bianchi (1743-1815), another ideal Barnabite, scholar and Apostle of Naples.
- 1814-1825 Following the Napoleonic suppression of Religious Orders, the Barnabites reorganize under the leadership of two Barnabite Cardinals, Luigi Lambruschini and Francesco Fontana.
- The Barnabite tradition of spirituality, learning and pastoral ministry resumes:
- Fr. Fortunato Redolfi founds the first Catholic Youth Center in Italy (early 1820's)
- Fr. Luigi Ungarelli establishes the Vatican Egyptian museum
- Fr. Luigi Bruzza is the leading epigraphist in Italy
- Fr. Francesco Denza restores and becomes first Director of the Vatican Observatory
- Fr. Carlo Vercellone publishes the facsimile edition of the famous Codex Vaticanus, a 4th c. A.D. manuscript of the Bible
- Five Barnabite Cardinals:
- Fontana accompanies Pius VII, exiled by Napoleon to France
- Cadolini, a great pastor and orator
- Lambruschini, Secretary of State to Gregory XVI
- Bilio, the leading theologian among cardinals and a leader at Vatican Council I
- Granniello, a fervent ecumenist.
- Other ecumenists: a Russian convert (Fr. Agostino Schouvaloff); two Norwegian converts (Fr. Paolo Stub and Fr. Charles Schilling), and the celebrated Fr. Cesare Tondini (1839-1907), a polyglot who traveled all over Europe promoting the union of Eastern Orthodox Churches with the Catholic Church.
- Worldwide expansion.
- Continuing tradition of spirituality, learning and pastoral ministry. A selected list:
- Venerable Charles Schilling (1835-1907), a Lutheran convert, spiritual director.
- Servant of God Giovanni Semeria (1867-1931), orthodox Modernist, eminent scholar, "Father of Orphans," precursor of Vatican II.
- Servant of God Cesare Barzaghi (1863-1941), scholar and "Apostle of Lodi," a Northern Italian city.
- Orazio Premoli (1864-1928), the primary modern historian of the Order.
- Giuseppe Boffito (1869-1940), eminent scholar, major bibliographer and bibliophile, author of 4 massive volumes on all Barnabite writers and their works.
- Vincenzo Cilento (1903-1980), first-rate classicist, philologist, the only Italian translator of Plotinus.
- Umberto Fasola (1917-1989), catacombs scholar and director of all catacombs of Italy.
- Giuseppe Cagni (1929-), major historian of the Order.
- Luigi Cagni (1929-1998), Assyriologist.
- Antonio Gentili (1937-), spiritual director and author of bestsellers in spirituality.
- Sergio Pagano (1949-), vice-president of the Secret Vatican Archives; Professor of Diplomatics in the Vatican School of Paleography, Diplomatics and Archival Studies; major editor of The Documents of the Trial of Galileo Galilei (1986) and of New Documents on Vittoria Colonna and Reginald Pole(1989)
- 1983 New Constitutions, updated according to the directives of Vatican Council II.