823 826. (This chapter is not published by the expressed desire of the saint.)1318
Which Tells Of Some Of My Experiences
827. On December 25 of …, at 4:00 in the morning, it began to snow and kept on snowing for two whole days. It snowed so much that people born in Madrid had never seen the like of it. Not withstanding, a woman came through all that snow from a town six leagues away to make her confession.
828 A 64 year old woman who came to confession to me had been to confession only twice in her life: once when she was ten and again, at the time of her marriage, when she was 20. After three years of marriage, she walked out on her husband. She had been a bad sort ever since she was a child, but after her marriage she went from bad to worse. She had been in various countries and had behaved scandalously wherever she went. Finally she came back to her hometown, Madrid, and began to feel the need to go to confession. It had been 44 years since her last confession, and even the two previous confessions had been bad ones.
When I had listened to the story of her long and very wicked life, and could see how repentant and eager to change her life she was, I asked her whether or not she had kept up some devotion during this time. She answered me that, despite her evil life, she had said seven Our Fathers and Hail Marys to our Lady of Mount. Carmel every day because when she was a little girl she had heard that it was good to say these prayers. In November, 1864, she went to confession and has done well ever since, and I don't doubt that she will eventually reach heaven.
829. Madrid, March 21, 1865. A man who was converted and came to confession happened to be the one who had made some very wicked and slanderous caricatures and touched-up photographs of me, which have been sold and circulated everywhere.
830. This year a very evil woman, who had committed every sort of sin, was converted. She attributed her conversion to the prayer, O Virgin and Mother of God!, etc.1319 which we say after the sermon. Despite her evil life she said this prayer every day, and finally the Blessed Virgin touched her heart and she made a good general confession, although she had never made a good confession before. When I say that she had committed every sort of sin, I mean it: particularly, she had sinned a lot with herself, with women, with unmarried men, with widowers, with married men, with her own father, with her own sons, with animals and in many ways; she had poisoned her husband; she had tried to commit suicide several times but had been nursed back to health although she had been at death's door; she had often tried to summon up the devil and had offered herself to him to carry her off, etc., etc. And just for reciting this little prayer to Mary every day, the Lord preserved her and at length converted her. How merciful the Blessed Virgin Mary is! This conversion took place during the novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in 1865.
[ChapterXVII] (Blank in the Manuscript)1320
Containing An Account Of My Resignation From The Court, And A Letter From Her Majesty To Me
831. On May 7, 1865, at 3:30 in the afternoon, the feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph, Jesus told me to be very devout to St. Joseph and to approach him with confidence.
832. On July 17, 1865, at 7:00 in the morning, while I was praying before the image of the Christ of Pardon in the church of La Granja, Jesus told me, Anthony, leave. This command came as a result of the queen's recognition of the so-called Kingdom of Italy. There had been some talk hinting of this, and the bishops were beginning to send in written objections and inquiries on the matter, beginning with that of the Archbishop of Burgos.1322 Her Majesty asked me what I thought of these statements by the bishops. I answered that they seemed to be in perfect order and that I would do the same if I were in their place. I said that the others had to write because they were absent, whereas I was present and could talk with her face to face. They wrote for their flocks, but I had no need to because I had but one sheep and she was about to be devoured by the wolf. I meant the queen and she knew it, and so she exclaimed, "God save us!"
833. Since anyone could see that this matter would eventually come to a head, I had been constantly warning her to avoid granting this recognition and to keep clear of the whole question. She had promised me that she would never grant it because it would be an act against both the Holy Father and the King of Naples, a very close relative of hers.1323 She had told me on various occasions that she would rather abdicate than approve such an act,1324 and on other occasions she had assured me that she would rather die. Because I saw that in the final outcome the same thing would happen to her that had happened to the King of Naples, I told her so and exhorted her to die with honor rather than blacken her escutcheon with such a foul deed.1325 To all these arguments I finally added threats and told her twice that if she recognized the Kingdom of Italy, I would leave her service. This was the most painful thing I could tell her because she was madly attached to me.
834. Finally, on July 14, the feast of St. Bonaventure,1326 a black day for the queen and all Catholics, the full Council of State Ministers arrived at La Granja at 9:00 in the evening. The President of the Council, O'Donnell,1327 went alone to the palace and talked with the queen from 9:00 to 11:00, telling her that this matter of the Kingdom of Italy was not as bad as people thought and that its bark was worse than its bite.1328 He told her that it wasn't a matter of recognizing the right in the matter so much as the fact, and that the agreement only affected the holdings of the King of Naples but by no means those of the Pope. To these treacherous arguments he added that the nation's commerce demanded it and that, besides, she could do no less because the army was ready to revolt and descend upon her if she did not recognize the so called Kingdom of Italy. One could truly say that she was both deceived and threatened into doing what she did.1329
835. Next day, at the appointed time, all the Ministers of State assembled in the palace and unanimously approved the plan that their president had set forth the night before.
836. This vote of approval was like a death-blow to me. I went to the queen and showed her the evil of what she had done. She could only cry and told me that she had been running a temperature ever since she had given her consent.
837. The whole affair so upset me that it gave me a bad case of diarrhea. Because every year someone in the queen's entourage had died of diarrhea, presumably contracted from drinking the water at La Granja, I seized upon this as an excuse to leave the court and go to Catalonia. I did not want to tell the queen my real intention because she was then four months pregnant and I feared my announcement might cause a miscarriage. She begged and beseeched me with moans, sighs, and tears not to leave. I told her that I had to go to save my life, that I had made more than enough sacrifices for her during the eight years and months I had been at her side, and that she should not ask me to sacrifice my life as well.1330
838. I left La Granja for Madrid, then on to Zaragoza, Barcelona, and finally, Vic. On leaving the atmosphere of the court I felt somewhat better, but the diarrhea lasted several days, even in Vic.1331
839. On August 14 of this year, at 9:30 in the morning while I was at prayer in the church of St. Dominic in Vic, during the Forty Hours' Devotion, the Lord spoke to me from the Blessed Sacrament: You will go to Rome.
840. A Letter Sent to Me by Her Majesty, the Queen:
San Ildefonso, July 20, 1865
Father Claret, My Dear Father: My object in writing you these lines is to beg you, for the love you bear me, to be in Valladolid on the second of the coming month, to accompany me to Zarauz. You know very well what would happen and what people would say if they saw me without you. If after you have been at Zarauz you still need more baths, you can leave for a few days and come back. Make this one sacrifice more for your spiritual daughter who owes you so much.
I beseech you, if you agree to my request, to drop me a few lines telling me so, and my joy will be immense.
Pray God and the Virgin to keep us all in good health. The King's health is rather delicate, but you will pray for his improvement. We all trust in your prayers and have every hope in them.
Your loving and respectful daughter, Isabel.1332
Containing The Letter Of His Holiness
841. As it became evident that the matter of recognizing the Kingdom of Italy was becoming a real issue, Her Majesty the Queen consulted the Holy Father, asking his advice on how to act in the matter.1333 The Pope answered as follows:
The letter that Your Majesty has just sent me, asking my advice as to whether Your Majesty should recognize the present state of Italy, involves grave difficulties, both on the part of the petitioner and on my part, because I cannot answer in the affirmative. The difficulty of Your Majesty's position is not unknown to me, and I am aware that in a parliamentary system the sovereign is often prevented from putting into effect the resolutions he knows must be taken. Nevertheless, such resolutions neither can nor ought to be admitted, if they contravene justice. For this reason alone, Your Majesty will easily understand that my advice will always be opposed to a usurpation that is utterly unfair to those Italian rulers who have been wronged and still more to what affects the Holy See's patrimony, which has been entrusted to me to be handed on to my successors.
842. "It seems impossible that the Spanish nation, so well known for its love of the Catholic faith, a nation which in 1845 gave the whole world a shining example of its love for this Holy See and for my own poor person,1334 should presently wish to oblige Your Majesty to set an utterly contrary example. Indeed, I hope not.
843. "It is true that the desire I have manifested to fill the many vacant episcopal sees of Italy has led many to suppose that this Holy See is not averse to continuing its overtures at dealing with King Victor Emmanuel and his government to the point of recognizing the actual state of this Peninsula. But those who think so have committed a colossal error, for it is one thing to satisfy a duty of conscience imposed by Jesus Christ--such as trying by all means possible to provide for the needs of the Church--and quite another to recognize usurpations and thus sanction the false doctrine of the fait accompli. I have tried following diplomatic steps to fulfill my duty and even had some hopes of a pleasing outcome during the first stages of dealing with the Piedmontese negotiator; but after returning to Rome I received instructions completely to the contrary, and the hopes I had entertained were dashed, so that now we have returned to the state we were in before the negotiations.
844. "As for the rest, I pray God to sustain Your Majesty and give you the light you may need to make right prevail in your kingdom and save its society, which is exposed to so many dangers and manifest perils.
"I send my heartfelt blessing to you, to His Majesty the King, to the Prince of Asturias, to the Royal Family, and to all your subjects.
“Given at the Vatican on the fifteenth day of June, 1865
Pius IX, Pope"1335
Despite the fact that the queen and her ministers had read this letter, they went ahead with the recognition of the so-called Kingdom of Italy.1336
Containing A Letter Written To Me By The Papal Nuncio In Madrid While I was In Catalonia
845. When I saw the way things were going, I asked the Papal Nuncio to ask Rome what I should do. The Nuncio1337 gave me Rome's response in the following letter:
"To His Excellency, D. Anthony Mary Claret, Archbishop of Trajanópolis.
"My Dear Sir and Beloved Brother: I have presently received a response from Rome concerning your inquiries. It reads as follows:
"'I am not surprised,' writes Cardinal Antonelli,1338 'that Bishop Claret should be bewildered and in search of authoritative advice on the resolve he should take to bring some calm to his spirit. Certainly, in view of the good he could do for the cause of religion, notwithstanding the recognition of the so-called Kingdom of Italy, he cannot be asked to leave his post at court; but neither can he be asked to stay, if it occasions him any spiritual anguish or if he believes that doing so would be contrary to his conscience. Hence there is no recourse for him but to recollect himself in the Lord and, after imploring divine guidance, to do whatever God inspires him to, for the good of the Church and souls. This is the better part, and this is the advice we would like you to convey to Bishop Claret, in the Holy Father's name.'
846. "I have tried to translate this reply literally, so that you might know the Holy Father's opinion exactly. It can be summarized as follows: You should pray God to enlighten you and then, following the Lord's inspiration, you should either continue or not continue as the queen's confessor. The Holy Father imposes neither of these alternatives, nor will he disapprove of whatever choice you adopt after calling on God's special assistance.
847. "Allow me to make one observation on the Holy Father's reply. It is true that he does not ask you to continue in the post of confessor, but neither does he ask you to abandon it. Hence if you continued in it you would neither be doing something contrary to your duty, nor something displeasing to the Holy Father. If either of these had been the case, the Holy Father would have told you frankly to discontinue your services. The reason he did not tell you that it would be fitting for you to continue is not that he thought doing so was surely reprehensible, but only that he does not wish you to do so if you believe that it would be against your conscience.
848. "This, then, is the heart of the matter; hence you should beg the Lord for his holy lights of wisdom and prudence, to discern whether staying in court any longer is something that goes against your conscience. I know full well that your aspirations, tendencies, and desires would lead you to leave as quickly as possible, and you would have more than enough reasons to be at ease over doing so. But experience has taught me that aspirations, tendencies, and desires are not conscience, and here we are talking exclusively of conscience.
849. "The frank and explicit declaration you have published has removed any possible doubt about your thoughts on the recognition of the Kingdom of Italy.1339 From now on, no one could suspect that you are not in agreement with the bishops and the general outpouring of Catholic sentiment, or that you are hiding or dissimulating your opinion in order to avoid being removed from a palace post. But your removal would make it difficult for you to render the Church some very valuable services, particularly in the election of bishops, and would prejudice the queen's cause in the eyes of the faithful and the clergy. These last two considerations are of the greatest import and deserve your serious reflection. I need not dwell on the former, but as to the latter, I need only remind you of the revolutionary conspiracy against Her Majesty, especially in view of the fact that, deep in her heart, she is Catholic and devoted to the Holy Father. What would happen if the good, too, became enemies of her cause, as some are imprudently doing? What would the consequences then be, both for the Kingdom and the Church?
850. "The Holy Father has not ceased to hold Her Majesty in affectionate regard. He deeply deplores her recognition of Italy, but because he knows that the queen deplores it too, he sympathizes with her because she neither knew nor could do anything to control the circumstances.
851. "I hope that with God's grace your health has improved and that you will tell me of any new developments, especially any affecting your decision in this matter. In your prayers, do not forget one who is always
"Your affectionate brother, Lawrence, Archbishop of Tyana Madrid, July 29, 1865"1340
852. Vic, August 23, 1865. Because I was unable to decide whether to return to court or not, I discussed it with the Superior General of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who in turn enjoined the four Consultors of the Congregation to pray over the matter until we met again on an assigned day.1341 The day arrived, and of the five votes cast, three were opposed to my returning and two were for it. Following the majority vote, I have resolved not to return. In the meantime I will busy myself by giving retreats and similar services here in this city.1342
Containing A Gentleman’s Defense Of My Insignificant Self1343
853. "Msgr. Claret, Archbishop of Trajanópolis and Confessor to the queen, had resigned himself to listen silently and indefinitely to the damaging reports, some of them erroneous. some slanderous, that have been spread about him these many years, hoping that God -- to whom he prays for his detractors -- would enlighten their understanding and abate their ill will.
854. "But yielding to the repeated entreaties of us who, besides respecting and loving him as he deserves, think that it is important for the welfare of the Church to refute or rectify these reports, he has authorized us to publish the following resume of his life and some of his works. This resume has been compiled by a person who is as incapable of altering the facts as he is well informed of them. For our part, we take the single liberty of adding one comment, namely, that if any charge could be brought against Bishop Claret, it would be, in our judgment, that of shunning any involvement in politics, even when by becoming involved he might have helped the interests of the Church against political encroachments.
855. "His Excellency, the Most Reverend Archbishop Claret, was born in the town of Sallent, Province of Barcelona, diocese of Vic. He received his elementary schooling in his hometown, after which he was sent by his parents to Barcelona to study design at La Lonja Institute, where he received several rewards. He studied chemistry, general science, and French, and because he felt strongly called to the priesthood, he undertook the study of Latin. His Excellency, Paul of Jesus de Corcuera, then Bishop of Vic, sent him to the seminary at Vic, where he maintained a record of high scholastic achievement throughout his student career.
856. "In 1834, having acquired a benefice, he was promoted to major orders, together with Dr. Balmes, the senior member of the diaconate class, Bishop Claret being senior member of the subdiaconate class. At the Solemn High Ordination Mass, Bishop Claret sang the Epistle and Dr. Balmes sang the Gospel. Both were close friends and spent many hours together studying at the same table in the episcopal library.1344
857. "He was ordained to the priesthood on June 13, 1835 and sang his first Mass in his hometown, where he fulfilled the required residency in the benefice he was ordained for.
858. "Without prejudice to his benefice, his ecclesiastical superior made him acting pastor of the parish for two years and administrator for another two, thus completing a stay of four years, from 1835 to 1839. It must be remembered that the town of Sallent in those days was fortified in favor of Isabel II and, because Father Claret was in charge of the parish and its community of beneficiaries, he was well known and treated by all the civil authorities. In our own court at Madrid, Baron de Meer, then Captain General of Catalonia,1345 and the Marquis of Novaliches,1346 who accompanied him at that time, are eyewitnesses to his conduct. In the course of that four-year period both of them visited the town a number of times, and the Captain General frequently stayed at the Casa Claret, the most prominent house in town. In his official ecclesiastical capacity, Father Claret used to travel from the rectory to visit the Captain General. Hence we have the testimony of these two authorities to give the lie to those who have underhandedly accused the bishop of having been a rebel.
859. "Early in October, 1839, he went to Rome to offer his services for the foreign missions. He remained there until March of the following year, when his doctors advised him to return to Spain because the dampness of Rome was causing him a severe rheumatic condition.
860. "A few days after his return he recovered his health, and his ecclesiastical superior sent him as administrator to the parish of Viladrau, where he began a missionary campaign throughout the principate of Catalonia. At this time, he came to be known as 'Mosen Claret,' 'Mosen' being the common Catalan term for 'priest.' In 1846, however, while he was preaching the Month of May Devotions to Mary in the city of Lerida, people began calling him 'Padre Claret,' perhaps believing that, because he was always preaching missions, he was one of the Franciscans of the monastery of Escornalbou, a group of apostolic men dedicated to giving missions. This is doubtless why those who do not know his story call him 'Padre.'
861. "At the beginning of 1848 he preached at the court as he was passing through Madrid, in response to an appeal by Bishop Bonaventure Codina of the Canary Islands. He accompanied Bishop Codina to the Islands and gave missions there until the middle of 1849.
862. "On August 4 of that year he was named Archbishop of Cuba, but he resolutely refused the nomination until, at the command of the Bishop of Vic and his spiritual director, he accepted it on October 4. His consecration took place on October 6 of the following year. On his arrival at court Msgr. Brunelli, then Papal Nuncio conferred the pallium on him, after which he went directly to his diocese.1347
"In March, 1857 he was summoned to fill the post of Confessor to Her Majesty.
863. "During the last few years Bishop Claret has been slandered on three main counts:
(1) for being a faccioso trabucaire [guerrilla leader],1348 a charge that, from what has been said already, is utterly without foundation;