Saint Anthony Mary Claret



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The Librería Religiosa*

(1851-1869)

(Written ca. 1868-1869. Handwritten original: MSS Claret II, 345-346. Published in EC II, p. 814, note 10.)

Introductory Note

Fr. Claret founded the Librería Religiosa in Tarragona, with the collaboration of Canons (later Bishops) Joseph Caixal and Anthony Palau, toward the beginning of February, 1847, although it did not begin operating until December, 1848. This institution was destined to become a most effective instrument of the apostolate. The Saint speaks of it in his Autobiography, nn. 329-332.

From Claret’s correspondence we know how much unpleasantness and how many difficulties the Librería Religiosa caused him. But in 1868, when God accepted his self-offering as victim for the salvation of Spain, the Religious Publishing House, like most of his other enterprises, became an instrument for Claret’s mystical purification. It had been a means of salvation for its beneficiaries, now, for its founder, it would become a cross and a sacrifice.

Overlooking the personal grief it had brought him, the Saint wanted to save this institution at all costs. On July 15, 1868, he wrote to Bishop Caixal: “The Librería Religiosa is in a bad way; but just because it is in such trouble we must not abandon it. Let us recall the good that it has done, is doing and can still do. I fear the reckoning God will require of us if we let the Librería Religiosa die in our hands, since she is a predilect daughter of Jesus and Mary.”

Moved by rather murky ambitions, the printer of the Publishing House had the effrontery to press charges against the Saint during the course of the First Vatican Council.

More than half a century later, Pius XI did earthly justice to the Saint by proclaiming him an Apostle of the Christian Press.

The present Document reveals the deep sorrow the Saint felt in view of the ingratitude of those who were running the Librería Religiosa.

Text

In 1851, I myself left 4,000 duros to the Librería Religiosa. Now that I am exiled from Spain by reason of the Revolution – which has deprived me of my salary and left me with nothing – the Publishing House sends its excuses.



During my sojourn in Cuba, I bought books from the Publishing House to the tune of several thousands of duros.1478

During my stay in Madrid, I also bought many thousands worth.1479

In all these purchases, the Publishing House has behaved very poorly toward me, since it has made me pay all costs and handling, without passing on to me the percentage of discount they usually offer their customers.

Of late, in view of the ingratitude with which the Librería Religiosa has treated me, I have been buying books directly from the dealer, or else having them printed at my own cost in Madrid.

At my own cost I have some printing done in Madrid, both with the Aguado’s, father, son and brother-in-law, and with another printer called Rubio, in three different formats: in quarto, octavo and duodecimo; e.g., St. Pulcheria, Fr. Talavera, etc.1480 The same is true of prints of various sizes, and many thousands of them, since they used the finest printing plates and the best paper, and at the same prices as that of the Publishing House.1481

I have paid for all the plates of the Catechism Explained and for other special plates.

Of all the works printed by the Publishing House, I have never received presentation copies, as have other Prelates.

Whenever the Publishing House sent me bundles or packets of small books, ten percent of them were useless.

The plates for prints have been let go to ruin.

Just look at the print for “The Law of God.”1482 Also, the one for the Rosary.

Document XIII

Royal Confessor

(1857-1869)

(Written ca. 1868-69. Handwritten original: MSS Claret II,

347-354. Publ. in Hist. Archives CMF I, pp. 393-397)

Introductory Note

This Document is later than the Autobiography. Like the previous Document, it is written in a Gethsemane-like state of soul.

When God destined Archbishop Claret to become the Queen’s Confessor, He was also stationing him in an advanced strategic post where he could serve the Church more broadly and effectively. And in fact, he opposed many evils and promoted many good works. His presence in Madrid was a hard blow to the schemes of the Spanish revolutionary movement. He not only defended the Church, but was also a great benefactor to it, especially by the part he played in the selection of good and zealous Bishops for various dioceses in Spain.

Yet this post was a real martyrdom for him. For one thing, he had no taste for the life of a palace retainer. Much more painful than this, however, was the fact that the Court was, in effect, a prison house for his deepest driving force: his missionary calling. Of its very nature, his position entailed grave responsibilities and difficulties, which were aggravated by making him the target of political intrigues and revolutionary hatreds.

These difficulties only grew with his exile. On the one hand, he felt unjustly despised and scorned by public opinion, as he states at the end of this Document: “Everyone hates me. They say that Father Claret is the worst man who ever existed, and that I am the cause of all the ills of Spain.” On the other hand, he was reduced to a state of economic misery.

The magnitude of this trial surpassed the bounds of any ordinary purification, and can only be explained in terms of a very high calling. The Saint unwittingly discloses as much in a letter to Mother Antonia París: “What I had so long and so frequently predicted is now coming to pass in Spain. I offered myself as a victim, and the Lord has deigned to accept my offer, since every sort of slander, infamy, persecution, etc., has now befallen me”1483

The Lord had told him that he must confront all the evils of Spain.1484 He had always confronted them as an apostolic preacher and writer, and now had to confront them as a saving victim, suffering slanders and contempt in his soul, and the rigors of exile, persecution and finally, death, in his body.

The first part of this Document is untitled and unfinished, and the handwriting is tortured. Fr. James Clotet filled in a number of words needed in order to make sense of some of the sentences.

As to the date of the second part (I, II and III), besides its content, we have the evidence of a note by Fr. Clotet, stating: “Fr. Puig thinks that he [Claret] wrote it in Paris before going to Rome in 1869, not only from what can be deduced from the writing itself, but also from the fact that he had spoken to him of this matter.”

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I had been in my diocese of Santiago for six years and three months. On March 19th, the Feast of St. Joseph, I received an order from the Overseas Minister, Pidal, to the effect that I should return to Madrid, although I was not told the reason.1485

When I arrived in Madrid, Her Majesty informed me that she had summoned me to be her Confessor, since her former Confessor, the Archbishop of Toledo, named Orbe, had died.1486

I found this appointment most repugnant. Thousands of times I asked Her Majesty to let me return to my diocese, but the more I asked, the more she pressed me not to leave.

This repugnance grew daily within me. I sought counsel of many Bishops and Archbishops and even certain laypersons whom I respected for their learning and virtue. All counseled me to be patient1487 and stay on.

In mid-July of 1865, Her Majesty’s Ministers wanted her to approve the Kingdom of Italy. I had learned of this some days earlier and had told Her Majesty of it twice on two different days, adding that she could not in conscience do this. Moreover, I warned her that if she approved that Kingdom, I would withdraw from her side.

We were staying at La Granja during those days. One of the principals went alone to the palace and proposed this approval so cunningly to Her Majesty that she gave her consent. This meeting lasted from nine until eleven. The next day, the Ministers came at eleven to meet with Her Majesty. The decree was enlarged and they left for Madrid. After they had left, I presented myself to Her Majesty and said: “What have you done, Madam?” She answered me “such and such.” I replied, “Well, they have deceived you.” “What shall I do?” she asked. I answered her: “Madam, it is easy to throw a stone into a well, but it is hard to retrieve it. I am leaving.” “If you go,” she told me, “I shall die of grief.” I left her weeping like a Magdalen. I arranged my things and set off for Catalonia, with my mind made up never to return to Court.

During my stay in Catalonia she wrote me several times, telling me of her sufferings and begging me by all that was holy not to abandon her, but to return.1488 I did not answer. Yet she kept importuning me so frequently that I at length answered her that I would not return without first consulting the Holy Father on the matter.1489 I went to Rome, arriving there on the 4th of November. I was there for three weeks. His Holiness was informed and gave his disposition on the matter.1490

I. Sacrifices I Have Had to Make in Order to Please Her Majesty

After spending six years and three months in Santiago, Cuba, I had to resign from my diocese, and was given the title of [Archbishop of] Trajanópolis, although I have still not received the Bull [for the conferral of this title] from the Government.

Formerly I had an endowment and rights that amounted in all to 25,000 duros annually. After my resignation, I was allotted 6,000, which I have always had trouble collecting, with ten percent of it usually being lost in the transaction.

From the moment the Revolution broke out in September 1868, the provisional government decreed that nothing more should be given me, and I have in fact collected nothing more.1491

As for the monthly allotment I was assigned before the Revolution, as soon as the banker learned that we were in France, he declared bankruptcy.

Before I was ordained priest, I held my first benefice in the Community of Sallent, and was ordained with it. When I was consecrated bishop, I had to renounce my title to the benefice, so that I find myself at present without diocese, without benefice and without any suitable means of support.

When Don Dionisio González fell ill, I asked Her Majesty either to allow me to go and reside in El Escorial, or else to resign from its presidency. I resigned1492 from its presidency, although to tell the truth, nobody had paid me my allotment as president. But at least I then had a roof over my head and a table to eat at. At present I have nothing, not even a rock on which to lay my head.1493

I was also Protector of the Hospital and Church of Montserrat in Madrid. When I took charge of that establishment, I spent 6,000 duros that I had saved up in my diocese of Cuba. But since the Revolution, I am no longer Protector, having received a notice in these terms: “Because of willful abandonment, you have been relieved of the office of Protector of the Hospital and Church of Montserrat.”1494 Thus at present I do not have a house to live in, a church to say Holy Mass in, or a confessional in which to hear the confessions of the faithful who call on me.

When Her Majesty appointed me her confessor, she allotted me 3,000 duros, with which I had always been paid. But now, by reason of the present circumstances, only half of it is sent to me.

II. Obligations I Have Fulfilled

The only title and obligation I have is to be the Confessor and Spiritual Director of Her Majesty, Queen Isabella II.

It seems to me that, with the Lord’s grace, I have managed to fulfill this single obligation to the best of my knowledge and ability. Along with this title, I have been allotted the sum of. I have constantly prayed for the well-being of Her Majesty the Queen, of the King, and of the whole Royal Family.

Although not obliged to do so, but only out of my own good will and without seeking or desiring the least stipend for it, I have been the professor in Religion and Morals, as well as the confessor and spiritual director, of the Infanta, Lady Isabella, from the time she was five years old until she was married, and even after her marriage.1495 And I am pleased in the Lord to see that she has turned out to be a Lady so well-educated, religious and virtuous, that she does honor to her Parents and the whole Spanish Nation, and is the admiration of foreigners.1496

The first lessons the Prince received in Religion and Morals, he received from me; even to the present I continue to instruct him in this important matter.

The religious and moral instruction that the Infantas Pilar, Paz and Eulalia have received and are receiving, they have had from me, and they will continue to do so, if it is God’s will and that of their Majesties.

I will not mention here the little gifts that God has sent them by means of me, a miserable sinner; nor yet other favors that Heaven would have given them if they had obeyed me, as I used to tell them.

III. Works and Hardships I Have Borne

The works and hardships I have had to bear during these years have been so great, that God alone knows them better than I, who have undergone them and am still undergoing them.1497

My character and my lively bent have always drawn me to be very far from the Palace, and my inclination has always been beckoning me to the missions. Nevertheless, in order to please her Ladyship, I have submitted and done violence to myself.1498

I have had to suffer all sorts of defamations, slanders, reproaches and persecutions, and even very frequent death threats. I have been the object of lampoons, caricatures, and of mocking and infamous photographs.1499

Formerly, I was admired, esteemed and even praised by all; now, with very few exceptions, everyone hates me. They say that Father Claret is the worst man who ever existed, and that I am the cause of all the ills of Spain.

Document XIV



Uncertainties About His Office As Royal Confessor

(1865)


(Written Nov. 1865 in Rome. Original: Archiv. Pio IX.Spagna. Sovrani 100-199, fol.319. Publ. by J.M. Goñi, “El reconocimiento de Italia y Mons. Claret”: Anthologica Annua 17 [1970] 461-462); EC, III, pp. 503-504.

Introductory Note

Isabella II’s recognition of the upstart Kingdom of Italy in July 1865 was an act that provoked the deep displeasure of Claret and the whole Spanish hierarchy, and a strongly negative reaction against the Queen and her Government. In Claret’s case, this was aggravated because of his office as Queen’s Confessor, which he had been fulfilling since 1857.

Isabella had promised the Saint that she would never take this step; however, misled by her Ministers, she at length yielded to their pressure. Under these circumstances, Claret left the Court and went to Vic and thence to Rome, always keeping in contact with the Nuncio and the Pope, with a view to discerning God’s will whether he should remain in his post or leave it for good. It was during these bitter moments of uncertainty that he wrote this Document, which he handed to Pius IX during their private audience of November 7, 1865. In it, the Saint sets forth the reasons for and against his remaining in the post of Royal Confessor. With great clarity he lists the causes for his doubts, especially because of their implications touching upon the fulfillment of his evangelizing mission.

For a fuller view of this matter, see the preceding Document, as well as the Saint’s Autobiography, nn. 831-852.

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[PLACE IN TWO COLUMNS BUT WITHOUT THE BORDERS]

Motives for withdrawing from the post of confessor to H.M., the Queen of Spain.

1. H.M.’s recognition of the Kingdom of Italy, after telling me that I could retire if she did so.

2. The protection that H.M.’s Government has given to the revolutionary press.

3. The government, by royal decree, has replaced the democratic rector and a chairperson in the Central University of Madrid.1500

4. The fact that the Spanish Nation through its Government is in imminent danger of allowing freedom of cults and other evils that are threatening it.

5. If I return to Court, it will confirm them in their evils, and God knows what they will say at seeing me there again. Moreover, my presence at Court will seem a disapproval of what the Bishops have stated in their remarks and pastoral letters.

It would likewise seem to disapprove what other Catholics have said and done by their writings in the Catholic press.

6. Evil periodicals are waging the crudest war against me with all sorts of insults and slanders. Add to the periodicals the most obscene and repugnant photographs.

7. In the Masonic lodges, there have been several plots to take my life, and even some attempts on it, but God has thus far not allowed them to succeed.





Motives for continuing in the aforesaid post.

1. H.M. has often and repeatedly pressed me to continue in it.

2. The Nuncio and other personages have counseled me to do so.

3. The many evils, or so they say, that my presence might ward off, which will doubtless befall the Palace and the Church, if I retire.

4. The great good being done at the R. Monastery of El Escorial, and other goods that will come of it if I do not separate myself from the Court.

5. If I withdraw from Madrid, it will involve the disappearance of the Academy of St. Michael, which is producing such great results.

6. It will likewise entail the end of the [Popular] Parish [Lending] Libraries.

7. If I withdraw from Madrid, the missions I preach each year in the surrounding churches will cease. The retreats I give each year in many convents of nuns, congregations and almshouses, will cease. And finally it will mean the loss of the good done in the many hours I spend daily in the Confessional, hearing the general confessions of newly converted souls or loading others to perfection.

But as to slanders and death threats, with God’s help I do not fear them. Nihil horum vereor, nec facio animan meam pretiosiorem quam me: dummodo consummem cursum meum et ministerium verbi quod accepi a Domino Iesu, testificari Evangelium gratiae Dei [Act 20, 24]. [“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so long as I accomplish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to affirm the Gospel of the grace of God” Acts 20:24].1501


Document XV

Benefits and Graces Obtained

Through Mary Most Holy

(1807-1869)

Written in 1869. Handwritten original: MSS Claret II, 214

Introductory Note

In this brief note, written in Rome in 1869, Claret sums up his whole life in sixteen graces and benefits he has received through the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It is of special interest, both because it was written four years after the Autobiography, thus constituting the Saint’s last written overview of his life, and because of its Marian character.

Text


  1. On December 25, 1807, I was baptized.

  2. When I was still a very little boy, I was given a Rosary and the Devotion to it.

  3. I was instructed very well in [Christian] Doctrine.

  4. When I was 17 years old, the Most Blessed Virgin saved me from death.1502

  5. When I was 19, she made me go to Vic.1503

  6. When I was 21, I had that vision and that great grace.1504

  7. In the year ‘39, Feast day of the Rosary, I arrived in Civitavecchia and Rome. The Voyage.

  8. On St. Joseph’s Day I arrived at Civitavecchia for my return trip in the year ‘40.

  9. Grace of [restored] health, and the Missions I began at Viladrau.

  10. Archbishop-elect on August 4th. I accepted on October 4, 1849. Consecrated on October 6, 1850.4

  11. Wounded and consoled at Holguín, Cuba, on February 1st of ‘56.

  12. On the return voyage, April 13, 1857, the ship foundered.1505

  13. I was to have been assassinated by one of the [Masonic] lodges.1506

  14. June 22, 1866. I was supposed to be assassinated.1507

  15. On the 9th of [...] 1868. I was cured of a cancerous illness.1508

  16. 29th of [September] 1868. We entered France at Pau. Afterwards in Paris, ‘69, and finally, in Rome, April 2, 1869.

Document XVI

Notes Concerning

the First Vatican Council

Written 1869-1870. MSS Claret XII

General Introduction

The following manuscripts, which serve to round out the Autobiography, were written by Saint Anthony Mary Claret during the preparation for and celebration of the First Council of the Vatican.

The originals are written on papers of various sorts and sizes. We present a selection of them here, arranged under the following headings:

1. Matters that Should be Discussed.

2. Notes on Themes for the Council: a) Seminaries. b) Religious Life.

3. Council Documents and Dates.

4. Daybook of the Congregations De vita et honestate clericorum.

5. Discourse on Papal Infallibility.

6. Address to Spanish Bishops on Seminaries.

7. Address to Spanish Bishops on a Uniform Catechism.

8. On the Margin of the Council.

Shortly before the beginning of the Council, Pius IX told the Dean of the Rota, Msgr. Marcial Avila: “Now the Bishops of your nation will be coming. What Bishops! Above all, Claret!... He is a saint. We ourselves will not be able to canonize him, but there will be one who will do so later.”1509

Archbishop Claret has gone down in history as “the Saint of the First Vatican Council.” Such was the impression he made on all who dealt with him at the time, and such is the impression that we gather from reading his letters and spiritual writings of this time.1510

His activity as a Council Father began in April of 1869, when he moved from Paris to Rome for the celebration of the Priestly Jubilee of Pius IX, who invited him to remain in order to take part in preparations for the Council. He was frequently consulted because of his years of experience in many lands, and with many different people and enterprises.1511

Despite his age and poor health, he diligently attended the Council sessions. In his letters he remarked that he ranked fortieth in age among the Council Fathers and that even more than usual, the climate of Rome did not agree with him.1512

From the Minutes of the Council we know that he attended all the general sessions,1513 as well as most of the ‘congregations.’ In all of these he spoke only once, to give his witness as a martyr of the faith on behalf of Papal Infallibility.

Besides this, he took part in the meetings that the Spanish Bishops regularly held on Thursdays at the Palazzo Gabrielli.

Among the postulata or petitions of the Council Fathers, we know that he signed at least five: 1) on Infallibility,1514 2) on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin,1515 3) on the Patronage of St. Joseph,1516 4) on behalf of the Jewish People,1517 and 5) on Usury.1518

He intervened in an indirect but effective way as spiritual leader of the Spanish Bishops, the Pope’s imperial guard.1519 He had handpicked most of them and had prevailed on the Queen to present their names to the Holy See. Some of them had been close collaborators in his apostolic undertakings, while he had been the spiritual director of others.1520

St. Anthony Mary Claret regarded his activities at the Vatican Council as his last act of service to the Church, the consummation of his mission. “It can be said,” he wrote, “that the Lord’s designs for me have been completed.”1521

Five days after the Council was suspended because of the Italian invasion of the Papal States, Claret arrived in Prades, France, where he was reunited with his Missionaries who, like him, were in exile. But persecution followed him even there, so that he died a refugee in the Cistercian Monastery of Fontfroide, on October 24, 1870.1522

1. Matters That Should Be Discussed

Introductory Note

By the Bull Aeterni Patris (6/29/1869), Pius IX convoked the First Vatican Council on December 8, 1869. This papal document announced, in a general way, the most urgent matters with which the Council, in those troubled times, would have to deal with for the glory of God, the integrity of the faith, the honor of divine worship and the salvation of souls.1523

For Claret, this program was nothing new. Since at least 1866 he had been experiencing a special concern for the welfare of the Universal Church, which he felt as a personal responsibility. Even earlier, in 1857, he had published his Notes for the Governance of the Diocese, or, Notes of a Plan to Conserve the Beauty of the Church and to Preserve Her from Errors and Vices (Madrid: La Esperanza). In 1861, in The Well-Instructed Seminarian (II, pp. 280-284), he presented an article entitled On the Way to Renew the Face of the Earth.1524

Realizing that he was now in a position to carry out his desires, he immediately went into action. On October 2, 1869, he wrote to Fr. Palladio Currius: “I have been very busy collecting materials for the Council.”1525

The first manuscript we publish here is a rough sketch of the matters that the Saint felt should be dealt with in the Council.

Faithful to his earlier plans, he proposes, as the first means to be used, the formation of virtuous and wise priests. The second point is to safeguard the sanctity of the family. Finally, he wants the Council to work on duly regulating relationships between Church and State.

Besides this, he suggests two points that were very dear to him: the definition of the dogma of the Assumption, and the declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. He says nothing on the issue of papal infallibility, over which a heated controversy had arisen, especially after the appearance of an article in La Civiltà Cattolica (2/6/1869) contrasting the acidic statements of the pro-infallibility layman, Louis Veuillot, and the rather bumbling tactics of the anti-infallibility Bishop Félix Dupanloup.

The themes Claret does mention are barely hinted at, and between one theme and the next he leaves a large blank space in which to jot down any further suggestions.

In view of his statement in the letter just cited above, it would seem that he wrote these guidelines before October, 1869.

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