Saint Anthony Mary Claret



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924 When he wrote these lines (1861-1862), the following were already deceased: Fathers Vilaró, in 1852, and Sala, in 1858.

925 From the beginning, they were dedicated to catechesis and to preaching. Later, the Founder also appointed them the ministry of teaching. The Constitutions, approved definitively by Pius IX on February 11, 1870, say that they are to avail themselves of all means (cf. Constituciones CMF [Vic 1871] n. 63, p. 87). The Congregation of Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary - Claretian Missionaries, founded to prolong the evangelization work of Father Claret in the Church, has the specific purpose of the missionary preaching of the Word or the proclamation of the Gospel in all its forms and by all means, attending to what is most urgent, timely, and effective. According to the last statistics of 2008, the Claretian Missionaries (priests, deacons, brothers, and students) are more than 3,000 in 63 countries of the five continents, distributed in 463 communities. Dedicated to the missionary proclamation of the Word, they have numerous parishes, schools and mission centers, and centers of social communications.

926 This text, known as the “definition of the missionary”, is a compact synthesis of the spirit of Claret. In it, his inner personality and the enthusiastic force of his apostolic zeal is reflected, as it is in Saint Paul. We have another text, with some variations, that Father Claret sent to Father Joseph Xifré in a letter, which said: “Here goes this slip of paper that I would like for each one of the missionaries to copy and take with him? (letter of August 20, 1861: EC, II, p. 352; cf. Munárriz, Julián, La definición del Hijo del Corazón de María: Annales CMF, núm. extr. 1949, p. 17 30; Asolo, Marcos de, La acción misionera [Buenos Aires 1931] pp. 59-144; Claret, Constituciones y textos..., ed. cit., pp. 614 616; Bermejo, Jesús, La definición del misionero: Noticias de Bética CMF 53 [1973] 78-92; Viñas, José María-García Paredes and José Cristo Rey, C.M.F., Our Project of Missionary Life. Commentary on the Constitutions: Vol. II, Fundamental Constitution and Missionary life of the Congregation, Trans. By J. Daries (Claretian Pub., Rome-Quezon City, Philippines 1992) pp.151-163; Álvarez Gómez, Jesús, Claretian Missionaries. Vol. II: Transmission and Reception of the Claretain Charism (Quezon city, Philippines 2000) pp. 64-118. The slip of paper with the “Reminder” is found in Mss. Claret, X, 87.

Regarding the definition of a missionary, Paul IV would say to the General Chapter in 1973: “See here, projected towards you, a whole program of holiness, based on courageous renunciation of oneself, the fruit of its fertile evangelical vitality. It points out to you clearly, with expressions of clear Pauline dynamism, the good to which your personal and community life must aspire; the following and imitation of Christ to impulses of charity that is always operative” (Declarations and Decrees of XVII and XVIII Claretian General Chapters [Claretian Pub., Bangalore, India, n.d.] p. 5).



927 The letter he wrote from Vic to Nuncio Brunelli on August 12, 1849 stated another reason that reveals to us his intense missionary spirit: “Besides, I would thus be tying myself down to a single archdiocese, whereas my spirit goes out to the entire world. But even on that small dot on the map I wouldn’t be able to preach as I would like, since I’ve seen with my own eyes how many business affairs an Archbishop has to attend to.” (SL, pp. 41).

928 Bishop Juan Brunelli was born in Rome on June 25, 1795. He was papal nuncio in Spain from 1848 to 1853. Cardinal (1853). Prefect of the Congregation of Studies, member of the Secretariat of State, and Archbishop of Osimo and Cingoli from 1856 until his death in Osimo on February 21, 1861.

929 Don Lorenzo Arrazola was born in Checa (Guadalajara) on the 10th of August of the year 1797. He studied Latin, Geography, and History in Benavente, with excellent achievement. Later he was an intern seminary student at the seminary of Valderas, in which he not only studied, but as an outstanding student, also managed the School of Philosophy and Theology. He was professor of Law and dean of the University of Valladolid. After this, he went into politics and was a member of a moderate party. He was one of the most outstanding political figures of the XIX century in Spain, holding numerous positions: President of the Supreme Court, Deputy and senator, seven times minister of Grace and Justice, and, by the same token, in charge of ecclesiastical matters, and three times minister of State and President of the Congress. In addition, he was a member of the Academy of St. Michael and one of the main figures of the second third of the XIX century. He died in Madrid on February 23, 1873 with the fame of being a consummate Christian

930 Dated October 1, 1849, Don Lucian Casadevall wrote him from Manresa: “No one else [the papal nuncio Brunelli and minister Arrazola] wants to use the word command, but they will give reasons that, if you weigh them with the maturity they merit, are equivalent to a formal precept…Having consulted this subject with the Most Holy Virgin of Montserrat, I dare to ensure that you will withstand God’s will if her resolution is negative to that reason, since those men want to abstain kindly from sending you an order, I proceed to say that in quantum possum I order you to accept said archbishopric” cf. HD, l, p. 564; Bermejo, Jesús, Epistolario Pasivo de San Antonio María Claret. I (1838-1857). Claretian Publications, [Madrid 1992] p. 75).

931 The mission and the exercises to the clergy of Gerona took place from the 5th through the 16th of April, 1850. “The attendance was such that they had to officiate from the balcony of the Pastors’ house, in the cathedral plaza, with a great crowd” (cf. Noguer y Musqueras, Tomás, Biografía del Siervo le Dios M. Iltre. Dr. D. Joaquín Masmitjá y De Puig [Gerona 1952] p. 123). Among the participants was Don Ramon Escatllar, associated as director to the Servant of God Maria Gay (1813-1884) and to her Institute of Sisters of Saint Joseph of Gerona (cf. El Padre Claret en Gerona: apuntes de un ejercitante: SC 20 [2002] 87-97).

932 In these days, he had in his hands issues of great responsibility: the consolidation of his missionaries and the Librería Religiosa, the definitive wording of the Constitutions of the Carmelites of Charity, and the organization of his future apostolate in Cuba (cf. Letter to D. José Caixal, Vic February 16, 1850: SL, pp. 205-207).

933 He was named by Blessed Pius IX in the consistory celebrated on Monday, 20th of May of 1850.

934 Don Fermín de la Cruz was born in Madrid, and ordained priest in Madrid on September 20, 1845 (cf. Arch. Arzob. de Toledo. Bk. N. 2092. Register of major orders, p. 297). In 1848, he was rector of the Italian church and hospital of Madrid, chaplain of honor to His Majesty, and administrator of Fr. José Ramirez and Cotes (See note 532). When Father Claret, upon his return from Cuba, arrived in Madrid, on May 26, 1857, he was pleasantly surprised that Don Fermín had prepared him lodging in his own house of the Italians and soon would accompany him in his first steps to the capital of Spain (cf. EC, I, p. 1390). He was chaplain of honor to Queen Isabel II and administrator of the Royal College of Santa Isabel of Madrid, administered by the Piarist Sisters. He published a monograph entitled Ejercicio diario de súplicas al Señor en las presentes necesidades de la Iglesia y del Sumo Pontífice, nuestro Smo. Padre el papa Pío IX [Daily exercise of supplications to the Lord for the present needs of the Church and the Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness Pope Pius IX].

935 Fr. Andrew Martinez de Novoa was born in Madrid on November 10, 1804. He received the priesthood on September 21, 1829. He was an exemplary priest; pious and kind. He was vicar in Navalcarnero (1835) and later, visitor to the Sisters in the Diocese of Toledo, and chaplain and confessor to the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. Several books were published by him, among them Catecismo breve de la Doctrina Cristiana por preguntas y respuestas, según los principios de los más usados en España, principalmente el Ripalda y Astete para uso de las escuelas y colegios (Madrid 1845). He died of a stroke in Madrid on March 11, 1871 (cf. St. Martin parish archives in Madrid: Book of baptisms, vol. 339 v.; Archive of the Archbishop of Toledo: Register of Ordinations Extra Témpora which begins in 1801: book n. 2091, vol. 107; ib., parish-priest application archives, L. 1824-1836; El Pensamiento Español, March 12, 1871: P. Lojódice) (cf. Santa María Micaela, Correspondencia (1835-1855) I [Madrid 1999] note 1).The author of the first biography of Claret transcribed in it a part of the obituary article published in El Pensamiento Español (cf. Aguilar, Francisco de Asís, Vida de Claret... [Madrid 1871] p. 140, note).

936 On April 23rd, he began the spiritual exercises with his relatives and missionaries in the Casa de la Merced in Vic, which lasted eight or nine days. The objectives of these exercises, signed on May 2nd, do not contain norms of government. It is likely that the Plan he speaks of was written in the exercises he did some months later with Fr. James Soler, also in the Casa de la Merced in Vic, which would have started on Monday, September 23rd and ended on Wednesday, October 2, 1850 (cf. Sidera, Juan, Corrección de fecha en una carta del Dr. Jaime Soler: Arxiu Claret-Vic, IV, pp. 1-7; Id., Ejercicios espirituales preparatorios a la consagración episcopal: Arxiu Claret-Vic, IV, pp. 8-12).

937 Cf. Autob. nn. 77, 88 90.

938 In a newspaper from that era, the ceremony is described; indicating the crowd, the order and the excitement that prevailed: “In attendance were the elder Presbyter Don Fortián Bres, Beneficiary of this church, godfather, protector, and father figure to the most Illustrious Mr. Claret..., the Illustrious Claret’s father has also been seen in a seat of honor along with an older sister and brother, who, just as humble and simple as he was, appeared overjoyed and were the envy of all, particularly, his father, now elderly and dressed as a humble artisan…. In view of the serenity and courage that was portrayed in all of the acts of blessings, songs, and other rubrics it seemed that the Illustrious Claret had been bishop all his life; this evangelical man seems not to be impressed by anything and, full of charity, he is unaffected by it all” Diario de Barcelona, October 8, 1850). The same journalist said that Don Jaime Soler was visibly moved.

939 Don Domingo Costa y Borrás was born in Vinaroz (Castellón) on January 14, 1805. He was a Professor of Law in Valencia (1830) and Bishop of Lérida (1848) and of Barce­lona (1850). He was exiled in 1855, after which he became Archbishop of Tarragona (1857. Writer. Founder, with Mother Alfonsa Cavín, of the Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception (Conceptionists). He died in Tarragona on April 14, 1864 (see Cortadellas Sanromá, Francisco, El arzobispo Costa y Borrás. Estudio histórico-biográfico [Barcelona 1948] 212 pp.).

940 Don Florencio Llorente y Montón (not, as Claret writes, “Fulgencio” Lorente) was born in Teruel on November 7, 1797. He was archdeacon of Palencia. Named bishop of Gerona by the Pope on December 17, 1848, he was consecrated in Palencia on March 5, 1848 and took possession of the diocese on March 20th of that same year. After a life filled with apostolic activities, he devoutly passed away on January 17, 1862, “after fourteen years of governing the diocese with a diligence and zeal that had distinguished him highly” (Revista Católica 46 [1862] 153).

941 He made the trip through Valencia and arrived in Madrid on October 16th. On Sunday the 20th (and not the 13th as Claret claims, having mistaken the week), he received the pallium in the palace chapel from the hands of the Papal Nuncio. The audience with the King and Queen took place on the 27th. However, he arrived late because he had been preaching in the Italian church. On this occasion, he was knighted with the Great Cross of the Royal Order of Isabel La Catolica. One of his sermons was to the congregation of the Christan Doctrine, at the Hospital of St. John of God, whose head sister was Saint Mary Michael of the Blessed Sacrament, and whose spiritual director was Fr. Juan Nepomucene Lobo. Among those who personally visited the Archbishop was General Francisco Castaños (1756 1852), victor of the battle of Bailén (cf. HD, I, pp. 578-579).

942 Claret, always the missionary, converted the journey into a mission by preaching everywhere. He was in Montserrat for three days, just like the ancient pilgrims. St. Ignatius offered the Virgin his knight’s sword; St. Anthony Mary Claret – as a missionary – the Word of God. Among so many saintly pilgrims, only to Claret is known with certainty what he preached at the sanctuary (cf. Fort Cogul, Eufemià, St. Anthony Mary Claret and Montserrat [Tarragona 1954] pp. 31 36; Cardona, Osvald-Camprubí, Raimon, Montserrat [Barcelona 1977] pp. 192 196).

943 P. José Mach (1810 1885), Jesuit, famous preacher and writer of religious instructional books: Áncora de salvación y Tesoro del sacerdote. He was a great admirer of Father Claret. He used to tell the Claretian missionaries that heaven had given the Congregation a great Father (cf. Annals CMF 39 [1949] 17). Claret had preached the All Souls Novena at Manresa in 1843 and 1847 (cf. Gasol, Josep Maria, Sant Antoni Maria Claret i la ciutat de Manresa [Manresa 1970] pp. 25-26).

944 The balcony of house No. 5. Father Claret did not seem to feel the spattering of hot wax coming from two candles that were burning beside a crucifix and managed to touch his face and hands.

945 He spent the night at the farm of Sant Martí of Serrahima, most likely to escape the hustle and bustle of Sallent, to fulfill obligations with his old benefactors, and to be able to celebrate the Eucharist in the sanctuary of Fusimaña.

946 The level of activity carried out during these days was something to be marveled. He was there for 42 days (from November 16th to December 28th) and preached every single day “at least two sermons, some days, even up to five” (letter to the nuncio Giovanni Brunelli, Barcelona December 15, 1850: EC, III, p. 65). Fr. Cristóbal Fernández exaggerates when he estimates about between seven and ten sermons daily (cf. HD, I, pp. 582-585). On one occasion, upon seeing him so busy and active, some young university students followed him all day long and, at the end of the working day asked him how he could work so hard and not succumb to fatigue, upon which he replied: “Fall in love with Jesus Christ and with souls, and you will understand everything and will do much more than I.”

947 His exact and complete name is: Jaime Manuel Bolivart. He was born in Calella (Gerona) in 1800. He was a close friend of Pedro Naudó in Barcelona, as well as Claret, Paladio Currius, and other family members of the archbishop of Cuba, and he used to visit them every time he arrived from a trip. On one of these trips, in January 1853, he appeared with a photographer and, thanks to Bolivart, we now have the historic daguerreotype in which, for the first time, Claret appears with his followers. He passed away in Barcelona on October 6, 1877 (cf. Casanoves, Manuel, La travesía de Claret a la isla de Cuba: SC 18 [2000] 80-82).

948 The young Telesforo Bernáldez (this was his real surname and not Hernández, as Claret says).

949 The same saint further on offers us a brief biography of each one of his missionaries (cf. Autob. nn. 591-605).

950 Claret mistakenly gives him the name “Pedro”; but in reality, his name was Pablo Planas. He was born in Barcelona on September 8, 1801. He joined the Congregation of the Paulist on September 20, 1823, professed on September 10, 1825, and passed away in Havana on September 10, 1862.

951 In the original work, it says “they did.”

952 Interesting details of the events during the journey can be found in a declaration from Antonio Barjau: IPV ses. 19, art. 39; in Viaje a Santiago de Cuba, written by D. John Nepomuceno Lobo and included in the Epistolario de Paladio Currius (unedited) I, pp. 4 41; Viaje a Santiago de Cuba: 8 de diciembre de 1850 - 16 de febrero de 1851: chronicle of Paladio Currius. Introduction and notes from John Sidera and Jesús Bermejo CMFF: SC 16 (1998) 61-110, en HD, I, pp. 587 603, and in Casanoves, Manuel, La travesía de Claret a la isla de Cuba: SC 18 [2000] 80-82). His arrival in Malaga coincided with the preaching mission given by Father Félix de Cádiz and three other Capuchins. Father Claret preached a lot during the three days that he stayed in Malaga (from January 16th to 18th, 1851). The results were overwhelming. “The Malagueños – he later wrote to the bishop of Vic – were quite content with me, and I with them. What a great harvest of souls was set before me!” (letter dated January 23rd, 1851: SL, p. 246) about Father Claret’s stay in Malaga cf. Gutiérrez, Federico, San Antonio María Claret en Málaga (Madrid 1974) pp. 31 86; and in SC, art. cit., pp. 86-88.

953 On January 30th, the schedule was set. They arose at six o’clock. On January 6, 15, 21, 23, and 24th, they were unable to preach due to the excessive swaying of the boat.

954 Between compline and matins, they read a chapter of the Holy Gospel.

955 The Archbishop always led the rosary, which concluded with the singing of “Holy God” and some verses of the rosary, which Fr. Antonio Barjau accompanied on the accordion.

956 The mission lasted two weeks: from Monday January 27th to Monday February 10th of the same year, 1851.

957 When Christopher Columbus and his men landed on the island of Cuba at Bariay Bay on October 28, 1492, they were dazzled by its beauty, as Columbus himself wrote to the Catholic King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel: “The numerous palm trees of different shapes, the tallest and most beautiful ones that I have ever seen, along with countless other large green trees; birds with exuberant plumage and the greenery of the fields make this country so princely serene, of a beauty so marvelous that it overwhelms all the rest in charm and grace, from day to night in all its splendor. I have been so astonished by the vision of such beauty, that I have not found words to describe it” (Spanish cit. in Hugh, Thomas, Cuba, la lucha por la libertad. 1 – De la dominación española a la dominación norteamericana, 1762-1909 [Barcelona-Mexico 1973] p. 15; Cf. Cuba or the Pusuit of Freedom [Da Capo Press, New York 1971, rpt. 1998]).

958The capital of the archdiocese was Santiago, Cuba. In 1851 there were 26,668 inhabitants, a total of 86,364 including those within his jurisdiction. The field of action was very challenging: a vast archdiocese, terrible communications, a burning hot climate that had been without a bishop for more than fourteen years; and clergy falling short in numbers and quality. Socially, it was plagued by slavery and immorality. Politically, the entrenched separatist movement was boiling over (cf. Lebroc, Reinerio G., Cuba: Iglesia y sociedad (1830-1860) [Madrid 1976] 326 pp.; Id., San Antonio María Claret, arzobispo misionero de Cuba [Madrid 1992] 602 pp.; Bermejo, Jesús, Realidad socio-política, cultural y religiosa en Cuba en tiempo de Clare: SC 11 [1993] 9-86; Álvarez Gómez, Jesús, Respuesta del Padre Claret a los desafíos de la evangelización: testimonio y misión: ib., pp. 147-177).

On the same day of his arrival, before retiring to bed, the archbishop wished to visit the seminary. Not on the following day – February 17th – but rather on the morning of the 18th, he took possession of it through his proxy: the confessor and today the venerable Don Jerónimo Mariano Usera (1810 1891), founder of the Sisters of the Love of God in Toro (Zamora, Spain) on April 27, 1864 (cf. Garmendia de Otaola, Antonio, D. Jerónimo Mariano Usera y Alarcón, Misionero y Fundador de las Religiosas del "Amor de Dios" (Zamora 1970) 480 pp.; Gómez Ríos, Manuel, Jerónimo Mariano Usera, testigo del amor para el tercer milenio [Madrid 2000] 494 pp.; Id., Jerónimo Mariano Usera, la belleza de hacer el bien [Madrid 2001] 152 pp.; Vaz, Teresa Bernardete, D. Jerónimo Mariano Usera y Alarcón y su obra. Un precursor de la Pedagogía Social. Doctoral thesis defended in the Faculty of Education, Department of Theory and History of Education, at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid (Madrid 1998) 834 pages. Published on CD-ROM, ISBN No. 84-669-1125-1). By the afternoon, he made his solemn entrance to the cathedral (cf. letter a D. Fortián Bres, Santiago, Cuba February 18, 1851: SL pp. 247-249).



959The visit to the sanctuary took place on Monday March 3rd. Upon entering the Bay of Santiago, with the sloop facing the El Cobre mountain, he made a salute with five cannon shots and they sang a prayer to the Virgin. On the day of taking possession he had already commended his activity under the protection to the Virgin. Turning to the image sculpted in the bishop’s crosier, he said: “The Prelate will be the Holy Virgin. My form of governance will be that which she inspires me to carry out” (cf. declaration of Antonio Barjau: IPV ses. 20, art. 40; HD, I, pp. 602, 680, 885-894).

960On March 25th, he wrote to Don José Caixal from Santiago: “I am not able to explain the great and abundant fruits that we are reporting from this holy mission. On the 25th, 4,000 souls received the Holy Communion, including all of the nobility in the city” (EC, I, p. 469).

961 The mission began on March 5th, Ash Wednesday; and even though general communion began on the 25th, the closing session was postponed until April 6th.


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