ALPHONSUS 337 ALPHONSUS form. The Saint had four houses, but, iluring liis lifetime it not only became impossible in the King- dom of Naples to get any more, but even the barest toleration for those he had could scarcely be ob- tained. The cau.se of this Wius "rcgalism", the omnipotence of kings even in matters spiritual, which was the .system of government in Naples as in all the Bourbon States. The immediate autlior of what was practically a lifelong persecution of the Saint was the Maniuis Tanucci, who entered Naples in 1734. Naples had been part of the dominions of Spain since l'M'.i, but in 1708 when Alphonsus wius twelve years old, it was cotujuered by .Vustria during the war of the Sj)ani.sh Succession. In 1734, how- ever, it was recon(iuercil liy Don Carios, the young Duke of Parma, great-grandson of Louis XIV, and the independent Hourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was established. With Don Carlos, or as he is generally called, Charles III, from his later title as King of Spain, came the lawyer, Bernanl Tanucci, who governed Naples as Prime Minister and Regent for the next forty-two years. This was to be a momentous revolution for .Vlphonsus. Had it hap- pened a few years later, the new C)o'crnmcnt might nave found the Kedemptorist Congregation alreatly authorized, and as Tanucci's anticlerical policy rather showed itself in forbidding new Orders than, with the exception of tlic Society of Jesus, in sup- pressing old ones, the Saint might have been free to develop his work in comparative peace. At it was, he was refused the royal exequatur to the Brief of Benedict XIV, and State recognition of his Institute as a religious congregation till the day of his death. There were whole years, indeed, in which the Institute seemed on the verge of summary suppression. The suffering which this brought on .-Vlphonsus. with his sensitive and high-strung ilisposition. was verj' great, besides what was worse, the relaxation of discipline and loss of vocations which it caused in the Order itself. Alphonsus, however, was unflagging in his efforts with the Court. It may be he was even too anxious, and on one occasion when he wiis over- whelmed by a fresh refusal, his friend the Marquis Brancone, Minister for Kcdesiastical Affairs and a man of deep piety, said to him gently: "It would seem as if you placed all your trust here below"; on which the Saint recovereil his peace of mind. A final attempt to gain the royal approval, which seemed as if at last it had been successful, led to the crowning sorrow of Alphonsus's life: the division and apparent ruin of his Congregation and the dis- pleasure of the Holy See. This was in 1780, when Alphonsus was eighty-three years old. But, before relating the episode of the " Kegolamento", as it is called, we must speak of the period of the Saint's episcopate which mtervcned. In the year 1747, King Charles of Naples wished to make Alphonsus Archbishop of Palermo, and it was only by the most earnest entreaties that he was able to escape. In 1762, there was no escape and he was constrained by formal obedience to the Pope to accept the Bishopric of St. Agatha of the Goths, a very small Neapolitan dioce.se lying a few miles ofT the road from Naples to Capua. Here with 30,000 uninstructed people, 400 mostly indifferent and sometimes scandalous secular clcrgj', and .seventeen more or less relaxed religious houses to look after, in a field so overgrown with weeds that they seemed the only crop, he wept and prayed and spent days and nights in unremitting labour for thirteen years. More than once he faced a-ssassination immoved. In a riot which took place during the terrible fainino that fell upon Southern Italy in 1764, he saved the life of the .syndic of St. .gatha by offering his own to the mob. He fed the poor, instructed the ignorant, reorganized his .seminarj". reformed his convents, created a new spirit in his clergy, banished scandalous noblemen anil women of evil life with equal impar- tiality, brought the study of theology and especially of moral theolo^ into honour, and all the time was begging pope alter pope to let him resign his office because he w.-ts doing nothing for his diocese. To all his administrative work we must add his con- tinvud literary labours, his many hours of daily pr.ayer, his terrible austerities, anif a stress of illne-ss which made his life a martyrdom. Eight times dur- ing liis long life, without counting his last sickness, the Saint received the sacraments of the dying, but the worst of all his illne-sses was a terrible attack of rheumatic fever during his episcopate, an attack which lasted from May, 1768, to June, 1760, and left him paralyzed to the end of his days. It was this which gave St. Alphonsus the bent head which we notice in the portraits of him. So bent was it in the beginning, that the pressure of his chin pro- duced a dangerous wound in the chest. Although the doctors succeeded in straightening the neck a little, the Saint for the rest of liis life had to drink at meals through a tube. He could never have said Mass again had not an Augustinian prior shown him how to support him.self on a chair so that witli the assistance of an acolyte he could raise the chalice to his lips. But in spite of his infirmities both Clement XIII (175S-()9) and Clement XIV (1769-74) obliged Alplionsus to remain at his post. In Feb- ruary, 177,'>, however, Pius VI was elected Pope, and the following May he permitted the Saint to resign his see. ■ Alphonsus returned to his little cell at Nocera in Julv, 177.';, to prepare, as he thought, for a speedy ami happy deatli. Twelve years, however, still sep- arated him from his reward, years for the most part not of peace but of greater afflictions than any wtiich had yet befallen him. By 1777, the Saint, in addi- tion to four houses in Naples and one in Sicily, liad four others at Scifelli, Frosmone, St. Angelo a Cupolo, and Beneventum, in the States of the Church. In case things became hopeless in Naples, he looked to these houses to maintain the Bule and Institute. In 1780, a crisis arose in which they did this, yet in such a way as to bring division in the Congregation and extreme sutTering and disgrace upon its founder. The crisis arose in this way. From the year 1759 two former benefactors of the Congregation, Baron Sarnelli and Francis Maffei, by one of those changes not uncommon in Naples, had become its bitter ene- mies, and waged a vendetta against it in the law courts which lasted for twonty-four years. Sarnelli was almost openly supported by the all-powerful Tanucci, and the suppression of the Congregation at last seemed a matter of days, when on 26 October, 1776, Tanucci, who had offended Queen Maria Caro- lina, suddenly fell from power. I'nder the govern- ment of the Marquis dolla .Sambuca, who. though a great rcgalist, was a pci-simal friend of the Saint's, there was promise of better times, and in August, 1779, Alphonsus's hopes were raised by the publi- cation of a royal decree allowing him to appoint superiors in his Congregation and to have a novitiate and house of studies. The Oovernment throughout had recognized the good effect of his missions, but it wished the mi.ssionaries to be secular priests and not a religious order. The Decree of 1779, however, seemed a great step in advance. Alphonsus, having got so much, hoped to get a little more, and through his friend, .Mgr. Testa, the Grand Almoner, even to have his Uule approved. He did not, as in the past, ask for an exequatur to the Brief of Benedict XIV, for relations at the time were more strained than ever between the Courts of Rome and Naples; but he hoped the king might give an independent .sanc- tion to his Rule, provided lie waived all legal right to hold property in common, which he was quite prejiared to do. It was all-important to the Fathers
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