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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/411

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MISSION


359


MISSION


Dame de la Rose: missions (1037); Richelieu: parish and missions (1638) ; Annecy: seminary and mission (1639); Cr6cy : missions (1641); Cahors: seminary, parish, and missions (1643) ; Marseilles: mission (1643); Sedan: parish and mission (1643) Saintes: seminary and mission (1643); Montmirail: missions (1044); Le Mans : seminary and missions (1645); Saint M^en: missions (1645); Paris: St. Ciiarles Seminary (1645); Treguier: seminary and missions (1648) ; Agen: seminary and missions (1648) ; Montauban : seminary and missions (1652); also foundations in Rome (1642), Genoa (1645), Turin (1654), Warsaw (1651), Tunis (1645), Algiers (1646), Madagascar (1048). At the death of its founder the congregation numbered 500 members.

The government of the congregation is very simple. It consists of the superior general, and four assistants, aided by the procurator general and secretary general. All these officials are chosen by a majority vote of a general assembly, which is composed of the visitors of the several provinces and two delegates from each pro\'ince, elected by secret ballot in the provincial assemblies. Each house in domestic assembly selects also by secret ballot, a delegate to accompany the superior to the provincial assembly. The provincial government is made up of a visitor appointed by the superior general and of consultors approved by him. Usually for the appointment of a visitor three names are selected by the provincial council, and presented to the superior general who chooses one to govern the province. Local superiors also are appointed by the superior general, with the advice of the visitor and his council. A general assembly is held every twelve years to legislate for the congregation. This is the only legislative body in the congregation.

An assembly is held every si.x years made up of the general officers of the congregation, and of one dele- gate from each province. This body may elect to vacancies among the superior general's assistants and may also decide minor matters of discipline. Decrees of general assemblies are binding on the entire congre- gation. Their interpretation rests ■with the superior general and his council . The office of superior general is held for life, or until his resignation. Provision is however, made in the " Constitutions" for his removal from office for crime, or perpetual inability to govern. Visitors remain in office at the discretion of the supe- rior general. In like manner local superiors are re- movable, for cause, by the visitor, whose action, how- ever, must be approved by the superior general, who alone has the right to appoint and remove superiors.

III. Hi.sTORY. — From St. Vincent until the Revolu- tion. — From St. Vincent's death until the Revolution there were nine superiors general, whose part was to complete the organization of the new society and to forward the various works for which it was instituted. The.se superiors general were: Ren6 Alm^ras (1661), Edmund Jolly (1073), Nicholas Pierron (1697), Francis Watel (170.3), John Bonnet (1711), John Couty (17.36), Louis Debras (1747), Antoine Jacquier (1762-1788). Felix Cayla was at the head of the congregation dur- ing the French Revolution. It was during the general- ship of Ren^ Alm^ras, especially, that, in 1668, what are sometimes called the "Great Constitutions" were drawn up. They were discussed and accepted by the general assembly held that year from 15 July to 1 Sept., and were approved in Octolier following by the Archbishop of Paris, Harduin de Por^fixe, with authority granted him by the Bull of Urlian VIII, in 1632. The title is " Constitutions which concern the superior general and the government of the whole Congregation of the Mission". These are the general constitutions in force at the present day. Almeras is responsible for the compilation of an abridgment of these constitutions which has a still greater authority in the sense that this condensed edition under the name of "Summary", or, in Latin " Constitutiones


selectae", discussed in the general assembly of 1668 and approved by it, has been submitted to the author- ity of the Holy See. The text was examined and changed in some points by the examiners appomted by the pope. In this form it has been cited in its entirety in the Brief " Ex injuncto Nobis" of Clement X of 2 June, 1670. This is the chief act of internal legislation for the Lazarists. It has been published in the "Acta apostolica in gratiam Congregationis Missionis" (Paris, 1876). Almeras secured the draw- ing up of the rules for the offices, which were sent to all the houses in 1670. Edmund Jolly completed this work.

Bonnet, elected in 1711, had the longest and fullest generalship of all the superiors general before the Revolution. He had keen intelligence and great capacity for work. A brief sketch of his life and character is given in the preface to a collection of meditations which he composed and Collet published. He had to pass with his community through the difficult period of Jansenism. His congregation in charge of a great number of seminaries, and hence in close contact with a great number of bishops whose tendencies were very doubtful, was indeed in a delicate position. Rome condemned Jansenism, and Bonnet, regardless of the inconveniences his commu- nity might suffer, here and there, as a consequence, held firmly the course marked out by the pope. He expelled from the congregation men otherwise most distinguished such as Himbert and Philopald. After him, Couty and Debras showed themselves equally faithful and courageous in the doctrinal difficulties which still continued. The Congregation of the Lazarists had sometimes to suffer for this fidelity: for instance at Auxerre all the directors of the seminary were placed under interdict by de Caylus, an im- perious bishop, a friend of the Jansenists, but they were reinstated by de Condorcet, his successor (see Migne, " Dictionnaire des Ordres Religieux", II, 766). The Lazarists held firmly to the side of Rome. One of them, Soardi, superior of the seminary of Avignon, published an important work "De Suprema Romani Pontificis auetoritate" (1747), which passeil almost in its entirety into the work of Abb6, after- wards Cardinal, Villecourt, on "The Rights of the Holy See". Another Lazarist, Peter Collet, produced among other works, a theology of merit, which made him the butt of various attacks. In 1764 ap- peared a "Denunciation" of the theology of Peter Collet addressed to the Bishop of Troyes by a great number of ecclesiastics of his diocese (120 pp. duo- decimo, 1764). The clergymen who signed it num- bered one hundred and nine .says an anonymous note. They accuse Collet of inclining scandalously towards a lax morality. The period of the French Revolu- tion was approaching. The superior general since 1788 was Felix Cayla, a man of great ability. Elected as the first alternate for the deputation of the clergy of the National Assembly, he had in fact to take part in it because of the departure of one of the ecclesi- astical deputies, and he refused at the tribunal of the assembly the oath for the civil constitution in 1791. He was mimediately sent into exile.

AVhen St. Vincent de Paul died in 1660 the secular clergy of Paris had a solemn service at which the preacher, Henry de Maupas du Tour, Bishop of Puy, who had been for many years in very close intimacy with Vincent did not hesitate to take as his text; "VVho.se praise is through all the churches" (II Cor., viii, 18). Abelly. Bishop of Rodez, writing only four years later, dci-larcd that the work founded by this humble priest liad ain-udy extended mo.st widely and through his congregation would spread .still more. (1) Missions. — The end of the sixteenth and the be- giiming of the seventeenth century was for France a half century of political and religious anarchy. The clergy of the large cities, where there were universities,