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MONASTERIES


454


MONASTERIES


Hapsburg) lost onr hundred and sixty-eight convents, abbeys, or priories. In all, 73S relipious houses were suppressed in the Knipire during the reign of Joseph II.

In anticipation of this disaster, Pius VI had con- ferred on tlie bishops extensive privileges. They had power to dispense expelled religious, both men and women, from wearing their habit, and, in case of ne- ces.sity, to dispense tliemfrom the simple vows. They were to secure for them a pension — but, as this was generally insufficient, many were reduced to poverty. The Government t ransformed t he monast eries into hos- pitals, colleges, or barracks. The victims of the perse- cution remained faithful to their religious oblig.ations. Their ordinaries took great care of them. Cardinal de Frankenberg, .\rchbishop of Mechlin, affording a par- ticularly bright example in this respect. The Abbej- of Melk (q. v.) was spared; some of the suppressed houses were even affiliated to it; but on the death of Abbot Urban I (1783), the emperor placed over the monks a rehgious of the Pious Schools as commenda- torj- abbot. The monasteries of Styria were soon closed, though some houses — e. g., Kremsmtinster, Lambach, Admont — escaped the devastation. All those in Carinthia and the Tyrol were sacrificed. The religious in Bohemia had not yet recovered from the ravages caused by the wars of Frederick II and Maria Theresa, when they had to encounter this fresh tem- pest. Breunau, Emmaus of Prague, and Raigern, with a few monasteries of Cistercians and Premon- Btratensians, escaped complete ruin. The emperor showed no consideration towards the venerable Abbey of St. Martin of Pannonia and its dependencies. In Hungary the Benedictines were entirely wiped out.

The death of Joseph II put an end to this violence, without, however, stopping the spread of tho.se opin- ions which had incited it. His brother, Leopold II (d. 1792) allowed things to remain as he found them, but Francis II (Francis I of Austria, son of Leopold II) undertook to repair some of the ruin, permitting religious to pronounce solemn vows at the age of twenty-one. The Hungarian Abbej' of St. Martin of Pannonia was the first to profit by this benevolence, but its monks had to open the gymnasia in it and its dependencies. The monasteries of the Tyrol and Salzburg had escaped the ruin. These countries were attached to Austria by the Congress of Vienna (Sept., 1814 — June, 181.5). The monks were allowed to re- enter. The celebrated Abbey of Reichenau alone did not arise from its ruins. The princely Abbey of St. Gall, too, had been dissolved during the Wars of the Revolution and the Empire, and there was a proposal, at the Congress of Vienna, to re-establish it, but with- out giving it back its lands: the abbot would not ac- cept the conditions thus imposed, and the matter went no further. The Swiss monasteries were ex- posed to pillage and ruin during the wars of the Revo- lution. The government of the Helvetian Republic was hostile to them, they recovered a little liberty after the Act of Mediation, in 1803. But the situ- ation changed after 18.32. The Federal Constitution, revised at that time, suppressed the guarantees granted to convents and religious foundations. Dur- ing the long period of persecution and confiscation in Switzerland, from 1838 to 184S (for which see Lu- cerne), the monks of Mariastein sought refuge in Germany, and then in France and Austria; those of Murj' were sheltered at Griess (Tyrol), others, like Disentis, fell into utter ruin. The Swiss Benedic- tines then went to the United States, where they founded the Swis.s-American congregation.

B. The Iberian Peninsula. — The constitution of 1812 given to the Kingdom of Spain by the Govern- ment which Napoleon im|)osed on it suppressed all re- hgious congregations and confiscated their property, in accordance with the conqueror's general j)olicy. They were re-established in 1814 by King Ferdinand, whom the War of Independence had restored to the


Throne. Their existence was again threatened by the Revolution of 1820, when the Cortes decreed the suppression of the religious orders, leaving only a few houses to shelter the aged and infirm. It must be said that, in this case, the effect of the generally anti- religious principles actuating the revolutionists was rcinforce<l by the impoverishment of the nation by the Napoleonic wars, by the revolt of its American colo- nies, and by changed economic conditions. Ferdinand III, who was restored to the throne by the French Army, hastened to annul the decrees of the Cortes (1823). The monasteries and their property were given back to the religious, who were enabled once more to live in community. But in October, 1835, a decree of the Government, inspired by Juan de Mendi- zabal, minister of finance, again suppressed all the monasteries in Spain and its possessions. The Cortes, which had not been consulted, approved of this meas- ure next year, and promulgated a law abolishing vows of religion. All the movable and immovable property was confiscated and the income assigned to the sink- ing fund. Objects of art and books were, in general, reserved for the museums and public libraries, though many of them were left untouched, and many others dispersed. I,arge quantities of furniture and other objects were sold, the lands and rights of each house ahenated, while speculators realized large fortunes. Certain monasteries were transformed into barracks or devoted to public purposes. Others were sold or abandoned to pillage.

In 1859 the Government gave to the bishops those rehgious houses which had not already been disposed of. Numerous conventual churches were turned over for parish use. The religious were promised a pen- sion not to exceed one franc a day, but it was never paid. No mercy was shown even to the aged and the infirm, who were not allowed to wait for death in their cells. Almost all hoped for an approaching political change that would restore them their religious liberty, as had happened twice before, but the event proved otherwise. The destruction was irrevocable, some rehgious sought a refuge in Italy and in France. The greater number either petitioned the bishops to incor- porate them in their dioce.ses or went to live with their families. The people of the Northern provinces, who are very devoted to Catholicism, did not associate themselves directly with the measures taken against the rehgious; so much cannot be said for those of the South and of the large towns, where the expulsion of religious sometimes took the appearance of a popular insurrection: convents were pillaged and burned, re- ligious were massacred. Monasteries of women were treated less inhumanly: here the authorities contented themselves with confiscating property and suppressing privileges; but the nuns continued to live in commu- nity. With time the passion and hatred of the perse- cutors diminished somewhat. The monks of the Ab- bey of Montserrat in Catalonia were able to come together again. The religious orders which supplied the clergy for the Spanish colonies, such as the Do- minicans, Augustinians, and Franciscans, were author- ized to retain some houses.

The monasteries in Portugal met the same fate as those in Spain, and at about the same time (1833). Only the Franciscans charged with religious duties in the Portuguese colonies were spared.

C. Italy. — During the eighteenth century, while Josephinism was rampant in Catholic Germany, Leo- pold, afterwards the Emperor Leopold II, tried to emulate in some degree the emperor's anti-monastic policy. But the general persecution of religious orders in Italy did not begin until the wars of the Rev- olution and the Empire had effected a complete trans- formation in that country. France inspired with her anti-religious tendencies the new governments estab- lished by Napoleon, Church property was confis- cated; monasteries and convents were suppressed,