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BARNABITES


302


BARNABITES


Barnabites, the popular name of a religious order which is canonically kno^^■n by the title, given to it by Pope Paul III in 1535, of'Regular Clerics of St. Paul {Clerici Regulares Sancti Pauli). This institute was founded by three ItaUan noblemen: St. Anton Maria Zaccaria (canonized by Leo XIII, 27 March, 1897), Ven. Barthelemy Ferrari, and Ven. Jacopo Morigia, the last two of Milan. Second in seniority of the orders of regular clerics (the Theatines being first), the foundation of the Barnabites as a congre- gation dates from the year 1530. Clement VII, by the Brief "Vota per qu£e vos", 18 February, 1533, canonically approved of the congregation; Paul III, by the Bulls "Dudum felicis recordationis", 28 July, 1535, and "Pastoralis officii cura", 29 November, 1543, exempted them from the jurisdiction of their diocesan. Lastly, the Bulls of Julius III, "Rationi congruit" and "Ad hoc nos Deus prfetulit", dated respectively 22 February, and 11 August, 1.550, con- firmed and augmented the existing privileges of the institute, which, from being a congregation, thence- forward became a religious order in the strict canonical sense, its members, however, still adhering to the custom of calling it "the Congregation".

The popular name Barnahites came naturally to the Congregation through its association with the church of St. Barnabas, Milan, which came into its possession -n-ithin the earliest years of the foundation of the institute, which was at first peculiarly Milanese. St. Charles Borromeo, Archbishop of Jlilan, presided, in 1579, as Cardinal Protector, over the commission which determined once for all the constitution of the order, and the general chapters were regularly held at Milan until the reign of Alexander VII (1655- 67), who ordered them to convene in Rome. Inno- cent XI (1676-89), however, finally decreed that the general chapters of the Barnabites should assemble in Rome and Milan alternately. These assemblies of the provincials are held every three years for the election of a new general, whose term of office is limited to that period, only one re-election being al- lowed to each incumbent of the office. The members of the order make, in addition to the three regular vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, a vow- never to strive for any office or position of dig- nity, or to accept such otherwise than under a com- mand of the Holy See. The scope of their special vocation, besides preaching in general, catechizing, hearing confessions, giving missions, ministrations in hospitals and prisons, and the education of youth, includes also a particular devotion to the thorough study and exposition of St. Paul's Epistles. Their habit is the black soutane (tunica talaris) which formed the usual garb of Milanese secular priests in the time of St. Charles Borromeo.

Spread of the Order. — The Congregation has never failed of the holy object for which it was instituted: to revive the ecclesiastical spirit and zeal for souls among the clergy. Church history records the sub- stantial assistance which that saint received from them in his great work of reforming the Diocese of Milan; his biographies make mention of his afTection for them and of the satisfaction which he took in sojourning at their house of St. Barnabas. St. Francis of Sales, who loved to call himself a Barnabite, in- vited the Congregation into his diocese, to establish colleges at Annecy and at Thonon; while the Barna- bite Gu^rin was his coadjutor and later, having suc- ceeded him in the See of Geneva, was conspicuous for the zeal with which he promoted liis canonization. The Barnabites, who take a holy pride in the title of episcoporum adjutores, have constantly cultivated the meek and gentle spirit of St. Francis of Sales in their relations with ecclesiastical authorities, the diocesan clergy, and members of other religious or- ders. Though never verj' extensive, the spreading of the order in Europe began very soon after its founda-


tion. Their cliief theatres of action were in Italy, France, Savoy, .\ustria, and Bohemia. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII, at the solicitation of the Sov- ereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, sent Barnabite Fathers to Malta, and in 1610 Henry IV of France obtained their ser%nces in defence of Catholicism in B6arn, whence they spread to Paris and other parts of France. The Emperor Ferdinand II in\'ited them into Austria, in 1627, to oppose the spread of Protes- tantism, and gave them the court parish of St. Michael, where a house was built for their accommo- dation. The order also possesses at Vienna the parish church of JIaria-Hilf, a famous sanctuary erected in thanksgiving for Sobieski's deliverance of the city from the Turks in 1683. Belgium has recently proved a providential refuge for the order, those expelled from France by the Government of that country having established themselves at Brussels and in other parts of the neighbouring kingdom.

Foreign Missions. — In 1718, when Clement XI sent Monsignor Mezzabarba to the Emperor of China to attempt a settlement of the famous question of the Chinese Rites, His Holiness attached five Barnabites to the special mission. No substantial result was obtained, but when the rest of the party left the country, one member of the order. Father Ferrari, remained in China, taking up his residence first at Peking and then at Canton, where he sowed the first seed of that work of the Holy Infancy with which the name of the French Bishop Forbin-Janson is justly associated. From that time until 1738 the companions of Father Ferrari preached the Gospel in Cochin China, where Father Alessandro degli Alessan- dri was for sixteen years \-icar Apostolic. The Holy See meanwhile desiring a regular Barnabite mission in Ava and Pegu, the order willingly assumed that duty, and the mission was maintained until 1832, when the inability to supply labourers for this field, the con- sequence of Napoleon's suppression of the religious orders, necessitated its transfer to the Paris Society of Foreign Missions. An account of what the Barna- bites accomplished in Ava and Pegu may be found in Cardinal Wiseman's translation (published by the Asiatic Society) of Sauzerman's "Religione del regno Birmano". The Regular Clerics of St. Paul also kept missionaries, for some time, in Scandinavia. Their missions are now established in Brazil.

Sainls and other distinguished members of the Con- gregation. — Besides its canonized Saints Anton Maria Zaccaria and Alexander Sauli, and Blessed Xavier M. Bianchi (d. 1815) who was knoxv-n as the Thauma- turgus of Naples, the Barnabite Order glories in a number of Venerables, among whom have been sev- eral religious distinguished for their austere purity and taken to their reward while yet young. Upon the extraordinary graces, such as miracles and visions, undeniably vouchsafed to members of the order, it is not expedient here to insist; Alfonso Paleotti, however, who in 1591 succeeded his cousin. Cardinal Gabriel Paleotti, in the Archbishopric of Bologna, relates in his autobiography that when he was praying for light and help in the government of his archdiocese, a holy man who was coimnonly called il Vidente, on account of his gift of visions, told him, as a message from the Blessed Virgin, that he ought to send for the Barna- bites and make them penitenzieri , because they had a great devotion for her, were her faithful servants, and she would assist them in drawing souls to the practice of daily Communion.

Learning, the pursuit of which the Barnabites re- gard as a great preservative of religious observance has always been cultivated among thern in all its branches. To cite only a few names, the order has been distinguished in theology by Rotarius, Poz- zobonelli, and Maderni; in Biblical science by Corio and Vercellone; in ecclesiastical history by Tornielli, whose ".\nnales Sacri" are regarded as an intro