Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/537

This page needs to be proofread.




association of hermits. When Pope Pius IV dis- solved this association, Benedict, called from his origin ^Ethiops or Niger, entered the Reformed Recollects of the Franciscan Order. Owing to his virtues he was made superior of the monastery of Santa Maria de Jesus at Palermo three years after his entrance, although he was only a lay brother. He reformed the monastery and ruled it with great success until his death. He was pronounced Blessed in 1743 and was canonized in 1807. His feast is celebrated 3 April.

GcERiN, Le palmier seraphiqiie ou vie dea saints et des hommes et femmes illustres des ordres de St, FTant^ois (Bar-le-Duc. 1872). IV, 44—75; Leon, L'aureole aeraphique. Vie des saints et bienheureux des truis ordres de St. Francois cParis, 1882), II. 1 sqq.


Benedictus, (Caxticle of Zach.^ry). The, given in Luke, i. 68-79. is one of the three great canticles in the opening chapters of this Gospel, the other two being the M agnificat and Xunc dimittis. The Benedictus vras the song of thanksgiring uttered by Zachary on the occasion of the birth of his son, St. John Baptist. It is Jewish in form, but Christian in sentiment. The local colouring and nationalistic character of the first half are so noticeable that Loisy has conjectured that it existed previously as a simple psalm, which Zachary adapted, his additions being, he contends, easily dis- cernible. (Revue d'hist. et de lit. relig., May- June. 1903, p. 2S9.) There are. however, grave ob- jections to this view, and an opposite theory has been put forth, that the Benedictus was composed with special reference to the names of Elizabeth, Zachary, and John, for Elizabeth, Jusjurandum quod juravit; Zacharj', Memorari (testamenti sui sancti); and John, Ad jaciendam misericordiam.

The whole canticle naturally falls into two parts. The first (verses 6S-75) is a song of thanksgiving for the realization of the Messianic hopes of the Jewish nation; but to such realization is given a character- isticaU}' Christian tone. As of old. in the family of Da\-id. there was power to defend the nation against their enemies, now again that of which they had been so long deprived, and for which they had been yearning, was to be restored to them, but in a higher and spiritual sense. The horn is a sign of power, and the "horn of salvation" signified the power of delivering or "a mighty deliverance". While the Jews had impatiently borne the yoke of the Romans, they had continually sighed for the time when the House of Da\'id was to be their deliverer. The de- liverance was now at hand, and was pointed to by Zachary as the fulfilment of God's Oath to Abraham; but the fulfilment is described as a deliverance not for the sake of worldly power, but that "we may serve him without fear, in holiness and justice all our days".

The second part of the canticle is an address by Zachary to his own son, who was to take so important a part in the scheme of the Redemption; for he was to be a prophet, and to preach the remission of sins before the coming of the Orient, or Dawn, from on high. The prophecy that he was to "go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways" (v. 76) was of course an allusion to the well-known words of Isaias (xl, 3) which St. John himself afterwards applied to his own mission (John, i, 23); and which all the three Sjmoptics adopt (Matt., iii. 3; Mark, i, 2; Luke, iii, 4). It is probably due to the first part of the canticle, as a song of thanksgiving for the coming of the Redeemer, that it finds an appropriate place in the office of the Church everj' morning at Lauds. It is believed to have been first introduced by St. Benedict (Beaume, I, 2.53). According to Durandus, the allusion to Christ's coming under the figure of the rising sun had also some influence on its adoption. It is also used in various other liturgical offices, notably at a fu- neral, at the moment of interment, when words of

thanksgiWng for the Redemption are specially in place as an expression of Christian hope.

See the commentaries on Saint Luke; also H.\sti.\gs, Di(t or Christ and the Gospels (New York, 1906>. I, 90-91.

Bernard Ward.

Benedictus Polonus, a medieval Friar Minor missionary and traveller (c. 1245) companion of Giovanni da Piancarpino, and author of tlie brief chronicle "De Itinere Fratrum Minorum ad Tar- taros", concerning the first Franciscan missions to the Tatars. This work was unknown apparently to Wadding and Sbaralea, the hterarj' historians of the order. It was first published by D'Avezac in the "Recueil de Voyages" (Paris, 1839, IV, 774-779). Cf. the "Chronicle" of Glassberger in "Analecta Franciscana" (II, 71). The report of Benedictus is important for the curious letter of the Great Khan to Innocent IV.

GoLUBOvicH. Biblioteca bio~bibliografica della terra Santa e dell' oriente Francescano (Quaracchi. 1906). 213-213.

Thomas J. Shah-vn".

Benefice (Lat. Berieficium, a benefit). — Popularly the term benefice is often understood to denote either certain property destined for the support of ministers of religion, or a spiritual office or function, such as the care of souls, but in the strict sense it signifies a right, i. e. the right given permanently by the Church to a cleric to receive ecclesiastical revenues on account of the performance of some spiritual service. Four characteristics are essential to every benefice: (a) the right to revenue from church property, the beneficed cleric being the usufructuary and not the proprietor of the source of his support; (b) a twofold perpetuity, objective and subjective, inasmuch as the source of income must be permanently established and at the same time the appointment to the benefice must be for life, and not subject to revocation, save for the causes and in the cases specified by law; (c) a formal decree of ecclesiastical authority giving to certain funds or property the character or title of a benefice; (d) an annexed office or spiritual function of some kind, such as the care of souls, the exercise of jurisdiction, the celebration of Mass or the recitation of the Divine Office. This last mentioned element is fundamental, since a benefice exists only for the sake of securing the performance of duties connected with the wor- ship of God, and is based on the Scriptural teaching that they who serve the altar should live by the altar. In fact, as Innocent III declares, the sole purpose of the foundation of benefices was to enable the church to have at her command clerics who might devote themselves freely to works of religion.

History. — The need which benefices are intended to meet was in the earlier centuries of the life of the Church satisfied in other ways. From the beginning, the clergj' was supported by the liberality of the faithful, but originally all offerings were transmitted to the bishop, who took charge of their administra- tion and distribution. Usually the mass of donations was divided into four portions, of which one went to the support of the bishop, another to the main- tenance of the clergy, a third to the repair and con- struction of churches, and a fourth to the relief of the needy and afflicted. Under this system even those clerics who ministered in rtiral parishes were obliged to send the oblations received in their churches to the bishop, to swell the common fund and to be submitted to the ordinary rule of allotment. The inconvenience attending this method, especially be- cause the offerings were frequently in kind, increased with the growth of the Church, particularly with the multiplication of countrj' parishes. Moreover the Church came to possess considerable real property. Hence early in the sixth centurj' we find in some places the practice of allowing some of the clergy to retain for themselves and for their churches the