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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/866

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BRIGITTINES


786


BRIGITTINES


Bri^itline monasteries the nuns, who were strictly enclosed, attended to the cooking, washing, and making and mending of clothes for the monks as well as for themselves, but everything was passed through a turnstile from one wing to the other. This arrange- ment, unsuitable to modern times, has long ceased.

In the new order the abbess, who was called the "Sovereign", was supreme in all things temporal for both houses; all deeds were in her name, all char- ters were addressed to her; but in spiritual things the abbess was not allowed to interfere with the monks who were priests, and the nuns were under the di- rection of the superior of the monks who was ap- pointed confessor-general. The order was founded principally for women, and for this reason the supreme government was vested in the abbess; the monks were founded to give the nuns the spiritual help they needed. The special interior devotion of the order is to the Passion of Our Lord and to His Blessed Mother.

Rule of St. Bridget. — The Rule enacts "that the number of choir nuns shall not exceed sixty, with four lay sisters; the priests shall be thirteen, ac- cording to the number of the thirteen Apostles, of whom Paul the thirteenth was not the least in toil; then there must be four deacons, who also may be priests if they will, and they are the figure of the four principal Doctors, Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory, and Jerome, then eight lay brothers, who with their labours shall minister necessaries to the clerics, there- fore counting tliree-score sisters, thirteen priests, four deacons, and the eight servitors, the number of persons will be the same as the thirteen Apostles and the seventy-two disciples ' '. (The Rule of St. Bridget. ) The nuns were not to be professed before they were eighteen and the monks not before they were twenty- five years of age. The counsel of holy poverty is strictly enjoined by the Rule on all the members of the order, who are forbidden to possess anything, though at the same time they may expect the abbess to supply them with all necessaries; one luxury is allowed them, they may have as many books as they like for study. All the cast-off clothing and the sur- plus of their yearly income, after all has been pro- vided for, are to be given to the poor, and the Rule strictly forbids the abbess to make larger buildings than are necessary.

The Constitutions were first approved by Pope Urban V, afterwards by Urban VI, and finally by Martin V. In 1603 Pope Clement VIII made cer- tain changes for double monasteries in Flanders, and in 1622 Gregory XV changed certain articles in the Constitutions which refer only to double convents for the Monastery of Ste. Marie de Foi, in the Dioce-se of Ypres. These new Constitutions ordained that man- ual work should be done during certain hours of the day by the members of the order, that a red cross should be worn on the mantle, that the nuns might be professed at the age of sixteen, and that the monks should say the Divine Office according to the Roman Breviary. Those who followed these Constitutions took the name of Brigittines Novissimi of the Order of St. Saviour, to distinguish them from those who lived in double convents.

Foundations. — The order spread into France, Italy, Germany, Bavaria, Poland, Norway, Den- mark, Finland, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Russia. Four foundations were made in France, at Lille, Valenciennes, Arras, and Douai, but all were destroyed in the Revolution. In Belgium sev- eral houses were founded, but except that of Dender- monde they did not last very long, and all have now disappeared. The first Italian house was founded in 1394, when the Monastery of Paradiso was opened at the gates of Florence, and about this time some of the monks of the order took up their abode in Rome, in the house in which St. Bridget died. In 1426 a monastery was opened at Genoa, and that same year


the order was introduced into Bavaria, where sev- eral foundations were made, one of which still re- mains. This is the celebrated old Benedictine Mon- astery of Mary — Altomtinster, between Munich and Augsburg, of which the Brigittines took possession in 1497 establishing a double convent there. This monastery was twice plundered and partially de- stroyed by fire, and the monks and nuns who were dispersed at the Reformation twice returned to it, In 1803 it was suppressed, and it is only since 1844 that a community of Brigittine nuns again lives there. The monastery of Revel in Russia was burnt by schismatics in 1575, but in Poland most of the monas- teries were preserved till the middle of the sixteenth century, and three new foundations were made. Holland still possesses two Brigittine houses, both of which now take pupils.

At the Reformation most of the double monas- teries had to be given up, and the rule as to numbers could no longer be observed, while many of the houses were suppressed altogether. The nuns at Vadstena endured much persecution at this time; the Protestants threatened to tear them to pieces and expelled them from their monastery, but in 1588, Iving John III became their protector, and re- stored their monastery to them. In England the Brigittine Order is the only pre-Reformation order in existence. The celebrated Brigittine Monastery of Syon House was founded in 1415, when Henry V himself laid the foundation-stone on part of the royal manor of Isleworth on the Thames. It is supposed that the cause of the extension of the order in Eng- land was due to the fact that Henry's sister Philippa was the wife of Eric XIII, King of Sweden. King Henry endowed the monastery richly and transferred the property of certain houses dependent on French monasteries to Syon. At the dissolution of monas- teries under Henry VIII, who in the earlier years of his reign had himself been a benefactor of the abbey, the nuns were dispersed and took refuge in a convent of their order at Dendermonde in Flanders. Here they were visited by Cardinal Pole, and through his influence were re-established at Syon under Queen Mary, but they were driven into exile again when Elizabeth came to the throne, and returned to Den- dermonde. After several attempts to settle in dif- ferent parts of Belgium, they went to Rouen where they remained fourteen years, and finally in 1594, tliey moved to Lisbon where they remained for 267 years. In 1809 an attempt was made to return to England, but it was not till 1861 that the nuns found a home at Spettisbury in Dorsetshire, whence they moved to Chudleigh in Devonshire in 1887, where they are still li\'ing.

Brigittines of the Recollection. — The Brigit- tines of the Recollection were founded at Valladolid in the seventeenth century by Venerable Marina de Escobar, formerly a Carmelite nun, who modified the Rule to suit the Spanish nation and the age in which she lived. The Constitutions were approved by Pope Urban VIII. Like St. Bridget she neither took the habit herself nor did she live to see the first monastery of the order erected. This congregation which has five houses was founded for nuns only; the habit and the office differ slightly from those of the Brigittines.

In all houses of the Brigittine Order prayers are constantly offered for the restoration of the Mcnas- tery of Vadstena. This was formerly the great centre and stronghold of Catholicism in Swedei, a place where kings and queens frequently visfed, sometimes took refuge, and were occasionally im- prisoned, but which was suppressed and the religj dispersecl under Gustavus Vasa. Nine BrigitlO monasteries are now in existence: Syon AbUi Chudleigh in Devonshire, Altomilnster in Bavav\' Uden and Weert in Holland; and the five Spaj'i \i