Page images

acknowledged, from their own observation, that it was firmly believed by all the natives of southern India, that St Francis Xavier wrought such miracles as induced them to become members of the Church of Christ.

All this, however, is merely preliminary to our more important task. Let us now see what is the actual state of the missions established in different parts of the world, under the direction and authority of the Holy See; and, as on a former occasion, I laid before you a slight account of the instruments employed, and the resources and means brought into action, in this noble work, I will premise. a few observations on the same subject with regard to our missions.

In the first place, then, there is a board or congregation at Rome, consisting of the first dignitaries of the Church, which devotes itself expressly to the superintendance of Catholic missions, and is well known by the name of the Congregation of the Propaganda. It has a large establishment for the conduct of its affairs, with a college, in which are generally about 100 individuals from almost every nation under the sun. It has another college for Chinese at Naples; and has dependant upon it other establishments belonging to religious orders, whence the principal number of its missionaries is drawn. The number yearly sent out must be limited; and I am sure does not exceed four or six a year. However, the Propaganda receives into its service, persons willing to become missionaries in foreign parts, whether seculars, or members of religious congregations. But, still, even, with this addition (and I can speak from personal knowledge) the number of missionaries sent forth do not amount to ten

in the year.

In France, there is an association of private individuals for the purpose of contributing to the support of foreign missions, and, at Paris, there is a college exclusively for the preparation of persons who feel called to this holy work. The society to which I have alluded is divided into two districts; the one compunicating with a council at Lyons, the other with one

little ex

established at Paris. By a simple and beautiful system, subscriptions are received from

every part with

very pense; most of them being but of a sous a week, collected by unpaid agents, who have each a hundred subscribers under their care.

I understand too, that the great merit of this work is due to a lady, who, crippled and confined to her chamber, has dedicated herself to the organization of this association. The sum raised in France, and its colonies, during 1834, amounted only to 404,727 francs, or about 16,1891. less by 1000l. than the poorest of the many English mis sionary societies raised several years ago. This association was first established at Lyons in 1822.* It requires no public meetings--no itinerant preaching-to nourish it, and keep it alive; the Catholic principle of unity and subordination supplies sufficient instruments for the quiet and noiseless cooperation of charitable spirits.

The congregation of Propaganda is often considered wealthy to an enormous degree, and reports are often spread of its contributing large sums towards the support of the Catholic religion in all parts of the world. But it is poor, if compared to the vast sums collected by any one of the societies in England. I will venture to say, that although three illustrious Cardinals have, within these few years, bequeathed to it all their property, t its annual income does not reach £30,000. And out of this sum, it must be remembered, that the expense of educating more than a hundred individuals has to be defrayed. I

But the best proof of our comparatively limited means, may be taken from the provision for individuals employed on these missions. In his examination before a committee of the House of Commons, 230 June, 1832, the Abbé Dubois, who had

Situation comparée de l’æuvre de la propagation de la foi, pendant l'année 1834.” Lyons, p. 1.

| The Cardinals De Pietro, Della Somaglia, and the great statesman Consalvi.

1 I say nothing of the Leopoldine Institute at Vienna, the annual contributions of which, I am happy to see, have gone on gradually increasing ; because the object of its charitable assistance is not so much the conversion of pagans, as the succour of the poor dioceses of North America.

[ocr errors]

been thirty years a missionary in India, complained of the want of provision for the Catholic missionaries, at the head of extensive congregations in India, and proposed that the Government should give them such succour as would make them respectable to their flocks. Now, the scale which he proposed, was as follows:- To every Bishop, £60 per annum; to every European Pastor with a congregation of 3000, £30, to every native priest, with a similar congregation of 3000, £20; and to catechists and schoolmasters, from £5 to £7; and this he thought would be a large provision, considering the destitute state in which they are at present!* I remember reading an account of a visit paid by a traveller to the French Vicar Apostolic and Bishop, residing in Mesopotamia, whom he describes as living in a miserable hut, not sheltered from the weather,—unable to afford himselfshoes or stockings, and wearing the shreds of a tattered cassock, as his only garment.

Such is the difference in the provision made for individuals; but we have different returns to show the comparative footing on which the two religions stand. On the 6th of August 1833, a return of what was allowed by the Government of India to the clergy and places of worship, of different denominations, was ordered by Parliament to be printed. What follows is the proportion in the three Presidencies,—the calculation being made in rupees, equal each to about 2s. 6d.:

To the Episcopal Established Church, 811,430
To the Scottish Church,

And to the Catholic, -

10,163 So that the provision made for the Established Church, which I showed you at our last meeting has but comparatively little to do, is 811,000 rupees, while the Catholics, amounting to several hundred thousand, have only 10,000 as a provision for them,

There are some other preliminary remarks to which I wish to draw your attention. The first is the peculiar misfortunes which have befallen our missions. They do not, like those

* See “ The British Catholic Colonial Quarterly Intelligencer,” No. II. p. 151. Lond. 1834.

supported by this country, draw their resources from a nation in a state of continued prosperity; but it must be recollected, that the missions in the East, with the exception of what is done by the native priests, (of which I could give you sufficient examples,) have been supplied exclusively by individuals sent from France, Spain, or Italy, generally members of different religious orders, and that their funds were drawn from their respective countries. Now when it is recollected that at the French Revolution the religious orders of that country were totally suppressed, it must be evident that their establishments for foreign missions were also extinguished. Thus, since the last ten years of the nineteenth century till 1822, the funds and individuals required were prevented from being sent from that country to the work. A few years later, at the invasion of Italy, the Propaganda was suppressed, and all its funds seized by the French usurpation; the religious orders were also suppressed, and their supplies ceased to be any longer transmitted. I shall be able to show you instances, lamentable indeed, of congregations suffering under the privation of spiritual direction, in consequence of this circumstance.

Another--and without entering into the justice or injustice, the propriety or impropriety of the measure, but looking at it

mply in reference to these missions—another serious blow was the suppression of the order of Jesuits. I know that the mention of this name may call up to the minds of some individuals a feeling of suspicion and aversion: they may have associated with it the idea of double-dealing, hypocrisy, and many other worse vices. But I will


that it is impossible for any one to consider and read what they have endured for the propagation of the faith—it is impossible to see in what manner hundreds have laid down their lives within the last three hundred years, after undergoing the fiercest tortures, rather than renounce it, or even to see with what alacrity, and with what success, they have undertaken to convert infidel nations to the knowledge of Christ Jesus, and not be satisfied that truly they have been chosen instruments in

the hands of divine providence for the greatest ends. And although there

have been

among them defects, and memhers unworthy of their character, (for it would not be a human institution if it was not imperfect,) it must be admitted that there has been maintained among them a degree of fervour and purest zeal for the conversion of heathens, which no other body has ever shown. So that it is not wonderful if, immediately after the horrors of the French Revolution, the celebrated Lalande should have said of them that they were an “institution such as no other human establishment had ever resembled—the object of his eternal admiration, gratitude, and regret.”* But as I may

often have to allude to the mission of these zealous religious men, I wish to remove any prejudice against them, by reading the opinion of one who writes expressly to prove that the method pursued by the Protestant missionaries is decidedly superior to that which ours follow.

“ The success of the Jesuit missionaries,” he says, “is chiefly to be ascribed to the example they displayed of Christian charity in its most heroic degree.”+ The author goes on to relate an interesting anecdote: how the Emperor of Japan called to him Father Necker, who was at the head of the mission, and said to him, “ Tell me in confidence, and I promise not to betray you to any man, do you really believe in the doctrines which you preach? I have called my

Bonzas (priests) and desired them to tell me sincerely what they thought of their own doctrines; and they have candidly confessed, that what they teach the people is only a tissue of absurdity and falsehood, in which they do not themselves put the slightest credence." The missionary pointed to a terrestrial globe in the chamber, and desired the Emperor to measure che breadth of Ocean which he had crossed to come to hin, and then see what he had gained, or could bope to gain, by the course he was pursuing. “ Your Bonzas," he added, “are rich, happy, and respected, and have every earthly good they

* In the “ Bien-informé," 3. Feb. 1800.
† Quarterly Review, No. lxiij. p. 3.

« PreviousContinue »