Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Life Of Fr John Gerard S.J. (A Hunted Priest) Part 44.

1609 to 1622.
Old Louvain
St. John's at Louvain, the first Novitiate of the English Province, was the foundation of Dona Luisa de Carvajal, the devout Spanish lady, whose life was devoted, in virtue of a remarkable vocation, to the encouragement of the suffering Catholics in England. By her will, dated the 22nd of December 1604, she left 12,000 ducats for the establishment of an English Jesuit Novitiate, and though she did not die till ten years later,—that is, on the 2nd of January 1614,—and though the money she gave was all she had in the world, 1 she would have the good work begin at once without waiting for her death. The will, 2 of which she was thus herself the executrix, is an admirable specimen of true Spanish devotion and humility. After commending her soul to God by the intercession of our Blessed Lady, she proceeds—" For the love of God I humbly pray the Superiors of the Society of Jesus and the Propositus of the Professed House [at Valladolid], as a favour, to grant me some little place in their church where my body may be buried, in consideration of the devotion I have ever entertained for their holy Religious Order; to which Order, in the manner that I have thought would be most to the glory of God, I offer with the greatest affection a gift which, though but small, is all that I have. And if a burial place be refused me in that church, my executors will obtain for me a resting place in some other church of the Society ; 3 and if they are unable to obtain this, let me be buried in some monastery in which, for the love of God, they may be willing to give burial to a poor person like myself, and let my funeral be conducted in accordance with this my poverty. As executors I name Father Richard Walpole, the Vice-Prefect of the English Mission, and the Confessor of the English College in this city, or their successors. After them (and I have named them first from respect to their priestly dignity) I name the Countess de la Miranda, Dona Maria de Zuniga, Dona Maria Gasca, Don Francis de Contreras, Senor Melchior de Molina, and Don Luis de Carrillo y Toledo, Count of Caracena. First of all I declare that many years ago when I was with my uncle, I made a vow to God to dedicate all my property to the glory and greatest service of God. Then His Divine Majesty gave me large desires and a vehement attraction to devote myself above all things to the preservation and advancement of the English Fathers of the Society of Jesus, who sustain that kingdom like strong columns, defend it from an otherwise inevitable ruin, and supply efficacious means of salvation for thousands and thousands of souls. Wherefore I offer all my goods to the most holy Virgin our Lady. I place them under her protection, and I name and leave her universal heir of all my property. And I give possession of it henceforward to that most glorious Virgin, and in her name and place to Father Robert Persons, or failing him, to the Father who shall succeed him as Superior of the Mission, but with this condition and obligation, that such goods shall be applied to the founding of a Novitiate of English religious of the Society of Jesus, in whatever kingdom or part of the world shall seem to Father Persons to be to the greater glory of God ; but in case that England shall be brought back to the faith and obedience of the Roman Church, my will is that the said revenue be transferred into that kingdom, for the foundation of a Novitiate there, unless it should seem better to Father Persons, for reasons concerning the Catholic religion, to leave the Novitiate outside that kingdom.

" If the foundation of the Novitiate is delayed on account of the insufficiency of the sum in question, it is to be put out to interest, which said interest will be allowed to accumulate until it suffices for the purpose in view. If in the mean time, however, some pressing need in connection with the mission and conversion of England should occur, part of that interest may be employed for that end, provided that the ultimate object is never lost sight of. All the poor furniture of my house, its images and its books, I leave to the English Novitiate. I wish the holy crucifix I have, which belonged to my uncle, to be placed in the said Novitiate with particular veneration, as well as the particle of the wood of the true Cross which I carry about me, and for that purpose it will be put into a cross or little reliquary of gold, the same that the Emperor Henry III. carried about with him, which was given to me by the Marquis of Almagan, Don Francis Hurtado de Mendoza."

Dona Luisa then makes a provision for her friend Sister Ines of the Assumption, and begs her brother to understand that " if she does not remember him in the disposal of her fortune, it is from no want of love for him, but from a strict obligation of conscience which leaves her no option on the subject, and that if he acquiesces and takes pleasure in the fact that our Lord has chosen her to be only His, he will share in the reward, and find that spiritual blessings are not to be less esteemed than temporal ones." And lastly, she "asks her heirs, with the permission of the Superior whom she humbly and earnestly asks to grant it, that an image of our Lady with her Divine Son in her arms may be placed above the principal altar in the future Novitiate, and a devout mass with music celebrated there on each of her feasts."

Time was not lost in carrying out the intentions of this pious benefactress. 4 In 1606 Father Persons rented a large house in Louvain, and in it established the first Novitiate of the English Province of the Society of Jesus. The house belonged to the Commandery of St. Nicholas of the Knights of Malta, and was obtained by them in the middle of the fourteenth century from the Duke of Brabant, in exchange for Kisselstein, a fortress to which the Knights Hospitallers had succeeded on the suppression of the Templars. The Commandery took possession about the year 1330 of the house and chapel which were built in 1140. The Church was built in 1457, an d fr° m the Patron Saint of the Order of Malta it was called St. John's, though it was dedicated to St. Gregory the Apostle of England and other saints.

St. John's at Louvain was in a magnificent position on Mont Cesar. Some portion of the house still remains, though the Church was entirely swept away in 1799. The hill on which it stood, took its name from the neighbouring Chateau Cesar, 5 the Castle which, dating from the beginning of the eleventh century, when it was built by Lambert I., Count of Louvain, took its imperial title from Charles V., who restored it in 1511. In it Edward III. of England and his Queen Philippa of Hainault spent the winter of 1338, and Albert and Isabella the Archdukes visited it in 1617 on their return from their annual pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montaigu. Charles V. came to live there first in 1504, when Adrien Flourens of Utrecht, then professor of Theology in the University of Louvain, afterwards Pope Adrian VI., was his tutor.

The Church of the Knights of St. John on Mont Cesar was a large one, and is the most prominent object in the foreground of the print of Louvain engraved by Juste Lipse in 1605.6 It had a large nave, lighted by eight windows, and over the western door was a lofty tower, surmounted by a wooden spire. It was almost at the northernmost point within the walls of the town, on the left hand after entering the Porte de Malines, and this tower was visible half a league from Malines, as that of St. Rombaut can be seen half a league from Louvain. In the Church there was a wooden statue of St John the Evangelist weeping at the foot of the Cross, called St Jean le pleureur or St. Jan de Gryzer, which was held in great veneration, and to it women brought crying children on pilgrimage. A trace of the forgotten dedication to St. Gregory was to be found in a children's fair which on the feast of that Saint was held on the grass before the Church doors. The house was close to the ramparts, and Father More who lived there with Father Gerard, could hardly help noting that from the high ground where it stood there was a grand view of the whole city. Below was a walled garden, and on the slope of the hill there were pleasant walks among the vines which were ranged in terraces; and the whole, though within the protection of the walls of a town, was as quiet and calm as befitted a house of prayer.

The Novitiate commenced at St. John's in February 1607 witn six priests, two scholastics and five lay-brothers as Novices under Father Thomas Talbot as their Novice Master. The first Novice of the new house was Father Thomas Garnet, the nephew of the martyred Provincial, who was himself martyred at Tyburn on the 23rd of June, 1608. He had been consequently but a few months in the midst of the exercises of the Noviceship, but he had been admitted into the Society by his uncle on the 29th of September, 1604, and his virtue had been exercised amid the severer trials of the Tower of London. His vows were made at Louvain on the 2nd of July, 1607, and he was again in prison in England before the year was out. A miraculous cure granted at his intercession is related by Father John Gerard in the letter, written from Louvain on the 17th of August, 1612, a long extract from which concerning Mrs. Vaux has already been given. 8

In 1614, St. John's, in addition to its novices, received Jesuit scholastics who were students in philosophy and theology. A house in the garden was then fitted up for the Novitiate, and Father Henry Bedingfeld, better known by the name of Silisdon, was installed at St. John's as Rector of the new house of studies. This arrangement did not last long, for at the end of this year the Novitiate was transferred t,o Liege and Father Gerard was made Rector and Master of Novices. In 1622 the Novitiate was once more transferred, and it then settled down at Watten where it remained up to the time of the expulsion of the Society from France in October, 1762, and for the short time that remained before the suppression, the Novitiate with the school of little boys which had been opened at Watten, was known as the Petit Coltige at Bruges. When the Novitiate was removed from Liege to Watten, the former house, of which Father Gerard may be regarded as the founder, became the Theologate; and St. John's at Louvain which had done the English Fathers of the Society such friendly service, was let by the Knights of Malta to the Irish Dominicans from 1626 to 1650. The College of Liege continued to be the house of studies of the English Province from the year 1622 to the suppression of the Society. In accordance with the terms of the Brief of suppression the fathers were permitted by the Prince Bishop of Liege to continue to live there together, a secular priest being in the first instance appointed their Superior: and thither the ancient College of St. Omers, which had been for nine years known as the Grand College at Bruges, was transferred. Finally Liege was left for Stonyhurst in consequence of the perils of the French Revolution, in 1792, and in both places, before the restoration of the Society, the College was known as "the Academy" and its community as "the gentlemen of the Academy." The Scholasticate, which as we have seen began at St. John's Louvain under Father Henry Silisdon in 1614, and was removed to Liege in 1622, was reestablished at the Seminary, under the wing of Stonyhurst College in 1830, and in 1848 the theological studies found their present home in St. Beuno's College near St. Asaph. The Novitiate, Luisa de Carvajal's especial care, began on the re-commencement of the Society in England in 1803, at Hodder Place near Stonyhurst, whence it was removed in 1854 to Beaumont Lodge near Windsor, and again, in 1861 to Manresa House, Roehampton. Hodder Place became a school for little boys in preparation for Stonyhurst College, as Watten was to St. Omers, and the Petit College to the Grand College at Bruges. Those who are interested in the existing houses cannot fail to be interested also in the men and places that gave them their beginning.

The establishment of the house at Lidge, from which men of the last generation came to England, was the work of Father John Gerard. " He built it from the foundations in a beautiful form by alms collected from all quarters," says Father Nathaniel Southwell. 9 No less than thirty letters have come down to us written by Father Gerard in the year 1614, addressed to the Prefect of the English Mission, Father Thomas Owen, Rector of the English College at Rome. They treat chiefly of the purchase of the new house at Liege and of the transfer of the Novitiate to that city. Some extracts relating to Father Gerard himself will be found interesting. Of these letters some are signed John Nelson, and others John Tomson. In the later years of his life he seems to have been known chiefly by the name of Tomson, though the last name by which he was disguised was Thomas Roberts. At various times in his life he was called by the names of Starkie, Standish, Tanfield, Staunton, Lee, Brooke, Harrison, Nelson, Tomson, and Roberts.

The choice of Liege as a residence seems to have been mainly owing to the disquiet caused to the Catholics in the Low Countries by the remonstrances of the English Government. We have some specimens of it in the following extracts, in which we find Father Gerard true to the natural fearlessness of his character. " Concerning 10 my wariness in avoiding the eyes of spies, I have been all this year [1614] more sparing in that kind than divers friends here did think needful, although some one or two did think it dangerous to go any journey, as doubting I might be killed by the way; but this was but according to their accustomed fears with which I have been long acquainted. But indeed, Father, I am so far from desire to go many journeys, that it is a pain to me to think of going any whither: and the reason why I never went to any of those places your Reverence mentioneth in this year past (but only the last Lent to Mechlin for Mr. Rouse) was not that I thought it dangerous (being known so well to live here public that it cannot be unknown to any spies), nor for that I wanted leave, for I had the other Provincial's particular and willing grant, without my own asking, to go to any place of these countries; but it was because I had rather be at home, and in the town of Lou vain itself I go not abroad half so much as I think were needful for the contentment of others. I was not at the Teresians, where the Mother of the house (to whom I gave the Exercise four years ago) and Father Scott's 11 sister do much desire my often coming, any more than once since the last Lent. At the Monastery of St. Monica's, my cousin Shirley hath requested my coming thither for these three or four months, to bestow one afternoon upon her and some younger nuns whom she hath charge of, that they may all together ask me what spiritual questions they may like best, and I have never yet found a fit time for it. The gentlemen in the town 12 I doubt I visit not once in a quarter of a year, and I have some reason to think that either they think me careless of them, or afraid to be seen abroad, as though my case were very dangerous, which would also make them or any other that should come to town more fearful to come into my company, and consequently hinder the little good that I might do with them. But I hope I shall be as wary as your Reverence wisheth, and if this course go forwards of being Rector without the name of Rector, there will be less inconvenience, whosoever see me seeing me still as a private man." In this he alludes to a plan of his own, that Father Blackfan should have the title of Rector, although he was himself appointed to the Rectorship of the Novitiate.

The next letter 13 is dated April 6, 1614. "I have yours of the 15 th of March,, and see in that, as in all of yours, your fatherly care of me, which by the grace of God I will labour to deserve. I am well satisfied with Father General's order, and shall endeavour to get this building finished for the Novitiate [in the garden at St. Johns] as soon as I can, and then will settle to my book as much as my health and letters will permit. . . . Having writ thus far, I was called to go to Brussels with Father Rector (by Father Blacfan's and Father Percy his advice) to speak with the Duke's 14 Secretary, who telling Father Percy the last week that the Agent [of King James] did solicit against me, and that he could not well answer him unless he delivered him some reasons in writing for my innocency, this writing was promised him by Father Percy; but I being loth to have any such writing sent, as thinking it the likeliest means to raise a new persecution against me, though for the Secretary's satisfaction we drew and delivered him a brief note of four or five effectual proofs, yet both to the Secretary first, and afterwards to the Nuncio, I told this day that if any such writing were sent, it would do me great harm, for Canterbury [Archbishop Abbot], having such a writing, would doubtless show it at the Council table, and then those lords who do know me to be innocent and wish me well, will be as it were forced to speak against me, lest they should seem to favour me, and so the King should be more incensed. The Nuncio did promise Father Rector and me that he would deal seriously both with the Secretary and the Prince himself in the cause."

Writing 15 under the date of April 18, 1614, he shows that he thinks that too much importance had been given to the Agent's interference. "I think your Reverence was made to believe by letters sent about Easter, that there was some new troubles against me here, out of England, and consequently that there was need of such information to the Nuncio and Father Provincial as had been given. But when I heard of it, I said it was nothing but Trumbol his own device, in hope to work upon the weakness of the Prince; and so now it proves, for on my going to the Secretary himself with our Father Rector, as I wrote from Brussels, and giving him a paper of some few points for my innocency, with the request he would not deliver it but show it if he would to the Agent, the Secretary answered he would advertise me if it were needful; but since the note was showed unto Trumbol, and he showed to be satisfied with it, and afterwards meeting the Secretary told him that he took it to be only matter of religion, but that being now made matter of State, he, being a servant employed in matter of State, could not but seek to concur with them that employed him,—as it were granting that himself was satisfied, and yielding a reason why he had moved the matter. And this being understood both by the Prince and the Nuncio, they were very glad of it. ... I write this from Mechlin, whither Sir William [Stanley] was desirous to have me come for his comfort now and after the death and funeral of his lady."

But such a man as Father Gerard was not likely to be left in peace in those intriguing times. In the August following, Father Silisdon writes thus to Father Owen. 16 " Even now I have advice that his Majesty of England hath made two complaints to the Prince, and that the first is against Father Gerard's being in his dominions." The consequence was that a transfer to another territory became desirable, and Father Gerard set his heart on migrating with his novices into the capital of the Prince Bishop of Liege. His reasons for the preference he details in a letter 17 from that city, written under the signature of John Nelson, September 19, 1614. "There be many causes to be alleged why here, rather than in any place; as, the commodity of dealing with our English in the summer, the opportunity of keeping our Novices unknown, the excellent seat, far beyond Louvain, and that bestowed upon us, the present helps sent for this beginning, with great likelihood of much more, the great favour which is to be expected from this Prince and his family, and is to be strengthened by my two cousins Sir William and Mr. Morton, and Sir William hath written to him that he doth much joy in his cousin who is there to be Rector."

The two cousins of whom Father Gerard here speaks were two very powerful friends. The one was Sir William Stanley, who showed himself a kind friend to Father Gerard and his charge by negotiating the purchase money —at least that portion of it which had to be paid down —probably (as Father Gerard speaks of the " seat being bestowed upon us ") regarding it as a gift. Whatever else was requisite for the purchase was provided by Brother William Browne, 18 who though grandson, brother and uncle of Viscounts Montague,—his grandfather was Queen Mary's Ambassador to the Holy See—was himself content to spend his life in the humble duties of a Jesuit lay-brother.

The "Mr. Morton" was Sir George Talbot of Grafton, afterwards ninth Earl of Shrewsbury. He was a scholar of some repute, 19 and an intimate friend of Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria. As Ferdinand, the Prince-bishop of Liege, was Maximilian's brother, it was no little help to Father Gerard to be on cousinly terms with George Talbot. Duke Maximilian became a generous benefactor to the new house at Liege. -In 1618 he sent Father Gerard, through Sir George Talbot, 5,000 florins for the novice-ship. 20 In a letter dated the 25th of January, 1620, the Duke writes to Father Gerard, who had promised to pray that he might have a son,—"1 bound myself once by vow to your blessed Ignatius, that if he would obtain this favour for me, I would give my son the name of Ignatius, and would build and endow a College of the Society wherever Father General might judge it most useful. What if God should purpose thus to provide for you?" 21 In July of the same year he wrote, "We have sent you a contribution of 1,300 German florins by Father Mayer for a tabernacle for the Blessed Sacrament, and for a niche for an image of the Blessed Virgin/' Even after Father Gerard's departure from the house, Duke Maximilian's liberality to it did not fail. Father Henry Bedingfeld alias Silisdon, Father Gerard's successor as Master of Novices, removed the Novitiate from Liege to Watten 22 in 1624, and not long after, the Duke settled a permanent endowment upon the English College of Liege, 23 when the scholastics were brought from St. John's at Louvain to the house that Father Gerard had established ten years before.

1 The Life of Luisa de Carvajal, by Lady Georgiana Fullerton, London, l873' P. 137.

Father More, Hist. Prov. lib. vii. cap. 3, p. 291.

3 When this saintly noble lady died, " the Fathers of the Society of Jesus at Louvain declared that her remains belonged by right to the Novitiate she had founded, and wrote very soon and very pressingly to the Spanish Ambassador on the subject," but by the King's command she was buried in the Convent of the Incarnation at Madrid. Life, p. 285.

4 Father More, Hist. Prov. lib. viii. n. 8, p. 355.

5 For our information respecting Louvain we have drawn largely on the fine work Louvain Monumental, by M. Van Even, archivist of the town.

6 Lovanium, Antverpia? ex officina Plantiniana, 1610, 4°. ed. 2a. It has not been thought necessary to give a list of names corresponding with the numbers and letters on the print. It will be enough to say that 11 is the Porte de Malines, 12 the Chateau CeW, and 13 St. John's. The buildings adjoining the church on the reader's left, with two arches extending across the road, are still in existence.

7 Records, vol ii. p. 479.

8 Supra, p. 447.

Stonyhurst MSS., Catalogus primorum pairum, p. 32.

10 Stonyhurst MSS., Angl. A, vol. iv. n. 5.

11 This is Father Thomas Laithwaite. More, Hist. Prov. lib. ix n. 1 p. 391 ; supra, p. 386.

12 In 1617 Sir Thomas Leeds was Prefect and Sir Ralph Babthorpe Secretary of the Congregation of the Blessed Virgin at Louvain. Stonyhurst MSS., Angl. A. vol. iv. n. 47. A considerable number of Catholic families had settled in Louvain, and in 1614 they were disturbed by a summons to appear in England under pain of losing their possessions. On a remonstrance being made by the Spanish Ambassador, King James disclaimed the summons, on which the magistrates of Louvain expelled the pursuivant from the town. More, Hist. Prov. lib. ix. n. io, p. 406.

13 Stonyhurst MSS., Angl A. vol. iv. n. 6.

14 The Archduke Albert, Governor of Flanders.

15 Stonyhurst MSS., Angl. A. vol. iv. n. 7.
16 Stonyhurst MSS., Angl. A. vol. iv. n. 17.

17 Ibid. n. 22.

18 F. More, Hist. Prov. lib. ix. n.ii, p. 406.

19 " Sir Basil Brooke telleth that our German friend is very well at his house and in protection of the King, that Canterbury has used him very kindly, and entreated him, as one whose scholarship is famous, to make use of his library [as] it shall please him." Father Silisdon to Father Owen, August 25 1614. Endorsed by Father Owen, " Sir George Talbot well entertained by K. and Cant." Stonyhurst MSS., Angl. A. vol iv. n. 17.

20 Father More, Hist, Prov. lib. ix. n. 15, p. 414.

21 Ibid. pp. 415, 424. Maximilian had two sons by his second wife, Mary Anne of Austria, when he was over 60 years of age, and the eldest he named Ignatius.

22 The Priory of Watten, with its revenue of 3,000 florins of Brabant, was transferred to the Society in 1611 by James Blase, O.S.F., Bishop of St. Omers. The proposal had been approved by the King of Spain in 1604 and by Pope Paul V. in 1607, but the jealousy of the English felt by the Archduke Albert delayed the establishment of an English Novitiate there till after his death in 1622. More, Hist. Prov. lib. vii. nn. 5— 7; pp. 294—298, 416.

23 A note to a manuscript Catalogue of 1625 tells us that the College had funds for the support of 44 inmates.