Felix de Andreis (2)
Life of the Very Rev. Felix De Andreis, C. M., first superior of the Congregation of the Mission in the United States and Vicar General of Upper Louisiana.
Chiefly from Sketches written by the Right Rev. Joseph Rosati, C. M., First Bishop of St. Louis, Mo.
With an Introduction by The Most Rev. JOHN J. KAIN, D. D., Archbishop of St. Louis, Mo.
To the Right Rev. Joseph Rosati, first bishop of St. Louis, we are principally indebted for the following life of his venerated Superior, the Very Rev. Felix De Andreis, C. M. And no one else was as well qualified as Bishop Rosati, to describe the life and heroic virtues of that truly remarkable priest.
When in the early years of the 19th century, Professor De Andreis was lecturing on theology in Rome, before the students of his own Congregation and those of the Propaganda, among his most attentive and enthusiastic auditors was the brilliant young cleric, Joseph Rosati. Master and pupil were even then attracted towards each other the former admiring the brightness of intellect and purity of heart of his disciple; the latter carried away by the learning and eloquence and sanctity of his professor. "When Father De Andreis took the chair," writes the Bishop, "to give us lectures in theology, his disciples were astonished, I may almost say thunder struck, by the richness, ease, solidity and perspicuity of his arguments. I enjoyed the great privilege of studying under him, in the house of Monte Citorio, the entire course of dogmatic theology. What I prized even more than his learning was, that while he enlightened our minds, he inflamed our hearts, his words being as so many fiery darts which pierced the inmost depths of the soul; so that when we left the school we could repeat with the two disciples who accompanied our Savior to Ernmaus: Nonne cor nostrum ardens erat in nobis, dum loqueretur nolis in via?
After Father Rosati's ordination to the priesthood their relations became still more intimate, their mutual affection still stronger. They left their native land together, crossed the ocean and half the continent of America to the frontier-town of St. Louis, which they reached on the 17th of October, 1817. Three years later, Father De Andreis passed to the reward of his labors. Just before his holy death he appointed Father Rosati his successor, as Superior of the Congregation of the Mission in the New World. Father Rosati was consecrated bishop, in 1824, and amid the great labors of his immense diocese, he found time to collect and put in order the data for the following life. In 1840 Bishop Rosati went to Rome and brought his manuscript, which he entrusted to the Rev. J. B. Samaria, an Oratorian priest of Turin, who agreed to collect some further information about the early life of Father De Andreis, and prepare the work for the printer. The death of the bishop in 1843, was probably the cause why the Italian life was never published.
The Rev. Francis Burlando, C. M., director of the Sisters of Charity in the United States, translated Bishop Rosati's manuscript into English and had it published in Baltimore in 1861. The present publication is Father Burlando's translation, with some corrections and additions. It appears quite opportunely at the present time, when the work of collecting evidence intended to prove the heroic sanctity of Father De Andreis is about to begin in this country. Already the process, which it is hoped will result in his canonization, has been set on foot in the dioceses of Rome and Placentia in Italy, and a similar proceeding will soon be inaugurated in the diocese of St. Louis, where the holy priest spent the closing years of his life, and where took place his edifying death.
Father De Andreis was a man endowed with eminent intellectual ability and a most amiable disposition; but he was principally remarkable for his great supernatural gifts. He was a poet, a linguist, a theologian and an apostle. Had he devoted his attention to literature, instead of to the salvation of the poor and the spread of the gospel of Christ, he would, no doubt, have attained to no mean eminence among men of letters.
The study of this biography will be of interest and of great benefit to all classes of Catholics. The clergy will see herein depicted an ideal priest, learned, zealous, self-denying and pious. He was highly esteemed in Rome by Pope and Cardinals and clergy, and in all probability he would have risen to eminence, had he remained there. But the voice of Bishop Dubourg of Louisiana, pleading for apostolic missionaries to evangelize the unclaimed wilderness of his immense diocese had stronger attraction for the heart of the young and brilliant priest than all the honors of the Roman Court, and the charms of his native land. The true missionary spirit which is ready to surfer all kinds of trials and difficulties in the work of the holy ministry is, mutatis mutandis, as necessary in many parts of this country today as it was in the days of De Andreis and Rosati. Priests working in poor and difficult missions will derive much consolation and encouragement from the perusal of these pages.
The indefatigable zeal of the servant of God, and his all to all spirit, are striking features of his life. Wherever he went and no matter how short his stay in a place, both clergy and laity, Catholics and Protestants, seemed to feel the influence of his presence. He had but one object in view and that was the glory of God. To promote this he never lost the slightest opportunity. While waiting in Bordeaux for a vessel to bring him to America, lie evangelized the prisons of that city, and wrought great good among the prisoners confined in them. The Sisters of Charity rejoiced in the privilege of having him for a confessor, even for the short time of his stay. They consulted him as an oracle, and revered him as a father. The Archbishop of Bordeaux, his Vicar-General, the Canons of the Cathedral and the entire clergy, seemed to be impressed by the brief visit among them of this humble follower of St. Vincent de Paul. Similar results were produced by him in Baltimore, Pittsburg and Bardstown, where he tarried on his way from the Atlantic seaboard to St. Louis.
Religious communities, both men and women, will find much to admire in the exactness with which the servant of God observed, and caused others to observe, the details of community-life, even in the most difficult circumstances. The vessel on which he sailed from Bordeaux to Baltimore resembled a religious house, so perfect was the order and so fervent the piety of the little baud of missionaries of whom Father De Andreis was Superior. Long journeys by stage-coach over the mountains and through the valleys of Pennsylvania, in all kinds of stormy weather, were not favorable conditions for the observance of religious rules or the recollection of community- life. Yet Bishop Rosati assures us, that during their journey by stage, from Baltimore to Pittsburg, all their exercises were strictly observed, under the magic of Father De Andreis' direction.
For six weeks the servant of God and his companions floated down the Ohio, from Pittsburg to Louisville, in a flatboat, through the roof and sides of which snow and rain found easy entrance. Sometimes the passengers were soaked with water, and very frequently shivered with cold, as they sat, huddled together in their rude craft. Yet study, prayer, silence, recreation came in their regular order in that little community, and were strictly observed. The holy Mass was said every morning, and the Sundays and festivals were celebrated with religious solemnity. On All Souls' Day the office of the dead was solemnly chanted on that rough flatboat, and Requiem-Mass was sung.
The laity will find in this life of a holy priest, much that will move them to a greater love for the priesthood in general and to a wider sympathy with the priest, who gives up home and family and friends, to consecrate his life to the service of God and the salvation of souls. Moreover, Father De Andreis was the pioneer of Catholic Education west of the Mississippi. One of the principal objects of his coming to this country was the opening of a seminary for the education of priests. This aim he accomplished when he founded St. Mary's Seminary at The Barrens, in Perry County, Mo. in 1818. St. Mary's still flourishes as the Motherhouse of the Vincentian Fathers for the western province of the United States. There the body of the servant of God reposes, beside the altar of St. Vincent de Paul in St. Mary's Church, and there his spirit keeps watch over the training of the young ecclesiastics, who are to continue in the twentieth century the work which he started in the early part of the nineteenth.
Father De Andreis spent less than three years in St. Louis, yet so high was his reputation among the people for sanctity, that the appearance of a luminous star over his body, during his funeral service, to which occurrence both Bishop Dubourg and Bishop Rosati bear witness, was looked on as a very fitting manifestation of God's approval of so holy a life as his had been. All the people of the town esteemed him as a saint, and even to-day, eighty years after his death, the descendants of the old St. Louis' families, the great grandchildren of those who knew him, hold fast to the traditions and belief of their ancestors, that someday his heroic virtues will be publicly recognized by the Church, whose devoted son he was. The devout prayers of those who read this book, may do much to bring about this long cherished desire. t JOHN J. KAIN, Archbishop of St. Louis.
CHAPTER I: Birth, Youth, and Entrance into the Congregation of the Mission. His Ordination.
The Very Rev. Felix De Andreis was born of respectable and pious parents, on December I3th, 1778, at Demonte, a considerable hamlet in the present diocese, and former province, of Cuneo, Piedmont.
We have not been able to ascertain any particulars respecting his early youth, but will relate what he himself mentions with candid simplicity in a manuscript found after his death, entitled, Soliloquy No. 59, Iluminare tu mirabiliter a montibus aeternis.
"I see very clearly, when I collect my thoughts, that Divine Bounty began to call me to the sweet intercourse of contemplation from my very childhood; and afterwards, at different intervals, during the whole course of my most ungrateful life. I remember, and, even now, can very distinctly picture to myself the unspeakable delight which I once felt when a child, while listening to one of my aunts, on my mother's side, who was singing some hymns on the love of God and the infancy of Mary, as we walked one evening in the gardens of Count Beranger. And I experienced this pleasure on many other similar occasions; once especially, as I was thinking of St. Aloysius while I was employed in composing a hymn in which I spoke with my Angel Guardian of the joys of heaven and the sweets of the love of God. O! how happy should I have been had I corresponded to divine grace! Even amidst the disorders of my youth, never did the Almighty cease to call me to Himself by inspiring me with a desire of entering the Congregation of the Mission, which desire, in spite of myself, impelled me to seek solitude. And when, through divine mercy, I had entered the novitiate, I remember that the dislike I felt for conversation was such, that I generally spent the time of recreation without being able to utter a single word. I made known to the director the secret desire I felt of keeping aloof from all creatures, were it possible to do so; and he told me that I should cultivate such feelings. I did not then foresee what would be the result, and, though I was somewhat acquainted with the writings of St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross, I had no precise idea of the treasures hidden in their mystic works. I passed through diverse ordeals of scruples, anguish, and temptations, until the little book "God Alone" inspired me with a more earnest desire of suffering as they did. And, before I underwent those fearful trials, God mercifully ordained that suitable writings should fall into my hands, to enlighten me during the dark night through which I had to pass. I see, therefore, to my shame, how much I was favored by the blessings of divine mercy; though my conduct, being so different from the lights I received, dishonors, in some sort, the gifts of God, and gives me reason to fear that I am a consummate hypocrite. Oh! what confusion is mine !
Having completed his first studies, in his native place, Felix De Andreis was sent to Cuneo, at the age of fifteen, to learn rhetoric and philosophy; while there, he was once in imminent danger of losing his life. It was a holiday, and he, and several of his companions went to take a walk beyond the river Stura; on their return, in order to reach home more quickly, they endeavored to wade through its rapid waters. For the others, this proved an easy task; but, for him, who was rather small and delicate, it was a dangerous undertaking. The current carried him off a long way, and his companions, who were anxiously watching him from the bank, without being able to come to his relief, already believed him drowned. Such indeed he would have been but for a special intervention of Divine Providence. While in the water, he raised his heart to Heaven, invoked the aid of St. Anthony, and, at the same moment, saw, or thought he saw, the saint handing him a rope, which, having grasped with all his might, he was conducted in safety to the shore. The fact is, he escaped unhurt, to the great astonishment of his fellow students.
All who knew him admired his penetrating intellect, his aptness to learn the most difficult things, his ready and retentive memory, his lofty imagination, and, what is more important, his determination in the pursuit of his studies, and his irreprehensible moral conduct [Note: Memoirs of his life by Bishop Rosati and the Rev. Mr. Ugo, C. M.].
His excellent qualities caused increasing wonder among his teachers, who incited him by their commendations to still greater progress, promising him their assistance and predicting his brilliant success in literary pursuits, but especially in poetry, for which the young De Andreis felt a peculiar attraction [Note: Among the numerous manuscripts of Fr. De Andreis, a considerable volume of sacred poetry was found after his death ; this he composed more to give vent to the pious sentiments which animated his heart, than to afford amusement to his mind. It was impossible to peruse them without feeling the effects of that charity which inspired them. Unfortunately, this precious volume, with many others, has been lost].
But grace, meanwhile, was working in his heart, other and better dispositions; he was not more than fifteen or sixteen when he felt within him an increasing desire of joining the Company of the Mission, founded by St. Vincent de Paul. This wish became so strong that he could no longer refrain from making it known, and accordingly mentioned it to Rev. Father Laugeri, Visitor of the province, entreating to be received into the Company as he felt convinced that such was his vocation. The prudent superior, well aware of the remarkable talents of the young candidate, and knowing particularly his poetical genius, received his request very coldly, observing that the Congregation of St. Vincent would never suit his views. "The employments of our missionaries," said Father Laugeri, "are far different from those to which you have hereto devoted yourself in accordance with your natural inclination; the principal object of our institute is to instruct the poor in the country, and form good laborers for the vineyard of the Lord; its duties, therefore, do not require brilliancy of thought, nor talent for poetry; but serious study, and discourses without pomp or ornament. How difficult it would be, for a young poet like yourself, to become accustomed to such things!"
"And yet," replied the undaunted youth, “I will do all this, if you will receive me among your children."
"Be of good heart, then," resumed the Visitor; "take another year to reflect on your design; give up your poetical compositions for that period, and apply your mind to other studies; devote more time to prayer; let your life be more recollected; and then, having done all this, present yourself anew."
"I then entered into myself," adds Mr. De Andreis, "and endeavored to correct whatever I knew to be reprehensible in my conduct, but especially, that spirit of vanity which prompted me to wish to display my talents before the world; I traced out the plan of a more serious life, having resolved to become a missionary, in order to atone for my sins, give glory to God, work out my own salvation, and, by the aid of Divine grace, promote that of others; such was my intention, and I acknowledge it to be from Thee alone, O my God” [Note: From the MS. entitled Ad Quid Venisti].
Father Laugeri became acquainted with these excellent dispositions the following year; and having, without any further difficulty, admitted him among his children, he sent him to begin his novitiate in the house of the Mission at Mondovi. There, Mr. De Andreis took the habit of St. Vincent on the first of November, 1797, and afterwards applied himself to correspond to his holy vocation, under the guidance of Rev. Joseph Giordana, subjecting himself to the most perfect obedience, mortifying his passions, and striving to become an interior man. About this time, namely, in January, 1799, the houses in Piedmont having been suppressed, by order of the Provisional Government, established by the French after the expulsion of the royal family of Savoy, he was obliged to return home, February 9th, 1799. Affairs being more settled towards the close of the same year, and the Missionaries having regained possession of the house of the Holy Martyrs at Turin, he was recalled there on the 12th of December following.
His novitiate being ended, he made his vows with great interior delight, on the 21st of September, 1800; being most desirous of making progress in all the sacred sciences, in order to fit himself to be a good missionary. He was not vain of his talents, nor did he presume upon them, but always seemed little in his own eyes, though he was most fervent, regular and obedient, even in the smallest things. His superiors remarked all these excellent qualities, and, though they avoided any manifestation of the esteem in which they held him, it was nevertheless very great, for in him they already beheld a true disciple of St. Vincent. No fault could they perceive in his deportment, and, if by chance some slight imprudence needed reprehension, they always found him docile in receiving correction, more circumspect for the future, never betraying any ill-humor, but showing a smiling countenance and modest cheerfulness.
He prosecuted his studies in the same house at Turin, which, at the end of the last century, was adorned with many experienced men who spent their lives in the labors of the holy ministry. The young De Andreis, seeing in these venerable priests so many living portraits of St. Vincent, endeavored, with ardor, to follow their holy example in the practice of every virtue. But it was not long granted him to enjoy their company, for fresh misfortunes having befallen the royal family of Savoy, the Mission of Turin was again suppressed. Mr. De Andreis was then sent to the house at Placentia, in order to continue his studies. He arrived there on the 26th of December, 1800, and pursued them so extensively, and with so much success, that he became a profound philosopher, a learned theologian, and an erudite historian; besides being well versed in literature, chemistry, natural history, astronomy, mathematics, medicine, music, geography; and skilled in the Hebrew, Greek, French, and Spanish languages. As for Latin, he spoke it fluently, and wrote it with elegance. It must not be thought that his knowledge of these sciences was merely superficial and only fit to dazzle the vulgar eye; on the contrary, he was an adept in each one of them, and had accustomed himself from the beginning to so much regularity and order in his ideas, that these different acquirements were never confused in his mind, and he could teach them all in a masterly manner. As to merely ornamental accomplishments, he possessed them without display, being very much averse to anything like ostentation; he looked upon them as the spoils of Egypt, only fit to adorn the temple of the Lord. It may here be asked, how it was possible that a young missionary, whose hours of study were regulated with prudence, and were not dependent upon his own will, could thus acquire such vast and diversified knowledge. We will say, in reply, that Mr. De Andreis was gifted with so piercing an intellect that he penetrated, at the first glance, the most difficult questions and the most abstruse theories. His memory was so good, that, having once read a book, he never forgot its contents, and could repeat them many years afterwards ; and, so just and accurate, was his discernment, that he could distinguish, in an instant, truth from error ; correct reasoning from sophistry; the light that merely dazzles, from that which illumines the mind. It is not, therefore, a matter of surprise that he learned, in a few months, what, to an ordinary capacity, would have been the labor of years. And one thing, which appears worthy of particular notice is, that his ardor in the pursuit of science was restrained within due bounds, and was ever subordinate to the zeal with which he sought to perfect himself in every virtue. Thus, while he was adorning his mind with so many different acquirements, his spiritual progress was no less rapid; his attention to the Divine presence, and his desire to learn all the functions of his institute, never decreased. He consequently preferred to every other study, that one which tends to form holy and learned priests, namely: the Holy Scriptures, the works of the Fathers, the canonical decisions of the Church, and the moral and ascetic books written by the most eminent doctors. St. Thomas was the theologian he preferred, but he also consulted St.Augustine, St. Bernard, and St. John Chrysostom; and he retained by heart long passages from these Fathers, besides all their most remarkable dicta and most important quotations.
Meanwhile the time approached when Mr. De Andreis was to be promoted to the priesthood [Note: He was ordained sub-deacon early in the year 1801, deacon at Pentecost, and completed his course of study, on the 14th of August, 1802]; this event took place in Placentia, in the year 1801. He prepared for it by the most efficient means: fervent prayer, austere mortification, continual interior recollection, and useful reading. He had formed that exalted and true idea of the priesthood which is given of it in the Sacred Scriptures, and by the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church; and, having obtained this incomparable dignity, his desire to discharge all its holy duties was proportionally increased. Nothing was wanting to him for that purpose; he had prepared everything requisite for a good missionary, such as catechetical instructions on the sacraments, the laws of God, and those of the Church; spiritual retreats for those who were preparing for ordination, as also for the laity ; ecclesiastical conferences for priests, and other similar discourses.
It is not, therefore, surprising that he was, immediately after his ordination, entrusted with the complete exercise of the Apostolic ministry; the duties of which he discharged with uninterrupted fidelity. Placentia beheld him, at one period, employed in the country missions [Note: He gave several missions with Father Colucci, who was much venerated by the people on account of his sanctity; also, with Father Lucio, etc. In 1804 and 1805, he presided over the retreat for the candidates for ordination], at another, devoting himself to the ecclesiastical conferences; again, as director of the collegiates, or filling among them the professor's chair; ever ready to supply the place of any one who was absent, either through illness or any other cause. And not only seculars and country people, professors and students, but even the most experienced clergymen of the city, marveled, on hearing, from the lips of the young missionary, so much profound learning expressed with such dignity and grace ; such strength of argument, which never, in the heat of controversy, degenerated into vulgar ideas, rigorous doctrine, or relaxed opinions. They would scarcely have trusted their own eyes, had he not also made a deep impression upon their hearts; his superiors themselves were struck with astonishment, and augured great things of him.
Meanwhile Divine Providence was preparing a new field for his evangelical labors, but, before we speak of it more fully, we must insert some reflections and resolutions which he found it requisite to take several years afterwards, and whereby will be seen how entirely he was devoted to study, while he was, at the same time, most careful to shun that knowledge which swells the heart and leads it away from God.
“During the retreat of 1810, which I made amid many contradictions, in spite of my ardent desire to make it well ; I experienced, for the first few days, nothing but superficial lights and general emotions; but, having besought the Lord to discover to me the cause of my spiritual infirmities, during the night following the second day, I suddenly awoke, and received a Divine inspiration, which showed me clearly the diseases of my soul, the root whence they sprung, and the means which I should take for their removal.
"1. The great origin of all my faults is, that I have fallen, without being aware of it, on that rock of which our holy father St. Vincent speaks, in his Rules, chap, xii, art. 8, where he says: 'All, but especially the students, shall continually watch lest an inordinate avidity of learning should insensibly invade their hearts; yet they shall not neglect applying themselves assiduously to the studies necessary to perform, as they ought, the functions of a missionary, provided that their first care be to learn the science of the Saints, which is taught in the school of the Cross.' I was not aware that I had failed in this, but the result proves that such is the fact.
“2. This immoderate ardor for study produces, in my soul, a kind of languor in my spiritual exercises, making me consider them as mere accessories; filling them with distractions concerning my studies and causing me to perform them nastily, in order to return the sooner to my occupations; and, though it may appear to me that I act thus with the purest desire of knowing the source of all truth, which is God, and the better to be enabled to serve the Company, self-love is concealed beneath it.
"3. This irregular passion also generates in me, (though I do not in the least perceive it), a certain self esteem on seeing so many others deprived of the knowledge that I possess, and this esteem is revealed by the thoughts that pass through my mind, the conversations which I hold, and my demeanor, as well in praise, as in humiliations.
“4. Besides the foregoing effects, this immoderate ardor for study produces in me another disorder which our holy founder has well foreseen in his rules, namely: a certain prudence of the flesh, which, under pretext of preserving health and strength, gives me a relish for the comforts of life, and produces disgust for all practices of mortification. I have noted it in little things only, but they may become great.
"5. Finally, as a last consequence, I begin to experience the truth of these words, Deus superbis resistit, by strong temptations which I never before experienced, and to which I am now liable. I begin to feel a certain reluctance to leave my studies when called upon to discharge any duty of my ministry, etc.
"Hence I am spiritually wasting away, and becoming infected with many faults, without knowing why or wherefore.
"I now resolve: 1. Considering, the axiom scientia inflat, that, however much I may study, my knowledge will never equal that of so many unfortunate men whom study has ruined, and who have also caused the loss of an infinite number of souls; that I shall never be able to attain the knowledge of omnem veritatem which is reserved for paradise. I will remember then, while I apply my mind to study, those words of the Apostle: Non plus sapere quam oportet, etc.; perdam sapientiam sapientium, etc.; non existimavi me scire aliquid inter vos nisi Christum. I will only give to study a stated portion of time, and, beyond that, will banish every thought of it.
“2. Seeing, that study is not God, nor even the most direct road to Him, I will endeavor to be more assiduous in my exercises of piety and the practice of virtue; these being the surest means to lead me to the clear view of truth in paradise.
"3. Bearing in mind, that humility is the gate of truth, my most ardent study shall be to overcome self-esteem, which I will combat on every occasion by contrary acts.
"4. Remembering, also, that the prudence of the flesh kills the soul:, I will resume the practice of my former mortifications, etc.
"5. In fine, by fidelity, to these four points, I shall be enabled to find a remedy for the last mentioned evil. It seems to me, that by divine mercy, I am now thus disposed; and if my God knows that there is, in my heart, a single fiber not entirely His own, I would wish to tear it out, were it even to cost me my life.
"Confirma Deus hanc voluntatem."
It was by such powerful means as these that Father De Andreis made such progress in science !
CHAPTER II: He is sent to Rome to teach Theology in May, 1806. His pious labors in that City until the year 1815.
The air of Placentia was very prejudicial to the health of Mr. Felix De Andreis, who suffered frequently from very violent head-aches. His superiors, therefore, thought of removing him to another place, and sent him to the house of Monte Citorio in Rome, where, it was hoped, he would be able to remain longer than in any other, as several establishments of the Mission in Italy, had been suppressed, and many more seemed about to meet with the same fate. He, therefore, went there towards the end of March, in the year 1806, to the great joy of Mr. Romuald Ansaloni, visitor and local superior of Monte Citorio. This gentleman was well acquainted with the talents and virtue of Mr. De Andreis, not only by the favorable accounts which he received of him on all sides, but also because the young priest had been, for many years, his disciple in the study of moral theology. Very soon, then, did the judicious superior employ him in the weighty duties of that large house, which, being deprived of many of its subjects, stood in great need of help.
Before entering upon the manifold functions of his institute, Mr. De Andreis prepared for them by a retreat of some days; he was intimately convinced that a priest cannot exercise the Apostolic ministry with profit to others, if he be not careful of his own sanctification. His spiritual retreat being concluded, he, at once, devoted himself to the different missions, which were confided to him. We will here notice some of them, (although he gave them at different intervals), and will then pass on to his other works. To use his own words, it appeared to him, when he was sent to instruct the poor of the country, that he was in his proper place, in his own sphere. Every one witnessed his efforts to extirpate vice and make known unto all, the truths and doctrine of Jesus Christ. Never did he dread the arduous labor and fatigue of such an underaking; but, making small account of himself and his own ease, he was always ready to alleviate the burden of his companions. During the summer of 1806, he assisted in the missions of Ceccano, Giuliano di Ferrentino, Sannino, Monte Fertino and Valmonte. It was rumored, during this last, that certain facts, of a miraculous nature, had transpired. However, the bishop of Segni, in whose diocese Valmonte is situated, having been questioned on the subject, gave the following reply:
“Although I have well considered the matter in question, I cannot call to mind any wonderful act performed by Mr. De Andreis during the mission which he made at Valmonte in 1806. Nevertheless, I very well remember his spotless life, which marked him out among all others; he was cherished by the people, and I, admiring his exalted virtues, formed a high opinion of him. Peter Anthony, bishop of Segni.”
In the autumn of 1808, he returned to this same diocese, and made many other missions in that of Amelia. Wherever he went, he gave himself no rest, nor could he content his zeal until all had profited by the word of God.
During the Lent of 1810, and of the following years, until 1815, he was constantly employed in laboring in the country, and especially in the suburbs of Rome, where, certainly, there was ample room for the exercise of his zeal in favor of the poor shepherds, who sojourn there at that season of the year.
His last missions in Italy were those that he gave during the Lent of 1814 at Vescovera, in the diocese of Tivoli, with Messrs. Giovannoni and Vespasiani, from Cori to Valle, and subsequently from Cori to Monte, which last he made in company with Mr. Colucci and Mr. Rosati. In these missions, he endured much fatigue, and had to labor hard to pacify the inhabitants, who, at that period, were divided by animosities and contentions of various kinds. The duty of addressing the clergy, (when their number was considerable,) was always entrusted to Mr. De Andreis, and he discharged it with admirable skill and discretion; for, while he ever manifested towards their person, the greatest respect, he spoke to them with such unction, that they would voluntarily endeavor to repair their faults by a fervent and edifying life. Conversing with some priests, during the mission at Cori, he showed them, by the most convincing arguments, that their own salvation, no less than that of the flock confided to their care, depended upon the right administration of the sacrament of penance, and that this could not exist where uniformity, which is so essential to it, was wanting both in doctrine and practice. "A confessor," said he, "who is too indulgent, though he may draw many penitents, loads his own conscience with the sins of others, because his tolerance is the cause that so many grievous disorders, blasphemies, infamous connections, profanation of festivals, immodesty in women, negligence of parents towards their children, discords, public and private enmities, and other enormous crimes of long standing, continue to exist in towns and villages. If a sinner, on presenting himself at the tribunal of penance, were to find there a confessor whose firmness would not absolve him, because he had already deceived many other priests by his false promises, he would address himself to another ; and, if the latter, equally firm, were to say to him: Come back again, to give me a sincere proof of your conversion, the false penitent, having tried all the confessors of the place, and finding them all uniform in their conduct towards him, would indeed, as the Blessed Leonard says, open his eyes to the state of his soul, conceive a horror for his sins, and feel the necessity of leading a new life. Venerable priests, the impiety of the people proceeds, therefore, in a great measure, from ourselves; and thus, according to the words of a pious and learned Cardinal of the Roman Church, from too great facility in absolving, comes equal facility in sinning. Give me, said the great Pope Pius V, good confessors, and I will show you the world reformed. What, then, shall we do, we ministers of the Lord? Let me, at least, hear your opinion, which I so much respect." Then, after he had urged each one to make known his opinion, they all agreed that it was requisite to enter into a holy league, like that which the Blessed Leonard formed for the purpose of remedying the enormous disorders existing in a certain city belonging to the Papal States. Setting aside controversial questions, on which even the most distinguished doctors are at variance, they determined on the observance of certain points extracted from the Roman Ritual and the admonitions of St. Charles Borromeo. All took the engagement of being firm with regard to these, without ever allowing themselves to be overcome by human respect, or the false promises of a penitent. These resolutions were written down, and a copy of them delivered to each of the confessors to keep as the rule of his conduct [Note: MS., "Different Notices," etc.].
Notwithstanding the ardent desire of Mr. De Andreis to labor in the country, he could undertake but few missions there, Mr. Ansaloni, his superior, having assigned him other and no less arduous duties. He had to teach theology, both to those of his congregation, and to the young clergymen of the college of the Propaganda, which, by order of Pope Pius VII., had been transferred to the house of Monte Citorio in 1802. In this new employment were discovered the vast treasures of sacred learning which he possessed. He was a strong champion of revealed truth, was well versed in all scholastic questions, accurately distinguishing the most weighty from those that are merely of secondary importance; sustaining the former by invincible arguments, and refraining from any asperity in the discussion of the latter. He was an enemy to all novelties; and, while he modestly followed the opinions which appeared to him the most probable, he always respected those authors who taught differently. His ideas were clear, his explanations methodical, never confusing or overburdening the minds of his auditors. Hence, it may be said with truth, that, as all, both little and great, go with delight to quench their thirst, each according to his need, at a limpid and wholesome stream, so all were instructed by the lessons of this excellent master; the most elevated minds as well as those of a more ordinary stamp; and, while the former were never wearied, the latter were not neglected.
"When Mr. De Andreis took the chair," writes the Right Rev. Mr. Rosati, late bishop of St. Louis, "to give us lectures in theology, his disciples were astonished, I may almost say, thunderstruck, by the richness, ease, solidity, and perspicuity of his arguments. He never made use of the book, and yet, developed fully the entire doctrine on which he spoke; quoting with accuracy, not only passages from different authors, but repeating, word for word, long texts from the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers, in corroboration of his assertions. And, besides texts from the author that he was explaining, he would bring in others, which served to confirm and elucidate them. I enjoyed the great privilege of studying, under him, in the house of Monte Citorio, the entire course of dogmatic theology; and, not even once, during the whole time, did I ever see him make use of a book, or any other writing, while he was giving his lecture; whether he was expounding a principle, or questioning us upon any difficulty. All his explanations were most clear, and the very things which he added himself, in order to convey more clearly the author s meaning, were, of themselves, so beautiful and learned, that scarcely had we returned to our rooms, after he finished, than we hastened to put them in writing, for fear that something might escape our memory. In this manner we filled entire sheets with useful and valuable knowledge, especially during those lectures which he gave on the Scriptures. But, what I prized, even more than all this, was, that, while he enlightened our minds, he inflamed our hearts, his words being as so many fiery darts that pierced the inmost depths of the soul; so that, when we left the school, we could repeat with the two disciples who accompanied our Savior to Emmaus: Nonne cor nostrum ardens erat in nobis dum loqueretur nobis in via Were not our hearts burning within us, as he was speaking to us in the way.
These words of Bishop Rosati are amply confirmed by the testimony of Mr. Joseph Martini, a former disciple and confident of Mr. De Andreis; he also declares that whenever his teacher, either in, or out of the school, was heard to speak on the truths of religion, or the maxims of eternal salvation, he did it with so much warmth, that his countenance, which was naturally pale, perceptibly changed its color. And this ardor was greatly increased when he addressed himself to the young students of the Propaganda, as if he longed to transmit to their hearts a heavenly fire that would make them fervent apostles for the infidel lands to which they were destined.
Besides the professorship of theology, Mr. De Andreis was entrusted with the retreats of the candidates for ordination, those for confessors, parish-priests and others, to whom the house of the Mission was always open, and to which they frequently resorted, in order to strengthen, or renew, the spirit of their vocation. To his share, always fell the most arduous and delicate part of these retreats, so that it seemed as if they could neither be undertaken, nor accomplished without him. And, although he was often called upon unexpectedly, he was always prepared, and, so ingeniously did he vary the form of his discourses, that, though the matter was, necessarily, always the same, what he said, seemed to be heard for the first time. This was a singular, and, we might almost say, a marvelous gift, for many, who had already made three or four retreats under his guidance, would come to listen to him without experiencing the least weariness, retire deeply touched by his words, and eager to hear him again. Not that any art lay concealed in his discourses ; on the contrary, he was all candor and sincerity; he never made use of fanciful expressions, bearing the stamp of mere human eloquence ; but, in the simplicity of his words, his reasoning was divine; and, so persuasive and connected, that the luminous evidence it imparted to the intellect, dispelled any repugnance to receive the truth; while it so deeply touched the heart, that it moved, at the will of the speaker, to hatred of sin, confidence in God, fear of the divine judgments, holy love of God, and always took a firm resolution of leading a truly sacerdotal life. Now, if it be asked of what means he made use, thus to conquer even the hardest hearts among his auditors, we can only reply that his words partook of the vehement ardor by which he was himself devoured, and his sentiments were as so many burning arrows, discharged by an able hand. With regard to this, we will here cite some particular facts.
Monsignor Atanasio, pro-vicegerent in Rome, sent to the spiritual conferences of Monte Citorio, a priest of a regular order, who, at the beginning of the new French government, had swerved from the path of duty. While he was listening one morning to the conference, given by Mr. De Andreis, on these words of our Lord: Ego sum veritas, he was touched by such a special impulse of grace, that, in the sight of all, he could not refrain from manifesting signs of extraordinary compunction. Scarcely had he retired to his room than he gave way to excessive lamentations; and, though the hour of the repast went by, he never ceased to weep, without showing the least desire to take any food. Mr. Ansaloni was obliged to send Mr. De Andreis to his room in order to console, and induce him to take some refreshment. But he was quieted only by the hope of hearing, in the next conference, an exposition of these other words of Jesus Christ: Ego sum vita; he heard it in fact, and continued, throughout the retreat, to show such unmistakable marks of true conversion, that all were edified.
Similar emotions were evinced on another occasion, not by a few only, but by the whole assembly of priests and curates, during the course, and at the end, of one of the meditations. Towards evening, after having made, in the chapel, the customary examination of conscience, all the missionaries were assembled in the refectory for supper, when, to their great surprise, the priests, who were in retreat, did not make their appearance; they waited some time, but in vain; and, at last, one belonging to the house was dispatched to find out what was the matter. He entered the chapel and found them all absorbed in such profound silence and recollection, that they seemed transported out of themselves, and he was obliged to tell them that it was time to go to supper. Such occurrences as these, and the wonderful conversions that took place during the retreats given by Mr. De Andreis, were soon divulged throughout Rome. Notice was taken of them by the prelates and Cardinals of the Church, and his Eminence, Cardinal Vicar Delia Somaglia, wishing to ascertain for himself the truth of what was said, went one day to the house of the Mission, without disclosing his intention to anyone. He arrived just when Mr. De Andreis was giving a conference to the priests assembled in the interior chapel. On the entrance of so great a personage, they all rose through respect, and, when he had taken his place, and they were reseated, Mr. De Andreis, without the least discomposure, resumed his discourse, addressing the Cardinal in these words: "Your Eminence, the subject of our conference is this," (here he named it), and the division has been made into two parts; the first has been proved by authority, we are now near the conclusion, and I continue, therefore, by saying, "The Cardinal Delia Somaglia listened with great attention to this address, and remained to the end of the conference, which afforded him so much satisfaction, that he attended all the others until the conclusion of the retreat. When it was over, he went to congratulate, in a friendly manner, the superior of the house; telling him how much he admired the young missionary, not only for the solidity and beauty of his discourses, but still more for the piety and unction with which he spoke. And the worthy prelate, not satisfied with this, in the first audience that he had of Pius VII. Holy Father, said he, I have found out, lately, a treasure of science and piety in a priest of the Mission at Monte Citorio; his name is Felix De Andreis, and he is yet quite young. I heard him speak, several times, on the dignity and duties of the priesthood, and he pleased me so much, that I seemed to hear a St. John Chrysostom or a St. Bernard. Enraptured at these words, the sovereign pontiff immediately replied: We must not lose sight of this young man, for it is with such as he, that we should fill the episcopal sees.
The other cardinals and prelates who resorted to Monte Citorio to hear Mr. De Andreis, thought and spoke as the Cardinal Delia Somaglia had done; we must mention especially, among the number, the vice gerent, Mr. Fenaia, who, better than anyone else, could form a correct opinion about him. He had had long experience as a missionary, and was well versed in such matters, being himself an excellent preacher of the gospel. It was not merely to the learned that Mr. De Andreis gave so much delight; he was, at the same time, most acceptable to the simple and ignorant. Without discontinuing his theological lectures, he had frequent occasion to address discourses to tradesmen, merchants, in a word, to every description of persons, who were, all alike, moved to tears by his words. For a long time, he was entrusted with the conference which is given every Sunday to the clergymen who assemble at Monte Citorio, and he would go from that to the congregation of San Vitale, entirely composed of peasantry and common people; to these, he preached in the morning of every festival day, and afterwards heard their confessions. He was also a member of the pious association of St. Paul, and was elected one of its twelve directors. Besides all this, he was frequently called upon to give retreats in monasteries, colleges, schools and other pious associations; and, wishing to satisfy everyone, had often to preach four times, in the same day, on very dissimilar subjects; now on religious perfection; then again, on the necessity of conversion. During the last years of his sojourn in Rome, or rather from 1810 till 1814, he preached regularly, every day, towards evening, for about three quarters of an hour, to an assembly, composed of persons of all ranks; countrymen, merchants, servants, lawyers, priests, and even many distinguished individuals, both of the ecclesiastical and the secular order, who met at the appointed hour in a large hall near the entrance of Monte Citorio. He discharged each one of these different duties with the same grace and dignity, as if it were the only object of his care, never allowing his mind to be disturbed, nor doing things in a hurry, in order to have time to do a great many; he was not one of those officious persons who meddle with everything and wish to share in every good work, under pretence of seeking the general good, while they only spoil the greater part of what they undertake, or are overcome by the weight of it, not being able to accomplish anything solid or durable. Most assuredly, Mr. De Andreis did not resemble them, for, as he was gifted with a penetrating mind and mature judgment, he easily distinguished the promptings of charity from those of self-love. He was also careful to give to each affair the amount of attention it demanded, and the case with which he spoke in the pulpit seemed so natural to him, that he would blend, in the same sermon, the most sublime truths of religion with the simple words of the Catechism; the most vehement language with the most gentle and pathetic expressions.
By bestowing upon him so many excellent qualities, it appeared as if God had expressly destined Mr. De Andreis to sustain faith and revive devotion in Rome, at the very time that both were greatly shaken, namely, during those unhappy days when the holy city was bitterly lamenting the loss of her supreme pontiff, when the sacred college was dispersed, and her temporal dominions abandoned to the tyranny of strangers, the errors of incredulity, and the disorders of her own children. In the proclamation issued in Rome by General Miollis, in pursuance of the order of Napoleon, in 1810, for the general dispersion of all religious orders, Mr. De Andreis was, of course, comprised; and, being a native of Piedmont, he would have been obliged to withdraw from the capital, were it not that consideration was shown him on account of the college of the Propaganda, whose students he taught. This, perhaps, was the only institution which was allowed to subsist. As for Mr. De Andreis, raising his eyes to Heaven, as he did in all human vicissitudes, he saw clearly, in his preservation, a special dispensation of Divine Mercy, who wished him to remain in Rome, solely, that he might oppose the torrent of iniquity, and become the refuge and comforter of the good, the despised, and the oppressed. Regarding it in this light, he strove to fulfill the designs of Heaven, and devoted himself to all the good works that were going on, seeking out others which he knew might be beneficial, either to the spiritual or the temporal welfare of his neighbor.
Hence, led by his own choice, he frequently visited the prisons, consoling, with paternal affection, the unfortunate beings confined therein, frequently, for political opinions only; they were, consequently, oppressed, but not criminal. He would give them retreats, and hear their confessions, with joyful alacrity, in order to render them patient and perfect Christians. It was also his delight, when he was free from his scholastic duties, to visit the sick of all kinds in the public hospitals, inducing many to make general confessions, who had never approached that sacrament during the whole course of their lives; preparing others for their approaching passage to eternity, and comforting all, by the most touching and affectionate admonitions. During one of these visits, having met with a sick person, all covered with gangrened ulcers, and who was quite abandoned by the physicians, "Courage," said he; "trust in God, who is all powerful; put upon your sore a piece of the cassock of our Holy Father the Pope, who is now enduring so much for our holy religion; who knows! perhaps, through his merits, God may vouchsafe to restore you to health." A few days after, Mr. De Andreis having returned to the sick man s bed, accompanied by Mr. Rosati, he found it empty; and, on making enquiries about him of those who were round, he was told that he had left the hospital, having been entirely cured. Whether this cure should be imputed to the merits of our Holy Father Pius VII, or to the prayers of the fervent missionary, it is not for us to decide; we leave it to the judgment of others. The fact, wonderful as it is, cannot be denied, and I find it mentioned in the papers of Mr. Rosati, who was a witness of it at his second visit. When the servant of God had any time remaining after these numerous occupations, he employed it in deploring the evils which, especially at that period, afflicted the entire Church, and, for that purpose, he would visit one of the Roman basilicas. What sorrow did he not experience on entering these churches; once, crowded by members of the regular orders, and now, completely deserted! What bitter tears he shed over the profane abandonment of these holy places, how many and fervent were his prayers, how austere his mortifications, to obtain that these terrible days of divine justice might be shortened! Frequently did he offer his own life to God, to save that of others and appease the divine wrath! And yet, he did not despond in the midst of so many calamities; on the contrary, he looked forward, with certainty, to their speedy termination; and, even when the storm appeared most violent and destructive, he assured his friends, in confidence, that the exiled pontiff would return, in triumph, to the Apostolic chair; but, that they must not, meanwhile, neglect to devote themselves, manfully, to the defense of religion, attacked by so many enemies. He practiced, himself, what he taught to others, for he pointed out the errors contained in the impious pamphlets which were published throughout Rome; replied to many doubts, which were laid before him, with regard to the oath exacted by the prevailing government ; confuted, by his learned discussions, the wicked maxims then disseminated, and, in fine, he prepared an excellent book, wherein the proofs of the Catholic religion were established, by invincible arguments, of easy comprehension, even to the unlearned; and the objections of infidels overthrown, by most clear and substantial replies. He gave to this work, the unpretending title of Catechism." It was nearly finished at the return of Pope Pius VII to Rome; and, as he thought it would be a suitable time to have it printed, he carefully put the last touch to it. But the merciful providence of God had other designs in view; for, this excellent work, instead of being given to the public, became an occasion of extreme mortification to its author. It was suspected by those to whom it was first made known, was maliciously criticized and contemned, and the writer gained nothing by it, but the deepest confusion, both among strangers and his own friends. This was truly an unexpected blow, and he felt it most painfully; but God made known to him, by an especial light, infused into his mind during his meditations, that he must bear his grief in silence, and that this ignominy which had befallen him would be useful for his perfection. Concerning this, it will be well to give here some reflections found in his own writing, in his private Resolutions and Inspirations received from God. In No. 16, he speaks as follows:
Confirma Dominc opus quod operatus es in nobis --- Christo confixus sum cruci. I have, for a long time, felt that a great love of the cross was insinuating itself into my heart, and I have prayed that it might increase, and that our Lord would implant it, permanently, in the very midst of my soul. I mean by this, that I have felt a marked predilection for sufferings, humiliations, and poverty, in opposition to the three follies of the world: concupiscence of the flesh, concupiscence of the eyes, and pride of life, which we renounce in baptism etc.
“Now, about the third Sunday of Advent, (of the year 1814), or some days previous, while I was in church, praying before the Blessed Sacrament, all at once, though I was not thinking of it, there came before my mind, as plainly as if I had seen it with my eyes, a large cross, suspended in the air, of a frightful and horrible aspect. It was armed with sharp points, and completely covered by a transparent black veil, which only allowed part of the lower extremity to be seen. This sight produced within me a sensation of terror and awe, which I vainly strove to repress. I understood that this cross was meant for me; that the small portion remaining uncovered, signified the sufferings I had already undergone, while the greater part were still in store for me. I felt my strength and courage fail; yet, making a violent effort, I submitted, and accepted the cross, beseeching our Lord to sustain me by his grace, that I might not sink under the trial, nor displease his Divine Majesty. After this, I could not help conjecturing what this cross might be, but I could not divine its meaning. As it happened, the following night, I experienced some suffering, both of mind and body, and I fancied that, perchance, this was the cross which threatened me, and I rejoiced to be rid of it so easily ; but the cross came again before my mind, just as I had first seen it, and, from that time, it never left me, though I sometimes perceived it under different aspects. The novena for Christmas was then beginning, and my accustomed pains of body and mind began to increase from day to day; such a height did they at length attain, that I hardly knew what had become of me. My sufferings were but too plainly depicted on my countenance, and the different impressions which I saw them produce on others, augmented my anguish. Heaven seemed to have become of bronze, and the earth of iron; every creature excited in me feelings of aversion; I spent days and nights almost without closing my eyes, my whole system being affected by the mental agony I endured; it was but with an effort that I took the smallest quantity of food ; life itself seemed about to leave me; light was changed into darkness. . ... One day, when almost in despair, I was trying to recite the Seven Penitential Psalms, I felt somewhat consoled, especially at the second, where it is said: Tu es refugium meum a tribulatione quce circumdedit me, and : Domine probasti me, etc. From that moment, I became more tranquil, and felt inspired with great confidence in God and abandonment of self, accompanied by unusual strength and cheerfulness. I beheld the cross again, at first, with nothing but the left arm covered; then again, entirely unveiled, and no longer suspended in the air, but resting upon a heavy stone ; and, lastly, adorned with precious gems, and resplendent with rays, like those crosses that are exposed upon our altars on great festivals. I felt like one whose life was renewed after he had passed through a severe crisis. The love of creatures, the desire of esteem, of possessions, of anything that was not God, had passed away from me; I felt detached from every satisfaction, even those of a spiritual nature, and from virtue itself; and was filled (as it seemed to me) with a most sincere desire of being despised by all; annihilated, crucified; in fine, that the divine will, alone, might be accomplished in me. Yet, as these dispositions seem to me like young and tender plants, they must be fostered, strengthened, and well grounded. And this I beg of our Lord to do, for it is from him that all good proceeds, and to him, alone, belongs the glory of it. Confirma Domine, etc. O blessed Catechism! blessed contradictions! blessed anguish! blessed grief! what treasures have you brought me! How delightful it is to be disenchanted, and to be set free from all human respect ; to aim at nothing, seek or desire nothing, but God alone and his glory! Et unde hoc mihi? Et unde hoc mihi? [Note: This Catechism was found among the manuscripts of Father De Andreis, after his death. He might have published it while he was in America, but, having met with a work, recently printed, that answered his views, he put aside the thought of publishing his own, iii spite of the solicitations to the contrary which he received from others].
It is now time to return to the Apostolic labors of the servant of God. They received a fresh impulse in 1814, when, the French empire being overthrown, Pope Pius VII, of illustrious memory, returned, in triumph, to his See. Mr. De Andreis had never doubted that this event would come to pass, even when many, of little faith, had almost given it up in despair ; and his soul exulted with joy, when he became a witness of the reorganization of ecclesiastical affairs, and beheld peace restored to Christendom. He discovered, in all that passed before his eyes, the all-powerful hand of God, who humbles the proud unto the dust, never ceases to protect his Church, and, from the persecutions of the impious, draws his own greater glory. Animated with these sentiments, Mr. De Andreis gave way to the most delightful transports of holy joy; at one moment making acts of thanksgiving; at another, embracing his fellow-missionaries, who, having been expelled from Rome, during the stormy period, now hastened to return once more to the house of Monte Citorio. He joined with them, in endeavoring, by renewed labor, to repair the evils which religion and Christian piety had so painfully undergone. The sovereign pontiff, in order to revive the spirit of devotion, had appointed several priests to give public missions and private retreats in Rome, and Mr. De Andreis, who always looked upon the orders of the Pope as those of God himself, felt, more than ever, inflamed with zeal to excite the fervor of the just and the repentance of sinners. In the appointment of the missions, it fell to his lot to preach in the Piazza Colonna, where his voice, like thunder that startles even those who sleep, or lightning that rends the most solid rocks, called upon all, both rich and poor, and moved them, first to admiration, and then to tears.
Subsequently, he was sent to give a retreat to the young students who are accustomed to assemble in the vast hospital of Santo Spiritu; a very difficult under taking indeed. There were over a hundred of them, all gifted with talent; and having, at least the greater part, a good knowledge of literature and the resources of logic. There were not wanting, among the number, some, who, led astray by the heat of passion, and the reading of bad books, were more inclined to laugh at the missionary, than to learn of him lessons of Christian humility; and, they were still less desirous of submit ting to the yoke of the gospel. Without being in the least intimidated, Mr. De Andreis spoke undauntedly, in the midst of them, like St. Paul in the Areopagus. Always avoiding bitterness, he convinced them by the solidity of his arguments, moved their hearts, made them yield to his words, and, finally, beheld tears flow from eyes that, until then, knew not what it was to weep. The good that resulted from this retreat is almost incredible, the more so as it was lasting, and, many years after the death of Mr. De Andreis, the sweet remembrance of what he had done was still preserved.
But the house of Monte Citorio was the special sanctuary of grace and pardon; all desired admittance within its precincts; and, in reality, all were received, one after another, without intermission. Mr. De Andreis attended to all; now giving conferences; then again, meditations, which he suited to the dispositions of his hearers. He appeared to be the soul of everything, the common centre, the oracle, the master, the father of all, who multiplied the bread of his words, and cheerfully gave the sweat of his brow for the welfare of his spiritual children. I mention these things very briefly, and in a general manner, though full well am I aware that they would deserve a long and ample narrative.
CHAPTER III: The Right Rev. William Dubourg, Bishop of New Orleans, asks for Father De Andreis, for the Missions of that Diocese. The latter obtains leave from the Superiors of his Congregation, receives the Apostolic Blessing from Pope Pius VII, and departs from Rome in December, 1815.
From the time that Father De Andreis took the firm resolution of entering the Congregation of St. Vincent de Paul, he was instinctively urged by a desire of being one day able to devote himself to those missions undertaken by the children of the Saint in infidel lands. This ardent wish increased within him, in proportion as he advanced in years and in the exercises of his institute. Nor did he feel himself justified in repressing it as a temptation of vain temerity. It is true, that, at times, he feared it might be an illusion, and, being yet very young, he did not dare to manifest his idea by consulting any one about it. His principal care, during his first years in the Congregation, was, to consult God by continued prayer, earnestly imploring the gift of a supernatural inspiration that he might not err in a matter of so much importance. Then, as he perceived that the proper time had not yet come to unfold his desires, he quietly labored to draw profit from the different employments which, from time to time, were allotted to him, leaving his future fate in the adorable hands of Divine Providence.
Having been ordained priest, he could no longer conceal his ardent wish and hope, of being speedily sent to some foreign mission. He wrote on this subject to Father Brunet, who, at that period, discharged the functions of vicar-general of the Company, beseeching him to allow him to join a baud of missionaries then setting out for China. The reply that Father De Andreis received could not have been more satisfactory; it was expressed in the following terms: "Be in readiness for the mission which you so earnestly desire, for you are to be one of those who will leave us for China, and you should admire in this the wonderful designs of Divine Providence, which, to attain its ends, makes use of means quite unforeseen by the mind of man." With regard to the latter part of the preceding sentence, we must mention, that the mission intended for the empire of China was, in reality, a wonderful work, as the greater part of the expense attending it was defrayed by a society of Russian ladies, who were schismatics. Father De Andreis held himself in readiness for the projected journey, giving thanks to God, who had thus appointed him a means of laboring among idolaters; but, in spite of all, his hopes were frustrated. His immediate superiors did not approve of his departure from Italy, so he had to be resigned and to mortify his fervor. This he did; but, without being disheartened, he redoubled his prayers and austerities, beseeching God to give him the grace to fulfill perfectly his most holy designs at whatever time, and in whatever manner, it pleased him. And the Lord consoled him interiorly, by bestowing upon him a great increase of the spirit of his vocation, while he infused into his mind an unmistakable light, which showed him clearly that it was not to China, but to America, that he was destined to go; and that his labors there would be so great as to consume his life. He received this special inspiration in Rome, while he was employed as professor of theology, and, not only once, but several times, indeed almost continually, so that he felt perfectly sure that his destiny would be accomplished. He spoke of it one day to a much-loved disciple of his, Rev. Joseph Martini, a missionary of whom mention has already been made; this gentleman thus bears witness to the fact:
"In 1807, and the following years, until the 27th of May, 1810, when the suppression of religious houses in Rome compelled me to part from Father De Andreis, I often heard him say, he would die in America, where, several times, it had been thought of sending him; and, on those occasions, he always experienced an interior presentiment that he would eventually go, and even end his days there; and, as I asked him how he could be so sure that this inward presentiment would be realized, he replied, that he could explain it only by reference to the past. Whenever, said he, I have experienced similar presentiments, they have always been verified.
These ideas, that Father De Andreis modestly denominated presentiments, were, in fact, supernatural lights, proceeding from Heaven, and this assertion cannot be doubted, if we consult the narrative of Bishop Rosati, who relates the same facts, accompanied by many more minute details, or the manuscripts found after the death of the devout servant of God. The Bishop of St. Louis thus writes:
"At the very time that the Church was groaning under that terrible persecution that kept the Roman Pontiff a captive at Savona; when cardinals, prelates, canons, curates, and the most illustrious ecclesiastics, were expelled from Rome, and banished to different places of the Papal States; when the power of the tyrant seemed to shine with its utmost splendor, his throne being more firmly settled, and his son decorated with the title of King of Rome; when, consequently, no human foresight could predict at what period, or how, if ever, such evils would have an end, Father De Audreis, as calm as if the furious tempest had already vanished, and the universal Church enjoyed profound peace, said to me, one day, as we were taking a walk together: In what studies are you now engaged? I replied, that I was preparing some sermons, besides which I always devoted some portion of the day to the study of the Hebrew language. Let Hebrew alone, he immediately answered; such studies as that are well suited to those who are destined to spend the greater part of their life in their cabinet, preparing learned books to explain and illustrate religion; but we, missionaries, should choose other pursuits. You had better learn English. What! English? I replied, English? and of what use will that language ever be to me? Yes, said he, English; you ought to learn English, for that tongue will, one day, be needful to both you and me, to preach the word of God to a certain people who speak it!
"Such was my deference for his words, and the respect I bore this holy man, who had been my professor in dogmatic theology, my guide in all my studies, and my master in the composition of sermons, that I did not dare to contradict him. I, therefore, consented to learn English, and, on our return home, he gave me an English and Italian grammar, telling me that he would examine me, during our walks, on my progress in English, and would make me read for him. He had already learned it himself, having been taught by an excellent Irish priest, a student of the Propaganda, who was one of his disciples in theology. Father De Andreis had also translated a little book of meditations, entitled: Think Well On It, and had bought several English books for his own use. So I took my grammar, and, when I was alone in my room, I began to study it. I read the first chapter, striving to fix the rules of pronunciation in my mind, but, became so weary of their multiplicity, manifold exceptions, and the difficulty I met with in articulating the sounds of the language, that, after three or four days, I took back the grammar, saying: I shall never, never, he able to learn it; I give it up; so take back the book, and never mention the word English to me again. Very well; let it be as you please, he replied; yet you will see, one day, that you and I shall both be obliged to preach in English. He insisted no more, and took back the grammar.
"I could not understand his constant assertion, nor how we should both be sent on a mission to any country where nothing but English was spoken, Napoleon having, most rigorously, prohibited, both in Italy and France, any communication with England. But, what was then hidden from my eyes, was revealed to him by the supernatural knowledge that God gave him of his future destiny; and too truly did I experience the truth of his words, since necessity afterward compelled me to learn English, in order to publish the word of God in that language."
That God had given Father De Andreis this knowledge of his future fate, some years before it was accomplished, may be seen by one of his manuscripts, written on the model of the Confessions of St. Augustine, and found after his death. Addressing himself to God, he thus expresses his sentiments of love and gratitude: "How, O my God! can I ever worthily thank thee for the benefits and graces which them hast bestowed upon me ! Thou didst call me to the Congregation, choose me for the American mission, and make known to me, many years before, when I was yet in Rome, that such was to be my destiny; it was thou who didst reveal to me that Father Rosati would accompany me, and that a knowledge of the English language would be necessary for us both, and hence I gave him a grammar of that tongue [Note: S. Vocationes tuae extraordinariae, scrutator cordium Deus, passim fiunt secundum quosdam praecedentes prophetias et praeludia, quae manum ivisibilem ostendunt illius qui attinget a fine usque ad finem fortiter, et disponit omnia suaviter. Hinc est quod sensim sine sensu me longe ante inclinaveras non solum ad Missiones exteras generatim, sed praesertim ad desiderandam et postulandam conversionem gentis anglicae, et ad ejus linguam addiscendam quin precise scirem qua ratione id feceram; quinimuno dominum Rosati hortatus fueram ut hanc linguam addisceret, quia haec illi necessaria erit in Missionibus exteris, ad quas sitnul pergemus, et hoc pluribus annis contingit, ante quam ulla notio appareret Missionis hujus, etc. . . . Quanam igitur, Tibi gratiarum reddam actiones, etc. Cap. XIV. (These Confessions were written by Father De Andreis in the city of St. Louis)].
We must now consider the way in which the designs of God with regard to Father De Andreis were admirably accomplished. He was in Rome in 1815, laboring without intermission, as we saw in the foregoing chapter, to bring souls to God, when it happened that Bishop Dubourg, who, for several years, had been Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of New Orleans, came to the holy city, with the intention of obtaining, both from France and Italy, as many evangelical laborers as he could possibly find, to assist him in the cultivation of the vast field confided to his care. So urgent was the want of priests in his diocese, that, feeling he could not comply with his most essential obligations, without additional help, he had determined to resign his office, if he could not obtain the necessary co-operators. In this strain he spoke to Cardinal Litta, then prefect of the congregation of Propaganda Fide, to whom he first applied. His Eminence gave him some hopes of success, and meanwhile directed him to Monte Citorio, requesting, at the same time, the vicar-general of the Congregation of the Mission, Father Sicardi, to provide him with suitable lodging.
One evening, while Bishop Dubourg was residing at the house of the Mission, he observed a large assembly of persons, of all conditions, congregated in a spacious hall near the entrance of the building, where a young priest was addressing them in sonorous tones. He paused, listened more attentively, and then, turning to a young student of the Propaganda, who was deputed to accompany him, asked, who was the priest whom he heard preaching so well. "He is a missionary of the Congregation," was the reply; "a man remarkable for his learning and zeal; one of the best preachers that can be found in Rome at the present day." "O, how glad should I be," rejoined the prelate, "if I could have some of these priests for my diocese!" "Father De Andreis," said the student, "desires nothing more ardently than to be employed in the foreign missions; and, if his departure depended solely on himself, he would be ready this very moment; but his superiors will take good care not to lose so excellent a subject." "Well," concluded the Bishop, "request him, in my name, to come to me in my room."
The servant of God went as was desired, and Bishop Dubourg, after giving him a most cordial reception, began to speak of the motives of his journey to Rome, the deplorable state of his diocese, deprived, as it was, of religious pastors, and the immense good that could be done, in this neglected land, by a company of missionaries, who would not only devote themselves to the duties of their sacred calling, but who might also undertake the erection of a seminary. Most assuredly, Father De Andreis did not need all that the bishop, with zealous warmth, said to him respecting the mission of New Orleans. He felt the most lively emotion at the mere mention of an undertaking which he had so long desired and prayed for. But concealing all these desires within his own heart, he replied, that he should consider himself most fortunate in being chosen for such an enterprise, but, being member of a congregation, to the superiors of which he had made a vow of obedience, he could not decide for himself; hence it was to them, and not to him, that proposals should be made.
Thus ended this first interview, after which the bishop went to lay the affair before Father Sicardi, at that time vicar-general of the Congregation of the Mission. He entreated the latter to give him Father De Andreis and two or three o the Priests of the Mission, besides a few brothers, to found a house of the Congregation and a seminary in Louisiana. Bishop Dubourg backed his request by many cogent arguments, which may all be reduced to the following, namely: that, in America, there was the utmost need of good priests, while in Europe they were numerous; that they might rely on producing the greatest good, besides which it would be a most excellent and glorious undertaking, entirely conformable to the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul to establish a colony of missionaries in that distant country. Father Sicardi listened with respect to all these reasons, and then replied, that great, indeed, was his regret at not being able to comply with the bishop's request, especially in so holy a cause, it being quite impossible to dispense with the services of Father De Andreis, at a period when the Congregation, after many years of suppression , stood in need of subjects; besides which, he added, that the duties incumbent on the house of Monte Citorio were of such a nature, that it would be impossible to fulfill them in the absence of one who was constantly employed therein, and for whom no one could be substituted. The bishop, therefore, might apply to some other community to obtain laborers for his diocese, but must completely relinquish the thought of getting any from his Congregation.
However, things turned out quite otherwise; for the bishop, instead of losing courage, on receiving so firm a refusal, only desired the more to have Father De Andreis, with whose eminent qualities, frequent intercourse made him more fully acquainted. Hence, seeing that he could gain nothing from the good old superior, he resolved to address himself directly to the Pope, and to make him a formal petition on the subject. This he did, showing forth, by energetic, but too truthful words, how much his extensive diocese stood in need of missionaries, and particularly of Father De Andreis. He concluded in these words: Holy Father, without the help of some priests, I feel that I shall no longer have strength to bear the formidable burden of a diocese so vast that it is almost unlimited; I shall, therefore, be obliged to resign it. The Pope consoled him with the assurance, that his request should be granted, and, shortly after, intimated to Father Sicardi, that he wished him to accede to the demand of Bishop Dubourg, by giving him Father De Andreis, and some others of his Congregation.
Deeply afflicted was the heart of the vicar-general when he received this order, and the blow seemed the more painful as he knew neither how to avoid it, nor how, without this young priest, to keep up the establishment of Monte Citorio. Having seriously reflected, he raised his eyes to Heaven, and conceived some hope that the sovereign pontiff might change his mind, were he informed of the wants of the Congregation, and especially of the particular need it had of Father De Andreis. Animated with this hope, he went to the Quirinal, and, almost in tears, threw himself at the feet of the Holy Father, laid before him a full account of the state of things, and then added: "Holy Father, if I venture, here, at your feet, to make these remarks, it is not with the intention of resisting your will; on the contrary, through obedience, I am ready to part with Father De Andreis, and any others of my subjects, for the American mission; but, if you thus ordain it, you will place me in the utter impossibility of complying with your other commands, and those of the Cardinal Vicar, namely, that, from time to time, retreats be given to the clergy of Rome; now, without Father De Andreis, I have certainly no subject capable of fulfilling that duty."
The Pope was struck by these arguments, which were indeed most true and judicious; he had heard, from many sources, of the great talents of Father De Andreis , and of the immense benefit which the clergy of Rome and its vicinity, as well as foreigners from different countries, derived from his conferences and meditations. Looking, therefore, at the matter from this point of view, it seemed to him better to prefer the actual and positive welfare of the Church at Rome, to the future and precarious advantage of that in America. He, therefore, sent word to Bishop Dubourg, that he could not let him have Father De Andreis.
The contest did not end here; even after this declaration, which was apparently conclusive, both parties continued to fluctuate between hope and fear; and, in their uncertainty, both had recourse to God. No less anxious was the soul of the servant of God, who, with a tender and filial love, cherished the house of Monte Citorio, and, still more, the vicar-general. In his distress, he found no comfort but in prayer and the total abandonment of himself to the divine will, leaving others to decide, as they thought proper, on his fate. It is true that his heart inclined more to leave Rome and Italy for a foreign mission, and he felt a certain confidence that such would be the conclusion of the affair; nevertheless, he divested himself of all self-will, in order to follow whatever path God would most clearly point out. He had another thing equally at heart, and this was to lower himself as much as possible in his own eyes; to sink into his own nothingness, while everyone else was manifesting so much esteem for his person. Where is the man, who, placed in similar circumstances, would not have felt some rising emotion of vain complacency? To behold the anxiety of one party to take him away, and that of the other to keep him in Rome, while even the sovereign pontiff, inclined first to one, then to the other, as they disputed for him in the very presence of the head of the Church; to see all this and yet entertain no good opinion of himself, was truly extraordinary humility, and such precisely was that of Father De Andreis.
Bishop Dubourg had not yet made up his mind to receive the episcopal consecration; he endeavored to defer it until he could be certain of obtaining a sufficient number of priests for the diocese. But, at length, yielding to the persuasions of the Cardinal Prefect of the Propaganda, he consented. The consecration took place in the church of "St. Louis of the French," and was performed by Cardinal Joseph Doria, on the 24th of September, 1815. Father De Andreis was one of the witnesses, and, scarcely had the solemn imposition of hands taken place, than the new bishop felt increased hope of gaining that, which, until then, he had not been able, decisively, to obtain. He spoke of it anew, most urgently, to the Holy Father, and, not satisfied with that, being aware of the esteem entertained by Pope Pins VII for Cardinal Gonsalvi, his Secretary of State, he addressed himself to the latter, and laid before his Eminence all the motives of his request, in such a manner, that the Cardinal was perfectly convinced of their justice. He mentioned the matter to the Pope, and the American Mission was finally determined upon, the Holy Father deputing Cardinal Gonsalvi to settle the whole affair with Father Sicardi, vicar-general of the Congregation.
The venerable old man yielded, with respect, to the orders of the Pope, in which he beheld a clear manifestation of the will of God. He had an interview with Cardinal Gonsalvi on the 27th of September, in which, by mutual agreement, they planned the manner in which the mission should be regulated, the number of subjects that "would be requisite, and they particularly had in view the erection of a seminary.
Father De Andreis was filled with holy joy, not unmingled, however, with that salutary fear, which all apostolic men feel, of not fulfilling worthily the duties of their sacred ministry. He remembered Father Rosati, his former disciple, to whom he had predicted, several years before, that he would accompany him on a mission to the English. Father Rosati was then about forty miles from Rome. Father De Andreis wrote to ask him if he had any wish to join the projected mission, but did not, in the least, urge him to do so. He received an answer in the affirmative, and several other priests spontaneously offered their services, as did also a student of the Propaganda.
A memorable day was that of the I4th of October, on which Bishop Dubourg, surrounded by his little colony of missionaries, composed of the Reverend Messrs. Felix De Andreis, John-Baptist Acquaroni, and Joseph Rosati; Mr. Joseph Pereira, postulant priest, Mr. Leo Deys, a student of the Propaganda, and Anthony Boboni, a postulant lay-brother went to pay their respects to the Pope, and ask his Apostolic blessing. The Holy Father received them most cordially, and conversed with them for nearly an hour; exhorting them to put entire trust in the Lord, who had called them to his holy ministry; animating them to bear cheerfully the many labors and trials which are inseparable from the Apostolic mission, and, on the part of God, predicting innumerable blessings, both for themselves and those to whom they were going to preach the divine word.
Father De Andreis, in the name of all, had drawn up a petition, in which he begged the Pope to allow them to celebrate the office of St. Vincent de Paul, with double minor rites, on the 27th of September, on which day the affair of the American mission was concluded; he also asked for a plenary indulgence, to be gained in all the churches of the Congregation, on the 3rd of December, feast of St. Francis Xavier; and for any students of the Alberonian college [Note: The ecclesiastical college in Placentia founded by Cardinal Alberoni] who might wish to join them, a dispensation from the promise which they make to remain in their own diocese. He likewise begged, for all, the faculty of confessing, during the journey, to any approved confessor; to make the stations with the crucifix, and erect the Via Crucis, in all places where convents of the Franciscan order did not exist. Finally, he requested the Pope, by word of mouth, to allow them to say mass in the ship which was to take them to their place of destination. Pius VII, having graciously granted all these petitions affectionately took leave of them.
They then went to bid farewell to Cardinal Litta, who also received them most kindly; and, having long experience in such matters, as Prefect of the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith, he told them that he felt quite sure of the ultimate success of their mission. With regard to the seminary that was to be erected, the cardinal said that the revenues of the see of New Orleans would, when collected, abundantly suffice for its endowment.
At last, the day for the departure of the first band of missionaries was appointed, and they accordingly embarked for Marseilles the night of the 21st of October, at Ripa Grande, intending to join the others at Bordeaux, where all were to await the arrival of Bishop Dubourg. Father De Andreis had drawn up some regulations to be observed on the journey; these he gave them at the moment of their departure. He himself remained in Rome to make, under the direction of the vicar-general, the necessary arrangements concerning the mission.
He made, meanwhile, a choice collection of theological and controversial works, catechisms and sacred liturgies an ample provision of vestments and pious pictures. Several benefactors presented him with sacred vessels, chalices and pyxes; a considerable sum of money was offered him by many worthy prelates; and, in particular, one hundred ducats by the archbishop of Naples. At length, with many tears, yet with the greatest firmness, he parted from his numerous friends, his brethren of Monte Citorio, and the vicar-general, Father Sicardi, on the 15th of December, 1815. He took with him, from Rome, a priest of that city and two young men who aspired to the ecclesiastical career; one of the latter, Mr. Dahmen, afterward entered the Congregation. The route taken by Father De Andreis was that of Bologna. Passing through Placentia, he traversed Piedmont, and, having entered France, directed his steps towards Bordeaux.
As he went out of the Flaminian gate, his heart palpitated with holy joy, and the most lively gratitude to God for the Apostolic ministry, to which he was destined, in a foreign land; for the sufferings he would meet with while laboring to extend the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and for his escape from the episcopal dignity, for which he knew he had been marked out in Rome. While he encouraged those who accompanied him, he preserved the utmost recollection, constantly expressing, interiorly, to his God, the deep feelings with which he was penetrated.
CHAPTER IV: Journey of Father De Andreis and Companions from Rome to Bordeaux and then to Baltimore.
On the 27th of December 1815, Father De Andreis arrived at Placentia, where he had the pleasure of again meeting a number of his former fellow students, professors and superiors. He preserved, during the whole course of his life, for those who had been his first guides and directors, the same esteem and affection which he felt for them at the very first. He frequently spoke of them with pleasure, recalling the virtues he noticed in them nd mentioned particularly Fathers Alliora, Giordana, De Petris and Girodi.
On the 30th, he left Placentia, taking with him Brother Martin Blanka. He arrived at Turin on the 2d of January 1816, at Montpelier on the 1 7th and at Bordeaux on the 3Oth. From this place he wrote immediately to the vicar-general of the Congregation of the Mission, and, to avoid repetition, we will give his own account as contained in that letter, dated Bordeaux, February 1st, 1816.
“Very Reverend Sir: "I have the honor to inform you of our safe arrival, on the 3oth ult., having left behind us, at Toulouse, our companions who started from Rome two months before we did, and who will not be able to reach Bordeaux for five or six days, on account of the disasters they experienced during their sea-voyage. I cannot express the consolation I received on meeting them at Toulouse, after having felt so much grief at Montpelier, when I had reason to fear that they had been shipwrecked; so much so, that I had interiorly offered their loss as a sacrifice to God. May he be continually blessed, that good God, Qui mortificat et vivificat, deducit ad inferos et reducit; he desires to detach me from everything. . . . As far as I am myself concerned, the journey has been most beneficial, notwithstanding the difficulties we encountered among the mountains of Savoy, on account of the cold weather and the almost incredible amount of snow which had fallen. On one occasion, we were obliged to take the horses from the carriage, and remain in the vehicle during a terrible storm, which threatened to overwhelm us; we were also compelled to go part of the way on foot, and, the snow being above our knees, we almost perished. But, after all this, when we traversed Dauphiny, Provence, Languedoc, and Gascouy, there was not an inch of snow on the ground, and the weather became quite mild. . . . The excellent and saintly bishop of Bordeaux was kind enough to give me lodging in his palace, and a seat at his own table; he appointed me chaplain of the prisons. My companions are placed with different pious persons, and some of them in the houses of the Sisters of Charity, the three Sister-Servants of which houses, came to visit me to-day; they are ready to follow us to Louisiana, and I intend to make arrangements on the subject, with Father Hanon at Paris. . . . The affairs of the Congregation in France, are taking a favorable turn, the Court having issued a decree for its re-establishment, and several priests, with a few novices, have already joined Father Hanon. I beg you to recommend us to the Lord, and to ask our good fellow missionaries, to do the same, so that I, by my sins and my pride, may not spoil the work of God, that I may learn to humble myself, thoroughly, and thus become an instrument in the hands of God, to perform whatever his divine providence has decreed, ut sive per vitam, sive per mortem, nomen Dei glorificetur, etc,
Other more minute particulars of the journey are narrated by Father De Audreis in some of his writings; we will give them here, in order to describe more fully some things that he has barely mentioned above. The following are his own words:
On the 5th of January, we went to Susa, and, the next day, being the feast of the Bpiphany, having availed myself, literally, of the privilege ante auroram, by saying Mass at a very early hour, we set out to climb Mount Cenis, which was covered with snow, the weather being pretty cold. The 7th, which happened to be Sunday, was a memorable day for us. It had been snowing all night, and, the wind being very high, blew the snow in all directions; however, we started before daylight; but, when we had gone two or three leagues, we were compelled to stop, for besides the great fatigue of the horses, which were knee deep in snow, and lashed continually by the icy gusts, there was danger of falling into the precipices, which, in Savoy, nearly always border the public roads; and the snow was now so deep, that it was difficult to distinguish the road from the rest of the neighborhood. In this extremity, the driver saw no other hope of safety, but in taking the horses from the coach, it being impossible for us to turn back, as there was no means of moving the vehicle. He, therefore, left us in this plight, between a mountain on one hand, and, on the other, a precipice into which the wind might easily blow the coach; and, though the latter seemed hermetically closed, the snow came in, imperceptibly, through the openings, annoying and covering us, without our knowing whence it came. When we had been for two hours exposed to the danger of rolling into the snow, and being buried therein, the driver reappeared, and, having harnessed the horses, took us on a few, leagues further to the town of Bramante, where we dismounted at a miserable inn. I inquired immediately if it were possible to say Mass; but our hostess told me that the church was far off, and, that, in consequence of the weather, it would be out of the question to convey me there. Her husband entering a short time after, I repeated my inquiry, and he replied that the church was not distant more than a stone's throw, telling me he would go on before, and that we might follow him. We set out then, up to the waist in snow, without any path, our eyes completely dazzled, and our breath taken away by the wind and drift. After a few steps, our guide, who was accustomed to run like a greyhound, soon disappeared, leaving us quite bewildered in the midst of a sea of snow, unable to distinguish the place whence we started, or that to which we were going; since the wind and the snow, falling in torrents, prevented us from opening our eyes. Almost frozen to death, though covered with perspiration and panting from our efforts to struggle against the wind and snow, we were, for an instant, breathless; and thinking that death was inevitable I could not refrain from blaming my own imprudence. At length, it pleased God to let us reach the church. But we were more dead than alive, and were at least a quarter of an hour recovering our breath. Our clothes were, externally, covered with a thick coating of ice, as hard as stone, while interiorly, they were wet with perspiration and with the snow, which melted under the influence of our natural heat. The church was full, and the pastor was most urgent in his request that I should preach. Besides the fact that I was not yet sufficiently master of the French language to be able to preach ex abrupto, I was then in such a state, that the departing prayers might have been read over me. Without a fire or a place to rest, it was in the bread of the strong that I sought my refuge. I said Mass then, and could hardly believe that I left the Church alive. The following day we went to San Michele. . . . On the 13th, I said Mass at Valence, in the cathedral, which contains the relics of Pius VI, enclosed in an elegant marble shrine, which would show to advantage, even at St. Peter's. On the 17th, we arrived at Montpelier, where our disappointed wish of saying Mass, caused us to remain fasting until five in the afternoon. The bishop gave us lodging in the seminary, where we rested until the 20th.
"I was most anxious to receive tidings of my companions, who, under the protection of Father Rosati, were coming on by sea. A lady who visited me, in order to inquire after Bishop Dubourg, told me, that out of twenty-one vessels, that had sailed for the southern ports of France, nineteen had perished. Such news as this combined with the fact that we had been so long without hearing from them, made me conceive the most lively apprehensions concerning their safety; and God only knows what a night I passed, beholding them, in imagination, shipwrecked on the stormy waves. On the 24th, we went to Toulouse, and great indeed was our joy in embracing all our beloved companions, who, on their side, had been equally distressed on our account. We spent two days with them at the Grand Seminary, and then we started for Bordeaux, which place had been selected as our abode until our embarkation. Having crossed the province of Gascony, we arrived at the last named city on the 3oth, and it would be difficult for me to describe the warm and cordial welcome given us by the saintly Archbishop, the Most Reverend Charles d'Aviared Du Bois de Sanzai; he had the kindness to keep me with him for the space of four months and a half, and appointed for each member of our two parties, a lodging in some community, or in the house of one of his clergymen. He gave me, at once, all the faculties, and came himself to install me as chaplain of the prison of Chateau du Ha, where I used to say Mass on festival days, preach, hear confessions, etc." (Note: Journal written by Father De Andreis.)
The zeal of Father De Andreis was not limited to the comfort and spiritual direction of these prisoners; its effects were felt in all the functions of the holy ministry which he fulfilled. As he became known in the place, many sought him out, some for counsel, others for direction, and all classes of this large city derived immense benefit from the ample powers granted him by the excellent Archbishop. But, in speaking on this subject, we shall no longer be able to refer to the words of Father De Andreis, always so reserved with regard to himself; we will, therefore, have recourse to Bishop Rosati, who was an eye-witness of the good he did.
"The servant of God visited the jails, comforting the poor prisoners, with all the consolations that religion affords, according to the counsel and example of his holy founder St. Vincent. He said Mass for them on feast-days, preached the truths of the gospel, instructed them in all their religious duties, and, having thus prepared their hearts, gave them a retreat of some days, by means of which a great number were led to confess their sins with lively sorrow, and receive the most holy Eucharist. The Sisters of Charity, founded also by St. Vincent, seeing him so zealous and skillful in the discharge of all these works of mercy, would send for the 'Italian missionary' to assist every one of' these poor wretches. They, likewise, thought themselves most fortunate in having, within their reach, a priest, who seemed a living portrait of St. Vincent; and the continual acts of virtue, of which he gave them the example, induced them to treat him with the utmost veneration, while they tendered him the kindest assistance. They consulted him as a father and director, being desirous of learning the most perfect manner of discharging their holy duties. The servant of God condescended to their pious wishes, and, though they were already very virtuous, they gladly derived much benefit from his instructions and guidance.
"Father De Andreis attended to these good works, and many others besides, without the least ostentation, and, as much as possible, wished to be taken for some unknown traveler. He rejoiced in this obscurity, which was so dear to him, and which is always so much desired by the children of St. Vincent; but, in spite of his desire, his reputation and the esteem in which he was held by the most eminent persons, continually increased. The Vicars-general of the Archbishop, the Canons of the cathedral, the priests of the city and those of the country, whose business took them to Bordeaux, sought his acquaintance, had frequent interviews with him, and never left his presence without being deeply impressed with his eminent qualities. One would admire the depth of his knowledge, another the holiness of his life, and all, the suavity and prudence of his demeanor. Their admiration amounted to enthusiasm when they heard him speak of the Church in Rome, and the heroic sufferings endured by Pius VII. who was then just liberated from the species of slavery to which he had been subjected. They pressed him with questions on the number and form of the different pious institutions then existing in Rome, and also desired him to tell them about the various devout practices which are observed in Italy. To all this he replied with such clearness and precision, accompanied with so much affability, that they were scarcely able to part from him. They often returned to listen to him, anxious to learn something new. To satisfy their wishes, he one day gave them a pathetic description of a devotion, which was then quite popular in Italy, and was called, The Three Hours of Our Lord’s Agony. 'It is usually made,' said the servant of God, 'on Good Friday, and is begun at twelve o'clock, to be concluded at three. A Calvary, with the representation of our Savior nailed to the cross, on the point of expiring, is erected in the sanctuary of the church. The assembled crowd sing some hymn, in a mournful strain, on the first words of our Lord on the cross. This over, the priest ascends the pulpit, repeats the words and comments upon them by some pious reflections of a nature to touch the hearts of his auditors; after this, he reads a short meditation upon the same subject. All listen to him with the utmost attention, and in profound silence and recollection, reflect upon the thoughts suggested to them; some prayers follow, and then another hymn is sung on the second words of our Lord on the cross, and so on, until the seventh word; and between the hymns, meditations and readings, the auditors are excited to feelings of love, gratitude and repentance, according to the extent of the preacher's ability.'
"While Father De Andreis was relating the above," continues Bishop Rosati, "the Archbishop and his Vicars experienced an ardent desire to introduce the holy practice which he described; and, having prepared all that was requisite in one of the conventual churches, they entreated Father De Andreis to superintend the arrangements and to preach. Crowds attended the exercises, which created such a sensation that, though they were performed for the first time at Bordeaux by the servant of God, during the following years they were introduced into several other churches of France.
"The favorable impression which the sermons of Father De Andreis produced upon all, induced the Archbishop to confide to him the duty of giving the usual retreat to the seminarians and the candidates for ordination. The servant of God endeavored to avoid this charge, alleging .that he had not his manuscripts with him, besides which, he declared that he was not as yet sufficiently familiar with the French language to be able to address persons of education. But the orders of his superiors made him overcome his reluctance, so that he applied himself to the undertaking that was required of him, and succeeded so well that all these young aspirants to the priesthood were penetrated with the sacred and sublime truths which he imparted to them."
In the meantime Father De Andreis did not forget the companions of his mission, either those he brought with him from Rome, or others who came subsequently to join the apostolic expedition. He revived their zeal by his frequent exhortations, and so animated their courage that they felt ready for every peril they were about to encounter, heartily resolving to die for the glory of God; in a word, he made of them so many intrepid apostles. While he was thus encouraging them by his fervid discourses, he received a letter from Bishop Dubourg, wherein the Prelate informed him of a great change that he was compelled to make in their destination. He no longer intended that they should proceed to New Orleans, situated about a hundred miles from the mouth of the Mississippi, but to St. Louis, which is on the banks of the same river, about twelve hundred miles above. The principal reason that induced the bishop to make this alteration in their route, was the great advantage which, he trusted, would be derived from it, both by the Catholics who, almost destitute of religious succor, were dispersed throughout the country, and by the Indians, who are more within reach at St. Louis than at New Orleans. It was on this account that the first house of the Mission with its seminary was built there, and, as both English and French were spoken at St. Louis, the bishop concluded his letter by saying that it was absolutely necessary that the missionaries should learn the former language.
This unforeseen determination did not discourage Father De Andreis; on the contrary, it met with his entire approbation and was, in all, conformable to his own views. He joyfully announced it to his companions, "Now then," said he, "let us take courage, gentlemen; I see that the English language will, indeed, be indispensable to us." "When he spoke thus," adds Bishop Rosati, (who was then only a missionary), "I recalled to mind what he had told me, some years before, in Rome: That the English language would, one day, be necessary for us both, as we should be obliged to preach in that tongue, and that it was, therefore, more necessary for me to learn it than Hebrew, which I was then studying. His prediction was verified to the letter. I perceived it in the circumstance of our change of destination, and my esteem for the servant of God was, in consequence, very much increased; in him, I beheld a living saint, to whom the Almighty vouchsafed to reveal the future. But he took care not to remind me of what he had said, for his humility always prompted him to conceal his supernatural gifts.
"On the 22nd of May, the eve of the Ascension, Bishop Dubourg arrived at Bordeaux. He was accompanied by a band of young men, partly ecclesiastics and partly seculars aspiring to the sacerdotal dignity, all equally longing to embark for America, in order to share in the holy enterprise. We were reanimated by the presence of this distinguished Prelate, who confirmed our resolution of going to St. Louis, and took immediate measures to prepare the departure of the first band, of which Father De Andreis was the head, the bishop intending to set out shortly after with the second division of our company."
The servant of God announced these occurrences to the vicar-general in Rome, by a letter of the 28th of May, of the following tenor:
"A few days ago, Bishop Dubourg arrived here; he constantly endears himself more and more to us all. A real father could not show us more affection, or be more solicitous for our welfare. Besides this, all the inhabitants of the city, especially the clergy, overwhelm us with kindness, and have bestowed many considerable presents upon us. The Sisters of Charity treat us as brothers, and volumes would not suffice to record the benefits which we have received from them. Happening to find all the superiors together yesterday, I took the opportunity of delivering your message, which they received with much pleasure. In a word, Providence showers down its blessings upon our mission, so much so, that I am covered with confusion at the sight of my incapacity for so great an enterprise. Through just and prudent motives, our plan has been changed, and instead of going to New Orleans, the capital of Lower Louisiana, we are going four hundred leagues higher, to St. Louis, the capital of the upper part of the province. I have, therefore, been obliged to apply myself seriously to the study of the English language. We shall go to Philadelphia, or Baltimore, and thence by land some eight hundred leagues farther, through the woods, among mosquitoes, wolves, bears, panthers, rattle-snakes, and savages almost more ferocious than the wild beasts themselves. We shall be obliged to sleep under trees, making large fires around to keep off intruders. I regret that we shall have to change our costume for the secular dress, but this will be only for a while. Four of the priests who came with us from Rome have left us; but we have been more than compensated for their desertion by many others who have joined our band. This morning, the bishop will conclude his bargain with an American captain for our speedy departure; we are to form the vanguard, about twelve in number, and shall remain a short time in Kentucky to await the bishop, who is not to leave Bordeaux until October, and who, consequently, will not be with us before next year. Our new destination possesses many advantages over New Orleans; the climate is healthy, the manners of the people simple, and, as yet, free from European vanities. St. Louis is also a trading point for all the Indian nations, and offers many resources for our establishment. As for me, I am in one continued transport of delight and admiration on beholding how Divine Providence has, by inexplicable and stupendous ways, led me to the summit of my desires, those very desires with which he himself had inspired me, which he fostered in my heart, and towards the accomplishment of which he guided me imperceptibly during so many years. It seems to me that we are all well resolved to become good missionaries, and to seek nothing else in this world but God and the salvation of souls."
As Father De Andreis said in his letter, the arrangements for their departure were to be concluded on the 28th of May, with the captain of an American vessel; but some difficulties having arisen, the contract was broken off, and hence, to the disappointment of all, their embarkation was deferred for a few days longer. Father De Andreis tranquilly resigned himself to await another opportunity. It was, shortly after, known that this vessel having been assailed at a little distance from Bordeaux, by a furious tempest, was lost, with all belonging to her! Father De Andreis often related this sad occurrence, with the remark, that, under human opposition, God always conceals designs of particular mercy towards his servants.
The final arrangements for their journey were taken with the master of a brig called the Hanger; and everything being satisfactorily concluded, the Missionaries embarked on the 12th of June. Bishop Dubourg, who was obliged to remain in France for the affairs of his diocese, accompanied them to the harbor, and while bidding them farewell, exhorted them, in the most pressing manner, to be obedient in everything to Father De Andreis, whom he constituted, not only superior of this band, but also his vicar and representative in all that related to the concerns of his diocese. They were moved to tears at his words, and before leaving, he embraced and blessed each one of them; then, entering a small boat, they were conveyed to the ship, where they spent the night. As the next day was the feast of Corpus Christi, and the ship could not set sail, for want of a fair wind, Father De Andreis and his companions went ashore, where he celebrated the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and gave them all holy communion. Soon after their return to the ship, the wind changed in their favor, and the sails were set.- The following are the names of those who accompanied Father De Andreis: Fathers Rosati and Acqtiaroni, both priests of the Congregation of the Mission; Fathers Carretti and Ferrari, secular priests from the city of Port Maurice on the river Genoa, the former being Canon of the collegiate church; Messrs. Francis Xavier Dahmen, Joseph Tichitoli, Leo Deys, and Casto Gonzalez, seminarists; Brother Martin Blanka, of the Congregation of the Mission; and three young laymen, Francis Moranviller, Medard Di Latre, and John Flegifout who had some intention of entering the Congregation as lay-brothers.
The Missionaries were almost the only passengers on board the vessel; for their convenience, a small cabin had been constructed, in which each one had his own berth. In the center was a table on which they took their meals, namely, dinner and supper. This room soon became a little seminary or rather a sanctuary, for Father De Andreis, who was a great lover of order and regularity, drew up some rules which all, even those who did not belong to the Congregation, made it their pleasure to follow exactly; so that the whole band seemed transformed into a religious community. In the morning at an appointed hour, the signal was given to rise, and half an hour after, meditation was begun by the reading of the usual points. Then the altar being prepared, Mass was celebrated, if the accidents incidental to a sea voyage did not prevent it, meditation was concluded by the Angelus and the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus. The Breviary was recited in common, at its proper time; there were also hours set apart for reading the New Testament, and other pious books; also for moral conferences, and the study of theology. A certain portion of time was allotted to silence, another to recreation, particular examination, and part of the Rosary, in which all joined. Sacramental confession and a spiritual conference took place every week, Father De Andreis being the soul and director of these pious exercises; all his companions were dependent on him and we may say, in a word, that they formed but one heart and one mind. The captain of the ship was struck with admiration at their manner of life, and seemed never weary of contemplating their union and recollection; he testified the utmost respect towards each one of them, and sought to alleviate, as much as lay in his power, the unavoidable inconveniences of the voyage. He was a Protestant, but the most excellent Catholic could not have treated them better. Whenever the wind permitted, he had a nice awning arranged on deck, and would invite them to come and enjoy the fresh air and fine weather. They often had spiritual reading there, or recited part of the Rosary which they ended by singing the Litany of Loretto. All those that composed their little band were gifted with good voices and acquainted with music, so that the chant was really harmonious and delightful to the ear. And, if they sometimes delayed it, the captain would beg them to begin, telling them how much it pleased him; and they, as they sang, implored her who is the star of the sea, to protect from all shoals and perils of the deep, the mariners who put their trust in her.
On Sundays and festivals, Mass was sung in the Gregorian chant, in two choirs. Father De Andreis expounded the Gospel, and those who could not celebrate, went to communion. Vespers were solemnly chanted in the same way, so that the vessel, thus transformed into a church, resembled the bark of the Apostles, into which our Lord so often entered. With the same solemnity, they celebrated the feast of St. Vincent, and, as their voyage was progressing but slowly, on account of adverse winds, which caused it to be feared that their provisions might not hold out in case of much delay, Father De Andreis proposed that all should make, in honor of the saint, a vow by which they would bind themselves to solemnize the day of his death, namely, the 27th of September, by fasting on the eve of that day, and preparing for its celebration by a novena. All were delighted at the proposal, and agreed to it with joy.
St. Vincent soon vouchsafed to manifest his satisfaction at the vow, for almost immediately, the wind became favorable, and on the 23rd of July, land was seen; they soon entered Chesapeake Bay, and on the 26th, landed at Baltimore. But before going ashore, they chanted the Mass Pro gratiarum actione, with feelings of love and gratitude which can more easily be imagined, than expressed.
The above description of this journey, such as Bishop Rosati gives it, being very short, necessarily omits many interesting details; we have, therefore, thought that it will be well to give also the Journal written by Father De Andreis, just as he sent it to Rome in 1819. We might, certainly, have inserted it above, by making, of the two, but one narrative. But we feared that some of the beauty belonging to the original, might be lost in passing through our hands, and might also seem less worthy of credibility; we will, therefore, give all particulars, in the very words of the Journal, even though, by so doing, we may repeat some circumstances already mentioned. Father De Andreis writes, then, as follows:
"On the 12th of June, having put on the customary dress of the American clergy, consisting of a short coat cravat and round hat, we embarked on the Garonne, in a sloop which conveyed us to the American brig "Ranger," lying at Poliac. Our baggage being already on board, we ascended the sides of the vessel by means of rope ladders, our number amounting to thirteen; five priests, four seminarians, one lay-brother and three postulants, who, by-the-by, all three of them, subsequently left us. Berths had been prepared for us in a large airy room around which each one had his own place, all being arranged like the shelves in a library. With the exception of a young Quaker from Baltimore, we were the only passengers. The captain professed no religion; he and all his crew were Americans. Among the sailors were two Negroes and an Indian. .The captain, although a Protestant, facilitated as much as he could, the performance of our religious exercises; he always treated us with respect, and took pleasure in assisting at divine service, and in hearing us speak on religious subjects; but, at the conclusion of our discourse he would say candidly, that he cared more for his dollars than for his soul, and that the business of this world seemed to him of more importance than that of the next! What lamentable blindness!
"The day after our embarkation, being the festival of Corpus Christi, as we were still near laud, four of us went ashore at break of day, in the sloop; two said Mass, and the others approached the holy table. We then returned in haste to the ship; at eight we set sail, and arrived, towards evening, opposite Rohan. On the 14th, we availed ourselves of the privilege granted us by the Sovereign Pontiff, and said Mass in the ship, having with us all the sacred vessels, and a good supply of altar-bread, wine, and tapers. Each time the most holy sacrifice was offered, a priest, in surplice and stole, stood beside the celebrant, with his hand on the base of the chalice, after the consecration, in order to prevent any accident. When we began our journey, the weather was delightful, but we soon experienced the effects of a sea-voyage. Being all sick, we had no Mass on the 15th; on Sunday, the 16th, we had two and the same number every succeeding day, except when the ship was tossed about too violently. Fathers Rosati, Carretti, and the two postulants, were sick the whole time. I suffered less than anyone. We had some stormy weather, particularly during one night which we spent in prayer; it seemed as if that night were destined to be our last. So furiously did the waves lash against the vessel's sides, that the planks seemed, every moment, ready to give way. The sailors were terrified and the captain himself exhorted us to redouble our prayers. The Almighty was pleased to deliver us from this peril, that our sufferings might be prolonged. The victims were ready, but the blow was deferred, He alone knows why!
"Before we left Bordeaux Bishop Dubourg gave me a patent of Vicar-General, and another to Father Rosati, in case any accident should happen to me. The archbishop of Bordeaux, as littoral Bishop, gave us full faculties as far as Baltimore. While passing the coasts of Spain we saw some whales, and other marine monsters, which came within some little distance of us. We also admired the flying-fish, which in some respects resembles a bird. One of these fishes having fallen one evening upon the table in our room, we eat it and found it excellent. It was something like a small cod-fish, and its membranous wings, were sufficiently extended to enable it to fly from time to time. We also noticed with wonder and admiration, a large tower constructed in the midst of the ocean, several miles from land, and seeming to rise above the waves, without any visible rock to support it.
"We made the Novena of St. Vincent, and it happened that, on the very day of his feast, a negro slave, for relapse into theft and drunkenness, was to undergo the chastisement which was customary in such cases; namely, to be thrown into the sea attached to a rope which passed under the ship. It being drawn up on the other side, obliged the poor wretch to pass under the vessel, once or several times, at the imminent risk of losing his life in the process. We told the captain that it was a great festival for us, and begged him to pardon, for the sake of our Saint, the unhappy delinquent. Luckily, we succeeded in obtaining our request.
"We had now been about forty days at sea, and had made very little progress, owing to calms, and adverse winds; the captain complained that the provisions would soon be exhausted, and he feared that, in consequence, we should die of hunger; we were about three hundred miles from Baltimore, and, if we did not go back every day, at least we did not advance; we resolved then, to make a vow, in honor of St. Vincent, at the First Vespers of his feast, and it was expressed in the following terms:
“We, the undersigned missionaries of Louisiana, amid the perils which surround us, being firmly convinced of the influence and special favor which thou, glorious and illustrious hero of Christian Charity, St. Vincent of Paul, dost enjoy, before the throne of the Divine Majesty; on this day, dedicated by the Church to the celebration of thy glorious triumph; prostrate at thy feet, implore thee by the zeal winch inflamed thy heart for the glory of God, the salvation of souls, and the welfare of those who consecrate their lives to promote these ends, to accept the vow we joyfully offer thee, and by which we bind ourselves to celebrate, in the best possible manner, the day of thy happy death, on the 27th of September, 1816, to prepare for it by a novena, and a fast on the eve; in the hope that thou wilt obtain for us a favorable wind, and a safe termination of our voyage, together with an increase of that apostolic spirit, which was so conspicuous in the whole course of thy holy life. Amen.”
"As some of our number were French, the above words were translated into that language, and all joined in making the vow. We celebrated the feast of St. Vincent, with all possible solemnity; our little room was hung with sheets festooned with fringes, and decorated with reliquaries, Agnus Deis, etc. Each one of us celebrated the holy sacrifice, the last Mass being chanted; we also had Vespers, a sermon in French, etc. These exercises were performed with heartfelt delight by everyone.
"It was not long before we experienced the effects of our vow. A day or two after, to the great surprise and joy of all, we began to perceive the continent of America, which seemed at first only like a dark line, dotted here and there with clusters of green trees. We soon entered Chesapeake Bay, from which we had so long been kept away, by the current flowing from the Gulf of Mexico into the Atlantic Ocean, like a large river, bearing along with it, masses of seaweed and other marine formations. When we entered the bay, a schooner came, according to custom, with a pilot on board, to take command of our brig, and steer her through the difficult passes. The captain immediately came to tell us that the pilot was a Catholic, which was, of course, sufficient reason for an interchange of mutual congratulations. On the 25th we drew near land, and, Father Acquaroni, impatient to go ashore, asked my leave to avail himself of the opportunity 'presented by the return of the schooner. He went ashore, and came back the same evening, to the ship. Our landing took place on the 26th of July, the octave day of St. Vincent, about ten o'clock in the morning."
CHAPTER V: Louisiana in 1816; Journey of Father De Andreis and Companions from Baltimore to Bardstown; Professor of Theology in St. Thomas' Seminary; Missionary Labors.
Before further describing the journey of Father De Andreis, and the Missionaries of Louisiana, it will be well to give a short notice of that vast country, not only with reference to its civil and political situation, but also with regard to the state of religion. The country then called Louisiana, was situated on both banks of the Mississippi, and extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the lakes of Canada. The part nearest to Florida, was discovered by the Spaniards, under Ferdinand De Soto, but they did not long retain possession of it; and the French who proceeded thither from Canada, may be called its first settlers, and the first who introduced therein the Christian religion. They named this immense territory Louisiana; it was divided into two parts, one called Upper, and the other, Lower Louisiana. About the year 1720, was founded the city of New Orleans, thus named from Philip of Orleans, then Regent of France, and the small town of St. Louis became the capital of Upper Louisiana. The first mentioned of these two places was situated in the southern part of the country, near the mouth of the Mississippi; and the other in the northern, part, about eighteen miles below the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi. New Orleans and St. Louis are twelve hundred miles apart, by river.
From the hands of the French, Louisiana passed into those of the Spaniards, who took possession of it in 1763. It remained thus until 1803, when Spain restored it to France, which was at that time governed by Napoleon Bonaparte. Shortly after, it was ceded to the United States.
Under the first dominion of the French, the Jesuit fathers came to Louisiana and strove, by their labors, to diffuse around them the light of the holy gospel. But the majority of the inhabitants being almost in a state of barbarism, these fervent missionaries obtained but little success. Civilization and good morals, having subsequently made some progress among them, religion became more prosperous. Under the Spanish rule, as Catholicity was the only religion recognized by law, the government provided for the maintenance of priests in different posts, sent missionaries to various places, and received with truly paternal care, the French, German, and American Catholics who came to settle in Louisiana, giving them portions of land, and even providing for their immediate wants, until they were able to do so for themselves.
The Spanish government also obtained from Pope Pius VI the establishment of the episcopal see of New Orleans, in 1793. This diocese comprised the whole country, in this part of America, then subject to Spain: namely, the Floridas, and Upper and Lower Louisiana, the two latter containing about a million of square miles, or as much as the rest of the United States put together. The first bishop of New Orleans was Mgr. Pegnalvere, a Spaniard by birth, who when the country was ceded to France and subsequently to the United States, was transferred from New Orleans to another episcopal see in the Spanish dominions of South America. That of New Orleans being vacant, the diocese was governed by two canons, who formed the whole clergy of the Cathedral, until the Holy See conferred the administration on Bishop Carroll, first bishop of Baltimore.
This bishopric of Baltimore had been erected by Pius VI. in the year 1789, and its jurisdiction extended over all the United States, containing with Louisiana, about two millions of square miles. About forty or fifty thousand Catholics were dispersed throughout the vast region.
In 1808 Pope Pius VII raised the See of Baltimore into an archbishopric, and nominated as its suffragan sees the four bishoprics (which he established) of Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Bardstown. The Most Rev. John Carroll was the first Archbishop of Baltimore. This prelate sent Rev. Father Dubdurg, a native of Bordeaux, and who belonged to the Congregation of St. Sulpice, to New Orleans, entrusting him with the administration of that diocese. As this clergyman was endowed with the most eminent qualities, and displayed in a particular manner, zeal united with prudence and great learning joined to exemplary piety, the Archbishop did not long delay to petition the Holy See that he might be appointed to fill the vacancy of that bishopric, and Pius VII, sure of finding in his person a worthy prelate, did in fact so nominate him.
Father Dubourg subsequently went to Rome, though with the intention of refusing the episcopal consecration, if he were not able to find in Europe a sufficient number of laborers willing to assist him in the cultivation of his truly desolate diocese; which, while it abounded in errors and vices, was, to crown its misfortunes, destitute of priests. Divine Providence granted his desires; he obtained the co-operation of Father De Andreis and some other missionaries, as related in a preceding chapter, and was afterward joined by many more, as we shall see hereafter.
On the 26th of July, 1816, Father De Andreis and his companions landed at Baltimore. The holy Missionary was filled with enthusiasm as he stepped ashore. At last he had reached the land for which he had so long been praying. Continuing the letter quoted at the close of the last chapter he says:
"I cannot describe the impression produced on us by the magnificent view of the harbor of Baltimore, together with the splendid situation of the bay; I hardly think there can be, in the world, a more beautiful prospect.
Our first impulse on landing was to kneel and kiss the ground, but the place where we disembarked was so crowded that we deferred doing this. Having entered the place, we soon perceived the difference between the cities of Europe and those of the New World, with regard to construction of houses, streets, etc. The streets here are wide and the houses rather low than otherwise; there are sidewalks, as in the Corso at Rome and sometimes they are bordered with trees. Numerous pumps are to be met with, by which means water is constantly on hand.
Hungry and worn as we were we had to traverse the entire city, inquiring as we went along for St. Mary's College, the house of the Sulpicians, which was outside the city, at the very opposite end from our place of landing.
At last we reached the college and were received by the president, Father Brute, the most holy, learned, humble and affable man I ever knew. He welcomed us with the utmost cordiality, and during the whole time of our stay in Baltimore, and even afterward, he never ceased to bestow upon us marks of his kindness. He obtained for us many handsome donations of some hundred crowns, besides which he supplied us with everything that we could possibly need. For some days we remained at the college, after which we were located with different clergymen, as had been done at Bordeaux. The worthy vicar-general, the Rev. Mr. Fenwick, conferred on me the honor of singing high Mass at the Cathedral, on the Assumption, which is the principal festival of the diocese and the day On which the first bishop in the United States was consecrated. We were constantly employed on feast days, in various sacred functions at the different churches, but it was a painful thing for me, to hear bells pealing from magnificent temples, and to be told that these edifices belonged to heretics; although in the State of Maryland, and especially in the city of Baltimore, the Catholics are most numerous and fervent."
What is mentioned above by the servant of God is fully confirmed by Bishop Rosati, his first companion and fellow-laborer, who speaks in the following terms: "The Sulpician priests of Baltimore, who have the direction of the college and seminary of St. Mary's, and to whom we had been recommended by a letter from Bishop Dubourg, received Father De Andreis and his companions as if they had been so many brothers. Father Bruté the president of the college, who was then the only one at home, (the others having gone to recreate themselves a little in the country), hastened with the most tender charity, to procure lodgings for him and his twelve companions, loading them with all possible kindness and attention. He saw to our baggage and the payment of the duties concerning it. When the other Sulpicians returned to the college they hastened to give us a hearty welcome, each one endeavoring to find out in what manner he could serve us. O! how beautiful is Christian charity! How truly is it called Catholic! It makes no distinction of nation, language, or person; but takes all men into one family! And, not without motive, does it teach us to address all by the tender name of brother! Such were the reflections that Father De Andreis suggested to us in many circumstances, but especially with regard to the cordial reception we met with in Baltimore.
"Meanwhile, the servant of God, without losing time, wrote to apprise our vicar-general in Rome of our arrival; he also wrote to the archbishop of Baltimore, who resided at Georgetown, requesting him to grant us the necessary faculties; and to Bishop Flaget at Bardstown in Kentucky, to obtain from him some information respecting the remainder of our journey. In this last letter he enclosed the one written by Bishop Dubourg, recommending the missionaries to his attention. The letter he wrote to Rome was as follows:
"Baltimore, July 28th, 1816. We safely reached the American shores on the octave-clay of St. Vincent, after forty-three days of a wearisome sea-voyage, during which the writer suffered less than anyone. The good Sulpicians received us as so many angels. Matia et martens which seemed so frightful in anticipation, vanish, little by little, as we advance; -the rest of our journey to St. Louis, is described to us as being of easy accomplishment. We shall start anew, please God, after resting for a month. This morning, to my great delight, I celebrated the most holy sacrifice in the church of the seminary; there was a great concourse of persons, many of whom approached the holy table. Although there exist in this city about a dozen different sects, the Catholics form the richest and most numerous portion of the population; religion is evidently on the increase, and I was both surprised and delighted to see the number of churches, together with the fervor of the Catholics and the favorable dispositions manifested by our separated brethren towards a reconciliation with their true mother the Church. I sincerely hope we may find the same sentiments among the Indians. We are all in good health, notwithstanding our journey and the change of diet; things which in Rome would have been very injurious to me, here cause me no inconvenience. And thus has Divine Providence arranged all things; in Rome, I was in spite of myself, a burden and a trouble to all my good companions, of whose society I was not worthy on account of my more than gigantic pride and self-love, which, with all my efforts I have not yet succeeded in subduing perfectly; therefore the Almighty has designed to bury me among the savages, whither I am now hastening with the greatest joy, firmly resolved to live and die in complete forgetfulness of all creatures. There remains for me nothing more to desire in this world but death; delay will only make me long the more for it. Felix De Andreis
"The Lord vouchsafes to favor me with profound peace in the midst of the troubles inseparable from my employment. I beg your prayers and those of the Community. In reply to the letter which the servant of God addressed to the archbishop of Baltimore, then residing at Georgetown, he received a most courteous answer, granting him and his companions the most ample faculties. Bishop Flaget also wrote, encouraging them to start for Pittsburg as soon as possible before the winter should set in, promising that he would do everything in his power to assist them. This caused them to decide upon their immediate departure.
"Having made the requisite arrangements," continues De Andreis, "a seminarian, Brother Blanka, and the two postulants, set out from Baltimore on foot, on the 3rd of September. They were to accompany our baggage; the others, who were not strong enough to go on foot, started on the 10th, in a public conveyance which we had previously bespoken, at a high price. It was a kind of diligence, called here a “stage," very inconvenient, and exposed to all the inclemency of the weather. Eight of us got into it, with our traveling bags. The first day everything went on well; we spent the night at Chambersburg, one of the congregations, (or rather parishes), of Father Zochi, a Roman, who, when we passed through, was in another place called Taneytown. The next day the rain began, and seemed to follow us for four or five days, during which we passed over the most frightful roads; we were obliged to get out every now and then, to ease the vehicle. Two occurrences, almost of a miraculous nature, took place on the way; one was that Father Aquaroni and two others, wishing to take a shorter route through the woods, having lost the road during half a day, thereby causing us the greatest anxiety, were found at our first stopping place. The other circumstance to which I allude, and of which, I was, myself an eyewitness, was as follows: an enormous fragment of rock became detached from its place, and rolling rapidly down the mountain, crossed the road at the very moment that two of our companions were passing. It seemed impossible for them to escape death, or, at the very least, severe injury; but they were preserved, the immense mass passing within a hair's breadth of their feet, without touching them. The rain continued to fall in such torrents that it was almost impossible to continue our journey. Night overtook us at the foot of a steep hill, where, with the excessive rains, the bad roads filled with ruts, and the fatigue of the horses, (one of which fell and had to be raised on his legs again) we were reduced to the most pitiful condition. Indeed one among us, could not refrain from shedding tears) [Note: While perusing the account which Father De Andreis gives us of the dangers and difficulties encountered by himself and his companions, during this and their subsequent journey to St. Louis, the reader should bear in mind, that ninety years ago, none of the present rapid modes of traveling were common in the United States, and that, consequently, a journey which could now be performed with the utmost facility, was then an undertaking attended with no slight amount of peril and inconvenience]. And, in fact, there we were, in the midst of frightful precipices, in the impossibility of seeing each other, as the rain prevented us from having a light; far from the habitations of men, with streams of water running off, with no aid to raise up the horse, and no way to continue our journey. It is hard to depict all the horror of such a situation. At length, after many efforts, the horse was lifted up; wet through as we were, we returned to the "stage," where, every moment, we were in danger of being upset; and, after two or three hours, we arrived at a wretched inn, where there was not fire enough to dry our dripping garments.
"The next day we reached a place called 'Bloody-Run,' so named in memory of the outrages there committed by the savages. Here we seemed to be in the midst of a spacious sea, for the whole country had been inundated; we were, therefore, detained for some days, at no slight expense. We started at last, but after proceeding some three or four miles, the driver very coolly put us down at an inn and turned back, under pretext that the Juniata having overflowed its banks, the stage would not be able to cross it. Thus, after paying the whole fare to the end of our journey, we were left half-way on the road. Luckily, I had a letter of introduction to an Italian doctor who lived at Bedford, on the other side of the river. I therefore requested one of our priests and a student to ford the river, as best they could, in order to convey it to its address, and procure another stage. Their undertaking succeeded, and the next day we crossed the river in boats, which being long and narrow, we had to be very careful while in them, to preserve our equilibrium. On the opposite bank we found the stage awaiting us, and in it we proceeded on another day's journey; but, towards evening, or, if I mistake not, the following morning, we met with the same difficulties at Stoystown. Here we had to remain two or three days more, to wait for another stage. It came at length, but was already crowded with passengers, and we were told that it would be vain to wait for another. The expenses which we incurred threatened to leave us without resources, in a country where there were but a few dispersed Catholics, no church, no priest, and amid strangers, whose language and customs were entirely foreign to our own. Having well considered the matter, we put our baggage into a wagon and set out on foot, in two bands. Then it was that, happening to be alone, and somewhat apart from the rest of the company, in the midst of these frightful mountains, in doubt as to the road and scarcely knowing how to get on, the smiling picture of Rome, its churches, and the friends I had left there, presented themselves to my mind in glowing colors, and like daggers, made me experience, for an instant, all the tortures of melancholy; but thank God, faith, and the desire of the salvation of souls, soon brought back to my soul peace and serenity. A few days later we found a stage, and arrived at Pittsburgh on the 19th of September. Here we accomplished the vow we had made to St. Vincent, and received letters from Europe, which were a considerable source of consolation to us. We were well received by the Catholics of the place; but I think I remember to have related all that occurred, in some of my previous letters."
Only one of the letters written by the servant of God, from Pittsburgh, has reached us; it is dated the 22nd of September 1816, and addressed to Rev. Mr. Sicardi, Vicar-General of the Congregation. It is in the following terms:
"As I feel sure of affording you, as well as my dear companions, some gratification, by an account of our long and disastrous journey, I will, in fancy, turn with my pen from this our third station, towards ever dear Rome, which becomes only the more beloved as we advance into the midst of these regions, almost destitute of any vestige of Catholicity. Having set out in two parties from Baltimore, we crossed, partly on foot and partly in wretched vehicles, the rugged mountains of Pennsylvania; some of us accomplished the journey in nine, others in ten days; but, for all, it was attended with great expense and inconvenience. The distance we had to go was about three hundred miles; and, not meeting with any Catholic church on our way, we could neither celebrate nor hear Mass. The worst of it was however, that even when we reached Pitsburg, a pretty considerable town, in a commercial point of view, there was no means of obtaining this consolation. Among a population of ten thousand, the Catholics scarcely number three hundred. They are also generally very poor, so that the church is almost destitute of everything; the pastor, who has under his care a parish nearly equal in extent to ten dioceses, is constantly employed in visiting his parishioners. He was absent when we arrived, and having taken with him the chalice, our devotion no less than that of the people, was disappointed, for all seemed most anxious to see us officiate. At last a pewter chalice was found, but there was no paten; however, yesterday late in the evening, having gone with one of my companions to our lodging in the house of a worthy Catholic family, a paten was found, most unexpectedly. I sent my companion to bear the good news to the others and to the principal Catholics of the place, who soon spread the tidings from house to house; so that, this morning we celebrated our five Masses, including one that was chanted. Those who did not celebrate went to communion, and this afternoon we had Vespers, after which a good Catholic invited us all to dine with him on the morrow. We attribute our success in finding all that was requisite for the most holy sacrifice, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, whose feast of the Seven Dolors we celebrate today; may she be forever blessed! We have been most earnestly requested to hear confessions and to preach, but my English will not, as yet, allow me to venture so far. Of eight persons, only seven of us understand French. We are waiting for our troublesome baggage, in order to embark immediately on the Ohio for Louisville, in Kentucky, the boat which is to convey us being in readiness. Everything is very dear here; we had to pay twenty crowns for a small cart to carry our traveling-bags for about thirty-five miles. A boat, to cross a small river, cost us three crowns; and, for a common portfolio which, at Rome, would cost three paoli, we had to pay here five crowns. Everything else is in proportion. Very little coin is in circulation; banknotes are negotiated with great caution, according to different localities of the United States. Divine Providence blesses us with most extraordinary marks of continual assistance, causing to fall into our hands sums of no less than three hundred crowns at a time, and indeed, no less than that would suffice to pay, in so expensive a country, for the food, clothing, and traveling expenses of twelve persons. We are all in excellent health, notwithstanding our hardships, the constant privation of wine, soup, etc. The perspiration often freezes on our skin, for here it may almost be said that we have the four seasons in one day. In the morning one shivers with cold, and a few hours after is ready to melt with the heat. When we first arrived, we went to the hotel; but seeing that our lodging would cost us about two crowns a day, we removed to the house of a poor Catholic family, where we are now boarding. We are not very comfortable, but we are all cheerful and happy, consoling ourselves in the Lord, living peacefully together like good brethren, mutually encouraging one another to unite our sufferings with those of the Son of God, who endured so much for the salvation of souls. We have meditation, spiritual reading, conferences, etc., according to the custom of the Congregation, and everything is conducted with admirable harmony. FELIX DE ANDREIS, Priest of the Congregation of the Mission.
"We had to remain," continues the servant of God in his Journal, "until the 23rd of October at Pittsburgh, the waters of the Ohio being too low to allow us to proceed on our way. On the above-named day we started in a sort of vessel called a 'flatboat,' made precisely like a small house, the roof of which served as a deck. It was a moving sight to behold the banks of the river crowded with people who came to bid us farewell; many of them gave us considerable sums of money, and exhibited lively marks of sorrow for our departure. Our voyage went on very well; there is not, I think, in the whole world, a river whose banks are more diversified with beautiful scenery; from time to time we went ashore on one side or the other of the splendid stream, which is about six times the length of the Tiber, and we walked about among the thick forests, where no human foot ever trod save that of the savage, nor human voice but theirs had ever been heard. Joyfully we made the echoes repeat, for the first time, the sweet names of Jesus and Mary! In these forests one is stopped at every step, by brushwood and pendent branches, while the ground seems to sink under the feet, covered as it is with decayed trunks of trees and leaves, which have fallen during so many years. There is also some danger in advancing too far into the woods, on account of snakes, especially rattlesnakes. I saw some of the latter; their tails are provided with a set of bony rings, running one into another; when the serpent moves, these rings give warning of his approach, and allow the traveler time to put himself on his guard. I think I have, elsewhere, mentioned the cordial welcome which we received as we went along, but especially at Marietta, where a lawyer, one of the principal citizens of the place, earnestly endeavored to detain us in order that we might teach him the Catholic religion, promising that he would be most docile to all our instructions; but Providence willed us to be elsewhere.
At last, on the 19th of November, 1816, we reached Louisville, where, after two or three days rest, I left my party in the house of a good Catholic, and I went on horseback to Bardstown, about forty miles distant, in order to deliberate with Bishop Flaget, quid faciendum. He was well acquainted with Louisiana, having been there some years before, since which period he had kept up a correspondence with persons resident there. We had yet a long way to go to reach St. Louis; the winter was rapidly approaching; we ran the risk of being stopped by the ice; besides which we needed some time in order to study the English language, and become more perfectly acquainted with the French. The question now was, whether we should go on immediately or stop. The bishop received me with the greatest kindness, and convinced me that it would be very imprudent to proceed immediately to St. Louis, where there was nothing prepared to receive us. We therefore resolved to accept the generous offers of Bishop Flaget, and to stop awhile at his seminary of St. Thomas, about four miles from Bardstown. When Bishop Dubourg heard of my determination, he disapproved it; but, when he arrived on the spot, and saw how matters stood, he could do no less than applaud it."
This was the fourth delay made by Father De Andreis and his companions, since their departure from Rome. In describing this part of his journey, we have given the details written by his own hand in his journal; we must however notice that he purposely omits mention of anything that might redound to his own praise. We will therefore, in order to supply this deficiency, and acquire some further knowledge of his virtues, return to the account of the journey from Baltimore to Bardstown, as it is given by Bishop Rosati, who minutely describes the daily occurrences as they took place on the way. The following are the words of the worthy prelate:
"Some may be inclined to think that, during this journey from Baltimore to Pittsburgh, performed in an uncomfortable close vehicle, (such as our stage,) over high mountains and through wretched roads, very different from those that have lately been made, we could, but with difficulty, conform to a regular order of common prayer and other exercises, and that it was almost impossible, in the midst of the frequent interruptions to which we were liable, to keep ourselves constantly attentive to the presence of God. Yet Father De Andreis succeeded in adapting all this to the circumstances of our journey, and he enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing his regulations faithfully observed by us all. Every morning when we started, the prayers designated by the Itinerary were recited, followed by the Litany of the most holy Virgin. Then we made an hour's meditation; Father De Andreis proposed the subject, and as we could not make our spiritual reading before day-light, he supplied its place by suggesting pious reflections which penetrated our hearts. In conclusion, we recited the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, and the Angelus Domini. Later in the morning we recited the canonical hours, read a chapter in the New Testament, and somewhat later still, another pious book. After dinner, we took an hour's recreation, then recited Vespers and Compline, which were followed after a certain interval, by the third part of the Rosary, Matins and Lauds. We ended the day with the usual prayers, accompanied by examination of conscience.
"It may, perhaps, seem that so many religious exercises, following so closely one upon another, must have been wearisome, or at least importunate to travelers, tossed about, as we were, among the mountainous and dangerous places through which we had to pass. But such was far from being the case, whether on account of the tact which the servant of God displayed in arranging all our religious exercises, in parts to be performed at suitable hours, or that being himself always in good humor, he was admirably skilled in keeping up the spirits of those who surrounded him, by his agreeable and interesting conversation. Now and then he would relate an amusing anecdote, or enliven us by some pleasant saying; at other times, discuss some scientific or theological question, and while he excited our curiosity, he filled our minds with useful knowledge. In a word, his conversation was so pleasing that Bishop Dubourg, who was equally remarkable for his great endowments of mind and his polished manners, frequently told me that he had never known anyone whose society was so useful and agreeable to him, as that of our servant of God. And thus it happened that time, however long, seemed short, when spent in his company.
"But notwithstanding his constant cheerfulness, the journey was very trying for Father De Andreis, whose health was exceedingly weak, the strength of his body being much inferior to that of his mind. For many years he had been subject to violent attacks of colic, which made him surfer most acutely, and many times during our long journey he experienced them. The jolting of a vehicle without springs, in which ten persons were crowded one upon another, the wretched roads over which we had to travel, the accidents by which sometimes our stage was overthrown or broken down in the midst of the mountain torrents, and the darkness of night, while a deluge of water was pouring upon us, all this was hard for the youngest and most robust among us; it can then easily be imagined, how much the delicate health of one like Father De Andreis must have suffered. On one occasion when his clothes had been drenched with rain, he was obliged to wear them in that state for two days, it being utterly impossible to change or dry them. And very far from allowing all these inconveniences to depress his spirits, he was ever cheerful, encouraging us to bear our sufferings courageously, by the example of what the apostles endured for the salvation of souls. We were sometimes obliged to walk for forty miles across the mountains, but at last, after all our trials, we reached Pittsburgh on the 19th of September.
"In this place, as in all others where the servant of God had to remain for any length of time, he was welcomed by the Catholics to whom he was recommended, with all possible marks of affection and respect. But he needed no letters of introduction for all who approached him, Protestants as well as Catholics, immediately conceived for him sentiments of the strongest friendship, and even a sort of veneration, and all were eager to testify these feelings whenever an opportunity offered. In 1816, Pittsburgh was not such as it is now, but even then one could, in a measure foresee what it would afterward become. The number of Catholics was pretty large, and the first church erected there, being already too small for the congregation, it was proposed to build another, for which purpose a suitable piece of ground was purchased, whereon a splendid edifice was subsequently erected. On our arrival at Pittsburgh, we found that the Rev. Mr. O'Brien was absent; he had under his care not only this parish, but several others, situated at some distance apart. However, a Catholic merchant by the name of Beelen, to whom we had been recommended, was of great assistance to us; it was he who procured for us suitable lodgings, and took us from the hotel, to which we went on our arrival, and where our expenses were very considerable. Some among us availed ourselves of the hospitality generously offered by some of the Catholics of the place, and Father De Andreis, with a few others, went to board in a poor but respectable Catholic family. Shortly after, we enjoyed the satisfaction of welcoming our three companions who, in order to accompany our baggage, had taken a longer route. To continue our journey we had to embark upon the Ohio, which is usually about a mile in width, but, at this season of the year its waters were so low that we were forced to postpone our departure for a period, which turned out to be longer than we at first anticipated. But Father De Andreis knew how to derive profit even from these delays, which necessity alone compelled us to make, and which he might have devoted to rest. He daily employed his missionaries in the customary duties of the Congregation, and in the study of the sacred doctrines and the English language. Our lodgings being somewhat distant from the church, so only one in turn said Mass every day, and the others received holy communion. Father De Andreis subjected himself, like the others, to this regulation, desiring that no exceptions should be made for him on account of his rank as superior. However, on Sundays, all offered the holy sacrifice and assisted at high Mass and Vespers, which we chanted with great recollection and solemnity. All the inhabitants of the place who assisted at the ceremonies, both Protestants and Catholics, were deeply touched, never having witnessed in Pittsburgh anything similar. Very solemn was also the festival of the death of St. Vincent, which in fulfillment of our vow already mentioned, we celebrated on the 27th of September. The Rev. Mr. O'Brien, who returned before this, was edified, and conceived sincere esteem and affection for our venerated superior.
We inquired almost every day about the means of continuing our journey, but so many obstacles presented themselves that we were a long time in doubt with regard to it. In 1816, navigation upon the Ohio was very slow and difficult. It is true that a few small steamboats were to be seen on its waters, but this was seldom and the fare they exacted was exorbitant, being no less than two thousand dollars for twelve persons. Father De Andreis could not think himself justified in giving so large a sum, not only because he had no money to spare, but because his love of poverty inspired him with the strictest economy. He therefore preferred to take our passage on one of those rough barks, called by the people of the place, “flat-boats," and which somewhat resemble those which are made use of in sea -port towns to convey merchandise on board large ships, or those by which troops are sometimes landed on a shallow coast. In this wretched vessel, very poorly sheltered from the inclemency of the weather, Father De Andreis and his Missionaries embarked for Louisville, which is about six hundred miles from Pittsburgh. Many of the inhabitants accompanied him to the boat, and only left the shore when he had completely disappeared from their view.
“'In this portion of our travels as in the others, the servant of God, always the same, conformed as usual to the practice of his rules, and to all the devout exercises of a religious community, not neglecting the study of the English language and of theology. He was, above all, careful to give us good example, while he refused to avail himself of any privilege or distinction. He had to surfer much from the cold, which was very severe; the rain sometimes poured down in such torrents as almost to overflow our common dormitory, while occasionally the snow found entrance between the boards; but in the midst of all these inconveniences he ever showed a cheerful countenance, and in truth we were almost tempted to believe that the sensations of nature were extinct within him. The sublimity of his soul shone forth still more brightly while sanctifying the Sundays and festivals that occurred during our journey. On All Saints we rose at four, in order that every one might have the opportunity of saying Mass, and on the following day we chanted the Office for the Dead and the Requiem Mass. In this way did Father De Andreis shed everywhere around him the good odor of Jesus Christ, for not only were the Catholics whom we met from time to time, edified by our manner of life, but also the Protestants, who had never seen Catholic missionaries before. Struck with what they beheld in us, they would inquire who we were, where we were going, and what was the object of our mission; and on receiving an explanation of it, would gather around eagerly pressing us to remain among them, promising that if we did so, we should be well provided for and have many followers. Some of us having gone ashore, a few miles from Marietta, met a person on horseback, in the garb of a hunter. He seemed well educated and accosted us very politely. We afterward discovered that he was a lawyer. He questioned us very closely, and having received satisfactory answers to his numerous interrogatories, with much kindness offered us part of the produce of his chase. He then accompanied us on our return to the boat and entreated us to pay him a visit at his house, which was at no very great distance from the river-side. We cheerfully accepted his invitation and went to his dwelling, where he introduced us to his wife and children, the former having been an invalid for the last sixteen years. We inquired if our host and his family professed any religion, and being told that they knew of none we spoke to them of the Catholic faith and of the necessity of receiving and practicing its doctrines. To these words the poor family listened with tears, while they made the most generous offers and promises to any one of us who would remain with them, even for a short time. One of you at least, said they, can stay with us; and we were all deeply touched by their entreaties. But we could not remain long, and when the time for our departure drew near, we knelt down (the father and his sons following our example) and implored the blessing of God upon this interesting family. The master of the house obliged us to accept some fruit, and then with a worthy old man who was present, he accompanied us back to the boat. Here he espied the crucifix, and, taking off his hat kissed it most respectfully after which he embraced each one of us in turn, recommended himself anew to our prayers, and received with gratitude a catechism and some other books which we gave him. This and some other occurrences of a similar nature, made a deep impression on the mind of Father De Andreis, so that the ardor of his zeal for the salvation of souls appeared in his countenance, and thus enkindled in the hearts of his companions the flame which consumed his own.
"As we passed Gallipolis we heard that about forty Catholic families, of French origin, were living there without a church, a priest, or any means of practicing their religion. It was indeed painful for us not to be able to stop, for a few days at least, to render some assistance to people so sadly abandoned. But we could not delay the boat, and were prevented by the same reason from stopping at Cincinnati, where many Catholics resided, also without a church, being visited from time to time by Father Fenwick, of the Dominican Order, who afterward died bishop of Cincinnati. On the 19th of November our boat landed us at Louisville. At this place we soon found lodgings prepared for us in the house of a good Catholic, through the kind precaution of Bishop Flaget. The latter had been frequently in Louisville, previous to our arrival, in order to meet us; but being obliged to absent himself at the time we reached there, he left a letter in which he apologized for his inability to be in Louisville, and earnestly begged Father De Andreis to meet him in Bardstown before he continued his journey, so that, both together, they might deliberate on what was best to be done under the circumstances.
"On the reception of this letter Father De Andreis, leaving his companions in Louisville, went to confer with Bishop Flaget. The holy prelate gave him a most cordial welcome, and then spoke of his future destination and that of the Missionaries who accompanied him. The Bishop told him candidly that, to set out immediately for St. Louis did not seem to him a wise determination, and that it would be better to defer their departure to a later period. 'The people of St. Louis,' said he, 'have not yet been informed by Bishop Dubourg of your arrival, and certainly, however well disposed they may be, it will be a great surprise to see you arrive thus suddenly among them. Neither will they be able to give you a suitable residence; and although I am certain that you would be satisfied with even a wretched cabin, yet your new habitation must be large enough to hold you all, and be likewise adapted to the functions of your institute. Now, all this requires both time and money, and as I know you have not at your command sufficient funds, either for your maintenance or the construction of the building which you need, you cannot at the present time, make a good beginning. Besides this, it is requisite that you and your companions should be well acquainted with the French and English languages; and it will be difficult, if not impossible for them, as well as yourself, to acquire a perfect knowledge of these tongues while merely studying among yourselves without the aid of an experienced guide to direct you. All these things well considered, it is my opinion that you should all, priests and lay-brothers, remain for some time in Kentucky, and here await the arrival of your bishop. Meanwhile you will be able to learn the languages, and take the necessary measures to found in St. Louis, a useful establishment. You can likewise during your residence in this place, begin to pave the way for a favorable reception in your future mission. Such is my opinion,' concluded Bishop Flaget; 'if it meets with your approbation, my dear Father De Andreis, and if this locality and my poverty be not too disagreeable, you are welcome to them, for I am willing to share with you all that I possess. My seminary (which is my ordinary residence) is situated at a place called St. Thomas; it is at your service. Let us then live there together in common, like good brothers.'
Father De Andreis was charmed with these affectionate words, and, being also intimately convinced of the strength of the arguments, brought forward by the good bishop, he determined not to prosecute his journey any farther. He therefore thanked the bishop, and willingly accepted his generous offer. This arrangement being concluded, the priest who had accompanied Father De Andreis, and the procurator of the seminary, returned to Louisville, bringing word that the remainder of the party should go on horseback, to Bardstown, and there remain. All were delighted at this, and set out forthwith for the seminary of St. Thomas. The superior of that place was, at that time, the Rev. Fr. David, afterward bishop of Mauricastro, and coadjutor bishop of Bardstown. He had then under his guidance, twenty young ecclesiastics; they all resided together, in a house constructed of logs, the crevices of which were filled with clay, which, in drying, became as hard as stone. The upper part, roofed with rough boards, served as their common dormitory. Not far from the seminary was the episcopal residence, also constructed of logs, but somewhat better put together. It was divided into two stories besides the basement. The first floor contained three rooms, the largest of which served as a school-room and refectory. Fathers De Andreis and Rosati were located in the two others. The bishop had his room in the upper story; near it was a small cabinet, used as a library, and which he gave up to one of our band. Some were lodged in the seminary and others in the houses of good Catholic families.
"Father De Andreis was never weary of admiring the generous hospitality of the holy bishop of Bardstown, who notwithstanding his poverty and the smallness of his dwelling, received us with such affectionate charity, sharing with us not only his table and his house, but even his own room. The servant of God never ceased to bless Divine Providence for having led him and his companions to a place where he could so well learn the practice of the sacred ministry in this country, and be guided by the experience of two such holy men as Bishop Flaget and Father David. Both of those zealous and vigilant pastors had grown old in the labors of the Apostolic career; and, for many years, they had been employed on the American mission, to the great advantage of the flock confided to their care. "And most assuredly," adds Bishop Rosati, "we learned from them many useful things, of which it might have been very prejudicial to ourselves and others that we should be ignorant. For example, they advised us not to attack certain customs of the country, which were not wrong in themselves, nor opposed to the gospel or the laws of the Church, but merely different from the customs of Europe. A certain amount of toleration is laudable and if it had always been observed by other missionaries, many scandals would have been prevented; the enemies of Christianity would not have so many arguments against us, and, in fine, the abjuration of heretics, and the conversion of infidels and savages would become a work of much less difficulty." Such were the instructions, which these two excellent prelates with so much prudence recommended; they supported them by many peculiar facts which had already occurred, and, both the servant of God and Bishop Rosati found out in course of time, by their own experience, how important these instructions were [Note: Father De Andreis, thanking God for this useful advice, thus expresses himself in his considerations: Denique hoc Bardense seminarium tamquam probaticam piscinam mihi paraveras, ut hic alterius generis mirabilia intus experirer. Frustra comarer exponere omnia commoda et utilitates, quas hic invenire nobis fuit et quoad corpus, et quoad animam. Difficile admodum dictu est quot ascensions in corde nostro disposuisti, per quot adiuncta et inexplicabilia facta voluntatem tuam manifestasti, et hic quasi futurae missionis tyrocinium suppeditasti in doctrina linguarum, in morum regionis hujus agnitione in ministerii experitneiito, in solitudinis emolumento, in functionum preparandarum opportunitate, in quiete et tranquilitale, in gradate vitae hujus habitatione"]. But the best instruction, and that which made the most impression on Father De Andreis and his companions, was the irreproachable and austere life led by the two bishops in their little seminary. Both of them observed total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, the use of which some had endeavored to justify, under the specious pretext that they were a substitute for wine, which could not always be obtained in some parts of the country. These liquors were therefore banished from the common table of the seminary, as well as from the bishop's private apartments; and in consequence of this invariable rule, when persons offered anything of the kind as a present, to recruit the strength of these two laborious prelates, they never accepted any such donation. This example of mortification, being followed by the priests and students of the seminary, was a source of much edification to all the faithful of the diocese where, unfortunately, the use of strong drinks generally prevailed; and Fathers De Andreis and Rosati, seeing this abstinence so strictly observed, determined to follow it in the same manner, as soon as they were settled in St. Louis.
Meanwhile Father De Andreis was appointed by the Rev. Fr. David, to teach theology in the seminary and his lessons were no less beneficial to the ecclesiastics of Bardstown, than they had been to so many others in Rome. The best of it was, that while the servant of God spoke as a master, on questions concerning the sacred sciences, he himself became a scholar in the study of the English language, under Father David. He came every day with the others, his "spelling-book" in his hand, for, though he already possessed a tolerable knowledge of the language, and could even write it pretty well, he desired to perfect himself in it, and especially to acquire a correct pronunciation. He was not ashamed then, to seem but a beginner in this study, and to place himself on a level with the scholars to whom he taught theology in so masterly a manner; using, like them, the elementary books of the language, learning and reciting the usual lessons, and stammering over the English like a child just beginning to learn. He took the utmost delight in this humiliation, and said, several times, Those words of the Gospel, nisi efficiamini sicut parvuli, non intrabitis in regnum coelorum, must be literally fulfilled in our regard. Father David, on his side, was very much pleased to give these lessons of English, saying, with holy pleasantry, that he cheerfully exchanged them for those of theology, which Father De Andreis gave so assiduously. How fortunate I am, he would say, to teach you English! I shall share in the merit of your apostolic labors, and when, one of these days, you announce the word of God in various places, I shall, in some sort, preach it myself by your mouth!
The occupations of Father De Andreis, in the seminary of St. Thomas, were more regular and conformable to his desires, than any others in which he had been employed since he left Rome. He began to preach in English, which he had never yet done; he also heard confessions in that language, and, in a word, exercised all the functions of the sacred ministry, being very much delighted to be enabled thus to promote still more the glory of God and the salvation of souls. He translated his sermons into English, having already put many of them into French; his translations were excellent, because he had learned the beauties of both languages from the best writers both in prose and poetry. Whenever he went out to walk with his pupils, he conversed with them in English, and desired to be told whenever he made use of any unsuitable expression.
He did not fail to include in his studies, the best ascetic books, especially the writings of St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa, St. Francis de Sales, Father Saurin, Boudran, and others. It was his delight to read these books, because, in the sublime perfection which they taught, he beheld that to which he himself aspired, and felt his love for God increase by the holy inspirations which they breathed. His heart became more and more inflamed with this divine love, during his profound meditations, his exercises of piety, and his frequent and fervent visits to the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. To all this he united the most affectionate kindness towards his missionaries, and, in fact, towards every one. He watched over their health and comforted them in their trials. The moment he perceived any one in trouble, he endeavored to win his confidence, in order to dispel from his mind any symptom of sadness; and, when they all gathered around him, he encouraged them to put their whole trust in God, or amused them by some interesting anecdote. As they all experienced the effects of his paternal solicitude, they easily manifested to him the most secret emotions of their hearts, and nearly all desired to have him for their confessor.
During his stay at Bardstown, Father De Andreis judged it expedient to send to Rome some further information concerning himself and his companions; we will therefore give his letter precisely as written by himself. It will not merely afford more ample details on what has already been said, but may mention some facts that have perhaps been omitted. It is addressed to the Rev. Mr. Sicardi, and dated November 29th 1816 [Note: From the contents of this letter, we perceive, that, though it bears a previous date, it must have been written after the next, which is dated January 6th, 1817].
"I avail myself of an opportunity afforded me by the Very Rev. Vicar-General of the Jesuit fathers in America, who is going to visit the capital of the Christian world. I am much obliged to him for his attention, though I have not the honor of knowing him otherwise than by his letters; if you are kind enough to write to me in return, you can send me your reply by the same Rev. Father. These facilities occur so seldom, that we must not lose sight of them. "The change of climate, food, etc., has caused me to suffer not a little during the past winter. At one time the cold was so intense, that I fell down at the altar, apparently lifeless, and it was with great difficulty that animation was restored. I am now in excellent health, and, since Lent, have been preaching and hearing confessions in English. Father Rosati does the same, and the other three priests are preparing to follow our example. Father Rosati has been absent since Easter, on a mission with a Sulpician priest. They have gone to a poor Catholic locality, called Fort Vincennes, inhabited by persons of French origin, who scarcely ever see a priest more than once or twice during the year. I am in daily expectation of Father Rosati’s return.
"The life of a missionary, in this country, is pretty hard; he must be constantly on horseback, finding his way here and there through immense woods, to visit the sick and attend the congregations. Sometimes he is obliged to go thirty or forty miles to see a sick person. The congregations are what we call parishes; the people assemble in cabins, built of trunks of trees, laid one upon another, the interstices being filled up with clay, (like the greater number of houses, into which the wind and rain enter without difficulty). These are our churches, without pictures and ornaments of any kind, provided merely with a poor wooden altar. They are scattered about among the woods, and on festival days, Catholics, and not infrequently Protestants too, for ten or fifteen miles around, gather together within their walls. All come on horseback, and it is really amusing to behold the surrounding woods filled with horses, and to hear them neighing as if a regiment of cavalry were in the vicinity. Confessions take up the greater part of the morning, Mass is said or sung, a .sermon or homily preached, and then follow the baptisms, generally very numerous; the sick must be visited, and the poor priest, worn out with fasting, fatigue, the journey, and the heat, has at length to beg his dinner here or there. This meal usually consists in some corn-bread, beefsteak, and water, without wine, vinegar, soup, or oil. Sometimes he is obliged to say two Masses and to preach in places far apart, for the people are very much dispersed, every one being employed in cultivating his own land. There are neither towns nor villages; you see no peasantry nor servants; all the work is done by negro slaves, who are very numerous.
"The other evening, having been sent for to visit a sick person, about twenty miles away, I was left alone in the midst of the woods, without a guide or horse, the latter having made his escape into the forest while I dismounted for a moment, and the guide had to run after him some time before he succeeded in bringing him back. However, the actual good that is done and that which we hope to realize is a great consolation. Last week, I was called to assist a poor sick woman, whose only dwelling was a miserable cabin, in which she and her whole family were living. As this could not possibly accommodate both myself and my horse, a rich Protestant gentleman, who lived about a quarter of a mile farther, came to offer me his house, which I found full of company. Controversial subjects were discussed, and my host was so well satisfied with the manner in which his objections were removed, that he promised me he would become a Catholic. Protestants are generally very respectful towards priests, and even make it a point of honor to treat them with all possible politeness and generosity; but priests are too few for the work that has to be done, and they can barely attend to the wants of Catholics. How many die without a priest and are buried without his ministry! How many congregations pass entire months, even the greatest festivals of Religion, .without: Mass; in a word, without a priest! In this immense diocese of Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, there are scarcely twelve priests, including the bishop, who is continually on horseback, riding here and there like the youngest of his missionaries. He goes alone, without any distinction of rank, save that of taking for himself the most difficult and laborious share of the ministry. The Sulpicians do a great deal of good; we are under very considerable obligations to them for the charitable attention they bestowed upon us at Montpellier, Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Baltimore; also at the seminary where we now are. They are replete with zeal, religion and piety; indefatigable and fervent in the discharge of their duty, devoted to the Holy See, pure and unerring in the doctrines which they teach. The Dominicans also render many services to the Church in this country. I had the pleasure of becoming personally acquainted with Father Fenwick, their founder in America, and some others. I have no doubt, indeed I am sure, that when once we begin our establishment, we too shall have many students. We expect our bishop in the course of next summer, and we shall go with him to our place of destination. We experience, thank God, the truth of those words of St. Vincent, that One fares well at the Inn of Divine Providence. How admirable! to be solicitous for nothing, and yet want for nothing! such is our state. On the one hand, I well know how incapable I am of acting the superior, while on the other, I see that everything goes on well; better could not be wished were I the most efficient man in the world. Thus, God does all himself, and I can do nothing but annihilate myself in his divine presence, in order to act, speak, let alone, go or stay; in a word, follow blindly in everything his most holy will, even unto death, which is now the only end I have in view.
I have already written to you several times, Reverend sir, and have given you all the news concerning our band. I have now been teaching six months at the seminary. I have ten pupils, four of whom belong to us and the others to Kentucky. Father Rosati does wonders already; it is easy to see that God has called him to this mission for the execution of great designs. His health is robust, and he has made surprising progress in the English language. He began to preach before me, and I very willingly humble myself at his feet, as I ought, seeing that the Almighty grants him lights and graces which he very justly refuses me, on account of my sins, ingratitude, and unconquerable pride. Indeed I think it my duty, Reverend sir, in all sincerity, and for many reasons which I have not time, at present, to develop fully, to entreat you to transfer to him the office of superior. This, I hope, will meet with universal approbation, and will redound to the greater good of our mission, and of the whole Congregation. I have written in the same strain to Bishop Dubourg, with reference to the office of vicar-general. My pride renders it needful for me to be under a superior, and my capacity is too limited for the pilotage of a bark such as this. I will, however, labor as usual without sparing any pains, until I receive your permission to resume the yoke of obedience. I assure you that nothing in the world possesses now any charm for me; life is a burden, and I desire but death. I know I ought to tremble on account of my sins, but I trust in the infinite mercy of God. We all recommend ourselves to your prayers, and those of the congregation. I remain, etc. FELIX DE ANDREIS."
The same details were given more fully by the servant of God in one of his other letters, which we will likewise insert in this place; it is addressed, like the last, to the Vicar-General of the Congregation of the Mission at Rome, and dated January 5th, 1817.
"With pleasure I prepare to fulfill the task imposed upon me, by giving you Reverend sir, an account of the state of the Congregation in this part of the world, and I undertake it the more willingly, being now enabled to give you some exact information respecting our future residence, as we are almost on the spot. It is only three hundred miles from here to St. Louis, a journey which can easily be performed on horseback in a week, it not being necessary to go up the Mississippi.
"One must be blind, non plus ultra, not to perceive clearly the hand of God, throughout this undertaking. He removes obstacles, disposes hearts in our favor, opens a way for us, preserves us from danger, and by unforeseen succors, abundantly provides for all our wants, in a country where, as in England, everything is exorbitantly dear. We meet everywhere, thanks to the same divine hand, a welcome such as we could hardly expect from our dearest fellow missionaries in Europe, or even from our nearest relatives. The expense of clothing food and traveling for twelve persons, all young and with good appetites, is, of course, considerable; yet I can assure you that, so far, I have given it no more thought than if I were at Monte Citorio. Our Lord abundantly provides for us without any care on our part; we are, however, ready to suffer poverty, which is the most precious treasure of all Apostolic men. It is true, we had some trials to undergo in our tiresome and inconvenient journey down the Ohio, in a boat made like a cabin, where the rain often visited us even in our beds, and where, in the space of a few feet, (the remainder being crowded with boxes, etc.) we had our kitchen, refectory, church, sacristy, sleeping-room, and everything else, for nearly a month. But when we reached Louisville, after a journey of six hundred miles or more by water, we were most courteously received by a good Catholic, whom the kind bishop of Bardstown, Mgr. Flaget, had requested to receive us into his house. A few days after, in compliance with a letter which I received from the bishop, I started from Louisville for this place, (which is his usual residence) in order to deliberate with him whether it would be better for us to continue our journey to St. Louis, or remain for some time in Kentucky, the season being already far advanced, and the journey, in consequence, somewhat perilous. The above named bishop, who, in the absence of Bishop Dubourg had been nominated administrator of part of the diocese of Louisiana, agreed with me that for many reasons it would be wiser to remain here until the arrival of Bishop Dubourg, that we might make our formal entrance into the place altogether. I wrote therefore to my companions, who came here on horseback through the woods, and we purpose to remain some time, in order to rest both body and mind, and learn English in a proper manner. Divine Providence has given us an excellent teacher, under whose tuition we hope, in a few weeks, to be able to begin to preach. Our seminary here has something very Trappistic, or Carthusian about it, located as it is in the midst of the forest, in a poor log-house. The bishop is at the head of the seminary, though he is nearly always absent for the purpose of visiting different portions of the Catholic population. Missionaries in this country sometimes ride over ninety or one hundred miles a day, a fact which in Europe, will seem almost incredible. I am employed in teaching moral theology to seven young men, four of whom belong to our company. I hardly believe there exists a country, to which the words of the gospel: messis multa, operarii autem pauci, would be more applicable than to this. The missionaries work beyond their strength, going constantly on horseback, through these immense woods, to assist the Catholic population scattered here and there. They have not time to attend properly to the conversion of Protestants, who seem well disposed and desirous of hearing religious discourses, and who therefore might easily be brought back to the Faith. Not far from the seminary is a house of the Sisters of Charity, established by the zealous pastor of the diocese. They follow the rules of St. Vincent, though in order to adapt themselves to the country, they have made some changes in the dress and regulations; they also make perpetual vows. We cannot appear in public unless we wear a short coat, cravat, and round hat. In the seminary we wear the cassock, and this having been noticed, some persons came from a long way off to see, as they said, 'A Roman priest dressed like a woman.'
"So far, we are only four belonging to the Congregation. Brother Blanka is very well, although he has much to do, having to attend to the service of the whole band (aided by the two postulants only), to take care of our movables, which is no little matter, and to have them conveyed from one place to the other. Father Acquaroni acts as procurator in the best way he can, and supplies the dexterity that is wanting in Father Rosati and me. Father Rosati makes rapid progress in the English language, and his zeal, health, and other excellent qualities, give promise of much good to the country. As for myself, miserable wretch that I am, most unworthy to occupy the place of vicar-general, I hope to be able to discharge some of my numerous debts towards Divine Providence, by laboring and suffering until death, without any reserve. Here we drink nothing but water, with the exception of a little coffee in the morning, and tea in the evening, with a piece of corn bread. My stomach finds some difficulty in becoming accustomed to this diet, but I never cease to exclaim: Felix necessitas quae nos ad meliora compellit! We celebrated the Christmas festivals with great pomp, and a pontifical high Mass, which being a most unusual sight here, attracted a large concourse of persons. The only Sulpician, who bears the burden of the whole seminary, numbering about twenty members, addressed the people in our presence, and demonstrated very well the truth of the Catholic Church, from the very fact of our coming among them.
"I perceive clearly, to my great delight, that our Lord vouchsafes to treat me with mercy, as he sends me crosses and humiliations enough to check my self-love and force it to take flight. I entreat you to help me by your prayers, and to cause others to come to my aid that I may thank him worthily, for I candidly avow that I know of no grace more precious than these joys of Paradise.
"Here, almost on the spot, seeing things as they are, or according to the information which we obtain from the bishop, we are certain of the establishment of our seminary, and of meeting with many subjects who will seek admittance into our Congregation. A little later on we may also hope for several other establishments in various places, having before our eyes the example of what the Jesuits and the Dominicans have done, they being already settled in many places. I have had a personal interview with Father Fenwick, the superior of the Dominicans, and some correspondence with good Father Grassi, an Italian, the vicar-general of the Jesuits, a man about my own age, but gifted with most excellent abilities, which enable him to do wonders in these parts. To him I am indebted for considerable aid, as also for many kind offers. I very much regret that we have not been able to become personally acquainted, all the arrangements made on both sides, for that purpose, having failed.
"I feel strongly impelled to devote myself, in a particular manner, to the conversion of the Indian tribes who live beyond the Mississippi. Here, no trace of them remains, while on the contrary, the Mississippi, which serves as a boundary to the United States, and separates them from the immense wilderness, which extends even to the Pacific Ocean, flows by St. Louis, and makes of it the central point of all these savage nations. Among these, so far, the light of the gospel has never penetrated, though they seem well disposed to receive it. Therefore I intend, when our seminary is well established, to leave Father Rosati at its head, and to wend my way, in nomine Domini, along the banks of the Mississippi and Missouri, preaching the gospel to these poor people. Before I leave St. Louis I will have the Catechism translated into their language. This I can do with the assistance of some Indians who come from time to time to St. Louis, and persons of the place, who are pretty well acquainted with their language. I have received from men of experience, much information, both with regard to the difficulties to be encountered and the manner of overcoming them, and, with the help of God the undertaking seems as easy as if I already witnessed its execution. I shall have much to surfer, but of this I do not think, nor will I allow my mind to rest on it one moment. Too much already have I thought about myself, and I am ashamed to have done so, but in future, nothing but God and the interests of his glory shall occupy my attention. I see clearly that he is very merciful in my regard, for I should be an infidel, did I not trust in him and follow solely the impulse of his Spirit.
To tell the truth, the Indians are uncivilized, ferocious, inconstant, and haughty. They habitually lead a very austere life, and sometimes spend several days without taking any nourishment: but then, if they chance to kill a buffalo or a deer in their hunt, they will eat it all at once, almost raw. They wear very little clothes, and torment their bodies to please the 'Great Spirit.' The old people, with the women and children, remain in the wigwams, but the others are nearly always away hunting wild beasts, whose skins they prepare very skillfully, and exchange them with the Americans for provisions and strong liquors. They are exceedingly fond of liquor, so much so that this propensity constitutes one of the principal obstacles with which the missionary has to contend, in the work of their conversion.
"The holy bishop, in whose house we now are, looks upon our coming as a sign that a season of mercy has arrived for these regions, and I feel myself irresistibly inclined to the same opinion. But the works of God, as St. Vincent says, have their beginning, progress, and end; we must follow Divine Providence, step by step, without ever interrupting, anticipating, or deserting it. Have the charity to recommend us to God, that we may be faithful in following this important maxim.
"The manifold changes to which our situation has exposed, and still daily exposes us, have never caused me to feel one single moment's regret for having come to this country; on the contrary, my inward satisfaction daily increases, and leaves me nothing more to desire, but death, from the effects of my labors. The world has vanished for us; we all look upon ourselves as victims immolated to the glory of God, and the salvation of these poor souls. The thought of returning to Europe never even crosses the mind of any one of us. After Easter, Father Rosati will go about three hundred miles hence, on his first mission; a Sulpician priest is to accompany him. He will have a good opportunity of meeting with the Indians.
Excuse the length of this letter. I thought it was not worthwhile to write from such a distance, without filling my paper. A kind remembrance to all."
It will not be amiss to insert here some other facts mentioned in part of a letter written by Father De Andreis to Monsignor Paulinus Martorelli, canon of the Lateran basilica, August 24th, of the same year. It is as follows:
"It would be difficult and tedious to give you a full description of the state of the Church in America, for, where you are, you can form no correct idea of this country. Picture to yourself an immense tract of land, entirely covered with woods and forests, dwellings scattered here and there without any order, the towns and cities being few in number, which is very inconvenient on account of the small number of priests, and for other reasons of minor importance. The churches are situated in open plains, surrounded by the woods; on feast-days, men women and children, of every age and condition, come on horseback, ten, fifteen miles, or even more, to attend Mass, hear the word of God, and receive the sacraments; so that, when they wish to go to holy communion, they are compelled, notwithstanding the fatigue of the journey coming and going, to remain fasting until the evening, when they reach their homes. These churches, in their outward appearance, resemble all the other houses, being built of rude logs and trunks of trees, (which are never scarce in this country), put together with mud, and through which the wind, cold, heat and rain enter by turns. They are entirely devoid of ornament.
"Although, with regard to the population, these churches are few in number, still, as priests are likewise very scarce, every one of the latter has to attend to four, five or six of these parishes, or, as they are called here, congregations; and though a priest is sometimes obliged to say two Masses on one day, some of the congregations are whole months without a clergyman.
"On account of the great distance at which the congregations are situated one from another, the missionary is obliged to be constantly on horseback, going here and there to preach, assist the sick etc. Hence twenty, thirty, sixty or even ninety miles in one day are his customary rides; his life is, indeed, a hard and laborious one. Today he is in one place, but he knows not where he will be to-morrow; he depends entirely for his food and lodging on the hospitality of the planters who, thank God, are delighted to show every mark of attention to a priest; even Protestants will do all in their power to receive him well, though the best fare that he can expect consists of nothing but some corn-bread very badly baked, tough salt pork, potatoes and water. This is the refreshment that the missionary finds after a pretty long journey, having heard confessions the whole morning until one or two in the afternoon, said Mass, preached, baptized, etc.; sometimes at five in the evening he is still fasting.
"However, blessed be God, who in the midst of so many labors and difficulties sends us the most exquisite consolations, both interior and exterior; they would be still greater, could we afford to give more help to these poor souls. Alas! to what can a Christian, a priest, better devote his talents, his wealth and his possessions than to this excellent work! For want of means we are not able to assist Catholics as we should wish, much less can we attend to the conversion of Protestants and Indians, who are, on the other hand, very well disposed to receive us. How many Protestant ministers would change their religion, could we but offer them some resource for themselves and their families, their unhappy ministry being at present their sole means of subsistence! Who would not be moved with compassion for these poor souls!
"It is indeed a trial for anyone who has seen Rome, to come to this country. I beg your prayers, Reverend sir, that I may die sword in hand, since my only comfort in the world is this hope. We are expecting Bishop Dubourg, who is coming this time with twenty-eight other missionaries, and we shall all enter Louisiana (the place of our destination) together. This State borders on Kentucky, and with regard to religious matters is pretty much in the same condition, with a few additional obstacles. I am delighted that our sojourn here has given me some practice in the language and customs of the country, for, having gone through our novitiate in the ministry, we shall succeed the better when called upon to labor ex professo. "I remain, etc. FELIX DE ANDREIS.
CHAPTER VI: Arrival of Father De Andreis at St. Louis, and his Apostolic labors.
In September Father De Andreis, in concert with Fathers Acquaroni and Ferrari, having concluded the retreat at the seminary of St. Thomas, received the welcome intelligence that Bishop Dubourg, with some thirty priests, had arrived in Baltimore, from which place he was on his way to Louisiana. The letter containing this news was addressed to Bishop Flaget of Bardstown, whom the former Prelate requested to proceed to St. Louis with Fathers De Andreis and Rosati, in order sound the intentions of the inhabitants of the place, and to make the requisite arrangements for the Mission about to be established there. Bishop Flaget set out then with the two above-named priests and Brother Blanka, all being on horseback. They had to travel over three hundred miles. The roads were in a most dreadful state, so that they lost their way once or twice, and were overtaken by night in the midst of frightful precipices. Another day they were drenched by the rain, without having any means of drying their garments; finally, on another occasion, they had to go without food from morning till night. Among so many hardships and dangers the Bishop did not complain of his own sufferings, so many years spent in the sacred ministry having, as he said, identified him with similar trials; but he deplored those that his companions had to undergo, especially Father De Andreis, who suffered so much that he could hardly remain on his horse. But he conquered his bodily weakness by the energy of his ever cheerful soul.
After travelling nine days, they arrived at Kaskaskia, a village of French origin, almost wholly composed of Catholics. It is one of the oldest settlements of the country, and was formerly the center of the missions commenced among the Indians by the zeal of the Jesuit fathers. On descending the hills which bound this magnificent plain on the east, Father De Andreis and his companions were moved even to tears at the sight of the cross that rose on the spire of the church, and with lively sentiments of faith they reverenced this sign of our redemption, which at that period was but seldom seen above the cities and villages of the United States. Their pious emotions still further increased when, on entering the place and stopping at the house of Colonel Peter Menard, one of the principal citizens, they heard, as the sun went down, the sound of the bell, reminding the faithful to recite the Angelus Domini in memory of the divine mystery of the Incarnation. This pious custom, so conducive to the preservation of the Catholic faith, had been carefully maintained among the Creoles, or descendants of the French, who were the first settlers of that place.
Col. Menard and his family welcomed the good bishop of Bardstown with the utmost delight, gave him a suitable lodging, and bestowed on him all the attentions that hospitality demands. They had long known the Prelate, as he had been there to give a mission, and administer the sacrament of confirmation. He had deservedly acquired the esteem of all the inhabitants, and the principal persons of the town hastened on his arrival to visit him and show marks of respect to the missionaries who accompanied him.
On the following day all the priests enjoyed the consolation of saying Mass in the parish church, which had long been without a resident pastor. Father Don Donatian Olivier (who died at the Barrens in February 1841, at the age of nearly ninety-three years) came every Sunday to celebrate the holy sacrifice, administer the sacraments, and preach. For this purpose he had to come from Prairie du Rocher, fifteen miles distant. "As this venerable priest," writes Bishop Rosati, "came to the place as usual on the Sunday which occurred during our stay, he was kind enough to accompany us to St. Genevieve, another French village, situated on the opposite bank of the river, about seven miles above.
"The parish-priest of St. Genevieve, the Rev. Henry Pratte, came to meet us with several of the parishioners, and as they all knew Bishop Flaget, who had given a mission in that place, he was received with many demonstrations of joy. Some of us were quartered in the house of the pastor, others in good Catholic families. On the following Sunday Father De Andreis sang high Mass and Bishop Flaget preached. He spoke of the object of our mission, which caused several of the principal inhabitants to assemble on two occasions, when they testified their earnest desire that we should remain among them; but one of their number, a worthy old man, told them plainly that they need not hope for that. “St. Louis,” said he, “will have the preference, and we shall be obliged to yield;” such, in fact, was eventually the case.
"At length, on the 17th of October 1817, we arrived in the city of St. Louis, which at that period had no pastor; it was attended every three weeks by a priest from the other side of the river. The Bishop and the missionaries went to the presbytery, which was an old stone building almost in ruins, divided by planks into two portions, one of which, the smaller of the two, served as a sleeping-room, and the other was, appropriated to the parochial and municipal assemblies. In this tottering house Bishop Flaget determined to take up his residence, and as there was no bed in it, some of the inhabitants prepared one for him. Father De Andreis and his companions had to sleep on buffalo skins spread on the floor, in the same room or the one adjoining. It is true that the citizens were very willing to offer their own houses, but the missionaries concurred with the bishop in thinking that it was better to be satisfied with a poor but independent abode, rather than accept the offer of any private individual. The parish church, situated very near the presbytery, was in no better condition; it was small, poor, and falling into ruins. In a word, wherever the eye turned, nothing could be seen, but poverty and desolation. Who would have thought then, that in the space of a few years there would arise on the same spot a vast, well-built, and well furnished cathedral! Who would have thought that the population, then consisting of four thousand persons only, would, in 1840, have increased to the number of thirty-four thousand! [Note: And, in the year 1900, to about six hundred thousand, with sixty Catholic churches].
"As soon as Bishop Flaget arrived at St. Louis, he interested himself in the affair entrusted to him by his fellow laborer, Bishop Dubourg. Having assembled the principal heads of families, he spoke to them of the approaching arrival of their own bishop and the missionaries he was bringing with him to fix their residence in that place. He proved to them that they should feel very grateful for the choice that had been made of their city; for, in consequence, it would rapidly become not only the center of the extensive country around, but the center of all religious and literary instructions, whence they and their families would derive immense benefit. He also told them, that since the bishop's residence among them would confer so many advantages on their city, they ought, on their part, to co-operate in his views, and cheerfully give him all the help they could. He then began to speak of what it was most requisite to do first, and mentioned particularly the preparation of a suitable residence; and, as all these arrangements could not be considered in the first meeting, he held several general assemblies, at which he begged everyone to express his own opinion. During one of these meetings a certain Mr. L arose, and addressing himself to the bishop and his fellow-citizens, said: 'I am far from disapproving the choice that Bishop Dubourg has made of this city for the place of his ordinary residence. He is a bishop, and is, therefore, at liberty to fix his abode in whatever part of his diocese he may think proper to select; but, inasmuch as it concerns the inhabitants of St. Louis, I see no particular reason why they should contribute to the expense that he will consequently incur. The expenses of a diocese should be divided among the whole population; it is not just that they fall on us alone. We have a parish-church; we will give our pastor a proper salary; this will be quite enough for our share. If the church is going to ruin, it is our duty to repair it; and, though we have no pastor at present, let one be sent to us and we will cheerfully receive him; but, as to the bishop, we are not obliged to do anything, because his permanent residence belongs alike to all.'
Such were the arguments he advanced, but his words made no impression on the assembly, because everyone knew that he was not actuated by genuine zeal for the public good. He was a Catholic only in name, who scarcely ever entered a church, attended instructions, or approached the sacraments; consequently, his words produced no effect on those who heard them. On the contrary, all manifested sentiments of an entirely opposite nature, and willingly offered to contribute, both by labor and money, to whatever the projected establishment would require.
Meanwhile there arrived at St. Louis two deputies from St. Mary's of the Barrens, a parish situated about eighty miles from the above-named city, and eighteen from St. Genevieve. They were sent by the parish priest, Father Dunaud, (the last Trappist then remaining in Missouri) and, in the name of all the other inhabitants, amounting to thirty-five families, they came to Bishop Flaget, telling him that they were sent to beg him to be their intercessor with Bishop Dubourg on his arrival, that he might choose their parish for the foundation of his future seminary. They assured Bishop Flaget that this was the unanimous and urgent desire of all, and that they proposed to purchase, for the purpose of realizing it, six hundred and forty acres of land, the whole of which they would offer to their bishop. The worthy prelate and the missionaries received this generous deputation with all possible kindness, and gave them every reason to hope that the general wish of the inhabitants of the Barrens would be gratified on the arrival of Bishop Dubourg.
At length it had to be decided, whether or not the people of St. Louis would set about preparing a dwelling for the bishop and his priests, for the time of their arrival was drawing near. Bishop Flaget, seeing that everyone was well disposed, returned to his own diocese with Father Rosati. As the bishop passed through St. Geuevieve, he left Father De Andreis there, and sent the Rev. Mr. Pratte to St. Louis, so that, by his presence, he might hasten the work, superintend the laborers, remove any difficulty that might arise, and see that the undertaking was completed in a skillful and orderly manner.
The parish of St. Genevieve was then the first scene of the apostolic labors of Father De Andreis in the diocese of New Orleans, for which he had left Rome. The parish was extensive, and it was inhabited by two thousand Creoles, or French Catholics. They were all well instructed and attended by the indefatigable vigilance of their excellent pastor. The zeal of Father De Andreis, on taking the direction of the parish, was no less ardent. He was assiduous in hearing confessions, instructing the children, visiting the sick; on festivals, he celebrated two Masses, and preached several times with much success. His explanations of the gospel were so pleasing, that those good people never grew weary of listening to him, and endeavored to put in practice all he said. Even yet, a grateful remembrance of him is preserved among them, as they call to mind what their ancestors told them of his uniform mildness and his other saintly virtues.
While continuing to employ himself in this holy manner, the servant of God had near the end of 1817, the greatest consolation he could desire. His Bishop, accompanied by Bishop Flaget, arrived at St. Genevieve. Bishop Dubourg did not bring the band of ecclesiastics who came with him from Europe, having left them in Kentucky to learn English and become accustomed to the manners of the country. Father De Andreis accompanied the two bishops to St. Louis, where they made their formal entrance on the feast of the Epiphany, 1818, and were received with acclamations of joy. Here the servant of God took his post as vicar-general of the diocese, the functions of which office he discharged, principally whenever the bishop, on account of his frequent missions, or his pastoral visitations, was obliged to leave St. Louis. But the office of parish priest was peculiarly his own, and he daily devoted himself to it, performing, in the best manner, all its duties, as he had done at St. Genevieve. The people of St. Louis, who had been so long deprived of a pastor, seemed to appreciate his merits as soon as they began to know him, and to experience the effects of his paternal solicitude; most assuredly they could hardly do otherwise. Meanwhile the servant of God, before advancing any farther in the sacred ministry, thought it his duty to write to the vicar general of the Congregation of the Mission at Rome, to give him a particular account, not only of what concerned himself personally, but also of the state of the mission. These details are to be found in his letter to Father Sicardi, written from St. Louis on the 24th of February, 1818, about forty days after his arrival in that place. It is as follows:
"I thank Almighty God for the consolation afforded me by the letter of our worthy visitor, Father Ceracchi. It was transmitted to me from Kentucky by Father Rosati, and I was delighted to receive such good news of our Congregation in Italy, and especially to hear of their friendly feeling towards the American mission; again I humbly thank our Lord for the kind remembrance in which we are held. Although I have lately written two long letters, one to Father Oiordana to apprise him of our arrival at our destination, and another to Father Giriodi, I think it advisable to add something to Father Rosati's, as so many letters are lost, and also to make up for anything that he may chance to have omitted.
"I write you this from the very ends of the earth, on the banks of the Mississippi, only a few weeks journey from the Pacific Ocean, which separates us from China. The country lying between here and the Pacific is inhabited only by wild beasts, and savages, whose state is not unlike theirs. Though the climate ought to be rather warm, our latitude being only 39, the cold is so intense, that I never experienced anything like it. We cannot remain very far from the fire, though we often put one coat over another; the cold is so piercing, that it seems to reach the brain, and almost makes one giddy. I have very frequently found nothing but ice in the chalice while at the altar, and had some difficulty in melting it by means of fire, which had to be brought to the spot; and even then, in consuming the sacred species, I was compelled to make use of my teeth. This extreme cold proceeds from the north winds, which, descending from the icebergs of Greenland, and passing over the frozen, lakes of Canada, come here to freeze us to death. We can say, with St. Paul, 'Blessed be God in frigore though not in nuditate, for we are but too well provided for.
"I am transported beyond myself, when I consider the admirable care of Divine Providence in favor of this mission, and overcome by gratitude on the one hand, and confusion, by reason of my unworthiness, on the other, I can only exclaim: et unde hoc mihi! .... funes ceciderunt mihi in praeclari! it is not merely difficult, but impossible to describe what I feel. The most ardent zeal would here find an ample field for its labors, and we have already many bright prospects of success. This diocese covers an immense extent of country, and the labor that it will require will soon render it expedient to divide it [Note: What Father De Andreis predicted in 1818 is now more than verified, five archdioceses and twenty dioceses being formed in the territory then comprised in the single diocese of New Orleans]. cities, towns and villages are growing up before our eyes with marvelous rapidity; emigrants are arriving in crowds from all parts of the United States, as well as from Europe. Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and France send multitudes to people the smiling and fertile plains of Missouri, and in a few years the country will become so flourishing, that Europe will no longer excite envy. The chief part of the population is French, (or Creole as they call it) and consequently Catholic, but without any religious culture, on account of the long period during which the place has been destitute of clergymen and of every means of instruction. One of the most respectable citizens said to me: 'If Bishop Dubourg had not come in time to our relief, the last spark of faith would have been extinguished in our country. 'But the French part of the population will soon be absorbed by the American and the English, among whom only a small portion are Catholics, but these are generally very fervent; the greater part are Protestants of various denominations. We have also both French and English infidels, who call themselves Nullifidians, that is to say, without any religion whatever.
"Let us now proceed to the numerous Indian tribes; there are among them fifty different nations; they acknowledge one only God, whom, in their language, they call Chissemenetu, which means 'Father of Life'; to him they address their prayers and offer the first fumes of their pipe. To please this god, they treat themselves most cruelly; indeed their whole religion consists in these practices, some of which are too horrible to relate. They live like the very animals of which they are constantly in pursuit; their chase provides them with food and scanty clothing, (for they go almost naked) and enables them to trade with the white people, who, in exchange for furs and venison, give them powder, spirits, paint to decorate their bodies and silver rings for their ears and nostrils. Their aspect is frightful, and one feels almost inclined to doubt if their reasoning powers be fully developed. I have seen several, and have conversed with them by means of an interpreter; in general, they regard priests with great respect, calling them Mecate-o-coriatte, which means Black Gown; they also call them 'Fathers of Prayer. ' Some few among them are Catholics, and, in spite of the efforts made by Protestant missionaries to imbue them with false doctrine, they constantly refuse to adopt it, objecting that the true 'Fathers of Prayer' have no wives and children like the Protestant ministers, but that they devote themselves wholly to God and the salvation of souls. Notwithstanding the difficulties attending the work of their conversion, I am convinced that, when the first obstacles are overcome, it will be almost easy. The chief impediment is the language, which is not the same among the various tribes, though the dialects are very much alike, and the Indians of different nations understand one another. With the assistance of an interpreter, I have made some attempts to arrange their principal language according to grammatical rule. It is a difficult undertaking, as my interpreter, knowing nothing of such laws, cannot translate word for word, nor supply me with equivalent expressions for every idea; however, I have begun a small dictionary, and made some translations. Their scarcity of ideas renders their language poor in words. They are consequently obliged to express themselves with the aid of circumlocution, especially on the subject of religion. As some curious person may be glad to meet with a specimen of their language, I will here insert the Pater Noster as I translated it by means of periphrasis, for they have no word to express either sanctificetur, regnum, dimitte or tentatione [Note: "Nossak Peinenke, chilaape, ceckimitouseignia te para quissolimi, chiriah debehere tams-canececki nironan, chirah cehecke deberetau onahe Aposi pemenke. Inoke micipeueh miricane oueni pera chiro cehecki ineteo ackeek chiritoingh rapiniira ui oueni piraki cehecki inereo-ackeek nivoesittacu. Callanossa deboe tavichcane mereo ackeek checoa sitojangh. Cecki merce mereo ackeek paquitarno cane pervi mionan. To express Amen, they have Ouajak deboataouiakann. They have a great many aspirations, which they articulate slowly, sing their words, and gesticulate a good deal in order to compensate for the poverty of their language. Some, but very few, can speak English and French. The dialect, of which I have given the above specimen, is spoken by nearly all, and may serve as a key to the others].
"Bishop Dubourg, our worthy Prelate, arrived in his diocese on the 29th of December, the feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury. I was then officiating as parish priest at the village of St. Genevieve, about sixty miles below. Accompanied by some forty of the principal inhabitants, I went on horseback to receive him, and we conducted him in triumph, under a canopy, to the church, the bells ringing all the time, amidst the universal joy of Catholics, and even of many belonging to the Protestant part of the population. After he had taken possession, by a pontifical high Mass, we went, on the feast of the Epiphany to the capital, in order to perform the same ceremony. Everything went off admirably, thanks be to God. The mere presence of the Bishop, (who with us is just the same as we knew him at Monte Citorio) his kindness, benignity, and suavity of manner have dispelled the storm, dissipated in a great measure every prejudice, and captivated all hearts; so that the plan of a cathedral, to be built of stone, is already traced, and will soon be carried into execution. When this is done, we will begin to think of the other buildings; it is but just that we should commence by the church, for we have nothing now to serve the purpose of one, but a miserable log-cabin, open to every wind, and falling to pieces. The bishop has, however, bestowed upon it a splendid temporary decoration, chiefly composed of the ornaments he obtained while in Europe. The population being a mixture of English and French, we must exercise the holy ministry in both languages. The bishop has truly donum sermonis, and is perfectly master of both. I crawl after him, as well as I can; we have every reason to predict great things for the future, and to trust that we may be able to see all united in unum ovile et unum pastor.
"From the time we left Bordeaux, the Bishop gave me the patent of vicar-general, and, in case any accident might befall me, he also gave one to Father Rosati. Called as I am, in virtue of this office, to share so largely in the solicitude of a pastor, especially in our present beginnings, and having so few subjects for the ministry, it will be very difficult for me to place the house that we are going to erect, on the same footing with those in Italy. In this country we must be like a regiment of cavalry, or flying infantry, ready to run wherever the salvation of souls may require our presence; making ourselves all unto all, to gain all to Jesus Christ, for whom we came, that he might be known, loved and served. A missionary country, and one like this, must needs be an exception to the general practice, strict adherence to which would, in our case, be prejudicial to the greater glory of God and the welfare of souls. I believe that the Congregation is for the Church, and not the Church for the Congregation. However, I will do all in my power to establish, as soon as possible, all the offices customs and exercises, as prescribed by our institute. In a short time we shall all begin, according to our regulations, to take our turn in the missions. For this reason, besides the discharge of our daily duties, we are obliged to labor not a little to translate our sermons into French and English. Our greatest difficulty is not in writing, but in speaking and pronouncing the language. I perceive that I am almost too old to learn a language, and Father Rosati succeeds better than I do. Father Acquaroni will do an immense deal of good with his French. His health, however, has been somewhat delicate, but Father Rosati has enough for himself and plenty to give away, and I am, without any comparison, better than when I was in Rome. We need whole colonies of missionaries, with considerable pecuniary resources, in order to make rapid progress in these immense woods. But I remain tranquil, limiting my desires to what God has called me to do. Were they but to save a single soul, to prevent one sin, the toils, money and trials of a thousand missionaries would be amply repaid. God only is great, and happy is the man who lives but for Him. If I do not become a saint, with so many excellent opportunities of practicing acts of the most noble apostolic virtues, it may be said with truth that I am an inveterate and incorrigible sinner. I am more and more deeply convinced that I am, have always been, and shall always be good for nothing, if God does not perform, a miracle by enlightening, strengthening and sanctifying my blind, weak and perverse nature. This is my constant prayer; do me the charity to render it efficacious by your intercession, and obtain for me also the prayers of fervent souls. Prayers, prayers, these are what we most need. My respects to all, in which my companions unite. I remain, etc. FELIX DE ANDREIS.
From this letter we may infer how vast and difficult was the field presented to the servant of God on his arrival in St. Louis; he had to deal with uncivilized Indians, open unbelievers, professed heretics, but few Catholics, and those few leading so corrupt a life, that they could hardly be distinguished from infidels themselves. As he had come to Louisiana for all, he would have wished, in his ardent zeal, to enlighten and convert all; he was prepared to endure any fatigue, and would have been happy, had he been able to devote his whole life without intermission to this holy work. Touched by his sanctity, all eagerly crowded to hear his sermons and instructions, and no one left the church unmoved. In conversation he delighted them by his gentleness and the affability with which he received every one, so that they were not only led to love him as a father, but almost to revere him as an angel sent to them from Heaven. It was, therefore, no wonder that thousands of Catholics were converted, that heretics abjured their errors, and that infidels earnestly begged to receive baptism. We prefer, however, to relate these details in his own words, (letter of December 7th, 1818, addressed to Father Baccaria, Vicar-General of the Congregation of the Mission):
"Religious affairs wear a very favorable aspect, and promise much for the future; meanwhile the good that is actually done is not little, though to my confusion I must acknowledge myself to be nothing but a sterile plant et igni devoranda. "One of the Indian interpreters having fallen sick, I went to visit him; he made his confession, and gave himself entirely to God. He now frequents the sacraments, and is helping me to translate into the Indian language a catechism, which will be of great use in our future apostolic labors. The harvest is great, and the laborers exceedingly few in comparison to the immense extent of this diocese. We are nearly all employed in preparing the other ecclesiastics, of whom about forty have recently come from Europe. We are trying to revive faith in the doctrines of Catholicity among the people, who for the most part know nothing of them but the name. We meet with many persons, far advanced in age, who are completely ignorant of God and of religion; who have never made their first communion, who live in concubinage, and have no vestige of Christianity about them. Some do not know how to make the sign of the cross, or recite the "Our Father;" while the religious ideas of others have become so confused, that they believe there are three gods, that Jesus Christ began to exist as God at the moment he was born of the Virgin Mary, and other similar errors without end, especially with regard to morals. In visiting the sick, they have frequently expected me to baptize them without water, thinking that this could be done without any difficulty. There are a great number, (particularly among the Anglo-Americans) who call themselves Nullifidans; they profess no religion. Others are constantly wavering between different forms of belief, unable to make up their minds to embrace any. We gain over a great many of both kinds, especially when they are at the point of death.
"Although we are here almost dead to the world and buried in loco horroris et vastae solitudinis, we are pleased to receive now and then news of our dear fellow laborers in Italy. Funes ceciderunt mihi in praeclaris! Truly it is a noble destiny to be employed in assisting the most desolate portion of the flock of Christ in an unfruitful land, which unites all the inconveniences of extreme cold and excessive heat; a land which produces none of these numerous little comforts that are within the reach of every one in Europe. Here we have neither wine, grapes, figs, oil, nor oranges, etc. But we look upon all these little privations with the eye of faith, and then every sacrifice becomes precious, and calls forth our gratitude. If we had done nothing else than baptize a single person, who was on the point of dying without baptism, or bring back one soul, hitherto lost in the mists of ignorance and vice, all our privations and sacrifices would be amply repaid. Through the divine mercy such cases are not of infrequent occurrence, and they fill us with the utmost consolation."
In another place he adds: "I attribute in a great measure the rapid success of our labors to the prayers of our good brethren in Europe. Conversions are numerous, especially among Protestants and unbelievers, of whom many become very fervent Catholics. In all my life I never performed so many baptisms, nor attended so many dying persons, as in this place within one month. Not long ago I was called up in the middle of the night to visit a sick man who professed no religion; I instructed and prepared him as well as I could; I then baptized him, and he died in the most beautiful sentiments. Similar cases occur frequently; this very day I baptized a considerable number of adults. I stood godfather (for the first time in my life) to a Jew, who was baptized by the bishop, and who is now a most fervent Catholic. A singular circumstance, worthy of mention, took place during the ceremony. At the very moment that the baptism was performed, a swarm of bees covered the roof of the church, an incident so remarkable, that the children ran with loud cries from the street, to chase them away. Scarcely was the ceremony concluded when the bees disappeared and were no more seen afterward than they had been before. This favorable augury, of which we have many examples in ecclesiastical history, seems already as if about to be realized in the wonderful zeal which our neophyte displays. I receive from time to time most beautiful letters from him; they show how much grace is working in his heart. He is preparing to publish an account of his life and conversion; it will be a means of salvation for many others. The touching ceremony of the boys' First Communion was the immediate occasion of his own change.
"That you, Reverend sir, as well as others who are interested in our behalf, may be enabled to form a correct idea of the situation of this country, with regard to the three most important objects of our mission, I will enter into some details concerning each class with whom we have to deal, namely Catholics, Protestants, and savages.
"As to Catholics, who are here those domestici fidei, who have the first right to the zeal of the missionaries, on account of their ignorance and indolence, the necessary consequences of having remained so long without any spiritual guidance or assistance they present to the zeal and vigilance of the evangelical laborer a sight similar to that formerly beheld in spirit by the prophet Hzekiel, a vast plain covered with dry bones, devoid of life. This is a spectacle fit to discourage the most active zeal, for really one knows not where to begin. On account of their constant intercourse with sectarians and infidels of every kind, their ideas of the first and most essential points of Christianity have become distorted; and, unfortunately, they show very little inclination to reform them. For example, I happened to be in a place, where a rich merchant, who enjoyed the credit of being the principal supporter of Catholicity, treated us with all possible attention and kindness; but one evening that I went to visit him, he began, while we were at supper, to assert that one can be saved in any sect, provided only, he be an honest man. And he held so tenaciously to his opinion, that it was but with the greatest trouble I convinced him that out of the Catholic Church there is no salvation. Another missionary told me that while he was staying in the house of one of the best Catholics, whose wife was said to be the most excellent Christian in these parts, this fervent lady told him one day that she highly esteemed the custom of assisting at Mass and hearing sermons, but as to confession, it was, she said, a most abominable practice! We meet with others of the same description who are not well convinced of the existence of hell, and who are ignorant of the most essential points of religion. It is pretty hard work to remove their prejudices. We can do the most good with the youth of both sexes, who really are a consolation to our hearts. They make their first communion with admirable fervor, and afterward continue to frequent the sacraments and attend catechism. The young girls, especially, delight me by their candor and simplicity; they are lilies of purity, angels in human form, and their piety will do much good among the rising generation. Others are caught on their deathbed, at the latest; we have some of every nation, even Italians, who know how to pay compliments, but who are in reality perhaps more estranged from religion than any other people. The Irish are generally very fervent, and show no mercy towards Protestants. As the government tolerates every form of belief, those who feel the greatest antipathy towards Catholics can proceed to no open measures against them, though they contemptuously denominate them "Papists." Our separated brethren are, however, very well disposed, and not infrequently whole families of them embrace Catholicity.
"As to the savages, it is rather a more difficult task. These poor creatures seem incapable of forming any idea of spiritual and divine things. They know that there is a God, and they begin all their employments by an act of worship; (a fact which should make many Christians blush with shame!) When they come to trade with the white people, they begin to smoke, and directing the first cloud on high, they say: Anaregare kii ohakanda, which means: May this ascend to the Divinity. But these notions only concern the present life; they believe that God has given them a religion different from ours, and if they are told of a future life they understand nothing about it With patience and time, however, something will be made of them."
In the midst of so many occupations for the spiritual advantage of his flock Father De Andreis never neglected the particular attention, which, in his capacity of superior, lie owed to the Missionaries, whom he had left in Kentucky. He wrote them several letters in which he exhorted them to observe, as faithfully as circumstances would permit, the rules of St. Vincent, assuring them that his most ardent desire was to see them all once more gathered together in an establishment belonging to the Congregation. Father Acquaroni was the first whom he called to St. Louis; but, only a few days after his arrival, Father De Andreis was obliged to relinquish his services in favor of three parishes, namely: St. Charles, Dardeune, and Portage des Sioux, where he was obliged to send him. Father Rosati had another destination. A short time after Bishop Dubourg's arrival at St. Louis, there came from the Barrens, (a place about eighty miles distant) a certain number of deputies offering to give the bishop a parochial establishment. The prelate accepted their proposal, in favor of the Congregation of the Mission, so that the Missionaries might build in that place their first house and seminary. But we will speak more fully on this subject in the next chapter; here it will suffice to mention that Father Rosati was sent to the Barrens as superior of the house and seminary to be erected.
However, as the novices could not be accommodated, nor properly trained there, the servant of God directed them to come to St. Louis, where he himself superintended their exercises. Before they had completed their time in the novitiate, Father De Andreis was often obliged to send them wherever the urgent wants of the diocese demanded their presence. Others arrived from Europe; these also he trained, habituating them to the many wants and privations which they were obliged to undergo, until they were provided with a suitable abode. Besides the Barrens, the good bishop had assigned them another residence on some uncultivated land within the precincts of the city of St. Louis. It would be hardly possible to believe, or even imagine, how many hardships were endured by Father De Andreis and his companions, had he not left us an account of them in the following words: (Letter to Father Baccaria of the 19th of September).
"I wish I could give you some idea of our establishment, which covers about one square mile of land, seemingly uncultivated since the time of Adam. Our house will be habitable next November; the expense of building is enormous in this country, though we are as saving as possible, and everyone does his share of the work. Father Cellini labors like any hired workman, and the bishop himself does not shrink from helping to carry the lumber; he remains the whole day in the heat of the sun, spurring on the workmen and superintending the undertaking. I hope to be able to enclose you a sketch of our plan.
"Meanwhile our seminary is located in a miserable cabin, made of logs roughly put together, or as they say here, a 'log house.' We have introduced into it the regular observance of our rule, and the order of our daily exercises, with as much exactitude as our situation will permit. Our fare is exceedingly poor; ill-baked bread, fresh water instead of wine, meat only now and than, potatoes, cabbage, and other vegetables. Our supper is composed of bread and milk, this being our choicest food. We sleep crowded together in the best way we can, and we have plenty to do in the labors of our holy ministry and in teaching. In this country the cold and heat are both extreme, and the soil which is so unproductive of fruits and eatables, abounds on the contrary with insects of every description, which trouble us considerably. I have counted no less than ten different species of insects, which attack us during the night, and will not let us rest. It seems almost incredible, and yet it is perfectly true that, in one night, I killed as many as one hundred large bugs. There is especially one insect here, quite unknown in Europe; it is called the Tick. When it succeeds in burying itself in the flesh, (as it always seeks to do) it makes one suffer agonies. I have been told that a person died from the impossibility of having it extracted from the place where it had lodged itself. It can never be removed but by making a wound and extracting it piecemeal. The best way to destroy it, is to crush it with an iron.
I must apologize for entering into so many details, but I wished thereby to satisfy the curiosity of those who like to be informed of everything; besides, by giving a few particulars in each letter, I shall, in time, tell you all. I assure you that when I think of Italy, it appears to me an earthly paradise, in comparison with America; and I cannot conceive how so many Europeans undergo such privations and trials, for a miserable worldly gain. I know that were it not for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, I would not stay where I am for all the gold in the world."
Through this motive alone Father De Andreis endured with intrepidity every hardship, and even appeared to become daily more desirous of fresh sufferings. Besides the labors already noticed, the servant of God was obliged to undertake another no less fatiguing occupation, namely of teaching the ecclesiastical sciences. Bishop Dubourg had founded in St. Louis a college for clerical students, and a school for seculars, in which, all being well instructed and trained, might afterward, each one according to his vocation, diffuse the light of the gospel among others. Father De Andreis was chosen by the bishop to be the director of both establishments. He was entrusted, in a special manner, with the instruction of the clerical students, and of those young priests who had not yet concluded their regular course of stud}' in theology and the Scriptures. He fulfilled this office with the greatest joy, and with that excellent judgment, which enabled him to explain clearly all that serves to make a perfect theologian. It is difficult to understand how one person could discharge so many different employments, each of which was enough to require all the talent of a perfect clergyman and yet it is a fact that he fulfilled them all with diligence and accuracy. The duties of one never interfered with those of another, but on the contrary, he performed each one with as much perfection as if it alone were the object of his care; and all this he did constantly without ever seeming to be busy or anxious. In this we must again acknowledge, as we had occasion to do elsewhere, that he was abundantly gifted with uncommon talent and light, which rendered him skillful in every science, and apt to discharge properly any employment, however unexpectedly he might be required to fulfill its duties. He was also endowed with extreme facility in writing on any subject; and his zeal was such, that he seemed insensible to any amount of labor, however multifarious his occupations might be. Neither did he confine himself to these; he found time (we know not whether during the day or night) to write a prodigious number of letters, some to his fellow missionaries to encourage them in their apostolic functions, others to secular priests, who, aware of his learning, had recourse to him as to an oracle, to obtain his decision in intricate or difficult matters; and these were of very frequent occurrence. He likewise found time to compose discourses, or translate his former ones into English and French, making in them many alterations that circumstances of time and place rendered necessary. He also noted down on paper the particular inspirations which he received from God in his daily meditations; and he wrote and dictated everything with so much precision and rapidity, that it might be said of him with truth: Lingua mea calamus scribae velociter scribentis. He often dictated his compositions or explanations, because his frequent infirmities kept him in bed, in which, when unable to rise, he kept class, wrote letters, and settled the affairs of the parish. In one of these attacks he became so sick that it was necessary to give him the holy viaticum, his life being completely despaired of. When Bishop Dubourg, accompanied by several ecclesiastics, who were shedding tears, came to give him the last sacraments: "Come now, Father De Andreis, he said to him: I want you to pray for your recovery." In obedience to this command the invalid prayed, and was immediately cured.
As soon as he was restored to health, he resumed all his accustomed duties, in reference to which, writing to his superior in Rome, he says: "You tell me, Reverend sir, in your letter, that I am burdened beyond my strength. Perhaps I am, but this is only because of my weakness. But I must tell you something which redounds to the glory of God, to whom alone it is due: the number of adult baptisms is very great. I have sometimes baptized whole families at a time, during high Mass, explaining meanwhile, one by one, all the baptismal ceremonies to a crowd of people. Sometimes we have savages to be baptized, at others, persons of every sect and nation. We always have catechumens in course of instruction, sick people to be visited, who often become converts at the point of death, and all this, with our other duties, keeps us constantly employed. Besides the class of theology, the confessional may be called our daily task. We are obliged to preach very often, as no marriage or baptism takes place without a sermon. We have also to preach at funerals, so that without taking into account our regular sermons in French and English, we are often obliged to preach several times a day in both languages."
Father De Andreis hoped that his novices would one day be able to share his numerous duties; but this expectation proved vain. Mr. Tichitoli fell sick; his lungs became so weak, that it was feared he would soon die of consumption. The physicians declared that he would not live long, unless he immediately left the climate of Missouri, where the cold of winter is extreme. It was, therefore, judged expedient to send him to a milder region in the southern part of Louisiana, and, as he had already completed his entire course of theology, Bishop Dubourg promoted him to the priesthood, and sent him to Donaldsonville, in 1819, in order that he might exercise the holy ministry under the direction of Rev. Joseph Bigeschi, the excellent pastor of that place. Mr. Tichitoli deeply felt his separation from his cherished guide and superior in the novitiate; and his grief was the more acute, as he feared that his removal might cause him to be excluded from the body of the Congregation. But Father De Andreis (himself much grieved to part from one whose virtues rendered him estimable in all eyes,) consoled him by telling him that, as long as he continued to observe the rules of the novitiate, he would always consider him as a true son of St. Vincent; and that when the time of making his vows had come, he would send for him to make them at the seminary in St. Louis, as he eventually did. Neither did Father De Andreis keep his two other novices with him very long; after six months' novitiate, he was compelled to part with Mr. Ferrari, who was sent to Vincermes, then dependent on the diocese of Bardstown, some idea being entertained of founding a house of the Mission there. By the same motive, and with similar intentions, Mr. Dahmen was taken from the novitiate. Brother Blanka had previously left St. Louis for the seminary of St. Mary's of the Barrens, where his services were absolutely necessary.
The servant of God, thus separated from all his novices and companions, though he experienced great pain at so many privations, felt consoled by the thought that his beloved children, scattered indifferent places, were laboring with zeal in the vineyard of the Lord. He heard of their fidelity to the rule, of their perseverance in the spirit of their vocation, and rejoiced particularly at the prospect of the speedy establishment of his Congregation in the United States. He witnessed with equal delight the daily progress of the novitiate opened at the Barrens, under the superintendence of Father Rosati, and the arrival of numerous Missionaries, whom Father Beccaria, superior of the Congregation after Father Sicardi, sent to the aid of the American mission. The arrival of this little colony, composed of one priest, some seminarians and two lay-brothers, who were all to remain under the immediate direction of Father De Andreis, was a source of great joy to him, and he gave them a most hearty welcome when they came to St. Louis to place themselves under his orders. The last consolation of the servant of God, was that of reopening the novitiate for new candidates for admission. Among them, a certain Mr. Leo De Neckere, although very young, was remarkable for his uncommon talents and piety. He was afterwards raised to the episcopal see of New Orleans, where he soon fell a victim to his zeal for the salvation of his flock. Only one spiritual consolation was now wanting to Father De Andreis, the one which he had in view in leaving home, for which he undertook the journey to America, and endured so many hardships; in a word, that which had ever been the object of his most ardent desires, of his fervent prayers; this was the entire consecration of himself to the conversion of the Indians. He had met with several of these poor people at St. Louis and elsewhere, and had endeavored to make himself understood by a great many of them. The sight of them did but increase his desire to labor among them, while he was compassionate from the bottom of his heart their unhappy state, deprived, as they were, of the knowledge of God and religion. Still cherishing the hope of being one day able to go among them, he studied the dialect used by one of the Indian tribes, trusting that this knowledge would be a key to the language of the others. At length he seemed on the point of attaining the end for which he so ardently sighed, being required to accompany his bishop to those immense forests; already, in the transports of his joy, he wrote to the seminary of the Barrens in the following terms:
Alleluia! Deo gratias! At length we are to commence a mission among the savages. I am to have the happiness of accompanying the bishop to visit these unfortunate people!" But these wishes were the last sparks of that flame of charity which burned within his heart; for he was soon to depart for heaven, for which he constantly sighed, that he might be united for ever with his God. Like St. Vincent, who was not able before his death to behold the establishment of his Missionaries in the island of Madagascar, for which he so ardently longed, and had made so many sacrifices; like St. Francis Xavier, who had to stop on the very threshold of China, without entering the kingdom, because God called him to himself; so was Father De Andreis to see the Indian tribes, and to approach them, without having it in his power to liberate them from the bonds of their ignorance. God destined others, after his death, to undertake this work.
CHAPTER VII: St. Mary's Seminary of The Barrens --- First House of the Congregation of the Mission in the United States --- Father Rosati its first Superior --- Opening of the Novitiate in St. Louis --- Father De Andreis as Master of Novices.
In the early days of the nineteenth century a colony of Catholics settled at Perryville in Perry County, Mo., about eighty miles south of St. Louis. Nearly all the land in this county was covered with timber, but a few spots of prairie were found, here and there, in the woods. These spots, barren of trees, but rich in productive soil, received among the pioneer settlers the name of "barrens." The term was soon employed to designate the entire neighborhood, which became known throughout the surrounding country as "The Barrens." Here was located St. Mary's Seminary, the oldest institution of higher education west of the Mississippi River. For half a century St. Mary's shone like a beacon-light of learning in the West, and gave celebrity, which would never else have been accorded, to the name of "The Barrens."
The early settlers of The Barrens were Anglo-Americans and came originally from Maryland. During the persecutions against Catholics, which were raised in that state, they sought refuge in this part of Missouri. At St. Genevieve, eighteen miles distant, there was a resident priest who attended, for a while, to their spiritual wants. But, at the time of which we write, a Trappist Monk, Father Joseph Dunaud, who lived at Florissant, a hundred miles above, visited The Barrens whenever he could.
The people had built a small log church, with a sacristy adjoining. Here the holy mysteries were celebrated whenever their pastor or any other priest came among them. These good people were devotedly attached to their faith, and they lived together in the most perfect harmony and the most exact observance of the law of God and the precepts of the Church. Their most ardent desire was to have a pastor residing among them, to instruct and direct them in the ways of eternal life. When they heard that Bishop Dubourg, accompanied by several priests, had arrived in St. Louis, where he was going to fix his residence, they began to hope for the speedy fulfillment of their wishes.
The principal inhabitants held a meeting and determined to make an extraordinary effort to secure the presence among them of one or more of the newly arrived priests. They succeeded beyond their highest anticipations. They bought, and partly paid for, a tract of land which they determined to offer to the bishop, as an inducement for him to send them a resident pastor. A delegation was sent to St. Louis to wait on Bishop Dubourg and to make known to him the desires of the settlers, and the steps they had taken; and that they were disposed to make still further sacrifices as soon as circumstances and the poverty of the neighborhood would allow them to do so.
The Prelate was moved very deeply on receiving these offers; he admired the generosity of their hearts, their simplicity, and the ardor of the faith which animated them. Not only did he receive these good men with the utmost cordiality, expressing his willingness to accede to their pious desires, but he further promised that he would himself go to visit them, the better to settle, on the spot, everything requisite for the execution of their design. He went there eventually, and found that they were an industrious upright people. They greeted him as their true father and pastor; he examined the quality of the ground which was offered him, and found it of easy cultivation; the climate also was healthy, and, having well considered the matter, he no longer doubted that Divine Providence had sent him this excellent location, as much for the spiritual advantage of the colony, as for the erection of a house of the Congregation of the Mission. Father De Andreis, to whom on his return to St. Louis the bishop gave a full account of the state of the place, immediately gave his entire approval to the plan; he desired nothing more ardently than to behold a house of the Congregation established in these distant regions, and now, to his astonishment, much sooner than any one could have anticipated, he beheld the arrival of the happy time when the children of St. Vincent were to be permanently established amidst the woods and wilds of the New World. He rejoiced in God; but sank lower still into the depths of his humility, seeing that the Almighty had blessed his desires and his manifold sufferings. With delight he would have gone to clear away the land with his own hands, instruct the poor and honest people, "plan the proposed building, and arrange all the most arduous work that had to be done in the place, but the bishop would never let him leave his post; so he had to make up his mind to remain at St. Louis, whence he had dispatched suitable aid for the work.
His first and principal care was to recall from Bardstown Father Rosati and his other Missionaries whom he immediately sent to The Barrens, for the double purpose of taking spiritual charge of the colonists, and of superintending and aiding by their personal labor, the building of the new house. They went there as directed, and Father Rosati rendered from the beginning to the end so much assistance to the work, that he deserved to be chosen its first head, director, and superior. Bishop Dubourg, on his part, sent there several other priests, one of whom, Father de Lacroix, was skilled in architecture, and drew the plan of the church and house. The work was begun without delay and prosecuted with vigor, notwithstanding the difficulties of the undertaking, the scarcity of means, and the limited number of laborers. This happy beginning was made with religious solemnity in the spring of 1818. The inhabitants of The Barrens were enthusiastic, and most generous with their time and labor. Some cut down trees and cleared away the brushwood, others leveled the ground and dug the foundations, while others again employed themselves in sawing the timber or planing the boards. A great many brought materials, lumber, lime, etc. Even the women were no less indefatigable than the men, considering every burden light that was to help to build the house of God or that of his servants. Among these fervent souls, Mrs. Hayden deserves particular mention. She was the most wealthy of the inhabitants and a generous-hearted woman, who gave her own house as a lodging for the Missionaries and for the worship of God. The desires of all were soon fulfilled, for, in 1820 part of the house was habitable, and divine service could be performed in the church. The latter was blessed by Father Rosati, (in virtue of the honorable charge conferred on him by the bishop,) assisted by Fathers Bogna, Acquaroni and Dahinen. Meanwhile Father De Andreis rejoiced, at St. Louis, over the success of their labors, and by his continual prayers implored the blessing of Heaven upon their undertaking. God had appointed him a special work, that of forming the spiritual edifice, while others at The Barrens were erecting the material one. To give a correct idea of his labors, we must mention that many of the priests whom Bishop Dubourg had brought with him from Europe wished, very soon after their arrival, to enter the Congregation of St. Vincent. They obtained the consent of the bishop, and then earnestly entreated the servant of God to receive them. Their vocation was, most assuredly, inspired by Heaven, since Father De Andreis and Father Rosati, both equally faithful to the injunctions of their holy Founder, had never attempted to induce any subject to join their community, no matter what good they might hope to do among the people by his instrumentality. They were very much opposed to those crafty suggestions which, in some measure, prevent or hinder the inspirations of God, and which proceed more from self-love than from any sentiment of humility. Therefore, no matter how much affection for their own institute might prompt them to act otherwise, the Missionaries never moved one step, either to gain proselytes or foundations. They did not refuse, however, to receive them when Divine Providence disposed things in their favor. In accordance with these wise maxims, ecclesiastics who desired to enter the family of St. Vincent, were admitted only after mature trial of their vocation. Bishop Dnbourg gave up part of his house for a seminary, and the novitiate being opened, Father De Andreis proceeded to train, instruct, and edify them as well as would have been done in the most regular house of the Mission in Europe.
The name and country of these candidates, their wonderful progress in virtue, as well as the erection of the seminary at The Barrens are amply described in a letter written by Father De Andreis to his superior, the Vicar-General, in Rome, the Very Rev. Charles Sicardi, CM. This letter is dated December 7th, 1818; we will here insert a portion of it:
“At length Father Rosati, with all our seminary, has removed from Bardstown in Kentucky, to a place about eighty miles hence, called The Barrens. There our house is in process of erection. Sufficient land has been secured for the support of the house, besides the tribute that these good people voluntarily impose upon themselves. They are the best Catholics in the diocese, all Anglo-Americans, and honest industrious people. I have not enjoyed the consolation of seeing Father Rosati for more than a year, nor have I any prospect of being soon able to do so; for the ties that bind us both to our respective duties are so close, that they will not allow us to absent ourselves under any pretext. I have just celebrated funeral rites, with great solemnity, over the remains of one of our companions who came from Europe with us, a virtuous and able priest, about twenty-eight years of age; he was a canon of Porto Maurizio, and his name was Joseph Carretti. I attended him in his long illness, which was consumption, and he frequently mentioned to me his desire of joining our Missionaries. He died on the feast of St. Francis Xavier, our great protector, at the very moment that I left his bedside to receive into the novitiate his worthy companion, a priest named Andrew Ferrari, who was likewise from Porto Maurizio (Note: The compiler of this life remembers Fathers Carretti and Ferrari, when in 1816, prompted by the ardor of faith they left Porto Maurizio to accompany Bishop Dubourg to America. They both belonged to very respectable families, and deservedly enjoyed, in their native place, the highest reputation. Their relations opposed their departure with tears, while their friends suggested to the former that his weak constitution would not be able to undergo the fatigue of the journey, and to the latter that he could do much more good in his own country. But no arguments, however powerful, could change their determination. Father Ferrari, having become a Missionary of St. Vincent, was truly an apostolic man; he ended his life, a victim of charity, in assisting those who were attacked by the yellow fever). At the same time two others were received, Rev. Francis Xavier Dahmen, a deacon, and Rev. Joseph Tichitoli, a sub-deacon. Fathers Ferrari and Tichitoli were about 26 years of age; Father Dahmen was twenty nine. They were all excellent subjects, had postulated for more than a year, and after the customary spiritual retreat were admitted into our novitiate and seminary, on the same memorable day, December 3rd. On the eve of the Epiphany, in the following year, we were joined by Rev. F. Cellini, a priest yet in the novitiate, and two students, Mr. F. Borgna and another. All came from Italy.
“According to the custom of the American missionaries, who give scripture names to all holy places, we have named our novitiate or seminary "Gethsemane," which in Hebrew signifies oil press; for we hope that neither the press of tribulation, nor the oil of grace will ever be wanting to us; and as Gethsemane was for our Lord the prelude of his passion, thus we, etc…
"This novitiate consists of a room about fifteen feet long by twelve wide; it stands alone and is built of brick. Within it is a smaller apartment, two cupboards, a small altar, a pretty good little library, three beds, separated one from the other by blue curtains, similar to those used for the Novices in Rome. Each novice has a little table, chair, crucifix, Rodriguez, Bible, Roman Catechism, and Kempis, besides a Compendium of the rules of the seminary, which I have translated into French, and which contains all that is most essential.
"There are many other excellent subjects from various countries who desire admission among us, but our lodging is inconvenient even for three, and for the present I see no possibility of having any other. Poverty is its only ornament, and fervor reigns therein to such an extent that it both confounds and delights me.
"We observe, even to the least point, all the regulations that are customary in Rome and elsewhere; such as rising at four o'clock, meditation, reading, visits, chapter, colloquial conferences, asking for penances, communications, strict silence, genuflections on coining in and going out, office in common, bodily exercise, etc. Everything, including the reading at table, is according to the same form as in Italy. I have less need of the bridle than the spur; and like a blind guard, I tell everyone to be vigilant, fearing that the tree by being transplanted may lose something of its vigor; for in this soil we must count doubly on the excellence of the plant. However, St. Vincent is already beginning to make himself known and much good is done."
Such were the holy ideas in which Father De Andreis trained his novices, and their excellence was seen by the success which attended his efforts. They became truly apostolic men, who, following the maxims and example of their director, were enabled to form other worthy missionaries, and found houses with the same good order, thus propagating everywhere the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul.
CHAPTER VIII: Death of Father De Andreis --- Funeral honors --- Translation of his remains to The Barrens --- Testimony rendered to his merit and virtues.
In his letters to Rome, addressed to the Vicar General of the Congregation of the Mission, Father De Andreis frequently expressed his desire of being set free from the bonds of earth, in order to rise and be united with his God, the centre of all truth, charity and eternal happiness. He spoke thus, especially in his last letter written from St. Louis to Rome, and dated September 4th, 1820. In it he declares that he ardently longs for the day which would consummate the total sacrifice of his life. That day came soon enough less than forty days after the date of his letter.
The health of Father De Andreis had always been weak and delicate. It was on that account that he had been sent from Placentia to Rome in 1806; but as he labored indefatigably, his sojourn in that city, far from ameliorating only served to impair his condition. He concealed his infirmities, because he thirsted to suffer and labor in the vineyard of the Lord. When his departure for America was projected, his superiors evinced no little opposition to the measure, being convinced that an undertaking of the kind required stronger health than his. The hardships which he endured in his journey, and those no less considerable which he had to undergo during his sojourn in Upper Louisiana, joined to his continual and fatiguing labor, eventually shortened his life. He was well aware of this, but far from being grieved at the thought, one would almost have said that he awaited his last hour with impatience. With the most perfect confidence in God he witnessed its approach. His last illness though brief, was extremely painful, but he bore it with heroic patience. He received the holy viaticum with the utmost fervor, and Bishop Dubourg, inconsolable for such a loss, shortly after gave him extreme unction. The few priests who stood weeping around his bed were no less afflicted, and they ceased not to offer to God fervent prayers for his last journey.
Rev. Leo R. De Neckere, C. M., then a young priest, but afterward bishop of New Orleans, was one of those who watched near the servant of God during the closing days of his life, and knelt beside him when he was dying. Shortly before this sad event, Father De Neckere wrote to Father Rosati as follows: "After having embraced you, in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, I must announce, with the deepest sorrow, that our dear superior seems very near his end. He is not able himself to write, and hence he has commissioned me to write for him. The bishop is, I believe, writing also and he will give you details much better than I can. Since Sunday last Father De Andreis seems greatly impressed with the thought of death, and he asked for the last Sacraments, though the physician and others did not think there was much danger. His sufferings and weakness have continually increased during the week, and hence the bishop yesterday administered the holy viaticum to him. Yesterday our dear patient manifested a great desire to see you. I never witnessed anything more edifying and devout than his transports of joy and overflowing of heart, when the thought of death filled him with the hope of an early union with his Creator."
Years after his death the older inhabitants of St. Louis used to tell how Father De Andreis, when he felt that he was dying, begged those around him to lift his emaciated body from the bed and place him on the bare floor of his poor abode, that as Christ died, naked on the cross, so he might die ou the naked floor, to resemble as nearly as possible in death that divine Master who had been his model during all the actions of his life.
A little before his death Bishop Dubourg proposed to him to bless all his fellow-missionaries, which he did, with the same affection he had always evinced towards them. His last act was to appoint Father Rosati (who had always been his dearest disciple and most effectual support), his successor as superior of the American mission; then he expired with the calm joy of the saints, on the feast of St. Theresa, October I5th, 1820. No sooner was the sad event known to the inhabitants of St. Louis than all, even Protestants, gave marks of the deepest sorrow, considering his loss as a public calamity. Sobs and tears, far more than words, expressed the general affliction, so universally was he beloved. During his brief illness they not only came to inquire after him, but the principal citizens of the place waited upon him, day and night, with the most devoted affection; nor could they speak of anything else but his virtues, particularly his meekness and charity. Clothed in his sacerdotal robes, he was laid out in a room of the seminary, and thence carried to the church, where the funeral rites were performed with great solemnity.
There happened, at this time, certain wonderful --- we might almost say miraculous facts --- "Which, writes Father Rosati, afterward Bishop of St. Louis, "we can relate with the utmost assurance, since their occurrence was certain and undeniable."
A very pious widow, who had long before embraced the Catholic faith in the diocese of Boston, and who at the death of Father De Andreis was living at St. Louis as Bishop Dubourg's housekeeper, had often felt interiorly urged during the last illness of the servant of God, to go and beg his blessing that she might be cured of a disease from which she had been suffering seven years, without being able to obtain from physicians any effectual relief. But knowing how much he disliked to receive women into his house, the pious widow could not summon sufficient courage to enter his room and recommend herself to his prayers, fearing that she might thereby cause him some displeasure. However, after his death she entered, and approaching with lively faith the feet of the venerated deceased, whose remains were laid out in the house, she began to offer fervent n prayers to God for her cure. While so doing she touched the feet of the corpse, and immediately experienced an entire cessation of all her pains; her strength was renewed, and she returned home completely cured and joyful beyond measure. She spoke of this cure to all, and as her previous sufferings were well known, while every one witnessed her entire recovery, no doubt was entertained of the truth of the event.
"Bishop Dubourg mentioned it to me," adds Bishop Rosati, "at the very time it took place, as an indubitable fact, and six or seven months after when I happened to be at St. Louis, I saw the person in question, a Mrs. Hearn, and begged her to relate to me all that I had heard respecting her wonderful cure. She promptly consented to my request, and gave me a precise account of the event, with all its circumstances."
"No less remarkable," continues the bishop, "was another occurrence, witnessed by nearly all the inhabitants of St. Louis, and which was regarded as a public and striking testimony given by Heaven, of the sanctity of Father De Andreis. On the morning of the 16th of October, precisely at nine o'clock, when the body of the servant of God clothed in his sacerdotal vestments, was laid out in the hall for the consolation of those who wished to see him, while the day was serene and the sun shining with his usual splendor, a beautiful large star suddenly appeared in the sky, exactly over the spot where the body lay exposed. Its brilliancy was visible to every one for the space of three hours, and it disappeared only at the moment when the body, having been taken to the church, the funeral ceremonies around the coffin were concluded.
"All admired this prodigy, its position was considered as an evident miracle, and as it was the general opinion that Father De Andreis was a saint, every one openly declared that this beautiful star was the soul of the servant of God, already resplendent with celestial glory. The Rev. Father Saulnier, now assistant priest of the cathedral of St. Louis, and who was then a resident of the place; Mr. Bovet, a native of Canada, of exemplary piety and singular probity; Mr. de Hodiamont all worthy citizens and excellent Catholics can be referred to as witnesses of the wonderful fact we have related."
There is another event equally well authenticated, namely a miraculous cure performed by Father De Andreis during his residence in Kentucky. The man whose health was restored by means of the prayers of the servant of God, afterward resided at The Barrens, a few miles from St. Mary's Seminary, and Archbishop Odin of New Orleans heard the fact from his own lips.
Bishop Dubourg, a man of enlightened wisdom and who was highly capable of discerning true and solid virtue, held the servant of God in the highest esteem and would not allow his remains to be placed in the common cemetery. Remembering how much Father De Andreis had loved the Missionaries, his companions, and how much also he was beloved by them in return, the bishop granted them the privilege of possessing his body. Accordingly, after having celebrated with his entire clergy the solemn obsequies in the cathedral church in St. Louis, he ordered that the venerated remains should be conveyed with suitable pomp to the seminary of The Barrens, where Father Rosati was superior.
The bishop wrote to Father Rosati as follows, on October 16, 1820: “God has deprived us of your father, and my saintly co-laborer, my dear friend. What can I say to console you for this irreparable loss, since I am myself overwhelmed with grief? Sicut Domino placuit, ita factum est. Sit nomen Domini benedicttim. I send you his precious remains. They belong naturally to you, but in parting with them I assure you that I make a sacrifice for your sake. Be pleased to inform your superiors of the profound sorrow in which I am plunged. Let this holy body repose in a place where it can be easily disinterred when this may be necessary. Bring the seminarians every Sunday evening to his grave, and often call the attention of the people of the parish to the treasure they possess."
During this removal of the body of the servant of God to The Barrens, eighty miles distant, it was escorted by the most distinguished citizens of St. Louis, who voluntarily hastened to join the funeral train. As the mournful procession proceeded on its way, many Catholics of the parishes through which it passed joined the inhabitants of St. Louis. They crossed the river at Cahokia, were the coffin having been taken to the church, Mass was chanted and a funeral service celebrated, according to the customary formalities. Rev. Father Olivier, in his parish of Prairie du Rocher, performed the same charitable and religious office for the illustrious deceased. At this place the devout retinue was increased, and soon reached the parish of St. Genevieve. Here the holy priest was universally lamented. The people remembered that they had seen him full of life among them, that he had been their zealous guide and indefatigable missionary, and all hastened to pay him the last tribute of their respect, by assisting at the funeral service performed over his remains by their worthy pastor, Father Pratte. Many of the inhabitants joined the sorrowful train, and accompanied the body to the seminary of The Barrens. Father Rosati, being duly apprised of their arrival, with all his clergy set out to meet the procession at the entrance of the church, and solemnly received the body according to the formalities prescribed by the ritual. His prayers were frequently interrupted by sobs and tears, for how could he restrain his grief for one who had been both his beloved master and cherished companion, a father whom he, more than anyone else, knew to be a truly apostolic man, and on whose aid he had so long rested all his earthly hopes? On the following day, a solemn High Mass having been chanted, after the recitation of the customary prayers, the precious remains were laid in a tomb of brick work, behind the church. Here they were left until the month of September, 1837.
Meanwhile the new and handsome church belonging to the seminary having been completed, Bishop Rosati, who had been previously raised to the episcopal see of St. Louis, of which he was the first bishop, ordered that the body of Father De Andreis should be removed to a more suitable resting place. The intentions of the bishop were announced to the people, and they came in crowds to the old church, into which the coffin was brought. The Office for the Dead was chanted, the most holy sacrifice was offered with great solemnity, and then the devout procession moved on to the new church, were the body was laid in a stone sepulcher, constructed by order of the bishop. It was placed on the gospel side, in the chapel of St. Vincent, directly beneath the pavement. A slab, bearing the following inscription in honor of the deceased, was inserted in the opposite wall:
Hie jacet Felix De Andreis, Congregationis Missionis in America Primus Superior et Fundator, Atque Diocesis Neo Aurelianensis Vicarius Generalis; Natus Demontii in Italia Subalpina, Prid. Id. Decemb. MDCCLXXVIIL Obiit Sti Ludovici Idib. Oct. MDCCCXX. Vir apostolicis virtutibus, ingenio, eruditione et eloquentia maxima conspicuus. Ne mortuus a fratribus corpore abesset qui vivus illis fuerat corde quam maxime conjunctus, mortales ejus exuvias sancto Ludovico exportatas et in veteri caemeterio primum tumulatas, Fratres ejus in Christo amantissimi, Episcopus Sancti Ludovici Coeterique Congregationis Missionis sacerdotes decentiorem mine in locum transtulerunt, IX Kal. Octob. MDCCCXXXVII.
Bishop Dubourg announced the death of Father De Andreis to all the clergy of his diocese by the following circular:
R.I.P. Jussu Revmi. Episcopi nostri maestissimum tibi nuncium facio OBITUS REVDI. ADMODUM D. FELICIS DE ANDREIS, Vicarii-generalis, necnon Congregationis Missionis, in hoc Ludovicensi provincia moderatoris, viri sanctitate aeque ac doctrina praestantissimi, qui Octobris die 15, 1820, post duiturni morbi molestias admirabili mansuetudine toleratas, sacramentis munitus et caeleatibus jam diliciis affluens, annos natus circiter duo et quadraginta, meliorem ad vitam evolavit. Defecit heu! Cleri nostri lumen et decus, evangelii praeco potentissimus, pauperum amator, Ludovisianae missionis spes et columen! Pretiosam venerandi sacerdotis mortem inexplebili luctu prosequitur Episcopus, lugent et omnium ordinum homines. Utinam tot gemitibus motus Deus totius consolationis, aliquos in nobis excitat tantae virtutis haeredes! Ad obsequia paratissimus, "CAR. DE LACEOIX, "Revmi. D. D. Episcopi Ludov., Secretarius. For the benefit of readers not familiar with the Latin, we will here give a translation of the foregoing circular:
"By order of our Right Rev. Bishop I hereby make to you the most lamentable announcement of the death of the Very Rev. Felix De Andreis, Vicar-General of this diocese, and superior of the Congregation of the Mission in the province of Louisiana. He was a man most renowned for sanctity and for learning. He died on the 15th of October, 1820, after a long and painful illness borne with admirable resignation. Fortified by the sacraments, and seeming to taste in advance celestial joys, he passed to a better life, at about the age of forty-two years. Thus alas! has passed away a light and ornament of our clergy, a most eloquent preacher of the gospel, a lover of the poor, the hope and support of our Louisiana Mission. The bishop laments, with inexpressible grief, the precious death of this venerated priest, and men of all classes mourn his loss. May the God of all consolation, moved by so many lamentations, raise up among us many imitators of his great virtue! Your obedient servant, Chas. De Lacroix, Sec'y of the Bishop of Louisiana."
It was also thought proper that Bishop Dubourg should send speedy information to Rome of the sad event. This he did in a letter of October 19th addressed to the Vicar-General of the Vincentians. The following is a translation from the French:
"Very Reverend Sir: "God has just visited us with an affliction which my heart feels most keenly, and which is also a terrible blow for this mission. It is the death of Father De Andreis, which occurred on Sunday, the 15th instant, the day on which we celebrated the feast of the holy Guardian Angels, and I doubt not that the prayers said for him on that occasion were granted to their full extent: Subvenite Angell Dei … ct jubeas earn a sanctis Angelis suscipi, et ad patriam Paradisi perduci. This death has plunged, not only the city of St. Louis but the whole diocese, into the deepest grief, for every one considered him a saint. I trust that God will glorify him by the testimony of miracles, for there exists already a very general readiness to believe in them, a most beautiful star having appeared in the heavens, in the middle of the day, at the very moment of his funeral. A woman of advanced age, employed in my service, who had been suffering for three years was immediately, and I trust effectually, cured of her disease. I enclose you the account in English; also the Latin circular.
"This is indeed an irreparable loss. At the moment of his death, Father De Andreis appointed Rev. Jos. Rosati as superior of the Congregation of the Mission in America. He is the only one who can fill such a post, for all the others are too young. It is very necessary, sir, that you should send us two subjects of mature age, of talent and solid virtue, in order that the precious foundation of the company in Louisiana may be permanently secured. If Father Rosati fail us, all will go to ruin. He also will, without doubt, entreat you to do this; allow me to unite my most earnest prayer with his. Besides the seminary which I have given to the Congregation, I intend to make use of it for the establishment of another house for the missions, in one of the most populous localities of Lower Louisiana. The good that these two establishments will procure is incalculable. You have been already informed, Reverend sir, that you have here six novices, nearly all priests, of whom the greater number are remarkable for talent and virtue. I have the honor to remain, etc. Louis William Dubourg, Bishop of Louisiana. St. Louis, Mo., U. S. of America, Oct. 19, 1820.”
We will subjoin to the above letter an extract from the Missouri Gazette. It is as follows:
St. Louis, Mo., October 18, 1820. REGISTER OF DEATHS. "Died in this city on the 15th of the present month, after a painful illness, in the forty-second year of his age, the Rev. Felix De Andreis, Vicar-General of Louisiana, and Superior of the Congregation of the Mission in America. This venerated priest was born in Piedmont, Italy, of a respectable and wealthy family. He embraced the ecclesiastical career at an early period of his life. His youth was distinguished by perfect innocence and continual progress in virtue, thereby foretelling what he was to be in after years, a man of God, an apostle. The comforts of home and the delights of family affection were the first ties that the voice of heaven called upon him to sever, in order to devote himself to the lowly and toilsome duties of the country missions, and the practice of the evangelical counsels of poverty and obedience, in the truly apostolic Congregation founded by St. Vincent, about two hundred years ago. The different provinces of Italy were, by turns, the theatre of his zeal, and the stirring effusions of his almost divine eloquence, brought to his feet thousands of miserable sinners, who were comforted and relieved by his tender charity. Being called to Rome, as the place most suited to his noble talents and extensive learning, he became, in a short time, the oracle of this capital of the Christian world, and excited the admiration of the most eminent prelates. But his humility was alarmed at the esteem he enjoyed, and which opened for him a path to the highest honors; the city of Rome was too limited for his ardent zeal, and he sought a field more vast and more abandoned. He had long solicited the favor of being sent to a foreign mission. China was the first object of his desires, but Divine Providence having frustrated his hopes in that quarter, directed them towards America. He had many obstacles to surmount in order to attain his end; his superiors, supported by the most illustrious dignitaries of Rome, strongly opposed his departure. It was represented to the Sovereign Pontiff that his presence in Rome was absolutely necessary, and that his removal would be a public calamity. It even appears that the Holy Father was somewhat influenced by these arguments, but he finally consented to the desires of the humble priest, and imposed silence on all who opposed his departure. The holy man, therefore, left Italy for America in 1816, being accompanied by several members of his Congregation, of whom he was, in due form, appointed superior; and after residing for about a year in Kentucky, where he is still remembered with esteem and affection, he arrived in this city with our excellent bishop, who, some time before had made him his Vicar-General and the soul of his councils. The three years of his residence among us were entirely devoted to the most active and charitable offices of his sacred ministry, and were enough to immortalize his gentle memory in the hearts of all classes of our citizens. His fervent piety, unwearied solicitude for the salvation of souls, his tender and ingenious charity towards the poor, will long be favorite topics; while his pathetic and frequent exhortations from the pulpit will forever remain engraved on the hearts of his hearers, to serve as a reproof to the negligent and animate the good to perseverance. His last moments were those of the just man, who every day of his life studies the great lesson of dying a holy death. The announcement of his approaching dissolution not only found him resigned and contented, but it further excited him to raptures of joy. All the glory of heaven shone upon his pallid countenance. His last words were in favor of his spiritual children, whom he recommended to the especial care of the bishop. His death is universally lamented. Every one seems to have lost in him a true father, and the weeping crowd that accompanied his final obsequies proclaimed him the beloved of God and man, one whose memory will be forever blessed. His mortal remains will be conveyed by pious escort to the seminary of The Barrens in Perry County, which is directed by the priests of his Congregation."
The saintly Mother Duchesne, first superior of the Sacred Heart Nuns in America, enjoyed, for a short time preceding his death, the happiness of having Father De Andreis for her confessor and spiritual director. Until she met him, she seemed to have found no one in this country who properly understood her, or who could satisfy her in the direction of her conscience. In one of her letters she wrote: "I have no longer any consolations; my heart longs for some support, and finds none but in God. In my anxiety for spiritual aid I thought of Mgr. Flaget, the bishop of Bardstown, but he never came; and then again, of the holy Father De Andreis, the provincial of the Lazarists, but he is ill. So I must remain with God alone, my soul never having been able to open itself to any one since I left France." (Life of Mother Duchesne, p. 198).
The pastor of Florissant, Mo., a few miles from St. Louis, was also the chaplain of the Sacred Heart community, which Mother Duchesne had established there. As this priest was obliged to be absent for a considerable time during 1819, Father De Andreis was sent by the bishop to take his place, to the great delight of Mother Duchesne and her companions. His short residence at Florissant was yet long enough to have been full of the greatest consolation and benefit to these heroic religious who, in the midst of poverty and suffering, practiced the most heroic virtues and laid, deep and strong, the first foundation of the Sacred Heart Society in the New World. Madam Duchesne was herself dangerously ill during the last sickness of Father De Andreis. As soon as she was able, she wrote to her superiors in France, saying: "The bishop, and we too, have suffered a great loss, that of Father De Andreis, the superior of the Lazarists and Vicar General. He was great, both in sanctity and learning, and with singular gifts for the care of souls. A malignant fever carried him off just as I was getting better. All the population of St. Louis, Protestants and Jews included, followed him to the grave, with the most sincere grief. He is supposed to have already wrought several miracles." (Idem, p. 208).
As Mother Duchesne is a candidate for beatification, the evidence of her holy life and heroic virtues being now under examination by the Congregation of Rites in Rome, her testimony to the virtues of her holy director is of more than ordinary importance. Till the day of her death, she kept, as a most cherished relic, a copy of the Imitation of Christ, which had been used by Father De Andreis.
When the news of the death of Father De Andreis was announced to his friends at a distance from St. Louis, many of them expressed by letter their great veneration for him, and their deep grief over his untimely departure. From these letters we will give just a few selections here. Rev. Father Portier, afterwards first Bishop of Mobile, wrote from New Orleans to Father Rosati in the following terms, on December 2nd, 1820:
"We realize, my dear friend, the great loss which you, and all of us, have sustained in the death of our saintly Father De Andreis. It is a general affliction for all the Missionaries, but it is a very special one to me, who had hoped to find, for a long time to come, in his lights and his sanctity the direction which my conscience demands and will continue to demand. But what consoles me is, that the saint who is dead will become our protector, by his merits and his prayers, and that the memory of his holy example will long survive amongst us, to reanimate us in the trials of our career. We celebrated here three solemn Masses for the repose of his soul, but I do not doubt that it found repose in the bosom of God, at the very instant when it was separated from his body."
Bishop David, coadjutor of the diocese of Bardstown, held Father De Andreis in the highest veneration. When the news of the death of the servant of God reached him, he wrote from the seminary of Bardstown to Father Rosati, expressing his great sorrow. His letter is dated December 12, 1820. "I share with you as far as possible," he wrote, "the great loss which has lately befallen you. I knew the merit of Father De Andreis well enough to appreciate him. His death is not only a loss to you, but to the diocese of Louisiana and to the entire Church. But what should console us all is the assurance we have, that if a faithful priest has been taken from us, an intercessor has been given us in heaven, who will be not less useful to us by the graces he will obtain for us, than he would have been by the exercise of his ministry amongst us, if his life had been prolonged.
And the saintly Bishop Flaget, who knew Father De Andreis so well and loved him so tenderly, was overcome by grief when he heard of the death of his dear friend. The admiration of these two holy men for each other was mutual. Mother Duchesne said of them: "They are both universally looked upon as saints, and God visibly blesses their ministry." During their residence together in the seminary at Bardstown, for nearly a year, they came to know each other intimately. The letters of Father De Andreis, given in preceding pages, sufficiently testify his great esteem for the bishop, while the following words of Bishop Flaget, written to Father Rosati, November 6, 1820, are valuable evidence to the sanctity of the great priest whose life we are writing.
"I feel most deeply," says Bishop Flaget, "the irreparable loss you have sustained by the death of the wise, the amiable, the saintly Father De Andreis. I knew and appreciated his great merits, though I was not able to imitate his virtues. Heaven grant that he may not rise up some day to condemn my laxity and lukewarmness. The Bishop Mauricastro, my coadjutor, as well as those here who knew the virtuous Missionary, join with me in my sorrow and desire me to express to you their sincere condolence. It was the afternoon of All Saints Day, when we were about to celebrate the second vespers of the feast and the first vespers of All Souls, that the afflicting news reached us; and, as we recalled the simplicity, the kindness, the piety and fervor of the holy priest, we were puzzled to decide whether we should invoke him as a saint or pray for the repose of his soul. But, however this may be, he will certainly see God for all eternity; and no matter how valuable he may have been to us during this life, he will be still more so now, after his happy death."
' CHAPTER IX: Interior Life of Father De Andreis.
We mean by interior life that constant duty to which 'the servant of God so thoroughly applied himself to remove from his soul every imperfection, for the one object of becoming completely agreeable to God. This holy exercise he called his interior life, because he labored with pious ingenuity to conceal it from the eyes of others. He had himself traced out its plan shortly after his arrival in Rome. The following were the rules which he proposed to observe faithfully the whole time of his life:
1. In the morning, as soon as I awake, I will excite myself to holy joy at the thought that God grants me another day to do penance for my sins and merit heaven, drawing hence many devout affections.
2. While celebrating Mass, studying, or taking my meals, I will conduct myself in a spirit of sacrifice, universal abnegation and entire submission to God, as if I were in the very act of offering him a perfect holocaust.
3. On those days in which I have to undergo the greatest humiliations, contempt and suffering, I will exult interiorly with transports of holy joy, striving to excite them by motives of pure love.
4. But, when everything has gone on smoothly, I will humble myself and strive to awaken within my heart feelings of sorrow; this also through motives of pure love. To this interior exercise I will add the following regulations respecting my exterior conduct.
5. I must endeavor, on every occasion, to make myself all unto all, seeking, without waiting to be asked, to console, assist and serve others, always acting and speaking in such a way that all this may proceed from a solid foundation of humility, charity and meekness: disregarding, in every circumstance, all repugnance, self-love, or coldness; waiting until I am alone, to subdue any interior trouble and revolt that this manner of acting may occasion me. I must do this the more earnestly, as it is what God requires of me. It shall be the object of the present retreat, and the end of all my meditations, examinations, reading, and other spiritual exercises. I will, for this purpose, read attentively the life and works of St. Vincent de Paul and of St. Francis de Sales.
It cannot be denied that the exercise now proposed will require stronger virtue than that which I have hitherto, though imperfectly, practiced. What virtue I possessed, was comprised in silence and inaction, in refraining from following the impulse of my passions, in practices of a merely negative nature such as to avoid bringing myself forward, to refrain from excusing myself, from complaining, and many other similar acts, the minute detail of which would be too lengthy. Now that something more positive is proposed, I shall have to fight continually, and shall never be able to flatter myself that I have obtained the state of pure love, if I do not begin from this point; to expect it by any other means would be mere rashness.
I acknowledge that too frequently I have been guilty of this rashness, from neglecting to follow the advice of our Divine Redeemer: Recumbe prius in novissimo loco, and go not higher until it be said to thee: ascende superius. I blush for having, too often, been presumptuous enough to aspire to a kiss from the divine lips; namely to the state of pure love, whereas I have not, as yet, sufficiently practiced the kissing of the feet; namely, the virtues of humility and affability. I ask pardon for my presumption, and will devote myself to this practice, acknowledging that the repulses which I have received are very well deserved. He who wishes to mount higher, deserves to be sent back to the lowest seat, and I should indeed have known this after reading so many lives and words of the saints. I will then learn to humble myself, and never think that I am too much lowered. I will endeavor to , parry the specious arguments of self-love by this golden advice of St. Francis de Sales 'Excuse and bear with thy neighbor, with much meekness of heart; do not philosophize on the contradictions thou mayest meet with; look not at them but on God, in all things, without any expectation; and acquiesce with simplicity in all his designs.
Father De Andreis frequently examined himself on this rule of life, and, as he perceived that he did not always follow it exactly, he formed new and vigorous resolutions of putting it more perfectly into practice. On February 24th, 1808, he took the following determination:
This morning a faint glimmer of light pierced the thick darkness and anguish of mind which had oppressed me. It revealed to me, in my conduct, an excessive tenderness of self, which, almost imperceptibly gaining ground, makes me forget, under various artful pretexts, the holy practices of meekness, mortification and humility, and is in a fair way of reducing me to a merely animal life. I strive to avoid, as much as possible, suffering of any kind. I yield to weariness, and grow angry, at least interiorly, at the smallest offense that I seem to receive. Without being aware of it, I have nourished a certain amount of self-esteem. Meditation and examination of conscience have become a mere exercise of the mind; and hence it is that I am so molested by scruples and interior pains. I pray to be freed from them, but my prayer is not heard. I therefore acknowledge this to be an admirable arrangement of the love of Divine Providence, who permits me to remain in these and similar infirmities, that they may serve to counterbalance my pride, which otherwise would grow to a frightful extent; and, though it seems to me that I refer all to God, I unconsciously and too frequently, become vain in prosperity, and let this be seen in my intercourse with others. It is true that Our Lord might remedy this evil in some other way, but who am I to dare prescribe laws to the Almighty? May his most holy will be done in all and everywhere. I therefore resolve to be more vigilant and faithful, remembering: Tantum profides, quantum tibi ipsi vim intuleris (Kempis).
"I copied today, March 15th, 1808, amost useful passage from the Life of Father Peter Consolini, a beloved disciple and perfect imitator of Saint Philip Neri. I fail very often in one of his fundamental maxims which is this: 'True humility teaches us to avoid as much as possible, all scientific or spiritual conversations, because such topics generally increase our vanity and raise us in the esteem of others. Our self-love feeds on this, and though some may say, that in order to benefit our neighbor we should discourse on spiritual things, it may be replied that it is at the foot of the crucifix, by means of prayer, tears, and penance, not with fine words, that we can do good to the soul of our neighbor.' And this he said especially for the young. Anyone who is truly humble, will speak little of himself or of anything that might gain him public esteem.
"In the present retreat of 1808, I have by the grace of God and with much trouble discovered in the hidden recesses of my heart, lurking beneath a thousand folds of plausible reasoning, a secret spirit of ambition, which tries to gain the ascendancy and very often makes me utter words which are calculated to draw upon me esteem and consideration. It also causes me to aspire after distinctions, and makes me feel disturbed when I am not gratified. In spite of my full conviction that whatever good I have is entirely the gift of God, and that of myself I am but a miserable wretch unworthy of anything but contempt, still I wish to be thought much of and am sad if I do not obtain what I desire! O miseria! O praesumptio nequissima unde creata es! Sunt multafusis illita, quae luce purgentur tua: tu vera lux celestium vultu sereno illumina. Hymn Laud. fer. IV.
"Besides this, I have noticed several times that, when an opportunity of performing an act of humility presents itself, 1 feel that I am deprived of the courage that I need in order to overcome myself. It appears as if all would be lost were I to perform that act; so that I not only abstain from it, but even sometimes yield to the opposite vice. I have, however, found two reasons for my want of fidelity in practicing the holy resolutions which I took in my former retreats.
"The first is want of light in the understanding to discover the subterfuges of pride; the second, want of fortitude in the will, to overcome my repugnance.. Full of confidence in God, I now feel inspired to resolve upon the ten following articles:
“1. To show great respect, both in word and action, towards every one, according to his position.
“2. To humble myself sincerely in everything, and rejoice when I see myself despised by others.
“3. To approve of everything in our Lord, praise every one, especially the absent, and be sincerely benevolent and kind to all.
“4. To forget myself and be silent on all things that concern me; however, if necessary, I will speak of them as matters of no consequence and not worth mentioning.
“5. To be sincerely compassionate and merciful towards others; for true justice shows compassion, but false justice only indignation.
“6. Ever to be rigid and austere towards myself.
“7. To excuse others, and never accuse them but in cases where prudence requires that superiors should know their faults in order to admonish them.
“8. Always to accuse, but never to excuse myself, unless my conscience tells me that it is necessary, in order to remove a cause of scandal; and then I will do it with moderation.
“9. Should I happen to experience great reluctance in the practice of any of these acts, I will have recourse to God, and continue to pray and supplicate until I become entirely victorious.
“10. In order that these resolutions may never escape my memory, I will frequently meditate upon them, especially when I do not rise at the usual hour, or for any other reason I make my meditation privately. These ten points shall then be the subject on which I will meditate.
"I should frequently consider that man's esteem is nothing; that if it were something, I do not deserve it; and even should I deserve it, I ought to renounce it for God. For unless I do so, whatever good I may effect, being tainted with such venom, my unbridled pride would snatch it out of my hands."
"To overcome this pride," adds the servant of God in another place, I must be well convinced that those who blame me, rather flatter me because they do not know the whole extent of my malice; they are perhaps mistaken with regard to some things which they lay to my charge, but if they knew how many and how much worse things there are within me; if they knew that in spite of so many lights and graces, I still remain in the midst of my infidelities, they could not do otherwise than consider me as a monster of ingratitude, as one unworthy to live in the house of God in the midst of his servants, and they would even do me a favor by expelling me from it as I deserve; because a raven should not dwell with doves, nor a wretched ass among steeds richly caparisoned. Oh! how great is my misery. The more abundant the talents and gifts that a person receives from God, the greater the difficulty which he finds in bridling his self-love, which imputes these heavenly presents to itself, appropriates them and even makes of them a bulwark, wherein it fortifies itself and holds out against every attack. If it be vanquished on one side, it defends itself on the other; if it cannot conquer in one way, it tries new artifices, and, making trophies of its defeats, endeavors to convert into gains its very losses themselves, determined not to die until it compels the soul to bend to its will; or, at least it continues to weary and harass her in such a way as to leave her completely worn out and enervated. How much, then, do we not need patience and the mercy of God."
It was in these trials or rather conflicts that the whole interior life of the servant of God consisted. It was completely veiled from the eye of man, and we should know nothing of it, had he not, for his own guidance, described some of the divine operations which God performed in his soul, to detach him from the smallest affection to sin, and thus lead him through the most painful trials, to the pure love of his Creator.
CHAPTER X: Theological Virtues practiced by Father De Andreis
The reader has been able to form some idea of the sanctity of the servant of God, both from the letters we have transcribed, and the testimony of enlightened priests, who knew him intimately and for a considerable length of time. But, as we wish to give here a slight sketch of his virtues, we will add that our holy missionary was endowed, in the highest degree, with all the theological and moral virtues, the assemblage of which constitutes those great saints who have so brightly adorned the Church of God.
With regard to faith, he possessed it in so high a degree, and had received from God so much light, that he would willingly have given his life to enkindle it in the hearts of those who were, unfortunately, in doubt, or who were ignorant of the divine mysteries. He did not think himself worthy of martyrdom, but his heart burned with the desire of suffering it, by dying for the defense of religion in some obscure corner of the world. With what zeal did we not see him, in Rome, preach the truths of faith in those unhappy days, when the sovereign pontiff, Pius VII., having been expelled from his Apostolic see, the holy city witnessed within her walls the ravages of error, heresy and unbelief, propagated by wicked men who, by their words as well as by their infamous writings, professed to believe nothing themselves and sought only to pervert others. Father De Andreis immediately endeavored to counteract their efforts by invincible arguments, whereby he cautioned his auditors against these erroneous doctrines; and he composed an excellent catechism, in which the truths of faith were clearly demonstrated. For no other end than the greater extension of the faith, Father De Andreis entirely renounced his country, his parents, his favorite studies, all his holy employments, even Rome itself, so dear to his heart, and started for North America where he knew that thousands of his fellow creatures were deprived of the light of the gospel, and consequently immersed in the shadows of death. And how great was the zeal which devoured him, when at length, in the midst of innumerable dangers, he arrived among those savage nations, and saw them with his own eyes, living almost like the animals of their native forests. We may truly say, that his heart throbbed with sorrow and tenderness, like that of St. Paul, who on his entrance into the Areopagus perceived that the Athenians were no less superstitious than the most idolatrous barbarians.
The ardor of the servant of God was such, only because of the extraordinary gifts with which God had so profusely endowed him. "The lights which I receive," says he in his private memoirs, "are so numerous, vivid and extensive, the sentiments and emotions which I experience so certain, although interrupted, that I can truly say, that I scarcely ever have need of faith in order to believe, because I not only clearly perceive the things of faith, but seem to touch them. Our Lord vouchsafes to act thus with me on account of my extreme weakness, knowing that with faith alone I should have done no good. I must then in consideration of all this,
"1. Think much less of myself than of those who proceed onward by the guidance of faith alone, without these extraordinary aids.
"2. I must renounce all this, and trust to faith alone; for what," adds the servant of God, "is all human and even angelic knowledge in comparison to the divine inspirations of faith? This is a sun whose splendor eclipses all minor luminaries, and prevents their brightness from being seen. O how wise it is to rely entirely on faith, and to despise thoroughly all the uncertain opinions and researches of human knowledge! The animal man perceives not the invisible government of God, who orders and prepares all things^ with admirable economy, only discernible to the eye of faith. And, O what a spectacle is this, for one who is capable of admiring its grandeur! What peace and contentment does it not produce amid the vicissitudes of life, the various civil and political commotions which agitate kingdoms, cities and families! What joy it is to know that all is arranged by God, for his greater glory and the good of his elect!"
Such was his hope of eternal salvation through the merits of Jesus Christ that he appeared to have a certain foresight of his future happiness in heaven. Thence proceeded his reluctance to linger still on earth, where, to use his own words, he did not wish to see even his shadow; that complete detachment, which he felt from all creatures and his indifference to the honors and praises which he received from men; his ardent desire to accelerate, indeed it might be said to consummate, the sacrifice of his life, that he might ascend to heaven and there contemplate the wisdom, truth, and glory of God; thence, in a word, proceeded those interior emotions which attracted even his bodily senses to the ineffable beauties of his Creator and Last End.
This hope became an absolute reliance on God, and a total abandonment of everything to him. He thus expresses his feelings: "After all, I can draw but this conclusion: all the lights and inspirations which I have received and the trials which I have experienced admirably terminate in this: that I should always, and in everything, abandon myself with sincere, total, and filial tenderness, into the hands of my good God, my father, my loving spouse, my life, my all; that I may be guided as he chooses, and as it seems best to him, without seeking to know what it is to be, or when, or how it is to be; without asking why this, or why that since numquid potestis cogitantes adjicere ad staturam vestram cubitum unum? I am the property of God, I am much more his than my own, and even what I call mine, and the very faculty of speaking thus, is his. He created me in order that I might be saved, and he knows how to lead me securely to this end; he can, and will do it; while I, on the contrary, through my ignorance and malice, neither know, nor can do anything; I am only fit to spoil the work. What then remains for me to do but to abandon all to him? I know not what he requires of me, nor by what paths he desires to lead me, what are the things he expects of me, nor those he does not wish me to understand. The ways of God are most holy and just, admirable and worthy of love; but they are, in general, secret, hidden, ineffable, and incomprehensible! Secretos Dei, says St. Austin, intentos debet facere non adversos. I much need to adopt and reduce to practice the maxim of our holy founder, St. Vincent, who spoke thus: 'I have a strong attraction to follow Divine Providence, step by step, without ever going before it. Consequently, seeing in all the holy will of God, I ought to be indifferent to everything, whether suffering or delights, rest or labor, to do this or that, remain in one place or go to another, treat with this person or with that other; acting only in accordance with the manifestations of the divine will in my regard. This is to be my polar star, and I must keep the magnet of my heart ever turned towards it; so that spiritual advantages, life or death, and even eternity itself, shall be desired by me, only in as much, and in the manner that God wills them.'
O altitudo divitiarum sapientiae et sdentiae Dei! How great is my blindness when I want to understand all that concerns me, and see whither I am led by the Lord, grieving when this is denied me! My God! what folly! as if nothing were to be attributed to the incomprehensibility of divine justice and the mystery of its ways! As if I ought not to trust entirely to thee! how absurd to imagine that the helm would be better in my own hand, and to wish thee to account to me for every move that thou makest either to the right or to the left! What no one would think of with an earthly pilot, I too often presume to do towards the great guide of my soul, the Holy Spirit. It is true that the hidden judgments of God cause in my soul, fear, and even very great fear, because I know that God could make of me a terrible example of the way in which monsters of pride and ingratitude, like myself, are punished by divine justice. But, if this fear is accompanied, (as it should always be) by humility and submission to the divine will, it will give rise to tender confidence which will keep my soul in peace, even in the midst of the thickest darkness and the most frightful confusion."
Charity, the most sublime of the three theological virtues, was deeply grounded in the soul of Father De Andreis. We could not give a better proof of this assertion than by transcribing some of his own words in reference to it. "At length," says he, "a light shone around me which dispelled my darkness, and pointed out to me, with certainty, the happiness of my state, which is rapidly advancing towards its end, that of completely purifying me. Very clearly did I understand that, instruam te in via hac qua gradieris . . . and those other words, quid mihi est in coelo et a te quid volui super terram! I saw that when I concentrate myself wholly in God, I enjoy great light and peace. It is only when treating with my neighbor, on indifferent subjects that do not refer immediately to God, that I feel, in a manner, estranged and bewildered; that I surfer unspeakable anguish of mind, which only those who have undergone similar trials can understand. It is something like what one must feel in being plunged headlong into a fathomless abyss. . . . All in God, for God, with God, according to the views of God, and nothing more!
"It would be delightful to dwell in some corner of the house, forgotten and as if dead, being resolved to enjoy no other company than that of Jesus Christ, the sweet spouse of my soul, resigning myself completely into his hands, devoting entirely to his service my tongue, mind, and heart, my body, life, time, and everything that is mine."
During the retreat that Father De Andreis made in 1810, he examined, with the utmost diligence, all the affections of his heart; he thus concludes: "It appears to me that I am, through the Divine Mercy, in this disposition, that if I knew there were in my heart a single fiber not entirely belonging to God, I would tear it out, even should it cost me my life: confirma Deus hanc voluntatem. To this he adds: "God alone is great, to God alone be all honor and glory, God alone, and nothing else!" Again, he says, on the 3rd of November: "I have, during the past days, received from the Almighty a most admirable grace, which consists in a gentle, yet very strong desire to divest myself, once for all, of all my failings and imperfections, to clothe myself with Jesus Christ; and I burn with divine love, in such a manner as to inflame the hearts of others: flammescat igne caritas accendat ardor proximos.
Such, as he himself describes it, was the flame that, day and night, consumed him. It was perceptible in his words, which had the power of moving, even to tears, the most hardened sinner. It shone upon his countenance, which, though naturally of a pallid hue, assumed a vivid glow whenever he spoke, either in public or in private, of the truths of faith or the mysteries of our holy religion. It could be seen in his abhorrence of the smallest fault, in his prayers, his zeal for his sanctification, his solicitude in forming good subjects for his Congregation; in fine, in his unwearied anxiety to gain souls to God. All this proceeded from the intensity of his love for God; and with reference to this he wrote, May 1st, 1814, some secret aspirations, (for it was thus he called them). But it will be better to give his words, as we find them in his own hand-writing.
SECRET ASPIRATIONS OF LOVE:
"1. I resolve, now and forever, to abhor, detest and avoid every sin, both mortal and venial, and even the slightest imperfection that might in any way be contrary to the maxims of Jesus Christ; which might tend to strengthen the influence of self-love or any other passion, or draw my heart to seek rest in creatures. And as soon a I perceive anything of this, I will immediately turn my heart to God by a simple act of implicit love, an interior impulse of the soul. I will do this with God's aid which I humbly implore and confidently expect; for, without his help I am capable of nothing but sin, in which I might exceed the greatest criminals.
"2. I am resolved, at the very first appearance of any temptation whatever, to cling as closely as possible, by an interior motion of the heart, to the holy and loving law of God in its full extent, disavowing all the repugnance of my wretched concupiscence and protesting against it with all my heart.
"3. In all my undertakings, but especially in discharging the functions of the holy ministry, I purpose to have in view the sole glory of God, and the salvation of souls, caring nothing for human respect, and really desiring to be, on that account, derided, ridiculed, and persecuted in every possible way.
“4. I purpose to remain always united to God, resigned to his holy will in all the events of life, looking upon everything as ordered by his loving providence for my greater good, having received so many positive proofs of his beneficent care over me. Therefore, disregarding all human things, I will neither wonder nor rejoice nor be grieved, except in God or for God.
"5. I purpose, henceforward, to trample under foot all the judgments and sayings of men, going to God with simplicity and full liberty of spirit; I care not who may choose to call me severe, scrupulous, melancholy, ignorant, a hypocrite, a fool, a fanatic, an enthusiast or any similar term. Let them seek to humble, ill-treat me, or do me the greatest injury, I will only cling the closer to the cross and exulting in God, will exclaim: Christo confixus sum cruci . . . mihi absit gloriari nisi in cruce Domini Nostri Jesu Christi.
"6. I resolve neither to think, wish, say, nor do anything, whether directly or indirectly, for my own satisfaction; but, if I can, without transgressing the law, I will always endeavor to act against my natural inclination, and hope to do all this by the grace of God. (Taken at the foot of the Crucifix).
"To attach myself still more firmly to the cross, I firmly resolve to renounce all spiritual delights even unto death; in the following sense however:
1. I do not mean, hereby, to make any vow, or bind myself by anything beyond a mere promise.
2. I mean that I will neither seek, desire, nor in any manner aspire to it, believing myself, in all sincerity, quite unworthy of such favors.
3. I will, on the contrary, beseech Divine Goodness to give me in its stead, an increase of light, that I may know what I should do, and strength to execute his will, always in view of himself alone.
4. If God, who is so good, should deign to bestow upon me this spiritual sweetness, I must humble myself and be exceedingly confused thereat; thank him for it, and endeavor to find an opportunity of suffering, and of humbling myself, in proportion, if possible, to the pleasure I have enjoyed.
5. I must not think much of this sensible fervor, but conceal it with great care, attaching my heart more and more to suffering and humiliation."
Finally, in the retreat which the servant of God made in 1814, he thus speaks in confirmation of the preceding resolutions: "I now resolve to reserve every species of enjoyment and repose for paradise, and in this life, to seek nothing but suffering, fatigue and contempt, and to do this always and to the best of my ability. My life must be one continual sacrifice, and I must desire to suffer, labor, and be despised, ever more and more, as long as life may last. I shall avoid enjoyments, repose and human esteem, each day endeavoring to detach myself still more from all creatures, however good, amiable and virtuous they may be, in order that I may concentrate all my faculties on the pure love of God."
When Father De Andreis speaks of longing after still greater labors, he refers to the spiritual advantage of his neighbor, because charity towards our neighbor proceeds from the same source as love for God. Properly speaking, these two virtues are but one, which makes us act in different ways, like a tree with two branches, one of which rises towards heaven while the other leans towards the earth. Now, our fervent Missionary has very frequently shown that the works he undertook for the good of his neighbor were all prompted by his love for God, but he mentions this expressly, in the following terms:
"I am resolved to consider in my neighbor the living image of the one triune God, to look upon all as his adopted children, the spouses of Jesus Christ; and I will seek, by every means in my power, to promote their salvation and perfection. How then could I refrain from being anxious to comfort, edify, instruct, serve, and assist them? To succeed in a proper manner, I resolve to adopt with all indiscriminately the most efficacious means, namely humility, respect, and kindness, both in word and deed; seeking after nothing myself, unless it be very clearly the will of God that I should do so. I will think well of all, excuse, compassionate, esteem all, and wish well to all. I will never stop to reflect on suspicions or hear-say, but will treat them as things of no consequence; and, being well convinced of the infirmities and weakness of human nature, I will generously exclaim: "I am the worst of all!”
The desire of accommodating himself to others made him, like St. Vincent, reflect on his exterior deportment, in order to divest it of whatever might seem too serious or reserved.
"The Lord," he writes, "has revealed to me during this retreat that it is now time to abate somewhat of my habitual reserve; and, this matter having been mentioned to my superior, in communication, he also thinks that it should be done.
"Learn then, O my soul, to make thy self all unto all, by the constant practice of active, meek, simple, cordial, mortified and zealous humility, making of this a particular study in thy meditations and examinations of conscience, purposing to follow the example of Father De Petris. And, although the time of recreation is for thee a kind of torture, thou must bear it, and conquer thyself by the thought that our vocation requires us to be affable and cheerful in our demeanor.
If thou art not gentle with thyself, thou wilt never be so towards others. However much thou mayest study to wear a pleasant and cheerful countenance, thy manner will reveal that it is really for show. Thou wilt unconsciously discover the interior disturbance of thy heart, and even shouldst thou make efforts to conceal it, these very efforts will appear constrained and affected error pejor priore. And, as we generally act, according to the Angelic Doctor, ex habitu praeconcepto, (though unknown to ourselves,) thou wilt, in spite of all thy care, now and then, when interiorly disturbed, let something of this disquietude be perceptible in thy manners, by being taciturn or sarcastic in conversation. Come then, my soul, let us take courage, etc."
CHAPTER XI: Simplicity, Prudence, Fortitude, Humility, and Meekness of Father De Andreis.
The virtue of Christian simplicity leads man directly to God, with the pure and straight-forward intention of glorifying him, while seeking to avoid all duplicity in dealing with the neighbor. This was the virtue inculcated by our Savior when he said, "Be ye simple as doves." This being the first virtue that St. Vincent recommends to his children, Father De Andreis made it the chief object of his most earnest efforts. "I have found out by experience," he writes November 3d, 1811, "that there is nothing better in the ways of God, than to simplify all our intentions by directing them towards God alone. Once, the joy I experienced in suffering, made me imagine that it was well to desire, and even to ask, to remain in a state wherein continually floret illa dulcedo, without which I thought that human weakness could not stand in the midst of the toils and thorns of the ministry. But I now see that still more is requisite; namely, to suffer without enjoying any sensible consolation, and to learn to say: 'The cross, the cross, always the cross, and God alone!' I should, at least, like to know what is the inspiration that leads me on without revealing itself fully to my mind; but it is the will of God that I renounce even this satisfaction, and that my will, memory, and understanding, all be resigned into his hands while I repeat these words of the Psalmist: Dominus regit me, etc., adding, ut jumentum factus sum apud te et ego semper tecum. The cross in all its nudity, pain and ignominy, this shall be my only portion.
"Now I understand what the goodness of God operated within me, sixteen years ago, at the time of my novitiate. Then I could not describe, neither could I comprehend, how solitude, silence, privation, reserve, interior death, and annihilation, were so pleasing to me. O Infinite Goodness! God alone in everything! He only shall be my aim. In speaking and treating with men, I will constantly strive to repress any secondary motive that might arise. I will likewise rejoice if, by thus acting simply in the view of pleasing God, I chance to be scorned, derided or mocked; though I will never act purposely for that end. O beauteous, lovely simplicity! Thou goest directly to the very heart of God! I will never abandon thee, however much the infernal serpent may seek to entice me into his winding pathways. I will say continually, Quid mihi est in coelo, etc. Donec deficiam non recedam a simplicitate mea. My heart, following its secret inspirations, sought to make God known (Note: by means of his catechism) to a blind crowd, and Assur sine causa calumniatus est eum! So beautiful a resemblance to the Man-God do I perceive in this, that it transports me beyond myself; et unde hoc mihi!
Animated by such sentiments as these, he was always truly simple in his affections, intentions, words and actions, in such a manner that he knew not how to disguise his thoughts, nor artfully to conceal his designs. His conversation was frank and sincere; he was incapable of assuming a semblance of mystery, or of saying one thing for the purpose of finding out another. His sole aim was to please God and help his neighbor, if he could; this kept him constantly employed, both in public and in private. He set forth the truths of the gospel in the clearest light; and, no matter how well or ill others listened to his words, he never gilded his discourses or dissembled his doctrine. He cared not whether his auditors were the wise or the ignorant, subtle critics or profound reasoners; and thus he pleased all; for it was evident that he knew not the wiles of policy, nor that insidious manner of modifying the gospel to please the rich, and gain popular applause. According to the evangelical precept, he united prudence with simplicity; and this prudence was admirably displayed in his care to avoid that false zeal, which is so often concealed under the specious pretext of charity, causing us to seek ourselves, our own esteem or gratification, while apparently we labor solely for the salvation of souls. This is a fatal illusion, against which Kempis warns us when he says: Interdum passione movemur et zelum putamus. Ardently desiring to avoid the snares of this false zeal, the servant of God resolved, "Never to court the society of any one, but to receive all with the utmost cordiality," thus making himself all unto all, though he cautiously refrained from undertaking any employment, unless at the command of his superiors, or when some evident necessity required it.
By laboring assiduously at the work of my own perfection," he adds elsewhere, "I shall do more good to others than by a thousand sermons and missions: Habe ergo zelum primum supra te ipsum et tunc juste zelare poteris super alios, as Kempis teaches."
He was entirely averse to carnal prudence of which he speaks thus: "The demon makes use of the tongue of many prudent persons, to withdraw others from the way of the cross and the practice of mortification, under pretense of preserving health; whereas it prospers far better beneath the shadow of the cross than elsewhere. I therefore resolve to resume my former custom with regard to the evening refection and the siesta during the day." Elsewhere, he speaks in the following terms:
"Oh! how easy it is to be led away by the current, and relax the evangelical doctrine, in order to adapt it to the views and customs of the world! If we be not more than commonly vigilant, we become enemies of the cross of Christ, and reduce the gospel to a mere natural system, wherein we grant a sort of precedent to some shadow of religion; or rather, we seek to serve two masters by trying to associate religion with the world. Under the pretext that God is good and that Jesus Christ came into the world for the salvation of sinners, vice is pampered, and certain maxims of carnal prudence, which were unknown to Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the holy fathers, are coined and circulated.
The world calls for unprejudiced teachers, declaims against rigorism and fanaticism, (for thus it denominates detachment, humility, and sanctity) and brands with the epithet of Jansenist anyone who desires firmly to uphold the truths of the gospel. O unfortunate times! what fortitude is requisite that we may not be compelled to exclaim, verba iniquorum prevaluerunt super nos! It will gratify the reader to hear these other words of his, on the same subject: 'On the 24th of June, 1814, the feast of St. John the Baptist, while reflecting on the fortitude and constancy displayed by this great saint, it struck me that the uneasiness which I experience in hearing confessions, proceeds, in a great measure, from a certain want of firmness in adhering to the cause of truth and justice. I want everyone to yield at once to the attractions of this beauteous sun, and, not meeting with the desired success, I become sad and discouraged as if everything depended on me, or as if I exercised immoderate rigor, in comparison with others who are more indulgent.
"But, good God! in the confessional our business is, not to accommodate truth and justice to the liking of the penitents who come to us, but rather to subject them to the maxims of truth and justice. These are the unchangeable rules to which men must submit in order to be just; and how can they be so if they be not conformed to justice, which alone can render them just! God can never be allied to a heart that loves sin. Of what use is it then to absolve one who is still plunged in the abyss of sin, or in whom we can discover no mark that he is detached from his faults, and sincerely converted to the side of justice! Would it not be to betray souls, to delude them with a false and pernicious semblance of peace? And, would this not be an insult offered to justice? Let all then be blind; let the world clamor loudly against me; call me rigorist, Jansenist, as much as it pleases, (though I heartily detest anything that savors of rigorism and Jansenism) let it outrage and calumniate me, let millions of easy confessors break loose against me; they only prove that they have not a correct idea of Christian justice; that, contenting themselves with certain inconclusive appearances, they absolve without knowing why. But all they can do or say shall never induce me to betray truth and justice, and the interests of those poor souls who call upon us to give them aid. Constancy, then, and firmness, because mundus transit et concupiscentia ejus et veritas Domini manet in aeternum."
Instructed in the school of St. Vincent, who was the declared enemy of anything like precipitation, his prudence prompted him to avoid haste in his plans and deliberations. On this account, whenever necessity did not compel him to act immediately, the servant of God took time in order to mature his opinion, by considering the matter on which he had to pronounce, under all its different aspects. Though very learned himself, he consulted men of wisdom and experience, and had recourse to God by means of fervent prayer and penance. After all these precautions, sure of the will of God, he set to work without hesitation, and labored with intrepid fortitude. Father De Andreis especially manifested this virtue of fortitude during the bitter mental sufferings to which it pleased God to subject him for so many years. Such pains are but with difficulty understood by those who have never felt them and one who is not liable to them knows not how to describe such sufferings. Nearly all the saints have undergone similar trials, but especially St. Theresa, St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, St. Veronica Capucina, and St. John of the Cross. St. John has left us a frightful picture of his suffering in his Dark Nights, wherein he represents the dense gloom in which his mind was immersed, the agonizing dryness and interior desolation which made him feel as if his soul were delivered up to all the powers of hell. Father De Andreis had to suffer the same excruciating pains, and their intensity was such that his constitution was affected, and his health was never afterwards the same. Yet he struggled against this torture, so that no one ever knew from what source his infirmities proceeded. He often repeated with Job: etiamsi occident me, in eum sperabo; post tenebras spero lucem.
In fine, the character of this great servant of God was fully revealed in his mission to America. The terrible fatigue of so long a voyage, danger of shipwreck, severity of the climate, hunger, thirst, almost extreme want of the very necessities of life, his habitual infirmities, all these trials never weakened his constancy, which seemed to become only the more vigorous when assailed by the most violent misfortunes. The reader must have noticed this in many circumstances which we have detailed; therefore it will be quite enough to recall them to his mind. We must not be silent with regard to his humility, that virtue which, according to the holy fathers, is the foundation of all others and the basis on which we must erect the spiritual edifice of our sanctification. Once more we will repeat his own words, which are far more expressive than anything we could say. They are as follows: Meditating on humility, and considering how many efforts I had made to acquire this virtue, and always without fruit, I became inwardly cast down and was almost yielding to despair, when our most merciful God enlightened my mind with an opportune inspiration, which showed me at a glance the origin of all my spiritual infirmities. I at once perceived that by grieving so much, and giving way to such excessive disquietude, I manifestly fail in my resolution of relying completely on Divine Providence. 1 saw this sadness to be a clear sign that I put too much confidence in my own strength, and very little in the power of grace. This morning too, when I was meditating on meekness, it was shown me that I shall never become mild and affable with others, unless I learn from the very first to be so with myself. My God! how much evil is caused by that excessive care and anxiety to which I am so prone! In the first place, this cannot proceed from God, whose spirit is one of peace and mildness. It comes then either from the human spirit, always too hasty and impetuous, or more probably from the demon, who by this means attains more surely his own ends, namely: First, to destroy the peace of the heart by innumerable troubles, scruples and fears. Secondly, to prevent free communication between the soul and God, by hindering it from following the attraction of grace, and making it act according to his own liking. Thirdly, to keep alive the spirit of pride, making one believe that he is effecting much good, and that the soul can rely on its own powers, thus enticing it to fly without wings. Fourthly in fine, besides other numerous dangers, it exposes us to that of never attaining our own perfection; and also makes us run the risk of committing, through pride and discouragement, some great fault. False humility has often served as a pretext for neglecting the advice which we receive on this subject. Ah! poor blind creature, if thou hadst reflected ever so little, thou wouldst have seen that this was not humility, but the most refined pride. Come then, my soul, let us take courage; even St. Vincent, in some of his retreats, found it necessary to take resolutions on a point somewhat similar to this. Be not troubled at thy failures, but follow the doctrine of St. Francis de Sales, who says, 'Take courage, my soul, God requires this of thee. Only place no obstacle to the impulses of grace, and endeavor, on the contrary, to co-operate with them.'
"Inspirations which I received at the feast of Pentecost, and on which I should reflect every morning in meditation.
"1. God absolutely wills me to become a saint.
"2. I shall never be this, unless I am humble.
"3. I shall never be humble, if I do not seek humiliations, if I fear and shun them, or, what would be much worse, if I seek my own elevation.
"4. I shall never succeed in flying honors and loving humiliations, unless I make daily practice of these acts.
"5. I shall never practice them well, if I do not foresee them in my morning meditation,
"Three Classes of Particular Acts, on which I should insist.
"1. Acknowledge before God my own nothingness, both in order of nature and of grace, saying for example, Substantia mea tanquam nihilum ante te.
“2. Avow myself unworthy of associating and conversing with my companions, on account of my faults and numerous infidelities, and strive, on this consideration, to produce acts of wonder and surprise, that they should support me with so much meekness and charity.
"3. Acknowledge my own unworthiness, at the very time that I do not feel these sentiments within my heart/ saying with St. Augustine, quid miserius misero, non miserante seipsum, adding the invocation, noverim te, noverim me, etc.
"1. Watch attentively over all the thoughts of pride and vanity which arise in my mind, suppress them immediately, renouncing for the time all the most plausible pretexts that self-love may suggest, because the heart gladly feeds on this kind of poison.
“2. Never speak of myself, either well or ill, without real necessity.
"3. Always choose the lowest place, office or employment, striving to love to be unknown, forgotten, despised and disregarded.
“1. Willingly speak in praise of others, particularly the absent, and more particularly in favor of those towards whom I may feel any inward aversion.
“2. Never excuse myself without real necessity, .but when I am accused, I ought, on the contrary, to acknowledge that I am guilty of much more, and give myself a still lower place than the one assigned me by my accusers; humble myself interiorly, and avow that I am deserving of these humiliations.
"3. Shun, as much as possible, everything tending to raise me in the esteem of others, while I embrace with joy every opportunity of humbling myself; I should even be ingenious in seeking occasions of humiliation.
"If I find any difficulty in the practice of these acts, I must not, on that account, lose courage; but on the contrary, make more strenuous efforts to overcome it in prayer, deploring my ignorance and weakness, while I am confounded at the example of the saints and of Jesus Christ, the true son of God, who humbled himself so much for my sake.
"I should not flatter myself on account of the favors that I have received from God. Who was ever more favored than Saul, Solomon, or Judas? and yet what was their end? I know not if the very person that I despise be not very great in the sight of God, while I cannot tell if I am even in his grace. And, could I know for certain that I stand well with God, and that this person has forfeited his favor, cannot things be reversed? I know not, quid cogitaverit de illo Deus. Therefore, for my greater security there remains to me nothing better than to humble myself, ever taking the lowest place, in order to make no mistake. For, were I to prefer myself before only one, such a mistake would be fatal; whereas it could only be to my advantage were I to put myself below one who is really less than I am. Thus shall I learn to imitate the great model of our souls, Jesus Christ, qui venit ministrare et non ministrari, and who appeared on earth as the last of men and the refuse of the people.
"Substantia mea tanquam nihilum ante te. How necessary is this annihilation! In order to keep it ever present to my mind, I should be well convinced that I am but a vessel of abomination; that it is not others who are troublesome to me, but I, who am on the contrary, a subject for the constant practice of patience, mortification and every other virtue, on the part of my companions. I must then be careful to reject every idea contrary to this belief. It is clearly evident, that of myself I can do nothing. God has closed against me every path but this I must annihilate myself completely, so that the work of God may be more visible, acting as it does on a barren tree, a vessel of weakness and impurity. Thus all the glory of the work will redound to Himself without the subtraction of even the smallest particle. I must then rejoice, whenever I meet with an opportunity of appearing stupid, foolish, ill-disposed, good for nothing; and I should tremble with fear, when I am ever so little esteemed.
Salva me ex ore leonis. Today, God has shown me clearly, to my very great horror, the monster of my self-love still living in the depth of my heart. It is like a voracious animal, which, with jaws extended, is ready to devour whatever I do. From the difficulty I experience in struggling against it, I perceive how firmly this monster has established its dominion over me, and how great is the mercy of the Almighty in permitting that this vexation which has been troubling me for nearly a year, should finally be manifested. This gives me a chance to know myself and escape this frightful peril. No wonder, such being the case, that I experience confusion when I am scoffed or derided. I am but a vessel of abomination, and however much I may try never to yield the victory to self-love, the greedy monster has acquired such empire over my heart, that, from time to time, it will steal some secret morsels; and, if I am not prompt in snatching them out of its mouth, they are soon swallowed. O my God! Salva nos, perimus!
Spiritu oris sui interficiet impium. This same Jesus Christ, who by his omnipotent command will at the end of the world destroy Antichrist, can, I doubt not, destroy the Antichrist that lives within me, namely my self-love; though it is so rooted and implanted in my soul, that the effort to kill it seems to threaten my very life. To the all-powerful physician nullum vulnus incurabile. Many times have I renounced its despotic rule, and I now once more renew my protestations. I am determined never to give up as conquered; for the rest I trust to the physician who, so long ago, undertook this cure and successfully works at it, sparing neither knife nor fire. He who persecutes me, in reality does me a favor, so I cannot complain; I deserve to suffer.
To the practice of humility Father De Andreis joined its inseparable companion, meekness. This virtue cost him long and generous efforts. Possessing as he did, a most sensitive disposition, and accustomed, as he himself relates, to have everything his own way, esteemed, applauded, caressed by everyone; and, at the beginning of his spiritual life, favored by God himself with so much sweetness, contradiction impressed him very strongly so much so that his health would feel the effects of it. Yet so well did he overcome himself, that he succeeded in finding his greatest delight in the very things that had been to him subjects of the most painful agitation. His chosen soul was not spared by God, who makes use of trials to spur on certain minds and lead them to become detached from all, and seek their nourishment in the hard bread of tribulation. Meekness enabled Father De Andreis, first to support with resignation and then with calm and even pleasure, these touches of the finger of God. His first trials where pains, anguish of mind, fears, doubts, dejection, darkness and abandonment; after which, the virtue of meekness led him to a state of perfect calm, the tranquil peace of the saints, which made him desire still greater trials and crosses.
"God," he says in one of his Soliloquies, "leads me through a gloomy and frightful path, beset with thorns; such are the pains and trials of every description to which I am subjected, without being able to find any mode of escape from them. From time to time he sends me flashes of light which dispel the surrounding gloom, remove the trouble of my soul, and refresh me with consolation, too delicious to be described. Then do I clearly perceive the happiness of my state, and the inestimable value of the effects produced in my soul by all these trials, and I exclaim: O this is truly to live! .... To trample everything else under foot, and seek but God alone! The more I mortify my senses, the more I humble myself and become divested of all attachment to creatures, the nearer I approach my God. At the very time that I strive most earnestly to deny myself, in fact totally to forget my own satisfaction, at that very time it is, that I enjoy the most heavenly delight; and, Oh! si perficeritur in me! . . . But immediately after I find myself as miserable as before. It is then an ineffable effect of the love God bears us, thus to fill our present life with sorrow and trouble, so that we may find rest but with him alone."
A man thus accustomed to consider all things in God and from God, and to resign himself completely to his guidance, could not but rise superior to any ill-treatment however malicious, on the part of others, and he did this, not through any feeling of haughtiness or contempt, but from motives of resignation to the will of God, and the most tender charity towards all men. Let us hear him reveal the secrets of his heart with regard to this lovely virtue. In his 53d Soliloquy he speaks thus:
“Thou shouldst, O my soul, keep the eye of thy mind far removed from the sayings and doings of men, and immovably fixed on the loving designs of God. . . . Accustom thyself to consider every one as better than thou art, and thyself as capable of no good, but on the contrary, inclined to every evil. Thou shouldst promptly reject any malicious thought with regard to the conduct of others towards thee, and ascribe charitable motives to all their actions, believing that thou art under many obligations to others for the patience with which they bear thy defects Sometimes, (Soliloquy 34th,) by the permission of God, the demon arranges things in such a way that the most pious and charitable persons cannot refrain from judging, falsely, or at least dubiously, it is true, but not rashly, and therefore without sin. And they join with others to oppress the afflicted soul who can say, hominum non habeo opprobrium vicinis meis valde. They take a wrong view of everything, and the unhappy soul, however unwilling, cannot but perceive it, and suffer from it. In eo dum convenirent simul adversum me, accipere animam meam consiliati sunt. Sometimes, during recreation, it seems that one is the mark of every look, of every word and conversation, etc. Ego autem in te speravi Domine, dixi: Deus meus es tu, in manibus tuis sortes meae. This is the only Consolation of the soul. One flash of this light suffices to restore her peace.
"Noli ergo vinci a malo, sed vince in bono malum (No. 71). May God be praised! how great dost thou show thyself, in all that thou hast permitted to befall me! It was for the purpose of trying me, and grounding me thoroughly in that charity which was the distinctive virtue of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Francis de Sales a virtue which I needed so much, though, unfortunately, I was not aware of my deficiency. . . . Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. Vincent. I will also be Vincent; I am determined to conquer as he did, but truly with no other arms than these three Humility, Charity and Meekness.
“Vincenti dabo manna absconditum et nomen novum. Most delicious manna! Most desirable refreshment! But it is given only to conquerors. And let us not be deceived with regard to the meaning of this word. It is a well-known fact that the world understands things in a very different manner from the gospel; and in this matter, we must take the gospel meaning and not that of the world. To conquer, according to the world, is to triumph, to heap confusion on a rival, to glory in his defeat. But, according to Jesus Christ, it is a very different thing; he tells us that we conquer only, when, being contemned by others we abase ourselves still more; when we are calumniated and utter no word of justification; when we return good for evil, and conciliate our rivals by means of humility, charity, and mildness. 'Be careful then of thy business,' as St. Chrysostom says in his 24th Homily on St. Mathew.
Quamdiu oves fuerimus vincimus, etiamsi mille circumstent lupi; quod si lupi fecerimus, vincimur. Tunc enim a nobis pastoris auxilium recedit, qui non lupos, sed oves pascit.' Meditate then frequently on this.”
Although Father De Andreis was endowed with so much gentleness, forbearance and condescension towards his neighbor, he never yielded so far as to approve evil, or to abet it through weakness. On the contrary, he was like an invincible bulwark in opposing the slightest infractions of the rule or the spirit of his state, as may be seen more clearly in his Resolutions (No. 76).
"Qui in verbo non offendit, perfectus est vir. After much reflection, I find that the best plan for me, during recreation, is to speak very little; first, because it is not my place, young as I am, to introduce a subject of conversation; secondly, because among the subjects that are generally discussed at that time, there are some about which I know so little that I could scarcely say one word on the matter; thirdly, because I have had to repent very often of saying that one word. I will, therefore, appear as cheerful and pleasant as I can; if I am questioned, I will answer with modesty, and endeavor to draw the recreation within the limits which the rule prescribes. However, I will joyfully consent to remain forgotten in a corner of the room, as if I were dead, being resolved to take pleasure in no other conversation than that of Jesus Christ, the sweetest spouse of my soul. I must resign my whole self into his hands, reserving for his service alone my tongue, mind, heart, time, body, life, and everything else."
In fine, Father De Andreis made use of this virtue of mildness in order to bear patiently his own defects; for the more he advanced in the love of God the more they became insupportable to him, and therefore he never flattered them. St. Francis says that a soul who aims at perfection, stands more in need of meekness towards herself than towards others; because the further a soul advances in a spiritual life, the more numerous are the faults which she perceives in herself.
"Here I am, at length," writes Father De Andreis, in the retreat of 1813, "weary with trying to find my God. I behold nothing but myself and my own poverty, and am in great need of grace, though unworthy to obtain it. I know that sanctity does not consist in having this or that grace, but in being whatever God requires of us; in attaining that degree of virtue that God has appointed us, neither more nor less. I should desire nothing but that for which God, from all eternity, has intended me. I know not what it is; but I must follow him, step by step, as he makes known to me the designs of his providence, pray that his holy will may be done in me, and accomplish it without desiring either this or that gift: ipse dividit singulis prout vult."
CHAPTER XII: His Mortification and Zeal.
We may truly say, and all those who knew Father De Andreis most intimately can bear witness to our words, that the continual business of his life was to die to himself by means of the most severe and universal mortification, so that he might attach himself the more closely to the cross of his Lord. His resolutions were constantly directed to discover in his heart the slightest disorderly tendencies, and to overcome them by means of holy mortification. It will suffice here to give some of these resolutions; they will enable us to gain some idea of the extent to which he possessed this virtue.
"Considering my conduct up to the present moment, it appears to me that the little good I do is adventitious. I seem to have no inward fervor, and am like a tree on which are hung flowers and fruits that do not belong to it, because it has not sufficient vigor to produce them from its own sap. I do good as if by compulsion, and not from any interior energy. In one word, I see plainly that the old Adam is living, like an immense giant, within me, while Jesus Christ is but a mere child, if he is in me at all. I must then combat valiantly against this old Adam, exterminate, destroy him, so that Jesus Christ may abide in me. Tantum proficies quantum tibi ipsi vim intuleris.”
The following are some resolutions which he took on the feast of Corpus Christi:
“1. God has frequently called me to the dignity of union by making me experience the delights of his divine love, so that I may be entirely detached from myself; and, seeing that I have not yet fully resolved to do away with my self-love, and embrace mortification, which is the foundation of this union, he permits me to be assailed by truly frightful temptations, which, like so many scourges of his love, forcibly impel me to do what he desires. . . . O how great is his goodness!
"2 In order to divest myself fully of all these imperfections, experience has taught me that there is no better means than to put on a spirit of universal mortification.
“3. To succeed in the sacred functions of our ministry, and to overcome those defects which I know are innate in my heart, a high degree of divine union is absolutely necessary, which cannot be attained without this mortification.
“4. Having placed myself last evening unreservedly at the feet of the most Holy Virgin, asking her to show me a path by which I might escape from the darkness around me and save my soul, it seemed that she laid the cross upon me and said; 'Attach thyself to this and never leave it.'
"I resolve then and purpose that it shall be the principal end of this retreat, to embrace this virtue of mortification, and to place myself upon the cross in such a manner as never to descend from it during my life. But, to enter into particulars, I especially resolve upon the following articles:
MORTIFICATION OF THE IMAGINATION AND MEMORY.
"1. To attend carefully to the presence of God, but without anxiety or constraint; to reject every useless, foolish, or curious thought, or any idea which is not of evident utility.
“2. In prayer, and particularly while repiting the Divine Office, I will exactly execute the resolutions which I took in the retreat of 1811.
THE JUDGMENT AND UNDERSTANDING.
"Avoid all curious investigation, and submit cheerfully to the opinion of others whenever my conscience does not require me to act otherwise. Submit especially to the judgment of my superiors, and principally with regard to what I am told in my communications about despising those interior troubles to which I am liable.
"Observe minutely every point of the rule; above all, what is said in Art. 3, Chapter 2, on conformity to the will of God.
"1. Love silence, and never speak but when the rule prescribes it.
“2. Even in time of recreation avoid much talkativeness.
"3. Never speak of myself but through necessity and then with humility and such caution, that self-love may lose more than it gains by what I say. This refers particularly to anything concerning country, friends, relations, and similar subjects,
"4. Never make a display of learning by speaking on scientific or religious subjects without necessity; and when it is requisite to do so, act in such a manner that humility will not be the loser by it. "5. Never despise or accuse any one; but, on the contrary, esteem and excuse all, reserving contempt for myself alone.
“1. Refrain entirely from any kind of food for which I may feel excessive liking; this is to be understood, also, of everything else towards which my natural inclination might lead me with too much ardor.
“2. Never empty a plate unless it be through real necessity.
"3. Make a little offering of some of those morsels which are most pleasing to the taste, with the interior disposition to deprive myself of the whole, if it were the holy will of God.
THE HEARING, SIGHT AND SMELL.
"Deny myself any satisfaction not absolutely necessary, or at least useful; and even then direct my intention to God.
THE TOUCH AND BEHAVIOR.
"1. Sleep upon straw, and maintain a modest position while sleeping.
“2. Bridle any natural impetuosity, and endeavor to walk and act with gravity, modesty and humility, seeking always the last place.
"3. Bear patiently the molestations of insects which are so troublesome to me, and consider that they are to take the place of hair-cloth.
"4. Always find some means of remaining on the cross, either in one way or another, and seek a subject of mortification in everything.
"These resolutions are difficult, but I hope to find them easy in practice; it is God who has inspired them; it belongs then to him to give me the grace to execute them, and the most holy Mary will ask this for me. On my part, I will make use of the following means;
"1. To meditate on them frequently, and read the lives of those saints that are most likely to inspire me with love of mortification.
"2. To examine myself very often on these points, and allow no fault to go unpunished.
"3. To pray to our Lord that he will vouchsafe to strengthen me to carry my cross, and not permit me to live another moment according to the suggestions of nature. Fortis est ut mors dilectio."
Although this practice of mortification traced out by Father De Andreis might seem, to a less fervent soul, incapable of receiving any increase, he nevertheless carried it out still further by renouncing those very delights which are sometimes felt, and very often sought after, in the things of God. Let us see what he writes on this subject:
"I must also remove from my mind another illusion, which consists in imagining that I can enjoy, in this miserable life, such permanent love and affection for good works, that I shall meet with no obstacle in the performance of them, but on the contrary, experience great pleasure. If such were the case, those words of our Savior, that we are to take up our cross and carry it every day, deny ourselves, and, by means of great suffering, enter into the kingdom of God, would be false.
"Certain delights belong to heaven, and Divine Goodness gives some of them to us at times in this life, as a foretaste of celestial joy, and that we may be encouraged to suffer. To wish that perficiatur in te, is to desire what can only be fulfilled in paradise. Ever to pray, and to mortify oneself unceasingly, these are the means which render virtue and the practice of good works easy. Leaving all, however, to the will of God, I have taken, as it seems to me by his inspiration, a strong resolution:
"1. As the desire of spiritual delights and the loss of the same cause much perturbation in my soul;
“2. As they are sometimes snares set by self-love and pride, accompanied with much risk of illusion;
"3. As they produce in me a certain spiritual concupiscence, which, not being satisfied in the spirit, sometimes seeks other delights, and is transformed into concupiscence of the flesh, which gives me much trouble;
"4. As the sweets of God are not God himself, and, when too much sought after, prevent one from saying with truth, Deus meus et omnia, and from being united with God alone;
"5. As the renunciation of these delights will render me less sensitive to those of an inferior kind, and will bind me more closely to the cross;
"I have resolved: To relinquish all spiritual joys even unto death. I mean that I will not seek after them, desire, or ask for them, nor aspire to them in any way whatsoever, believing myself to be totally unworthy of such favors."
The end that Father De Andreis had in view by so much mortification, was solely to become more surely and intimately united with God, and to acquire that ardent charity which cannot exist without communicating its flame to others, and promoting their salvation by the complete sacrifice of self; so that one may say with the Apostle, Optabam ego ipse anathema esse a Christo pro fratribus meis. Rom. ix. 3.
"Truly," he writes in 1814, "no one is more ready to love his neighbor, as he should, purely through charity, as one who considers himself tanquam mortuus a corde hominum. Under the specious pretext of charity, the desire to oblige, politeness, civility, how much chaff of secondary motives lies concealed! (No. 8). In order that the flame which burns within my breast may inflame the hearts of others, it must first consume and purify my own; fire never spreads, but merely sends forth some little heat, until it has devoured all the materials which immediately surround it. I must then co-operate with this flame and help it to destroy the old man, by removing everything that might serve to strengthen his empire."
If we judge him by his own description of the flame of the love of God, we may truly say that it was strong within him, as he was enabled to spread it among so many souls who were total strangers to it. "Any one whose vocation it is to labor for the salvation of others," says Father De Andreis in his 44th Number, "must be like a ray that is reflected from another body; the heart should first proceed directly to God, and from him return to mingle with creatures, by conversing with them, preaching to them and counseling them in their difficulties. Then it is that one works securely, with purity of intention, zeal and success, because the blessing of God accompanies him, according to those words of the Psalmist; Beatus vir cujus voluntas in lege Domini; omnia qaecumque faciet prosperabuntur.'"
Such being the principles that actuated Father De Andreis, it is easy to understand how he renounced, not only all his worldly expectations, but those likewise which the Congregation offered him, and found himself happy in the midst of labor, sacrifices, infirmities, and even persecutions. "Esteem, honor, (No. 33,) food, rest, etc., all these things should be for me arbitror ut stercora ut Christum lucri faciam. I must not, for one moment, allow my mind to rest on them, as they do not concern me in the least. Quid ad te? tu me sequere. This is what I have to do; follow Jesus Christ in the sublime ministry to which it has p leased him to call me; considering as addressed to myself those words which he spoke in the gospel to one, who, before following him, wished to bury his dead father; relinque mortuos sepelire mortuos suos, et tu vade et annuntia regnum Dei. O my God! what a glorious destiny! To traffic for souls, enter into partnership with the incarnate son of God, in his own especial calling; to extend the kingdom of God and destroy that of the demon and sin; to convert souls to God, enlighten and bring them back into the paths of virtue and salvation; to guide them to their first principle and last end! O my God! et unde hoc mihi! How much has the Almighty accomplished in my soul, to render me fit for so noble an employment! Would it not be a shame if one called to so sublime a ministry were to give himself up to vanity and worldly enjoyments? if he were to seek earthly honors, weep over the death of butterflies, or amuse himself by breaking spiders' webs! Duc in altum, duc in altum, et laxate retia vestra in capturam non in capturam auri vel argenti, vel vanitatis, sed in capturam animarum."
Hence we can also understand how, in spite of weak and delicate health, he was able to support while he was yet young, as a student and a priest, so much application and toil; how he endured so much danger and fatigue, which seemingly would have cost him his life. "Fortis est ut mors dilectio. Love is not satisfied until it measures itself with death. Self-esteem and pride are more closely united to the soul than the skin is to the flesh which it covers. Perfect spiritual detachment is no less painful than bodily excoriation. Everything must die." And, in No. 97, he adds: "Mille anni ante oculos tuos sicut dies hesterna quae praeterit. non contemplantibus nobis quae videntur: quae enim videntur, temporalia sumt; quae autem non videntur, aeterna.O mundus transit et concupiscentia ejus; qui autem facit voluntatem Dei, manet in aeternum. These words should be the three lenses which serve to form the truthful telescope, through which the Christian should judge of everything, especially the labors, misfortunes, honors, pleasures, and delights of this fleeting life. O happy indeed is he who can plunge his thoughts into the blessed eternity! there he will learn to say: pati ant mori --- pati et non mori. There he will form a correct judgment of all here below, and learn to live tamquam advena et peregrinus in hoc mundo; to sigh continually after the joys of Heaven; to think nothing of what will pass away with time, and to remain cheerful under whatsoever may befall him, because quod aeternum non est, nihil est."
We should never end were we to repeat all the sentiments of purest zeal which breathe throughout his writings, for ex abundantia cordis, os loquitur. We will conclude then by giving two extracts relating to the qualities which he purposed to give his zeal:
"I have considered that this virtue should keep an even path, far removed from the two extremes of human respect and excessive severity, so that it may be firm and magnanimous, without harshness or asperity; mild and gentle , without cowardice or pusillanimity
"Anger and natural impulse are always evil counselors in matters were zeal is concerned. I therefore resolve never to speak or act when I feel strongly impelled to do so, without first thoroughly consulting charity and humility; so that these virtues may temper the effects of my zeal. O! what holy ingenuity is suggested by humility; how strong is the ardor inspired by charity!"