"Catholicity in the Nineteenth Century," 1857, Brownson's Quarterly Review

"Catholicity in the Nineteenth Century"


The vindication of the Catholic religion on dogmatic and historical grounds has been undertaken, in modern times, by many able writers in the English language.  The whole field of Scripture, the Fathers, and the records of antiquity, has been thoroughly traversed, and it is not too much to say that this task has been performed in such a way as to make on an immense class of minds a profound impression of the strength and coherence of the Catholic argument.  The actual services rendered by the Catholic Church to mankind in past ages, have also been set forth in such a clear light that it is very difficult for any mind possessing a moderate degree of candor to disown them.

There is, however, a vast number of thinking persons with whom either of these lines of defense has but little weight. They are ready to concede the conclusiveness of out arguments, supposing that the premises are granted, to discard the fables invented by our enemies, and to revere the Church of past ages.  But they say, or would say, if they understood themselves perfectly: “We care not for Scripture, Tradition, or the Past: ‘Let the past bury its dead act, act in the Living Present.’  The Catholic religion was good for past ages, and for rude, ignorant, barbarous nations, still in the cradle of civilization.  But it is not the Religion of the Nineteenth Century, of an age of light and progress, in which the human race is fast attaining its manhood.  It is not the Religion of an intelligent, cultivated, and free people.”  It is precisely this objection that we wish to consider, and the task that we propose to ourselves is, to meet and refute it fairly, by showing that the Catholic religion is fitted to be the dominant principle of the Nineteenth Century, and of the most civilized and enlightened portion of the human race.

We shall not begin by denying, but by conceding what is claimed for the Nineteenth Century, namely, that it is an age of progress, of science, and of achievement.  We shall not take our standpoint as a man of the first age, or of the middle ages of the Christian era, but as a man of the present age, of the Nineteenth Century.  And when we assert that Catholicity is fitted to dominate this as well as every former age, we do not mean, to dominate it in the sense of condemning or suppressing the energy, the science, the progress, and the peculiar genius of the age; but in the sense of watching, guiding, and bringing to perfection the legitimate development of all these vital forces, and the special task-work assigned to the present epoch by the Supreme Ruler of Ages.

In treating of this question, we shall first take it up from a historical point of view.  One obvious reason for doing so, is, that the age, having already passed its middle point, and going on rapidly towards its close, is in great part now matter of history.  Facts are better and more trustworthy than even just and well-sustained arguments, according to the well-known principle of logic, ab actu ad posse valet consequentia.  We cannot better prove that Catholicity is fitted to rule the Nineteenth Century than by showing that she has already done it.  We shall therefore, in the present article, pass in review some of the principal historical events of the present age, in order to show that the Catholic Church has actually proved herself to be the dominant power of the age hitherto, leaving for another article  the philosophical discussion of the principles involved in this historical view, and of the relation of Catholicity to modern civilization, and to the most cultivated portion of the human race.

Probably the reader may remember the first time when in childhood he looked at a panorama; when, standing on a small platform that seemed like a little boat floating in the midst of an ocean, he gazed with wonder at the illusions of the painted canvas, its phantasmagorial cities, temples, castles, and expanse of water.  He seemed to have floated suddenly away from the world of reality into the magic sphere of fancy and romance.  Similar sentiments overpower us when we gaze on the panoramic scenes of the historic canvas.  We see an entire age spread out before us, at one view, with the multitude if its interesting events and its great personages.  It is such a picture which we wish to present to our readers, that they may attentively observe the beginning and progress of the age, the different crises and struggles through which the Catholic Church has passed, the social, civil, and religious revolutions that have taken place, the upheavings of all the strata of former periods, the new formations springing out of the convulsions that have agitated all the elements of the intellectual, moral, and political world, so that they may be able to estimate the mighty strength of the Catholic Church, which has remained, through all these changes, the dominant power and ruling principle of the age.

The external power, splendor, and prosperity of the Catholic Church, may be said to have reached the culminating point during the pontificate of Leo X.  Suddenly, however, a most extraordinary change took place, and an era of severe trials, great losses, and violent conflicts succeeded; as when a bright, tropical sky is suddenly over-clouded.  This era has continued until our own times; but its darkest and most disastrous portion is the space of time included within the pontificates of Pius VI and Pius VII.  The first of these pontiffs ascended the papal throne in 1775, and the second died in 1824, so that this period embraces nearly fifty years, and includes the last quarter of the eighteenth and the first quarter of the nineteenth century.  The first part of the reign of Pius VI and the latter part of the reign of Pius VII were, however, comparatively tranquil and auspicious; so that the densest period of what we may call the great Eclipse of the Church fell in the middle of this epoch, while its outer edges were marked by the lighter shades which betokened the coming on and passing off of the phenomena of obscuration.  It was precisely at this very middle point of the dark epoch alluded to, that the nineteenth century commenced, the bright solar disk of the Church being shrouded in a shadow by which it was well-nigh totally concealed, and by which those who hated its light, ignorantly thought it was to be totally extinguished.  Even the faithful were alarmed, as men used to be in former days at an eclipse of the sun, before science had taught them that it is only a temporary shadow cast on its surface by the moon.  So it was with this temporary obscuration of the Church’s light and glory; it was only a passing shadow, causing a momentary darkness.  But in order to show how this shadow came on and how it passed off, we must explain the causes of the dark and inauspicious commencement of the nineteenth century, and therefore begin farther back, and pass in review some of the events of the latter part of the eighteenth century.

The Society of Jesus, with its numerous colleges, and its missionary establishments in every quarter of the globe, was suppressed during the pontificate of Clement XIV, the immediate predecessor of Pius VI, through the efforts of the triumvirate of iniquity, Choiseul, Aranda and Pombal, the prime minsters of France, Spain, and Portugal.  The Church was thus deprived of one of her most powerful arms of offence and defense.  The successful blow aimed at the Jesuits by these men was the sign of the existence of an infidel party extensively diffused throughout Europe, and it was also one of the first and most signal triumphs gained by that party.  In France, where it finally gained a more complete and disastrous sway than elsewhere, the path had been broken for it by Louis XIV.  His policy was, as it had been that of the English king prior to the Reformation, to break down the independence of the Church and the authority of the Holy See, and to bring the bishops of his kingdom into a state of complete subserviency to the throne.  His object was simply to exalt the throne at the expense of the spiritual supremacy of the Church.  But, without intending it, he opened the way for the subversion of the throne itself, and of the whole political and social order of France, by injuring the great balance wheel of the political world, the power of the Holy See, and destroying that great bulwark of government, a powerful and independent church.  As Balmes has well remarked: “The corpse of this man, who said he was the state, was insulted at his funeral; and before the lapse of a century, his grandson suffered death on the scaffold.”  During the long reign of that prodigy of licentiousness, Louis XV, the torrent of infidelity and moral corruption, directed by Voltaire and his associates, broke loose, and in the succeeding reign of the well-meaning, but weak and unfortunate Louis XVI, came that great catastrophe of modern times, the French Revolution.  Christianity was abolished, bishops and priests were either slaughtered or exiled, the Church of France was apparently destroyed forever, and God Himself was formally dethroned by the French nation.

Such were the events which took place in that great Catholic nation, France, at the close of the eighteenth century, and during the reign of Pius VI.

The state of the Church in the other countries of Europe, was but little favorable.  In Spain and Portugal a movement similar to that of France took place, though on a smaller and less destructive scale, and the great wave of the French Revolution swept over both these countries.  In Ireland, the Church suffered a different way, indeed, but was struggling for very life against a violent persecution from without; while in England, she had fallen to the lowest point ever reached in that kingdom, and maintained only a feeble and languishing existence.  Turning next to Germany, we behold, within the historical epoch at which we are looking, the extinction of the German empire, and the termination of the last phase of the existence of the great Roman empire, which had been, as it were, the secular basis of the Roman Church.  The political movements of this period also finally resulted in the suppression of the ecclesiastical principalities, which had been component parts of the empire.  The German bishops lost their rank of secular princes, and the church in Germany the principal part of her temporal possessions.  Moreover, the principal Catholic reigning family of Germany, the House of Austria, was disloyal to the Holy See in the highest degree.  The Emperor Joseph II, who reigned contemporaneously with Pius VI, originated a movement, called after him Josephinism, which found its expression in the schismatical Synod of Pistoia, and in the works of Febronius, which threatened to bring the whole Austrian Church and empire into schism.  This conceited and misguided emperor, who combined in himself the pedantry of Justinian with the thirst for power of Louis XIV, without any of the great qualities of either of those monarchs, suppressed the religious orders, confiscated the property of the Church, subjected the clergy to the surveillance of the police, disregarded the authority of the pope, who even made a journey to Vienna to attempt to bring him back to his reason and his duty, and in a word attempted to play over again the role of a new Henry VIII, his private vices excepted, and to bring the Church of Austria into complete subjection to the crown, or to the civil power. 

Turning our eyes finally towards Italy, we find that even there the poison of infidelity was insidiously working, and that secret societies were covertly undermining the foundations both of Church and state.  In Naples, particularly, a party akin to that of the French Revolution, though more closely disguised, headed by the Marquis Tanucci, the prime minister, was gaining ground, and preparing the way for the downfall of that kingdom, which soon followed.  The great apostle of Naples and Italy in the dark eighteenth century, St. Alphonsus, saw the gathering storm and thanked God that he was taken away before it burst on his beloved country.  It came at last.  The armies of the French Directory invaded and overran Italy.  In 1797, Pope Pius VI was seized in his palace, rudely stripped of his pontifical ring and vestments, and carried away a prisoner into France, where he died, after two years, at the age of eighty-two.  Meanwhile the French tricolor and tree of liberty were planted in the Vatican, and a French Revolutionary government subordinate to that of Paris, was established in Rome.  The cardinals were scattered everywhere, without any apparent possibility of their being able to assemble to elect a successor to Pius VI.  Then, indeed, the bark of Peter, careening to the water’s edge, seemed about to be swallowed up by the wild waves of this furious tempest let loose against her, while the Lord lay asleep in the stern of the boat, and her apostolic mariners raised the cry, “Lord, save us, we perish!”  All the enemies of the Roman Church shouted in triumph, “The Papacy is destroyed; another pope can never be elected.”

Even Catholics would have had reason to despond and to fear the worst, if they had relied on any human power, and not on Almighty God; if they had not believed firmly in that infallible promise: “upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall never prevail against it.”

Such was the dark and foreboding sky which hung over the Catholic Church, as the eighteenth century sunk beneath the horizon of time, and the nineteenth century dawned amid the clouds and tempests.  This glance at the closing events of the last century, and the portentous elements of evil which had congregated around the Church and the civilized and Christian world, just before the nineteenth century commenced, will enable us to comprehend the full strength and violence of those hostile influences with which catholicity has had to contend during the present epoch.  It is necessary to comprehend this in order to prehend the power which the church has put forth against them, and to appreciate the victory which she has gained over them.  That she has gained the victory over them, we now undertake to show, and therefore, to prove the thesis, with which we started, namely, that the Catholic Church has proved herself to be the dominant power of the nineteenth century. 

We request the reader to fix his eyes once more on a particular spot, which is the nucleus of the densest obscuration of that period of darkness which we have already spoken of.  It is the month of September, 1799, four months before the end, or, as some reckon, the beginning of the last year of the eighteenth century.  At this moment the French Revolution was dominant, Austria, the only first-class Catholic power, was faithless and terror-stricken, the Pope was dead in exile, Rome was in the hands of the infidel, and the cardinals were scattered.  It was just precisely at this juncture, when the very Rock itself of Peter seemed about to be lifted from its base, and overwhelmed by waves, that the immovable strength of the Catholic Church, and the singular protection of Divine Providence over her, were made manifest.

The great hero and conqueror, Napoleon, had gone down into Egypt, and, in his absence, the French troops in Italy suffered great reverses.  And, mark it well!  It was not the Catholic soldiers of Austria and Naples alone who defeated them, but the anti-Catholic soldiers of England and Russia also, who were thus employed by Divine Providence to scatter the enemies of his Church, and remove these obstacles which seemed to render the assembling of the cardinals and the election of a new Pope impossible.  It was this unhoped for change in the state of affairs which enabled thirty-five cardinals to seize on the momentary lull in the tempest, and to assemble, after the greatest difficulties, at Venice, on the first day of December, 1799, only three months after the death of Pope Pius VI, in France.  After a conclave of three months and a half, on the fourteenth of March, 1800, Cardinal Chiaramonti, a prelate of the most meek and gentle character, who had been for many years a faithful and devoted bishop, was elected Pope, under the title of Pius VII.  Thus the Nineteenth Century was ushered in by a most splendid triumph of the Catholic Church, for such a triumph was the simple fact of the election of a Pope under the circumstances we have described.  But not only was this meek Vicar of Christ elevated to the throne of St. Peter in spite of Napoleon, in spite of France, and against the wishes of Austria, by the intervention of those two most powerful enemies of the Holy See, Russia and England; he even proceeded almost immediately to Rome, seated himself in his throne in the Vatican, and assumed the reins both of his spiritual and temporal government.  This, too, was by the aid of Russian and English troops, who, conjointly with the Austrians and Neapolitans, drove the French army out of Rome and the adjacent country, with the exception of a small force, which still kept possession of the Castle of St. Angelo.  When Pope Pius VII made his solemn entrée into Rome, the Russian troops, by the express command of the emperor, greeted him with the imperial salvo,- a significant acknowledgement from the head of sixth millions of schismatical Christians, of the power of the Roman Church, even in the moment of her greatest apparent weakness.

Here is our first proof that Catholicity is the dominant principle of the Nineteenth Century; Russia and England are our witnesses.

The second great triumph of the Catholic Church was the subjugation of Napoleon, and through him the suppression of infidelity, and the establishment of Christianity in France.  Napoleon was the dominant man of the early part of the nineteenth Century; but he found a principle and a power which he was forced to acknowledge as dominant over himself.  That principle was Catholicity, that power the power of the successor of St. Peter.  No sooner did ne become emperor, than he acknowledged the authority of Pius VII, and requested most urgently that he would come to Paris and crown him, which was accordingly done.  He sent a minister to his court, with the orders to treat the Pope as if he were the master of a hundred thousand troops.  Even before he became emperor, while First Consul, in concert with him, he reestablished religion in France, recalled the priesthood, filled the episcopal sees, and enabled France once more to acknowledge God, and to do homage to Jesus Christ.  Here is the second proof that Catholicity is the dominant principle in the Nineteenth Century.  It crushed the French revolution and French infidelity, and made use of the most powerful monarch and conqueror of the age, himself the creature of that very revolution, as the instrument wherewith to do it.

The next great triumph was achieved, when this same Napoleon, in his mad dream of making himself universal monarch, rebelled against the Church and was crushed by her power.   When the Emperor though that the favorable moment had arrived, he seized on the temporal sovereignty of the Pontifical States.  The Pope, in his turn, posted up a public excommunication of the Emperor.  Thus war was declared between the two; between the spiritual power of the one, and the material force of the other.  Let us watch the issue of the conflict.  Pope Pius VII was seized by night and carried off by an armed force under General Radet, and transported as a prisoner into France, where he was separated from his faithful ministers and cardinals, kept in rigorous confinement, and subjected to that species of treatment which was best calculated to break his heart, to crush his fortitude, and to wring form him a renunciation of his temporal sovereignty, and even of the most essential prerogatives of his spiritual supremacy.  Rome and Italy had already been completely drained of money and every other resource, and robbed of all the statuary, paintings, and works of art, which were transported to Paris.  Every throne in Italy was filled by a French sovereign of the Bonaparte family, and even Rome was annexed to the French Empire, as a minor and dependent kingdom, which was given to the ill-fated son of the Emperor, known by the title of King of Rome.  The intention of Napoleon was, to reduce the Pope to the position of a nominal Primate of Christendom, residing at Paris, and completely subservient to the French Emperor, like the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Patriarch of Constantinople.  This fine scheme, however, was overturned much sooner than was expected by either party.  When Pius VII excommunicated the Emperor, the latter exclaimed scornfully: “Does he think his excommunication will make muskets drop from the hands of my soldiers?”  Yes it did!  On the disastrous Russian campaign, his frozen soldiers let fall their muskets from their benumbed hands.  The star of the man of destiny waned.  One ill-success followed another.  At Fontainebleau, in the very room where Napoleon, in a private interview with Pius VII, sought to wring from him the renunciation of his supremacy, he was himself, a few months afterwards, compelled by the other sovereigns to sign his own abdication.  As a few years before, Pius VII had been borne a prisoner in his carriage, suffering but resigned, and full of heroic patience and hope, followed by the blessings and prayers of the people; so, Napoleon was now carried through his late dominions under a guard of soldiers, but broken-hearted, pale, trembling, and followed by hootings and execrations.  England, Russia, and Prussia united with Austria to liberate Pius VII, who returned amid the acclamations of a rejoicing people to Rome, and reentered his capital in triumph.  When Napoleon broke out from his exile at Elba to reappear in France, and make one more desperate effort to regain his power, it was told to the Pope, who quietly remarked: “This is an affair of three months.” And in fact, after the hundred days, Napoleon was once more a prisoner in a sake place of confinement, where, like a caged eagle, he chafed out the brief remainder of his life.  Meanwhile, Pius VII was quietly reigning in the Vatican, and his late oppressor humbly wrote to him, requesting as a special favor that he would send a catholic priest to anoint him in his last moments.  Pius VII said mass for the repose of the soul of the dead Napoleon.  Russia, England, and Prussia had found it necessary for the peace and stability of Europe, the good order of society, and the safety of civilization and religion, to guarantee to the Pope his temporal sovereignty of the Pontifical States.  The fifty years came to a close, and toward the end of the year 1824, Pius VII died at an advanced age, after a reign of nearly twenty-five years, in peace and tranquility, bequeathing to his successor the undisputed possession of the throne of St. Peter, and the Catholic Church was standing as firm and immovable as ever on her old foundations.

Thus, in the first twenty years of the nineteenth century, the Catholic Church had already mastered the chief of those portentous elements of evil, which were congregated about her at its commencement, and at the close of the preceding century.  And here a new epoch in the history of the Catholic Church commences, an epoch of advancement, of extension, and of ultimate triumph.  This does not however imply that the Church, by one decisive victory, has completely subjugated and crushed all the elements of hostility, and gained for herself a calm and undisputed sway over the age and over civilization.  Far from it.  For this auspicious epoch has only commenced, and every success or acquisition which the Church has made, has been only gained at the cost of arduous efforts and incessant warfare with potent adversaries.  We must, therefore, continue to illustrate our thesis, by showing how the Catholic Church, since the first great victories with which she inaugurated this century, has maintained her dominant power by successfully struggling with all the antagonistic influences arrayed against her in the political and intellectual world.

We have already thrown a glance over Europe and the other portions of the globe where European civilization prevails, as they were at a former period, and have seen what great losses the Church had sustained in these countries, and in general how dark and inauspicious her prospects were.  Let us throw a glance over the same ground once more, in order to see the advancement made by Catholicity, and the successes it has gained within the nineteenth century, and to estimate its prospects of more extensive and brilliant triumphs in the future.

To begin with France.  The French Church, which has passed through the most terrible ordeal of all, has come out purified and invigorated.  Her persecutions gave her the opportunity of offering the most splendid testimony of modern times to the Christian faith, in the dungeon and prison-ship, at the noyade and the guillotine, and under the edge of the sabre.  Scattered by persecution, her clergy have brought the bright example of their sanctity, together with the Catholic faith, into England and America.  Rid of her perfidious enemy, Jansenism, purified from Gallicanism, and separated from the temptations of the court and of political greatness, the Church of France is more productive than ever in good works at home and in missionary labors abroad.  And, to make amends for those infidel writers who have scandalized the world, she has produced, and is producing, a constant succession of the most learned and eloquent champions of the Chrisitan and Catholic faith, many of whom were educated in the colleges of the infidel university.

Crossing the Pyrenees now into Spain, the ancient realm of chivalry and religion, it is perhaps not yet time to express an opinion on the future which is before this once so noble and illustrious Spanish race, both at home and in its American colonies.  In regard to the political well-being and importance of the Spanish nation, there is of late a great change in the tone of the secular press, and a manifest disposition to predict for her a considerable rise in the scale of nations.  The Spanish Church has also given birth to some of the noblest, most gifted, and patriotic spirits of modern times,- men burning with love of the Catholic faith and of Spain, and animated with zeal for the religion and political regeneration of their country.  It is the opinion of men well qualified to judge, that the aspect of things in Spain at present is decidedly favorable and encouraging.  The work of spoliation is suspended, and friendly relations have been renewed with the Holy See.

In America, if we except Brazil and perhaps some other states of minor extent, the Spanish and Portuguese race and its Creole progeny appear to have nearly exhausted their energies, and to be incapable, with the materials at their disposal, of founding any really great and permanent political or social institutions.  But we may hope that at some future period, order and strength will be made to arise out of the present chaos and imbecility, perhaps through the agency of some more vigorous and dominant race than the descendants of the native Indians and African negroes.

Turning our eyes toward the United British kingdom, we see, in the first place, faithful and oppressed Ireland relieved of most of the disabilities she labored under on account of her faith, and the Catholic Church and people of that country enjoying a comparative freedom.  The improvement in the political and social condition of the people, in education, ecclesiastical discipline, and in the prospects of a general national prosperity, are obvious to all.  To mention but one single event, the establishment of the great Catholic University of Dublin,- to which, by the way, vast sums have been contributed by the generous Irish Catholics of the United States,- it is impossible to estimate the influence which this institution may exert, if it is carried out on the same liberal and enlarged plan on which it was first projected.  We must also include, as a portion of the triumph of Irish Catholicity over English Protestantism, the propagation of the faith on a vast scale in England, Scotland, America, and Australia, by means of the great tide of emigration, and of the bishops and priests who have accompanied it, or been raised up by it.

In England, there is now a well-organized Catholic hierarchy, under a Cardinal Archbishop, which has been established in the very teeth of the futile opposition of the British Parliament.  In the very heart of the English Church, a spontaneous movement towards Catholicity has sprung up within the last twenty-five years, principally among the nobility, gentry, clergy, and lawyers, who are the most intelligent men and best educated classes of the community.  The body of Catholic priests, scholars, literary men, and champions of the Catholic faith, has been strongly reinforced from the very heart of the enemy’s country; and no one can deny that a new era has dawned on Catholic literature and controversy in the English language, and the terrible losses of the first half of the last century have, in a great measure, already been repaired.

In Germany, a complete Catholic renovation has taken place, and here, as well as in England, the Catholic Church has gained a great number of illustrious converts.  In Austria, Josephinism has been crushed, and the last blow given to it by the recent Concordat with the Emperor Francis Joseph, which secures to the Church comparative freedom of action.

In Italy, with the solitary exception of Sardinia, but especially in Naples and the Pontifical States, notwithstanding the assertions of prejudiced and lying tourists and English newspaper writers, every thing which can contribute to religious, political, and social prosperity is on the upward move, as anyone may see who will consult a pamphlet attributed to Cardinal Wiseman, lately published, entitled “Vindication of Italy and the Pontifical States.” 

Turning our eyes now, finally, on our own country, the Catholic Church of the United States is emphatically the Church of the Nineteenth Century.   As a missionary ground, our country was cultivated long before, but the first bishopric (if we except the ancient Spanish bishopric of New Orleans) was erected by Pope Pius VI, in 1789; and then, as a French writer remarks, just as the revolution was about to swallow up the Church in France, a new Church started into being on this hemisphere.  Just at the time when General Miollis was preparing to seize Pope Pius VII, and carry him away into France, he was occupied in organizing the hierarchy of the United States, and one of his last acts before his captivity was to erect the diocese of Baltimore into an archi-episcopal see, and to send the pallium to Archbishop Carroll, erecting at the same time the new suffragan sees of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Bardstown, now Louisville.  It was then, when the first appointment was made for Boston, that New England received her first Catholic bishop, the saintly Cheverus, afterwards Cardinal Archbishop of Bordeaux, the fame of whose virtues reached our ears before ever we crossed the threshold of the Catholic Church.  In regard to the growth and prosperity of Catholicity in the United States, in the Nineteenth Century, and its prospects of future success, we need only look at what is everywhere around us.  Taking Europe and the New World, it is evident even to a casual observer, that Catholicity is far more powerful and formidable, and has far more apparent prospects of success in the middle, than seemed to be the case before our eyes of the Nineteenth Century.   

During the present century, the Catholic Church has had to contend with the socialist and red-republican movement.  This is nothing else than the spirit of the secret societies and the French revolution reduced to a regular system of doctrines, and an organized plan of action.  Its object is the overthrow of religion and government of the Church, the state, and the family, and the upheaving of society from its very foundations, by means of revolutions, assassinations, and every other means fair or foul.  We ourselves well remember the crisis of this movement in 1848, and the outbreak of the pent-up volcanic fires of revolution in France, Italy, and Germany, threatening to overwhelm with a lava torrent Europe and the world in the Nineteenth Century, as it swept over France in the Eighteenth.  We remember the momentary triumph of Mazzini and his faction in Rome, the assassination of Rossi and Palma, the butchery of priests, the declaration of churches, the flight and exile of Pope Pius IX, and the establishment of the Red Republic in the city of the Caesars and the Popes.  We have seen also the remarkable and auspicious overthrow of this movement, which has been accomplished so speedily and efficaciously as to astonish the world.  And if some incidental evils have followed upon this triumph in the increase of despotism, and the checking of the advance of true liberty, the Catholic Church is not responsible for them, and we are, on the other hand, consoled and encouraged by a most important movement in the opposite direction, the emancipation of the serfs and the abolition of serfdom in the great Russian empire.

Besides all this warfare in the political arena, the Church has been engaged in intellectual combat with hosts of potent enemies, who have arisen to contend against the Catholic Faith, and to make war on the Christian Revelation.  In the department of theology, the Catholic Church has been attacked by a vast number of writers belonging to different Protestant sects, who have ransacked the Scriptures, the Fathers, and all history, to find weapons against her.  Rationalists and neologists have pushed the study of philology and criticism to an extent before unheard of, with the view of undermining the foundations of revelation.  Philosophers of extraordinary intellectual power and subtlety, especially in Germany, have bent all their efforts to invent a philosophical theory that would entirely supplant Christianity.  Physical science, particularly in the branches of physiology, astronomy, and geology, has made immense strides during the same period, and, like the geological catastrophes which have overthrown and submerged the natural world in former epochs,  these new discoveries have destroyed all old theories and ancient prejudices on these subjects.  The most violent efforts have been made to prove a discrepancy between these discoveries of science and the received facts and doctrines of revelation.  Besides the genuine scientific truths which have been established, a multitude of plausible but unproved theories have been invented, and under the specious and taking name of science, have been brought into collision with the truths of Christianity.   History and chronology, also, the catacombs, and pyramids, and hieroglyphs of Egypt, have been searched to find something more ancient, more authentic, and more authoritative than the inspired documents of religion, and to gain a vantage-ground from which to command and cannonade the citadel of Religion.

When we take a calm survey of this intellectual battlefield, we are forced to exclaim with the great Cardinal Wiseman, at the conclusion of his work on the connection between Science and Revelation, “Religio vicisti.”  All the attacks of sectarian, rationalist, and pseudo-scientific writers have only called forth in theology, philosophy, and the sciences, a brilliant host of champions of revelation, of Catholic doctrine, and of genuine philosophy and scientific truth.  There is no theological system, no philosophical theory, no scientific hypothesis, that presents any formidable front, or can combine any large suffrage of intelligent minds against the definitions of the Catholic Church, and the fundamental principles of Christianity.  If there are some questions in regard to which the real scientific solution appears to be not yet satisfactorily given, and the method of bringing revelation and science to a perfect accord is not perfectly settled, yet the experience of the past shows, that the more science advances to perfection, and the more deeply the true meaning of Scripture is investigated, the more completely do the first apparent difficulties and contradictions disappear, manifesting the perfect harmony between the truth of God in the natural order, which is science, and the truth of God in the supernatural order, which is revelation. 

There is now an entirely new field of achievement and conquest to be considered – the field of foreign missions in those vast regions where the darkness of Mahometanism and heathenism prevails.  Let us see if that Church which in past ages converted nations, and among them, our own pagan and barbarous ancestors, has lost her vitality, her power, her zeal, or the secret of success in the Nineteenth Century.

Take the map of the world, enumerate the Catholic missionary stations, and they will be found to encircle the globe, and to dot the entire surface of the anti-Christian portion of the earth.  In the Western Hemisphere, there are flourishing missions among the North American Indians, especially those of Oregon, in the Society, Sandwich, and other Polynesian groups, and among the cannibals of New Zealand and New Caledonia.  Among the North American Indians, at least three bishops are stationed; Oceania has nine, and New Caledonia a Prefect Apostolic.  To show that these missions are not merely nominal stations, like so many of the Protestant missions, it will suffice to mention that in the Sandwich Islands alone, where the Protestant missionaries have held absolute sway so long, there are ten thousand Catholic natives.

In the Eastern Hemisphere, the chief seat of all kinds of false religion – commencing in the Artic Regions, there is an Apostolic Prefecture under the charge of Mgr. Stephen Djunkoroski, embracing the Faroe Islands, Lapland, Iceland, and a part of Greenland, and the whole Arctic Circle.  This was established in 1855.  The mission of Lapland has been successfully started, and has now seven priests in it.  The zealous prefect apostolic is now laying the foundations of the mission in Greenland, and it is intended to extend the missions even among the Esquimaux who inhabit the vicinity of the North Pole.  Crossing now the Christian Empire of Russia, and coming down from its southern boundary towards Central Asia- the great political and religious battle-ground of modern times- we find a mission commenced in Tibet and Mongolia, under two bishops, the very headquarters of Buddhism- which has become so universally known through the charming descriptions of the celebrated writer and missionary, M. Huc, who was sent to explore it, and to prepare the way for the missionary establishment which has since been made.  In the vast empire of China, there is a widely-extended, well-sustained, and flourishing mission, directed by twenty bishops.  In Cochin China and Tonquin, there is a still more flourishing mission, under the direction of sixteen bishops; another in Burma and Siam, under four bishops.  Corea has also a bishop, and there are missions in the Manila and other small groups of islands, and in New Guinea;  while Australia is just now receiving a large Catholic emigration from Ireland, and with the tide of emigration a great number of priests.  Returning to Southern Asia, the scene of the miraculous labors of St. Francis Xavier and St. John de Britto, we find the great Indian Peninsula the seat of a powerful and active missionary organization, directed by twenty-three bishops.  On the vast and gloomy continent of Africa, less indeed has been done than in Asia.  Yet a commencement has been made among the degenerate Christians, and also among the Mahometan and heathen negroes.  Missionaries are laboring in Egypt and Abyssinia, in Algeria, on the very spot where St. Augustien ruled and taught, and whither his relics have been recently conveyed; in the Island of Madagascar, at the Cape of Good Hope, and at Senegambia.  Our limits do not allow us to give those full and complete details by which the force and fulness and success of Catholic missions, in contrast with the sterility and almost complete failure of Protestant missions, would be exhibited.  It may suffice to take one or two examples, and give some of the principal statistics in regard to them.

In the first place, let us take the mission of Annam, a kingdom which includes Cochin China and Tonquin, and has a population of about twenty-five million.  Although a fierce persecution has raged there since 1826, there are now sixteen bishops, fifty-seven European and two hundred and thirty native priests, two hundred students for the priesthood, fifteen hundred female religious, and five hundred thousand Christians.  The number of adult converts from heathenism yearly baptized is above five thousand, and forty thousand heathen infants are baptized yearly at the point of death.

Once more: in the possessions of the East India Company, according to the report of Dr. Fennelly, V.G., of Madras, there are sixteen bishops, seven hundred and thirty-six priests, eight hundred and one thousand  eight hundred and fifty-eight Catholics, of whom sixteen thousand are Europeans.  The number of Protestants within the same limits is only eight thousand, the greater portion Europeans.  In the Madras Presidency alone, the conversions from heathenism to the Catholic Church, amounted in the year 1856 to two thousand and nine hundred.

Besides these missions among anti-Christian nations, there are also missions among the schismatical Christians of the East, in Constantinople, Jerusalem, Greece, Syria, and the Russian Empire, where many bishops, priests, and religious are laboring to bring these separate communions back to the fold of St. Peter.  And in the East there are three hundred thousand Catholics, and twelve million in Russia.

The topic of missions leads us naturally to speak of the martyrs of the Nineteenth Century.  The blood of martyrdom, which is the seed of the Church, has watered the soil of the earth in every age, ever since the special era of martyrdom passed away.  Our own age has been honored and blessed with numerous martyrs worthy to rank with those of the first ages of the Church, the greater part of whom have suffered in China, and the adjacent countries.  Perboyer, Gagelin, Jaccard, Dumoulin, Borie, Schoeffler, Bonnard, Chapelaine, the Chinese martyrs.  Agnes and Laurence, Diarz, and many others, men and women of our own age, some of whom would be still very young if they were living, while the ordinary current of our lives has been going on, have renewed the stirring and sublime deeds of the heroic age of the Church, and have entered heaven with the martyr’s palm and the conqueror’s wreath.  Bonnard was martyred in 1852, Chapelaine in 1856, and Mgr. Diarz, Bishop of Platea and Vicar Apostolic of Central Tonquin, the last who has been heard from, was beheaded for the faith in 1857.  Protestantism also boasts of a number of its missionaries who have met with a violent death in their missions, and for whom it claims the glory of martyrdom.  Waiving the principle “Causa facit martyrem,” according to which a Catholic could not recognize them as true martyrs, it is obvious that even according to the standard of a merely worldly and indifferent student of history, they cannot begin to compete with the Catholic martyrs.  In the first place their number is extremely small.  Then, as to the manner of their death, they have simply encountered the fate of a great many other Europeans, sea-captains, traders, travelers, etc., both men and women, who have been assassinated by robbers, or roaming bands of savages, or slaughtered on the occasion of some general rising in which an indiscriminate murder of Europeans has taken place.  In this manner, some European and American missionaries with their families have recently been murdered in India.  With them, a number of Catholic priests have also been murdered, and a great deal of mission property destroyed.  It was not, however, in their quality as Christians or as missionaries that they were destroyed. It was not, however, in their quality as Christians or as missionaries that they were destroyed.  They simply shared with other Europeans the vengeance of the Hindus, excited by the long-continued cupidity, oppression, and cruelty of the agents of the British government of the East India Company.  A correspondent of the London Times states that very few native Christians have been murdered, except at Delhi, and there evidently they were regarded with hostility, because supposed to be artisans of foreigners, and refusing to share in the insurrection.  In regard to mere numbers, there is no comparison between the handful of Protestants who have been put to death in these barbarous countries, and the multitude of Catholics whose lives have been sacrificed within the past three hundred years.

 But there is another great difference between these unfortunate victims of barbarian cruelty and the martyrs of the Catholic Church.  These last have been judicially tried and condemned and executed, often with the most atrocious torments, be heathen sovereigns and judges, precisely for professing and teaching the religion of Jesus Christ, and they have had the chance of saving their lives and obtaining rich rewards, simply on condition of renouncing their faith.  This has been the case, not only with Europeans, but with thousands of natives from the timid races of Tonquin and Cochin China, as well as those of China, India, and other countries.  These heroic native Christians have embraced and persevered in the faith in the face of long and fierce persecutions, at the cost of every species of loss and privation, amid torments and in the agonies of a cruel death.   They have been men, women, and children of all ranks, not only from the poor, but from the higher castes, military officers, magistrates, noblemen, and even princes of royal and imperial rank.  Whatever praise we may award to Protestant missionaries for firmness and courage, it is impossible for them to compete with the missionaries of the Catholic Church, either for the honor of success in converting the heathen, or for the palm of martyrdom. 

Another sign of the power of the Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century, is the great men it has produced.  It is a sign that a nation or a system is in a state of life and vigor, when it produces great men.  When the great national idea is still capable of maintaining a dominant influence, when a system of religion or philosophy is still capable of convincing, controlling, and satisfying masses of men, especially of intelligent men, there is a principle productive of greatness, on which genius can thrive, and by which great achievements can be stimulated.  There is no lack of this sign of power in the Catholic Church of the Nineteenth Century.

First, we place that great man, sent by God to rule the church during a most eventful portion of the nineteenth century – Pope Pius IX.

From the venerable Roman senate of cardinals, we have two illustrious statesmen and prime ministers of Pius VII. Consalvi and Pacca, the eminent scholars Mezzofanti and Mai, and the ornament of the modern English church, Cardinal Wiseman.  In theology and sacred literature, we have Moehler, the celebrated author of “Symbolism,” Klee, Perrone, Passaglia, Schraeder, Bishop Milner, Archbishop Kenrick, Count de Maistre and Dr. Newman.  In sacred eloquence, Ventura, Lacordaire, Dupanloup, Bishop England, Petcherini, (a convert of high rank and education from the Russian church,) and Veith.  In philosophy, Galvani, Vico the astronomer, Galuppi, Rosmini, Gorres, (called by Napoleon the fifth great power of Europe,) Schlegel, the noble Spaniards, Balmes and Donoso Cortes, to mention none nearer home.  In history, Lingard, Cantu, Palma, Visconti the archaeologist, Stolberg, Phillips, Hurter, Rohrbacher, Dollinger, Theiner, Hefele, Ozanam, and Artaud de Montor.  In literature, the Italian Walter Scott, Manzoni, Chateaubriand, Canon Schmid, Henri Conscience, the celebrated traveler M. Huc,  the Danish poet and convert Neilson, the German poet and convert Werner, Rio, Kenelm Digby, Gerald Griffin, F. Bresciani, and F. Faber.  In the fine arts, Cornelius, Overbeck, Pugin, Schnoor, Hess, Steilen, and Muller, all of whom are converts to the Catholic Church, through the influence of Catholic art.  In politics and war, O’Connell, Montalembert, the Spanish Duke of Baylen, the Abbe Bernier, Radetsky, and the noble Prussian Radovitz.

Besides these names which first occur to us, and which are selected only as specimens, there is a host of eminent men in all the ecclesiastical and laical walks, and in the different departments of science and literature, who reflect lustre on the nations to which they belong, and honor the faith they profess.  The press teems annually with valuable well-written and interesting works from Catholic writers of all nations.  Indeed, the intellectual elements are in motion throughout the Catholic world; those causes which produce great men and develop genius are in more powerful operation than they have been before during a long period.  Hence we see a new and vigorous school of men, both of thought and action, springing up in England, in America, and elsewhere; and we fear not to predict that the latter half of the Nineteenth Century will prove more fertile of great men than even the first half has been.

There remains but one great event illustrating our thesis to be noticed, and that is the Declaration of the Immaculate Conception as an article of faith, the grand Catholic fact of the Nineteenth Century.  This great act of the Pontificate of Pius IX, we regard as the most magnificent manifestation which Catholicity has made of itself in the present age, and as the most splendid of all its triumphs, although, at first view, it might not seem any thing more than an ordinary exercise of the power of the Church to define and declare her faith.  This is true under two aspects.  The first of these is the exhibition of unity of faith, under the infallible authority which is centered in the See of St. Peter, and which binds together the entire body of the episcopate, the priesthood, and the laity throughout the whole world.  In this age of doubt, dissension, and chaotic confusion, outside the Catholic Church, the united acclaim of two hundred millions of human voices in assent to a definition of a doctrine of faith, is a grand as well as a unique spectacle.  All the principal races of humanity, divisions of the earth, nations, languages, schools of theology and philosophy, and forms of political and social organization, have shared in this act.  It was a Catholic, universal act of humanity; for it was an act of the only organized body in which entire humanity and the whole globe is represented.  Outside of this organization humanity has no unity, and never consents in any thing beyond the elementary principles of human reason and of the law of nature.  It exists in fragments, all of which have been broken off from the original and organized body, which is the Catholic Church.  This act, then, was an act of the human race in its unity, paying the homage of universal reason to the truth, as declared by Truth’s unerring tribunal.  This is the first aspect of the case.  The second is that this act was the highest possible glorification of human nature, and the highest possible exaltation of man, and as such in complete harmony with the dominant sentiment of the Nineteenth Century; which ought to recognize in this act, the most sublime expression of itself which is possible.  The characteristic sentiment pervading the Nineteenth Century is a high appreciation of the excellence of the rational and immortal nature of man, combined with an anticipation of unlimited progress towards a sublime destiny.  According to Catholic doctrine, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the first and chief of merely human beings, the model of human nature according to the original and perfect ideal, and a specimen of what human nature is capable of becoming, when favored to the highest possible degree by the Creator, and exalted to the highest which a pure creature can attain by a perfect correspondence with divine grace.  Thus, in declaring the entire exemption of Mary, “out tainted nature’s solitary boast,” as Wordsworth beautifully calls her, from the degradation of the Fall, the Catholic Church has glorified the human race.  She has done so, not merely by declaring the glory of one individual, placed at the summit of humanity, but by showing what every individual may attain to by a right use of reason and free will, assisted by divine grace.  For the only difference between Mary and the rest of mankind is, that she was placed at the outset of her existence on that pyramid of sanctity, which we can only reach by a lifetime of toil, and that she has reached its summit, whereas we can only attain a lower elevation on its sides.  But the human race may see in Mary a pledge of its own complete redemption from all the degradation of the Fall; understanding by the human race that portion of human beings, who by the right use of free-will and divine grace really fulfill the destiny for which God has appointed them, and excluding those who lose their place in the redeemed, the regenerated humanity of which Jesus Christ is the head.

We have now brought the first part of our subject to a close.  We have shown a part of what Catholicity has done in the Nineteenth Century, and how it has thus far remained its dominant principle.  And what in fine is the Nineteenth Century?  Why is it called the nineteenth?  It is because this number designates the age of the Catholic Church, the time that has passed since her foundation; and the civilized world reckons time only by the duration of this immutable Church.  Yes, the Catholic Church has secured the Nineteenth Century.  It has already passed its meridian, and its close is drawing near.  Those who are now infants will already be some years advanced into the succeeding age, before they have reached their fiftieth year, and will be occupied with the events and changes which the Twentieth Century is destined to bring forth.  Meanwhile, we may apply the argument of Paley in regard to Christianity, and predict, that as the Catholic Church has already triumphed over the most adverse influences which can possibly be imagined, so she will continue to triumph over every new combination of those same influences which can possibly be brought to bear against her in future ages.  In the words of an eloquent writer, deeply hostile to the Catholic Church, Lord Macaulay, which, though often quoted, we will venture to quote once more, however familiar they may be to the reader:

“The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigor.  The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustine; and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila.  The number of her children is greater than in any former age.  Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated her for what she has lost in the Old.  Her spiritual ascendancy extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of Missouri and cape Horn – countries which, a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe.  The members of her community are certainly not fewer than one hundred and fifty millions, and it will be difficult to show that all the other Christian sects united amount to one hundred and twenty millions.  Nor do we see any sign that indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching.  She saw the commencement of all the governments, and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in this world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all.  She was great and respected before the Saxon set foot in Britain- before the Frank had passed the Rhine- when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of mecca.  And she may still exist in undiminished vigor, when some traveler from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.”

We have nothing to add to this testimony, forced, we may well believe, by the irresistible power of truth, from the lips of a man whose whole mind is imbued with the spirit of the Nineteenth Century.  When an enemy pays such a reluctant but splendid tribute to our Church, we are certainly justified in expressing the profound conviction that, though changing eras may supplant each other, nations and empires pass away, society and the world assume continually new forms and phases of existence, she, the Catholic Church, the Catholic Religion, will remain, like God, unchangeable, and like him, eternal.