Debaters (1600s)


In the 1600s the division of Europe into Catholic and Protestant nations was consummated by the terrible Thirty-Year War (1618-48) and the struggles of the Puritans and Royalists in England. With the decline of the Spanish Empire French power and culture were at their height, while England, after its revolution of 1688, was rising. Most signifcant was the development of modern science with Galileo, Kepler, Harvey, and Boyle and of the "turn to the subject" in philosophy with René Descartes. Thus the Church was beginning to be faced by a new picture of the cosmos.

After struggles between Spain, Portugal and France and with the usual papal pressure for an observant, a noted preacher from Aragon, Jerome Xavierre, was elected Master of the Order in 1601. Xavierre supervised Dominican participation in the Congregatio de Auxiliis to its finish and began to restore San Sisto Vecchio in Rome, but otherwise achieved little. In France Sebastien Michaelis continued his efforts to reform the Province of Occitania against the resistance of its provincial, Joseph Bourgoing, who was supported by an aunt of Henry IV, Eleanor of Bourbon, Abbess of Fontrevault. She was formerly prioress of Prouille and had obtained the canonization of St. Agnes of Montepulciano. Michaelis, however, had on his side the King's Jesuit confessor, the famous Père Coton, and Henry, struck by Michaelis' custody of his eyes amid the splendor of the court, placed his reform under royal protection. Xavierre left Rome for Spain, where for two years he was Phillip II's confessor until made cardinal in 1607, only to die the next year.

To by-pass the constant rivalry between the French and Spanish kings an Italian, Augustino Galamini, Master of the Sacred Palace, was elected in 1608 rather than the noted scholar Nicholas Coffeteau, Henry IV's candidate. He proved a decisive, fearless Master, constantly traveling (while the Cardinal Protector ran the home office) and working effectively to promote reform and studies in face of the laxity and ignorance he found in Italian houses. He divided a Russian Congregation from the Province of Poland in 1608 and incorporated the ruined Saxon Province into that of Germany. The Chapter of 1611, held in Paris to placate the French crown, led to conflict with the University over Gallicanism and Conciliarism. Under royal pressure, it confrmed a reformed Congregation of Occitania, including St. Maximin, headed by Michaelis (but by an innovation directly under the Master). Galamim dramatically refused his blessing to St. Jacques which absolutely resisted his reform. His visitation of France and Spain was prevented by his elevation to cardinal in 1611, but he lived until 1639 as a zealous reforming bishop.

Galammi prepared the Chapter of 1612 by ending the abuse of swamping the chapters by the presence of crowds of non-delegates. In spite of pressure from the King of Spain, another Italian, Galamini's Procurator General, Seraphin Secchi de Pavia, was chosen. Called by the French "Le Sec" (The Dry One) for his concise speech and tenacious memory for names and details, he was also handsome, gracious, and a very just superior who never acted without taking counsel. Although Secchi was known greatly to admire the Jesuits, the elective Chapter excluded them and all non-Dominicans from preaching in Dominican churches. As usual it decried the proliferation of Masters of Theology and rebuked all recourse to the Holy See except through the Procurator General. For the first time in the history of the Order of Preachers, amazingly, it established special courses in preaching. A reaffirmation by Urban VIII of mendicant exemption, which had been much restricted by the previous Pope, was obtained by the efforts of one Dominic de Molina.

Many friars, pleading expense, began to demand Chapters be held only every six years-a sign of the times. Secchi sent detailed questionnaires on observance to all provinces and then spent most of his term on visitation. In Spain he found Dominican life, especially studies, flourishing. Portugal was polarized by the issue of Spanish rule and in Italy he found many very small houses of very lax observance. To all the Provinces he could not himself visit he sent visitators: to Bohemia, Poland, and Russia, the New World, and the missions in Armenia, Persia, and India. He devoted much care to the Provinces of Toulouse, Provence, and France and the decadent Gallican Congregation, including St. Jacques. Against ferce opposition he solidified the Congregation of Occitania reformed by Michaelis (d. 1616) to which he added as a counterforce in Paris to recalcitrant San Jacques the observant Annunciation Priory in the Faubourg St. Honoré. The Chapter of 1628, held in Toulouse, center of Michaelis' movement, magnificently celebrated the translation of St. Thomas Aquinas' relics and the martyrs of the Philippines. Secchi, returning to Rome, was refused entrance to Avignon because he had come through plague-stricken territory. Awaiting admission he died, with a request his heart be buried at the Annunciation in Paris.

Nicholas Ridolfi, of a great Florentine family (and a penitent of a Savonarolian, St. Phillip Neri), Master of the Sacred Palace, was elected in 1629. At this time Urban VIII gave Chapters the right to change the Constitutions without papal approval, so the Chapter standardized the terms of provincials for four years and of priors for three. Ridolfi established a fund for the Master by confiscating all private funds in the provinces through special collectors. This money he used lavishly to aid poorer houses, novitiates, publications, and for building and ornamenting churches. He visited North Italy and France as far as Brittany and as a new method of reform founded a General Novitiate in Paris for all France. He made the mistake, however, of placing it for thirty years in charge of Jean-Baptiste Carré (c. 1593-1653), who aimed to use his novices to form a new Congregation based on his own notions of reform. Although a noted spiritual director, Carré believed God wanted him to be a spy for Cardinal Richelieu, to whom he had taken a secret oath of obedience. Ridolfi also permitted Antoine Le Quieu to form a Blessed Sacrament Congregation of still stricter observance until Le Quieu tried to become "discalced" (like St. Teresa of Avila's Carmelites). Le Quieu desisted from this innovation only when ordered by the General Chapter and the Pope. Michaelis' Congregation of St. Louis itself was torn between the Parisians and the Gascons and sought to protect itself from the conventuals by appealing to royal intervention, inclining thus to Gallicanism.

Ridolfi accumulated many enemies. Vincent Maculano, made Vicar by Urban VIII, later a cardinal, was alienated because Ridolfi rebuked him for exceeding his authority when Ridolfi was in Flanders and Germany, and was ambitious for his own nephew to succeed to the Mastership. Thomas Cattoni and other friars of Southern Italy were infuriated because Ridolfi's collectors had squelched their profitable cattle business. Ridolfi was also disliked by Richelieu, who was working to ally France with the Protestants against Spain and Austria, while the Master worked for peace between Catholic Spain and France. But Ridolfi's most dangerous enemies were the greedy Barberini family, including Pope Urban VIII and his cardinal nephews. Originally favorable to Ridolîi, the Barberinis were angered by his opposition to their dynastic schemes to marry one of their clan to the heiress Olympia Aldobrandini. Urban decided to have Ridolfi deposed by the Chapter at Genoa in 1642, and seized the opportunity from an appeal made to him by Fr. Hyacinth Lupi, who claimed Ridolfi had unjustly and scandalously struck and excommunicated him in choir, to conduct an investigation of his administration.

Pending judgment, Ridolfi was imprisoned at San Sisto Vecchio (whose restoration he had recently financed with profits made from chocolate, then much in vogue, from the missions). Urban appointed Michel Mazarin (brother of the French Cardinal Jules Mazarin, Richelieu's successor), also ambitious to be Master, to preside over the Chapter, but he so infuriated the Spanish and Austrian delegates that they withdrew and protested by electing a provisional Master. Pope Urban was thus forced to take responsibility himself for deposing Ridolfi. He offered to make him a bishop, but Ridolfi refused.

Hence, while continuing to protest the deposition of Ridolfi and demanding his rehabilitation, the Chapter of 1644 elected a brilliant theologian, Thomas Turco, and did little else except make regulations for the dress of young ladies being educated in Dominican convents, allowing them rings and earrings but no other finery. Turco made extensive visitations in Italy, Spain, France, and Belgium. He finally removed Carré from the General Novitiate in Paris and made it directly dependent on the Master. He tried to pacify the Congregation of St. Louis by assigning all the southern convents to the Toulouse Province under observant provincials and giving the conventuals a vicar. He also made the Gallican Congregation into the Province of France. The next Pope, Innocent X, was an Aldobrandini much influenced by his sister-in-law, the same Olympia, the affair of whose marriage had so angered the Barberinis. Hence he instituted a commission of cardinals to re-examine Ridolfi's case, which rehabilitated him. At Turco's death in 1649, Ridolfi missed being re-elected himself by dying ten days before the Chapter.

Jean-Baptiste de Marini, a Genoan patrician, one of three brothers all curial officials in the Order, was elected in 1650, probably because of his loyalty to Ridolf. He ruled for twenty years, yet after his election, held only one Chapter, and (because papal policy forbade it) made no visitations but governed by letter. The 1650 Chapter made liturgical regulations, especially of the time of the night Office and tried without much success to check the habit of recourse to secular authority to settle conflicts in the Order. Urban Vill decreed the suppression of small convents, especially common in Italy, and Donna Olympia collected large sums for dispensation from this law. De Marini tried to check the growing war of polemic writings between Dominicans and Jesuits, and was much occupied with problems of the Order in France. He temporarily established a Congregation of Aquitania for the conventuals of the reformed Province of Toulouse until in 1663 they were united to the Province of Occitania.

In the reformed Province of Toulouse a description of their life shows that they never ate meat, kept the long Lent from September 14th, observed silence, had meditation twice a day, emphasized the assiduous study of St. Thomas, observed common life and the Constitutions "to the finger tips." St. Maximin tried to separate from the Order and become an independent abbey but was held within the Province of Toulouse. Renewed efforts to reform San Jacques and to prevent the Novitate General from becoming independent, as well as the conversion of the Congregation of St. Louis into a Province were all effected only by appeals to the secular power of Louis xiv. Meanwhile the controversy over Jansenism was calmed only briefly by Clement IX from 1667-69, when it broke out again even more bitterly. De Marini, grown old and feeble, spent much time in the country at San Pastore in the Sabine Hills, renowned for his hospitality and tender care for the rural poor. His term also saw the foundation of the reformed Congregation of Bl. James Salomoni in Northern Italy by Fr. Basil Spica, in addition to the existing Congregation of Our Lady of Santé in Naples.

De Marini died in 1669, hoping the distinguished theologian Passerini, his Procurator General, would succeed him, but instead the Chapter of 1670 elected the Aragon Provincial, Juan Tomás de Rocaberti, probably because at that time the Order flourished in Spain and in its Empire were more than half of all Dominicans. Rocaberti was a learned scholar who wrote many works, especially on papal infallibility, but he was also a Spanish grandee very deferential to the secular powers. For example, he readily yielded to Louis XIV by overriding the elective rights of the nuns of Poissy to institute an aristocratic prioress whom the King favored. He was also troubled in France with the affair of Noël Alexander and Gallicanism but left this problem to his successors. Rocaberti made few visitations and held no Chapters. He housed the persecuted Irish friars in San Sisto Vecchio and San Clemente in Rome, and greatly assisted the English Dominican refugees, including Phillip Howard who became a cardinal. He shared the interest in Dominican history, increasing at this time, and promoted the saints of the Order, especially St. Albert the Great. Made Archbishop of Valentia in 1677, he left the Order a big debt from the embezzlement by one of his agents, which he refused to make good on the grounds he had not personally incurred it.

Antonio de Monroy, was a Spanish missionary who was the delegate to the Chapter of 1677 for Mexico. He was an aristocrat, but modest in manner and unworldly. At this Chapter Innocent XI required the new Master to swear to (1) have a chapter every three years; (2) visit all European provinces; (3) restrict the number of Masters of Theology; (4) have the Acts of the Chapter signed by the Cardinal Protector before publication. Unfortunately the Popes themselves kept making it impossible to meet these obligations. Innocent also decreed that no convent failing to observe common life could receive novices, but failed to make this effective by also insisting that these novices once trained could be sent only to observant houses. This Chapter also prepared a revision of the Constitutions, and forbade the use any longer of the terms "observant" and "conventual." Most important, it decreed that the Order, which had too long emphasized university and special preaching at the expense of popular preaching should return to the example of St. Dominic, but it added that professors in the studium should not neglect their students in order to go preaching themselves. Monroy encouraged the Rosary Confraternities and worked to keep them under Dominican control. A former missionary, he was always favorable to the missions, especially those of the Philippines. It was during his term that Innocent XI condemned Laxism and the Probabilism Controversy became intense. In 1685 Monroy was made Archbishop of Compostella and he fulfilled the office with distinction.

Antonin Cloche, whose term was to last for 34 years (16861720), was from a rich French family and had entered Dominican life in the reformed Province of Toulouse. He always led a very ascetic life, and had served as companion of Rocaberti and Monroy, proving a good mediator in the many difficulties with the French King. In his first letter he insisted on common life and uniformity throughout the order especially as regards the habit. He stressed the need for popular preaching such as that performed by Le Quieu's Blessed Sacrament Congregation. He also urged the study of Greek and Hebrew and the Scriptures. Repeatedly prevented from visitation by the political situation, he produced new editions of the Constitutions, and also those for the Sisters and Third Order, and other official guides. After the Chapter of 1686 none were held until 1694, so that governance in the Order became as absolute a monarchy as that of the contemporary Louis xiv. During his term the Jansenist movement continued and Gallicanism took still deeper hold in the French Order. These struggles largely occupied Cloche's attention, although he encouraged studies and spiritual writing which flourished in this period. Missionary activity during this period was very great, and Cloche was deeply involved in the controversy over the Chinese Rites. Cloche, in the style of the day, for all his great personal asceticism, lived as a "grande seigneur," spending much time at the country house of San Pastore where he constantly was host to ecclesiastical dignitaries. He died at 92 in Rome and with him the baroque age of the Order.


The Dominicans at Spanish universities continued to dominate the Order's intellectual life during most of this century, although the Friars of Italy and the Low countries were active also, and in the last half of the century France began to move into leadership. The controversies on grace were renewed when two secular theologians at the University of Louvain, Baius and then Jansenius, promoted an interpretation of St. Augustine's teaching on this subject that seemed Calvinistic. The great foes of Calvinism, the Jesuits, attacked this vigorously, using as one of their theological weapons the theology of grace of Molina, which in the previous century had led to the Congregation on Grace, in which Thomas de Lemos (d. 1629) and Diego Alvarez (d. 1635) had upheld the Thomistic case and continued to do so. Nor was this debate terminated as late as Giuseppe M. Paltinieri's (d. 1702) The Molinist Vine Devastated against Theophile Raynaud, S.J., (1683) or Antonin Reginald's (d. 1676) major work The Council of Trent on Efficacious Grace (Antwerp, 1706).

The Dominicans were caught in the middle of this controversy. As Thomists they opposed the pseudo-Augustinianism of the Jansenists because it conceived grace as determining rather than freeing human choice, but they also could not accept Molinism because it seemed to undermine the total dependence of the creature on the Creator. They were constantly embarrassed by attempts of Jansenists to claim Thomistic support for their position, and by Jesuit attempts to bolster Molinism by picturing its Dominican opponents as crypto-Jansenists.

As Jansenism spread to France and became the ideology of a militant middle-class, partly working for reform of both church and state in opposition to the corrupt aristocracy and royalty, the Dominicans had difficulty in keeping clear of this partisanship. When the French monarchy managed to get the Pope's support against the Jansenists, they became even more radically Gallican than was the king himself, and many of the French Dominicans tended to share these nationalistic sentiments. Yet the great majority of Dominicans remained true defenders of two positions typical of its whole history: (1) the sovereignty of God as source of all being, truth, and freedom; (2) the authority of the Petrine office as center of unity for the Church and its faith.

The controversy over Probablism had been initiated by a Dominican Bartolomé de Medina (d. 1598), a student of Vitoria at Salamanca. The theology of Christian life of St. Thomas Aquinas and indeed of the whole Catholic tradition before 1300 was teleological, i.e., it judged the morality of human actions primarily not in terms of conformity to God's will expressed in law, but in terms of participation in God's wisdom discerning whether these actions are suitable means to achieve the God-given goals of human life, individual and communal. But in the fourteenth century the dominance of Nominalism in the universities led to a marked shift in the directions of a legalistic moral theory which judged morality primarily in terms of the conformity of human actions. to the obligating will of the sovereign -- a reflection no doubt of the rising power of centralized absolute monarchies in Europe at that time.

Consequently, the Jesuits, who were much engaged in promoting frequent confession as a means of raising the moral standards of the laity, published very detailed manuals of moral theology, based on a legalistic approach to morality, to guide confessors. Yet they wanted to make this type of conscience-formation practical for the laity who had to live in the real world. Hence, the manualists were concerned to point out, among the welter of theological opinions about the morality of actions in concrete, puzzling situations, those which the laity would find most practicable as guides for decision. Thus they developed the system called Probabilism according to which one might in good conscience follow a more lenient yet probable opinion even if it was not the most probable.

Although originally proposed (in moderate form) by a Dominican, the Dominican moralists came to oppose it bitterly, because from the viewpoint of a teleological morality like that of Aquinas, the choice of the most probable way to reach a goal (even if more difficult) is always more reasonable than any other (Probabiliorism). This brought down on their heads the Jesuit accusation that they were favoring the Jansenists, who because of their pessimistic view of fallen human nature, had opted for Tutionsm (Rigorism), according to which one is held when in doubt always to follow the "safer opinion," i.e., the one that goes against one's corrupt inclination to take the easier way. Dominicans, however, denied that the Fall has totally obliterated the fundamentally good inclinations of our nature and pointed out that what is more difficult is not always the better means to a goal, since virtue makes good action easier.

In the end, the Popes, while favoring Probabiliorism, contented themselves with condemning numerous tenuously probable opinions (Laxism) found in some manuals (not in the main by Jesuits), and left a moderate Probabilism as common practice in the Church until this century, when a shift away from a legalistic to a more teleological moral theology seems to be taking place, although it survives in the form of a new system called Proportionalism (cf. Chapter 9).

Numerous commentaries on the whole or parts of Aquinas' Summa Theologiae were written, including the important ones by Serafino Capponi a Porrecta (d. 1614) and Giovanni Paulo Nazaris, (d. 1645) of Bologna, who had taught at Prague, been ambassador to Spain and also written against the Hussites and Calvinists. What characterizes the century, however, is a shift to "defenses" of St. Thomas (such as those of Giovanni Dominico Montagniuolo, 1609-10, and Baltazar de Navarette, 1634) and text books, chiefly of two types: lengthy "courses" in theology or philosophy, and brief manuals designed to prepare students for ordination as priests. Of the "courses," the most important are the Cursus Philosophicus and Cursus Theologicus of Jean Poinsot (John of St. Thomas, d. 1644). A Belgian by birth, educated at Coimbra and Louvain, Poinsot taught at Alcala, and was confessor to Philip IV, refusing any of the other offices offered him. With Capreolus, Cajetan, Vitoria, and Báñez, he is considered a leader of the Thomistic school. What characterizes his and other "courses" of this time is that, like Vitoria's Reflections, they are not commentaries but original works made up of a series of treatises dealing especially with questions disputed among the authors of the day. While this made such works highly relevant in their own time, it has the disadvantage today of failing to show clearly how Aquinas built up his world view step-by-step from experience. Instead we are presented with defenses of certain characteristic Thomistic theses, with some original developments, such as Poinsot's important anticipation of semiotics. This also marks the works labeled "defenses of St. Thomas," such as the Thomistic Shield in 16 volumes of Jean Baptiste Gonet (1669), a professor at the University of Bordeaux, and proponent of Probabilism but also sometimes accused of inclining toward Molinism and as plagiarizing from an earlier work of the Spanish Cardinal Pedro de Godoy, O.P. (d. 1677).

Especially original was the nine-volume Theology of Mind and Heart of Vincent de Contenson (d. 1674), who taught in Toulouse, Albi, Paris, and then became a distinguished preacher until he died at only 33 after suffering from chronic asthma. While adhering to scholastic Thomism, he writes in a homiletic manner, with much use of quotations from the Fathers, and the constant aim to move as well as instruct. An example and summary of his aims is a "Dissertation On the Teaching and Preaching of Christ" in which in a "First Speculation" (theological exposition) he argues that Christ was the model of true preachers in his public teaching because: (1) He observed the order of charity (De Contenson quotes from John Chrysostom and Ezekiel 34); (2) He was not deterred by opposition (from Aquinas); (3) He showed love to the neglected (from Gregory the Great); (4) He spoke with simplicity so all could understand and proft (from Seneca, Peter Chrysologus, Augustine). On this last point, de Contenson denounces the abuses of Baroque preaching:

Such preachers do not proclaim the glory of God, nor serve the salvation of their hearers, nor awaken the consciences of sinners, but obtain nothing but popularity. They stir up nothing but the glory of empty wind, the applause of their hearers. They are not concerned about what they can offer in a holy, useful, apostolic way, but how they can fret their theme with more curious wit, artifice, and flowery figures, with empty facts, emptier conceits, and most empty words, so that they may chatter rather than be of help, gain admiration rather than teach, flatter rather than arouse repentance, and foul the chaste eloquence of the Gospel with meretricious babble.

He follows each theological exposition with a "Reflection" or meditation, in this case urging preachers to aim always at instructing and moving their hearers to a more Christian life (Vincent of Lerins, Hosea).

In moral theology and canon law the outstanding authors of this time were Vincent Baron (d. 1674) who after a distinguished career in teaching, administration, and especially as a preacher, retired to the General Novitiate in Paris to live a rigorous life according to the reform of Sebastian Michaelis and devoted himself to extensive writings, at the request of the Pope, against the Probabilists and Laxists and against Calvinism; and Petro Maria Passerini (d. 1677), whose most famous work was a classic Treatise on the States of Life (1665). There were numerous able canonists such as Vincenzo-Maria Fontana (d. 1675) whose edition of the Order's Constitutions is fundamental for the study of its historical development up to his time.

This century produced many polemical and apologetic writings. Outstanding was the 12-volume work of the Sicilian, Dominico Gravina (d. 1643), which dealt with the whole history of Christian heresies. He wrote many other works, including A Touchstone to Tell True from False Revelations. A Pole, Bernardus Paxillus (d. 1630), defended the filioque against the Orthodox, but most of these writers were concerned with Protestantism.

The Order at this time was rather barren in Bible scholars. The most distinguished was Thomas Malvenda (d. 1628), a friend and aide of the great historian Baronius, who produced a new, critical Latin version of the Scriptures. He was commissioned by the Master of the Order to revise the Dominican Missal and Breviary, and was an early critic of the rosary legend. It was also a time of extensive historical studies in which a truly critical method was beginning to prevail.

The most important Dominican historian was the Polish Abraham Bozovius (d. 1637) who continued the great Church history of Baronius from 1198 to 1571; and the French Jacques Quétif (d. 1698) who began the pioneering bibliographical and biographical work for a religious order, Writers of the Dominican Order and Stephen Thomas Souëges (d. 1698), whose Dominican Year in French is a more hagiographical but comprehensive work in 12 volumes. Much of the historical work of this time was done by missionaries anxious to record their labors and the customs of new peoples. As for patrology and the history of liturgy, certainly the outstanding Dominicans were Jacques Goar (d. 1653), expert in Greek who before teaching in Rome had been a missionary in the island of Chios, who translated many Greek authorities, but whose greatest work was a collection of Greek rites, and François Combefis (d. 1679), who edited many of the works of the Eastern Fathers, notably those of St. Basil.

Philosophical commentaries on Aristotle and defenses of Thomism continued, but these began to be replaced by philosophy manuals. The most important of these was that of Antoine Goudin (d. 1691), who taught at the General Novitiate in Paris and then at St. Jacques and published a four-volume text (Lyons 1671), used for many years. Although the published editions do not reveal it, Goudin sought a compromise with Molinism, as we know from correspondence from his friend, the famous Oratorian, Richard Simon, the founder of modern historical-critical Bible scholarship, who was of the same mind. That this deviation was never published seems to have been due to the censorship of Massoulié. Seraphino Piccinardi (d. 1695), noted for his excellent Latin style, taught at Padua and wrote a Dogmatic Christian and Aristotelian Philosophy in 3 volumes (1671), which attempted to refute the atomism of Campanella, Descartes, Von Helmot, and Gassendi, and a seven-volume defense of Thomism.

The most original Dominican philosopher of this time was the astonishing Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639). We have noted in the last chapter in the cases of Fra Francesco Colonna and Giordano Bruno that there were Renaissance anti-scholastic currents of thought even among Dominicans, and such tendencies surfaced again in Campanella. Born in Calabria in 1568, he entered the Order at fifteen and became a true polymath (although also a dabbler in astrology and magic) but in 1599 was arrested and tortured by the Spanish government on charges of heresy and conspiracy to found a communistic republic and imprisoned at Naples for 27 years. On his release he was again brought before the Inquisition but released, and lived for a time at the Minerva in Rome. On the advice of Urban VIII (to whom he was acting as astrologer), to avoid further charges, he fled to France under the protection of Richelieu and Louis XIII (also interested in his astrological services) where he died at Annunciation Priory in 1639. He had been friends with three Popes and many distinguished philosophers.

Campanella was author of some 80 works, including many poems, developed an eclectic anti-Aristotelian philosophy in which a Platonic epistemology and metaphysics based on the certitude of innate knowledge was combined in natural philosophy with an empiricist system of matter and energy in absolute space and time derived from (a non-Dominican) Bernardino Telesio. Campanella anticipated Descartes in turning to St. Augustine to find a way out of scepticism through the certitude of self-consciousness. His ethics argued that self-preservation is the fundamental human goal, although this can be achieved only by eternal union with God, while in politics he attacked Machiavelli and in The City of the Sun (1623) he proposed a utopian republic governed by philosophers, while in The Messiah's Monarchy (1633) he advocated the universal monarchy of the Pope both in the spiritual and temporal realms. Perhaps his most significant work was his Defense of Galileo, in which he argues for Galileo's orthodoxy, while admitting that his heliocentrism had undermined Campanella's own philosophy.

This century was the time when modern science began its rise, but few Dominicans (except Campanella) seemed in their preoccupation with grace, predestination and Probabilism, to grasp what this might mean for Thomism, but curiously a considerable number were noted as medical doctors and authors, and as mathematicians.

The higher level of education for women at this time made possible a considerable amount of writing by nuns, chronicles, biographies, poetry, and spiritual works. Two of these women are especially notable: Hipólita de Jesús, (de Rocaberti, d. 1624) of Barcelona, a relative of Master Rocaberti who wrote her biography, and whose mystical writings in Spanish were published in 13 volumes; and Juliana Morell (1653) also of Barcelona, whose life was written by Gabriella de Vallay (d. 1662). Juliana was a prodigy whose father had her instructed from an early age in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, philosophy and music, and used to exhibit her from the age of 12 in public performances dressed in a blue silk, highly ornamented gown. When he was himself accused of murder he fled to Lyons and then Avignon where these performances continued, until Juliana, disgusted with being a freak fled to the Dominican nuns in that city. Among her works are a translation of St. Vincent Ferrer's The Spiritual Life with a commentary and of the Rule of St. Augustine with a commentary; Spiritual Exercises; a history of the reform of her monastery with lives of some of the nuns; and poems in Latin and French. In this context we should not forget Girolamo Ercolani (d. 1660) who besides commenting on the gospels and epistles for the year, wrote a huge work, beautifully illustrated with engravings, of royal women reputed for sanctity, and another work, also in eight volumes, on women who were holy hermits.


In this age there were a remarkable number of Dominicans reputed for sanctity; among the Dominican women of Spain one author has listed 28 who are "venerable," including eight Tertiaries, and 13 of these were stigmatics. The many martyrs in the missions will be mentioned later. Three others have also been canonized: St. Rose of Lima (d. 1617); St. Martin de Porres (d. 1639); St. Juan Masias (d. 1645); all living in Lima Peru. St. Rose (known especially through the life by Leonard Hansen, O.P., d. 1685), followed the model of St. Catherine of Siena, remaining a Tertiary at her family home, living a life of penance and expiation and prayer in a hermitage constructed in the garden, and of care of the poor. Her early death at 31, the terrible severity of her asceticism and the sweetness of her personality (like the name miraculously given her at baptism) has made her a very popular saint throughout Latin America. She left no complete writings, but some notes explaining an embroidery panel on which she sewed slips of paper and symbolic hearts to indicate the Mystic Stairway and the Mercies of her spiritual experiences, including some of her spiritual advice to the physician of Lima, Dr. Castillo, who was her confidant. Martin de Porres, who was a Black with some Indian blood, was a lay brother noted for his service of the poor, especially as an amateur physician, and Juan Masias was another lay brother, an immigrant from Spain, who followed the same path of service. All three knew and supported each other in giving a Christian witness in the great new and disorderly city of Lima.

There were numerous Sisters of the Third Order, whether living at home like St. Rose or in a regular convent who achieved sanctity, such as Agatha of the Cross (d. 1621) in Toledo, teacher to the royal princesses, and engaged in many works of charity, although suffering the stigmata; Catherine Paluzzi (d. 1645) who founded a Third Order monastery in Rome; Marie of Lumague (d. 1657) who founded the Daughters of Providence for the care of the poor, one of the first such institutes that were to become common in the nineteenth century, who is reputed to have raised dead children to life; Jeanne of St. Martha (d. 1678), who after an unhappy marriage to a brutal alcoholic, became a Tertiary, then a lay sister and cook to nuns of Toulouse; Georgette Verrier (d. 1681) also an unhappily married working woman, finally allowed to live in a convent but not as a member, who suffered spiritual darkness for ten years; Louise Marie of St. Catherine (d. 1687) who died at seven (!), but was a Tertiary; Marie de Combe (d. 1692) of Leiden, converted from Calvinism, also unhappily married, who founded a home for delinquent girls under the patronage of the Good Shepherd; Magdalen Orsini (d. 1685) a widow who founded an observant convent in Rome; Anne Jesus Basset (d. 1689) an English woman in exile in Belgium; and Francesca Vacchini (d. 1689), a remarkable penitent like St. Rose, who died at 20.

Among the friars there were also many noted for holiness such as, Diego of Yanguas (d. 1606), one of St. Teresa of Avila's advisers and a defender of the natives of the Philippines, and Dominic of St.Thomas (d. 1676), the son of Ibrahim, heir to the Ottoman Empire of the Turks, who had been kidnapped by his mother to save him from the cruelty of his father, but had been captured by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem and raised as a Christian by the Dominicans in Malta, but as a priest died at 35 while caring for those stricken by the plague.

Among the writers on spiritual questions were many hagiographers and panegyricists and a vast literature for both religious and laity on mental prayer and the duties of a Christian life, most of which is in a style suited to that age but not ours. They include a good deal of writing on the preparation for a Christian death, and the patient endurance of sickness and mental depression not uncommon in that age of pomp and glory. There were also many works on special devotions: countless ones on the rosary and on retreats, the latter made popular by the Jesuits.

The most important development of this period in spirituality was the writing of a Mystical Theology based on St. Thomas by Thomas de Vallgornera (d. 1662), (although an Italian Dominican Pietro Paolo Philippio (d. 1648) had previously edited with emendations and commentaries a work of similar title by the famous Franciscan Observant Henry Herp (d. 1478) of Eckhartian tendency, which had been put on the Index). To this should be added the remarkable treatise of John of St. Thomas On the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. Together these two works formulate the classical Dominican spirituality. A Master of the Order, Thomas de Rocaberti, in 1669 also published a treatise on this subject.

The most original writers of the time, however, were Ignazio del Nente (d. 1648) who, under the influences of the writings of Henry Suso, greatly developed the theology of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which in the latter part of the century with St. John Eudes and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was to receive universal recognition in the Church; and Louis Chardon (d. 1651) whose The Cross of Jesus, which presented spirituality as an identification with the interior suffering of Jesus' whole life in the shadow of the inevitable Cross. Chardon also translated St. Catherine's Dialogue and Tauler's Conferences into French. Antomin Massoulié (d. 1706), at Rome and again at Paris was a regular consultor to the Holy See on theological questions, especially of Quietism and of Molinism, of which he was a rigid opponent. His numerous works included Meditations of St. Thomas on the Three Ways of Prayer, On True Prayer against Quietism, On the Love of God in French, and in Italian On the Virtue of Religion.

Finally, Alexander Piny, a distinguished French philosopher theologian (d. 1709) who had written a Cursus Philosophicus in five volumes and works against Molinism, produced two spiritual classics The Key of Pure Love, (Lyons 1680) and The Prayer of the Heart (Paris, 1683). These French Dominicans thus made an important contribution to the French School of Spirituality of which one of the chief figures is the founder of the Sulpicians, Venerable Jean-Jacques Olier, himself a Dominican Tertiary, which through its seminary teaching so formed the Catholic clergy. This School emphasized identification with the inner life and intentions of Jesus and engaged in subtle discussions on the nature of "pure love." Piny teaches that pure love consists in the total submission of the will to the wise and loving will of God.

What is the key which can open to us that precious treasure [of pure love]? That key, O souls who aspire to pure love, that key is none other than the fiat, "Let it be done," pronounced on every occasion of the Cross; it is the submission and acquiescence given to the Divine will in the occasions of suffering .... Whenever we say to God fiat to accept all He wills us to suffer, so often do we give proof of our pure love, a love which tends not to satisfy the one who loves, but the Beloved . . . (Ch. 1).


The Preachers of this century were especially distinguished by their great missionary work not only in the New World, but its extension into the Far East, which is marked by the extraordinary number of martyrs of this time, which it is sufficient to list. In the New World mission of Guadalupe six friars were martyred in 1604 and in Mexico, Sebastian Montagnol in 1616. In the Far East in Cambodia, Lopo Cardozo first stationed in Goa, martyred in 1605. In Japan St. Alphonse Navarette and companions (d. 1617) and William Courtet and his companions (d. 1637); the Tertiary Magdalena of Nagasaki (d. 1634); Sister Marina (d. 1634), a religious but mocked as a prostitute and then burnt; Juan Rueda of the Angels (d. 1621), a preacher of the rosary; the two Basques Domingo of Eriquicia and Hyacinth Esquivel in 1633; Thomas of St. Hyacinth, a Japanese, and the Sicilian Jordan of St. Stephen in 1634 and James of St. Mary, a Japanese priest educated in Manila, in 1635 in Nagasaki. In Formosa the Portuguese Francisco de Santo Domingo (d. 1633); and the Spaniard Luis Moro (d. 1636). In China St. Francis de Capillas (d. 1640), its protomartyr; the Tertiary Catherine Mieou (d. 1663); and Dominic Coronado who died in prison (1664).

Although not martyred, notable Dominicans working in China were Juan Baptista de Morales (d. 1664), who wrote a Chinese dictionary and grammar, a religious history of China, a biography of St. Dominic in Chinese, and works on the Chinese rites question. It was he who helped Gregory Lo (d. 1687), the first native priest to be ordained; and the native catechists and Tertiaries, the sailor Joachim Ko (d. 1649) and Catherine Sanzo (d. 1655).

But in the Old World there were also Dominican martyrs: in Ireland, Richard Barry and companions (d. 1647) under Cromwell; two nuns (d. 1653); the Tertiary Sir John Burke (d. 1610); many friars in Russia (d. c. 1649), where 21 large convents were destroyed by Cossacks; in Morocco Constantio Magni (d. 1624) who, while seeking to care for Christian slaves, died in prison; José Moran (d. 1643) who after apostatizing in Algeria, repented and witnessed the Faith; Alexander Baldrati a Lugo (d. 1645), killed on Chios by Turks; and Andrew Carga (d. 1697), an Italian, hanged from a ship's mast also by Turks, in Constantinople.

There were many writers on the missions. Thus Diego Collado (d. 1638), who worked in Rome in the Propaganda, wrote extensively on the missions, their history, and linguistic problems, and Baptista Verjuys (d. 1667) wrote a Pastoral Handbook for Missionaries.

The great missionary controversy on the Chinese rites began in this century. The Dominicans and Franciscans and the secular missionary priests, who worked chiefly with the Chinese peasants, regarded the prescribed Confucian rites as superstitious and idolatrous and therefore forbade them to their converts, while the Jesuits who had obtained a reputation with the Imperial court and upperclasses by their learning and their quick mastery of Chinese language and scholarship, took the view that these rites were purely formal and could be permitted

In the visual arts, undoubtedly the most notable painter was Juan Mayno (d. 1646), a pupil of El Greco and Titian, whose work belongs to the best period of Spanish painting. In the New World, in Quito, the Spanish-Indian Pedro Bedon (d. 1621), taught by a pupil of Michelangelo, was both a painter and stained-glass artist, while acting as Regent of Studies for his province and as a teacher of native languages. Priests, brothers, and sisters who were painters or sculptors in this century could be named, while Phillip Wicart of Ghent (d. 1694) was an artificer of bells and organs, and in the last part of the century, in Sicily and Spain, a lay brother, Fra Azarias, was a remarkable artist in glass. There were numerous Dominican architects and engineers, such as Antonio Brancuti (d. 1605); Lodovico di Bologna (fl. 1648); Cardinal Vincenzo Maculano, (d. 1667); and Gennaro Maria d'Afflitto (d.1673) of Naples, an expert on fortifications, or Thomas Maria Napoli (d. 1688), a writer on architecture.

Thus this century was marked by the large number of Dominicans, the diversity of their activities, their involvement in the Molinist, Probabilist, and Jansenist controversies, and their great missionary activity in the New World and Far East.