Translation of the Article THE FRIARS PREACHERS from the Dictionnaire de Spiritualité:


1. 13th - 16th Centuries.
2. The centuries of persecution (1559-1829).
3. In the 19th century.

1. 13th - 16th Centuries.

In the English Province, founded in 1221, Dominicans until the 16th century made use of the same literary processes with regard to spiritual matters as their confreres on the continent. Most often, they composed commentaries on the Sentences wherein they presented dogma and commentaries on Scripture which contained many useful elements for ascetical formation and rich material for meditation. Certain ones likewise applied themselves to the field of hagiography. But the greatest number of ritual writings are collections of sermons, for, in England as elsewhere, the friars were preachers first and foremost. However, published texts are very rare.

1. Among the most important of these authors can be mentioned: Richard Fishacre (+1248), John of St. Giles, Doctor of the Sorbonne, who returned to England in 1235 and died sometime after 1258 (cf. M.M. Davy, Les sermons universitaires parisiens de 1230-1231, Paris, 1931, pp. 133-136, 271-298), Cardinals Robert Kilwardby (+1279) and William Macclesfield (+1303), Archbishop William of Hotham (+1299), Richard Clapwell or Knapwell (+ ca. 1290), Thomas of Sutton (+ ca. 1300), Cardinal Thomas Jorz (+1310). To the same period belongs the life of St. Richard of Chichester (+1253) written by his confessor, Ralph Bocking, a work in which spiritual reflections mingle with the historical narrative (AS, April 3, Antwerp, 1675, pp, 282-318). The first Dominican Doctor of Oxford, Robert Bacon (+1248), in addition to his now lost theological works, composed the life (BHL, #2404-2411) of his great friend, St. Edmond Rich (+1240), Archbishop of Canterbury (DS, vol. 4, col. 293-295); some of his sermons are preserved (British Museum, Royal ms 7. A. IX, fol. 70v; etc.).

A collection of mss sermons of the 13th century (Bodleian Library, Laud misc. 511) groups together texts of Simon Hinton, Richard Fishacre and Hugh of Mordon. A sermon by an anonymous Dominican (ibid., Hatton 107, fol. 110r-114r), addressed to young religious, informs us of the qualities then required of a preacher (analysis in Hinnebusch, op. cit. below, pp. 290-296). The Tractatus Willelmi de Abyndon de septem viciis (ms, British Museum, Reg. App. 69) is probably by a Dominican.

2. In the 14th century a host of popular preachers appeared, several of whom were theologians of renown, such as Robert Holcot (+1349), Thomas Waleys (+ ca. 1349), Thomas Ringstead, Bishop of Bangor in 1357, and Thomas Hopeman (ca. 1350). Holcot's commentary on the book of Wisdom is filled with spiritual "elevations" in the form of sermons. That work went through more than 20 editions between 1480 and 1520. Still more important are an Opus trivium (Hain, #3995) of John Bromyard (+ ca. 1352) and an enormous compilation entitled Summa praedicantium (Hain, #3993). That work constituted a real mine for preachers in quest of subjects for sermons, both dogmatic and moral. It enjoyed an extraordinary popularity toward the end of the Middle Ages.

Nicholas Trivet, who died after 1334, left commentáries on Scripture (Genesis, Leviticus), especially the Psalms (A. Kleinhans, NicolausTrivet... Psalmorum interpres, in Angelicum,vol. 20, 1943, pp. 219-236), a Scutum veritatis contra impugnantes statuary perfectionis and a partial commentary on the De civitate Dei of Augustine (ed., Louvain, 1484; everal mss, vg Auxerre, municipal library, 243); see DTC, vol. 15, 1950, col. 1867-1868. On his commentary on the rule of St. Augustine, see the article of R. Creytens, AFP, vol. 34, 1964, pp. 107-153.

Robert Holcot (+1349), Opus super Sapientiam Salomonis (Cologne; Hain, ## 8755-8762); his commentary on Ecclesiasticus was also published (Venice, 1509), as well as a collection of exempla for preachers entitled Moralitates (Basle, 1586); a writing of the same sort has been preserved: Convertimini (J. Th Welter, L'exemplum dans la littérature religieuse et didactique du moyen age, Paris-Toulouse, 1927, pp. 360-366), and the Sermo finalis which concludes his teaching on the Sentences at Oxford in 1334 (J.C. Wey, The "Sermo finalis" of Robert Holcot, in Mediaval Studies, vol. 11, 1949; pp. 219-224).

Thomas Waleys (+ ca. 1349) Ieft Biblical commentaries (mss); his partial commentary on the Psalms was published (London, 1481), and that on the first ten books of the De civitate Dei (printed with that of Nicholas Trivet, Louvain, 1484); Th. M. Charland edited his De modo componendi sermones (Artes pracdicandi.., Paris-Ottawa, 1936, pp. 315-402; 1936, pp. 315-402; see pp. 94-95).

Thomas Hopeman (ca. 1350), commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (British Museum, ms, Royal 4. A. 1, fol. 1-264).

Thomas Ringstead (+1366) commented on Proverbs; other manuscripts of biblical commentaries bore his name but were perhaps only attributed to him. (cf. Stegmuller, vol. 5, pp. 371-372).

3. The English Dominicans, from the end of the 14th and through the beginning of the 15th centuries were most zealous in refuting the errors of Wycliff, so that their works had theological controversy as their special object. There remain few evidences of other writings, although we know the names of a few celebrated religious, such as William Richford (+1501). Very likely, several works of this period remain to be discovered in the libraries of England and the continent. Henry VIII's schism and the gradual disruption of the Church in England came at this time. A little composition in the form of a hymn, written for the "pilgrimages of grace!'' which were held unsuccessfully in 1535, against the King and his fatal policy, is preserved, still unedited, in the British Museum. It was written by John Pickering, Prior of the convent of York, who was executed at Tyburn in London in 1536. In Scotland, attention should be drawn to a remarkable work of reform accomplished by John Adamson, appointed Provincial by Cajetan in 1511; it was a real renewal of religious life and study (cf. H.M. Laurent, Leon X et la province dominicaine d'Ecosse, AFP, vol. 13, 1943, pp. 149-161).

During the reign of Mary Tudor (1543-1558), the Dominican Order was restored under the direction of William Perrin (+1558) whose work on the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, against the attacks of the Protestants, is known. In 1565, Thomas Heskins (+ ca. 1566) defended the dogma of the real presence against the famous Thomas Jewell: The Parliament of Chryste, Antwerp, 1566 (cf. A.C. Southern, Elizabethan Recusant Prose, London, 1950, pp. 48, 109-112).

2. The centuries of persecution (1559-1829).

The Order managed to survive in England although necessarily pursuing in secret its apostolic work; from time to time it published anonymous works. Others exist only in manuscript, such as the Controversies of Antoninus Thompson (+1760) (at the priory of Hawkesyard). The English Dominicans found places of asylum in the Netherlands, particularly in Louvain, and in France, where some were able to work and publish their writings. Their spiritual contribution is extremely rare. Quétif-Echard attributed the anonymous An Introduction to the catholick Faith by an english Dominican (London?, 1709) to Edward Ambrose Burgis (+1747), author of works of theology and history, but it really belongs to Thomas Worthington (+1754), author of a work on the rosary, now lost. John Clarkson (+1763), a theologian given shelter at Louvain like the two preceding, produced his Introduction to the celebrated Devotion of the most Holy Rosary (London, 1737).

3. In the 19th century.

The books published by English Dominicans were mostly works of controversy and apologetics, but some manifest a genuine spiritual value, such as those of Thomas Lewis Brittam (+1827) (Principles of the Christian Religion and Catholic Faith investigated.., London, 1790; The Divinity of Jesus Christ and Beauties of his Gospel demonstrated.., London, 1822), or On the Holy Eucharist by Ambrose Woods (+1842).

Toward the end of the century, publications intended for the use of devotions and associations traditionally dear to the Order gradually increased in number. Austin Proctor (+1872) wrote on the rosary (The Holy Rosary, Leicester, 1859). Dominic Aylward (+1872), author of beautiful hymns which were great favorites, produced several works for the Third Order (v.g Manual of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order of Penance.., (London, 1852, 1871) and published English translations of biographies of St. Catherine of Siena by Ambrose Catharin (London, 1867) and of Lacordaire by B. Chocarne (Dublin, 1867). Another translator was Aloysius Dixon (+1882) who published the life of St. Vincent Ferrer by Andrew Pradel (London, 1875) and J. Sighart's work on Albert the Great (1876).

Bertrand Wilberforce (+1904) made a more personal contribution to the spiritual life; even more than his translation of the spiritual works of Louis of Blois (London, 1925-1926) and his remarkable life of St. Louis Bertrand (London, 1882), his letters of direction (M.R. Capes, The Life and Letters of.., London, 1912) and his treatise On the mystical Life (published in F.M. Capes, St. Catherine de' Ricci, London, no date, pp. xvii-xiv), deserve attention.

John Proctor (+1911) and Wilfred Lescher (+1916) were involved with the rosary and published short essays on catechesis and devotion. In the spiritual domain, Reginald Buckler, who died in the Indies after eighteen years on the mission, was the author of several book (A Few aids to Faith, A Good Practical catholic, A Few first Principles of religious Life, Holy Matrimony and Single Blessedness, A spiritual Retreat, London, 1907, and especially The Perfection of Man by Charity). But the most distinguished figure of the English Dominican Province is Bede Jarrett (+1934), who has been compared to Lacordaire. Provincial, founder of convents, editor of the Blackfriars review, he published several works, including a life of St Dominic (London, 1924), his Meditations for Layfolk, and volumes of sermons.

Among Dominican women religious, Frances Raphael Drane (+1894), author of works on St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena (French translation, Paris, 1892 and 1893), wrote The Spirit of the Dominican Order, (2nd ed , London, 1910), To her is also due our knowledge of the foundress of the Third Order regular in England, Margaret Hallahan (+1868), and of her spiritual life.

R. Devas, The dominican Revival in the nineteenth Century, London, 1913. B. Jarrett, The english Dominlcans, London, 1921. R. Wykeham-George and G. Mathew, Bede Jarrett.., London, 1952.


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