CLEMENT OF SCOTLAND, BISHOP
But little is known about the Friars Preacher in Scotland. Doubtless one of the reasons of this unfortunate ignorance was the destruction of archives and documents during the many wars between that country and England, and especially at the time of the so-called Reformation. Touron is evidently of the opinion that Clement entered the Order in the days of Saint Dominic. Echard thinks he was a native of Scotland, and was a student at the University of Paris, as well as received the habit there. This would explain why the early disciple is generally called Clement of Scotland. The supposition seems to be that he joined the new religious institute in 1219, while Dominic was in the French capital. The fact that Clement is styled "a canon" (canonicus) in a document of the time shows that this surmise can not be far wrong.(1) Some tell us that Alexander II, king of Scotland, happened to be in Paris during the saint's visit there (1219), that the two men met, and that, at the earnest request of the monarch, Dominic sent eight of his religious into that country. A part of this statement, however, does not accord with the early history of the Order, which places it in England (1221) before it began to labor in Scotland. Besides, the almost contemporary Chronicles of Melrose Abbey, which was in what is now Roxburghshire, says: "The Jacobin [Dominican] Fathers first came to Scotland in 1230. King Alexander brought them into the country. As he had great love for them, he proved a generous benefactor to them; for he not only gave them places, but also built and furnished convents for them."(2) We do not doubt that the young monarch met Dominic at the time mentioned, or that the saint promised to send him a colony of the Order of Preachers. But the founder died before he could carry out his intention. Indeed, it would seem that several years had passed, when Blessed Jordan found it feasible to put the design into execution.
Doubtless Clement, who likely belonged to the sturdy race, was placed at the head of the little band of missionaries dispatched to labor among the Scotsmen, and to establish the Order in their country. Prior to this time, he had shown himself to be possessed of rare talent, and become a learned man, no less than a model, zealous religious. He had a special gift for languages and oratory. According to the Rev. D. O. Hunter-Blair, O. S. B. (Catholic Encyclopedia, V, 286), these Friars Preacher must have first set up their standard at Edinburgh. In Scotland, as in all Europe, marvellous success attended the efforts of the fathers; and they were soon scattered throughout the northern kingdom of the British Isle.
None of them, we may take it for granted, manifested greater ability, more zeal, or a truer religious spirit than Father Clement, who seems to have been their leader. Early Scottish historians assure us that his labors and evident capacity for good suggested him at once for the See of Dunblane, which became vacant in 1231. Possibly his own repugnance to such an honor combined with that of Blessed Jordan to delay his appointment, for he was not consecrated until two years later. The Chronicles of Melrose Abbey state: "In the year of our Lord 1233, Clement, a canon of the Order of Preachers, was elected Bishop of Dunblane. He was consecrated in Wedale [an episcopal tithe or mensal parish, with its church at Stow, in the southeastern part of County Edinburgh] on the feast of the translation of Saint Andrew [or rather Saint Cuthbert, September 4] by William [Malvoisin, O. S. F.], Bishop of Saint Andrews." The consecration assumes added significance from the fact that the ordinary of Saint Andrews, though it was not then an archdiocese, enjoyed quasi primatial rights in Scotland.(3)
From the start, Clement began to give clear proofs of his executive talent; nor did he relax in his zeal throughout his long government of some twenty-five years. He found the diocese in a deplorable condition. Under his watchful care it soon became a spiritual garden which blossomed with every virtue. Vigorous were his efforts to enkindle fervor and piety in hearts that had grown cold and indifferent from neglect, no less than to uproot vices that had become all too prevalent. Equally active and firm was he in defending the rights of the Church, and in putting her laws into execution. God crowned the labors of His faithful servant with success, for in all things he set the example which he asked others to follow.
Thus, while the model life of the Friar-Preacher prelate won the esteem and admiration of his flock, his kindness and affable ways brought him the affection of their hearts. One of his most prominent traits was charity towards the poor, of whom there were many in the diocese. Although his varied learning and ability, no less than his virtue, caused all to look up to him as a man of marked distinction, his humility and zeal for souls never let him forget the lowly, or those in distress. These, indeed, were the objects of the holy man's keenest interest. Like Saint Paul, he became all things to all men in order to gain all to Christ. In this, no doubt, we have the secret of the love in which the people of the Diocese of Dunblane held him.
It would seem, in fact, that Clement of Scotland possessed a character which won him the good will of all with whom he came in contact. It would be difficult to find a better proof of the affection entertained for him by his Order than that given by the general chapter held at London in 1250. Although he had, in a measure, severed his relations with the Order seventeen years before, by his consecration, the fathers of this assemblage enacted by formal decree: "We grant Brother Clement, Bishop in Scotland, (after his death) one mass by every priest throughout the Order; and by those in the Province of England the same number that they say for any member of the province."(4) Certainly this signal act of benevolence is an unequivocal indication of the high esteem which he enjoyed among his former confrères the world over. It inclines one to believe that his services, prior to his appointment to Dunblane, must have been far more than ordinary.
Another document, contained in a contemporary Scottish chronicle which escaped the craze for the destruction of things Catholic, speaks in no less high praise of the subject of this sketch. Here we read:In the year of our Lord 1256 died Clement ' Bishop of Dunblane, a celebrated preacher even in the Order of Preachers. He was a skilled linguist, and spoke several tongues with eloquence. So was he a man powerful in word and deed before both God and man. Because of the carelessness of his predecessors, he found the Cathedral Church in a deplorable condition, both spiritually and temporally. Mass was said in it scarcely three times a week, as if it were no more than a rural chapel. Under him it became a renowned sanctuary. Furthermore, he enriched it with lands and prebends, and supplied it with canons.(5)With Clement two Scottish historians, Thomas Dempster and George Newton, associate Father Simon Taylor, an Irish Friar Preacher, of whose virtue and musical gifts they speak in terms of high praise. They also tell of some works on music which he wrote. Possibly the bishop of Dunblane made use of this confr6re to give a better tone and more dignity to the services in the cathedral.(6) Certainly, if we may believe the chronicle just quoted, they sadly needed improvement; whilst Clement's character would lead him to adopt the quickest and most effective measure to that end.
We know just enough to make us wish to learn much more about this early disciple of the holy man from Caleruega. Unfortunately those who mention him at all tell in the briefest, though highly encomiastic, way of his zeal, virtues, and ability. Gams and Dom Placid Corballis, by placing his death in 1258, make him live two years longer than the chronicle from which we have quoted. Echard attributes to his pen a Life of Saint Dominic; a History of the Establishment of the Friars Preacher in Scotland; a Book on Pilgrimages to Holy Places; and a Collection of Sermons. None of these works have ever appeared in print. They are still in manuscript, stored away in archives or libraries, or have, like many other things of the kind, been destroyed by the hand of time.(7) One of Clement's stamp could hardly have failed to leave a lasting impress on his Order and the Church of Scotland, by neither of which, we may rest assured, will his memory ever cease to be cherished.
1. ALBERTI, fol. 116; Bullarium Ordinis Praedicatorum, I, 114; DEMPSTER, Thomas, Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Scotorum (?), Book 3, No. 308; FONTANA, Sacrum Theatrum Dominicanum, p. 292; MALVENDA, pp. 264, 333; MAMACHI, p. 461; PIO, col. 187; QUETIF-ECHARD, I, 111, 149; WOLF, Philip, De Peritorum Virorum Vitis (?), Book 3.
2. QUETIF-ECHARD, I, Ill: "Anno Domini MCCXXX primo ingrediuntur Scotiam Fratres Jacobini, quos allexit Alexander rex, et in magna teneritudine tanquam patronus et procurator insignis eis astitit, assignavit loca, ornavit et fundavit." On page 149 Father Echard says that the excerpts from the Melrose and another Scottish chronicle, which he used, were sent to him by the noted historian, the Rev. Thomas Innes, a native of Scotland and a professor at the Scottish College, Paris. (Ed. note).
3. DEMPSTER, as in note 1; GAMS, Series Episcoporum, p. 238; QUETIF-ECHARD, I, 149: "Anno Domini MCCXXXIII Clemens canonicus de Ordine Praedicatorum, electus est ad Episcopatum de Dunblayn, et consecratus a Willelmo, Episcopo S. Andreae, apud Wedale in die translationis S. Andreae." See the preceding note about the Melrose Chronicles (doubtless manuscript). They were long in the noted Cottonian Library, established by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, which now forms a part of the British Museum. Dom Placid Corballis, O. S. B., of Saint Benedict's Abbey, Fort Augustus, Scotland, kindly gave us the location of Wedale, and corrected the transcript from the Melrose Chronicles on the date of Bishop Clement's consecration. (Ed. note).
4. QUETIF-ECHARD, I, 149; Acta Capitulormn Generalium (Reichert ed., p. 54) ; "Item concedimus Fratri Clementi, Ordinis nostri, Episcopo Scotiae, post mortem, unani missam per Ordinem a quolibet Fratre sacerdote; et in Provincia Angliae fiat pro eo quod pro alio Fratre."
5. QUETIF-ECHARD, I, 149: "Anno Domini MCCLVI obiit egregius praedicator de Ordine Praedicatorum, Clemens Episcopus Dunblanensis, variarum linguarum interpres eloquentissimus, vir patens opere et sermone coram Deo et hoininibits, qui Ecclesiam Episcopatus sui Cathedralem, praedecessormn suorum incuria, invenit aporiata?n in tantum, ut in ea tanquam in rurali capella vix in hebdomada ter divina celebrarentur; quam ille in insigne sanctuarium construxit, terris et possessionibus ditavit, praebendis et canonicis exaltavit." At the time of Echard's writing this chronicle was in the library of the University of Edinburgh. He does not name or classify it. We do not know where it is now. (Ed. note).
6. QUETIF-ECHARD, I, 111.
7. GAMS, op. cit., 238; QUETIF-ECHARD, I, 149. Some writers have made Clement bishop of Dublin; but this was probably a typographical or other error in the beginning, which was afterwards copied by the others.