The Order entered this century with strength and vigor. It shared the restoration of Catholic life that followed the Council of Trent. The Dominican reform movement had come to substantial completion, a series of great theologians had brought about a Thomistic revival, and the core provinces in Italy, Spain, and France were sound and became ever more thriving and populous. This strength was matched by weakness. The provinces of northern and eastern Europe were but shells; the provinces overseas were strong but too distant and too absorbed in the ministry to exert much influence in the Order; the intellectual revival had spent most of its strength, and controversies were claiming the energy that theologians might have used more effectively.

In the political world, Divine Right Monarchy, nationalism, and dynastic wars were about to begin. Catholic princes would soon restrict the liberty of the Church, challenge papal leadership, and sap the strength of the religious Orders. As Philip Hughes has written, "In the king run the absolutism of Catholic princes was to ruin the influence of Catholicism in the south as truly as the Protestants had ruined it in the north, and to inflict injuries on religion that are still felt as a real hindrance." Religious Orders, too, were caught in the web that entangled the Church. It was no accident that "the movements that made life so difficult for the Church between 1600 and 1800 originated in France; absolutism, Gallicanism, Jansenism, episcopalism," and the French Revolution. Assisted by Cardinals Mazarin and Richelieu, the Bourbon dynasty, which succeeded to the French throne in 1594, carried royal power to such a pitch that Louis XIV became the incarnation of the "Divine Right King". Richelieu's policy of limiting papal authority in France to the degree compatible with orthodoxy became dogma and received classic expression when Louis promulgated the Gallican Articles in 1682.

In the Church, the concentration of powers in the papacy that began after the Council of Trent developed as the papal position strengthened. Necessary and salutary in the sixteenth century, when the decrees of Trent needed to be implemented and Catholic reform was still in its infancy, Roman control was destined to be challenged once the restoration of Catholic life had been accomplished and royal powers and episcopal prerogatives were more vigorously asserted.

Dominican Government, Its Changing Character

Absolutism, centralized government, and Rationalism reached their peak in the "enlightened" eighteenth century. The Order was touched by all of them and found its freedom of action curtailed by frequent papal and royal interventions. Nor could it break free of its times or escape the entanglements of papal and dynastic policies. A proposal of Master General Beccaria in 1600 to entrust the appointment of provincials to the master was prophetic of the changing atmosphere in the Order itself. The centralization and pomp that encompassed it on every side entered its own blood stream. The dominance of the master general, which began when general chapters stopped meeting annually in 1370, developed into a kind of monarchy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Until 1622 the chapters convened more or less regularly at three-year intervals. Three years later, Urban VIII authorized meetings at six-year intervals. The interim tended to be much longer. A chapter took place in 1628 and another in 1629 to elect a general, but then the fifteen that met until 1832, with four exceptions, assembled only to elect. Innocent XI attempted to change this situation in 1677, requiring the return to triennial chapters, but his order remained a dead letter. The chapter came together only six times during the eighteenth century.

The influence of the master increased accordingly. Reaffirming its authority and that of the master, "who holds the plenitude of power through the Order both in spirituals and temporals," the general chapter of 1600 reserved to him and the difflnitors the title "Most Reverend." At the same time, it obliged the master to reside in Rome, a sign that his increasing importance was lessening his personal contact with the provinces. He kept in touch through letters, executive orders, grants of dispensation and privileges, adjudication of disciplinary cases, hearing of appeals, and occasional visitations, made either by himself or delegates. The infrequency of chapters obliged him, from time to time, to have recourse to the Holy See for authorizations or decisions. Nor could the provinces resist the thrust toward personal rule. The 1629 general chapter found it necessary to command the dif6nitors of the provincial chapter not to empower the provincial to change the acta of chapters. The 1647 general chapter increased the master's control by ordering that the acta of provincial chapters be submitted to him for review before promulgation.

The power of the master was symbolized in many ways. New construction at his headquarters, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, made the priory a massive complex that housed the master and his curia, the administration of the Roman province, St. Thomas College and its professors, and, in the next century, the scholars and professors of the Casanate Library. Also, forced by circumstances to remain at the heart of the Church, the masters provided a summer house for themselves in the countryside near Palestrina. Marinis was the first to go there in 1656 because of weakened health, but the generalate bought the home, and the masters used it regularly from about 1677. There they placed real or fabricated portraits of their predecessors. This gallery, kept up-to-date, now hangs in the master's corridor at Santa Sabina. This is a forgivable piece of family pride. Though the portraits are imaginary before the seventeenth century, great men like Dominic, Jordan, Humbert, Raymond of Capua, and Cajetan deserve to be commemorated.

The pomp and splendor reserved to princes were not wanting, especially when the Order elected the sons of aristocratic families: John Thomas Rocaberti in 1670, Anthony Monroy in 1677, John Thomas Boxadors in 1756. Since 1669, probably, Spanish kings have honored the master as a Grandee of Spain. Baroque pomp and circumstance attended the visitation tour of Antoninus Cloche to upper Italy. Though the personal life of Boxadors was characterized by simplicity and great austerity, his four-year visitation of the Spanish provinces, begun in 1760, provoked the accusation that he had traveled like a prince. Elections and funerals often became the occasion of splendor and show. The municipal band of Rome, not without suitable gratuitees, of course, beat their drums and blew their trumpets to herald the election of Augustine Pipia in 1721. Great numbers of Dominicans, and many religious and ecclesiastical dignitaries graced the funerals of Cloche in 1720 and Ripon in 1747.

Though the master's position was stronger, neither he nor the Order could function in full freedom. By 1600 close supervision by the pope and cardinal protector was well established. All fourteen of the elective chapters of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries voted under the watchful eye of the Holy See. Also, the pope regularly appointed a vicar general to govern the Order during a vacancy. So appointed were Ridol± in 1628 and 1650, Vincent Candido in 1644, and Pius Passerini in 1670. The popes also continued a precedent established a century earlier by retaining the master general in office (pending the election of a successor) after his elevation to the hierarchy-Augustinc Galamini to the cardinalate, 1611, Rocaberti to the archbishopric of Valencia (1677), Monroy to that of Compostella (1685), and Boxadors to the cardinalate in 1775. Cardinal Fausto Poli presided over the sessions of the 1644 elective chapter. By a grant of Urban VIII, the vicar general, Vincent Candido, cast a vote even though he was not a capitular. Holding the Order's well being at heart, the Holy See also sent directives to the chapters from time to time. Cardinal Altieri, the protector, obliged the 1677 elective chapter to accept several mandates before proceeding to the election-that the Order hold triennial chapters, observe the procedure approved by Boniface IX when promoting to the mastership in theology, and not alter the Constitutions or acts of the chapters. Furthermore, the master general was to visit all the European provinces personally. The cardinal also commanded the chapter, after the election, to appoint a commission to revise the Constitutions. Cloche published this revision in 1690. Proceded by the editions of 1620 and 1650, it was printed and reprinted without alteration until Jandel promulgated the edition of 1872.

The new insistence on visitations by the master proved to be futile. Earlier in the century the pope had prevented Ridolfi, Marinis, and Rocaberti from making visitations. Now circumstances stood in the way. Making a visitation in upper Italy, Cloche, a Frenchman, was barred by Spain from entering the Duchy of Milan or visiting the Spanish provinces. For the sake of peace, he did not go to France.

Another sign of the times was the position of privileges and exaggerated respect accorded to masters of theology. An extreme example is afforded by an ordinance of the 1649 provincial chapter of Aragon: "Because the masters bring great honor to the Order by their literary productions, we wish them to have complete freedom to work. That is why we order . . . priors to designate lay brothers who shall carefully and humbly serve them." The eminent station of the masters was aggrandized by their predominance at the general chapters, which began in the fifteenth century, and by the extended body of privileges they enjoyed. These facts lie behind the puzzling reference of Charles Poulet in his Church History to "the division of the Dominican Order into a high and low clergy." The masters pushed the preachers general into the shadows, even though the latter continued to bu members of the provincial chapters.

The Seventeenth-Century Masters General

Nine masters ruled during the 160C's. Five of them had tenures of seven years, none had less than four. Seraphim Secci (16121628), Nicholas Ridolfi (1629-1644), John Baptist Marinis (16501669), and Antoninus Cloche enjoyed lengthy terms. The thirtyfour-year term of Cloche, the most long-lived of the masters, linked two centuries. Elected in 1686, he died in 1720. The generalship of Jerome Xavierre (1601-1607), marked a brief interlude in the long series of Italian masters. Another interruption came at the end of the century with the elections of Thomas Rocaberti, a Spaniard (1670-77), .Anthony Monroy, a forty-two-year-old Mexican Creole (1677-86), and Cloche, a Frenchman.

Ridolfi shared the fate of Munio Zamora, Martial Auribelli, and Sixtus Fabri. Urban VIII turned him out of office after some of his own friars had trumped up charges against him and made an illegal attempt to depose him at an irregular chapter held at Genoa in 1642. This provoked a schism, a protest general chapter at Corneliano near Genoa, and the election of two pseudogenerals, one of them the ambitious Michael Mazarin, brother of the famous Cardinal. Later he too donned the red hat. Urban VIII, who had suspended Ridolfl, nullified both illegal chapters and elections in 1643 and removed Ridolfi in 1644. He and his cardinal-nephews, who had encouraged the enemies of the master, had family reasons for detesting Ridolfl. He was rehabilitated by Urban's successor, Innocent X, who named him president of the chapter assembled in 1650 to elect a successor to Thomas Turco (1644-1649). He would probably have been re-elected but death cut him down as he was reaching for the fruit of victory.

The Chapters and the Provinces

The general chapters of the century busied themselves with their traditional work, providing for the well being of the Order, provinces, studies, and regular discipline. The 1605 chapter, especially, issued a series of decrees dealing with reform. The 1611 chapter, assembled in Paris, was marked by the anti-Gallican debates that were held in the presence of Marie de Medici, Queen Regent, the youthful Louis XIII, the papal nuncio and members of the nobility. Several times during the century, chapters had to emphasize the unity of the Order in the face of attempts to appoint a vicar general for the provinces of the Indies and the introduction of novelties regarding the habit and ceremonies. Despite these efforts, the capuce and its hood greatly increased in fulness, their ample cut enduring well into the nineteenth century. To distinguish themselves from other friars who walked bareheaded or wore skullcaps, Dominicans began to wear the Roman hat in public.

Changes in the government of the provinces were introduced by the general chapter of 1629. In conformity with decrees of Julius II, that had been implemented only in Italy, the Order now fixed the duration in office of provincials at four years, and of priors at three years. In line with this change, provincial chapters would meet only to elect a provincial, at four-year intervals. In between chapters, selected fathers of the province, masters of theology, and priors were to meet to discuss the affairs of the province. This assembly would have no elective or legislative powers. Some of the provinces adopted customs of their own. Aragon and Calabria chose their provincials in rotation from the various vicariates of the province. The Mexican Dominicans alternated between a Spanish and a creole provincial. The province also divided itself into regions depending on the language spoken by the natives, whether Mixtec or Zapotec.

From the Protestant Reformation until the French Revolution, the greatest strength of the Order lay in Italy Spain, and France. The French provinces suffered greatly from the foreign invasions and protracted civil and religious wars that had troubled France in the sixteenth century. Benefiting from the creation of reformed congregations and provinces and the revival of Catholic life that began in France with the belated implementation of the decrees of Trent, the French friars, until then in need of reform, recovered during the 1600's. Bohemia and Hungary remained extremely weak and recovered only slowly from the blows inflicted by the Protestants and the Turks. The German province was making a good recovery when the Thirty Years War, which began in 1618, again weakened it. The Turks destroyed the province of Greece in 1669. The Order itself put an end to the province of Saxony in 1608, uniting its few houses to the German province. It added nine new provinces to its roster: Piedmont, St. Catherine's in southern Italy, Paris, Lithuania, the Canary Islands, Holy Angels in Mexico, St. Louis in France, Belgium, and St. Hyacinth's in Russia.

Political pressures dictated some of this realignment of the Order's territory. To accord with civil jurisdictions, kings had the boundaries of provinces shuffled or priories gathered into autonomous congregations. The Order itself established the Congregation of Sardinia, dividing it from the Aragonese province in 1615. Influenced by the Habsburgs, it carved the Congregation of Steiermark and Carinthia from the German province in 1629. The conquests of Louis XIV led to the erection of a Frenchspeaking province of Belgium in 1680 and the Congregation of Alsace in 1690. Malta with its three priories became a vicargeneralate after the island passed under British control. On the other hand, in 1605, the Order suppressed the Congregation of Silesia, established after the partition of Poland, by reuniting its four priories to the province of Poland. The Order's reform movement accounted for the erection of another nine congregations in Italy, France, and Russia.

The level of Dominican life in the provinces and congregations varied greatly. The northern provinces were caught in the meshes of the Protestant environment or held back by the century's dynastic ambitions and wars. The zeal of the French Dominicans for reform led them into a certain instability and discontent, manifested in the multiplication of congregations and the shifting of provincial boundaries. The Spanish and Italian provinces were living and vital. Lombardy had 2,033 friars and 63 houses; the Sicilian province, 800 friars (1573); the province of Spain, 2,000; Aragon, 1,152 in fifty-three priories. The ten provinces of the Spanish colonies were moderate-sized. At its establishment in 1656, Holy Angels province in Mexico had nineteen priories.

The Reform Movement

The masters general actively promoted the Order's reform during this century. Xavierre guided the reforming chapter at Valladolid in 1605. Seed, himself an exemplary religious, conducted frequent visitations personally or through visitators. Turco spent 1645 and 1646 in France bringing order into the confused picture of reformed provinces and congregations. He then went into Spain. Two of the reformed congregations of France achieved provincial rank in 1669, the Gallican under the title, province of Paris, and the congregation of St. Louis, which kept the same name. In response to a directive of the Congregation of Regulars, sent to the chapter that elected him in 1677,

Monroy and the capitulars framed wise ordinances for the reintroduction of the common life in the Order's priories. In most of them a greater or lesser degree of private life (a failure to share all things) was in effect.

This constant concern for reform was necessary, for the reason just mentioned and also because pockets of unreformed friars continued to exist and Obsemants themselves experienced periods of decline. The 1605 general chapter returned to Raymond of Capua's plan, demanding that one priory of observance be established in each province. The French Dominicans went a step further in 1629, setting up a general novitiate at Paris, at the prompting of Ridolfi. A 1652 decree of Innocent X unfortunately was not well implemented. He directed all Orders to suppress small religious houses, which experience had shown could not maintain religious discipline.


The Order strengthened its program of studies in obedience to Tridentine decrees and papal directives. Turning their attention to theology, the general chapters introduced practical moral courses to the curriculum, dividing students into "formal" and "material." "Formal" students were eligible for degrees and concentrated on studying the works of Thomas Aquinas. More important still, the chapters punctuated the century with directives providing for increased study of the Bible in the houses of studies and principal priories, the appointment of professors of the Scriptures, daily biblical lectures to accompany the four-year course of theology, and, in 1694, t?:e opening of a school of biblical studies in each province. This concern for the Scriptures was extended to the original languages. The 1608 chapter took the first step, requiring the provinces to establish a Greek and Hebrew language school. A 1622 mandate obliged the provinces to institute courses in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Arabic in all the houses of philosophy and theology. Though the lack of skilled linguists probably made obedience to these orders difficult, they did bear fruit in the work of several scholars. Francis Combefis prepared pioneer editions of the Greek Fathers. In his Euchologium, Jacques Goar described the Oriental Rites in a manner that was unsurpassed at that time. Michael le Quien authored the important Oriens Christianus. John Michael Vansleb published a lexicon of the Ethiopian language.

The general chapters frequently reminded the friars of the Order's doctrinal mission and their duty to develop and maintain the Thomistic heritage. To this end Colleges were established at Bogotß in 1612 and in Quito in 1681. The province of the Holy Rosary established the University of Santo Tomßs, Manila, in 1645. The previous year the general chapter had called for the publication of the works of the great Dominican masters. Accordingly, the writings of Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, and the Commentary of Peter of Tarentaise on the Sentences were published at mid-century. Outstanding Thomistic scholars were Thomas Lemos, John of St. Thomas, noted for his theological and philosophical commentaries, John Baptist Genet, Jerome Medici, Vincent Contenson, and Anthony Goudin.

Seventeenth-century Thomists inherited the long-standing controversy over the Immaculate Conception and the dispute with the Molinists over grace and free will. New problems arose and continued into the eighteenth century -- those connected with Jansenism, Probabilism (a method for solving cases of conscience), and Gallicanism. Dominicans were forced to walk a tight rope between the opinions of the Jansenists and the probabilism of the Jesuits. They challenged both adversaries, who themselves warred with each other. When Thomists expounded their views on grace, they seemed to be teaching Jansenism; when they attacked the laxity of some probabilists, they risked being identified with the extremely severe disciplinary and sacramental tenets of the Jansenists. Ironically, a Spanish Dominican, Bartholomew Media, originated Probabilism in 1577. Several other Dominican theologians adopted the system, but because of the abuses it occasioned, the 1656 general chapter condemned it. Two subsequent condemnations by Pope Alexander VII, a decree of Innocent XI, and other official statements supported Dominicans in their opposition to Probabilism.

The Gallican controversy did not directly involve the Order. Nevertheless, King Louis XIV's imposition of the anti-papal Gallican Articles in 1682, requiring professors of theology and candidates for degrees to accept them, bore heavily on the French Dominicans. The Articles remained legally binding but were not enforced after the conflict that erupted between Louis and the Pope was settled in 1693. Master General Rocaberti reacted sharply against Dominicans who became Gallicanists. He rebuked Noel Alexander, the celebrated theologian and church historian, for his anti-Roman attitude and himself took up the pen in defense of papal rights. Alexander was not alone in his enthusiasm for the French position. John Carée, an extremely patriotic and somewhat fanatical Dominican Observant, took a vow of obedience to Cardinal Richelieu, one of the architects of Gallicanism. However, as time passed most of the friars went over to the papal side.

The Order took no official note of the Enlightenment, the movement arising from the philosophical systems of the seventeenth century. Most Scholastic philosophers and theologians failed to respond to the philosophical challenges of the Enlightenment and went into an intellectual ghetto. However, many individual Dominicans developed a scholarship attuned to the times. Thomas Campanella, who preceded Descartes in positing a universal methodic doubt at the beginning of his system, was renowned for the boldness of his ideas, his philosophical and theological ideas, and his tragic life. The Icones plantarum. of Jacques Barelier, based on the personal observations of the author, dealt with the plant life of France, Spain, and Italy. It is one of the foremost botanical works of the century. Like many men of the early modern period, Ignatius Dante excelled in several fields. An architect, mathematician, cosmographer, and astronomer, he authored a number of scientific writings. Vincent Maculano, who also became a cardinal, was an engineer of note. Commissioned by Urban VIII, he constructed the fortifications of Malta and strengthened those of Rome. A number of Dominican historians wrote during the century, notably Alphonse Chacon, jean de Rechac, Abraham Bzowski James Quétif, Thomas Souèges, and Noel Alexander. They devoted themselves to Dominican or ecclesiastical history. At the urging of Chacon, Master General Xavierre began to encourage study

of history in the Order. Marinis greatly enlarged the Order's archives at the Minerva during his generalate. Quétif, a literary historian, launched his monumental Scriptores ordinis Praedicatorum, a history of Dominican writers that James Échard completed in 1754. Souèges published a multivolumed collection of biographies of Dominican men and women. In his Historia ecclesiastica, a collection of 230 historical monographs, Noel Alexander manifested a true sense of history. Literary pursuits appealed also to some of the Order's nuns. Flammette Frescobaldi, a Florentine, was a chronicler. Plautina Nelli, another Florentine, and Violanta de Ceo, a Portuguese, wrote poetry. They were joined by Diego Ojeda, when he published his Christiade in 1611. Ignatius Nente deserves mention as the author of the first treatment of devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Preaching and the Missions

As in other centuries, the preaching of the Order went largely unrecorded during the seventeenth. Testimony to the continuing consciousness of its mission are the regulations issued by Secchi in 1612 to stimulate preaching, the establishment of quotas in 1644 and 1650 of the number of missionaries who might be promoted to the preacher-generalship, and the ordinances of 1677. These last envisioned a return to the primitive mission of the Order, a purpose that had receded into the background when friars became degree-conscious, and masters and bachelors disdained to do popular preaching. The ordinances, which happily did not remain a dead letter, called on "men of zeal, religion, doctrine, and eloquence" to preach popular missions. Vincent de Paul had grasped the need for this when he founded the Vincentians, who would soon be imitated by the societies of priests founded by Louis Grignion de Montfort, a Dominican tertiary, and Alphonse Liguori.

The following examples indicate the kind of special preaching Dominicans were doing. Working in Venice, Xantes Mariales attacked prevailing abuses so vehemently that the irate citizens drove him out of the city. Timothy Ricci was reputed to have drawn 30,000 people to his sermons in Bologna. He also introduced choral recitation of the Rosary and developed the devotion of the perpetual Rosary to ensure round-the-clock recitation. Dominicans in Belgium, Holland, and France continually battled the Jansenists. Flemish friars evangelized in the Protestant states of Denmark, Holstein, and Hamburg from 1623 to 1639. A few Scottish seminarians who became Dominicans in Rome returned home to work as missionaries. Bishop Coiffeteau took the pulpit against the Calvinists of Metz and Marseilles. From the sixteenth century to 1847, preaching to the Jewish people of Rome was entrusted to the Order.

The missions of the New World were staffed by creole friars and recruits from Spain. The province of the Holy Rosary, founded in 1592, drew its friars from Spain, trained them there, and sent them to the Philippines, China, Japan, and Indochina. The Portuguese friars manned missions in Mozambique, India, and the Moluccas. The Peruvian province produced three examples of exceptional sanctity: St. Rosh of Lima, St. Martin de Porres, and Bl. John Massias. French Dominicans entered the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique after 1625. The Italians supplied the membership of the Congregation of the Orient, the new name of the Pilgrim Friars. They maintained stations in the Pera suburb of Constantinople, Smyrna, Crimea, and Greater Armenia.

In China, Dominicans became involved in the Chinese Rites controversy that arose from the methods of Matteo Ricci, head of the Jesuit missionaries, who permitted converts to continue their ancestral customs and to pay honor to Confucius. Opposed by Dominicans, Augustinians, and some Jesuits, Ricci's methods led to a century-long debate. In the 1700's the Holy See banned the use of the Rites by Christians, judging that it was impossible, given the tone of Chinese society at that time, to separate superstitious elements from their practice. The changed complexion of Chinese civilization led to a lifting of the prohibition in the early twentieth century.

The Church drew ten cardinals from the Order's ranks during the 1600's. The century was also rich in Dominicans who suffered for the Faith. The Japanese beheaded Bl. Alphonse Navarette in 1617 and the Chinese, Bl. Francis Capillas, the protomartyr of their land, in 1649. Europe also produced martyrs. Many Dominicans gave their lives during the Tartar invasions of Ruthenia in 1648-1649. All during the century, the friars of Ireland, Scotland, and England suffered harassment, imprisonment, and sometimes death, The Irish province offered a holocaust of over 100 martyrs and many deportees. Some English friars spent long years in prison. Venerable Robert Nutter was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Lancaster in 1600. David Joseph Kemeys died in Newgate prison, London, in 1680, and Patrick Primrose paid for his zeal by death in a Scottish prison in 1670. Preceded by Anthony Temmerman, who died in 1582 rather than betray the secrets of the confessional, the Dominicans of Holland endured fines, imprisonment, and expulsion. Father Steur and Henry Wildeman were severely beaten by soldiers.

During the 1700's the inner life of the Order was promoted by the addition of the feasts of five newly canonized Dominicans to the liturgical calendar, the publication of new editions of liturgical books, and increased devotion to St. Dominic and St. Thomas. The Vatican placed the statue of St. Dominic in St. Peter's basilica; the Order venerated him by introducing the Fifteen Tuesdays devotion in his honor and by decorating his tomb-chapel with the Glorification of St. Dominic, painted by Guido Reni, Piedmontese and Belgian Dominicans commemorated the purity of Thomas by introducing the Confraternity of the St. Thomas Cord.

Beginning with this century, a nationalism that has not yet died completely began to blemish the fraternal life of the Order. This development was probably inescapable at a time when French, Spanish, and Italian Dominicans dominated the Order, and when provinces were being created and boundary lines redrawn to satisfy kings who could not endure having their subjects render obedience to an alien religious or princely superior. The return to the collegiality and subsidiarity of the Order's earlier centuries and the abolition of all privileged offices and votes, steps that were taken in 1968, provide better standards than nationality and privilege for estimating the dignity of a person.