The outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 opened a century of crisis for the Dominican Order. Quinones was still master general and the Order had fifty-two provinces, many congregations and monasteries, and about 20,000 members when the Revolution began. It was only the beginning of troubles. One country after another suppressed the religious Orders; in some places this was done by a single edict, elsewhere religious houses were closed step by step. Even though reconstruction began early, the damage was so severe and the disasters followed one another so closely, that it took a century to complete the restoration.

When the Revolution began in France, many Dominicans welcomed the change. They presented petitions to the National Constituent Assembly and permitted the Jacobin Club to hold its meetings in their library, a fact that gave the party its name. Welcome turned to disillusionment in 1790 when the Assembly suppressed religious Orders. Dominicans were imprisoned, exiled, sometimes killed, and hundreds of them fled from France. These events were duplicated when the French armies defeated the First Coalition of European powers. France took possession of the Low Countries and the left bank of the Rhine. German princes compensated for their lost possessions by confiscating Church property in Germany and closing many religious houses. By 1825 the German provinces existed no more. As First Consul, then Emperor, Napoleon closed many religious houses in Northern Italy and the Papal States.

Meanwhile schism was brewing inside the Order. When Quinones left Rome for Spain in 1798, he appointed Pius Joseph Gaddi vicar general. Pope Pius VI confirmed this appointment and continued Gaddi in office when Quinones died soon afterward. At first, the Spanish Dominicans refused to accept Gaddi's authority, but obeyed when they learned of his papal appointment. However, some of them secretly worked against him. Needing no other justification, the Spanish government pressured Pius VII into making the Spanish-speaking provinces autonomous, something that had already been done for the Franciscans. In 1804, Pius divided the Order into two jurisdictions. Reduced to six years, the office of master general would alternate between the two, beginning with the non-Spanish section. A vicar general would rule the other part. Though the arrangement legally preserved the Order's unity, in reality each half went its own way. A vicar general began to rule over the fifteen provinces of the Spanish dominions, as yet untouched by war. Over the Order's Roman sector, Pius VII appointed Gaddi master general in 1806. He ruled provinces that were non-existent, or would soon become so, or were small and weak. When Napoleon carried Pius VII off to France, he forced Gaddi and the masters of other Orders to go there as well. With the fall of Napoleon in 1814, Gaddi returned to Rome, but his term expired soon afterwards. Immediately reappointed as vicar general by the Pope, he continued to govern until his death in 1819. Then, since the Spanish sector of the Order was entitled to hold office of master general by the terms of the 1804 settlement, four papally appointed vicars general governed the Roman sector until 1832.

In the Spanish sector, accordingly, Leo XII named Joachim Briz master general of the Order in 1825. The Spanish provinces were far from being in a healthy condition, having suffered very much since the beginning of the Napoleonic invasion in 1808. Many religious lost their lives and many of the priories were closed during the resistance to French rule. In Aragon alone 400 friars and nuns died between 1808 and 1815, and no recruits could be received. Known for their doctrinal severity and support of the monarchy, Dominicans incurred the suspicion and hatred of the liberal-minded elements of the population after Ferdinand VII returned to power. He weakly gave full rein to those who hated the religious Orders. In 1820 a royal decree suppressed all religious houses that had less than twenty-five members. Three years later the Government appointed a royal commission for the reform of the Orders, the prelude to their total suppression. Now ensued a reign of terror. Religious were set upon, beaten, often killed; their houses were invaded and ransacked. This happened to the priories of St. Thomas in Madrid, Barcelona, and Saragossa. Such was the state of affairs when Joachim Briz became master general. Owing to the independence movements in New Spain, he could exercise no authority over the Latin-American provinces, and they could not communicate with him.

The revolutionary governments were not kind to the Church. Those in Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Colombia confiscated property, forcing many religious houses to close. Unsettled conditions in Mexico, especially during the liberal regime of Benito Juarez, all but destroyed the religious Orders after 1861. Guatemala suppressed them during the liberal revolution of 1870. Nevertheless, Dominicans kept a foothold in all these countries.

When the term of Joachim Briz ended, an opportunity to reunite the Order was lost. Though the Spanish Dominicans wanted reunion and their King raised no objections, Gregory XVI decided that each sector should again choose its own superior. Consequently, in 1832, the Dominicans of Spain elected a vicar in general chapter, the first to convene since 1777. Conditions continued to deteriorate in Spain. A decree of 1835 freed religious from their rules and the Comes suppressed all the Orders in 1837, an act that also destroyed the Dominican province of the West Indies. Only the province of the Holy Rosary of the Philippines continued to thrive. The liberal government of Portugal had already outlawed the Orders in 1834.

Voting by mail, the Roman sector of the Order elected Ferdinand Jabalot master general in 1832. He died two years later, but two papally appointed masters general, Benedict Olivieri and Thomas Cipolletti, filled out his six-year term. Conditions were settled to permit the election of Ancarani in chapter in 1838, and Vincent Ajello in 1844. Ancarani held an intermediate chapter in 1841.

The State of the Provinces

Restoration began in the provinces with the downfall of Napoleon. The Italian Dominicans had suffered heavily, Sardinia and Sicily had hardly been hurt. Sicily was healthy enough to permit Pius IX to carve the province of Malta from it in 1832 and to divide the remainder into three smaller provinces. Other provinces were not so fortunate. That of St. Peter Martyr was suppressed from 1802 to 1814. At that time, Lombardy annexed the surviving houses of the former province of St. Dominic and the Congregation of Bl. James Salomoni. About 1822, only twentyfive of the former 250 houses of the province of Naples were in existence. The Roman province had a continued existence but was very weak.

In Northern Europe, the Dominicans of Holland were able to assemble in chapter and elect a provincial in 1804. Granted permission by Pius IX to train novices in parish rectories, the province established a school of theology in 1824 and a house of studies in 1844. In Belgium eight survivors resumed religious life in 1835. After the emancipation acts of 1829, the province of Ireland had fifty members and was functioning normally, but the English province, though it now had full liberty to operate, was extremely weak.

In eastern Europe all the provinces but Austria were still in existence. In 1839 it was able to reopen the priory of Vienna. Dalmatia had been reduced to twenty-one members by 1821. Bohemia was in a better condition; in 1850 it numbered fortytwo members and counted seven priories. The provinces of Poland, Russia, Galicia, and Lithuania fared well until 1830. Then, except for Galicia, which was in Austrian territory, they suffered greatly from the confiscations and harsh measures used by Russia to put down the Polish rebellions of 1830 and 1836. In 1839 the Order had to unite the remnants of the Lithuanian and Russian provinces. Its membership shrank steadily after 1844 and it finally became extinct. The priory of St. Petersburg (Leningrad) survived until 1914.

Three events now gave the Order hope of a better future. The first was the departure of four English Dominicans for the United States in 1804 under the leadership of Edward Dominic Fenwick. At the request of Bishop John Carroll, they sacrificed their intention of settling in Maryland and went into the pioneer state of Kentucky. Gaddi organized them as the province of St. Joseph in 1805. Working under missionary conditions and experiencing great difficulty in gaining recruits, it numbered only eighty members seventy years later. In the twentieth century it began to realize its great potential.

The second hope was the reception of the habit by Henri Lacordaire, the noted preacher of Notre Dame. He enjoyed a European reputation as a fearless and independent thinker, a powerful preacher, and a prominent ecclesiastic. After completing his novitiate at Viterbo, he returned to France in 1840 and was soon joined by other Frenchmen, also newly professed in Italy. Determined to restore the Order to France, Lacordaire resumed his preaching at Notre Dame, attracting many vocations. He opened a novitiate and several priories before the 1840's ended and was appointed first provincial when France again became a province on September 15, 1850.

Vincent Jandel, 1850-1872

Pius IX offered the Order a third hope when he named Vincent Jandel, one of Lacordaire's first disciples, vicar general on October 1, 1850. Five years later Pius appointed him master general. The Order elected him for a second term of twelve years in 1862. He had completed ten of them at the time of his death. When he began to govern, the Order numbered about 4,562 members and had made some progress toward restoration and renewal. Jandel set it on a steep uphill climb that returned it to vigorous life. His energy, positive plans, persistent attention to the contemplative base of Dominican life, and determined implementation of the Constitutions were the qualities that made him a successful leader. For a long time, the Order had needed such a man; Dominicans had been waiting for someone to lead them in the task of rebuilding the Order. Seeing its actual state in 1846, John Henry Newman had asked, "Whether it is not a great idea extinct?" Lacordaire did not think so. Six years before Newman made his dismal judgment, he had looked more deeply and seen the Order's great potential: "If God granted us the power to set up a religious Order we are sure that after considerable reflection we should discover nothing newer or better adapted to our times and its needs than the rule of St. Dominic. There is nothing old about it save its history, and it would be pointless to rack our brains for the sole satisfaction of dating from yesterday:" Having studied the Dominican ideal and history, he was convinced "that the sap could flow once more through the branches and that the French branch could renew in time the whole trunk."

When Jandel took the helm, the spiritual life of the Order had dried up and its ministry was almost nonexistent. Within two months, he outlined his program. Returning to Raymond of Capua's plan, he called on each province to found one priory where the Constitutions could be lived-regular attendance in choir, observance of the fasts and abstinence, woolen clothing, weekly chapter of faults, and full community life. To implement this plan he sent letters to the provinces and made two tours of visitation, going even into England and Ireland. He sent delegates to the United States, Argentina, and Chile. He organized the provinces, redefined boundary lines, and restored provincial rights when enough recovery had been made. In 1853, he joined into one the former provinces of Apulia, Naples, and Calabria; in 1854, the three in Sicily; in 1856, those of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia, calling them the province of the Empire. He re-established the province of Belgium in 1860, of Holland, Chile, and Lyons in 1862, and Toulouse in 1865. He initiated conversations with the Spanish Dominicans and saw their restoration to full unity in 1872, five months before he died. With his encouragement, German Dominicans, trained in France, opened houses in Dsseldorf in 1860, and Berlin seven years later. The Kulturkamp f closed these foundations in 1870. The general chapter of 1868 approved a new branch of the Dominican family, the Congregation of St. Dominic for the Education of Youth, founded by Lacordaire in 1852. A congregation of Third-Order priests, it was incorporated into the First Order in 1923 and merged into the provinces of France in 1967.

There were also setbacks under Jandel. As the unification of Italy progressed, the Italian government closed the religious houses in 1854, 1866, and 1873. All but Lombardy and Rome lost their provincial rights. In the General Catalogue of 1876 only 114 of the Italian houses still functioned. This was a loss of 380 since the end of the seventeenth century. Thirty-seven had fewer than four inhabitants. As noted earlier, some of the Spanish-American provinces became extinct during the term of Jandel. Also, from 1844 to 1876, the Order declined in membership from 4,562 to 3,474, its lowest number since the thirteenth century.

Despite these losses, steady recovery continued under Jandel's firm leadership. Three chapters met under his presidency-in 1862, 1868, and 1.871. The first set in motion machinery for the revision of the Constitutions, the second approved a preliminary text and framed five rules for the new edition; the third, empowered with a papal dispensation, modified the Constitutions to bring certain points into greater accord with modern conditions. Jandel published the definitive edition in 1872. Twenty years earlier, he had promulgated a new Code of Studies. Everywhere he encouraged the foundation of houses of studies, priories of regular observance, and novitiates. He authorized Lo Cicero's revised edition of Fontana's Constitiones, declarationes, et ordinationes, a necessary handbook for the day-by-day administration of the Order, and sponsored the compilation and publication of a ceremonial, processional, and antiphonary. In 1870, a heavenly intervention pointed to the necessity of the Order's ministry. For five days, before Italian troops of Rome, a wooden statue of St. Dominic at Soriano gesticulated and walked about as a preacher addressing a congregation, a miracle that inspired Jandel to send out a circular letter emphasizing the Dominican preaching mission. Before his death he consecrated the Order to the Sacred Heart. The feast of the Sacred Heart was added to the Dominican liturgical calendar and, in 1825, new hymns were provided for the feast of the Rosary.

Jandel's positive, well-knit program went far to revive the drooping spirits of many Dominicans. Three books contributed to the same effect. Illustrating the working of the Order's ideal, Laeordaire's Memorial for the Restoration of the Order of Preachers in France crystallized the genius and recounted the great deeds of the Order, and his Life of St. Dominic captured the Founder's personality and spirit in an admirable manner. L'année dominicaine, a multivolumed collection of the lives of Dominican saints and blesseds edited by French Dominicans, recalled the glory of the past and reawakened family pride.

The Implementation of Jandel's Program

Jandel's program did not go unchallenged. From the time he became a Dominican, he and Lacordaire differed as to how the restoration should proceed. More in tune with the modern world, Lacordaire opted for adherence to the Constitutions, but held they needed to be adapted to contemporary conditions. Jandel wanted strict fidelity to the laws and Constitutions, notably the fasts, abstinence, and midnight matins, except as modified by the general chapter. Lacordaire asserted that preaching for the salvation of men was the end of the Order and that its ministry must not be impaired by undue emphasis on the life of the cloister. In all essential elements the Constitutions must be observed, but pending their revision, since in some points they were obsolete, the dispensing power might be used to mitigate the ancient severity for the sake of study and ministry. He held that Jandel's program was too inflexible, that strict following of the Constitutions would lead to decadence and not renewal. Also reading history, Jandel saw that lavish use of the dispensing power had led to abuse and decay. In France the dispute led to the introduction of the strict regime at Lyons and the establishment of the province of Lyons in 1862. On becoming vicar general, Jandel immediately implemented his program. He founded a novitiate of strict observance at Santa Sabina and brought members of the provinces to be trained there in the Dominican life. At once a storm of criticism and opposition broke out. The Italian members of the priory were not ready for this strictness. To settle the dispute, the question of observance was thoroughly thrashed out in the presence of both parties in 1852. In the end, opponents of Jandel accepted perpetual abstinence but not midnight matins. Finally, Pius IX decided the issue. Santa Sabina would recite matins at midnight; elsewhere the prior might fix the time. In the same year, the Congregation of Bishops and Religious had to declare that chanting midnight office was not a necessary condition for enjoying the right to clothe candidates in the habit. In the province of Naples, the fathers claimed that the introduction of the common life was a French innovation and smacked of Communism.

The general chapter of 1868 called on all priories to restore the common life; the chapter of 1871 laid down norms of observance for the whole Order, which were incorporated into the Constitutions. Many priories then began singing Mass, vespers, and compline each day; in Santa Sabina, Viterbo, Riete, the novitiate at Woodchester, England, and in the province of Lyons, the full observance was maintained. This was true to a lesser degree in the province of France and the new German priories.

Looking back after more than a century and the recommendations of Vatican II, Lacordaire's approach appears to have been the better. In advance of his age, he returned to the original inspiration of Dominic but sought to update its realization in view of nineteenth-century needs. Long before the Council, perpetual abstinence, midnight office, and the use of woolen clothing, and other ancient practices proved too difficult for most provinces. We cannot blame Jandel. In 1850, except for a few priories, only a semblance of religious discipline existed in the Order. Many priories had abandoned the common life completely and the private life was widely practiced. It was a herculean task to restore religious spirit. Though Jandel insisted on some non-essential elements, he viewed these as the hedges that safeguarded the fundamentals. If the religious life were not restored, the ministry would come to nothing. He and Lacordaire were in basic agreement. Both looked to the original inspiration and laudable customs of the Order. They disagreed on which customs were helpful and which were obsolete.

The Ministry

The revolutionary period and its aftermath were not a time of great achievement. Many priories and houses of studies had to close, no missionaries left for foreign lands, and scholars were dispersed. Nor could they complete their books or publish those that were finished. However, many Dominican ministries came back to life after reorganization began in 1814. Philip Puigserver, an Aragonese, issued a three-volumed work presenting the philosophy of Thomas in 1817. Louis Vidal dealt with social and political problems in his publications. From 1829 to 1839, Bishop Anthony Diaz of Minorca published twenty-nine volumes in defense of religion and the Church. Louis Brittain and Pius Brunquell also published in the apologetic field. Vincent di Poggio wrote in general history, Hyacinth de Ferrari in Dominican history, and Raymond Guarini in epigraphy and archaeology. After many years of research in the archives and libraries of Spain, J. Villanueva published his Viaje literario, a history of the rites and ceremonies of the Spanish Church in twenty-two volumes. Thomas Zigliara's philosophical manual contributed greatly to the nineteenth-century Thomistic revival. Dominican professors taught at the universities of Rome, Naples, Turin, Cagliari, and Macerta. In the United States, the province of St. Joseph, cherishing Fenwick's dream of establishing an educational institution, conducted three colleges for short periods of time: St. Thomas Aquinas in Springfield, Kentucky, from 1808 to 1828; St. Joseph's in Somerset, Ohio, from about 1849 to 1860, and St. Thomas Aquinas in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, from 1859 to 1865. The province of Ireland opened a similar school at Newbridge during the same period.

During the first three-quarters of the century, two Dominicans served the Church as cardinals and many more in the episcopate. At great sacrifice to itself, the struggling province of St. Joseph gave five of its members to the episcopate. The Order contributed to the First Vatican Council through its bishops and theologians. In the pastoral field, the sermons of two powerful pulpit oratorsHenry Lacordaire in France and Thomas Burke in Ireland and the United States-packed the churches. On a more humble level, Augustine Chardon revived the perpetual Rosary devotion at Lyons in 1858, Soon more than 100,000 members were pledged to the daily recitation of the Rosary. Pauline Jaricot gave impetus to its regular recitation by founding the Living Rosary Association in 1826, which Pius IX placed under Dominican direction in 1877. The proclamation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and the apparition of Mary at Lourdes gave much encouragement to preachers of the Rosary and contributed greatly to its use by the faithful. The Couronne de Marie, founded by the Lyons province in 1860, was the first of dozens of periodicals devoted to the Rosary. A priest of the First Order and four of the Congregation of St. Dominic for the Education of Youth, among them Louis Captier, an eminent educator, gave Christian witness by shedding their blood during the disturbances of the Paris Commune in 1871.

The Missions

Dominican foreign mission work suffered not only from the troubles in Europe, which dried up the flow of new missionaries, but also from local events. Disagreement with local citizens forced the Italian Dominicans to withdraw from their station in Mossul in 1815, but they resumed work in 1841. Jandel entrusted the mission to the French province in 1859. Persecutions in Indochina (Vietnam) in 1825 and 1838 disrupted the missions there, but by 1845 the country was quiet enough for a new vicariate in central Tonkin to be carved from that of East Tonkin. During the persecutions that raged from 1854 to 1862 four Dominican bishops, a number of priests, tertiaries, and laity suffered martyrdom in Indochina. Several of these groups have been beatified and have given their name to the province of Vietnam. Despite the 1811 antichristian decrees of the Emperor, many Chinese became Catholic in Fukien. New persecutions disturbed the Church in China in 1837 and 1838. About the same time, the destruction of the Portuguese province doomed its missions in East Africa and on the islands of Timor and Solar.

There were also gains. The Congregation of the Orient, staffed by the province of Piedmont, was strengthened in 1829. It constructed a new church at Pera, Constantinople, in 1843. Raymond Griffin, an English Dominican, made a beginning in South Africa when he arrived as apostolic vicar. During Jandel's tenure, Irish Dominicans entered Australia and Trinidad. The Dutch Fathers began work in the West Indies and South Africa.

The Nuns and Sisters

The revolutionary storm that broke over the Order forced most of the monasteries on the Continent to close. Some maintained a continuous existence, such as San Sisto a Domenico in Rome, Speyer, Regensburg (Ratisbon) , and Nay. Some survived because they opened schools. Nay conducted one from 1807 to 1857. Speyer took up teaching, eventually adopted the Third Order Rule, and became one of the largest congregations in Germany. The nuns of Langres established a school at Potsdam in 1806 that attracted girls from Germany, Switzerland, and France. A contemporary of Lacordaire and jandel, but who did not know them, Mother Dominic Clara Moes, foundress of the monastery of Limpertsberg in Luxemburg (1861-1883), offered her entire life of suffering and prayer for the restoration of the Order.

The foundation of many Congregations of Third Order sisters devoted to teaching and charitable works shed a ray of hope over the gloom and mediocrity of the post-revolutionary period. Congregations developed on the Continent, in England, Ireland, South Africa, and the United States, where the first began in Kentucky in 1822. There were fourteen in the United States when Jandel died. They were as widely spaced as New York, New Orleans, California, and Wisconsin. Three of these originated with four nuns who came from Regensburg in 1853 and opened schools. Thirteen of the twenty-nine now existing and one in Puerto Rico stem from these four pioneers.


The period of Dominican history that lasted from 1789 to 1872 was one of almost continuous crisis. The Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars reduced the Order to the point of helplessness. When recovery began in 1814, new blows again rained on the Order. However, it struggled upward and made important strides toward restoration. In 1850, Jandel brought leadership, a program, and hope. He remained in office long enough to be effective, building solidly and repairing the foundations. On these his successors continued to build, even when they modified his blueprint. The French provinces, especially, kept alive Jandel's love of observance and Lacordaire's progressive, intellectual spirit. During the twenty-two years of Jandel's regime, the Order recovered its unity, renewed its spirit, reorganized its provinces, reactivated its government, and extended its ministry. Its nuns, much reduced in number, continued their age-long apostolate of witnessing and prayer; its sisters, a new branch of the family, were unfolding a fine ministry in education and nursing. When Jandel died in 1872, the Order had faced the worst series of crises in its history and come dangerously close to extinction, but had survived and was looking hopefully into the future.