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rosmini's diplomatic mission. 

(a.d. 1849.) 

Last Days at Gaeta. 

Secret machinations to discredit Rosmini — His six months at 
Naples — Domiciliary visit of the Police — He returns to Gaeta 
— Audience of the Pope — Outrages of the Police — Rosmini 
ordered to leave Neapolitan territor}' — His last interview with 
Pius IX. — He returns to Stresa — On his way receives the inti- 
mation that the Cinqtie piaghe and the Project for a Constitution 
had been placed on the Index — His instant plenary submission 


(A.D. 1849-1855.) 

Rosmini returns to Stresa on All-Souls' Day— Was it not an 
omen?— He returns to his old work — The Palazzo on the 
borders of the lake— Compensations in the many superior men 
who joined him— The Sisters of Providence— His interest in 
England and the Oxford movement— His gigantic literary 
works, as if he felt that he must "write, and write quickly," 
for the end was near — His voluminous correspondence— His 
hospitality — Rosmini and Manzoni — The conversazioni at 
Stresa— The walks by the lake— His death probably caused by 
poison . ^ .....•••• 


^"^ ^ C.f^ 

vi Contents of 


(A.D. 1835-1845.) 


Father Signini for some time Rosmini's amanuensis — Afterwards 
his secretary — First year at Monte Calvario — Change of 
Noviciate to Stresa — Rosmini's daily habits of life — Many con- 
versations and precious sayings . ..... 36 


rosmini's last ILLNESS AND DEATH. 
(A.D. 1855.) 

Rosmini's last illness— Visits of friends, Manzoni, Tommaseo, and 
the rest — His resignation — His agony — His death, July i, 
- 1855 59 


(A.D. 1830-1855.) 

Providential leading of Rosmini and Gentili towards England — 
How the English Mission of the Fathers of Charity came 
about — Mr Ambrose de Lisle in Rome — Fathers Gentili, 
Pagani, and others sent to Prior Park, near Bath, afterwards 
to Oscott, then to Loughboro — First House of the Order 
at Ratcliffe — This afterwards becomes Ratcliffe College — 
The First Missions preached in England by Fathers Gentili 
and Furlong — The " Forty Hours' Exposition" of the Blessed 
Sacrament " and " the Month of Mary " introduced by Father 
Gentili — Various missions in England and Ireland — Death of 
Gentili in Dublin— Missions continued by Fathers Furlong, 
Rinolfi, Lockhart, Signini, Gastaldi, and others — The Institute 
in England up to the present day — The Missions continued — 
Various parochial charges — Loughboro, Newport, Rugby, 
London, Cardiff^The Reformatories of Market Weighton and 
Upton— The Industrial School at Clonmel— The new Novi- 
ciate at Wadhurst and the Juniorate at Rugby ... 86 

The Second Volume. vii 



(A.D. 1832.) 


Origin of the Rosminian Sisters — Father Lowenbriick establishes 
a Community at Locarno on the Lago Maggiore — A few 
words on Religious vocation — Sister Joanna Antonietti — 
Failure of the scheme at Locarno — Rosmini finds himself 
called to give his advice and aid — First House of the Sisters at 
Domodossola — Progress, training, and success — Establishment 
of the Sisters in England — Various houses — The Sisters always 
a great consolation to Rosmini — Founded in a spirit of great 
simplicity, self-sacrifice, obedience, and charity, they have 
always preserved this spirit . . . . . . .119 



The Theological Virtues. 

The Ascetic Science is defined as " the science of the means by which 
man may arrive at the perfection of moral virtue ^'-—Thefor/u, or 
that which constitutes the essence of moral virtue, is " the love 
of good according to truth" — "Loving God with heart, and 
mind, and soul, and strength," by the virtaes of Faith, Hope, 
Charity, — RosminVs Faith — What Faith is — Difference be- 
tween the motivujn credibilitatis and the motiznim credendi — 
Analogy between the light of reason and the Light of Faith 
— His was the life of "the just who lives by Faith ;" a con- 
stant conscious "walking with God" — All his philosophy 
tends to lead men to Faith through the right use of reason. — 
Rosviini's Hope—'His power of waiting, "In silence and in 
hope shall your strength be " — Anecdotes in illustration of this. 
— Rosviini's Chaj'ity — The State of Charity, or State of Grace 
— Actual contact of the soul with God is the life of the soul, as 
actual contact of soul and body is the life of the body — Fruits 
of Charity in Rosmini — His two great works : his Philosophy 
and his Order — The Institute of Charity — Intellectual, Spirit- 
ual, Corporal Charity — Love for his opponents — "I have no 

viii Contents of 


The Cardinal Virtues. 


The Virtue of Justice — The Virtue of Prudence — The Virtue of 

Temperance — The Virtue of Fortitude 165 



The Essence of the Institute of Charity, as exemplified in the Life and 
Virtues of the Founder. 

Rosmini's Rule for his Institute was the rule of his own life — "He 
began to do and to teach," to learn by teaching, to teach by 
doing — His hatred of pretence — His love of truth — Consistency 
his ruling characteristic — His great moral imperative, " Re- 
cognise being according to its beingness " — Hence he was 
thorough in all things — The principle of justice leads neces- 
sarily to that of Charity — Of loving God as He deserves — To 
do this calls for the supernatural Grace of the Incarnation — 
Rosmini's principle of passivity follows from God being All, 
man being nothing, incapable of any supernatural good 
of himself, full of moral misery — The "peace to men of good 
will" produced by the "Twelve Virtues of the Spiritual Art " 
exercised assiduously — These constitute the essence and spirit 
of the Institute of Charity — How they were practised by Ros- 
mini, and left as an inheritance in the Rule which treats of 
the formation of Novices of the Institute of Charity . . 174 



Rosmini's long and comprehensive studies — Opening of his Philo- 
sophical career — Divine Truth the object of all his labours — 
His own sketch of the relation between Philosophy and Re- 
velation — Pope Pius VIII. commissions him to write on 
Philosophy — He is encouraged in the same course by Gregory 
XVI. — His Philosophy is radically opposed to Sensism in all 
its forms as taught by Locke, and by the French, German, 
and Italian, Schools of modern philosophy . , . . 216 

The Second Vohime. ix 





Radical defect in all subjective systems of Theology — The real diffi- 
culty "jumped" — "Hodge's explanation" of the electric 
telegraph — Sensations and ideas confused together — Ideas not 
accounted for — Rosmini accounts for the primitive or funda- 
mental idea — the " primum philosophicum " — The idea of 
being or existence implanted by God in our minds — "The true 
light that enlighteneth every man coming into the world " 
— Distinction between the natural light of reason, and the 
Supernatural Light of Faith 233 



Modern Philosophy. 

Systems of Locke, Condillac, Berkeley, Hume, Reid, Kant, 
Fichte — Critique of these systems — The true nature of thought 
— Bridge of communication between ourselves and the outer 
world 241 



Distinction between subject and object — Ideas are not nothing — 
They have a mode of existence of their own — Principal charac- 
teristics of ideas — The ideas exist in God from all eternity — 
Important distinction of ideas in God and in man — Classifica- 
tion of the ideas — The one indeterminate idea, and the deter- 
minate ideas — Concrete and abstract ideas — Formation of deter- 
minate ideas — Origin of the one indeterminate idea — The idea 
of being or existence — Immortality of the soul — Existence of 
God 258 



St. Thomas of Aqnin aJid Ideology, a Sketch by Monsignor I'crrL 

As Faith is one by reason of the infallible teaching authority of the 
Church, so it would be a great advantage in the domain of 

X Contents of 


natural reason if there were unity among Catholic Philosphical 
Schools — All Catholics profess to accept the philosophy of the 
Fathers and Schoolmen — Differences arise greatly from differ- 
ent interpretations of passages of those holy writers, but 
especially of St. Thomas — Thus there are two or more Schools 
calling themselves Thomist — Among these are the Rosminians 
— Monsignor Ferre, one of the most learned Thomists of the 
day, agrees with Cardinal Gonzales in esteeming Rosmini in 
perfect substantial harmony with St. Thomas — His sketch 
here given is a short summary of the argument contained in his 
eleven volumes, Degli Universali — Many passages from St. 
Augustine, St. Thomas, and St. Bonaventura in proof of this 
thesis 273 


(A.D. 183I-1854.) 

Before the Sentence of Acquittal. 

Rosmini, the great opponent of all shades of Sensism and German 
Rationalism, attacked by an Anti-Rosminian School of Catholic 
Writers as early as 1831 — First Defence of Rosmini by the Holy 
See under Gregory XVI. — Examination and acquittal of his 
works — First Precept of Silence — Pius IX. and Rosmini's 
Diplomatic Mission — Roman Revolution and flight to Gaeta — 
Change of Policy of Pius IX. — Rosmini's two small works 
placed on the Index — Continued efforts of the party to get all 
the works condemned — Return of Pius IX. to Rome — Second 
Defence of Rosmini by the Holy See, and Second Precept of 
Silence — Examination of Rosmini's works, and complete 
acquittal — Cardinal Gonzales' magnificent defence of Rosmini's 
orthodoxy, published in his great work twenty years later . 304 

rosmini's scientific opponents— II. 

(A.D. 1854-1876. ) 

After the Sentence of Acquittal. 

The Sentence of Acquittal not fully published till twenty years 
later — Hence the very general impression that the works had 
not been acquitted — This was confirmed by the incessant 

The Second Volmue 



attacks of the adverse party in books, lectures, and journals - 
Rosmini's patience under zzXyxmxvy -Third Defence of Rosmini 
by the Holy See, and Third Precept of Silence— Letter of the 
Authorities of the Index vindicating his orthodoxy, and the 
force of the Decree of Acquittal— First publication of the 
Decree— Adverse journals forced to retract their calumnies, 
but ver)^ soon begin to repeat them 320 


rosmini's scientific opponents — III. 

(A.D. 1876-1886.) 

Jotirnalistic Assassination. 

Tactics of quasi-religious journalism in Italy— "Throw plenty of dirt, 
some of it will stick "—Accusations of Pantheism, Jansenism] 
Liberalism -Attempts to make the Pope's Encyclical speak 
the mind of this party— Leo XIII. explains his own Encyclical 
accordmg to his own mind— Experiences in Rome of the 
present writer— Letter of Leo XIII. in 1882 prohibiting the 
journalists from touching the Rosminian controversy —Summary 
of results of the controversy up to 1886 329 


Decision by the Doctors of the Sapienza, and their Eulogy of 
Rosmini, a.d. 1858— Count de la Motta's retraction in the 
Senate of Turin of his calumnies on Rosmini— English and 
French Jesuits and their genial tone in writing of Rosmini— 
Important Letter of Leo XIII. referred to in the last chapter, 
being the Fourth Public Act by the Holy See in Defence of 
Rosmini ... -,,a 

SChui./io i iCATE. 

Pittsburgh, Pa. 





(a.D. 1849.) 

T/ie Last Days at Gael a. 

ROSMINI had left Gaeta for Naples on the 22d of 
January 1849. It was on the 9th of June that he re- 
turned to the Pontifical Court. 

While in Naples, Rosmini took up his residence, first 
at the House of the Vincentian Fathers, who received 
him with great hospitality, afterwards he went to stay 
with the Capuchin Fathers of St. Ephrem. He did this 
for the sake of greater retirement, as he found that too 
many visitors came to see him, some, friends whom he 
knew, and others, whom he was glad to receive ; but 
some, as he learned, were persons not well thought of 
by the Government, and these he wished as far as pos- 
sible to avoid, lest, being in attendance on the Pope, he 
should in any way comxpromise himself unintentionally. 

Meantime Rosmini's adversaries in the Council, as 
well as the Neapolitan Government, were anxious, as 
we have seen, to remove from the Pope one who, like 

2 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Rosmini, threw the weight of his high political learning, 
his great intellect, and his influence with the Pope on 
the side of that enlightened policy which had been so 
nobly inaugurated by Pius IX. 

Rosmini made no secret of his belief that that policy 
was sound, and that it had miscarried chiefly owing to 
various mistakes in the details of the Constitution, and 
in the manner in which it had been given. These mis- 
takes he saw were very excusable, under the novelty 
and urgency of affairs. He did not think they were 
beyond remedy. As the Constitution had been given, 
he wished it not to be withdrawn, hoping that when 
tranquillity was restored it might be put upon a sounder 

Rosmini had been strongly opposed to the particular 
form of Constitution which had been given by the Pope, 
framed as it was on the French model, and giving no 
fair representation to property. He foretold its neces- 
sary failure. Since his arrival in Rome he had had 
many opportunities of conversing with the Pope. He 
knew that Pius IX. had lost faith in Count Rossi, the 
Prime Minister, whose influence had in great part led to 
the adoption of the French form of Constitution. Just 
before the assassination of Rossi, the Pope had sent to 
tell Rosmini that as soon as he was made Cardinal he 
intended to make him Secretary of State. 

From all these things, which were well known to 
those about the Pope, we can easily understand why 
those who wished a return to the old state of things 
felt that it was vital to their success to remove Ros- 
mini's influence. 

During the time of his residence in Naples he had 
heard enough of rumours from Gaeta to understand 
that the policy of Cardinal Antonelli had prevailed, 
that all conciliatory measures were to be abandoned, 

Diplomatic Mission. 3 

and the Pope's authority restored and maintained by- 
means of a French occupation. For the Pope himself 
was averse to invoking the aid of Austria, and had no 
trust in that of Piedmont. 

Rosmini on the contrary would have advised the Pope 
to remain in his own States at Benevento, and to take 
advantage of the armistice between Austria and Pied- 
mont to invite if necessary an intervention in Rome by 
the troops of Piedmont and other Italian powers, instead 
of calling in the aid of foreigners. Such was the advice 
given to the Pope by Rosmini in private and before the 
Council of Ministers. It is no wonder then that it was 
determined to get rid of his influence at Gaeta. Rosmini 
was soon aware, through various acts of discourtesy on 
the part of high ecclesiastics belonging to the Pope's 
Court or reflecting its sentiments, that there was a strong 
opposition to him amongst all those who were around his 
Holiness. Mgr. Stella, the Pope's Maestro di Camera, 
who had been formerly most cordial, now began to 
throw impediments in the way of audiences with the 
Pope, and to slight him in various petty ways, as some 
Roman Monsignori know how to do. It began to be 
rumoured that the Pope had determined not to make 
Rosmini a Cardinal, although the Pope himself declared 
the contrary, and sent word to Rosmini, as he tells us 
in his Diary, to this efl"ect. Last of all, it had reached 
Rosmini's ears not only that his opponents were bent 
upon putting the two small political works that have 
been mentioned, on the Index, but that it was probable 
that an attempt would be made to get all his works 
submitted to examination. This was the first intima- 
tion he got of that examination of his works which took 
place soon after the Pope's return to Rome in 185 1. A 
domiciliary visit of the police to examine his papers 
determined him at once to return to Gaeta, and he was 

4 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

quite prepared for the events which took place on his 
return. He went back to face them, and to know from 
the Pope himself what he wished him to do. The 
remainder of this narrative is given in Rosmini's own 
words. He writes in the third person. 

'* On the evening of his arrival from Naples, Rosmini 
had his first audience of the Pope, who received him as 
he had parted with him, with his usual cordiality ; but 
the first words he said were ' Caro Abate, you find me 
anti-constitutional.' Rosmini, to whom the honour of 
the Pope was very dear, replied, ' Santita, it is a grave 
question to change entirely the road on which you 
have entered, and to divide your Pontificate into two 
parts. I am myself convinced that neither at present 
nor for a long time will it be possible to restore the 
Constitution to vigour, but it seems to me that if some 
hope of this is left to the people, it may have a good 
effect ; history tells us that it is dangerous for Princes 
to take two opposite lines.' The Pope answered that 
his mind was made up on this point; that he had recom- 
mended the matter to God, and that he would not now 
give the Constitution, if they were to tear him in pieces. 
Rosmini touched on the difficulty there would be in 
preserving the Temporal Sovereignty to the Church, if 
the States of the Church were the only ones in which the 
system of absolute Government was maintained, in the 
midst of the other States which were constitutional. 
The Pope replied that when a thing is intrinsically bad 
we can on no account whatsoever do it, be the conse- 
quences what they may; that the Constitution is irre- 
concilable with the Government of the Church. He 
then went on to prove that the liberty of the press was 
a thing intrinsically evil, and also liberty of association, 
&c. Rosmini did not assent to this, saying that by 
good laws the evils of the liberty of the press might be 

Diplomatic Mission. 5 

restrained ; that liberty to write had always existed prior 
to the last 300 years, from which time the censorship of 
the press began ; yet the Church had always repressed 
and condemned bad books and false doctrine, as well as 
bad actions, and placed hindrances in the way of illicit 
and bad associations by means of preventive penalties ; 
so that it was not proposed to give full and absolute 

Rosmini then informed the Pope that he had heard 
from Cardinal Mai, that he had been requested to ex- 
amine his works, but had begged to be dispensed. Re- 
ferring to the Cinque Piaghe, the Pope expressed himself 
satisfied with Rosmini's explanations." 

The narrative continues : — " While Rosmini was at 
Naples ... he knew that the police were in great 
movement about him, and that he was followed every- 
where by spies. The Archbishop, the Nunzio, and 
other Monsignori were by no means courteous ; yet he 
did not care about this, content in his retirement and in 
his studies ; in fact, it never occurred to his mind that 
he could be made the object of persecution. 

" But on the third day after his return to Gaeta, 
namely, the nth of June, a Commissary of Police, act- 
ing under the authority of a certain Major Yongh, who 
was Head of the Police at Gaeta, in attendance on his 
Holiness, came to the house where he lodged and de- 
manded to see his passport. About nightfall they re- 
turned, saying that the passport had not been signed 
in Naples, and therefore he must return to Naples im- 
mediately. Rosmini said that he had not been asked 
to get his passport signed on entering or leaving Naples, 
nor yet at Gaeta ; that he was there in attendance on 
the Pope, and by order of his Holiness ; that to treat 
him in that way was an insult to the Pope, and that he 
certainly would not leave without taking his orders from 

6 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

him. The police officers insisted, but Rosmini was firm 
and would not move. The same night about eleven, as 
Rosmini was undressing to retire to bed, heavy knocks 
sounded at his door ; he replied that he was undressed, 
and could see no one till the morning. They insisted, 
and added that if he did not open the door they would 
force it open, and, in fact, they had with them armed 
Carabinieri for the purpose. Rosmini dressed himself 
and opened the door. They told him that he must 
leave by the first boat in the morning, which started at 
an early hour. Rosmini replied as before, that, being 
in attendance on the Pope, he would be wanting in his 
duty if he went without taking his orders from His 
Holiness, that Major Yongh was placed there by the 
King expressly under the orders of the Pope, and that 
it could not be his Majesty's intention to remove one of 
the Pope's attendants without consulting His Holiness ; 
but in any case he would not move from where he was, 
unless he were carried by force, until he had presented 
himself and taken his conge from the Pope. He said he 
only required a few hours, when he would be ready to 
take his departure. After endless talk, the police left 
him, Rosmini only saying, I hope you will now leave 
me quiet for the night." He adds, " One of the Police, 
like those Neapolitans who cannot help talking, told 
the people of the house that all this was an intrigue to 
get Rosmini away. Rosmini met Major Yongh before 
leaving, and asked him the real reason why he had 
been molested about his passport ; he answered that, 
as a gentleman, he could not deny that the case of 
the passport was a pretext, but that the real motive it 
was not in his power to divulge." 

" The following morning after celebrating Mass, Ros- 
mini went to the Palace, but in the outer apartment one 
of the servants said in a loud and imperious voice, ' The 

Diplomatic Mission. 7 

orders are that no one enters the ante-camera this 
morning.' Rosmini said, ' I wish to speak to Cardinal 
Antonelli.' ' He is engaged with one of the Monsignori.' 
' None of them are here.' Rosmini stood on the 
threshold doubting what to do, when he saw Cardinal 
Antonelli put his head out of the door of his apart- 
ment, and instantly withdraw it on hearing Rosmini 
exclaim, ' Eminenza, I have an urgent matter to speak 
about.' He could not, however, help admitting Ros- 
mini, who related the affair of the police, about which 
Antonelli protested that he knew nothing, that they 
had their rules, that the passport was not regular, and 
so forth. Rosmini said he had no difficulty in leaving 
Gaeta, but he must have his orders from the Holy 
Father, and in case he had to leave Neapolitan territory, 
receive his benediction. Antonelli made various 
difficulties about an audience, so that Rosmini, dis- 
pleased at the petty pretexts of the Cardinal, said 
frankly that if he was to be chased out of Gaeta without 
an audience of the Pope, he should consider it an 
atrocious injury. This somewhat mollified the Cardinal, 
who at last said that he would introduce him to an 
audience. He went to the Pope's chamber, and was 
absent a good half hour, Rosmini waiting in the ante- 
camera. Major Yongh then came forth from the Pope's 
chamber, Antonelli remaining behind. When he came 
out Rosmini was called to enter. The Pope said at 
once, ' I have only heard this moment what happened 
last night, and I have told Major Yongh that he is to 
leave you in peace, and that I could say that in two or 
three days you can conveniently leave of your own 
accord.' The Pope added that the Neapolitan police 
had been suspicious, because so many people came to 
see Rosmini in Naples, and some whom they did not 
like ; adding, ' We must respect these sentiments. 

8 Life of Antonio Rosimni. 

seeing we are not in our own house.' RosminI then 
explained to the Pope the way he had been treated of 
late, not by the police only, but by those immediately 
around the Pope, even so far as to want to send him 
from Gaeta without his obtaining an audience ; to which 
the Pope replied in these exact words, ' They are afraid 
you will influence me.' On this Rosmini protested that 
his Holiness knew how little influence he had had with 
him. The Pope told him to remain according to his own 
convenience, and that he would not again be molested. 

" One or two days afterwards Rosmini had another 
audience. He happened to speak of the secret motives 
of those who had made use of the pretext of the pass- 
port to remove him, on which the Pope said, ' Oh, if 
you knew how many tales they have related to me 
about you ; but I do not wish to tell you about them.' 
He added, * They are now examining your works.' 
Rosmini at the time thought the Pope was speaking of 
the police, and replied, smiling, 'They may examine, 
but they will find nothing.' He afterwards was con- 
vinced that the Pope had in his mind an ecclesiastical, 
not a police examination." The Pope seems to have 
been aware that Rosmini's adversaries had, as we 
now know, already prepared that long list of over 
300 censures which were even then being secretly 
circulated in the form of the Postille, and the work of 
the Prete Bolognese. This examination of his works, 
which ended so contrary to the expectation of his 
opponents in his triumphant acquittal, began soon after 
the Pope's return to Rome in the following year, and 
ended in 1854. 

Before leaving Gaeta after this farewell audience with 
the Pope (which was, in fact, the last time they met 
in this world), Rosmini thought it right to prepare a 
Memorial to justify himself (I follow his own narrative) 

Diplo7natic Mission. g 

from the accusations brought against him in respect of his 
pohtical doctrines. For, as he writes, " the way of think- 
ing had been profoundly modified at Gaeta, and was 
certainly very different from the conversations held six 
months before. He also thought it right to justify him- 
self in respect of the visits paid to him by persons 
suspected by the police at Naples. He wished also to 
enlighten the Pope as to the artifices and tricks of the 
men by whom he was surrounded. He asked permis- 
sion of the Pope to do this, and begged him to receive 
it benignantly, because he knew that his Holiness loved 
the pure truth, and deserved that it should be told him 
entirely." This Memorial was presented to the Pope on 
15th or 1 6th of June, and it was thus conceived : — 

Gaeta, /une 15, 1849. 

Most Holy Father, — Before leaving Gaeta, mindful of the 
Divine precept which says: " Curam habe de bono nomine" — 
" Have care for a good name," — in order to fulfil it, I lay at the 
feet of your Holiness this justification. 

I am told that there are two reasons why I am ordered to leave 
Gaeta, on the pretext that my passport was not signed at Naples 
— ist, that certain of my political opinions are disapproved; 2nd, 
that during my sojourn at Naples, persons suspected by the police 
visited me. 

Whether my political doctrines could deserve measures of such 
rigour as to chase me from Gaeta with Gendarmes, your Holiness 
will judge from the following points : — 

ist. In my works I have confuted with all the vigour of which 
I was master, the false principle of " Tke Sovereignty of the People,^ 
which I have constantly declared absurd, unjust, immoral, &c. 

2nd. I have condemned Revolutioji under whatever title and 
under every pretext, teaching that the people cannot rebel against 
their Absolute Prince j but if they have grievances they can bring 
them forward for redress in a peaceful and respectful way ; and 
if they do not at once obtain what they desire, they must by 
patience, by waiting, and by hope in God render their afflictions 
less grievous. 

3rd. I have defended Absolute Princedom^ distinguishing it from 
Despotis7n, and have shown not only that it may be legitimate, but 

lo Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

also good and paternal, and the best form of Government, provided 
it is adapted to the times. 

4th. I have taught that Moitarcliy is the best form of Govern- 
ment, and that "Government by one only" is not, on this account, 
to be called Despotism. That Despotism may be found under 
every form of Government, but is oftener found under Democracy, 
and then more excessive and with fewer alleviations or means of 

5th. I have written a thousand things against the French Revolu- 
fio^i, and have proved that the notions which prevailed in that 
Revolution were vague and uncertain, many of them evidently 
false, and not a few wicked and impious. 

6th. I have said that the second element oi M onarchical Govern- 
ment is Aristocracy^ and that from this comes the strength and 
the consistency of Society; and I have exhorted Princes to elevate 
and sustain Aristocracy^ as the basis of Thrones, yet so that it 
shall have no odious privileges, but be sustained, in all justice, 
by moral and political means, such as are never wanting. 

7th. I have declared that justice, first towards God and the 
Church, and next towards all, is the foundation of every form of 
government ; that no evil, however small, may be done, even for 
the sake of the greatest good ; and I have preached respect for 
all laws, in order to the fulfilment of all justice. 

8th. I have defended the union and mutual assistance of Church 
and State, against those who advocate separation; I have pointed 
out the legitimate connection of Church and State, declaring 
that temporal prosperity which is the aim of the State, ought to 
be considered by Christians simply as a means to eternal salva- 
tion, which is the final scope of the Church. 

9th. I have taught that the Co7istitutio7ial System is inopportune 
when the people are not ripe for it ; that when they have arrived 
at maturity, it is desired by them, and becomes opportune. 

loth. I have added that all the Constitutions that have been 
framed on the French model are such that they cannot give peace 
and tranquillity to human Society, since they incite to a mania 
for continual innovation, and tend to Sociahsm and Communism. 
That in practice Constitutions do not succeed well unless they are 
based on entirely different principles, namely, on the principle of 
property, and of pohtical justice. Hence I have not been in favour 
of the Constitutions that the Italian Princes have given to their 
peoples ; I have deplored the fact and predicted the consequences. 

It is therefore not likely that a man who has constantly, in all 
his works, taught these truths, and forcibly confuted the opposite 

Diplomatic Mission. 1 1 

sophistries, should have come under suspicion of the Neapolitan 
police on account of his subversive doctrines. 

The second cause of these suspicions is alleged to be, that dur- 
ing my stay in Naples I was visited by persons not well thought 
of by the police. 

I went to Naples knowing no one. I could not have a list of 
persons suspected by the police. I lodged in Religious Houses. 
I took the precaution of telling the porter to be careful that no one 
whom he knew to be of bad reputation should be introduced. 

But I never like to be discourteous, so I received those who 
came to my room, not knowing who they were. Generally they 
were literary men, or ecclesiastics, who came to talk to me of 
science or literature, or to present me their works. I never 
uttered a word disrespectful to the King, and when occasion arose 
I defended the acts of his Government. This is the genuine his- 
tory. I cannot believe the poHce of Naples had any suspicion of 
me. Nay, my sense of my priestly dignity makes me believe that, 
even if any came to me who did not enjoy much credit, politically, 
the pohce, who are supposed to be wise and enlightened persons, 
would have been pleased to see them come to me, on the principle 
that " not those who are well need a physician, but those who are 

Lastly, if these were the causes of the action of the Police, why 
was I treated, &c 

Rosmini here recounts to His Holiness the facts I 
have related above of his treatment by the Police, and 
by the servants and high officials about the Pope, so 
that they attempted to force him to leave Gaeta with- 
out even receiving the Holy Father's sanction and 

He continues : — 

This cannot appear to the good sense of the public itself a 
mode of acting in accordance with decorum, thus to isolate the 

Supreme Pontiff within a narrowed circle I have to thank 

your HoHness's benignity, which, if it has not hindered the effect of 
these machinations, has at least prevented their being carried out 
by the harsh modes of violence, and has thus lessened the scandal. 
I depart, therefore, with the benediction of your Holiness ; to do your 
will I leave, as to do your will I came to Gaeta ; yet I leave not 
without that grief which a son feels in leaving his father. Thus, 

12 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

and thus only, is my departure from Gaeta a fact, as it is already 
announced to be in the Journals. 

Most Holy Father, I will always serve with all my being Jesus 
Christ, and your Holiness His Vicar, through evil report and good 
report, and if I have thought it right to justify myself by this letter, 
I have not done so out of self-love, but as being bound to defend 
my honour and that of the Institute to which I belong, by means 
of a document, which will remain ; and the truth will be known 
should need require it, even before the public. 

Kneeling at your Holiness's feet, I ask for the Apostolic benedic- 
tion, and with filial attachment, even to death, I honour myself in 
being your HoHness's most humble, obliged, and obedient son, 

A. Rosmini. 

Rosmini adds in his narrative : — " This memorandum 
will probably come into the hands of AntoneUi, who 
will be ofifended by it ; Rosmini clearly foresaw this, 
but for all that he would not on any account conceal 
the truth from the Pope." 

He continues: — "I have just received, June i8, a 

letter from Monsignor Stella, written in the name of 

the Pope." 

Gaeta, yz/;/^ lo, 1849. 
Illustmo. Signore, — The Holy Father has given me the honour- 
able charge of replying to your letter to his Holiness. He has 
informed me that you came to Gaeta because, having declared to 
a high personage your noble resolution of following the Holy 
Father wherever he should go, the Holy Father intimated to you, 
through the same high personage, that this declaration of yours 
gave him satisfaction. Now, owing to circumstances that have 
supervened, you have asked his Holiness's counsel, whither to 
direct your steps. He says that he gives you perfect freedom of 
selection, assuring you that, wherever you go his paternal affec- 
tion will accompany you ; and he will pray constantly to our Lord 
that, since He has bestowed His gifts on you with so liberal a 
hand, so He will give you that grace and those lights which may 
enable you to know whatever in the works you have written might 
be displeasing to the Divine Dispenser of those gifts. This know- 
ledge you may easily obtain, if you are willing to submit yourself to 
the judgment of the Holy See. The Holy Father imparts to you 
the Apostolic Benediction, &c., &c. Giuseppe Stella. 

Diplo7natic Mission. 13 

In the course of his reply, Rosmini said : — 

You add a most sweet comfort in saying that the Holy Father 
will accompany me with his paternal affection, and that he will pray 
constantly to our Lord to grant me light to be able to know what- 
ever there might be displeasing to God in any of my writings, 
and that I may have this light by submitting myself to the judgment 
of the Holy See. 

I have great confidence that, if through inadvertence, I have 
written anything false or pernicious, the mercy of our Lord God 
will be indulgent with me, since I have sought nothing else in my 
poor labours except His glory, the good of the Church, and the 
salvation of souls ; and this sentiment itself He has, of his pure 
bounty, infused into my soul. Whatever decision shall ever 
emanate from the Holy See, I shall receive with all my soul, and 
conform myself to it with joy, for I seek not to maintain my own 
opinions, but the doctrines of the Holy Roman Church, which is 
my Teacher, and this, too, I hope from the grace of Jesus Christ. 

" The next day Rosmini," as his narrative continues, 
" left by the steamboat for Capua ; but finding the air 
there too oppressive, he went to Caserta, and staid there 
for a time at the Capuchin Monastery of Santa Lucia, 
which is seated on a lovely mountain overlooking the 
Bay of Naples. 

" Here again he was disturbed by the police, and 
ordered within eight days to quit Neapolitan territory. 
The Redemptorist Fathers had invited him to dine, but 
were so alarmed by the order of the police that they 
made some excuse to withdraw the invitation." 

Leaving Caserta on the 1 5th July, he arrived at Albano, 
at the house of his friend Cardinal Tosti, where he was 
hospitably entertained for two months. His Eminence 
and Cardinal Castracane were the only Cardinals who 
remained unchanged towards Rosmini. 

It was here, when he had nearly finished his reply to the 
attack of Father Theiner on the Cinque Piagke, that he 
received the intimation from Father Domenico Buttaoni, 
Master of the Sacred Palace, that this work, as well as 

14 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

the Project of a Constitution, had been placed on the 

Nothing could have been kinder or more considerate 
than this letter ; at the end of it he asked Rosmini to 
send him, if he pleased, his acceptance of the decree, in 
order that he might add in the promulgation of it ; 
Auctor laudabiliter se siibjecit. "The author has laud- 
ably submitted." 

Rosmini the same day wrote the following reply : — 

Albano, 15M August 1849. 
Most Reverend Father-Master of the Sacred Palace, — I have 
just received your venerated letter, in which you inform me that 
my two small works have been prohibited. You ask me as to my 
sentiments of submission to the same decree, in order that you 
may make mention of them in the Decree itself With feelings 
therefore of a most devoted and obedient son of the Holy See, 
as, by the grace of God, I have always been in my heart, and 
have also publicly professed, I declare that I submit to the pro- 
hibition of the above named works, purely, simply, in every possible 
way ; begging you to give assurance of this to our Holy Father, 
and to the Sacred Congregation, &c., &c. 

Antonio Rosmini Serbati. 

Father Buttaoni wrote Rosmini a beautiful letter in 
reply, in the course of which he says — 

The reply you have sent me is the most noble and solemn testi- 
mony of obedience and devotion which a man of your virtue and 
merit can render to the Chair of Peter. 

This narrative Rosmini thus concludes, " In all these 
various vicissitudes the Lord God assisted Rosmini, so 
that he never lost his peace of mind. 

" Antonio Rosmini declares that whatever is read in 
this Commentary is entirely conformed to the truth." 

From Albano, Rosmini went to spend a few days 
with his ever faithful friend Cardinal Castracane at 

He writes from Palestrina to his cousin, Leonardo 

Diplomatic Mission. 15 

Rosmini, of Trent, who was greatly in his confidence, 
and whom he had engaged to form part of his house- 
hold as Cardinal : 

My dearest friend and cousin, when we wish for nothing but the 
Will of God, we enjoy always the peace of Christ, which contains 
all good. The sudden and unexpected prohibition of my two 
small works has not disturbed my peace, nor yet the secret way in 
which it was done, nor have the manoeuvres of all kinds which 
were mixed up with it hindered me from submitting, with all the 
sincerity of my heart, to whatever competent authority has 
thought fit to pronounce. Nevertheless, it comforts me to have 
been assured that the prohibition was not made on account of any 
proposition worthy of theological censure being found in the 
works, but because they were thought inopportune in the political 
state of the times, and, above all, displeasing to some of the 
Sovereign Powers, on account of what is said on the subject of the 
Election of Bishops ; "^ although I beheve I have said what is not 
less useful to the Church than to the State, and is calculated 
to temper the extravagances of the people, and give them a 
religious tendency, for if they are not employed on matters of 
religion, their exuberant activity will upset the civil order, and 
this order will be the more disturbed, the greater is their impiety 
and religious indifterence. However, I have given, as was my 
duty, a blind submission to the Decree. 

.... As regards the Cardinalate, although the Pope assured 
me at Gaeta that the next promotions would include my humble 
person, yet after my departure for Naples the intentions of the 
Pope may have changed. You know that I did everything in my 
power to decHne the honour and weight of the Cardinalate. 
If, then, all things should come back to the state they were in 
before it was offered, I shall certainly not be sorry. I shall go ^ 
to-morrow into Rome in order to continue my journey to Stresa. 

To another friend he writes : 

I thank you for your sympathy with me in the strange and 
almost incredible vicissitudes by which Divine Providence con- 
ducts me, in all which God's immutable design never fails. 

* Rosmini proposed only, that the people should be consulted on the 
choice of Bishops. He wrote the Cinque Piaghe in view of a religious 
people like the Tyrolese, and of the abuses in Government nominations. 

1 6 Life of Antonio Rosniim. 

Meditating on it, I admire it ; admiring it, I love it ; loving, I 
celebrate it ; celebrating it, I give thanks ; giving thanks, I am 
filled with joy. And how can it be otherwise, since I know by- 
reason and by faith, and feel in my inmost soul, that all that 
takes place is willed and permitted by God, and done by an 
Eternal, Infinite, and Essential Love ? Who can be angry with 

Writing- to Father Pagani, the Provincial of the Insti- 
tute in England, he consoles him thus : 

No reason was given me for the prohibition, and since they 
prohibit some books, not only for errors, but also as a prudent 
precaution, in order to withdraw from the public, doctrines which 
might be abused, it is very likely that this is the real cause of the 
prohibition. Books are sometimes removed from the Index on a 
second examination, as in the case of Malebranche, whose works 
were taken off the Index after their defence by Cardinal Gerdil. 
The same may be said as to books which taught the motion of 
the earth round the sun. 

He continues : 

I believe that the Cardinalate, which the Pope obliged me to 
accept, will have come to an end, in the prohibition of the two 
works. To be relieved from the weight of this dignity is dear to 
me, all but the injury done to me before men ; but in this also I 
am supported by the thought, that, what Our Lord Jesus Christ 
bore was much greater, and that He knows what is the degree of 
honour that is best for me in order to His service. Our Brother 
Don Luigi Gentili was a true prophet, for when he heard of the 
promotion intimated by the Pope, he warned me " to remember 
the purple garment of derision in which they clothed Jesus Christ." 

Rosmini left Rome about the middle of October, in a 
poor carriage drawn by his own horses, which his faith- 
ful lay-brother Antonio Carli had cleverly managed to 
recover from General Oudinot, who was in command of 
the French army. He travelled by short journeys, 
staying a day at Florence, and with one or two friends 
in Tuscany. On the second of November 1849 ^^ 
arrived at Lesa, on the Lago Maggiore, where he 
stopped to salute Manzoni, who was staying there. 

Diplomatic Mission. 1 7 

What kind of meeting it was, and what words passed 
between these two great men, who are an honour of 
this our age, at a moment Hke that in which they met; 
full of the memories of all the vicissitudes of the last few 
eventful months, may, as Don Paoli says, " be left to be 
imagined by those who have minds and hearts capable 
of appreciating the situation." That same evening was 
still more consoling to Rosmini, when he found him- 
self amidst the embraces of his spiritual children at 




(A.D. 1849-1855.) 

ROSMINI returned to Stresa on All Souls Day, 1849. 
It proved to be an omen, by none indeed noted but 
himself, to whom each day was a memento mori. Who 
amongst his children dreamed that he had not six 
years more to live ? When death comes, who is there 
that expects it, especially when it is the death of one 
on whose life so much seems to depend ? 

He returned, apparently with his former health, 

courage, and intensity, to all his ordinary pursuits. 

Indeed, he had never interrupted them, whether it was 

the direction of souls under his care, the governing of 

the Institute, the management of his property, or the 

writing of his letters and of his Works, But he was 

now free from the turmoil of the contests in Church 

and State. He had left his solitude at the call of God, 

he had essayed to do a great work, in which he never 

saw his way to succeed, but in which he left success to 

God. He had been met by overwhelming difficulties, 

and had done his best to overcome them ; he had not 

succeeded, and the same Providence which sent him to 

Rome has now led him back to his solitude. Stresa, 

on the borders of the lovely Lago Maggiore, is a haven 

of peace for the weary in heart and brain. Here Ros- 

mini dwelt from 1850 in the Palazzo, as it was called, 

somewhat grandiloquently, by the people of Stresa, for 

His Last Five Years at Stresa. 19 

it was not a palace, but only a handsome Italian villa, 
with a large garden in the rear. It stood close to the 
Lake, separated from it only by the Simplon road that 
runs from Arona, along the border of the Lago leading 
by Domodossola over the Alps. 

Some great consolations came to him on his return 
to Stresa, more than compensating him for all the 
anxieties and contradictions of his Mission to Rome, 
the events at Gaeta, and the false accusations against 
his doctrines, which had led to the now imminent 
examination of his works. 

Several most excellent priests came to join his 
Society, sacrificing important positions in order to 
leave all and follow Christ. One of these was Don 
Vincenzo De Vit, Doctor of Padua and Canon of 
Rovigo, a learned archaeologist and Latinist, now for 
many years resident in our House in Rome, and well 
known for his two works of vast labour and research, 
the Lexicon totiiis Latinitatis a new and greatly 
enlarged edition of Forcellini, and the Onomasticon or 
Dictionary of proper names down to the sixth century 
after Christ. 

The next to join the Institute was Don Lorenzo 
Gastaldi, Canon of San Lorenzo in Turin and Doctor of 
that University. He became well known in England 
as a most zealous missionary. He was afterwards 
Bishop of Saluzzo, took a very distinguished part at 
the Vatican Council in promoting the definition of 
Papal Infallibility, and died Archbishop of Turin. 

A third was Don Carlo Caccia, mitred Provost of San 
Satiro in Milan, Secretary of the Cardinal Archbishop 
of that city. He afterwards did good work in England, 
and then he went as Secretary with Mgr. Cardozo to 
Brazil. On his return to England he was Rector of 
our Reformatory at Market Weighton in Yorkshire for 

20 Life of Antonio Rosmi7tt. 

many years, and succeeded Mgr. Gastaldi as Rector of 
Cardiff. Returning to Italy, he died Rector of the 
College at Domodossola. 

A fourth was Cardozo-Ayres, a young Brazilian 
of noble birth, who afterwards became Bishop of Per- 
nambuco, and died in Rome while attending the Vatican 

A fifth was Don Pietro Bertetti, Doctor of the Uni- 
versity of Turin, Canon of Tortona, and Rector of the 
Ecclesiastical Seminary. He was a most zealous priest 
and a splendid preacher, and was certain to have been 
made a Bishop if he had remained in his original career. 
But he, too, left everything, and like the three Fathers 
previously named, was sent to England, where his 
gifts of eloquence were restrained by the difficulties of 
the language. This he had just mastered, and had 
begun to give Catechetical instructions, which were won- 
derful for simplicity and depth, so as to show that he 
would have become one of the most powerful preachers 
in England, when he was summoned by Rosmini from 
St. Marie's, Rugby, where he was Rector, to go to Rome 
as Procurator-General, during the examination of Ros- 
mini's Works. To his learning and discretion much of 
the triumphant success of that examination may under 
God be attributed. He died General of the Order, 
third in succession to the Founder. 

He was the means of bringing many very valuable 
subjects to the Order, amongst them Don Paolo Perez, 
a holy and learned Professor of Padua, Don Giuseppe 
Calza, and Don Luigi Lanzoni, our present General, 
whom may God preserve ad multos an7ios. 

In those companions who joined him, Rosmini 
saw a great promise from heaven for the future ; 
and they were all brought to him without his having 
done anything to seek them. They came in the only 

His Last Five Years at Stresa. 21 

way in which he ever wished souls to join his Society — 
drawn by God, by the odour of the sweetness of charity. 

May our charity be like his ; then we, too, shall 
draw men to us by the " bonds of Adam," the human- 
kindness of those who may say in their degree, " I live, 
not I, but Christ liveth in me." May we all labour for 
this " charity unfeigned." Everything else is of little 

Another great consolation for Rosmini was the pros- 
perous condition of his little flock of Sisters of Provi- 
dence, who now were beginning to spread out their 
" Small Establishments " of teaching Sisters in various 
towns and parishes around, highly appreciated by 
Bishops and Parish Priests and Municipalities for their 
simplicity, zeal, and piety, and their success in teaching 
the children of the poor. Their work will be spoken 
of in the chapter devoted to the Sisters of Providence. 

But nothing gave Rosmini greater joy than the suc- 
cess of his Missionary Priests labouring in England. 
During the year before, while Rosmini was in Rome, he 
had been afflicted by the death of his beloved Luigi 
Gentih (September 1848); but he knew that he had 
died a Martyr of Charity, other labourers had been 
brought to the front, and that the preaching of Missions 
in England, Ireland, and Scotland was continued by our 

Great conversions had been taking place in England 
at this time; especially, in 1845, that of John Henry New- 
man, one of the greatest minds of the day, now Cardinal 
Deacon of San Georgio in Velabro. Rosmini had for 
years watched this religious movement in England, 
which will be spoken of a little later, with intense in- 
terest. He had written a letter to Dr Pusey, hailing his 
advance towards the Catholic Church, and gently ex- 
horting him to hasten on towards the Mother of the 

2 2 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Faithful. He felt the deepest hopes for the restoration 
of the ancient Faith in the English nation. He had a 
high appreciation for the natural goodness and great- 
ness of the English character, for the fidelity to faith, 
and Christian morals of the Martyr nation of Ireland, 
and for the high philosophical character of the Scottish 
thinkers. We may be sure to what a great degree his 
mind was taken up, on his return to Stresa, with the 
prospects of religion in England, since he sent all the 
four distinguished men spoken of above to join the 
English Mission. Perhaps we in England have never 
sufficiently appreciated the extraordinary charity of 
Rosmini for England, and the immense interest he must 
have felt in this country, and in the world-wide Empire 
of which England is the centre, in thus sending us so 
many of his best men. Fathers Pagani, Gentih, Rinolfi, 
Ceroni, Gastaldi, Bertetti, Caccia, and others, are men 
that any Order might be proud to have had as their first 
Founders. How full was the mind and heart of Ros- 
mini with the thought of England as he sent forth these 
men, who were after his own heart, and with whom he 
had taken sweet counsel as they walked together along 
the borders of the Lake ! They had gone to exchange 
the lovely scenes of Italian sky, lake, mountain, and 
luxurious foliage, for the cloud-shrouded land, and the 
smoke and fog of its huge cities of ceaseless din and 
labour. Rosmini's heart went with them in their " pil- 
grimage of Grace." His last words to me when I saw 
him for the last time as we parted on the Quay at Stresa 
were, " I hope perhaps next year to visit England." 
This was in May 1854. In little more than a year he 
was gone for ever from this w^orld, in body ; but, as we 
firmly believe, the impediment of the body being re- 
moved, he is with his children, in spirit, wherever they 
go, and guides them, under God, and guards them in all 
their ways. 

His Last Five Years at Stresa. 23 

But the master-work of Rosmini was his philosophy. 
For, as his philosophy was essentially Christian, it was 
the true Love of Wisdom, a communing of soul with the 
Word and Wisdom of God, the " True Light that en- 
lighteneth every man coming into the World." 

On his return to Stresa he seemed to throw himself 
with greater energy than ever into the continuation of his 
great Works. He almost seemed to have, like the Vener- 
able Bede, a presentiment that the end was near. "Write, 
and write quickly," seemed to be sounding in his ear. 

Only that Intellectual Charity which longs to impart 
truth to others could have nerved him to such incessant 
labour, especially now, when his health had begun to 
fail. He loved truth indeed for its own sake, but to 
make it known to others, to remove the veil that the 
limitations of our nature place before it : this was his 
labour of love. He himself confessed frankly to Don 
Paoli, that " but for his desire to communicate truth to 
others his labours would have been insupportable." But 
important as he believed these works he was writing to 
be, he had not, so far as those who knew him best could 
judge, the least particle of vanity. He looked on him- 
self as a torch-bearer holding up a light that had been 
given him from on high. To praise him was to pain 
him, as was shown by the confusion it caused in him. 
But few were found to attempt this, for to praise a great 
man is an act of self-conceit, it is as much as to say we 
are great enough to appreciate him ; and all but little 
minds felt themselves overshadowed by the vastness of 
his intellect. He owned that he felt " really grieved by 
praise, except on account of the good-will and regard 
shown by the speaker or writer." He used to say that, 
" after so much study and research, he only began to 
cease to be a child ; that all he had written was but the 
first rudiments of human knowledge, and that if he 

24 Life of Antonio Rosmtm, 

should live a hundred years, he thought he should 
always have something new to say." On another occa- 
sion he said that he " did not feel tempted by vanity, 
because the more he knew the more he saw there was 
that he did not know, and that he should feel inclined 
to laugh, if the devil tempted him to pride, knowing as 
he did so intimately, that whatever he knew was not his 
own, but came to him through the gift of intelligence, 
which was from God." 

He had full faith in his mission to write, and had 
always before him that he had received this as his 
special work from the Supreme Vicar on earth of the 
Incarnate Truth. At the moment when, on his return 
from Rome, he took up again the thread of that part of 
his philosophical system that he was then developing, 
he knew that all his previous works had been de- 
nounced to the Holy See, and more than 300 censures 
were being industriously circulated against them. Yet 
he went on with perfect tranquillity, still further develop- 
ing that system. The works which he was now en- 
gaged in writing or revising for the press, were The 
True Method of Educational Trainmg, The Introduction 
to Philosophy, The Treatise on Logic, the second volume of 
the Psychology, Aristotle examined and compared with 
Plato, Gioherti a?id Pantheism, The Divine in Nature, 
dedicated to Manzoni, the greater part of the Theosophy, 
and of The Ontology, Rationalism in the Theological 
Schools, The Categories, The Dialectics, and the Super- 
natural Anthropology. 

He wrote also at this time several Articles in Periodi- 
cals, on CJiristian Matrimony, on Liberty of Teaching in 
the Schools, and on The Rights of Ecclesiastical Property. 
These were published in the Armenia of Turin. They 
were afterwards reprinted, and are among h.\s posthumous 

When we survey the enormous mass of letters which 

His Last Five Years at Stresa. 25 

were constantly flowing from his pen, usually written 
with his own hand, many of these letters very long, and 
on deep subjects, and all copied regularly, and forming 
forty volumes, we cannot but wonder that he had time 
for any other writing ; and when we look at the number 
of his published volumes, and of his works still in manu- 
script, the marvel is that he could find any time for 
epistolary correspondence. It was all the outcome of 
his extraordinary regularity. His great works were 
simply the result of those two hours and a half every 
morning, between collation after Mass and dinner, 
regularly devoted to the writing or dictation of his 
philosophical works. It was due also to that marvel- 
lous power of concentration by which he could throw 
himself wholly into the work of the moment. He 
wrote very generally by an amanuensis, but often spared 
him for other duties, and wrote with his own hand and 
with wonderful quickness. His thoughts came from his 
mind clothed in words, armed as it were at all points, 
like Minerva from the head of Jove. Every word of a 
sentence was guarded by every other, so as to express 
the whole thought without ambiguity. 

All the time he never missed a single Religious 
duty. He rose the moment he was called, and imme- 
diately began to recite the Apostles' Creed in an audible 
voice, dwelling on every word, as his first tribute to God 
that day. The meditation, the Mass and thanksgiving, 
the two examinations of Conscience, Rosary, and 
spiritual reading were never omitted. 

With all this he was ever at the service of his 
visitors, and never showed himself preoccupied. He 
often entertained guests at his own table, when the 
usual spiritual reading might on occasion be exchanged 
for conversation more suitable for his guests. He made 
himself all to all. 

26 Life of Antonio Ros7nim. 

When he came to print his manuscript, he was 
merciless in correcting proof. It was at this time that 
the great expense of these corrections determined him to 
do what he had long thought of, establish a printing press 
at Stresa. The license of the Government was at that 
time required for even a private printing press ; he had 
applied for this permission, but it had been refused, 
although little difficulty seemed to be found in obtain- 
ing such permission, when there was question of the 
printing of infidel and seditious publications. How- 
ever, at last in 1853 the license was granted, type, 
furniture, and machinery were purchased, but owing to 
Rosmini's death and other circumstances, nothing came 
of this project, though it would certainly be according 
to the Founder's mind to carry out such a work.^ 

It has been said that among Rosmini's other works 
of charity, one was hospitality. In these last years of 
his life, as he was more known by reason of his writings 
and the part he had taken in public affairs, he was 
sought by many distinguished men who came from all 
parts to visit him. 

Among the visitors in those days were Father 
Lacordaire, the Abbe Bonnechose, afterwards Cardinal, 
the present Cardinal Newman, the late Cardinal 
Wiseman. The latter came to thank Rosmini for the 
use of his carriages. These had been bought when, by 
order of the Pope, he had to prepare himself for the 
Cardinalate, and they had not as yet been sold, 
when Archbishop Wiseman went to Rome to receive 
the Cardinal's hat on his appointment as the head of 
the newly created English Hierarchy. 

^ In England something has been done in this direction. St Joseph's 
Press has been long established in connection with our Fathers in London. 
English Translations of Rosmini's Psychology and other works have been 
printed there, and at Market Weighton Reformatory they have their 
printing press. 

His Last Five Years at Stresa. 2 7 

Among distinguished Italian laymen and others who 
frequently came to share Rosmini's hospitality at Stresa, 
were, first of all, Alessandro Manzoni, also Marchese 
Gustavo Cavour, brother of the Minister, Professors 
Pestalozza and Corte, and Ruggero Bonghi. 

Manzoni generally spent the autumn at Lesa on the 
Lago Maggiore, where his son-in-law, Count Stampa, 
had a villa. The two friends in their Avalks along the 
Lago often met at a certain rock, which Rosmini called 
the " Pillars of Hercules," beyond which he did not 
pass, if he happened not to meet Manzoni at the usual 
spot; but often Manzoni would return with him to 
Stresa, and sometimes he would pass several days there, 
a welcome guest Corte, Pestalozza, and Bonghi often 
formed part of their company at dinner ; and in the 
heat of summer they would adjourn to the cypress 
grove or the shady vine-trellised walks in the garden. 

Pestalozza and Corte were profound theologians and 
philosophers, formed in the school of Rosmini. They 
have each published admirable compendiums of his 
philosophy for the use of youth. Bonghi was a young 
Neapolitan, formed under Rosmini, from the time he 
came to him, a youth of twenty, of great promise. 
Rosmini retained him in his house, as his means were 
narrow, in order that he might pursue his studies. 

It would be impossible (writes Don Paoli, who was always 
present), to describe the intellectual delight of those conver- 
sazioni. If they had been written down they would have formed 
an intensely interesting volume of Horcc Rosmifiiancs. They 
included every subject, Rehgion, Politics, Philosophy, History, and 
Belles Lettres. Rosmini and Manzoni naturally took the lead, 
the others spoke sufficiently to show that they were interested 
listeners. We leave to those who know Rosmini's works and 
those of the author of the Proniessi Sposi, to imagine the fineness 
and sweet aroma, justness, and rehgiousness of the conversations 
of the two most beautiful minds of Italy, Rosmini and Manzoni. 

28 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

When these friends stayed with Rosmini, they lived, of their own 
choice, in the Rehgious house as if they had been Religious. 
They rose with the community, assisted at Rosmini's Mass, sat 
with him at table, while the reading went on as usual. They 
went out to walk together, or sat under the shade of the cypress 
grove in the garden, discoursing of Plato and Virgil, St. Augustine 
and St. Thomas. 

Some of these conversations suggested to Bonghi the matter 
for his Siresiane, or Conversations at Stresa, published after 
Rosmini's death. Some of these are on the sublime subject of 
Creatio7i^ and other profound and kindred matter ; but whether 
the young Neapolitan has caught and accurately represented the 
doctrine of these conversations, may be left for those to say who 
have read the magnificent treatment of the mystery of Creation 
which Rosmini has left in writing, in his Teosojia (Vol. i. Nos. 302- 
310, 450-490)- 

Who can say if Signer Bonghi, Deputy and ex- 
Minister of Public Instruction, is the Roggero Bonghi 
of those days of his youth at Stresa } Rosmini, him- 
self a born leaded' of thought, shrank from the terrible 
responsibilities of public life. In this, as in many other 
things, he reminds me of no one so much as of another 
great man whom I have known, himself a great leader 
of thought, who has well expressed this shrinking from 
the snares of name, influence, and power. 

" Deny me wealth, keep far removed the lure of power and name, 
Faith shines in straits, in weakness hope, and love in this world's 

But at Rosmini's house might be met not only the 
most distinguished men of Italy, but he was visited by 
men of mark. Bishops, Legists, Statesmen, from England, 
France, Germany, and America. 

To the Jesuit Fathers he gave loving hospitality 
when they came over the Simplon Pass as fugitives, 
driven by the Radicals out of Switzerland. They were 
entertained in Rosmini's Houses, and at a time when the 
rude people of Stresa, owing to the prejudices against 

His Last Five Years at Stresa. 29 

the Jesuits which had crossed the mountains from 
Switzerland, would have shown them anything but 
courtesy. Rosmini's name, and the respect entertained 
for him, secured them from molestation, and helped 
them on their way. In fact, he shared in some quarters 
the unpopularity of his guests, and was well abused in 
some of the so-called Liberal Journals. 

This exercise of the spirit of Christian hospitality, 
as well to our own brethren, when on their journeys or 
coming for change of air to any of our houses, as also 
to Priests, members of other Orders, and to laymen 
also, especially to those who came for Retreats, was a 
special point with Rosmini, and he recommended it 
greatly to all the Rectors of Houses, so far as the means 
of the House admitted, and so far also as it did not 
interfere with Religious discipline and the spirit of 
retirement and recollection. 

In the afternoons, or in summer in the cool of the 
evening, Rosmini always invited his guests and the 
priests of his household to walk with him. His usual 
walk was along the vine-clad path which borders the 
Lago. When Manzoni was with them he walked 
rather slow^er, because this better suited Manzoni, who 
was several years older than Rosmini, and not nearly so 

The conversation (says Don Paoli) was not always serious, it 
was always cheerful, never frivolous. With men of literature the 
discourse was of letters ; with artists, of art ; with scientific men, 
of science ; with his friends, on all subjects. To give one more 
picture of the beauty and simplicity of his character, I will men- 
tion an instance, one of many I remember, of the way in which 
Rosmini could pass from the grave to the gay, ending in a sort of 
boyish playfulness. 

We were walking along the strand of the Lago, between Stresa 
and Baveno. It was one day in the last year of his life. We were 
talking familiarly of many things, when Rosmini said, " I am 

30 Life of A^itonio Rosmini. 

thinking, whether one can find any way of explaining the motion 
of bodies, without recurring to the corporeal principle ^"^ 

Rosmini then went on to develope his profound 
theory of matter and space, which is too abstruse 
and lengthy to be extracted. Don Paoli continues — 

So discoursing we arrived in front of the Isola Bella. Here we 
stopped for a few moments in the deep silence of thought. 
" Look," said he, breaking silence, " at that scene of marvellous 
beauty ; the azure vault of heaven, the mountains with their 
snow-capped summits, the flower-clad hills and fair villas reflect- 
ing their forms in the placid and limpid mirror of the lake ! 
From the beauty of corporeal nature let us rise to the greater beauty 
of the intellectual and moral creation, and thence to the divine 
beauty of the ideal essences, and last of all to God, Whom in spirit 
and in truth, through the intelligent and moral nature, all creation 
continually adores." 

See next the contrast — 

In silent thought we walked on (says Don Paoli) until we came 
upon the pebbly beach of the lake,- -here Rosmini began pick- 
ing up the smoothest, thinnest stones he could find, and then we 
all set to work to play " ducks and drakes " as the children call it. 
It was a charming thing to watch Rosmini, and see the energy 
with which he sent his stones skimming along the smooth sur- 
face of the lake, and his delight when he succeeded in getting 
his pebble to make more leaps than ours before it sank into the 

We then gravely sauntered along the shore watching the sunset, 
and took our way back to Stresa, talking as we did in common of 
many things besides metaphysics. 

After the walk, as has been said, came always the 
time which he devoted to answering the letters of the 

The greater was the concourse of persons to visit 
him in these latter years, the greater also was the amount 
of his epistolary correspondence. 

His letters constitute a perfect treasury of wisdom, 
especially in regard of the spiritual direction of souls. 

His Last Five Years at Stresa. 3 1 

He generally answered every letter on the day when he 
received it, and usually in his own handwriting. To 
this duty of charity he devoted the evenings of each day. 
His charity was seen not only in the pains he took to 
answer each letter with a completeness that left nothing 
to be desired, but also in the clearness and precision of 
his handwriting. Whatever may be thought of the 
reading of character by handwriting, this at least is 
clear, that a slovenly handwriting, though not seldom 
seen in persons of high moral worth, does not show forth 
their good points, and, giving unnecessary trouble to 
correspondents, is in this not mindful of charity. Is it 
not possible that such handwriting may be a sign, at 
least, that there was a time when the writer did not take 
pains to do his best, but had the moral faults of too great 
haste, and too little reflection } Rosmini's handwriting 
makes one think once more of Cardinal Newman. 
There is a certain similarity in their handwriting, which 
strikes one as characteristic of men who, so far as one 
can judge, have always made it a conscientious duty to 
do what they did thoroughly. "Whatever thy hand 
findeth to do, do it with all thy heart." 

Every letter of Rosmini is characterised by simplicity 
and absence of all affectation. Even the ceremonial 
beginnings and endings of letters, which are in Italy 
much more elaborate than with us, were, with Rosmini, 
no empty compliments. Such, Don Paoli tells us, was 
his veneration for the personality of every man, and still 
more of the Christian in whom he recognised the divine 
light of reason, and the supernatural presence of God ; as 
also for dignity of office in Church and State, and the gifts 
of nature and of Grace, that the titles of Ilhistrissimo 
Signore, Chairissimo, Veneratissimo, and Carissimo fra- 
tello in Chrisio, were with him no mere phrases. To one 
who objected to these as exaggerated, as also, to subscrib- 

32 Life of Antonio Rosm int. 

ing oneself umilissimo servitore and the like, he replied 
that the thought had never occurred to him, for that he 
really meant what he wrote, in all simplicity. The 
piety in his letters was an undercurrent that could not 
help coming to the surface ; it was evidently from the 
heart, not conventional phraseology. Largeness of mind, 
the breadth, tenderness, and delicacy of feeling of a 
perfect human heart, the spirituality of the Christian, 
the unction of the priest, the prudence of one born to 
guide others, the wisdom of the Christian philosopher, 
stand out in this collection of letters like the flowers of 
every variety of form and colour in a beautiful garden. 

All through the time of the examination of his works 
in Rome, Don Paoli, his constant companion, testifies 
that he never showed the least irritation at the false 
accusations brought against him. He excused them all, 
as dictated by an exaggerated zeal for the faith, and 
never allowed anyone to say in his hearing a harsh word, 
on account of the bitter things that were written in 
books, reviews, and journals. 

This is the spirit which breathes in all the letters of 
Rosmini during the trying four years while his works 
were under examination. 

Three days before the sentence was pronounced, he 
ordered Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in all our 
Churches, and on the day of the decision he was to be 
seen in the Church before the Altar fixed in prayer. 
When the news came by post from the Procurator in 
Rome that the sentence was a complete acquittal, it 
need not be said how heartfelt was the Te Detmt that 
arose from before every Altar served by the Rosminian 

At the end of Don Paoli's Narrative of these last days 
at Stresa, of which I have given the substance, and some- 
times the words, we come upon a thing so strange that one 

His Last Five Years at Stresa. 33 

does not see what to say upon it. I transcribe the 
words of Don Paoli : — 

We do not think we can pass over, since it is historical, the nar- 
rative of an atrocious attempt on the life of this Servant of God, 
and especially because it has given occasion to various expressions 
of opinion. This is what I find written by the hand of Antonio 
Rosmini in one of his Diaries in the year 1852 : — " There entered 
to-day the garden at Stresa a person well dressed in black, with a 
blue overcoat. Having found there Antonio Carli, he asked if he 
was Cameriere of the Abate Rosmini ? On his answering that he 
was, this person said that he had a favour to ask of him, that it was 
a very small matter, but that if he would do what he asked, he 
would receive a large sum of money. He then drew from his 
pocket a small vial, and asked him to pour the liquid it contained 
into the coffee or chocolate that Rosmini took of a morning. 
Carh, frightened out of his wits, rejected the proposal, on which 
the stranger told him at once not to disturb himself, and, quietly 
leaving the garden, went straight to the border of the Lake just 
opposite, where he had a boat with three or four rowers ready, he 
entered, and so went off. (February 25, Ash Wednesday, 1852)." 

If this were not vouched for in Rosmini's own hand, 
it is a thing one would pass over as too marvellous to be 
worth recording. But Rosmini evidently believed it, 
and he might well do so, since it rested on the statement 
of his faithful lay-brother Antonio, a man of remark- 
able common sense, and the last man in the world to 
imagine or invent a marvellous tale. 

In connection with this, another fact may be men- 
tioned. Some time before his last illness began, Ros- 
mini was obliged to accept an invitation to a large 
dinner party on occasion of some family festival at 

After the guests were gone, Rosmini said very quietly, 
but seriously, to one who was in his confidence, *' I am 
poisoned. There was something put into my soup ; 
say nothing about it." 

In fact, Rosmini was never well from that day. He 


34 Life of Antonio Rosmim. 

spoke of the matter to no one except to this one rela- 
tive, but refused to give any clue whatever as to his 
suspicions. It was never mentioned till after Rosmini's 
death, and then only as a thing . about which he had 
refused to give any clue, and forbade it to be investi- 

Conjecture, of course, has not been altogether in- 
active ; but the only thing that w^ould seem likely is 
that some of the desperate anarchists of Italy, agents of 
the Secret Societies, who attempted the life of King 
Charles Albert some years before, may have thought 
that the removal of Rosmini would prevent any return 
to such moderate Constitutional Government of the 
Papal States, as Rosmini had done his best to promote, 
but which it had been the object of the Revolution to 
overthrow. Thus the reactionary party around the Pope 
had laboured to destroy Rosmini's credit with the Pope 
by the charges of heresy, and it may be that the other ex- 
treme party took a bolder line and struck at his life. If so, 
the last was the more successful. The state of Rosmini's 
body almost immediately after death was so entirely 
abnormal, that the physicians thought it exhibited signs 
of poison, and were urgent for a post-mortem examina- 
tion. This was resisted by those who were in authority, 
on the ground that there were no proofs against any 
one, and that it was useless to raise the question as to 
the remote causes of the access of disease, as there was 
evidence enough that he had died from an aggravation 
of the chronic affection of the liver, from which he had 
suffered for years. It was only after some years that 
they heard from the relative of Rosmini what I have 
mentioned above, that it was Rosmini's own opinion 
that he had been poisoned. 

vSome have thought that these two attempts on Ros- 
mhii's life came from a person of high position, and that 

His Last Five Years at Stresa. 35 

it was a piece of private revenge. It had been Rosmini's 
duty on certain occasions to reprove a person of rank 
for scandalous conduct. She denied it or defended 
herself, and Rosmini, seeing he could do no good, left 
her, saying that if she neglected his warning God would 
punish her. Very soon after she died suddenly. The 
other party implicated^ who was unknown except to 
Rosmini, it is supposed by some, vowed vengeance, and 
that Rosmini's death was his revenge. 

Whatever may have been the motive of the act, many 
about Rosmini have never doubted that his death was 
brought about by poison, and that he showed his charity 
and love of his enemies in that he left them to the 
judgment and mercy of God. 



(A.D. 1835-1845.) 

The whole of the substance of this Life of Rosinini is, 
as has been said, taken principally from the Italian Ltfe 
by Don Francesco Paoli, who had exceptional means of 
knowing Rosmini intimately, as his Secretary and daily 
companion for at least twenty years. 

After Don Paoli no one perhaps now living has 
enjoyed equal opportunities of knowing Rosmini in the 
earlier years at Monte Calvario and Stresa than Father 
Fortunatus Signini, who was for a considerable time his 
amanuensis and private Secretary. 

What Father Signini has to tell of his personal 
reminiscences of Rosmini will have a special interest for 
English and Irish readers, since he has been domiciled 
with us ever since 1845, and has been long known as an 
eloquent and zealous mission preacher. He began this 
work with Fathers Rinolfi and Furlong, and in the course 
of many years has preached missions in many of the prin- 
cipal towns of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and has 
given many retreats to colleges, seminaries, and con- 
vents. Next he was the laborious parish priest for many 
years of Cardiff, and has been of late domiciled at St. 
Etheldreda's, Ely Place, in London, and engaged as the 
principal translator and editor of the works of Rosmini 
in their English version. 

A^iecdotes of Rosmini by Father Signini. 37 

Father Signini, writing from Ratcliffe College in July 
188 1, says: 

I begin to write these anecdotes in order to obey the desire of 
my Superiors. I have always had the thought in my mind of 
committing to writing some of the things I have observed in the 
person of our venerable Father Founder; but I gave up the notion, 
because it seemed to me that I could say nothing that others 
could not say better, who were still living and had lived with our 
Father longer than I had done. 

What follows will be given in the form of an original 
narrative, not as a quotation. 

In the years 1844 and '45 I began to make some 
notes day by day of what I witnessed of his actions and 
words. These, however, I destroyed for the reasons I 
have just given, but now I think some of the things I 
then wrote might be better worth recording than those 
I remember at present. What I write, however, I have 
a perfect consciousness of remembering accurately. 

The first time I ever saw our Father Founder was 
about the month of June 1836 when he came to the 
House of Monte Calvario at Domodossola. I was then 
a Novice, and nineteen years of age. Having heard 
such great things about him, especially from Father 
Molinari, then our Master of Novices, I felt much struck 
at his great air of simplicity, humility, meekness, and 
modesty. Wonderful, said I to myself, why this great 
man is like a humble little child ; and my esteem and 
admiration of him was greatly increased. 

At that time I was subject to a terrible state of 
scruples, which made me almost habitually appear sad 
and dejected. How often, when I met that holy man 
here or there, did he turn on me his countenance, smil- 
ing and joyful, and, with a mere word, filled me with 
courage and consolation ! I could not help being 
moved by his exquisite and watchful charity to venerate 
and love him more and more. 

38 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Once I remember going to him with some thought, I 
forget what, that tormented me. He answered with 
that beautiful famiHar smile — "Why, look here, I suffer 
in the same way ; quite lately I had a fixed thought 
from which I could not free myself It was the word 
cavipanino that I could not get rid of ; wherever I went 
I kept repeating it." In this answer I trace two virtues — 
the one of charity, in his ready sympathy with my 
trouble, the other of humility, in his thus opening his 
own weakness (if I may call it so) to a mere young 
novice of a few months like me. 

I remember Father Molinari telling us how Father 
Founder, on occasion of a former visit to Calvario, as 
they were walking up the steep ascent of the Mount, 
and before speaking of any other matters, asked, in a 
peculiarly impressive tone, this question — "Is there the 
spirit of union and charity amongst the brethren } " 
This showed clearly what he wished to be the 
characteristic spirit prevailing in the Houses of the 

One of the lay brothers at Calvario, Giuseppe Bisogni, 
a man of great piety, had had leave from Father Moli- 
nari to spend the free time he could spare after his 
daily labours in the garden, in writing a Treatise on 
Humility. Our Father heard of this, and the next time 
Giuseppe asked penance in the Refectory, he was told 
to go and bring his" manuscript and put it into the fire. 
This the good brother did immediately with great 
cheerfulness, and we never heard of him as an author 

These are the things I remember at Calvario. The 
Noviciate was removed, on the Vigil of the Assumption, 
1836, to Stresa, to a small house called the Casino, on 
the site of the present College, given to Father Founder 
by Madame Bolongaro. The new Master of Novices 


Anecdotes of Rosmini by Father Signmi. 39 

was Father Francesco Puecher. We were eight Novices ; 
of these, three were afterwards sent to England — 
Nicholas Lorrain, Angelo Rinolfi, and myself 

"If you will do as I bid you, I promise you will be 
cured in a month." So said Father Founder to me, 
when the new Master of Novices, being unable to do 
any good with this refractory scrupulous brother, turned 
me over to Father Founder. I had already played the 
same tricks with Father Molinari. Father Founder 
then made me his amanuensis, which placed me in easy 
access to him. In this office I continued up to May 
1837, when for a time, during the enlargement of the 
house at Stresa, the Noviciate was transferred to San 

In consequence of my stupid disobedience, even he 
had a vast deal of trouble with my importunities. Some- 
times I disturbed him even after he had gone to bed. 
What patience did that holy man use with me all those 
nine months ! Thanks be to God that, in His Provi- 
dence, I fell into such hands. I should otherwise, I am 
sure, have been sent away as a perfect imbecile, and 
perhaps ended in a lunatic asylum, or worse. 

In case any one who reads this should happen to have 
to deal with a similar case of this terrible malady, in 
which sometimes the evil spirit tempts even to suicide, 
I will, for his information, mention some facts of Father 
Founder's mode of treatment : — 

1. It would seem he considered it, to a certain extent, 
a kind of possession ; for I remember distinctly that 
once, when I was at Confession in his room, he said 
over me some exorcism of the malignant spirit, com- 
manding him, in the Name of Jesus Christ, to cease 
tormenting me further. 

2. For a time he forbade me to make any examina- 
tion of conscience, even in preparation for the weekly 

40 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Confession. He wanted to distract me from self-intro- 
spection. Unfortunately, I generally disobeyed this 
rule, and worried my brain with examining my con- 
science, I know not how often in the day. 

3. He forbade me even to think about when I was to 
go to Confession, and made me come for it without any 
previous notice. " Now,'' he would say, " kneel down, 
make an act of contrition for all your sins. Tell me 
now what you can remember ; " and notwithstanding 
all my agitation, he would give me absolution. 

4. Once when we were in Turin, lodging at the house 
of the Barnabites, in the Via San Dalmazzo, he gave me 
permission to go to Confession to one of those Fathers. 
Had I obeyed his directions as to the time I was to 
spend in my preparation, I should have been back to 
him in about half an hour, but, following my own way, 
I did not return for some hours, and he was waiting for 
his amanuensis. When at last I came back, he, shrewdly 
suspecting, it would seem, how matters had gone with 
me, asked " Have you made your Confession } " Truth 
compelled me to answer, "No;" on which he said, 
" Very well, you will go to Communion to-morrow 
without going to Confession." I remonstrated, but he 
was firm. 

He was at that time engaged in dictating his Treatise 
on Conscience, and as the principle that ruled his actions 
was to follow Divine Providence in all things, I feel 
convinced that he took the occasion of my scruples to 
observe the case (and he was wonderful in observation), 
and, in consequence, was led to dictate the part of that 
treatise which treats on Scruples. 

In December that same year, our Father took four of 
us to Novara to receive, some one, some another Order. 
As we stood in the great ante-camera of the Cardinal- 
Bishop, among a number of persons waiting, the priest 

Anecdotes of Rosmiiii by Father Signini, 41 

who was Master of Ceremonies came up in the usual way 
to ask for the Father's name. On hearing ** Abate Ros- 
mini," he, with more enthusiasm than good taste, sud- 
denly broke out into such exclamations as, "What! 
Rosmini ! that man of European fame, the great Philo- 
sopher ! " &c., &c., with many profound bows before 
him. It was a wonder to see it, and how every one 
turned his eyes on Rosmini with expressions of pro- 
found respect. Poor dear Father ! I think I can see 
him now, mute, mortified, his eyes cast down, blushing 
with shame ! 

It was on occasion of this journey to Novara that I 
had the privilege of introducing him, at his own request, 
to my uncle. Father Pagani, who was then still a 
secular priest, and, although only twenty-nine years of 
age. Spiritual Director of the Theological Seminary of 
that large diocese. The interview, at which I was^-<^ 
present, lasted some three quarters of an hour, and 
it turned, among other subjects, on the motives by 
which young men should be incited to diligence in 
study. With that simple confidence, which was one 
of Rosmini's characteristics when conversing with per- 
sons of whose intelligence and virtue he had a high 
opinion, he, .among other things, said, " Once, when I 
was in my Humanities, our Professor, after looking over 
a little composition which I had written on the theme 
he had set to the class, came out in these words, 
'Bravo, Rosmini, go on in this way, and you will do great 
honour to yourself and to your family.' This obser- 
vation gave me much pain, for I thought it a shame to 
think that I should do my duty in order to do honour 
to myself and not for the love of God." These words, 
spoken with manifest sincerity, made a great impression 
on Pagani. But what struck him even more forcibly 
was what he told me afterwards. " Look, here was 

42 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

a man who, being the founder of a Religious Order, 
must naturally feel great interest in its success. He 
knows that, as Spiritual Director of this seminary, I 
might be of use to him in sending him valuable sub- 
jects ; and yet he never in the remotest way led to con- 
versation in that direction. What a spirit of detach- 
ment ! what a man of God ! " Father Pagani soon after 
joined the Institute, and it was ordained by God that 
he should be Rosmini's successor in the office of 
Superior General. 

Once, I remember, when he was dictating the Treatise 
on Conscience^ he cited an author, Stenco da Gnbbio. 
Forgetful of the profoundness of his train of thought, I 
broke in vivaciously, " Steuco da Gubbio ! who was he .-* 
I never heard of him." The Father, half amused, half 
serious, said, " They won't read, they won't read." This 
is a specimen of his perfect self-command, humility, and 
gentleness when people forgot themselves. 

I was walking with him one day in Turin. We were 
on the Via delle Orfane, near the Church of San Dal- 
mazzo, and he was deep in thought. All of a sudden 
he turned to me, saying, "Oh, what would I give to 
have five minutes talk with St. Thomas ! I am sure we 
should understand one another and perfectly agree." 
Then he relapsed into silence, and we went on our way. 

It was in Lent, and as he had that day to dine late 
somewhere, he took his small collation early, not, how- 
ever, without sending the lay brother to ask permission 
of his Confessor, a Jesuit Father, as he always did on 
similar occasions. After some time he looked about 
the table, saying, " What has become of my bread ? " I 
had seen him eating it, but he was quite absorbed in 
thought. I replied, in my blunt way, " Father, your 
bread has all gone down into your stomach ! " " What," 
said he, " is it so } Well, well, then the collation is 

A nee do Us of Rosmini by Father Signini. 43 

finished, let us go to our work." This abstraction at 
meals was very common with him. 

He was sitting while the barber was making ready 
to shave him one day, when he came out thus with the 
greatest simplicity : " Study it now, and you will see 
that the image of the Most Holy Trinity is to be found 
in everything, in all corporeal things, down to a grain 
of sand, or an atom." 

We were speaking once on the Most Holy Eucharist, 
when he said, " I formed my theory of bodies purely 
from the study of bodies, without at all thinking of the 
Mystery of the Eucharist. But to my surprise, and 
great satisfaction, I afterwards came to observe that 
this theory agreed perfectly with the Mystery of the 
Holy Eucharist, and enabled me in great part to 
understand it. Mind well, I do not say that it is no 
mystery ; mystery there is, and always will be, but for 
me the mystery is further back." 

One evening he had an unusually sharp attack of 
rheumatism, an ailment by no means uncommon with 
him, and I saw his shoulders writhing as he stood at his 
desk. He looked at me and smiled, saying, " You see 
the little devil is tormenting me." I answered : " Do 
you say it is the devil that gives you the rheumatism 1 " 
" I am sure of it," he said, in a way that showed he was 
in earnest, although he spoke in a jocular tone. I have 
no doubt he held the opinion that all, or the greater 
part of, diseases are the work of demons. In connec- 
tion with this, I know not whether suggested by some- 
thing said by the Father or not, comes to my mind the 
phrase used in the Gospel, spirittun infirmitatis (Luke 
xiii. 11), "the spirit of infirmity," and in verse 16, the 
infirm person is said to have been "bound by Satan for 
eighteen years ;" and the Father believed that the devil 
is literally the Angel of Death. 

44 Life of Anto7tio Rosmini. 

At the table of the Barnabites, in Turin, there was 
dining one day with us a gentleman of considerable 
position from Borgomanero. He had brought his son, 
a youth of about fifteen, to place him at some college, 
either at the Military School or at that of the Nobles, 
then conducted, I forget whether by the Jesuits or not. 
About the end of dinner he began, in presence of all, 
to give his son, with a grave and impressive air, his 
last paternal advice before leaving him in Turin. In 
substance it was, " Attend well to your studies, so that 
you may pass good examinations and do honour to 
yourself," and nothing more. When he ceased speaking 
there was silence, and Rosmini waited to see if any one 
would speak, but as no one seem disposed to do so, he 
said in a tone of the greatest courtesy, modesty, and 
sweetness : *' And I hope that he will remember the 
holy fear of God." At this the gentleman, who was 
evidently struck by his words, said, " Oh, of course, 
that is understood ; that is the principal thing." When 
we had gone to our rooms, the Father said to me, 
" Well, here is a curious thing. Look at this ; the 
holy fear of God was the principal thing, and yet that 
father had not a word to say to his son about it. Is it 
not strange } " 

In the house of the Barnabites of San Dalmazzo we 
were cordially entertained for about three months. All 
of them were men of weight for virtue, science, and 
culture, and were open-hearted and loyal friends then 
as now. One day Father Manini, with whom I went 
for a walk, said to me : " Don Benedetto " (so he 
always called me, I do not know why, unless it was a 
play on Fortunato, which was my name), "you are 
fortunate to be with such a Superior, who, without 
doubt, is a great man (grand'uomo). I do not wish to 
be one of those who, out of false humility, call them- 

Anecdotes of Rosmini by Father Signini. 45 

selves blockheads. No ; I believe that I have received 
from God a certain amount of ability " [I may say that 
he was a man of great gifts], "and I thank God for His 
goodness to me in this. I know the works of your 
Father, and I tell you that when I am reading them I 
seem to see in him one of the Fathers of the Church." 
This was in 1837. 

In the spring of 1837 the Father was embarrassed 
for want of money for the house at San Michele, which 
had been given him by the King. There was an income 
attached to it. Father Gilardi, our Procurator, had 
applied in vain, time after time, at the Royal Office of 
Ecclesiastical Affairs for payment of arrears. At last, 
on a particular morning, the Father said to Gilardi : 
" Go and ask for the money, and have confidence in 
God." As soon as Don Gilardi had left the room, the 
Father stopped his dictation and went and knelt down 
at his priedicu, where he remained praying a consider- 
able time. Father Gilardi came back quite joyful 
with a good sum of money. The Father quietly 
observed : " I prayed to our Lord, and I knew you 
would come back with the money." 

The conversation during dinner with the Barnabites 
turned one day on " what of all things in this world was 
most desirable." When all the others had expressed 
their opinions, the Father answered : " First, to be in 
the Grace of God ; and, secondly, to know it, if this 
were possible." 

King Charles Albert wished the Father to place in 
liis hands the Book of the Constitutions of the Institute, 
in order that he might have it examined by the Royal 
Council, so that the Institute might obtain the recogni- 
tion of the law and be placed under the State protection. 
The Father did not at all care for this. The affair 
came to nothing, for these great personages wanted 

46 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

him to change the mode of holding property, so that it 
should be by corporate and not by individual ownership. 
The Father had told the King that this was impossible, 
because it was of the essence of the Society. I well 
remember how pleased he was when he came back 
with the book of the Constitutions under his arm, 
and told me of this result. He said : " Give thanks to 
Domeneddio that He has saved us from a danger. It 
is enough for me to have the protection of our Lord 
and of His Church ; I want no other." 

On a certain evening I saw he was intensely occupied 
in reading a book just then published by the unfortunate 
De la Mennais. I think it was Les affaires de Rome. 
He seemed filled with the most sorrowful compassion 
for the author, and from time to time broke out with 
the words: "Oh, poor man, you are lost!" "What 
folly ! " " You certainly are insane ! " and the like. 
From that reading came, if I am not mistaken, the 
impulse to write to de la Mennais a long and beautiful 
letter, full of fraternal charity, which he dictated to me 
while he lay ill in bed at San Michale della Chiusa, and 
which is one of his published letters. 

In connection with the above, I will mention a fact 
that happened some time before 1837, ^i^d which was 
related to me. The Father was in Turin, and there he 
met with the Abbe de la Mennais, and invited him to 
come and spend some days with him, in order to com- 
pare their ideas. De la Mennais said: "Abate, I can- 
not remain, for the interests of Religion require my 
presence in France." There was something, I know 
not what, in the tone of these words, as spoken by de 
la Mennais, that caused in Rosmini's heart a great fear 
of that terrible fall which followed soon after. In 
passing through Novara after his interview with de la 
Mennais, he was asked by Cardinal Morozzo, "What he 



Anecdotes of Rosmhii by Father Sigmm. 47 

thought about him/' He replied : '' As your Eminence 
obhges me to speak, it is most painful to me to have to 
say that I greatly fear that this man will be lost throu^^h 
pride." ^ 

I do not remember to have known any one who had 
a greater horror of pride than our Father. 

I remember once writing to his dictation a reply to a 
certain brother who pretended to justify his criticising 
the arrangements made by Superiors, by saying that 
he loved to speak out his mind with candour. " There 
are," said the Father, " two sorts of candour, the can- 
dour of humihty and the candour of pride. The first is 
a loveable virtue; but beware of the second, for its 
indulgence would lead you to ruin." Unfortunately 
that brother did not take the warning, and, notwith- 
standing all the efforts which the Father made to save 
him, the candour of pride caused him, in the end, to 
leave us. 

I have often seen him wait at the common table as 
one of the humblest lay brothers, and by looking at 
him while thus ministering, one could not help believing 
that he acted as a man who sincerely felt that he was 
then in his right place. 

This practice, however (as I heard from those who 
knew the fact), once gave occasion to a somewhat 
amusing episode. On Cardinal Morozzo's first visit to 
Calvario, before he had seen our P^ather, the latter 
opened the door, dressed as he was for serving in the 
kitchen. His Eminence asked if Abate Rosmini was 
at home. He said, yes ; and having shown the Car- 
dinal into the parlour, went to his cell, put on his best 
cassock, and presented himself 

I remember once only that he seemed unable to 
finish a thing which he was dictating. This was a 
letter he wanted to write to Pope Gregory XVL 

48 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

asking His Holiness to take in hand the cause of the 
Approbation of the Institute. He began — then he 
began again — he thought, and thought again — sus- 
pended what he was dictating — went on and again 
stopped — it was useless ; he had to leave it. It would 
seem that the moment was not opportune for what he 
intended. In all other cases when he had once made a 
beginning, whether it were a letter or any other writing, 
he went on without any interruption. It was very 
seldom that he paused, and then it was only for a few 
seconds, or that he made me chan^^e a word, as may be 
seen in the manuscripts if they still exist. 

We were walking one evening in Via Dora Grossa at 
Turin, and he said something to me to which I could 
not reply without alluding to the contents of a letter 
I had lately written at his dictation. I said : " Father, 
this is a matter on which I cannot speak ; you know 
why." He answered : " Bravo ! that is the way to act ; 
not even to vie must you ever speak about things in 
letters unless I expressly invite you to do so." I have 
mentioned this because it may be of use to some 

Once he said to me : '' I have by nature a great vein 
of satire, and I must take care to restrain it ; it would 
be a terrible thing if I gave way to this humour." I 
think this was when he was dictating an answer to a 
certain Professor of Lombardy, who had attacked him 
with horrible personal abuse. He had long kept 
silence ; but at last wrote when his friend Count Mel- 
lerio and other gentlemen and persons of authority 
assured him that the honour of truth and of religion 
was at stake. This was at the end of 1836 or the 
beginning of 1837. 

From about the end of August of 1836 till May of 
1837, I being then a Cleric used generally to serve his 

Anecdotes of Rosmmi by Father Stgnini. 49 

daily Mass. And I declare solemnly that in the whole 
course of my life (and my age at the moment I am writing 
is sixty-nine), although I have known many Priests emi- 
nent for virtue and piety, I have never seen one single 
Mass celebrated with that stupendous perfection of re- 
collection, intense absorption, and fervour of devotion, 
with which our Father always celebrated. I say q^- 
^rQSsXy akvays ; for even when he was through illness 
physically low in spirits, I never saw that it made any 
difference in his way of saying Mass. From the moment 
when he turned his steps towards the Sacristy until his 
return after his thanksgiving, he seemed as if he did 
not belong to this earth ; and one felt a certain holy 
fear to disturb by an unnecessary word one so wholly 
absorbed in sacred things. 

If one can speak of one thing more than another, 
where all had in it a beauty that penetrated the soul, it 
was of the genuflections which he made when he saw 
Christ come into his hands at the Consecration. Oh, 
what genuflections were these ! I have never seen any 
like them. How clearly did they manifest a soul in 
the profoundest depth of adoration. They would seem 
enough to have converted an unbeliever to the august 
Mystery of the Real Presence. 

Once when we were sitting together at collation on a 
fasting day, I had the impudence to say to him : 
" Father, we read in the lives of the Saints that they 
used great austerities, fasting, and the like. Why do 
you not do the same } " Instead of correcting me, the 
blessed man took the matter quite quietly, and with 
downcast eyes, like one who felt confused in his own 
presence, said : " Because I do not feel called by God 
to the things you speak of" 

Speaking of his humility with his inferiors, I remem- 
ber another fact. On the day when the Noviciate was 

II. D 

50 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

transferred from Calvario to Stresa, we had all to stop 
for dinner at an inn at Ornavasso (on the Simplon 
road). We were all together in the inn parlour, and 
were talking as usual, when Father Lowenbrlick, who 
was of the party, fixed his eyes on the black Calotta 
{Anglice, skull-cap), which the Father had on his head, 
and exclaimed that " the tassel on the Calotta was too 
large and quite unbecoming religious simplicity and 
modesty ; " then, without more ado he took a pair of 
scissors, and cut the round tassel in presence of all, to 
what he considered more modest dimensions. It was a 
beautiful sight to see the Father quietly smiling, without 
saying a word, during the operation. 

Here I finish my own personal reminiscences, of the 
time when I was our Father's amanuensis from August 
1836 to May 1837. On the 8th of May I was sent by 
the Father to San Michele della Chiusa ; and at the 
beginning of the October following I received his 
orders to set out for England together with Don 
Angelo Rinolfi, to go to the College of Prior Park near 

I remember we were charged in passing through 
Paris to call on Professor Victor Cousin, and present 
him Rosmini's respects, and a small work which I had 
written to his dictation. La Soinmaria CagioJie, &c., a 
work on Politics. M. Cousin received us with great 
politeness, and after having asked many questions 
about Rosmini and his Institute, exclaimed, " Vo7ts 
avez tin grand hU ! " 

Owing to various causes I found myself again on the 
8th July 1843 in the Noviciate House at Stresa. 
About the middle of October I was made Socius to the 
Master of Novices, Father Puecher ; and on the 27th of 
March 1844 I was named Secretary to Father Founder, 
together with Father Gilardi, or Don Carlo Gilardi, 

Anecdotes of Rosmini by Father Signtnt. 51 

for H is the custom in Italy to call us Don, not Father, 
as in England. Rosmini was always known to the 
people around as Don Antonio, though we always 
called him " Padre." This office of Secretary I held 
till May 14, 1845, when I was sent back to England, and 
I never saw our Father again. 

While I was Socius I often saw him. He used to 
say, " Talk much with the Novices ; do not spare 
words, for words are the great means ordained by our 
Lord for instructing and animating men to good. In 
speaking of good things to others, you will do good to 
your own soul, and become yourself more fervent in 
spirit. I take this thought from St. Augustine, who in 
some part of his writings says the same of himself" 

More than once I went to him on the question of 
admitting Postulants. I was very ready to say that I 
did not think this one or that had the qualities and dis- 
positions essential for vocation to our Institute ; but he 
corrected me rather smartly, saying : " We must beware 
of hasty judgments against people ; we must go on 
patiently and without prejudice, otherwise we might 
incur the grave responsibility of sending away subjects 
destined for us by our Lord." In this matter he 
abounded in the spirit of charity. 

When I became his secretary he gave me the charge 
of reading over the Constitutions, which had been fresh 
copied, in order to see if there were any literal errors, 
or if I had any observations to make upon any of them. 
I asked him one day : '* But, Father, if the members 
have legal possession of property in their own name, 
some one might turn rascal and go off with a large 
sum." He answered : " Let him go ; the Institute 
would make a good bargain in getting rid of a Judas so 

He never would allow that he was the Founder of 

52 Life of Anton to Rosin in i. 

the Institute. I said to him one day, " But, Father, how 
is this ? Did you not write the Constitutions which are 
the foundation of the Institute ? " He answered, "The 
Constitutions are not any work of mine, they did not 
come from my mind. The plan of the Institute was 
given me, without my having studied it ; I saw it one 
morning, presented before me instantaneously, entire as 
you see it described in that book. Such as I then saw 
it, such it is there, except some minor matters of detail." 
Then he told me how the affair happened between him- 
self and the Marchesa Canossa, and how the matter 
was first suggested by her, and took shape afterwards 
as he had said. 

One of our Fathers from England wished him to 
change a sentence in the Maxims of Christian Per- 
fection (which are included in our book of Rules) ; the 
words were, " The Church of the Elect which can never 
perish." He considered the matter, and then said with 
great emphasis, " Not a word even should be changed 
in that book." From these things it would seem he 
was convinced that the Maxims as well as the Consti- 
tutions were written by him under a secret divine 
influence. This only would account for one who was 
so humble and ready to assent to the views of others, 
speaking on this matter with such positive assurance. 

Suddenly one day he said to me, *' There are three 
things which lead us poor men to make false judgments 
on the ways of Divine Providence." " What are these, 
Father t " said I. He replied, " Corta vita, corta vista, 
corta pazienza " (short life, short sight, short patience). 
Whoever reads the Theodicy will see this thought fully 

One day he said to me, " I feel that I am beginning to 
get old " (he was then about forty-seven), " before these 
last few years my mind was always clear as the sunlight, 

Anecdotes of Rosmini by Father Signim. 53 

there was no cloud before it, I saw the truth clearly, no 
obscurity disturbed my vision. But now a cloud some- 
times comes up before me, I am obliged to stop a while 
in the effort to get at the direct vision of the truth." 

"Look at this quill pen," he said one day. "We 
began to use it eighteen months ago ; here is the date." 
I had used the pen every day. Each morning the first 
thing the P'ather did was to mend my pen, cutting off 
the minutest shaving. He added some good advice 
about the duty of using things with due regard and 

Sometimes when I have looked on his countenance I 
have felt a reverential awe come over me which forced 
me to turn my eyes away. I saw in those eyes a 
brilliancy so extraordinary, and as it were ethereal, 
that in my astonishment I said to myself: He 
has the look not of a mortal man, but of one of the 
heavenly intelligences ! At these moments one saw 
two veins converging at the base of the forehead, swollen 
in an extraordinary manner. Who can say what was 
the altitude and vastness of the thoughts that were 
rushing through that grand mind in these moments ! 

Once he was describing to me familiarly the series of 
works he had still in contemplation to w^rite. At the 
end he said : " Then comes the AgatJiology (the science 
of good), but that we will write in Paradise ! " He pro- 
nounced these last words with a sudden transport of 
fervour which it was a delight to behold. With a look 
of most intense desire he raised his eyes to heaven, 
stretched out both his arms on high, and raised himself 
so that his toes only touched the ground. It was but 
for an instant, but I think only a soul habitually full of 
the fire of Divine love, and longing after the possession 
of the heavenly country, could have acted on the body 
in this way. 

54 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

He said to me one day : " Be sure of this, our mind 
is at work when we are not conscious of it. I have often 
found that having put a question aside of which I 
wanted to see the solution, and thought no more about 
it, when I turned to it again, after some interval, I found 
that my mind had already solved the question without 
my being conscious of it." 

He said another time, speaking of unconscious 
thought : '' It is not always true that when we say 
prayers rapidly we say them without intense attention 
and sense of the meaning of the words we utter. I 
have often found the contrary myself" 

It was a delightful thing to make a journey with him. 
In the carriage he always kept himself very recollected, 
and was much in prayer. He spoke mostly of things 
belonging to our duties, or calculated to enlighten the 
mind on scientific matters, or on passages of Holy Scrip- 
ture. But this he always did with such simplicity and 
modesty that one was never wearied ; every now and 
then he brought in something to raise a smile or cheer- 
ful laugh. From an observation he once made to me I 
could understand that he considered journeys had their 
special dangers and ought to be times of special prayer. 

I asked him one day, " Father would it not be well if 
I devoted part of my time to reading the Holy Fathers .f*" 
Now he knew I had no time for this while I was his 
Secretary, and I think he could have kept four secre- 
taries at work if he had had them. He answered me 
very gently with his eyes cast down, but with a manner 
that showed the conviction with which he spoke, 
" Signini, if you study my works you will find the Holy 
Fathers in them. Understand me, I do not mean to 
say that you will find all that the Holy Fathers of the 
Church wrote, but you will find the substance of what 
they thought on scientific subjects and religion." These 

Anecdotes of Rosmini by Father Sigiiini. 55 

words made a great impression, because I knew he was 
so humble and so truthful that he would not have said 
this unless he had felt that he had good reason for it. 

When I left him to go to England, I brought him a 
box of Rosaries that was in his room, saying, " Please, 
Father, give me one." He saw that I wanted out of 
reverence for him to receive one from his own hand, and 
in his humility said, "Take one yourself." I had to do 
so, saying, " I take one, Father, considering that you 
give it me," and he merely bowed his head. 

He said once, " In correcting others, it is always best 
not to say, ^ you should not do this or that,' but ' zve 
should not,' or * we should do it.' " This seems very 
simple, but it is a useful thought. 

I always observed that he filled up every free moment 
with prayer, as, for instance, when he was passing from 
his room to the house door to go for his walk. I think 
he always filled up the interval between one occupation 
and another in this way. He recommended me always 
to carry some good book about me to read in case I 
should have to wait anywhere. 

I had gone through a two years' course of Philo- 
sophy at the Diocesan Seminaries, and had passed a 
good examination ; that is to say, I had repeated, by 
rote, the text as dictated by our Professor ; but as regards 
7inderstajidiiig any Philosophy, my mind was literally a 
tabida rasa. We were travelling to Novara, and he put 
into my hands a pamphlet containing a Dialogue on his 
Philosophy, entitled, // Moschini, and told me to read 
it aloud. I did so, and interrupted the reading to ask 
many questions. I became deeply interested in the 
argument ; at last I exclaimed, " I see it. Father ! that 
which constitutes the faculty o^ Reason is that principle 
in us, in virtue of which we are able to say, and do say, 
this thing or that exists ! Is it so } " He nodded 

5 6 Life of Anto7iio Rosiniiii. 

assent, but with such an expression of delight in his face 
as I shall never forget ; and I remember it all the more, 
because that moment was a great epoch in my intellec- 
tual life. Such was his joy when he saw that anyone 
had caught sight of a truth he had not seen before ; and 
this is a truth which, though it might seem elementary, 
is at the root of all thought and of all truth. 

He was impartial in the highest degree in recognizing 
truth wherever he found it, without distinction of school 
or party. There was a certain book by, I think. Father 
Rozaven, a Jesuit, which he had just read, and I re- 
member him saying, " I think that is the best book that 
has been printed in this century." 

He was equally fair with authors, such as Kant, whom 
he confuted most forcibly. He recognized in Kant, and 
in all other writers, whatever truth there was mixed up 
with their errors. He has been blamed for this can- 
dour ; but is it not the same as the candour of the Holy 
Fathers who have recognized and incorporated into the 
Christian teaching whatever they found good in the 
Pagan Philosophers } 

One day I said to him, "Father, do you believe 
that these doctrines (speaking of his works in general) 
will be taken up by the world } " He answered with 
vivacity, '' A fitria, a ftiria — but not yet — the world is 
not yet prepared. We must first be contradicted, die, 
and rot in the earth ; and ' allora sara il tempo,' " (" then 
the time will have come "). I seem to see him now as he 
spoke these words, which I have always looked on as a 
grand answer and a prophecy. 

In the Life lately published in Italy by Don Paoli, he 
tells us of a horrible attempt on Rosmini's life in his 
later years. I will mention another imminent danger 
which he escaped by a similar Providence, and of which 
he told me himself '' Once," he said, " I was travelling 

Anecdotes of Rosmim by Father Signini. 57 

in the Neapolitan Kingdom with my friend Count 
PadulH of Milan. Arrived at a certain place, we 
stopped for the night at an inn. They had only one 
bedroom to give us. Padulli said his prayers and went 
to bed. Providence disposed me to sit up, in order to 
say Matins for the next day. I sat down at a table 
which stood against the wall with the candles lighted, 
when, just about midnight, I saw the portion of the wall 
that was behind the table begin slowly and without 
noise to recede, till there appeared a recess of the thick- 
ness of the wall ; then it began to turn aside, and through 
a fissure I saw an eye cautiously regarding me. Then 
immediately the wall came back as quietly as before to 
its place. I immediately roused Padulli, bid him rise, 
telling him the matter. We remained on guard, and 
with the first dawn of light we ordered our horses to the 
carriage, and went on our journey." There was evident 
danger in that lonely place, not merely of robbery, but 
of murder. We see in this a trait of that great fortitude 
which was characteristic of the Father, He was always 
master of himself 

He could not bear sophistries. Once I made a 
sophistical criticism. He said to me, " Mind this, I like 
discussions however subtle, but I do not like this 
question that you propose. Allow me to tell you it is 
sophistical and without good sense." 

Speaking about vocation to our Institute, he said, 
" We should never invite any one to join this Order, 
but wait for God to send people to us, whom He will 
send. If, however, we are asked questions about the 
Institute, we may answer, because there is then a call of 
Providence." The Father strictly followed this rule. 

K^omX. preaching\vQ said, " In speaking to the common 
people you must touch upon viany tilings. It is useless 
to keep them to one point, and attempt to develop it 

58 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

fully, their attention does not follow you ; give them 
variety and speak with simplicity, and they will be 
satisfied and gain spiritual profit." 

He used to say, in regard of treating with men : 
" Cavete ab hominibus — Beware of men. You will find 
that the simplicity of the dove must be accompanied 
by the prudence of the serpent. To be simple does 
not mean to be a simpleton. Take care that no one, 
by fine talk, leads you blindfold,, however prepossess- 
ing he may seem." 

Of the terrible force which an offence once taken 
may exercise on the soul, he said, emphatically, " Watch 
well here," pointing to his breast, " it may seem that 
the thing is passed, and so it may seem even for a long 
time, but the point of the arrow remains fixed within." 

Father Signini concludes, " I do not remember any 
other things that I have myself noted during the time 
I had the supreme good fortune of being with our 
Father, but in general I may say that the impression 
left on me was this ; such intellectual and moral grandeur 
combined with such humility, modesty, and simplicity, 
made him, in all respects, the most extraordinary man 
I have ever known, leading, as he did, a life which 
seemed quite ordinary. No other man has ever pre- 
sented to me in so high a degree the likeness of the 
life on earth of our Lord and Saviour. 

" I declare that in whatever I have said, I have 
followed conscience, and the substance of what I have 
said is what I would say if I were on my death-bed, 
and had then the clear memory of the events which I 
have now." 


(A.D. 1855.) 

Antonio Rosmini was endowed by nature with a 
constitution so happily attempered, and such perfect 
and exuberant health, that he was accustomed to say 
that in his youth he could in a certain measure conceive 
from his own sensations what must have been the 
fulness and joyousness of physical life, which Adam 
experienced on his first creation. But having applied 
himself to study from his earliest years with extra- 
ordinary and perhaps indiscreet assiduity, he fell sick 
in 1827, at Milan, when he was compiling his Opnscoli 
filosofici ; and Dr Raimondini who attended him con- 
sidered that he was even then labouring under an affec- 
tion of the liver, and suspected an induration of long 
standing and probably past remedy. He recovered, 
however, but again fell sick at Milan in 18^31, and the 
same physician had no longer any doubt of the serious- 
ness of the evil which had now become chronic. He 
prescribed for him after he had in some degree recovered 
his health the use of mercurial frictions and of the 
waters of Recoaro. But Rosmini, absorbed at that 
time in higher thoughts, could not use the waters regu- 
larly and altogether neglected the frictions. From that 
time he always suffered more or less from affections of 
the liver. In October 1854 he had a more severe 
attack at Rovereto, whence he returned to Stresa not 

6o Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

ill indeed, yet not perfectly cured. This did not, how- 
ever, prevent his resuming his labours, and he worked 
at the Ontoiogia, which he had then in hand, with an 
intensity which looked as if he feared not to be able to 
finish it. In the January of 1855, at the advice and 
entreaty of his physician, he abated something of his 
prodigious labours, on account of the increased internal 
pain and uneasiness which attacked him every evening 
during the process of digestion. 

From the moment when Rosmini's malady began to 
manifest serious symptoms, his brethren became anxious 
to place him in the best medical hands. Dr Teodoro 
De Bonis of Intra, a man of great skill and long 
practice and experience, was called in, who attended the 
illustrious patient with the most assiduous and affec- 
tionate solicitude to the end of his life. Rosmini, both 
because he highly appreciated the talents and the 
affection of De Bonis, and because he did not think it 
right to make too much account of his life or health, 
had declared that he would not in any case have any 
other physician. But Dr De Bonis, who very soon sus- 
pected the serious nature of the malady, fearing a fatal 
issue, wished to be aided in the care of so valuable a 
life by the presence and approval of some other phy- 
sician of repute. Several other medical men were 
therefore brought in to visit the patient under pretext 
of friendly visits, among the rest Dr Salvatore Pogliaghi, 
sent by Alessandro Manzoni, from Milan, who kept up 
a close correspondence with De Bonis on the case. 

But no care could arrest the progress of the disease, 
which gained ground rapidly; some of the symptoms 
gave rise to a suspicion that Rosmini had been 

As the illness continually increased, his friends were 
not slow to conceive a fear of losing him, and a desire 
to see him again for the last time. 

His Last Illness and Death, 6i 

On the 22d May the Marchese Gustavo Benso dl 
Cavour came from Turin with Don Pietro Corte, Professor 
of Philosophy. At the first sight of them the invaHd 
rejoiced, and greeted them both with his accustomed 
kindHness and courtesy, and turning to Corte said, " O 
my dear professor, nothing but my being reduced to such 
a state as this would ever have brought you to see me." 
A reproof which fell sweetly on the sad heart of the 
professor. Rosmini then turned the conversation upon 
Corte s last philosophical productions, expressing him^- 
self much delighted with them, and saying that he 
should have liked to notice them in some journal. 
" But," added he, '' it is well known what friends we 
are." And wishing to comfort his friend, who was 
unable to conceal his affliction, " You will come back 
again," said he, " when I am better, and then we can 
have a long talk about philosophy. But if it should 
please God," (and he raised his languid eyes to heaven 
with a beautiful expression of resignation), " to call me 
to Himself, you will not, I am sure, forget my com- 
panions." The Marchese stayed a few days in the 
house in order to have more time to converse with his 
sick friend, who seeing him much affected on parting, as 
if to soften his grief, told him that he would come to see 
him at Turin and return his visit. 

On the 26th of May, finding that his fever was in- 
creasing, he asked for pen and ink, and wrote with his 
own hand a paper which he folded, and summoning the 
Procurator General and the Secretary, he bade the latter 
seal it, and then said, " I entrust this my writing to 
your fidelity, to be placed in the Archives of the General. 
It contains the act of nomination of the Vicar General 
in the event of my death. As soon as I am gone, send 
it to him to whom it is directed." The words with 
which he begins this act are worthy of insertion here. 

62 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

They are as it were the very device and motto of his 
noble heart : " May the commandment of the Lord " (il 
Precetto del Signore) " shine upon earth with that same 
glory which illuminates it in heaven." " // Precetto del 
Signore " is written in large letters, as if to signify the 
Precept of Universal Charity. This was his practice in 
all his private, and sometimes also in his public writings 
when he had occasion to write the most sacred name of 
Jesus. This was the last thing he wrote with his own 
hand ; it was on the Vigil of Pentecost. 

On that day he would think of nothing but preparing 
himself for the reception of the Holy Viaticum. There 
was as yet no urgent need for this solemn act, but he 
wished to receive it in order to be able afterwards to 
communicate more frequently, being no longer able to 
receive fasting, and he chose a festival day for the pur- 
pose, to testify his faith and religion before all the 
people. At about six o'clock, then, on the morning of 
Whit-Sunday, the Holy Viaticum was brought to him 
from the parish church, by the Arch-priest, accompanied 
by the clergy, and a large concourse of people. The 
sick man received it with the deepest devotion and 
piety, and all in the room were sensibly affected. He 
rose almost to a sitting posture upon the bed, recited 
the Confiteor with a clear and steady voice, and as soon 
as the Arch-priest had pronounced the sacred words, 
Ecce Agims Dei, he desired his Secretary, Don Francesco 
Paoli, who was standing at the left side of his bed, to 
read aloud for him the profession of faith, which is to be 
found in the Bull Injunctitiii of Pius IV., annexed to the 
acts of the Council of Trent. Rosmini at first tried to 
repeat it aloud with him, but as it is very long he was 
obliged to content himself after a while with following 
him in a whisper. By this solemn and public act he 
gave a new and undeniable proof how vivid and how 

His Last Illness and Death. 6 


entire was his faith as a Catholic priest, and how de- 
voted was his attachment to the Holy Catholic Roman 
Church, in which, as it had always been his glory to live, 
so it was now his ineffable consolation to die ; conscious 
that to her honour and service he had consecrated his 
intellect, his learning, his labours, his life, his whole being, 
and for whose exaltation he had always ardently longed 
to shed his blood. 

Convinced that he was soon to die, and having ac- 
cepted death with such edifying and full acquiescence, 
he preserved to the last, and even amidst the acutest 
agonies, not only a calmness, but a wonderful serenity 
and contentment of mind. A few facts and words 
which we have selected from among many as most 
worthy of record will show this. 

When the physicians were conversing around his bed 
about the nature of his malady, the mode of treatment, 
their hopes and fears as to the result, he often took part 
in the discussion, but with the same quiet and Christian 
tranquillity as if he had been speculating concerning 
the body or the life of some other person. He always 
concluded by raising the discourse to higher thoughts, 
saying, that at all events the Will of Divine Providence 
would be fulfilled — that first cause on which all the inter- 
minable succession of second causes depend, whether 
the powers of nature, the efficacy of medicine, the strife 
between the two, the knowledge or the ignorance of 
physicians. In this thought he reposed with marvellous 
tranquillity of soul, ready to live or die as should be 
most pleasing to God. 

He said once to one of his sons and companions, who 
often sat by his bed of pain, " It would be a powerful 
argument to magnify the Divine Goodness, could we 
show how many means God has employed to make 
death less painful, and even sweet to man, comforting 

64 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

him at that time by those numberless alleviations which 
proceed from nature, art, and grace, such as friends, 
physicians, attendants, great variety of food and 
medicine, words of comfort, grounds of hope, examples 
of heroic deaths, and the ineffable supports of grace. 
But such a subject should be treated by a master- 
hand. There would be no lack of matter certainly, but 
the form must be studied." 

To another who came to see him, and who was 
lamenting with tears the dreaded loss of such a Father 
and Master, especially while the Institute was yet 
young, feeble, agitated by tempests, and the object of 
attack to a host of enemies, he replied gently, " Doubt 
not, dear brother, only give yourselves courageously 
and faithfully to the practice of that perfect life which 
Jesus Christ has taught us, and you will see that after 
my death things will go on better than before." 

When his confessor told him that all his children and 
friends were continually praying for him in the words 
of the sisters of Lazarus, Doinine ecce qtiein amas mfir- 
matiir, he raised his eyes to heaven and replied, " Oh 
how good our Lord is ! He loves even sinners. But 
they must pray for eternal life, for this bodily life (and 
he shook his head and smiled) is past remedy.'' And 
then he went on to speak of all creatures bearing with- 
in the image, or at least some traces of the Holy 
Trinity, and of the necessity for sinful man to pass 
through death, in order that this image may be com- 
pleted and perfected in him. 

To another who acted as his amanuensis, headdressed 
these words of comfort, '' Dear brother, let us do the 
Will of God in all things. Fear nothing, he who is 
united to Jesus Christ ought to be content with all 
things. Keep ever in mind the words of our^Lord, Ego 
stun resurrectio et vita!' And to the companion of his 

His Last Illness a7id Death. 65 

studies, who prayed him to remember him in heaven, 
he replied, " When it shall please the Lord God to unite 
me to my end, be assured that I will remember you 
eternally. Meanwhile let us compassionate each other's 
miseries, and do you in these my last moments pray 
for me." 

From the Abate Gian Battista Branzini, his most 
deeply attached friend, who was in great sorrow on his 
account, he concealed his sufferings as much as possible. 
He sent for him often, asked him to sit beside him, 
spoke to him with a smile, and in words of holy cheer- 
fulness, thanking and reproving him at once for his 
anxious affection, and the loving artifices by which he 
sought to give relief to his suffering body. 

To resume the thread of our narrative. 0\\ the ist 
of June, Don Giuseppe Turri, a Veronese priest, came to 
Stresa, sent by the principal inhabitants of St. Zeno, in 
Verona, who were anxious to re-establish the Institute 
of Charity in that city. Rosmini received him affection- 
ately, and replied : " Dear Don Giuseppe, I thank you for 
the love you bear me. I was sure that the Parish of St. 
Zeno still loves my poor Institute. It is a parish well 
disposed to embrace everything good. God grant that 
the general desire may be gratified. Return a thousand 
thanks to them all, for their love to me and mine. If 
I should not see them again, and be able to thank them 
myself, I will pray to God for those to whom I feel my- 
self bound by so much esteem and gratitude. But you, 
Don Giuseppe, do not you leave us so soon." Turri re- 
plied that he must go on the morrow. Rosmini said : 
" Then thank all those good Veronese, ask them to pray 
for me, commend me especially to the Bishop, and before 
you go, come once more to my room, that I may see 
you again, and again express my affection for you." 

II. E 

66 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

These words drew tears from the good priest, who was 
already deeply moved. 

On the 3d of the same month the Barone Malfatti, 
Podesta of Rovereto, came to offer the heartfelt con- 
dolences of that city to the sick man, whom Rovereto 
proudly numbered among her citizens ; and to his own 
courteous and affectionate words the Podesta added a 
letter, addressed to Rosmini, and signed by all the 
members of the municipality, the representative men 
of the city, and the whole body of the clergy. Rosmini, 
being at the time in a state of great suffering, could 
make but a short reply of thanks before the Podesta 
departed. But after some hours, being a little revived, 
he caused the letter, with the signatures annexed, to be 
read to him by the companions who surrounded his 
bed, and then began to speak with warm gratitude, and 
great satisfaction of his fellow citizens, who had shown 
themselves in so many instances unanimous in promot- 
ing the public good, and especially the interests of reli- 
gion, having even placed their city, by a public and 
solemn act, under the patronage of most Holy Mary. 

On the nth he sent for Don Pietro Bertetti, the Pro- 
vincial of the Institute in Italy, and having spoken to 
him of some matters which concerned his successor, he 
gave to him, as his Vicar General, the Manuscript of 
the Constitutions which he declared to be the most 
complete of all the MS. Editions, and the one which he 
wished to be considered authentic. It seemed as if by 
this act he wished to resign the commission which he 
had received from God and the Church, to watch over 
the foundation and government of that Society which 
he had begun about twenty-five years before, which 
had ever afterwards been the chief object of his affec- 
tions, and which he had directed with consummate wis- 
dom and fervent love. I say this because the manuscript 

His Last Ilbtess and Death. 67 

of the Constitutions was, of all his writings, that over 
which he had meditated, studied, and laboured more 
than over any other ; he always kept it near him, and 
continually returned to it as to his first-born and 
dearest child. 

On the 13th, Ruggiero Bonghi, who loved Rosmini 
with the affection of a friend and a disciple, seeing that 
his last hour was drawing near, came to visit him. 
The invalid received him with his accustomed kindness, 
and said: "Behold me, dear friend, between two worlds, 
the world of vanity and the world of truth. I must 
soon appear before the tribunal of God. I\Iy whole 
confidence is in Christ, in Whom each of us can say : 
' I am a partaker with all that fear Thee ' : and also in 
the merits of that great Body of which He is the Head, 
and all we the baptized are members. All our hope is 
in Jesus Christ, and in our union with Him, be this also 
our glory." Then, pressing his hand, he added : " Dear 
Bonghi, farewell." His friend was affected to tears. 
On the following morning D. Paolo Orsi, his dear 
friend, and formerly his master of rhetoric, who had 
come from Rovereto to see him, a few days before, 
seeing that his illness was dangerously increasing, said 
to him : " Dearest Don Antonio, you will let us know 
when you wish." To these broken words, well under- 
stood by the sick man, he replied : " I have been long 
thinking of it, but I doubt not my companions will 
think of it also ; I leave myself entirely in their hands." 
And a little while afterwards, when the secretary 
brought him the letters (which, till within two days of 
his death he always wished to sec), he said to him with 
a smile : " Will you, then, give me Extreme Unction 
to-day } " The secretary repHed, that it should be as 
he pleased, and aftor some words of mutual edification, 
he directed him to make preparations for the adminis- 

68 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

tration of that sacrament. At three o'clock in the 
afternoon, all the members of the Religious community 
were assembled in the sick room, together with some 
members of the college for elementary teachers, and 
others from the novitiate, perhaps about twenty in all, 
and kneeling around the bed, his confessor prepared to 
begin the sacred function. But, Rosmini's watchful 
tenderness remarked that his friend Branzini was 
absent, and he made a sign to the confessor to wait 
awhile. Branzini soon arrived with several other 
persons. In the meantime, the eldest of the Religious 
present, and one of the most intimate with the Father, 
knelt down and began to ask pardon for himself and 
his companions for their faults against him and against 
the rules of the Institute. But Rosmini interrupted 
him almost immediately, and with a firm and calm 
voice spoke thus in the presence of all, both brethren and 
strangers : " Nay, it is I who ought to ask pardon of you 
and of all." " No, no, dear Father," broke in the good 
priest in his turn, not without tears, " say not so, it is 
for me to ask pardon." But the Father continued in 
the same calm voice, " I ask pardon then of you and of 
all for my faults, and especially for not having used all 
that gentleness in correcting some of you, which you 
deserved. I hope, however, that I did not sin in this, 
for sin consists in the malice and bitterness of the 
heart, and this I know I have never felt against any 
one. On the contrary, I must tell you, dearest 
brethren, that I have always loved you, yes, deeply 
loved you, and earnestly desired all good for all of you. 
But as man, so long as he lives in this world, is always 
frail and often fails in some way, even when he is doing 
good, we have always cause for fear and humility, 
because, as Holy Scripture clearly says : Oinnis homo 
mendax, I ask pardon then of you and of the whole 

His Last Illness and Death. 69 

Institute Vv^hich Divine Providence has been pleased to 
commit to my poor care, for thus it often pleases God 
to use the vilest and most worthless instruments for 
His highest ends. Assuredly the Institute has always 
been the treasure of my heart, and to it I ought per- 
haps to have given time which I have employed in 
other things. But our consolation is that in the midst 
of our many failings we have the mercy of God ever 
ready to pardon us, for as St. John says : " If any 
man sin we have an Advocate with the Father Jesus 
Christ the Just" (i John ii. i). As for the rest, I 
recommend to you fraternal union and peace, which 
comprises all blessings, and above all, I recommend to 
you obedience to your superiors." 

Having said this he was silent, and then the Provin- 
cial begged him to give his blessing, not only to those 
present, but to the whole Province and all the Institute, 
which he did, raising his hand and giving the blessing, 
in the usual form. His confessor assisted by other 
priests began to recite the prayers belonging to the 
sacred rite ; but whether from a difficulty in hearing, 
or because he wished to follow and meditate upon the 
holy words, he begged the officiating priest to read more 
slowly. He then seemed altogether recollected in 
God and absorbed in the thought of the mysterious 

When the sacred function had been concluded, amidst 
the tears and audible sobs of all present, they arose, and 
the secretary approaching nearer to the bed, said to him 
that he thanked him in the name of all his companions 
for the words which he had just addressed to them, for 
all the instructions which he had given them in times 
past, and for all the labours endured by him throughout 
so many years in order to lead them in the ways of the 
Lord, and that they promised him all together always 

70 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

to live conformably to his counsels, and so to bear 
themselves as to give him consolation, that the world 
might know by what Father they had been trained, and 
that the Father might be the glory of the sons. 

To this promise, which those present confirmed by 
various signs, Rosmini answered, " Yes truly this will be 
a great consolation to me. If you strive in earnest after 
perfection, you will be a triumph for God, you will be 
also a triumph for me." Having said this he closed 
his eyes and remained in placid repose for the rest of 
the day, nor would he have any one to visit him until 
the hour came for the usual prayers, which were said 
twice every day, at noon and towards evening, around 
his bed by the assembled family. 

These devotions consisted in the recitation of certain 
■prayers, and the application of various sacred relics 
suggested by the faith and affection of friends far and 
near, as we shall presently explain more circumstan- 
tially. Rosmini accepted these things willingly, both in 
accordance with his own faith and piety, and to satisfy the 
pious wishes of benevolent and religious persons, as well 
as to second in all things with simplicity the disposi- 
tions of Divine Providence, which he adored and loved 
even in the desires of good men. Therefore, although 
his own favourite and essential devotion was to repeat 
continually in the simplicity and feelings of his heart 
these words, May the will of God be done in all things, 
yet he was content that all natural and supernatural 
means within his reach, should be used for the recovery 
of his health, should such be the will of God. Among 
those of the latter kind was a relic of the Volto Santo 
of our Lord venerated at Lucca, sent by an illustrious 
professor of philosophy to be applied to the body of his 
friend and master. A friend having sent from Milan 
some water from the sanctuary of our Lady of La 

His Last Illness and Death. 71 

Salette, Rosmini would be devoutly sprinkled with it 
every day. He also had frequently applied to him 
some of the liquid which flowed from the bones of the 
holy martyrs of Concordia brought from the Cathedral 
Church of Oderzo near Venice. With still greater 
earnestness was his restoration sought by means of a 
relic of the Venerable Antonio Maria Zaccaria, founder 
of the Congregation of Clerks Regular of St. Paul, com- 
monly called Barnabites, the cause of whose Beatification 
is now pending at Rome. 

To the use of relics was joined that of prayers, which 
in every corner of Italy, and even in foreign lands arose 
from innumerable hearts to implore Almighty God to 
spare at least a little longer a life by them accounted so 
useful if not necessary. That this should have been 
done by all the members of the Institute of Charity and 
the Sisters of Providence on the first appearance of the 
peril which threatened them of losing and that so 
speedily, their own Father and founder, was in no way 
very surprising, but rather a matter of course. But 
what was extraordinary, and would have excited much 
astonishment, had not the merits of Rosmini been 
already fully acknowledged, was the grief and appre- 
hension produced in so many other minds by the peril 
of that great man, and the fervent prayers and suppli- 
cations poured forth by them to God, the Blessed Virgin 
and all the Saints in heaven to deliver science, the world, 
and the Church from the impending misfortune of his 
premature death. We will give some particular in- 
stances of this general feeling. 

At Bobbio, for example, after the invocation of 
the Blessed Virgin, Salus Infinnorum, St. Charles 
and St. Columban were invoked in his behalf 
In a parish of Switzerland he was commended 
with suitable devotions to St. Gothard, called by 

72 Life of A ntonio Rosniini, 

Baronius the '* Saint of miracles." At Padua many 
prayers were offered at the holy shrine of the Thauma- 
turgus St. Antony, the special patron of Rosmini. The 
parish priest of Oneglia, on the western shore of the 
gulf of Genoa, as soon as he knew from the public 
papers that Rosmini was seriously ill, ordered public 
prayers to be offered and made two novenas for his 
recovery, one to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the 
other at the altar of our Lady. The Salesian nuns of 
Arona, the Ursulines of Miasino and Cannobio, and 
other Religious in the diocese of Novara, the Sacramen- 
tines of Monza, the Daughters of Charity at Brescia, 
the Daughters of Mary at Bobbio, the Carmelites at 
Carpentras, and a number of other communities of both 
sexes, especially at Rome, never ceased during Ros- 
mini's long illness to make novenas, triduums, penances, 
&c., in order, if it might be, to obtain from God to 
spare so precious a life. A priest of Trent, and 
director of a college in that city thus wrote to 
Rosmini : 

The Daughters of Charity, the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, 
and the Daughters of St. Vincent are praying daily for you. Public 
prayers have been offered up for you throughout the month of 
May, at Santa Maria Maggiore, in Trent, and in the parish of 
Pergine. The boys of the evening and oratory schools pray con- 
tinually for you. Our whole city indeed is deeply concerned for 

Mgr. Bartolozzi, the Bishop of Montalcino, not con- 
tent with praying earnestly himself for the recovery of 
his old friend, sent circulars enjoining public prayers to 
all the priests in his diocese. In Rovereto, his native 
city, besides other devotions, a solemn votive mass was 
celebrated at the Arch-presbyterial church of St. Mark, 
the Municipality and the professors of the Gymnasium 
being present. It would be impossible to find room 

His Last Illness and Death. y^ 

here for all similar cases. Suffice it to say that letters 
poured in at Stresa assuring us of this general concur- 
rence of prayers and religious sympathy, not only on 
the part of whole communities and colleges, of ecclesi- 
astics, canons, parish priests, bishops, but also of 
advocates, physicians, men of science, and professors of 
various universities. Persons were not wanting who 
even offered their own lives in exchange for that of 
Rosmini, if only it were in accordance with the Divine 

A Capuchin Father of Tiene thus wrote to another 
priest : 

I can assure you that I do not pass a quarter of an hour with- 
out thinking of Rosmini, and lifting up my heart to God for him. 
O if our Lord would accept instead of his the sacrifice of my 
miserable useless life, how gladly would I make it ! Believe me, 
dear friend, I would offer it most willingly if that most precious hfe 
might be preserved for the benefit of religion and society. 

But, though all these prayers poured forth before 
the throne of that God "Whose mercies are without 
number, and the treasure of His goodness is without 
end," and Who says, "Ask and you shall receive," 
by so many innocent hearts and elect souls, were 
powerless to save a life so dear and precious — we are 
not, therefore, to think they were unheard. On the 
contrary, we believe that they obtained in the highest 
possible way their fullest effect, according to the desire 
of the wise and holy man for whom they were offered, 
viz., that which was best for him in order to eternal life. 
" Let us think of saving the soul," said he, from his sick 
bed to a friend, " all the rest is nothing." We believe, 
then, assuredly, that all these supplications addressed 
to heaven to rescue Rosmini from a premature death, 
contributed immensely to mature his holy soul for 
heaven, establishing him immovably in God, complet- 

74 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

ing his crown of merit, and obtaining for him that in- 
vincible patience, that edifying piety, and above all, 
that indescribable and admirable resignation, and most 
perfect conformity to the Divine Will, which was, as it 
were, the essence of his religion, and rendered him thus 
heroically indifferent to life or death. 

On June 1 5th, the Rector of the College of Elementary 
Teachers presented some of the masters to him, telling 
him that they deeply grieved at his serious illness, they 
had thought to give him some comfort by the assurance 
that they would be more diligent in observing the rules 
which he had given them, and meanwhile they prayed him 
to give his blessing to them, and in them to their com- 
panions. To which Rosmini replied, " You see, beloved 
brethren, how all things pass away and vanish! Well did 
St. Paul say, ' The figure of this world passeth away.' 
This is the harvest time. The countryman who toils in 
the sweat of his brow is rewarded at last by the harvest 
he reaps. So it is with him who serves God and labours 
for Him. I trust in our Lord, in Immaculate Mary, 
and in St. Joseph Calasanctius, the patron of your 
college, that you will all labour like good Religious in 
your work of charity. I assure you that nothing could 
be more grateful or consoling to me than the promise 
you have made, to fulfil more carefully than ever the 
duties of your vocation. Observe, then, the rules most 
carefully, enter deeply into their meaning, and study to 
become daily more faithful and more perfect. Live not 
according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. I will 
never forget you, and in pledge of my remembrance 
receive now my blessing." 

On the evening of the same day Count Stefano 
Stampa came again to Stresa with tidings that Man- 
zoni would come on the following day, accompanied by 
Dr Pogllaghi. Rosmini was pleased to see him again, 

His Last Illness and Death. 75 

and thanked him repeatedly for all the proofs of friend- 
ship bestowed on him by himself, his mother, Donna 
Teresa, now the wife of Alessandro Manzoni, and by 
Manzoni himself. He then summoned Brother Antonio 
Carli, his infirmarian, and the secretary, begging them 
to make preparations to receive his expected friend, so 
that nothing might be wanting to him. This was a care- 
fulness quite habitual with him, for he always treated 
the friends who came to visit him, whether in sickness 
or health, with all that consideration which marks an 
edifying and cordial hospitality. On the i6th, about 
noon, the Professor Alessandro Pestalozza arrived, and 
about four in the afternoon, Alessandro Manzoni. 

The secretary, Don Francesco Paoli, first brought in 
the two physicians, De Bonis and Pogliaghi, and after 
they had finished their questions and observations, he 
approached the bed, and said : " Father, Dr Pogliaghi 
has brought you a better medicine from Milan." The 
Father answered, with an expressive look, " What, is 
Manzoni come then } Why have you made him wait .'' 
Bring him here at once." He went and returned with 
Manzoni and Pestalozza. It was an affectino; sig-ht. 
The two physicians drew back, and the two illustrious 
friends approached the bed, Manzoni on the right, Pesta- 
lozza on the left. The eyes of the sick man turned, 
full of life and afi"ection, first to Manzoni, who had 
entered first; and, taking each other's hand, they gazed 
fixedly on each other. At last Manzoni broke silence, 
and the two friends spoke nearly as follows : — " Oh ! my 
dearest Rosmini, how are you }'' " I am in the hands 
of God, and therefore well. But you, dear Manzoni, 
that you should come to Stresa in this weather, and 
hardly recovered from your illness .'' I am afraid that 
you will suffer for it." " What would I not do to see 
my Rosmini .-'" " Yes, you would perform an act of true 

76 Life of All ton io Rosm in i. 

friendship, and Manzoni will always be my Manzoni 
wherever I may be, in time and in eternity." " We will 
hope that our Lord will still preserve you to us, and give 
you time to bring to a conclusion the many great works 
you have begun ; your presence among us is too neces- 
sary." " No, no: no one is necessary to God ; the works 
which God has begun, He will complete with those 
means which are in His hands, and they are manifold, 
they are an abyss into which we can look only to 
adore. As for me, I am wholly useless, or rather, I fear 
to be mischievous, and this fear makes me not only re- 
signed to death, but even to desire it." "Oh, for the 
love of heaven, do not say that ! What shall we do 
then.?'' *' Adore, be silent, and rejoice." {Adorare, 
tacere e g ode re.) 

Having said this, Rosmini, with extraordinary emo- 
tion, pressed Manzoni's hand more strongly, and drawing 
it closer to him, kissed it. Manzoni, surprised, and 
much disturbed by this act, immediately bent to kiss his 
friend's hand, which he still held ; but perceiving, as he 
said afterwards, that he would thus be only putting 
himself on a level with him, he ran in still greater 
trouble and confusion to kiss his feet, the only way left 
him (to use his own words) of taking his proper place. 
Rosmini in vain protested against this by voice and 
gesture, saying : " Ah, this time you conquer, because I 
have no more strength." And they again clasped each 
other's hands. 

Meanwhile Pestalozza, who at the first sight and the 
first words of the sick man had been moved to tears, and 
had retired into the neighbouring oratory to give vent to 
his grief, re-entered the room. The secretary presented 
him to Rosmini, saying : " See, Father, here is another 
Alessandro.'' Rosmini turning his eyes upon him, 
and stretching out his other hand, said : " Ah, are you 

His Last Illness and Death. ']'] 

here too ? OJi par amiconim!'' And thus pressing the 
hands of both his friends, he tried to draw them as near 
as possible to him. He begged them to remain in the 
house for some days, that they might be able to con- 
verse more at leisure. Pestalozza replied that he was 
grieved not to be able to remain beyond that day, but 
that he hoped to be able to return. " Well," replied Ros- 
mini, " promise me at least to come back soon." " And 
do you," answered the Professor, " promise to let me 
find you better." To which Rosmini replied with his 
usual quickness, " Do you promise not to return too 
late." These words were accompanied by an expression 
of countenance which seemed to say, I am certain not 
to live many days, and I die content, since such is our 
Lord's Will. In a second visit which the two friends 
paid to him, he tried to converse with them upon some 
high questions of religious metaphysics ; but fearing 
that this might do him harm they tried to change the 
subject, and at last begged him not to over-fatigue 
himself, lest it should aggravate his malady. To the 
loving remonstrances of his friends he replied : " Oh, 
that can never hurt the health which is the elixir vitce, 
as are my two Alessandri." At the third visit which 
the Professor Pestalozza paid him before his departure, 
he earnestly craved his blessing. The humble Father, 
after a little agitation, which manifested itself in a slight 
blush, said, " And why not ; I am a priest, and it is a 
priest's office to bless." He then blessed him with 
peculiar earnestness and affection, and kissed him, say- 
ing, " Let us pray to our Lord that His Holy Will may 
be done. Farewell." Manzoni still remained. 

On the 17th the Marchese Gustavo di Cavour 
returned to Stresa with Signor Rinaldi, whom Rosmini 
welcomed affectionately. He then conversed for some 
time with the Marchese. They comforted each other 
with words of Christian friendship and wisdom, and 

yS Life of Ajttonio Rosmini. 

Rosmini dwelt especially on the thought so familiar to 
him, of our common participation, by faith and grace, of 
the life which is in Jesus Christ, observing that the dis- 
solution of the body does not divide friends from one 
another, a nobler and more perfect method of com- 
munication remaining to them, and that still preserving 
their affection they would find the consummation of 
their union in a better life. But with Cavour all other 
thoughts were soon absorbed in the sad conviction 
that this was the last time he should behold his friend 
on earth, and this conviction so overpowered him that 
he could no longer restrain his tears, and so they parted. 
But no sooner had he reached the bottom of the stairs 
than, under a fresh impulse of love and tenderness, the 
Marchese hastily reascended them alone, and entering 
Rosmini's'room again, and asking his blessing rather by 
tears than words, kissed and embraced him again, and 
once more departed. 

On the 19th the Professor Paravia came to see him 
from Turin. He was, as Rosmini said, his oldest friend, 
and had been his fellow-student at the University of 
Padua. The Father was much pleased to see him 
again, and talked for a long time with him of study 
and art, of Padua, Arqua, and Turin, encouraging him 
always to continue as he was now doing, to instil noble 
and religious sentiments into the studious youth of the 
University of Turin. 

On the following day many priests came from both 
sides of the Lago Maggiore to enquire for Rosmini, 
expressing deep sorrow at the nearly impending loss of 
a man who by his extraordinary talents and extraordi- 
nary virtues was so great a glory to the priesthood. 
Rosmini, though overwhelmed with suffering, would see 
them all, and addressed to each some affectionate and 
edifying words. On the same day he had the conso- 

His Last Illness and Death. 79 

lation of hearing part of a letter read from Rome, 
which mentioned the grief of the Holy Father on 
hearing of his severe illness, and the effusion of most 
sincere affection with which he sent him the Apostolic 

On the 24th Tommaseo came to Stresa. He arrived 
just at the hour when the prayers were accustomed to 
be said around the bed of the sick man, who, when he 
was informed of his friend's arrival, said : " Let him 
come — let all come." The Secretary led Tommaseo, 
who was almost blind, to the bed, when Rosmini stretch- 
ing out his arm with a strong effort, threw it around his 
friend's neck, and pressed his head affectionately to his. 
heart. Tommaseo burst into tears and kissed Rosmini 
over and over again, and then kneeling around the bed 
we prayed as usual. After which Rosmini expressed 
his gratitude, and the consolation he felt in thus praying 
together with us, believing that by virtue of the Com- 
munion of Saints united prayers have increased efficacy. 
We all then went with Manzoni and Tommaseo into 
the adjacent oratory and recited the Rosary, the 
Litanies of the Saints, and other prayers for the sick. 

The next morning Rosmini sent for Manzoni, and 
spoke to him for some time in private. He next asked 
to see Tommaseo, who threw himself immediately upon 
his neck, shedding tears and pressing his hand. He 
then knelt for his blessing. " God will bless you," said 
Rosmini, gently. "Try to be always faithful to Him, 
and to keep the great affair of your soul always before 
you. If you save your soul you will save all. And 
pray for me also." But as Tommaseo persisted in his 
request, Rosmini blessed him, and Tommaseo, kissing 
his hand, departed in deep emotion, feeling sure that 
he should never see him again on earth. 

On the same day Rosmini bade his companions con- 
sider what would be the fittest time and mode for 

8o Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

making the recommendation of the soul, and giving the 
ApostoHcal Benediction in artiailo vioi'tis. And it was 
observed that on this as on all other occasions, he 
spoke of his death with a marvellous strength of mind 
and peace of heart, as if he felt intensely those divine 
words : Sive eniin vivimus^ sive inoriviur, Domini sunius. 
" Whether we Hve or die we are the Lord's." To those 
who told him what continual, fervent, and innumerable 
prayers were daily offered up for his recovery, and that 
some had even offered their lives in exchange for his, 
he replied that he was deeply grateful for their affection 
which offered it, but not for the gift. And to some 
who wished to induce him to join his prayers to those 
of others to obtain the preservation of his life, he said : 
" Heaven forbid I should do so ! I wish for nothing 
but what pleases God." 

On the 28th Father Piantoni, a Barnabite, and Rector 
of the College of Longone, came to visit him. Rosmini 
received him with much affection, and asked him to 
bless him with the relic of his venerable founder, Zac- 
caria, which was done ; and then the good Father told 
him that he and all his companions, had besought 
Almighty God fervently and continually to preserve his 
life, but that even if His Divine Majesty had deter- 
mined now to call him to Himself, he might well say 
with St. Paul : " I have fought a good fight, as to the 
rest there is laid up for me a crown of justice " 
(2 Tim. iv. 7). And then he asked him for some 
spiritual remembrance. To which Rosmini replied : 
" I am very thankful to you, and to all your Congre- 
gation, for the prayers they have offered for me : con- 
tinue to pray, dear Father, that the Will of God may 
be done in me, whatever that Will miay be. These 
words of St.- Paul are engraved on my heart, but all my 
hope is in the merits of Jesus Christ. As for the re- 
membrance you ask of me, 1 will give it for us both : 

His Last Illness and Death. 8 i 

May God be ever present to its. All beside signifies 

The next day Mgr. Giacomo Gentile, Bishop of Novara, 
was so kind as to visit him, although hinnself in a very- 
weak state of health. Rosmini thanked him gratefully, 
only gently complaining that he would not stay to dine 
and take some rest. He then begged the Bishop to pray 
for him that he might have grace to take the last great 
step in safety, and begged his blessing. The Bishop on 
his part assured him that he had deeply shared the 
common grief at his sickness and danger, and that he 
would have come sooner to see him had not his own 
illness prevented it, but that he had not failed to re- 
commend him to the prayers of all the convents in 
his diocese. Rosmini thanked him as well as his 
extreme state of weakness would allow. On the same 
day sacred to the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul, 
to whom he had an especial devotion, he received for 
the last time the most Holy Viaticum. 

On the last day of June Rosmini had such frequent 
fainting fits, that the doctors judged his last hour to be 
approaching. Divine Providence was pleased merci- 
fully to console not only the sufferer himself, but his 
companions and friends, by the arrival of Mgr. Luigi 
Moreno, the Bishop of Ivrea, a Prelate of great zeal 
who had long honoured Rosmini by his esteem and 
friendship. The Father was at the time of his arrival 
almost overpowered by a death-like lethargy, so that it 
was feared that he would not recognize the Bishop. 
But having been repeatedly spoken to by his secretary 
he roused himself a little and gave a sign that he had 
heard. The Bishop then entered the room followed by 
Manzoni and several other persons, and with a heart 
deeply moved at the sight of his dying friend, but with 
a calm and dignified bearing, he bent affectionately 

II. F 

82 Life of Antonio Rosmini. ■ 

over the sick man's face and said, " I am come to thank 
your Paternity for all that you have done for me, for 
my clergy, and for the Church. I have been your 
spiritual son as well as many of my Priests when you 
came into my diocese to give us the Spiritual Exer- 
cises. You have laboured long and courageously for 
the good of religion and in defence of the rights of the 
Church. I come then to thank you for all your holy 
labours in our behalf" Rosmini had stretched out his 
hand to the Bishop, and, as he now spake with difficulty, 
he signified as best he could by signs and looks his 
gratitude as well as confusion at the words of the good 
Prelate, who added : — " And now. Father, I pray you to 
remember us when you are in Paradise, and to pray for 
me and for my Church, and for the whole Church of 
Piedmont." The humility of the dying Father restored 
his speech, and in a faint voice he answered, " I am 
confounded ! I am confounded ! " The Bishop re- 
newed his entreaties with an earnestness which mani- 
fested the deep conviction of his soul, and at last 
Rosmini made a sign of assent and added : " I will, I 
will." The Bishop, now satisfied, said that meanwhile 
he would not cease to pray and get others to pray that 
God would vouchsafe to aid him in those awful 
moments ; to which Rosmini answered repeatedly, 
" Thanks ! thanks ! " And these were the last words 
uttered by him with full consciousness, except some 
words of counsel to Manzoni and an ejaculatory prayer 
suggested to him by the Provincial. 

The Bishop had hardly left the room, after giving his 
blessing to the sufi"erer and to those present, when the 
agony became more visible and painful. The eyes 
became dim and wandering, the smile which till now 
had played more or less on lip and brow disappeared, 
sensation became dull, and the convulsions grew more 

His Last Illness and Death. 8 


and more violent, wringing forth at last inarticulate 
moans which were heard at some distance, and which 
sounded to one who attentively listened like— " God 
help me ! Eternal God help me ! " Oh mournful 
sight ! Who could say where now, and how employed, 
was that vast and sublime mind, on which the image of 
God was so deeply traced ? This at least was mani- 
fest, that it no longer swayed and ruled his lower 
nature, and that the exercise of reflection and the use 
of the external senses being suspended, or at least much 
diminished, the body was pervaded only by the blind 
instinct of pain. Then might be clearly understood 
how many and bitter must have been the sufferings 
endured by him during his long sickness with such 
marvellous patience, without one single complaint, and 
with the constant reply to any who compassionated him, 
that all his suffering was as nothing in comparison with 
what the Saviour of the world had borne for us. The 
prayers prescribed by the Church for her dying children 
were recited by those present, and the Papal Benedic- 
tion given. It seemed that while the prayers were said 
the pains of the dying man were mitigated. At the 
same hour the tolling of the church bell gave notice of 
his agony to the people of the Parish who came in 
great numbers to the church, where the Arch-priest 
opening the tabernacle offered prayers for the agonizing. 
Night at last came on, and prayers having been once 
more recited in common around the bed of death, the 
secretary begged all, both brethren and guests, to retire 
to rest, promising to call them should the Father 
recover the use of thought and speech. And this was 
the first and only time after so many months of attend- 
ance that the affectionate Infirmarian Antonio Carli 
was compelled to leave his dearest Father ; he could not 
bear to see him die. The secretary then remained alone 

84 Life of Antonio Rosmtni. 

with one other companion, Paolo Zamboni, of the college 
of elementary teachers. In a letter to his absent 
brethren F. Paoli thus describes that night of painful 
watching : 

We remained one on each side supporting the arms of the dying 
Father, who from time to time stretched out his hands in the form 
of a cross, heaving from the bottom of his breast for more than an 
hour.groansjso loud as to be heard at a considerable distance, and 
which made a mournful contrast to the notes of a nightingale 
in the' adjoining garden ; this bird since his death, now some 
days past, has been no more heard to sing its wonted song. 
I will describe what passed in my mind in those awful moments. 
I seemed to be looking upon the death agony of the Crucified, 
of whom it is written, that "having cried with a loud voice He 
gave up the ghost." And this thought of the Passion of our 
Lord thus represented in His servant was again brought home 
to me, as we moistened his parched lips with a sponge steeped 
in an acid'mixture, and I remembered also that before our Father 
was attacked by his painful convulsions, and subsequent agony 
on the 29th, the doctor had prescribed for him medicated wine 
mingled with an extract of gall, which when he had tasted he 
refused to drink. At last about midnight when the darkness 
became more dense, whilst we were at prayer, the dying Father 
became calm, and I called the doctor. He came with Don 
Vincenzo De Vit and Count Stefano Stampa, and we saw our 
Father modestly compose his limbs and tranquilly expire. Antonio 
Rosmini died at two o'clock on the morning of the 1st July 
1855, a day consecrated in the diocese of Novara to the devotion 
to the most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, a devotion to which 
he had always been peculiarly attached, and which he had always 
earnestly recommended to his spiritual children. I watched by 
the side of the holy dead, saying the office for the departed, 
and at the first dawn of day caused the death bell to be tolled ; 
it was answered by the bells of all the churches round tolling for 
half an hour, according to the custom of the country on the death 
of a priest. The body was left all that day on the bed, in the same 
■composed and devout posture in which death had left it, and was 
visited continually by persons of all degrees. Manzoni, among 
others, was seen repeatedly to enter the room of his deceased 
friend and to pray there with great devotion and affection. It 
->vas observed, also, that when he entered it on the following day 

His Last Illness and Death. 85 

and found no longer the body of his friend, which had been re- 
moved in preparation for the funeral, he seemed to be seeking 
some memorial of him among the few poor objects in the room. 
From among these he chose a Pai'adiso of Dante, and gazed upon 
it, and turned over its leaves with a tenderness, the source of 
which he alone could explain, then, approaching the bed, he leaned 
over it with an expression which seemed to realize Rosmini's 
words, addressed to him but a few days before : Tacere, Adorare, 

We will conclude this brief narrative by two observa- 

First, that, throughout his illness, Rosmini, as far as 
his strength permitted, would always employ it in the 
government of his Institute, but without making any 
provision for it against the time to come, without 
even mentioning his property, his manuscripts, or any- 
thing else left by him to his heirs. 

Secondly, that he died as simply as he had lived ; 
the determined foe of all ostentation, the ardent lover 
of truth. He adored and loved, in all the trials of his 
long sickness, the most wise and holy Will of God, from 
Whom he received with a pious and grateful heart, all 
the spiritual and corporal succours which were pre- 
scribed or recommended to him. He was never seen 
to be anxious about anything whatever, never troubled 
in mind, never disquieted by doubts of any sort. He 
was a man, extraordinary indeed, in his very simplicity. 
He used to say that St. Francis of Sales had greatly 
promoted the progress of asceticism, by presenting 
in his life and writings a new and more generally 
accessible form of the spiritual life. And it seems to 
us, in like manner, that the tenor of the life and death 
of Antonio Rosmini was such, that we all may say to 
ourselves, " So also may I, and ought I to live and die." 
God grant us grace to follow him ! 



(A.D. 1830-1886.)^ 

Father Rosmini had not long received the conception 
of his Rehgious Institute, when, coming to Rome to ask 
guidance from the Holy Father and his blessing on his 
work, he was led by providential circumstances, which 
he always took as his rule of action, to turn his charity 
towards England, of which he writes, " for the restora- 
tion of this once an Island of Saints to the bosom of 
the Church, I would willingly shed my blood." 

He was led to this in great part through making the 
acquaintance in Rome of Luigi Gentili, a young 
Roman Avvocato and Doctor in Laws and Literature. 
Gentili was an elegant scholar as well in Classical as in 
Italian literature. He had also considerable musical 
talent. This led to his making the acquaintance of 
some of the English visitors in Rome, and to his being 
much sought in English society. He thus learned to 
speak a little of the language, while he discoursed with 
the English on his own favourite studies. This, too, 
led to his forming a youthful dream of love for a young 
lady of high birth, whom he met in society. It was a 
mere dream, and nearly as baseless a fabric, for under 
all circumstances it could come to nothing but dis- 
appointment. This disappointment was another step 
of Divine providence, which led him to see the vanity of 

^ It has been thought well to throw the chapters which follow into a 
kind of Supplement to the Life^ in order not to break or confuse the 
thread of the narrative. 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 8 7 

all dreams of earthly happiness. The result was that 
he was missed at first, and soon forgotten in English 
society. Years afterwards, when the English news- 
papers sometimes mentioned his name as " a remarkable 
preacher among the Roman Catholics," I remember a 
relative of mine, a Protestant, much used to Roman 
society, saying, " Can this be that Luigi Gentili with 
whom we used to sing duets in Rome .'' " 

Gentili's disappointment had brought on a severe 
illness. On his recovery, his first thought was to leave 
the world and enter Religion among the Jesuits in 
Rome, having a special devotion to his Patron San Luigi 
Gonzaga. He would have been accepted by them, as he 
was well known and loved by many of the Fathers, 
under whom he had been educated, but his health 
seemed broken, and they were afraid that he would not 
succeed with them ; so his application was refused. 

He turned his thoughts, however, to the Priesthood, 
and the idea came forcibly borne in upon his mind that 
God called him to be a Missionary Priest in England. 
For this he offered his life, and it was accepted. 

At this time Providence led him to make the 
acquaintance of Rosmini. He soon conceived such a 
veneration for him that he earnestly begged him to be his 
director. In the end Luigi Gentili, at his earnest entreaty, 
was accepted by Rosmini as a Postulant of the Institute. 
He remained in Rome attending the Theological Lec- 
tures, residing at the Irish College to study English and 
prepare for the Priesthood. After his Ordination he went 
to Domodossola to make his Noviciate under Rosmini. 

The reconversion of England held always a prominent 
place in his heart. He had made the acquaintance in 
Rome, in September 1830, of Mr Ambrose Phillipps de 
Lisle, the eldest son of the owner of Garendon, and of 
Grace Dieu Manor in Leicestershire, a zealous convert to 
the faith, of ancient family and large property; who, being 

SS Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

in Rome, had applied to the Rector of the Irish College 
for a priest to labour in his neighbourhood. While 
offering the adorable sacrifice, the Rector felt himself 
inwardly moved to suggest the Abate Gentili as in 
every way fitted for the purpose. This led to a great 
friendship arising between Mr de Lisle and Father 
Gentili, and was ultimately the cause of his going to 
reside with Mr de Lisle at Grace Dieu as his Chaplain, 
afterwards to the commencement of the preaching of 
Missions in the neighbourhood, and from thence through- 
out all England. About the time when he made the 
acquaintance of Mr de Lisle, Bishop Baines, Vicar 
Apostolic of the western district of England, having 
his Episcopal residence at Bath, invited Gentili to return 
with him, in order to take a post of importance in his 
College at Prior Park. Father Gentili, having already 
placed himself under obedience to Rosmini, wrote at 
once to ask his views on the matter. In the course of 
his letter he says : 

There was a time when I desired earnestly to go to England, 
and shed my blood there ; and though this desire has not left me, 
I have no longer the presumption to think that I have been chosen 
to remedy any evils of that unhappy nation. May God send 
thither men of holiness and learning. 

Father Rosmini gave his full and glad consent to the 
invitation to send missionaries to England, but deferred 
its fulfilment until Gentili should have passed some time 
at Monte Calvario. This period was, owing to various 
causes, longer than had been expected ; for though 
Gentili reached Domodossola in August 1831, it w^as 
not till 1835 that the first colony of the Institute was 
sent to England. However, at Domodossola Gentili 
reaped the first fruit of his labours for England, in recon- 
ciling to the Church the grand-daughter of Sir Henry 
Trelawney, a Cornish Baronet, himself also a convert, 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 89 

and afterwards a Priest. Sir Henry joined Mr De Lisle 
in urging on Father Rosmini to give Gentili to England. 
Bishop Baines also asked that other Fathers besides 
might be sent as Professors in his new College and 
Seminary for the Clergy of the Vicariate. 

Father Rosmini, following the line he lays down in 
his Constitutions, gave preference to the Bishop's appli- 
cations, and on the 5th of May 1835 he sent Father 
Gentili to Rome with two companions, Belisy and Rey, 
to ask the Holy Father's blessing on their Mission. His 
Holiness Gregory XVI. made specific enquiries about 
the proposed Mission to England, expressing his parti- 
cular satisfaction that " Rosmini had been able to send 
three of his companions to teach Theology and Philo- 
sophy," to which he had particularly desired Rosmini 
to apply himself, as a writer in the depth and soundness 
of whose doctrines he had the greatest confidence. 

Gentili and his companions, before taking leave of the 
Eternal City, visited the Seven Churches and other 
places of special devotion. Gentili, who had been 
familiar with all that was sacred in Rome from his 
earliest youth, was their guide. Before the Image of 
our Blessed Lady at Santa Maria Maggiore, he renewed 
his vows of perpetual dedication to the Madonna, who 
had guided his steps from childhood, and renewed also 
his vows of Religion, and of devoting his life for the 
salvation of souls in the Islands of the West to which he 
was bound. 

They embarked at Civita Vecchia on the morning of 
the 22d of May 1835, to return to Monte Calvario on 
their way to England ; but the Pope and his suite being 
expected to arrive in the town that day, the departure 
of their vessel was delayed till evening. His Holiness 
came on board, accompanied by several Cardinals and 
other members of his Court, and amidst the acclama- 

90 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

tions of the spectators and salvos of artillery from the 

Monsignor Patrizi, afterward Cardinal, who was one 
of the attendants, observing the three missionaries in a 
corner by themselves, pointed them out to the Pope, 
who graciously asked, " Well, when do you start ? " 
They answered, " Holy Father, we are here in readi- 
ness." " That," he replied, " is all well." Then turning 
to the Cardinals, he said, " These Ecclesiastics are going 
to England to teach in the Seminary of Monsignor 
Baines." He then turned to them once more and said, 
encouragingly : " May the Lord bless your Apostolic 
labours ; and when you see the Abate Rosmini and the 
Bishop, salute them both in my name." They then 
kissed his feet, and, having received his final blessing, 
withdrew, full of consolation at the special benediction 
for their English Mission which had so unexpectedly 
and providentially been granted them. That evening 
they sailed for Genoa. 

One of the last counsels of Rosmini to his brethren 
before they departed for England was — 

I recommend you all three to conform yourselves to the English 
ways in all things where there is no wrong, putting in practice the 
words of St. Paul, " I am made all things to all men." Do not 
raise objection to anything in which there is no sin. Each nation 
has its customs which are good in its own eyes. You should con- 
form yourselves to the customs of those people among whom you 
are, which should be good in the eyes of your charity. To be too 
much attached to Itahan, Roman, or French customs is no small 
defect in the Servant of God, whose True Country is Heaven. 

In answer to some objections that had been made 
that the Institute of Charity was too wide and indeter- 
minate in its scope, he said : — 

It would be a mistake to suppose that this Institute proposes 
to embrace all works of Charity (though ready to accept any at the 
call of God). It proposes to itself one only determinate end, and 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 9 t 

that is the sanctification of its members. In this point it differs, 
for example, from the Institute of the Jesuits, which sets two prin- 
cipal ends before its members— their own sanctification and that 
of their neighbour. The end of our Society is more simple, hav- 
ing but one principal and ultimate end— our own sanctification. 
Hence it is essentially a contemplative Institute, aiming at a quiet 
and private kind of life, such as befits a simple priest or layman 
who aspires to evangeHcal perfection. It is a mistake, but too 
widely spread in these days, to suppose that the priesthood in- 
volves in its essence the cure of souls. The Bishop alone is a 
Pastor by his office ; the priests' only mission is to pray and offer 
sacrifice for themselves and for the people, unless they are called 
and sent by the Bishop to the Pastoral work. An humble, hidden, 
and obedient life— a hfe of prayer and study ; this is the aim of 
our Institute, which consists of private persons, whether priests or 
laymen, bound together for their mutual sanctification in the 
duties proper to their state. 

In following this little band of missionaries to Eng- 
land, we naturally ask what was the state of religion in 
the country at that period. They came at a very criti- 
cal time in the religious history of England. Great 
religious changes have taken place through means of 
many providential agencies during the fifty years that 
have passed since their landing. They came just six 
years after the passing of the " Roman Catholic Eman- 
cipation Act." This, in granting political freedom and 
equality with their fellow subjects to the Catholics, and 
especially to Catholic Ireland, had practically swept 
away all that remained on the Statute Book of the 
Penal Laws against the Catholic religion. The religious 
persecution had gradually died out, it had long ceased 
to be exile or death for a Priest to minister in England, 
Scotland, and Ireland. The fines and imprisonment for 
not attending the services of the Established Church 
had impoverished the Catholic nobility and gentry, and 
made the practice of their religion by the poor nearly 
impossible ; but these fines after two hundred years had 

92 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

long ceased to be exacted. These changes had resulted 
from the gradual working of public opinion, and 
partly from Catholics having become socially insig- 
nificant. Before the passing of the Emancipation Act, 
Catholics were excluded by law from all political 
power ; no Catholic Peer could take his seat in the 
House of Lords, no Catholic could be a Member of the 
House of Commons. For nearly three hundred years 
the Catholics even of the upper classes had been almost 
entirely secluded from general society. They lived in 
their country seats almost unknown except to their 
own tenants, and to a few of their more immediate 
neighbours. The penal laws had been in various ways, 
of studied purpose, socially degrading. For instance, 
if a Catholic had a horse of more than £^ in value, any 
Protestant could tender that sum and take the horse. 

The only Catholic places of worship in the country 
were the domestic chapels attached to Catholic gentle- 
men's houses, except in some wild parts of Lancashire, 
Yorkshire, Scotland, and a few other out-of-the-way 
places, where, as in Ireland, the faith of the people in 
the Old Religion had never died out. The externals of 
religion, however, had been reduced to the minimum. 
In towns the Catholic Chapel was always an unpre- 
tending building in one of the back streets. In London 
and other large cities and principal towns some larger 
Catholic Chapels — for they were never then called 
Churches — had been built, externally of the style and 
appearance of Diss'enting Meeting Houses, though 
within exhibiting somewhat of the seemly adornment 
belonging to Catholic worship. 

This necessity for larger churches in towns, was 
owing to the gradual increase of the Catholic working 
classes by emigration from Ireland, except in one or 
two of the manufacturing towns near the part of Lan- 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 93 

cashire known as the Fylde, and called by the people 
" God's own country," because there the Old Faith had 
always remained. From these parts many of the rural 
population had been attracted by the great manu- 
facturing movement then commencing, to Preston, 
Blackburn, and one or tw^o other places, where to this 
day there exists a considerable body of aboriginal 
English Catholics. A large number of the English 
Priests are from this part of Lancashire. 

The Irish emigrants and their descendants formed 
fifty years ago, as they do now, a colony of many 
thousands in London, as also in Liverpool, Manchester, 
Glasgow, and other large manufacturing and commercial 
cities ; and *' exiles of Erin " were to be found in little 
knots in almost every town of any importance. These 
last followed chiefly the trade of " travelling hawkers " 
of small goods, others were agricultural and other 
labourers ; and these small knots of Irish Catholics faith- 
ful to their religion have been the nucleus of perhaps 
most of the new Catholic parishes established in smaller 
towns, within the last forty years, in England and Scot- 
land. Too many of these emigrants, owing to scarcity 
of priests and Catholic schools, and through the general 
low morality of the English working classes, had become 
far from what they had been at home in Ireland ; but 
many English converts owe their faith to the good 
example of some English or Irish Catholic, perhaps of 
the working class, with whom the Providence of God 
brought them into contact. And the many thousands 
of Irish Catholics settled in England have been in a 
very great degree the cause of the multiplication of 
churches, and of churches, built often chiefly by the 
pence of the poor, worthy of the name of churches, in 
almost every large town. Thus nowadays the Catholic 
Church presents herself to the English people in a form 

94 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

not undignified, and is able to do a work for the restora- 
tion of the Catholic Faith in England ; especially since 
the re-establishment of the Hierarchy and the increase 
in the number of Priests, Religious, Schools, and of the 
means for their support ; which she had hardly begun to 
do fifty years ago, when the first missionaries of Ros 
mini's Institute of Charity landed in England. 

The non-Catholic population of England consisted 
of the members of the Anglican or Established Church, 
and of the Protestant Dissenters, who were very 
numerous. The older sects were chiefly the Inde- 
pendents, Baptists, Quakers, and Unitarians. The 
Established Church had never had much hold on the 
masses, who would probably have remained Catholics, 
if there had been priests to instruct them ; and during 
the eighteenth century it had fallen into a state of deep 
religious lethargy. Many of the higher Clergy and 
educated laity were rather more Socinian Rationalists 
than Orthodox Christians. About the middle of the 
eighteenth century a great revival of religious earnest- 
ness and belief in the Christian doctrines had begun in 
the Anglican Church, originated by John Wesley, whose 
followers, however, withdrew from the Church of Eng- 
land where they were generally discountenanced and 
opposed, and formed the large body of modern Dis- 
senters known as Wesleyans or Methodists. 

Early in the present century, Charles Simeon, a 
Clergyman of the Church of England, having a Church 
in Cambridge, of the same earnest Christian School as 
Wesley, succeeded in attracting a considerable following 
from among the young men preparing for the Anglican 
Ministry at that University, and this movement spread 
in the Church of England, and drew into it many of 
the most religious of the laity. Among these the great 
philanthropist William Wilberforce, and the late Earl 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 95 

of Shaftesbury, represent two generations of as earnest 
Christians as have ever been seen outside the Catholic 
Church, and who, Hke the Samaritans in the days of 
our Lord, put too many of the children of the Old 
Religion to shame. 

As this party grew in the Anglican Church, their 
tendency was to assimilate their services and preaching 
to those of the Dissenters, which were of a much more 
fervent and popular character than their own. 

The older Dissenters were descended from the old 
Puritan party in the Church of England, and held 
doctrines similar to the Lutherans or Calvinists of the 
Continent. There had always been two opposite 
schools in the Established Church. For it must be 
remembered that it was a compromise effected under 
State authority between the Puritan or Ultra Protestants, 
who rejected altogether the Catholic doctrines on the 
Church and Sacraments ; and those who believed with 
Sir Thomas More all the old Catholic doctrines, and 
wished to retain them, though they were not ready, like 
him, to give their lives rather than reject the Papal and 
accept the Royal Supremacy. 

The revival of the more Protestant doctrines which 
took its origin at Cambridge, was met by a counter 
movement and reaction of the Catholicising School at 
Oxford. An additional stimulus was given to this 
reaction by agitations on the part of the Radicals and 
Political Dissenters to bring about the disestablishment 
and disendowment of the Anglican Church, so as to 
reduce all religious denominations to the voluntary 
support of their own members. 

The first beginning of the religious reaction at Oxford 
was in the form of what were called The Oxford Tracts. 
These originated with Mr (now Cardinal) Newman, 
Pusey, Keble, Froude, and others. They were based on 

96 J^if^ of Antonio Ros^nini. 

the principle of a return to the teaching concerning the 
nature and institution by Christ of the Visible Church 
and of the Sacraments, as taught in the writings of the 
Holy Fathers of the Four First Centuries, to whom the 
Church of England in her Canons points, as the most 
authoritative interpreters of the Holy Scriptures of 
the New Testament. The same ideas were propagated 
in their parishes by Archdeacon (now Cardinal) Man- 
ning, Faber, Robert and Henry Wilberforce, and by 
many others of the Oxford School. 

Many of these, and very many of their disciples have, 
in the course of the last forty years, become Catholics, 
but at the time of which we are speaking, in 1835, none 
of them had the notion that the sound premises they 
had laid down in defending whatever was Catholic in 
the Anglican Church, would ultimately lead them to 
the Catholic Church from which their forefathers had 
separated three hundred years before. These conver- 
sions were for the most part the pure logical outcome of 
the study of the Holy Fathers and of the History of the 
Ancient Church, aided by the Divine Spirit, and were 
almost wholly without contact with the Catholic Clergy 
in England. For, with few exceptions, they were wholly 
unknown, and their churches unvisited by Anglicans, 
and it was a rare thing when any Anglican clergy or 
laity of the educated classes happened to make the 
acquaintance of a Catholic priest, until they came to ask 
to make in his hands their act of submission to the 
Catholic Church. 

Such were some of the religious elements that were 
working in English Society fifty years ago. It would be 
wrong, however, to omit to mention one other important 
moral element, and this is the writings of Sir Walter 
Scott, his Poems and Romances. They represent among 
the English-speaking races what Manzoni's Proniessi 

Eiiglish Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 9 7 

Sposi exemplified in Italy, who, indeed, stated to Scott, 
as we learn from Don Paoli, that he considered himself 
his disciple. Sir Walter Scott was the founder of a school 
of pure literature, appealing through the imagination to 
the mind and heart The immense popularity of his 
works is a sign that they supplied a want. It was a 
high, noble, religious, and moral sentiment which these 
works have done more to foster or create among- us 
than perhaps all the directly religious books that had 
been published for centuries. They purified the ideas 
of the young, especially on the subject of love, raising 
the minds of young men to a pure, noble, chivalrous 
feeling towards woman, and raising the minds of young 
women to look for this sentiment on the part of men. 
These works teach the spirit of the Christian gentleman, 
loyalty to king and country, a great respect for religion 
and for truth and honourable dealing. Perhaps most of 
those who have become Catholic during the last fifty 
years can trace the attractions of Divine Grace, through 
the Providence of God, in the pure literature which came 
into their hands in early youth, as much as to the teach- 
ing and high example of religious men, whether of the 
Puritan or Catholic school, and also to their reading of 
the English Bible, with which all were taught in their 
homes to be familiar from their childhood.^ 

But to return from the great theme of religion in 
England to the little grain of wheat there planted in 
the year 1835 — the first Missionaries of the Institute of 

In 1829 Bishop Baines, Vicar Apostolic of the Western 
District of England, had bought the large mansion and 

1 Great numbers of the working class came first to think of the Okl 
Faith as the true one, through reading Cobbeti's Histoiy of the Reforma- 
tion, which shows how England was robbed of the Old Faith of our 
Fathers by the profligate King Henry VIII., and the new religion estab- 
lished by persecution. 

il. G 

98 Life of A nton io Rosin mi. 

estate known as Prior Park, the site of an old Priory, 
which stands beautifully in its elevated and wooded 
grounds, south-east of Bath, about a mile distant from 
the city. Here he had founded a grand educational estab- 
lishment, St. Peter's College for the junior class, and St. 
Paul's, to serve both as a College for the higher branches 
of learning and as a Seminary for the education of his 
Clergy. It was to fill Chairs in these Colleges that our 
Fathers were invited to England. They arrived at 
Prior Park in July 1835. Father Rey was made Pro- 
fessor of Theology, Belisy, still a Deacon, of French, and 
Father Gentili, of Philosophy ; he was also specially 
charged by the Bishop with the direction of the chant- 
ing and ceremonial of the Choir and Sanctuary, to 
mould them after the Roman usages. Thus he intro- 
duced the custom of vesting boys in cassock and surplice 
when assisting in the Church, as is now general in 
Colleges and in Churches where there is a surplice 
Choir. He had also the duty of hearing the Confessions 
of the greater part of the Community, and of giving 
public instructions on Sundays and Holy-days in the 
College Chapel ; also of teaching the art of preaching 
to the young Ecclesiastics. For two years he was 
President of St Paul's College. 

In Passion Week of 1836, Father Gentili, at the 
Bishop's request, gave the Spiritual Exercises to all the 
Masters and students. This was one of the first public 
Retreats after the manner of St. Ignatius ever given in a 
secular College in England ; and the effect it produced 
was great, even upon some who had rather vehemently 
opposed the introduction of such a novelty. Among 
the Masters present at the Retreat were Moses Furlong 
and Peter Hutton, who a little later sought admission 
into the Institute. In July 1837, Father Rosmini, at the 
earnest request of the Bishop, sent four more of his 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 99 

brethren — Father John Baptist Pagani with three lay- 
brothers, and soon after Father Angelo Maria Rinolfi, 
then recently ordained priest, and Fortunatus Signini, a 
cleric in Minor Orders. Rosmini wrote on this occasion : 

Together with this letter I send another little band of my com- 
panions, in proof of my desire to second your Lordship's views 
and wishes, as repeatedly exposed to me by Don Gentili, and also 
by your own Very Reverend Vicar General. I commend these 
companions as I did the first to your Lordship's charity. I hope 
that under Gentili's direction they will serve your Lordship in 
such a way as fully to accomplish their duties and correspond with 
their vocation. They have all given proof of solid goodness of 
life, and the first of them, John Baptist Pagani, is truly and in every 
respect an excellent man, capable, also, of directing an establish- 
ment. He was a Superior in the Urban Seminary at Novara, and 
is the author of various ascetical books which are much esteemed. 
He will also be able to take Don Rey's place [who had left] in the 
Divinity classes. If your Lordship will deign to give me, after a 
time, some account of the deportment of these my new companions, 
it will serve to enlighten and direct me. 

This letter has been given as showing clearly the 
mind of Father Rosmini ; the companions he sends are 
to serve the Bishop, while remaining under the direction 
of their own Superior ; and the mention of Father 
Pagani's great gifts and experience as a Superior 
perhaps hints at the probability of his being substituted, 
as we find a little later, for Father Gentili as Superior 
of the brethren in England. 

By Father Pagani's means the members of the Insti- 
tute kept a good deal more to themselves than before. 
At this time Father Gentili was Rector of the Religious 
Community, and Father Pagani Minister; but in 1838 
the Bishop appointed Father Gentili Chaplain and 
Confessor to the Convent at Spetisbury, with the charge 
of the Mission in the neighbourhood. In the next 
appointment, therefore, Father Rosmini constituted 
Father Pagani Rector of the Community. 

1 oo Life of A ntonio Rosmini. 

About this time, namely, in December 1838, the Rule 
of the Institute had been solemnly approved by the 
Sovereign Pontiff, and on the 25th March, Fathers 
Pagani and Gentili, as has been already said, made 
their vows in the Chapel of the Convent at Spetisbury, 
and Emilius Belisy, Angelo Rinolfi, Fortunatus Signini, 
and Peter Zencher made their vows, in the hands of 
Bishop Baines, acting by delegation from Father Ros- 
mini, in the College Chapel of Prior Park. At the same 
time Father Furlong, who had obtained leave to join 
the Institute, made his preparatory vows, and another 
of the Professors was accepted as a Novice. 

During the summer vacation of 1839, Father Rosmini 
summoned Fathers Pagani, Gentili, and Belisy to 
accompany him to Rome, in order to make their act of 
thanksgiving to the Holy Father for the favour he had 
bestowed on the Institute in constituting it one of the 
recognised Orders of the Church Militant. They were 
also, together, to make the final vow to the Sovereign 
Pontiff. These vows they took, as has been related, in 
the Catacombs of St. Sebastian. The whole party, with 
the exception of Father Gentili, who remained for a 
time in Italy on account of his health, returned to Prior 
Park in September, for the recommencement of college 

The Bishop, as was not unnatural, had been some- 
what annoyed at several of his best men having joined 
the Institute, and though perfectly friendly, intimated 
to Father Pagani that he should not require the services 
of the Fathers after the end of the scholastic year. 

Bishop Walsh, Vicar Apostolic of the Central Dis- 
trict of England, happened, providentially for our 
Fathers, to be staying at that time for a few days at 
Prior Park, and hearing that they would be free of their 
engagements, he invited them to undertake a similar 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. loi 

charge at his College and Seminary of St. Mary's, 
Oscott, near Birmingham. He ofifered for their residence 
Old Oscott, which remained the College for the younger 
boys for some time after the new College was built. He 
also invited Father Pagani to accept the Pastoral charge 
of Loughboro, a considerable manufacturing town, where 
a good Chapel, of the old-fashioned sort, and a substan- 
tial presbytery already existed, and where the Fathers 
might build additional accommodation, so as to have a 
Community House of their own as a pied de terre in 
England. Both offers were gladly accepted ; that of the 
Mission of Loughboro was all the more desirable, be- 
cause it was near the estates of ■ our great friend, Mr de 
Lisle of Garendon. After Father Gentili's visit to 
Italy, he returned in 1840 to undertake for a time the 
Chaplaincy at Grace Dieu Manor, the second place be- 
longing to the family, where Mr Ambrose de Lisle, 
having lately married, had taken up his residence. 
From Grace Dieu as a centre, P'ather Gentili, with the 
zeal of a St. Francis of Sales, in all weathers, on foot 
from the moment he had finished Mass till a very late 
hour at night, penetrated into all the villages for many 
miles round, and made acquaintance with the people. 
Many converts to the faith was the result, and seed was 
sown that was reaped many years later by other 
labourers, especially by the Conceptionists under the 
saintly Father Cooke, who had parochial charge of 
Grace Dieu Mission for a time, also by our own 
Fathers, who served for many years Grace Dieu and the 
neighbouring Missions of Whitwick and Sheepshed, until 
their removal to other fields of labour. The parochial 
charge of Loughboro has always remained in our hands, 
served, as has been said, first by Fathers Pagani, Signini, 
Ceroni, and afterwards by Fathers Gentili, Rinolfi, 
Fordham, and, in course of time, by Father Egan, who 

I02 Life of Antonio Ros7nini. 

has been Rector there for the last thirty years, and 
has now Father Garelli as his assistant. 

When Bishop Baines heard that the Fathers had been 
invited, and had accepted the Mission at Loughboro, 
with a view of forming a Noviciate of their own in that 
neighbourhood, he, with a view of retaining them in his 
Vicariate, asked and obtained from Lord Clifford the 
offer of his large House at Cannington, lately vacated 
by the Benedictine Nuns, who had removed to the Mid- 
land District Father Pagani visited the place, and re- 
ported favourably upon its fitness for the purpose ; but 
as a condition was made by the Bishop that all the 
members of the Community should be employed only 
in the Western District, the offer of Lord Clifford was 
gratefully declined ; as were also other generous offers 
made by Colonel Vaughan of Courtfield, and Sir Henry 
Trelawney,of establishments on their estates — both these 
were in the Vicariate of Bishop Baines. 

In 1842 Father Gentili was withdrawn from the 
Chaplaincy at Grace Dieu during the absence of Father 
Pagani in Italy. Fathers Furlong and Hutton being 
free from their engagements at Prior Park, were called to 
Italy to complete their Noviciate. Father Pagani re- 
turned to England in October 1842, and shortly after- 
wards, leaving the charge of the Mission of Loughboro 
in the hands of Father Gentili, went to reside at Old 
Oscott, taking with him Fathers Belisy and Signini. 
Fathers Ceroni and Rinolfi remained to assist Father 
Gentili at Loughboro, so as to leave him more free for 
calls of charity beyond the local Mission. 

In this year (1842) Father Gentili, in company with 
Mr and Mrs Ambrose de Lisle, paid a visit to Oxford. 
They were, I think, introduced by their friend Dr 
Bloxam, Fellow of Magdalen College, to Mr Newman,^ 

1 I am not sure whether they saw Mr Newman. He was at that time 
so closely watched l)y the newspapers and their correspondents, who 

English Mission of the FatJiers of Charily. 103 

then residing at Littlemore, near Oxford, which was the 
first attempt at a kind of revival of Monasticism in the 
AngHcan Church. During this visit they also made the 
acquaintance of William Lockhart, a young Scotchman, 
who had just taken his B.A. degree, and was residing 
with John Dobree Dalgairns, Frederick Bowles, and one 
or two other young graduates of the University, with 
Mr Newman in the house at Littlemore. Messrs Dal- 
gairns and Bowles afterwards followed Mr Newman on 
his reception into the Catholic Church in 1845, ^^^^^ 
joined him in the foundation of the English Oratory. 

In coming to Loughboro it had been the intention of 
Father Pagani to begin the building of a Noviciate. 
Land near the town had been sought for, but it was 
ultimately decided that the outskirts of a large town 
were unfitted as a site for the Noviciate of an Institute 
that aimed at a spirit of contemplation. A plot of 
ground was ofi'ered for sale, consisting of two fields of 
about nine acres in extent, completely in the country. 
These were purchased. The situation was good, well 
wooded, on a gentle eminence overlooking the rich 
expanse of Leicestershire, seven miles from Loughboro, 
not far from Ratcliff"e village, and Sileby and Syston 
stations. The old '' Roman Road " to the north is the 
approach to the property. Forty years ago it exhibited 
an equal mixture of green turf and deep mud, now it is 
a good road to the College. The designs for the build- 
ing were by Pugin, the great restorer in England of 
mediaeval architecture. The foundations were laid in 
May 1843, the dedication being to our Crucified 
Redeemer and the Immaculate Mother. In August 

wanted to make out that he was a Catholic in disguise, that he avoided 
Catholic visitors in order not to give occasion for gossip. He had not 
then made up his mind that it was his duty to submit to the Papal juris- 
diction. He was not to be hurried, and would not put himself in the way 
of lieing misunderstood. 

104 I-if^ of Antonio Rosmini. 

1843, within the Octave of the Assumption, Mr Lock- 
hart, feehng it impossible to resist his conviction that the 
AngHcan Church had fallen into fatal Schism in 
separating from the Holy See, came to visit Father 
Gentili, in whose holiness and learning he had con- 
ceived great confidence, from the few hours he had spent 
in his company at Oxford. After making a few days 
Retreat under him at the Chapel House at Loughboro, 
he was received into the Catholic Church, and a little 
later entered as a Postulant of the Order. He remem- 
bers first visiting Ratcliffe when the foundations were 
just above ground. 

The following October 1843, Fathers Hutton and 
Furlong returned after finishing their Noviciate in Italy, 
bringing with them Dominic Cavalli, then a student in 
theology. There arrived at the same time the two 
Sisters of whom mention will be made in the chapter 
on the Sisters of Providence, who came to found a House 
at Loughboro. 

During this year (1843) and the next, the Fathers of 
Charity had the honour of introducing into England 
four works of piety and charity, till then unprac- 
tised, but now forming an integral part of Parochial 

The first of these was the Preaching of Missions ; the 
second was the Fo7^ty Hours' Exposition of the Blessed 
Sacrament, introduced as a part of the Mission ; the 
third was the Month of Mary, with its daily devotions 
in honour of our Blessed Mother in heaven ; the fourth 
was the conclusion of the Mission with the solemn 
Renovatio7i of Baptismal Vows. 

These devotions were introduced by Father Gentili 
in the Missions preached by himself and Father Furlong, 
and he delighted to speak of them as coming direct 
from Rome, where he had been accustomed to them from 

English Mission of the Fathei's of Charity. 105 

his earliest childhood. The Exposition of the Blessed 
Sacrament was always a part of the Exercises of the 
Missions, and he used to say that the great fruit of 
the Mission always began when our Lord Himself 
appealed to the Faith of His people from His Throne 
above the Altar. 

The first Mission preached was in the Church at 
Loughboro. It was given by Fathers Gentili and 
Furlong. The former, though far from perfect in 
English, was by nature and training a most powerful 
and persuasive preacher. Father Furlong had a great 
gift of natural eloquence which he had carefully culti- 
vated, especially by studying the manner of Italian 
preaching, and judiciously modifying it to an English 
form. But beyond this, he had that intense earnest- 
ness which comes from profound conviction of the 
eternal truths and of Christ crucified. The success of 
this first Mission was great ; almost every Catholic in 
the town approached the Sacraments, and sixty- 
three Converts were instructed and received into the 

They repeated the same exercises in the neighbour- 
ing villages of Sheepshed and Whitwick on the 
Garendon Estate, in each of which Chapels had been 
opened by the zeal of Mr de Lisle. At Whitwick a 
Calvary had been set up on a rock. The scenery there, 
in the Charnwood Hills, is like that of the Tyrol, and 
from that Calvary Father Gentili often addressed multi- 
tudes of Protestants, more than could ha^^e been 
contained in any ordinary church. The result was that 
many were led to the Old Faith, and their descend- 
ants form a body of some hundreds of staunch 
Catholics of the English working class. They are 
edifying in their lives, and used to be great lovers of 
the ancient Roman Chaunt, which they learned from 

io6 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Father Gentili and Mr de Lisle, who was devoted during 
his whole life to the Gregorian music. It is to be 
hoped that this taste once established will not be easily 
eradicated among a people like those of Sheepshed, for 
instance, who are specially gifted with a love of music, 
and who took to Gregorian music con amove. 

The services of the Fathers of Charity were soon 
called for, to give Missions in more important places, as 
well as Retreats to the Clergy and to Convents. In 
1843 Father Gentili gave the Spiritual Exercises to 
the Clergy of the York and Northern District at 
Ushaw College, the Vicars Apostolic, Bishop Mostyn, 
and Bishop Briggs attending the whole Retreat. He 
preached a Retreat also at the Convent at Micklegate, 

The two Fathers gave Missions also at Liverpool, 
Coventry, and Leicester, the two former in the 
Churches of the Benedictines, the latter in that of 
the Dominicans. 

The Mission of Coventry will be long remembered. 
It was there that for the first time in any public Church 
and Churchyard in England for three hundred years, 
was made a Procession carrying an Image of the Blessed 
Virgin. The occasion was as follows : — In old Catholic 
times Coventry was famous for its devotion to religion ; 
the very name was originally Co7tventry, meaning the 
town of many Convents. There was an annual festival 
during the Octave of Corpus Christi, when the Blessed 
Sacrament was carried in Procession, and all the towns- 
people vied with each other in contributing offerings of 
flowers, lights, and rich tapestry to do honour to the 
Procession of the Sacred Host. The festival is still 
kept up, as a fair time and merry-making, but its religi- 
ous meaning is gone. Its celebration and great point 
of attraction has been changed into the very indelicate 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 107 

exhibition of the Lady Godiva, of legendary fame, 
riding through Coventry. This representative pageant 
dates only from the days of Charles II., and, it may be 
imagined, is anything but moral in its tendency. 

One object of the Mission at Coventry was to deter 
the Catholics from being present at this disgraceful ex- 
hibition, and well did they obey their Pastors, Father 
Gentili promised them that if they abstained from the 
Pagan Procession, they should have their own Proces- 
sion, such as had not been seen in Coventry for three 
centuries, on the last day of the Mission. He fulfilled 
his promise. On the last Sunday, a beautiful Image of 
the Blessed Virgin was unveiled in the church and 
blessed. Father Gentili preached a most eloquent 
sermon on Mary Immaculate the Mother of Purity. 
At the conclusion he said : " Well, they have had their 
procession of tJieir lady, we will now have our proces- 
sion of our LadyT Then the beautiful Procession of 
Clergy, youths in surplices, and maidens in snow-white 
veils, all arranged under his eye, accustomed to the im - 
memorial usages of Rome, moved down the spacious 
Church and around the ample Churchyard, singing the 
Litany of Loretto, through an immense crowd, chiefly 
of Protestants, who, by their respectful demeanour, 
showed that they had, at least in part, taken in the 
meaning of the religious pageant. 

Missions and Retreats, Processions and Exposition 
of the Blessed Sacrament, the Month of Mary and the 
Surpliced Choir, are things " common as household 
words " now-a-days in England, Ireland, and Scotland. 
Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Redemptorists, Pas- 
sionists, other Orders, and the Secular Clergy, are 
frequently and successfuly engaged in preaching Mis- 
sions and in promoting all these devotions. But in the 
da}'s I am speaking of, near half a century ago, they 

io8 Life of A7itonio Rosniini. 

were new ; and though it is already, I doubt not, 
generally forgotten who first introduced them, it is not 
perhaps savouring too much of a vain esprit de corps if, 
in these few words on the saintly Father Gentili, it is 
said how much he had to do in the planting of these 
Flowers of England's '' Second Spring." 

It was while our Fathers were working in the midst 
of "the harvest" that the Noviciate at Ratcliffe was 
opened. It was built as a small Religious House, with 
no view of its ever being a College, and its original 
name was "Calvary House," called after the Mother 
House, Monte Calvario, at Domodossola. The first 
detachment from Loughboro reached Ratcliffe very 
much after the simplicity of the Holy Family in their 
flight into Egypt. A donkey-cart conveyed Father 
Ceroni the Novice Master, Brother William Lockhart 
Student of Theology, and Brother James Bowen tailor 
and lay brother, together with their necessary things 
and domestic belongings ; these did not include a table 
or chairs, which had to be improvised with a few 
rough boards and blocks of wood. By these three the 
Chapel fittings were arranged ; and the first Mass was 
said 2 1 St November 1844, being the Feast of the 
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin, by Father Peter 
Hutton, who took possession that day as Rector of the 

Before leaving England in the spring of 1844, Father 
Pagani had accepted provisionally the offer made 
him by the Bishop of an important Mission in Bir- 
mingham, but through the instrumentality of Father 
Gentili the plan was frustrated, his reason for interfering 
being that he thought its acceptance would make it 
impossible to continue the scheme of itinerant Missions, 
which he believed a more important work. The General 
wrote to Gentili a severe reprimand for his interference 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 109 

with the plans of his superior, telHng him that he had 
been " led away by a delusion of Satan, sub specie bonir 
He called on him " to renounce for ever his own will if 
he wished to be a worthy son of the Institute of 
Charity." Gentili wrote in reply a most penitent letter. 
He concludes by saying that he had not dared "to 
celebrate Mass since the receipt of the General's letter, 
and that the thought of what he had done was ever 
present to his mind." No one of us ever received such 
reproofs as Gentili, because no one was so capable as 
he of profiting by humiliations. The work of his sancti- 
fication was to be speedily accomplished. He had but 
four more years to live. 

In September 1844 Fathers Gentili and Furlong were 
invited by the munificent John Earl of Shrewsbury, 
to Alton Towers, to preach Missions in the Churches 
on his Estates. They preached Missions also in Liver- 
pool, Banbury, and Grantham, with much spiritual 
profit to the Catholics, and instructed and received 
many Protestants. In the Lent of 1845, on the invita- 
tion of Bishop Griffiths, Fathers Gentili and Furlong 
preached Missions in London and Southwark, and 
Father Gentili gave the Retreat to the London Clergy 
at St. Edmund's College, when the Clergy made him a 
very generous offering collected among themselves, in 
aid of the building of Ratcliffe College, which was 
opened in 1846 for the education of boys, with a special 
view to the encouragement of vocations to the Religious 
and Ecclesiastical state. Afterwards the design of the 
College was enlarged, a new wing and larger Chapel 
were added, in which there was room for the Community 
and students, as well as for a small congregation outside 
the chancel screen ; converts having already begun to be 
made from the neighbourhood. In this Chapel was 
buried Lady Mary Arundell, who will be spoken of in 

1 1 o Life of Anton io Rosm in i. 

a future chapter. Ratcliffe gradually grew into a larger 
College than had been contemplated at first. Father 
Hutton had been appointed its first President in 1850, 
and under his judicious care it continued for more than 
thirty years, until his lamented death in 1883. R.I.P.^ 
His life was full of merits gained in the education of 
more than one generation of Catholic youths, many 
of whom are now excellent religious men, priests, and 
laymen in almost every walk of life — in the army, in 
Parliament, at the Bar, in the literary, artistic, medical, 
and other professions. 

At Christmas 1845 the Mission of Sheepshed was 
undertaken, and Father Signini went there as its first 
resident priest. Sheepshed is a large manufacturing 
village near Loughborough. Here a small country 
Church, designed by Mr Welby Pugin, had been built 
by Mr de Lisle. In 1847 the parochial charge of the 
important seaport town of Newport, in Monmouthshire, 
was accepted by the Fathers. Father Hutton had gone 
there as its first Rector. He was succeeded by Father 
Rinolfi ; and when the latter was appointed permanently 
to the work of preaching Missions, Father Cavalli took 
his place and has been in parochial charge of Newport 
up to the present date (1886). This year the Fathers 
have built a second large Church near the Docks. 
The priests in charge are Fathers Cavalli, Bailey, and 

^ There is an excellent Memoir of Father Hutton, written by Father 
Hirst, a pupil of the late venerable President, and his successor next after 
Father Richmond, who held the office immediately after Father Hutton, 
until reappointed to the work of preaching Missions, in which he had 
been engaged with much success for some years. During the President- 
ship of Father Hutton, the College had been greatly enlarged, the Quad- 
rangle and Cloister completed, with a large and handsome Church. It is 
a College intended for the service of those who desire a liberal education 
for their sons, but one less expensive than that of the larger Colleges. 

E7iglish Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 1 1 1 

The mission of St. Marie's, Rugby, was accepted in 
1850, and Father Bertetti, formerly Canon Theologian 
and Rector of the Seminary at Tortona, who had come 
from Italy about a year before, was appointed Rector, 
with Father Lockhart as his assistant. The Mission of 
Rugby was undertaken with a view of making the 
Noviciate House there; since Ratcliffe having^'been 
converted into a College for secular students, it was 
thought desirable to place the Novices elsewhere. 
Captain Washington Hibbert, though himself at that 
time a Protestant, had built— Pugin being his archi- 
tect—the small but beautiful Church which forms the 
south aisle and Lady Chapel of the existing Church at 
Rugby. Its beautiful steeple and bells were the last 
act of the munificence of this great benefactor, who 
soon after his first gift to the Church received the 
grace of conversion to the Ancient Faith, and all his 
subsequent acts were pious thankofiferings for this 
grace. He presented the Fathers with a large plot of 
ground attached to the Church, on which they built, 
with their own means and those furnished by various 
benefactors, the Noviciate House known as St. Marie's 
College. This was intended to serve as the resting-place 
of the itinerant Missionaries of the Order. Captain 
Hibbert also built the schools, and Mrs Hibbert ^ the 
beautiful little Convent for the Sisters. The whole 
group of buildings, all in the purest style of Gothic 
architecture, the college, schoois, and church, with 
Its graceful tower and spire, form a most beautiful 
picture. From the tower the Angelus and musical 
chimes ring out three times each day. 

^ Captain Hibbert had married the widow of the Honourable Colonel 
Talbot, the mother of the last Earl of Shrewsbury of the Catholic line. 
Mrs Hibbert was of the ancient Catholic family of the Tichbournes of 
ichbourne, who can trace their pedigree beyond the Norman Conquest. 

112 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Father Bertetti was called away from Rugby in 1850, 
when he had only just begun to speak English suffi- 
ciently well to give proof of the remarkable power as a 
preacher, for which he had been distinguished in Italy. 
He was sent by Father Rosmini to Rome as Procurator 
General, in order to represent him during the examina- 
tion of his works, of which mention will be made 

The Apostolic Missions of Fathers Gentili and Furlong 
continued to produce wonderful results. Towards the 
end of April 1848, Father Gentili and his companion, 
on earnest invitation, crossed over to Dublin and com- 
menced their missionary labours by preaching a course 
of sermons through the whole month of May, in the 
large Church of St. Audeon, in High Street, giving 
a regular Mission in the same Church, and afterwards a 
month's Mission in the Church of Rathmines, preaching 
three or four times daily. The most hardened sinners 
were converted, and such was the crowd and fervour of 
the penitents that many people would wait all night in 
the Church to get their turn at the Confessional, and 
it sometimes happened that after preaching the last 
sermon at night, the Missionaries did not leave the 
Confessional until it was time to say Mass on the follow- 
ing morning. This was all the more remarkable, because 
1848 was a year of great political excitement in Ireland : 
it was the time of the Voting Ireland movement, the 
leaders of which advocated armed rebellion, impatient of 
the great O'Connell's prudent reserve, by which he kept 
the people, in the midst of legitimate political agitation 
for the redress of religious, social, and political griev- 
ances, within the bounds of peaceful constitutional action. 
The Fathers added their influence to that of the Clergy, 
who held with O'Connell's policy, and they were even 
accused of being in league with the British Government, 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 1 1 3 

because they entreated the people to abstain from 
courses which could only bring them under the severities 
of martial law, and make victims for the prisons and 
the scaffold. 

In September 1848, Fathers Gentili and Furlong 
commenced a Mission in a very poor and, at that time, 
fever-stricken district of Dublin, in the Augustinian 
Church, St. John's Lane. This was his last work. The 
crowds were even greater than ever, the local clergy 
overwhelmed with sick calls were unable to give all 
the help that was needed in the Confessionals, so that 
Father Gentili, exhausted with his previous labours, on 
the 1 6th September, when sitting in his Confessional, was 
suddenly seized by a violent attack of fever. He retired 
to his room, only to leave it for his grave. The report 
of his death spread through Dublin like an electric 
shock ; the grief of the people knew no bounds. The 
Fathers of Charity wished to remove the remains of 
Father Gentili to be buried in their Church, either at 
Ratcliffe or Rugby, but the probability of a popular 
tumult to prevent the body being removed, made this 
imprudent, and it was laid in Glasnevin Cemetery, 
where, after a lapse of forty years, his remains are still 
venerated. He died a martyr of Charity, and, accord- 
ing to popular belief, in the odour of sanctity. 

The death of Father Gentili brought the Irish 
Missions of the Fathers of Charity to a pause for two 
years ; for Father Furlong's health was considerably 
impaired. Father Rinolfi,^ who had been preaching 
Missions in Lancashire, was joined by Fathers Furlong 

^ Father Rinolti was for twenty years one of the most remarkable 'of 
English-speaking Catholic preachers. His command of the language was 
perfect, as was also his pronunciation and the cogency of his arguments. 
The eloquence and power of his diction, the grace and meaning of his un- 
studied gesture, made him a model of preachers, while his zeal and fervour 
made him an apostle. R.I.P. 

II. H 

114 Life of Ant 07110 Ros7nini. 

and Lockhart in preaching the first Mission that was 
ever given in the Cathedral of St. George's, Southwark, 
which had just been opened. Father Rinolfi then went 
to Dubhn to preach in St. Nicholas' and Westland 
Row, and was afterwards joined by Father Lockhart in 
place of Father Furlong, whose state of weak health 
made him unable to undertake the work. They 
preached Missions together in Dublin, in St. Audeon's 
Church ; in Belfast, in Galway, and in many towns 
and parishes in the Arch-diocese of Tuam, which was 
at that time harassed by Protestant emissaries supplied 
with unbounded subscriptions from England, to aid 
them to "convert the Irish Papists." In this however^ 
as in all former attempts, these proselytisers utterly 
failed, though they were able to fill orphanages with 
destitute children who had no relatives to claim them ; 
or in some cases, relatives sorely tempted in their 
poverty-stricken condition after the great famine, had 
sold their children for food and clothing. 

In 1852, Father Lockhart's health having broken 
down, he was sent to Rome for change of air, as the 
companion of the Procurator-General, Father Bertetti. 
The Missions in Ireland, England, and Scotland were 
continued for many years by Father Rinolfi, aided by 
Father Gastaldi (afterwards Archbishop of Turin), 
Fathers Caccia, Garelli, Costa, who, together with 
Father Castellano and Alexius Bertetti, were sent by 
Father Rosmini to recruit the strength of the Fathers 
of the English Province ; for it had for some years been 
constituted a Province, and Father Pagani was its first 
Provincial ; in which ofiice he continued venerated and 
beloved by all, until on the lamented death of Father 
Rosmini in 1855 he was chosen General. 

In May of 1854 Father Lockhart, his health having 
been restored in Rome, returned to England, and was 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 1 1 5 

appointed, at the request of Cardinal Wiseman, to 
establish a new parish at Kingsland, in London; where 
the Anglican Clergyman of a neighbouring Church 
with his Curate and several of his parishioners had 
lately submitted to the Catholic Church. This Clergy- 
man is now Father Pope of the Birmingham Oratory ; 
his Curate is now Father M'Cloud, S.J. Kingsland was 
then a new suburb in the North of London, a mile and 
a half from any Catholic Church. A good Irishman, a 
builder, Mr Thomas Kelly, offered the use of his 
parlours for Mass, and board and lodging in his house 
for a year, to Father Lockhart. Soon the parlours were 
too small, and a workshop fitted up as a temporary 
Chapel was too narrow for the congregation. A large 
two-storied factory, 100 feet long by 40 broad, on the 
north side of the builder's yard, was for sale. It was 
bought and converted into the present Church. Father 
Lewthwaite, an Anglican Convert Clergyman and 
M.A. of Cambridge, received into the Church during a 
Mission by Fathers Gentili and Furlong in Yorkshire, 
was sent to aid in working the new Mission ; for after 
the first year it had become self-supporting. Fathers 
Lockhart and Lewthwaite continued to work it for 
twenty years, until at Cardinal Manning's express 
invitation they exchanged it for a Mission in Central 
London, which was unable to support its priest and 
schools, but, as the Cardinal expressed it, was "well 
suited, from its central position, for a Religious Order, 
where they might launch out into the deep and let 
down their nets for a draught." Here they were able 
to acquire in 1876 the beautiful Church of St. Ethel- 
dreda in Ely Place, Holborn, where the Fathers of 
Charity have established a central House of the Order. 
In the year just ending of 1886 the priests serving this 
Church are Fathers Lockhart, Bone, Signini, Butcher, 
and Jarvis. 

T f 6 Life of Antonio Ros7nini. 

The Church of St. Etheldreda is a gem of mediaeval 
architecture, built in 1280, about the same time as the 
Saiiite CJiapelle in Paris, and in its way, is not less beau- 
tiful. It was the domestic Chapel of the Palace of the 
Bishops of Ely. About a hundred years ago the Bishop 
obtained an Act of Parliament enabling him to sell his 
ancient London palace. The Church became private 
property, but was always used for Church of England 
worship. Being for sale in i ^j6, the Fathers of Charity 
were enabled to purchase, and restore it to Catholic 
worship. It has a special interest, as being the last of 
the ancient churches in which Mass was said, having 
been leased to the Spanish Embassy during the reign 
of Elizabeth. It is also the first of the ancient churches 
in which the Mass has been restored. Beneath the high 
altar is a portion of the relics of St. Etheldreda, the 
Patroness of Ely.^ 

In June 1854, a month after the Fathers of Charity 
were first established in London, the important Mission 
of Cardiff was accepted by the Institute. Cardiff was 
at that time a rapidly developing sea-port of South 
Wales, the principal place of embarkation for the coal 
and iron ore of the mining districts. There Father 
Signini was soon after made Rector, and laboured suc- 
cessfully for about fifteen years with other Fathers in 
the arduous work of supplying complete Church and 
School accom.modation for the rapidly growing Catholic 
population, consisting almost wholly of emigrants from 
Ireland. In 1854 the Catholic population was about 
7000, with one church and one school of 100 poor 
children. In 1884 the Catholic population had risen to 
12,000, with four churches, eleven schools, and two 
school chapels, one of these and two schools built by the 

^ The principal benefactor towards the restoration of the Church of St. 
Etheldreda is Henry, Duke of Norfolk and Earl Marshal, who gave the 
splendid east w indow. 

English Mission of the Fathers of Charity. 1 1 7 

charity of the Marquis of Bute, who has been in other 
ways a great benefactor. The number of children now 
at school is more than 2000. There are also three 
middle schools, a Convent of the Rosminian Sisters of 
Providence, with a boarding school for young ladies, 
besides the Convents of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd 
and of the Sisters of Nazareth. The two latter Convents 
were mainly built by Lord Bute, whose last great 
donation was the tower, and principal bell of the chimes, 
of St. Peter's Church. Since the Bishop came to reside 
in Cardiff, Lord Bute has been a splendid benefactor, 
in the building of a large new church, and in the gift of 
a suitable house for the Bishop. 

The year after the foundations of London and Cardiff 
was a time of great mourning for the Institute, when on 
1st July 1855 the Society was deprived of the earthly 
guidance of its Founder. His works had just received 
the highest verdict of authority in Rome. His children 
in England were looking forward to his long promised 
visit, when God took him from them ; they feel sure in 
love, that he might aid them more efficaciously. 

Since the Founder's death the work of the Itinerant 
Missionaries was continued, principally under Father 
Rinolfi, aided by Fathers Gastaldi, Signini, Caccia, 
Richmond, Bone, Smith, Bruno, Richardson, Garelli, 
Hayde, M'Guire, Cormack, and others. 

The Parish of Cardiff has been divided into several 
Missions, and latterly, seeing that the Bishop desired to 
make Cardiff his residence, the Fathers of Charity have 
retired to their Mission Church, of St. Peter's, which 
was built for them under the direction of Father Gas- 
taldi, before he was raised to the Episcopate in Italy.^ 

^ Fathers Rinolfi, Gastaldi, Caccia, Signini, Garelli, Hayde, Bruno, 
Butcher, Bailey, and others have been in succession Superiors or assistant 
priests. Father Richardson was the late Rector, and Father M'Guire is the 
present Rector in i8S6. 

1 18 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

The Reformatory of Market Weighton in Yorkshire 
was established and ably conducted by Father Caccia, 
and after his removal, by Father Castellano ; that of 
Upton, near Cork, by Father Furlong until near his 
death, afterwards by Father Hayde, the present Rector. 
The Industrial School near Clonmel, built by the late 
Member, Count Arthur Moore, was undertaken by the 
Institute in 1884, Father Buckley being the present 

The last work that occurs to mention is the building 
of the beautiful Noviciate House, standing in its 
wooded grounds at Wadhurst, near Tunbridge Wells. 
It was built from designs by Bernard Whelan, an old 
Alumnus of Ratcliffe and pupil of Pugin ; architect 
also of the Spire of Rugby. The House is called The 
Mount, in remembrance of Monte Calvario, the cradle 
of the Order, and on a lofty mound a large Crucifix 
has been planted, which is seen for miles around. 

The removal of the Noviciate from Rugby has left 
the Fathers free to open there a Juniorate, or School for 
young boys recommended for special talent and piety, 
and whose parents desire to second their own inclina- 
tion for the Religious State. The Director of the 
Juniorate is Father Ward. The Fathers hope thus to 
realize the original intention of the foundation of 
Ratcliffe, by giving to boys who show signs of vocation, 
the advantage of the good example of companions who 
are like minded ; instead of risking the incipient voca- 
tions of youths by companionship with the majority in 
a large College, who are generally less inclined to the 
restraints of the religious or ecclesiastical state, than to 
the seemingly more flowery paths of life in the world. 

All these works since the death of Father Rinolfi 
have been ably directed by Father Dominic Gazzola, 
formerly Master of Novices, and now for some years 
the Provincial. 



(a.d. 1832-1886.) 

Among the powers which the Pontifical Brief of 
Approbation confers on the Superior General of the 
Institute of Charity, there is that of aggregating to the 
Society, as Ascribed Members, pious persons living in 
the secular state, and of instituting pious Sodalities of 
persons living in that state, and also of constituting 
and directing pious Sodalities, and Communities livino- 
under simple vows of Religion. It is under these 
powers that the Rosminian " Sisters of Providence " of 
the Institute of Charity enjoy the status and privileo-es 
of a Religious Community. We say Sisters of the 
Institute or Rosminian Sisters, to distinguish them from 
the " Sisters of Providence," instituted in P>ance by St. 
Vincent of Paul for the education of poor children 
from which holy Society the Rosminian Sisters are an 

The way in which Divine Providence caused the 
work of establishing and directing this Sisterhood to 
fall into Rosmini's hands was somewhat singular. 
While he was engaged with the foundations at Trent 
and Rovereto, which have already been mentioned his 
first companion, the zealous Abbe Lowenbriick, whom 
he had left at Monte Calvario, in his various missionary 
peregrinations around the Valley of Ossola and the 
neighbouring parts of Switzerland, found several young 

I20 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

maidens who expressed a-n earnest desire to dedicate 
themselves to our Lord in the ReHgious State ; and 
the love of God which made them wish to devote them- 
selves to the service of Christ their 'Lord, filled them at 
the same time with a great desire to do any good that 
was in their power for the souls of others, whether by 
teaching poor children or influencing young girls for 
good, a work which it is generally felt among Catholics 
none can do so well as devoted Nuns. 

Self-sacrifice has always been the secret of the success 
of Christianity. It derives its virtue and its influence 
from the Cross of Christ, from the contemplation of the 
unfathomable abyss of the love of God in Christ Jesus, 
by which the eternal Word willed to teach His love, to 
angels and to men, by self-sacrifice even unto death 
(Eph. iii. lo). 

Christ, our Lord, says : " If I be lifted up from the 
earth, I will draw all things unto Myself." " He spoke," 
says the Evangelist, *'of His death on the Cross " (John 
xii. 32). So in like manner those who sacrifice them- 
selves for the love of Christ — who go up from the paths 
of life, that seem so joyous, to the rugged heights of 
Calvary — have a power of attracting and influencing 
others which none others possess. This is why the 
Church, by the special teaching and strength of the 
Holy Spirit^ will have her priesthood, not a profession, 
but an iimnolation, from the moment of taking the 
sub-diaconate. This is why the same Holy Spirit 
draws men and women to the life of self-sacrifice in the 
Religious state. Mortification and prayer, detachment 
from self and union with God, are the secret of their 
strength and the measure of their success in the work 
of the salvation of souls. '' Abide in Me and I in you," 
saith our Lord ; '' Without Me you can do nothing ; " 
" I have sent you that you should bring forth fruit, and 
that your fruit should remain " (John xv. 16). 

The Sisters of Providence. 1 2 1 

This is a first principle with all well-taught Catholics; 
nay, an instinct of Christian faith. All know that the 
most successful career in the world is at once full of 
dangers, and unworthy to be compared with the moral 
greatness of a life that is above the world — like that of 
a devoted priest, lived for God only. Every pious vil- 
lage or factory girl, or maiden of the upper or middle- 
class, knows that if anyone will take the best way, 
considered in itself, and apart from duties she may owe 
to others and which none else can supply, it is the narrow 
gate of Religion ; and blessed is the soul that has the 
grace to enter it with a true vocation, that is to say, with 
the determination to die to self-love and live to God. It 
will be her happy lot to be able to say all through her 
hidden life in God, *'My Beloved to me and I to Him." 
" I live, not I, but Christ liveth in me." 

Filled with the spirit of simple love of Christ and 
desire to imitate Him, those few simple, devoted maidens, 
living in villages near the Lago Maggiore, the Simplon 
Pass, and the Swiss Valleys adjacent, where he had been 
preaching Missions, came to Father Lowenbriick, beg- 
ging him to find some Convent that would receive them, 
in however humble a position. 

In Italy, at that day, there were few Convents of 
Religious women where maidens, without a dower, could 
be received, and there were few Italian Nuns devoted 
to works of charity outside their own Cloister. St. 
Vincent of Paul's Sisters of Charity had filled France and 
the whole world with the fame of their heroic charity. 
With no Cloister but their white veil (originally only a 
peasant girl's cap) and their grey habit (the peasant's 
ordinary dress), the Sisters of Charity have gone forth 
wherever famine, pestilence, or war, the municipal or 
the military hospital called for their services. In 
France, too, there was that other less known Order of 

12 2 Life of Antomo Rosmini. 

the Daughters of Providence, also instituted by St. 
Vincent of Paul, which shared with the Sisters of 
Charity in the more hidden yet not less laborious work, 
of teaching the children of the poor and providing 
asylums for the destitute orphan. 

Father Lowenbriick having selected five of these 
young women, made interest at the House of the 
Order of Providence at Portieux, in France, that they 
should be received, in order to be trained, and after- 
wards return to make a foundation in Italy. 

After a time they returned, in company with two 
French Religious ; they occupied a small house at 
Locarno, in the Canton of Ticino, one of the towns on 
the borders of the Lago Maggiore. Here they opened 
schools for the children of the working class. 

All was well intended by the good Father Lowen- 
briick, but he was a man of zeal, not also a man of 
business. He made a beginning of a Noviciate at 
Locarno, but there were no means for the support of 
the Sisters and Novices, except casual offerings of 
charity, nor were there any means even for procuring 
the necessary school requisites ; so that the Sisters could 
obtain no salary as recognised teachers. 

The two French Sisters were therefore soon recalled 
to France, and four out of five of the Italian Sisters 
returned to their homes. Only one Italian Sister, 
Eusebia Alvazzi, remained, with a few Novices who had 
joined the Sisters after they had opened the house at 
Locarno. But Father Lowenbriick was not discouraged. 
His energy always rose in difiiculties. He did his best 
to make some beginning of a community with the few 
Postulants for Religious life who were at Locarno. In 
this he was aided by a pious priest of the town, Don 
Carlo Rusca, who afterwards joined the Institute. It 
was this good priest who had given to the Sisters his 
own house in Locarno. 

The Sisters of Providence. 1 2 3 

Lowenbrlick, seeing the affair in such straits, went to 
Turin, and appHed to some charitable ladies of his 
acquaintance, especially to the Marchesa Barolo, for 
aid. They do not seem to have taken up his plan of 
making a foundation at Locarno, but immediately 
placed at his disposal a house in Turin, to serve as the 
foundation of an orphanage and infant school. He 
placed there, at once, two young women who were 
desirous of becoming Religious, Martha Marchetti and 
Giovanna Antonietti. 

Rosmini was not pleased with the want of forethought 
and the haste manifested in this whole affair. He 
wrote to Lowenbrlick, clearly expressing his mind, yet 
accepting the work, since it had been begun, while he 
gave him clear admonitions to act with greater prudence 
in future, and not to attempt to anticipate, but only to 
follow Divine Providence in all things. At last he felt 
that the same Divine Providence called on him to inter- 
fere, for the Sisters applied to him for direction, and 
especially Sister Giovanna Antonietti, who found she 
could not get on at Turin ; not for want of temporal 
means, for these were abundantly supplied by the 
Marchesa, but for want of that spiritual direction which 
she needed. She had left her home to become a Nun, 
and she did not see how this was to be accomplished by 
her becoming the manager of an orphan asylum under 
the patronage of pious and charitable ladies. 

When Rosmini came to know Sister Giovanna person- 
ally, with that discernment of souls which was one of his 
gifts, he saw in her a character capable of high spiritual 
cultivation. She was rather rough and little educated, 
like any other of the daughters of the class of small 
proprietors or peasant farmers of an Alpine valley ; for 
she came from' one of the villages that branch out from 
the mountains surrounding the Valley of Ossola. She 
was, however, humble, devout, and with a very reflective 

124 Life of A 7itomo Ros^nini. 

mind. Rosmini educated her in mind and soul, and 
brought out quahties of great virtue and prudence, with 
an eminent capacity for governing others with sweet- 
ness, firmness, and discretion. She on her part had con- 
ceived such confidence in Rosmini's guidance, that when 
the Marchesa thought to persuade her to fix herself at 
Turin, separating from Rosmini's direction, she wrote 
begging him to teach her absolutely the way he thought 
most for the glory of God. 

He praised, as it deserved, the zeal and charity of 
the Marchesa, and spoke strongly of the prospects of 
usefulness she would have under her powerful patronage. 
He bade her consider all things before God, and then 
make her decision. 

Giovanna Antonietti decided at once to place her- 
self simply under Rosmini's direction, if he were willing 
to help her to become a perfect Religious. On his per- 
mitting her to do so, she left the house at Turin very 
early the next day, having placed everything in the 
hands of Sister Martha, and avoiding saying anything 
to the Marchesa, to whom she knew her decision would 
be a grief, as it was to herself, but she felt sure that in 
leaving, she was doing what God wanted from her. 

Rosmini was, just at that time, free from the grave 
charge of the Parish of Rovereto, and of the Community 
at Trent, so that he was able to direct his attention to 
this new work of charity, which he had not sought, but 
which Divine Providence had sent him, through the 
overzealous improvidence of his companion. 

He began by sending Sister Giovanna to Locarno, to 
learn the traditions and manner of life of the Sisters there, 
one of whom had been formed in the Mother-house in 
France. He afterwards called her to Domodossola, 
where he placed her in the Convent of St. Joseph, for- 
merly belonging to the Ursulines, which, as has been 

The Sisters of Providence. 125 

said, was given him for religious or charitable purposes 
by Count Mellerio. This became the Noviciate House 
and School for the education of the teaching sisters or 
Maestre Rosminiane, as they came afterwards to be 
called in Italy ; for they w^ere highly trained under his 
own eye in the most approved miCthods of education. 
This establishment had already become numerous and 
excellent in discipline, as well in secular learning as in Re- 
ligious perfection, as long ago as 1839, tl^^ year in which 
the Institute of Charity received its solemn approbation, 
and with it, as has been said, the status of the Sisters as 
a Religious Community aggregated to the Institute. 

In the fifty years that have elapsed since the first 
beginning of the Rosminian Sisters of Providence, they 
have so increased that there are at this moment more 
than 600 Sisters in Italy alone, divided into a number 
of Houses and small EstablisJnnents. The demand for 
Maestre Rosininiane is far beyond what can be supplied. 

Their principal Central House is at Borgomanero,^ 
a town of some 10,000 inhabitants, near Novara. Here 
they have a school for young ladies, besides large 
elementary schools and a creche for little ones. To the 
central House the Sisters of the small Establishments 
return in the summer vacation, to make their Spiritual 
Retreat and renew their relations of aff"ection with one 
another, and with the Carissima Madre, which is the 
only title of the Central Superioress. There is no Mere 
Generale among the Sisters ; the Father General is him- 
self their direct Superior, and is represented by a 
priest who is called the Director. 

A branch of the Sisters was established in England 
in 1843, by two Italian Nuns. They were invited thither 

1 This House was established by Father Pagani, a native of Borgo- 
manero, for many years Provincial in England, and successor of Rosmini 
as General. 

12 6 Life of A nton io Rosmini. 

by Lady Mary Arundel, a convert to the Catholic faith. 
She was daughter of the saintly Marchioness of Buck- 
ingham, an Irish Catholic lady. Baroness Nugent in her 
own right, who married the Protestant Marquis, after- 
wards Duke of Buckingham, at that time Viceroy in 
Ireland. The mother was forbidden to speak to her 
children on religion, and the sons grew up Protestants, 
but Lady Mary was drawn to the Catholic faith simply 
by the holy example and prayers of her mother. She 
believed her to be a saint, and declared to the writer of 
these lines that through a chink in the door of her 
Oratory, which was always locked, and was an object 
of the greatest mystery to the children and servants, 
she had seen her elevated from the ground in prayer. 
Lady Mary Grenville was married to the Lord Arun- 
dell of Wardour, a young Catholic nobleman of extra- 
ordinary piety. He and his Lady made the acquaintance 
of Rosmini in Rome, and came to Domodossola to visit 
him. Lord Arundell was taken suddenly ill on his 
return to Rome, where he died. There is extant a very 
touching letter of Rosmini to the young widowed Lady, 
for Lord Arundell died when there seemed to be many 
years before them of earthly happiness. Lady Arundell 
made the acquaintance of Father Pagani at Bath, when 
he was living at the College of Prior Park ; and when he 
was appointed Rector of the Mission at Loughborough 
she removed thither, in order to aid the Fathers in 
their work among the poor Catholics of the place. 

On the arrival of the two Sisters, Lady Mary 
Arundell, received them with great hospitality in her 
own rented house in Wood Street, which she adapted 
as a Convent. Leave was given by the Bishop for the 
Blessed Sacrament to be reserved in the Oratory, so 
that the two Italian Sisters found themselves at once 
at Home in " their Father's House." They knew not 

The Sisters of Providence. 1 2 7 

a word of English, but by the 25th of March of the 
next year (1844) they were competent to take charge 
of a Girls' and Infants' School that Lady Arundell had 
established for the poor Catholic children of the town. 
Great was the astonishment, which I can testify as an 
eye-witness, of the good town's-folk of Loughborough 
when, on the first Sunday after their arrival, these 
Sisters appeared in the street on their return from 
Mass at the parish Chapel, wearing their Religious habit. 
It was the first time such a sight had been seen in the 
Midlands, and all turned out to see them, following 
them on both sides of the street ; but they meant 
wonder only and no harm, and the wonder soon passed 
away. It was succeeded by a great esteem for the 
Sisters, so that ever since great numbers of Protestants 
have sent their children by preference to the " Nuns' 
School," so pleased were they with the good behaviour 
of the children who had been under their care. Lady 
Arundell remained as a boarder in the Convent till her 
death, and when she died, left to the Sisters the greater 
part of what she had at her own disposal. 

Before they had been long in England the Italian 
Sisters had attracted to them a good number of English 
young ladies, some from the upper and others from the 
middle class. In this they were much aided by the 
Missions that were being preached by Fathers Gentili 
and Furlong in all the great Catholic centres. The 
first English Superioress was the saintly Sister Mary 
Agnes Amherst, niece of the Earl of Shrewsbury, who 
gave up brilliant worldly prospects, if she had chosen 
them, to become a simple Religious in one of the 
simplest and least-known of Communities. I use the 
word simple, because, from the first, the simple ways of 
Italian peasant and middle-class life have, with God's 
grace, helped to keep our Sisters in a great spirit of 

12 8 Life of A ntonio Rosmini. 

There is a true spirit of charity, tender affection, and 
union among the Sisters. One instance of this speaks 
volumes ; the present Superioress has been re-elected 
every three years by the free votes of the Sisters, and 
has this year kept the Silver Jubilee of her office. 

After some years, through the generosity of Lady 
Arundell and other benefactors, they were enabled to build 
the handsome Convent which stands in its grounds just 
outside the town of Loughborough, looking towards the 
lofty granite hills that form the backbone of Leicester- 
shire, and refreshed by the pure breezes of Charnwood 
Forest. This is their Central House. Here also they 
have a Boarding School for young ladies, and in the out- 
quarters a large school for the poorer class. Hither the 
Sisters return in vacation time from the smaller Houses, 
to make their Retreat and recreation together. They 
are now a community, numbering not quite a hundred in 

They have small establishments in various places ; 
one in London, of five or six Sisters attached to the 
Church of St. Etheldreda, served by the Fathers of 
Charity. Here they have a day school for young ladies, 
and teach the poor schools of the parish. They have long 
been established at Cardiff, where the principal schools 
are in their hands, besides a young ladies' school at- 
tached to the Convent. A third establishment is at 
Rugby, the beautiful little Gothic Convent, built for 
them by Mrs Washington Hibbert. 

In all these establishments the work of education is 
carried on successfully. The reports of the Government 
and Diocesan Inspectors here, as in Italy, attest the 
skill and persevering zeal of the Sisters, and the effi- 
ciency of their method of teaching. For this last they 
are greatly indebted to the traditions that have been 
handed down to them from their Founder, Rosmini, on 

The Sisters of Providence. 1 2 9 

the science and practice of education, a subject to which 
he devoted special attention, and wrote on it several 
important works, in which he brings out the profound 
philosophical principles that are the basis of common 
sense, with a simplicity which places them within the 
mental reach of any person who is capable of becoming 
a teacher of youth. 

The end and spirit of this Body of Religious Sisters 
is precisely the same as that of the Institute of the 
Fathers of Charity. They follow the hidden life, as 
essential to their state, but if called to do so by the Pro- 
vidence of God speaking through their Superiors, they 
are always ready to engage in any work of charity that 
women are capable of undertaking, especially the care 
and direction of girls and infant schools, the teaching 
of Christian doctrine, the care of the sick in hospitals, 
visiting the sick at their own houses, especially their 
own pupils, and other sick persons wherever this is found 
compatible with their other duties of school teaching, 
which is in general their principal engagement. They 
also receive ladies in their houses for private or public 

They make the three vows of Religion — poverty, 
chastity, and obedience. In the first instance they make, 
after a two years' Noviciate, vows binding for three 
years, which may be renewed or else made perpetual 
according to their own desire and the judgment of the 

The Director is appointed by the General, and is his 
immediate representative. For Confession the Sisters 
go generally to the parish priest, or to any other priest 
authorised by the Bishop, with consent of the Superior 

The Director is instructed to leave the details of 

II. I 

T30 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

government as much as possible to the Sisters, so long 
as the Rules and spirit of the Institute are observed. 

Once every year, in Vacation time, as has been said, the 
Sisters all repair to the Central House, in order to make 
their Retreat together and confer with the Carissima 
Mad re on the works in which they are engaged. After the 
Retreat there is a Chapter for the election of officers for 
the ensuing year, and to decide who are to be admitted to 
Profession. The Superioress is chosen for three years, 
but may be re-elected with the approval of the General. 

The Sisters were always a great consolation to the 
heart of Rosmini, because he saw them take that mould 
which he believed the most perfect form of sanctity — the 
union of the contemplative with the active life ; and in 
the active life that which was at once the most simple, 
humble, and laborious. He taught them deeply his own 
spirit of passive waiting on Providence, and of persever- 
ing energetic charity when God's Providence had assigned 
them any work to do. He had impressed them so 
deeply with his own spirit of contemplation and union 
with God, that he beheld them going on with their 
humble, holy work, undisturbed by the stirring events 
of the world around them in those days of excitement, 
of wars and rumours of wars ; and in the revolutionary 
tendencies everywhere inciting to break the bonds of 
duty, not a sister failed at her post, and in the towns 
and villages in North Italy, none have been more 
respected, even by those who have but little respect for 
established institutions of State or Church, than the 
Rosminian Sisters. 



Of the Theological Virtues. 

To speak of the virtues of Antonio Rosmini is to say 
why he was considered a holy man in the judgment of 
all who knew him. I shall here follow as closely as 
possible the substance of Don Paoli's Treatise on the 
Virtues of Rosmini. His picture of the character of 
Rosmini^ as shown forth in action, is of peculiar value, 
because it is the testimony of an eye-witness— his daily 
companion for twenty years. 

The Science of Ascetics is defined by Rosmini as "The 
Science of the means, by using which, man may arrive 
at 'Moral Perfection." He divides it into three parts. 
The first part teaches the way to overcome our spiritual 
enemies, and therefore of being on our guard, and before- 
hand with temptation, and consists in prudence and 
spiritual tact. The second part teaches how to place 
ourselves in the most perfect habitual dispositions to- 
wards virtue; by purity of conscience, reflectiveness, 
good instruction, clearness of thought, cheerfulness, and 
the habit of using with facility the powers of the 'soul. 
The third part teaches the means of obtaining tlie 
Divine aid; or in other words— perfect prayer, the habits 
of devotion, and frequent use of the Sacraments. 

Rosmini was the perfect ascetic— he was in practice 
the exemplification of his theory. 

The general >rw of all virtue " is the love of good 

132 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

according to truth " — of all good in proportion to its 
bemgness or worth. The highest of all good is the 
Absolute Good — God Himself; with regard to Whom 
love can have no limits. Next, as regards relative goody 
finite intelligences and other created things ; these 
have to be loved according to the good that is in them, 
or which is capable of being elicited from them, for the 
glory of their Creator. 

This " love according to truth " was the form of the 
virtue of Rosmini. It had been the object of the efforts 
of his whole soul from the first, to attain this perfection 
of Charity ; to love God above all things, and his 
neighbour as himself, for God's sake, and all persons 
and things in God. 

He loved God " with all his mind," that mind which 
was vast, sublime, penetrating, made more clear because 
illumined by the Grace of God in no common measure. 
Thus, his whole mental activity was always supremely 
directed to know more and more of God ; he studied 
God by Nature and by Grace. All his profound studies, 
his long meditations and contemplations were directed 
to filling his mind with the " knowledge of the great 
mystery of God " — the Ununi Necessarium — the One 
Necessary Being. 

He loved God " with all his heart." He had a vast 
heart, proportioned to his mind, a heart that was full 
of natural Affection, and filled with the grace of the 
Holy Spirit of Love. His one continual aim was to 
unite himself in every affection more and more perfectly 
with God. 

He loved God "with all his soul" — one felt that his 
great soul breathed not for self, but only to give glory 
to God. 

He loved God "with all his strength," for all the 
powers, affections, talents, sensations of his soul, he had 

On the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. 

T ') '> 

consecrated from his earliest years as a holocaust to 
the worship of God. 

Antonio Rosmini " loved his neighbour as himself." 
He loved himself with a pure and holy love, which he 
showed by his constant efforts to preserve and increase 
the Divine good that was in him — " the Gift of 
God " — the Holy Spirit and the virtues that are His 
fruits. He loved his neighbour as himself, for he never 
left untried any occasion that the Providence of God 
presented to him of doing good to those with whom he 
was brought into contact. He had a tender, com- 
passionate, firm, constant, well ordered, and wisely 
directed love, for those of his own household, and for 
strangers. He aimed at doing good to those afar off, 
and to remotest posterity. For all these he underwent 
the immense labours and anxieties of writing his volum- 
inous works, and of founding and governing the Insti- 
tute of Charity. For the glory of God and the Salvation 
of souls he would only have been too happy to shed his 

Such is the substance of the few words of Preface to 
his work on the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini by Don 
Francisco Paoli, his intimate friend, associate, secretary, 
and constant companion up to the hour of death. In 
the case of ordinary men, or even of extraordinary, it is 
often said, " no man is a hero to his Valet de CJiambre^' 
and that " familiarity breeds contempt." The convej'se 
must also be admitted, that when the most intimate 
daily and hourly conversation with any man during 
twenty years creates in those so associated with him 
the highest veneration for his moral character, and a 
deep conviction of his superiority to ordinary human 
littlenesses, it is the greatest argument we can have of 
the largeness, grandeur, and moral greatness of the man 
so known and so appreciated. Don Paoli will continue 

134 Life of Antonio Rosmifii. 

to give us in what follows his estimate of a character 
which he had so carefully studied. He brings it out 
under the heads of the TJiree Theological Virtues of 
Faith, Hope, and Charity ; the Four Cardinal Virtues 
of Jiisticey Temperance^ Prtidence, and Fortitude ; and of 
Twelve Special Virtues of his life as a Religious. 

On Rosmini's Virtue of Faith. 

Christian Faith does not rest solely on the motives 
of credibility however strong these may be, as derived 
from visible miracles or historical facts ; of themselves 
these could never produce in us more than a natural 
conviction, not a Supernatural and Divine Faith. 

Christian Faith gives us an ineffable supernatural 
certitude, resting upon the Adorable Truth of God, 
Who reveals to us the Divine Truths, as ordinarily 
proposed by His infallible Oracle — the Church, Catholic 
and Roman. This Faith is the effect of a Supernatural 
Light, conveyed into the soul through means of the 
Sacrament of Baptism, but which may also be received 
extraordinarily by means of what is called the Baptism 
of Desire} 

It is this light of Faith that imparted that super- 
natural instinct which was so strong in Rosmini from 
his earliest years, which was " the lamp to his feet and 
the light to his path." "Dominus illuminatio mea," 
''the Lord is my light," was his habitual thought. He 
had the ever-conscious perception of God, which he 
describes in his S^ipernatural Anthropology as "the 
seal " or actual contact by grace of the soul with the 
Word of God Incarnate. Of him it could be truly said 

^ Baptism of Desire, according to the great Theologians who follow 
St Augustine and St Thomas, may exist without explicit knowledge of 
the Incarnation, Church, and Sacraments. (See treatises of de Lugo 
and Suarez De Fide. ) 

On the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. 135 

in due measure and degree, as it was said of Holy 
Abraham, he " walked before God and was perfect." 
To be with him and to hear him speak was to feel that 
he was one of those who, so far as is given to mortal 
man, may be called Viator and Couiprehensor ; a way- 
farer on earth, and yet in mind and heart dwelling with 
God in His heavenly country, only the thin veil of 
mortality between him and God. 

His recollection in prayer was one of the signs of 
this lively faith in God " in whom we live and more 
and are," ever present to him in every thing ; and when 
seen kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, or hearing 
or saying Mass, men felt that they beheld one who ''saw 
the Invisible." Those who lived near the Church at 
Rovereto, which when a boy at home he passed daily 
on his way to his studies, and those who knew him as a 
youth at the University of Padua, attest that it was his 
regular custom never to pass the Church without enter- 
ing to pray, on going and returning from school or 
lecture, several times each day. His nurse and those 
who observed him saying his prayers when a child in the 
nursery, saw in him a something which they had never 
observed in other children, in his perfect recollection, 
so that, as they said, "he seemed like an angel who 
saw God." His letters, from the time he was sixteen, 
written to friends, to the number of a thousand, shew 
the deep under-current of Christian faith of his every 
thought. Many of his intimate companions at the 
University attest the wonderful spiritual atmosphere, as 
it were, in which he lived, so that, without effort or 
reflection, his every word and act spoke to them of 
the better life, and of this life as a mere passing show. 
He never forced religion into conversation unnaturally ; 
what he said that was spiritual was spontaneous, 
simple, not put out for the sake of edification, but 

136 Life of A iito7iio Rosmini. 

arising obviously out of the circumstances, and there- 
fore it fell like the dew of heaven, imperceptible except 
in its silent effects on those who were with him. 

He was not twenty when we find written down in his 
Diary the great principle of passivity which was the 
guide of his whole life. This came from his great 
humility, based on self-knowledge, and his great faith in 
God as Creator, Preserver, and Providential Governor 
of His intelligent creatures, Who ordains or permits all 
events, great and small. He here sets down: "The one 
certain thing that God wants of me is my own perfec- 
tion. All other things are uncertain, until the Provi- 
dence of God brings them within our sphere of action, 
and then our mode of acting towards them becomes 
one of the means for our own perfection." Hence one 
of his great maxims was, that we ought to remain in 
perfect tranquillity, waiting for, and not anticipating, or, 
as it were, attempting to prompt or give a helping 
hand, to the Providence of God. But he would have 
this passivity pass into the most energetic activity so 
soon as the Will of God is made manifest, and any 
special duty assigned by His Providence. 

It came from this lively faith in God and in His Provi- 
dence that he embraced the ecclesiastical state ; that 
he quitted the family mansion, gave up his rights of 
primogeniture, and when he was made by will the heir 
of his uncle who was the head of the family, consecrated 
his whole fortune to the service of God and the good of 
his neighbour. It was this humble faith in Providence 
that led him to listen to the advice of Marchesa 
Canossa, and the invitation of his friend Lowenbriick, 
as regarded the founding a Religious Institute, which 
should embody this principle of Faith — of waiting on 
the Providence of God, of " undertaking nothing, refus- 
ing nothing," in the service of God and of mankind. 

On the Virhies of Antonio Rosmini. 137 

The same extraordinary force of Christian faith 
comes out as well in his earliest writings as in all he 
ever wrote. We find this in his two volumes on 
Christian Education^ written, when he was quite young, 
for his sister Margherita's use in the House for Orphans 
she had founded, and we observe it more especially in 
his famous Panegyric of Pius VII. Even in his pro- 
foundest metaphysics is seen, eminently conspicuous, a 
mind that was before all things that of the Christian 
philosopher, who full of faith in God and in the light of 
revelation, compares together natural and supernatural 
truths, finding in the former the preparation for the 
latter, and in the supernatural, the complement or ful- 
filment of the truths of the natural order. 

Don Paoli says : — 

Visiting in 1869 the sanctuary of St. Francis at Assisi, a vene- 
rable Franciscan Father spoke to me of Rosmini in terms of the 
highest veneration. He had not known him, and he had read 
only his work, the Nuovo Saggio on the Origiti of Ideas ^ but said 
he, " I have read enough to know his mind. Such books are only 
written by saints." I heard afterwards in the town that this Father 
was himself esteemed a saint. 

This very Saggio^ the fundamental work of Rosmini's 
philosophy, may be taken as a sample of all the rest. 
His object in that book is to show that, as it were, 
reason illumines the portal of the temple, within which 
burns the light of faith. The ligJit of reason mani- 
fests that God is, but not what He is. Yet it is a 
something that belongs to God, and that is presented 
to our mind by God, the pure ideal light of truth or 
being. Afterwards, as he shows more fully in his 
Siipernatnral Anthropology^ by the Light of Super- 
natural Grace, the Personal Subsistent Truth, the Infi- 
nite Self-Subsistent Being, God Himself is revealed to 
man, partially by Grace here, fully in the more vivid 
light of Glory hereafter. In this light we shall see the 

1 3 S Life of A nfon io Rosm in i. 

Uncreated Good which is only logically certain by the 
pale light of reason, and only " seen through a glass in a 
dark manner" by the clearer light of faith (i Cor. xiii.). 

But though man can learn much about God by the 
right use of reason, it can give him only a negative, 
abstract notion of God, and the appetite for possessing 
Him. It can no more give him what it depicts, as it 
were, ideally, or satisfy his longing, than the most ex- 
quisite painting of rich fruit and other dainties can 
satisfy our hunger. This possession of God can be 
given only by the supernatural grace of faith and 
charity, which is the actual though mysterious contact 
of the human spirit with God through the medium of 
the Humanity of Christ. 

The deep mysteries of Faith are inaccessible to human 
reason. It may see " that they are," but not " what 
they are." Such are the mysteries of Creation ; of the 
most Holy Trinity ; of Original Sin ; of the Incarnation 
of the Divine Word ; of the most Blessed Sacrament ; 
and of the Infallible Judgment of the Church and its 
Head. These and the other doctrines are fully accepted 
even by simple souls who are right at will, though they 
may have made little study of divine things. They accept 
spontaneously what is proposed to them by the tradi- 
tions of Christian society in the Church, moved thereto 
by the Holy Spirit of Truth, much in the same way as 
men believe the first truths of reasoning which we are 
said to accept on the grounds of common sense. 

But educated Christians thrown into the midst of the 
unbelief of modern society may find themselves per- 
plexed, if they begin to study but do not study pro- 
foundly, and ivitJioiit prejudice, the deep questions of the 
Faith, and especially if their souls have been desolated or 
disturbed by passion, so that the light of Faith burns 
dim within the Sanctuary. 

On the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. 139 

Antonio Rosmini was a brilliant intelligence, of 
profound reflection, great study, and vast erudition. He 
believed the Divine mysteries with all the simple faith 
of a child, and yet with the firmness of persuasion and 
personal conviction of one who is intimately conscious 
of the truths he believes, as well as of the reasons of his 
conviction of them. This more profound, though not 
more firm conviction was the result of long persevering 
reflection, aided by the Grace of God, with which his 
mind and will were filled, so that he learned, as St 
Thomas of Aquin declared he had learned all he knew, 
at "the feet of Jesus Crucified." 

This faith which was not less the simple faith of the 
child when he had added to it the profound knowledge 
of the Christian philosopher, this faith which had never 
been sullied by a doubt, is what he speaks of in the 
following words written by him to his friend the Bishop 
of Montalcino. It was at a time of fearful suspense 
when he was accused of heresy, and his works were 
placed under that searching examination which was to 
result after four years in their triumphant acquittal. 
He says : 

What is the one thing I have always desired in all my poor 
writings, except to be of use to souls. And shall I now be the one 
to pervert them 1 This will never be permitted by God. I have 
this confidence in Him alone, Who when I was an infant infused 
into my soul the Faith, and gave me an unlimited devotion to the 
decisions of the Holy Apostolic See ; in Him Who fills my heart 
with joy whenever I can make an act of faith, so that I could even 
desire to have fallen into some involuntary error, which should 
injure no one, in order that I might have an occasion given me for 
proclaiming aloud this faith with greater solemnity. 

This faith he desired to communicate to all men, to 
confirm believers, to strengthen the weak and doubtful, 
to enlighten those who "sit in darkness and in the 
shadow of death." 

140 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

This is why he established the custom in his Order, 
which was his own practice, of reciting daily the Rosary 
and other prayers, to ask " for the kingdom of God and 
His justice, and that God would send labourers into His 
harvest, and especially for the conversion of all infidels, 
heretics, and sinners." 

His great works of the Teosofia, or the Wisdom of 
God, and of the Teodicea, or Justification of God, are the 
result of his profound meditations for years on the 
mysteries of Creation and of Providence. He treats of 
the reason why God created the universe, not attempt- 
ing, indeed, to solve these mysteries, but showing that 
they ought to be accepted by human reason. He 
meditates also on the profound abyss of the Divine 
Trinity, shows its mysterious imprints in creation, and 
the impossibility of any complete conception of God, 
except as " a Trinity of Persons in Unity of Substance." 

His definition of a Person as " the supreme activity 
in an intelligent subject," is as simple as it is complete, 
and sufhces to convict all errors concerning the Trinity 
and Incarnation. 

But in the Blessed Sacrament, " the Mystery of Faith,'' 
as it is called in the prayer of Consecration, Rosmini's 
faith was still more evidently the atmosphere in which 
he lived and moved. No one who watched him kneel- 
ing motionless for hours before the Tabernacle, or in 
breathless adoration in his short visits to the Church, 
could help feeling that he was one who had the per- 
ception of the presence of the Infinite All Holy in a 
measure not given to ordinary faithful souls. You felt 
that you had caught a glimpse of that blessedness 
already enjoyed on earth by those " whose conversation 
is in heaven " — to whom our Lord's words apply, even 
in this life, in an eminent degree, " Blessed are the clean 
of heart, for they shall see God." 

Oil the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini, 141 

Many who saw him saying Mass were struck by a 
kind of awe, as in the presence of a phenomenon, which 
they felt, rather with their spiritual than with their bodily 
sense. It was not the reverence of his action, the pious 
accents of his voice, the still majesty of his person, but 
something of which all these were but symbols — the 
utter absorption of an embodied spirit in God. 

Don Paoli quotes two examples out of many, of the 
impression produced on those who have related their 
experiences of Rosmini's Mass. Father Luigi Villaresi, 
of the Barnabite Order, thus writes : 

When I have seen him at the altar, intent on the celebration of 
the Divine Sacrifice, his piety and fervour have moved me to tears. 
I felt that I had seen how the Saints were used to say Mass, and 
when I left that blessed sojourn (at Rovereto), I carried with me 
the conviction that Rosmini was not only a great philosopher but 
a great saint." 

Another testimony is that of Father Ludovico di 

Casoria, who wrote from Naples : 

I saw him saying Holy Mass, and I was struck by the piety 
expressed in his countenance, which left on me the impression of 
a man of profound piety and reverence. 

Count Giacomo Barbo, of Milan, writes : 

I met and conversed with Rosmini at the mineral waters on 
Monte St. Bernardino, in Switzerland. I must say with truth that 
I felt I was conversing with a saint, as well from the nature of his 
lights on philosophical and religious subjects, as on account of his 
great moderation in meeting objections, the fairness of his mode 
of arguing, and the justness of his conclusions. I observed that 
his Mass was more than ordinarily long, especially at the Domine 
no7i su?n digjiiis and Communion. 

RosmJni's conversation often turned, as it were spon- 
taneously, on the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, and in 
The Comvientary on the First Chapter of St John's Gospel, 
and in the Supernatural Anthropology he has treated most 
profoundly on this mystery, and in a way that cannot 

142 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

fail to move all who have faith to sentiments of tender 
devotion to this " Mystery of Divine Love." 

This same most lively faith was seen in his use of 
the Sacrament of Penance, whether he heard the Con- 
fessions of others or made his own Confession. It was 
seen too in the way in which he performed every 
exercise of the Priesthood ; in his reverence for Sacra- 
mentals, for things blessed, and in the mode of im- 
parting his benediction when he was asked by any 
one to give it. 

It was usually said (writes Don Masante from Stresa) that 
Father Founder was not subject to any distractions at Mass, such 
was his perfect recollection in the presence of God. I remember 
seeing him so fixed in prayer during Exposition of the Blessed 
Sacrament that it was impossible not to have a feeling of wonder 
and awe that any one could remain so long absorbed in prayer on 
his knees without support, immovable. During the ceremony of 
the Consecration of the Church he had built at Stresa, I remember 
seeing him kneeling motionless absorbed in prayer in one of the 
lateral Chapels during the whole of the long function. 

Rosmini's lively faith in the Real Body of Christ in 
the Blessed Sacrament was the cause of his equally 
lively faith in the Mystical Body of Christ, " the Church 
of the living God." This faith he exercised towards all 
men ; for in all he saw Christ, their Redeemer and 
Sanctifier, and recognised in them actual or possible 
Members of "the Mystical Body of Christ," which is "the 
Kingdom set up by the Lord of heaven upon earth " 
(Dan. vii.), to manifest the eternal mystery of God's 
love, not to man only, but, as St Paul says, that " to the 
principalities and powers in the heavenly places might 
be made known through the Church the manifest 
wisdom of God according to the eternal purpose which 
He made in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Eph. iii.) 

This faith in the Church, as the visible Kingdom of 
God upon earth, the channel of all sacramental Grace, 

Oil the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. 143 

and " the pillar and ground of the truth " (i Tim. iii. 15), 
caused in him the greatest veneration for the Priesthood, 
by which the Real Presence of Christ is preserved on 
earth ; and for the Pastors of Souls, especially for 
Bishops, and above all for the Supreme Vicar of Christ, 
the Pastor of Pastors, by whom the Mystical Body of 
Christ is propagated, and " built up of living stones, a 
temple to God," in visible unity, (i Pet. ii. 5.) 

He would have the priests of his Institute look upon 
themselves as helpers to the pastors of «ouls, and to 
the priests in parochial charge. But especially he laid 
it down as a rule, that in undertaking works of charity 
for the good of souls, they were to wait for the call of 
those who were responsible for souls, and especially, as 
a general rule, to wait for an invitation from the 
Bishops, rather than make arrangements of their own 
accord for undertaking new establishments of active 
charity. In all external work in the Church it was 
his principle " to do nothing without the Bishop." 

Lastly, he held it as a thing beyond doubt that the 
Roman Pontiff, speaking ex Cathedra, is the infallible 
Doctor of the Church. This he required to be 
taught in the Schools of his Order long before its 
definition as an article of faith. To this infallible 
Magisteriuin of faith, morals, and discipline he expresses 
his submission in all his writings. It has already been 
recorded how, when two small works of his were placed 
on the Index, he made his instant submission, and even 
asked to be directed, if any propositions in these books 
were deemed censurable, in order that he might 
retract any error into which he might unwittingly have 

It was this lively sentiment of zeal for the purity of 
the faith that enabled him to bear without a murmur 
the long and bitter opposition to some of his doctrines 

144 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

on the part of a certain School within the Church. He 
would allow no one to blame even the excess of 
language used by his critics, attributing it only to " an 
exaggerated zeal in so good a cause as the purity of 
faith among Christian peoples." 

His philosophical writings had for their grand object 
to help men to faith by the right use of reason, and to 
remove the apparent obstacles to faith created by human 
prejudice and false reasoning. 

So high w^s the opinion of Rosmini, as of a man whose 
writings breathe the spirit of faith in the highest degree, 
that Father Cesare Magglore of the Oblates of St 
Charles at Rho, a most learned theologian, and a great 
director of souls, especially of many ecclesiastics and 
bishops, who had been formed under him, writes thus : 

I feel that only saints can rightly praise the saints, yet I cannot 
refrain from saying that the writings that have helped me most, in 
severe and long continued rationalistic temptations, have been 
those of Newman and Rosmini. But especially against the more 
terrible and desolating temptations of Pantheism, under which I 
have suffered, one author alone has been given me by^ God, and 
that writer is Rosmini, and especially his Theosophy.' At the first 
pages that I read of that work, and almost at the first lines, I felt 
that truth had taken possession of my mind, my whole being was 
moved within me, and I ended in tears of gratitude to God and to 
our Blessed Lady. I had always believed in the most Holy 
Trinity, by supernatural Faith, but I now believe, also, with the 
conviction of my reason as well, and I find no longer any difficulty 
in believing in, and forming a conception of, the mystery of 

Ojt Rosmini s Virtue of Hope. 

The virtue of Hope in Rosmini was as conspicuous a 
mark of his character as that of Faith, which it has been 
attempted to describe. 

His grand motto or device which he had written above 
the door of his cell at Monte Calvario, was and is still 

On the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. 145 

as he left it, " Bonum est praestolari cum silentlo 
salutare Dei," " It is good to await in silence the sal- 
vation of God ; " and over his cell at Stresa, " in silentio 
et in spe erit fortitudo vestra," " in silence and in hope 
shall your strength be," teaches the same. 

But his hope was from his earliest years placed in the 
true life of man, " the life to come ; " and he took the 
things of time only as so many steps by which to arrive 
at the things of eternity. He was scarcely more than a 
child when he one day warned his mother to make no 
family arrangements that should depend on him, so 
early did he meditate on taking '' the Lord for the por- 
tion of his inheritance." Very early in life he asked his 
parents' permission to receive the tonsure, and make his 
studies for the priesthood. He renounced in will his 
patrimony, and only that his uncle Ambrogio, who was 
the head of the family, insisted on making him his heir, 
he would in effect have ceded his rights to his brother. 
As it was, his brother being well provided for, he de- 
voted all his still large fortune to works of charity and 
to his Religious Institute. Thus did he live from first 
to last, " a stranger and pilgrim upon earth seeking his 
country," and watching all the ways of Divine Provid- 
ence, by which he knew his path-way in life would be 
directed, to lead him to all the good for his own soul and 
for others, that was written down in the Book of God's 
Predestination and Providential Order. " In silence and 
in hope " he went on his course with joy ; he " walked 
before God and was perfect " in doing, so far as he knew 
it, " the will of God on earth as it is in heaven," and in 
carrying out " the Kingdom of God within " himself and 
promoting it in all others who came within his influence. 

When he was lying seriously ill at Milan he wrote : 

Recommend me to our Lord. I am out of health : I wish for 
nothing but the Will of God in all things. When I think of what 

II. K 

146 Life of Antonio Ros7nini, 

God, with a powerful voice, seems to call me to do, it does not 
seem to me that I shall die so soon. But who knows, He may- 
have designed to do all without me. 

Again he wrote to another friend during the same 
illness : 

They say I have one foot in the grave, but not for this am I 
discouraged ; nay, my faith and hope grow stronger, because God 
chooses the weak things to confound the strong." 

When he was waiting at Rovereto, in ill health, for 
some sign as to the way in which he was to lay the 
foundations of his Order, a work that he was at length 
convinced was the Will of God for him to attempt, he 
wrote : 

I expect here the Bishop of Treviso, who is my friend, and in 
whom I have full confidence, but let our rest be in God alone. 
The favour of men never encourages me, nay, it alarms me. 
Miserable should I be if I put my trust in man. God grant that 
I may rather die than ever place my hopes in man or in human 

From Rovereto he went to Monte Calvario, to wait 
there " in silence and in hope." A letter written to a 
friend in Milan reminds him that now, in 1827, he was 
in the same purpose of dedicating himself to the ceno- 
bitical life as when nine years before, at Milan, he and 
the friend to whom he was writing, and another, agreed 
to follow this life together. He says, sending to him 
the old paper of agreement : 

Read the date of this and judge if I am not the man of Decem- 
ber 27, 1819. I said then to my two companions, " My friends, we 
are thinking so much for others, but what about ourselves ? " My 
words seemed to damp the ardour that had been enkindled, but 
were they not true ? I have never forgotten them ; perhaps I have 
been tardy in following them ; yet perhaps that seed, after nine 
years, will strike root ; perhaps our Lord will cause it to bring 
forth fruit. 

Only Rosmini would have blamed himself for being 

On the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini, 147 

slow to follow the leading of God. He had turned 
neither to the right hand nor to the left, he had been 
employed in learning, with St. Francis " to know God 
and to know himself, to love God and despise himself ; " 
that solid foundation of sanctity which too many of 
those who wish to do good for others, neglect to lay, or 
lay down in a superficial perfunctory way. The result 
is often disastrous. Men who might have done great 
things for God, turn out "great failures." ^ Men ex- 
pected much from their undoubted talents, but all 
comes to nothing. They are not gold but gilded. The 
gilding rubs off, and men see they are not what they 
thought them. And why is this } Because these are 
not the well polished arrows in the quiver of the Lord. 
God will not use them, in mercy to themselves, for 
they are wanting in that humility, without which there 
is no solid virtue, no true and ardent charity, no solid 
success. There is nothing in them but natural gifts ; 
little stimulus to action but vanity. They are like good 
actors, nothing more, they act the part well, unconscious 
even that they are "acting;" so persuaded are they in 
their vanity that they are the apostles they seem. They 
sometimes act the apostle so well and so unconsciously, 
that they get the character of being what they seem. 
They may even produce a great impression by the 
fervour of natural eloquence, their real feeling of their 
part, and the liveliness of their imagination, by which 
they can picture spiritual things, and create pictures in 
others. They may be the cause even of the conversion 
of souls. They have the graces gratis datce, but alas, not 
gratiim facientes ; they are channels of spiritual gifts to 
others, but not to themselves. Forgetfulness of self, 

^ All that is here said on the Sanctity necessary for the Priesthood is 
taken in substance from Rosmini's Conferences on Ecclesiastical Duties 
published in Italian and German. 

14S Life of Antonio Rosmtni. 

true and profound self-knowledge and self-contempt, 
is not in them. They want virginity of soul, they are 
drawn by many subjective loves, and adhere not with 
undivided heart to the one Spouse of their souls. In a 
word, they are not saints, and he who would walk in 
the supernatural atmosphere of the Priesthood, without 
at least aiming daily to overcome self — to become a saint, 
will fall by little and little, or at last, by a sudden and 
crushing fall, by the way of vanity, perhaps, into some 
one or other of the deadly snares that Satan spreads 
around with ever assiduous watchfulness, to cause the 
priest to fall, seldom without involving other souls in 
moral ruin. 

Rosmini had spent all these long years in self-prepara- 
tion before he allowed himself to think it possible that 
God called him to do any special work for the good 
of others. He was content to do the few small things 
that came in his way, thus copying as perfectly as pos- 
sible, our Lord's " thirty years " of Hidden Life in the 
Holy House of Nazareth. In all this we see his life of 
passivity, of hope and waiting upon God, expressed in 
the words over his cell, which embodied the idea of his 
whole life, " It is good to await in silence the salvation 
of God." 

His profound trust in Divine Providence convinced 
him that, as all good was in the hands of God, and He 
was Infinite in goodness and loving-kindness to man, 
He alone knew the times and the ways which from all 
eternity He had prepared for all the events for man's 
good that were to issue in time. No man could take 
these good things out of His hands, or anticipate them. 
He felt that it was nothing less than an impertinence 
in man to put himself forward and, as it were, prompt 
Divine Providence. It was only the Incarnate Wisdom 
of God who could venture to say Ecce venio, " Behold I 

Oil the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. 149 

come," because He knew that the time appointed in the 
eternal counsels had arrived. Moreover, when He had 
come, He awaited everything from the same Divine 
Providence, and never passed out of the hidden life, but 
when He was called by external circumstances, and 
knew the time had come. 

Rosmini had studied in faith the virtue of waiting in 
hope, in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. What wonders 
might Jesus have wrought, according to our human way 
of judging, if He had appeared in various parts of the 
earth, exerted his majesty — simply said, " I am He," " I 
am the desired of all Nations," " I am come," and " I 
am Who am ; " " all power is given to Me in heaven 
and on earth," ?>., I am the self- existing Creator in 
human flesh — which words he pronounces only at the 
moment of His Ascension. 

Jesus denied Himself what His human heart must 
have longed for, for He says, " I am come to cast fire 
upon the earth, and how am I straitened until it be 
enkindled ! " The immense charity of Jesus was com- 
pressed, or straitened, during all His Life upon earth, by 
His seeing clearly that the good that was speculatively 
possible was not morally possible, because it was not 
the W^ill of God, who respects the nature and the will of 
the beings He has made. He does this because He sees 
the whole of all things, and knows in His Wisdom that 
their free-operation, although it will impede many par- 
ticular goods, will work together for the greater good of 
His Elect, and for the perfecting of the glory of His 
kingdom of the universe. 

At that part of the Constitutions where Rosmini 
speaks of the foundation on which his Society rests, he 
says — "On one foundation does this Society rest, the 
Providence of God the Father Almighty, and he who 
should ever attempt to give it any other would take 

150 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

the way to destroy it. The Superiors of this Society 
must remember to avoid these two things : they must 
neither presume on it, nor fear for it. They will pre- 
sume on it if they ever come to place their confidence 
in it — in the beauty of its order, the prudence of its 
rulers, the number and greatness of its members, and 
the aids with which God may please to enrich it ; if, in 
a word, they should think it necessary to the Church 
of Christ, should come to look with contempt on those 
of the faithful of Christ who do not belong to it, and to 
their own condemnation should judge of others un- 
favourably." " Hence," he continues, " our thoughts 
must not be of our own Society, but always of the 
Church of Christ, meditating in the joy of our heart on 
the promises made to the Kingdom of God, and on the 
immoveableness of the Divine Counsels which are its 

It was for this, and for no other end, that he went to 
Rome, in order that he might seek the Will of God, 
from the lips of the Vicar of Jesus Christ. As soon as 
he had received what he took as a message from heaven 
encouraging him to establish his Order, he left Rome, 
nor did he return again until some ten years later, 
when it was intimated to him that the Vicar of Christ 
had considered, and was prepared to give the formal 
approbation to the Rules of his Institute. This brought 
him again to the Holy City, but no sooner had this 
been obtained than he went back again to the North of 
Italy. He never returned to Rome during the lifetime 
of Gregory XVI., although he was his personal friend 
and protector. The Holy Father had expressed to him 
his intention of giving a House to his Order in Rome, 
but, overwhelmed with other more important affairs, no 
steps were taken by the Pope in the matter. Who can 
doubt that a word from Rosmini to his intimate friend 

On the Virtttes of Antonio Rosmini. 151 

Cardinal Castracane, or to the Holy Father, reminding 
him of his intention about the Roman House, would 
have secured its establishment. Yet that word was 
never spoken. 

What he had all along felt on this matter appears 
from the following letter, written to his great friend in 
Rome, the Abate Barola, at the beginning of the Pon- 
tificate of Pius IX. : 

Of what you tell me, that the Institute might easily plant itself 
in Rome, I know nothing. No doubt such an Institute as ours 
ought to have its centre in Rome, since its object is universal 
charity, under immediate obedience to the Head of the Church ; 
but the times and the moments are known to God only, and you 
know my motto, " Bonum est prsstolari in silentio salutare Dei." 
This is the rule of all my actions, and I have had it written up 
over the door of my cell at IMonte Calvario. Gregory XVI., of 
holy and dear memory, promised me a House in Rome during his 
Pontificate. This was not God's Will, therefore neither was it 

About this and other things he used often to say, 
"We must not anticipate the times that Divine Provi- 
dence has established, nor presume anything of our- 
selves, but await everything from God." 

Although he knew that Pius IX. was very favourable 
to him, and he had received intimations from two of 
the Cardinals immediately about him, that the Pope 
would gladly see him in Rome, he did not, as many 
less humble men would have done, take this as an invi- 
tation from heaven. He only attributed it to the great 
kindness of the Pope, and of his friends who had given 
a too favourable account of him. He remained un- 
moved. He did not " take advantage of his opportuni- 
ties ; " as it would be generally said, " he stood in his 
own light." He said to himself, " I have nothing to 
ask from the Pope. I cannot suppose that he needs 
my counsel, I have no right to trouble him for an 

152 Life of A^itomo Rosniini. 

audience." When at length he went to Rome, it was 
at the urgent request of the King, Charles Albert, on 
important affairs of State ; and he went without any 
will of his own, simply because Divine Providence asked 
of him that act of charity to his neighbour. Yet he saw 
that, humanly speaking, he was not likely to bring 
things to a successful issue, and that if he succeeded it 
would be the work of God. 

When his mission failed ; when the Roman Revolu- 
tion involved new dangers to the Church and to society; 
when he was treated with suspicion and discourtesy by 
those about the Pope ; when they put two of his works 
on the Index, and the Police agents ordered him to quit 
the Neapolitan territory, his letters all breathe the same 
spirit of immoveably tranquil rest in God, Who knows 
what is best, and how in the long run to bring it to 
pass ; and that evil permitted by Him is only permitted 
because it is the necessary means for the working out 
of the greater good. 

When his works were subjected to examination he 
was not disquieted, but continued writing other works 
during the whole four years of the examination. Thus, 
"in silence and in hope," he laboured on, amidst the 
greatest disappointments and anxieties, never for a 
moment, as is attested by Don Paoli, his daily com- 
panion, " losing that serenity and cheerfulness which 
are the sure signs of a soul whose rest is in God." 

Speaking of the persevering energy with which he 
pursued the great life-work of his Philosophy, Don 
Paoli says : " Convinced as he was that in this way he 
was fulfilling the Divine Will, he did not allow himself 
to be drawn aside from it by the hope of favour or fear 
of hostility ; he did not trouble himself for any human 
aid ; he set forth those principles and theories which, 
he doubted not, would in time produce salutary fruit. 

071 the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. 153 

He would say, ' The Kingdom of God cometh not with 
observation,' and recommended to us all a spirit of 
faithful waiting and patience. We who were always 
near this great man, who saw and heard him under so 
many different circumstances, are persuaded that there 
never perhaps was one who worked and wrote with 
greater confidence in God and greater hopes for the 
future of the world than Antonio Rosmini." 

Don Paoli also relates how " one day we were going 
up the steep ascent of Stresa, and looking at the 
building of his Noviciate which was then nearly com- 
pleted, I said to him, * Father, we can see here what a 
foundation of faith you have had on which to raise such 
a great mass of building.' He replied, 'Yes, and I tell 
you I am not discouraged nor narrowed because we are 
now such a little flock ; nay, by this my courage is 
increased, and if we were to make no greater progress 
in a hundred years than we have made during the last 
ten, my confidence would not be less, but greater. For 
you must know that while I was once replying to a 
letter of the Marchesa Canossa in 1825, there flashed 
into my mind so vivid an idea of our Institute, and 
this so wholly unexpectedly, that I was forced to say 
to myself, * This is in truth what God wills to be ; ' and 
though, according to our principle of making no move, 
unless drawn to it by Divine Providence, I kept myself 
in silence and quiescence for three years, yet my con- 
fidence increased day by day that I should one day see 
that thought incarnated ; and every day my hope 
increases that it will be wholly realised. If at present 
we had a great concourse of people coming to us, 
perhaps I should fear." 

As he lived, so he died, full of confidence that God 
had given him a work to do, and that what he had 
begun would be carried to its completion by his 

154 ^-if^ of ^ ntonio Rosmini. 

disciples, namely, the restoration of Christian philo- 
sophy, which should give men a secure basis for human 
thought, and should lead men to faith by showing that 
it is only the abuse of reason that has made the 
acceptance of revelation difficult. At the same time, 
he would have the members of his Society cultivate 
and shew forth so perfect a spirit of self-denying 
Charity, that men should be led to revelation and 
adhere to it, because of the loveliness of the Christian 
character, formed on the model of Him who is the 
Highest of all Philosophers, the true Lover of Wisdom; 
the Man, Christ Jesus, who is the Wisdom Incarnate. 

One word in concluding this short sketch of that 
faith and hope which were two of the characteristic 
virtues of our Holy Founder. One who was his intimate 
companion writes : 

I remember Father Founder saying to me one day when our 
affairs looked very menacing, " I never have so much hope as 
when everything seems desperate." So complete was his trust 
in God that he exulted when all human aid failed ; for he felt with 
St. Paul, " When I am weak, then am I strong." " Our sufficiency 
is of God." 

Rosmini s Virtue of Charity. 

" God is charity, and he that dwelleth in charity 
dwelleth in God, and God in him." We have seen that 
Rosmini's life was " a life hidden with Christ in God." 
Therefore his life w^as charity. The spring of all his 
actions was union with God, and that diffusive spirit of 
charity which is the necessary external expression of 
perfect union — perfect love of God ; for " how can we 
love God whom we have not seen, if we love not our 
neighbour whom we have seen," who is set before us as 
" the image and likeness of God," of whom Christ the 
God-man has said : " I was hungry, and sick, and naked, 
and in prison, and you ministered to Me," and again. 

On the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. 155 

"Whatever you do to one of the least of these my 
brethren, you do unto Me " ? 

Rosmini's life of Faith and Hope, which it has been 
attempted to describe, his detachment from self, his 
piety and spirit of uninterrupted prayer, are sufficient 
proofs of the union of his soul with God in Charity. He 
gave himself and all he possessed from his earliest years 
to the service of God and the good of his neighbour. 
The Institute of Charity itself was the creation of his 
charity, and he left it upon earth in full confidence that 
it would be worthy of its name, and continue his work. 
This alone is a sufficient proof of his Charity to his 

Charity to our neighbour has a threefold office — to 
do good to his body, by Temporal Charity ; to do good 
to his mind, by Intellectual Charity ; to do good to his 
moral nature, by Spiritual Charity. 

Rosmini's spirit of Temporal Charity had always led 
him to do works of mercy and loving-kindness to the 
poor, and to all who needed such alms as he had to 
bestow. Perhaps it may safely be said that even as a 
child he never spent anything however small on self-in- 
dulgence. Indulgence of self was to him no enjoyment ; 
he had so clear a mind, so tender a heart, that it would 
have caused him intolerable pain to have spent anything 
on himself, and left others to suffer, if it was in his power 
to relieve them. It was this which weighed greatly 
with him in his decision to embrace the Evangelical 
counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience in Religion. 
These he practised while he was still a young layman in 
his father's house, and afterwards, when he succeeded 
to the family property, and became a Grand Seigneur. 
He felt that it was difficult, if not impossible, to draw 
a line and say how much he ought to give in charity, 
therefore he decided to " sell all that he had " to God, 

156 Life of A ntonio Rosmini. 

and be " God's Almoner," reserving for himself nothing 
but things strictly necessary. 

Among things necessary he rightly considered one to 
be the proper maintenance of his family. Therefore so 
long as she lived, his mother and her comfort in all that 
belonged to the state she had been used to, was with 
him a first care. He showed the same consideration for 
his brother, and though he did not share his patrimony 
with him, as he was already properly provided for, he 
gave him the greatest independence in the family man- 
sion, and so far as was prudent in the management of 
the estates. He was also the means of procuring for 
him a marriage with a most estimable lady of rank and 

Rosmini also " used hospitality without grudging ; " 
in all these things attending to the convenances of 
society without extravagance, but without parsimony, 
while in all his own personal expenses he was a strict 

After he was chosen Arch-priest of Rovereto, his love 
of alms-giving afforded him one of his most delightful 
duties. He was large handed, yet prudent, in his giving ; 
but he made it his duty to investigate personally all the 
cases of charity to which he gave. It was partly for 
this reason, but chiefly for their spiritual advantage, that 
he visited regularly every family in his parish, and kept 
a complete status aniniaruni of every individual under 
his charge. He knew exactly their means of support, 
so that he could judge whether those who applied for 
alms were deserving objects, or whether they were in 
destitution through their own fault. 

But it was not only in what he gave, but in the way 
he gave it, that he showed the exquisite delicacy of his 
charity. He gave to those who were ashamed to ask, 
to those who were in danger of sin from want of timely 

On the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. 157 

aid ; and when he gave, or when he refused to give, it 
was with a kindness of manner that doubled the value 
of the gift, or sent those away whom he refused, not 
wounded, nor hurt with him, but with themselves, that 
they had not deserved his kindness. 

With his old servants he was so considerate, that 
they all lived to die in his service, or in the family 
mansion after he had left it. So also with his work 
people, farm labourers, and tenants ; they were treated 
by him as old friends, he never raised their rents, which, 
according to old family custom, were very easy, and 
whenever unforeseen misfortunes, bad seasons, floods, or 
tempests made the regular rent too hard on them, he 
always felt it was but simple justice that the loss should 
be shared by their landlord. 

The Intellectual Charity of Rosmini was joined with 
Spiritual Charity, and was the mainspring of all the 
intellectual energy he brought to bear upon his studies, 
and expressed in his writings. The object of all was to 
lead men to think, and to think correctly, and to attract 
them to profound thought by showing them that at the 
bottom of every thought was being, that bei?ig is tnith, 
that it is eternal, infinite ; that the ideas in the mind 
of man are reflected from the Mind of God, and logically 
lead to God. 

He was sure that the more the mind of man was 
elevated above the frivolities of life, and strengthened 
by fixed consecutive thought, the less power would 
sensuous images have to lead his thoughts astray. He 
knew that such temptations easily find their entrance 
into vacant minds, but are easily repelled by those who 
have been accustomed to reflect. The mind that has 
the habit of reflection easily perceives its own thoughts, 
knows when it is distracted, and is not so liable to fall 
into unconscious trains of thought, which are the 

158 Life of Antonio Rosmini, 

medium through which dangerous illusions gain a hold 
on the mind and will of man. Thus man consents, almost 
unawares, because he has half consented before, to 
thoughts which the delicacy of a trained and thoughtful 
conscience ought to have detected, and a strong moral 
energy repelled at the beginning. 

Rosmini laid the greatest stress on the importance of 
using the understanding in prayer, by attention to the 
meaning of the words used ; and therefore on the im- 
portance of training the intellect by mental study, as an 
immense aid to sanctity. In his Ecclesiastical Con- 
ferences used by him in giving Retreats to the Clergy, 
speaking of distraction at prayer he says, *' Do we admit 
voluntary distractions at prayer, do we take no pains to 
remove the occasions t " He speaks first of external 
occasions, and then coming to internal, he says, '* But 
as it seems to me, the most important matter on which 
we ought to examine ourselves is the use we make of 
our understanding in the prayers we recite " {e.g., in the 
Divine Office). He goes on to say that "the common 
people who do not understand the Latin words can no 
doubt pray well by offering up their mind and heart to 
God, intending to join in what the priest means in the 
words he addresses to God in the public service, but 
this is not enough for the priest ; and how if the people 
mean to pray with the priest, and the priest is not in 
any way attending to the meaning of what he says to 
God. An automaton might perhaps be constructed to 
recite prayers as well as this. These are not prayers, 
for prayer is the raising up of the mind and heart to 
God." He concludes, " I confess that it is not a little 
difficult to accompany, with actual attention of the 
intellect, that which we mean to say. From our earliest 
childhood we may have had the habit of reciting prayers 
materially ; having got the habit, it adhered to us after 

On the Virtues of Antonio Rosniini. 159 

we had learned the language used by the Church, and 
even after we entered the priesthood. Perhaps no one 
told us in the beginning of the duty of using our under- 
standing of the language employed, in order to make our 
prayers to God perfect. I say perhaps 710 07te, because 
it is too true that a thing so important and so necessary 
is but too little inculcated. Those who were before us 
had perhaps but little of the habit of reflection, and so 
from generation to generation this material way of 
saying prayers has been handed on, doing an infinite 
injury in the Church beyond all that can be expressed, 
and depriving it of infinite treasures of grace which it 
would obtain through its ministers if all prayed with 
actual attention and with love. I think it so important 
to unite the prayer of the mind to the prayer of the lips, 
that I have no doubt whatever that if all who pray 
accompanied their words with actual understanding, and 
the affection consequent on such actual attention, this 
alone would produce a complete reform in the faithful, 
which would renovate the entire Church. St Thomas 
says, " It is not without sin when anyone permits wan- 
dering thoughts in prayer, it is as if we were addressed 
by a man who did not attend to what he was saying. 
. . . ." " These distractions are excusable when they 
arise from human infirmity in those who set themselves 
to pray with a true spirit, and from the instinct of the 
spirit, but through human infirmity their mind after- 
wards wanders." 

But for all this, such distractions may be voluntary in 
their cause if that cause arises from a frivolity of mind, 
never trained to steady, continuous, and accurate thought 
and attention to the meaning of words ; (for these are 
nothing but the expressions of ideas), and to the ideas 
themselves of which they are the expression. All deep 
studies tend to produce these habits in the mind, but no 

1 6 o Life of Antonio Rosmtn i. 

studies do this so effectually as a good course of Christian 
philosophy. For philosophy taken broadly is the science 
of the reasons of things, and especially of the ultimate 
reasons or grounds of thought, and therefore of all words 
which express thoughts. Under all the reasons of things 
there lies implicitly the ultimate reason, and this takes us 
to the first cause. Philosophy is that study which of all 
others cultivates all the natural powers of the soul, 
teaches it the art of subjecting sense and imagination to 
reason, as reason herself stands subject to the Light of 
Truth, which constitutes man a reasonable being, and 
subjects him to the exigence of Truth "the Supreme 
Reason or Light, which, as St Augustine and St. 
Thomas teach, is in God and is imparted to man." ^ 

Rosminis Spiritual Charity. — " God is Charity, 
and he that remaineth in Charity remaineth in God, 
and God in him." To remain or abide in God is, 
throughout all Rosmini's theology, as in that of the 
great Fathers of the Church, and of St. Thomas, 
St. Bonaventura, and the great Theologians, no misty 
metaphorical expression. It means the ineffable 
condition of a soul "made partaker of the Divine 
Nature " (2 Peter i. 4). Rosmini calls it perceptio Dei, 
perception of God, and perceptio Deifonnis, or Christi- 
forjuis ; and by the word perception he always means a 
something actually felt, either through the medium of 
the body, or immediately by the spirit — something 
therefore real and tangible, and which actually touches, 
as distinguished from what we only think of; this last 
he calls ideal being, the first real being. In this way we 

• Lex yEterna sen Divina est Ratio Divince Sapientioe — " Lex naturalis 
est participatio Legis seternce in rational i creatura, juxta illud Davidicum 
(Ps. iv.) : Quis ostendit nobis bona ? Signatum est super nos lumen Vultus 
Tui Domine ; ordinem naturalem conservari jubens, perturbari vetans." 
(St. Augustine quoted by St. Thomas. See note in the Compendmhi 
Theologice Moralis — Gury, S.J.) 

On the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. i6i 

may arrive indeed at the negative idea of God by 
means of the idea of being which is in our minds by 
nature. But no idea we are capable of forming by 
nature can give us the positive concept of God or the 
actual perception of His Reality. This is where Ros- 
mini's system is the very antipodes of Pantheism, 
which says that the positive notion and the Reality of 
God is naturally presented to man. They say, "We 
think of universal Being because we see it in everything, 
and universal Being is God." 

In Rosmini's system the ideal and real order are 
shown to be such distinct forms of being that no idea 
can give us the real, no thought can give us the substance 
thought of, any more than a painting of food can 
support our body. 

The state of Charity, "of abiding in God," is the 
state of Sanctifying Grace, and this is an actual per- 
ception or touching of God, as the perception of our 
body by our soul is an actual touching of soul and 
body. This last gives its natural life to the body, and 
the supernatural perception or actual contact of God 
by our soul gives the soul its supernatural Life, and 
acting on the human mind and will, and on the whole 
person and nature of man, it imparts the Theological 
virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity .^ 

The state of Charity is the eternal destiny of man. 

^ The supernatural perception, or contact of our spirit with God, is 
expressed in the Missal prayer; '"'' Perceptio Corporis Doviini ;" ?iXi^ in 
the ^^ Deus qui huffiancz stibsiaiitia,^^ where we. pray: ^^ Ejus Divinitatis 
esse consortes ;^' so also St. Peter says, '^ Divina Naturce participes 
effecli ;^' that we "are made partakers of the Divine Nature" (2 Peter 
i. 4). The Sacred Humanity of God Incarnate is the medium of our 
union with God; "I am the Vine," says our Lord, *'you are the 
branches;" "Abide in Me and I in you" — and speaking of the Holy 
Eucharist: "He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood abideth 
in Me, and I in him " (St John xv. 6). 

II. L 

1 6 2 Life of A ntonio Rosmini. 

"This is the Will of God, your sanctification." This 
was "that fire which Christ our Lord came to cast 
upon the earth," to enkindle in man the love of God 
that was in Him. 

This is the reason of the name Rosmini chose for the 
Institute of Charity. Hence he lays it down as the 
first of our Rules. "The End of this Society is the 
salvation and sanctification of our own soul ; " because 
he saw clearly that, as the sanctification of the world 
was begun in the individual sanctification of Christ, 
who says, " For their sakes do I sanctify Myself, that 
they also may be sanctified in Truth" (John xvii. 19); 
so the individual sanctification of His disciples was to 
be a divinely-appointed means for the sanctification 
of the world. Christ declares He had come to found 
" The Kingdom of God upon earth." He says to His 
disciples, "Fear not, little Flock, it is My Father's good- 
will to give you a Kingdom." Then He tells them to 
live detached from earth, to have their heart in heaven, 
to seek after perfect justice here, " Seek ye the King- 
dom of God and His justice;" and tells them "the 
Kingdom of God is within you," i.e., it is contained 
potentially in their own individual sanctification. 

This spiritual charity which begins at home, in 
order that it may difi"use itself abroad, embracing in 
desire the ends of the earth — all good to all mankind — 
all that may tend to their spiritual sanctification — this 
is the one end of the Society ; and the second principle 
is perfect immobility where God has placed us, sanctify- 
ing ourselves by the perfect performance of every duty 
of our state, seeking the kingdom of heaven by justice. 
The third is, that should God call us by His Providence, 
especially by obedience to those who rule in the Church 
of God and have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, 
then, instantly, and with all the pent-up fire of a 

On the Virtues of Antonio Rosmini. 163 

charity like that of Christ, which is straitened until the 
earth shall be enkindled, "the Father or Brother of 
Charity, according to the mind of Rosmini, and he would 
have us all like-minded with himself, — throws himself into 
his work, regardless of self, of success, or failure. Such 
is the Institute of Charity according to the "pattern 
shown him on the Holy Mount," when an eremite like 
Moses, Elias, or Christ in the Desert, he wrote the 
Rules and Constitutions of the Order of Charity. Who 
is there amongst us who does not feel the blush of shame, 
in writing or reading words like these, when " he looks 
on this picture and on that " — what he ought to be, what 
his Founder expected from him, what has been eternally 
decreed shall be the true picture of a Father or Brother 
of Charity, and then contrasts this with himself. God 
grant that humility based on self-knowledge and self- 
contempt may be in us all the basis of justice (for 
humility is truth), on which God may be pleased to 
raise the edifice of charity, using us as instruments, 
because, individually, we feel we deserve nothing but 

Before concluding this chapter on the heroic virtue 
of Charity in Rosmini, it may not be out of place to 
say a word of his love of those who opposed him and 
did him injury. Some would have called them enemies, 
but he always severely chid the use of that word, and 
only called them his " adversaries " or " scientific 
opponents." For instance, he wrote to one of his 
companions : 

It seems to me that you have allowed yourself in censures of 
other Religious Orders, and especially of that Order to which we 
owe so much, since from it we have taken so many beautiful Rules. 
I pray you most earnestly to correct yourself, making the sign of 
the Cross on your tongue. Believe me this is most important for 
the sake of charity, edification, and gratitude (since we are children 
of so many of the other Orders), and also for the sake of prudence. 

164 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Don Tommaso Bottea, parish priest of Male, a man 
of great weight, writes that 

Among many other traits of Rosmini's virtues, I remember when 
once at table with other priests, who were dining with him, one 
remarked in a deploring tone, that he was troubled with So many- 
enemies ; he at once replied, " Signor Abate, do not say enemies, 
but adversaries ; I know of no enemies." 

No one who knew him ever heard him say 
an impatient word of those who differed from him^ 
nor of the ways they took to propagate their opinions, 
and to obtain the condemnation of his works, and 
as a necessary consequence, by implication, the sup- 
pression or ruin of his Order, which to him was as 
the apple of his eye, because he believed it was the 
work of God. He had too much confidence in God to 
fear even this, still less did he fear the condemnation of 
his works, first, because he believed that what he had 
written was true ; secondly, because if in any part it 
was not true, he wished to know this, that he might 
give glory to God by his own humiliation ; thirdly, as 
he believed his Order to be the work of God, so he 
believed God would not have permitted him to write 
what, if condemned, would practically destroy, in all 
human probability, the work of his Order. But with 
Rosmini there was but one necessary thing, the advance 
in his own soul of the Kingdom of God's charity ; all 
else was but a possible means, which God might use, 
or not use, for the propagation of his Kingdom. Failure 
or success were only means in the hands of God. The 
one moving principle of his whole life was, " Seek ye 
first of all the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all 
other things shall be added unto you." 



Of the Cardinal Virtues in Rosmini. 

Of the cardinal virtues, the first is justice. What has 
already been said of Rosmini's faith and charity covers 
indeed all the ground of justice, for, as has been 
repeated many times, justice ^ is "to g\wQ to each his 
due," "reddere suum cuique," to respect the rights of 
each, and not draw to our own subjective advantage 
what belongs to another. Man's whole duty is to put 
the true value on each being as he weighs it in the un- 
erring balance, in the light of truth. It consists in 
throwing nothing of man's own into the scale, to disturb 
the true weight, but in recognising being according to the 
being that is in it. This is his one high rule of morality. 
There was nothing in Rosmini more conspicuous than 
that God was the object of all his thoughts. The hom- 
age of his whole being to God was, as it were, spon- 
taneous, like the breath we draw without any conscious 
effort. His works were active love of God ; the love of 
one whose life can only be expressed in the words of 
St. Paul, true in their degree of all Saints and saintly 
men, " I live, not I, but Christ liveth in me." So did 
he perform with all the Saints, in union with Christ, 
who is the only perfect lover of God, the duty of justice 

1 The word justice is used in the strict theological sense oi jiistitia • 
reddendi suuvi cuique, of paying what is due, not to man only, according 
to the restricted sense of the English word justice, but what is due also 
to God. 

1 66 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

to God, which is perfect charity, paying to Him the 
snum cuiqjie, rendering to God His due, through Jesus 
Christ our Lord. This same spirit of justice to God 
ijiade him regard all things as under His dominion, to 
be treated by him as a steward treats his master's pro- 
perty; so he regarded every moment of his time, and 
all things that were placed at his disposal, or brought 
under his influence. Whatever came to him by the 
Providence of God, whether things or persons, he treated 
as talents trusted to him to negotiate to the utmost 
advantage. Thus his whole life was a sacrifice to duty, 
he left no time or occasion for the exercise of inclina- 
tion. Such was the character of his daily life as nar- 
rated by those who were his daily and hourly com- 
panions ; in his devotions, his studies, his meals, his 
walks, his conversations, his relations with those of his 
household or communities, and with those without, 
strangers, men of the world, men of business, savants, 
and statesmen. 

Meek as he was habitually, so that he was never 
ruffed in temper, one thing moved him to anger and 
brought the blood into his face, showing that by nature 
he was fiery. This one thing was a want of justice, 
truth, and straight-forwardness, even though it injured 
no man. He detested even the common forms of 
excuse often used by good people, according to the 
customs of society, and he would never employ them 
himself; even simple exaggeration gave him pain, and 
those who were with him, and committed this fault, 
would see by his manner that it did not please him. 

He was minute in his attention to all that concerned 
the expenses of his household and of every house in the 
Order, as also in all that belonged to the general adminis- 
tration of his property. He expected the same of all, 
for according to the Constitutions as sanctioned by the 

On the Cardinal Virtues in Rosmini. 167 

Church, the vow of poverty leaves all rights of property 
in the hands of individuals, only they can apply nothing 
to themselves, nor to any other purpose except under 
the direction of obedience. 

He would have nothing wasted, and would often 
repeat the words of our Lord, " Gather up the fragments 
that remain, that nothing be lost." 

He was very scrupulous not to go beyond his income, 
and never allowed the capital itself to be touched after 
it had been assigned, as the Constitutions require, to 
some particular work of charity. 

He was a strict observer of all laws, whether of 
Church or State, and when he found the State interfer- 
ing with the rights of education, of association, of 
matrimony, or with the temporal possessions of the 
Church, he combated to the utmost, and only gave way 
so far as was possible in conscience, and to avoid graver 

He was most unwiUing that there should be any 
dissensions between Church and State. He laboured 
hard in his writings, and in his conferences with leading 
statesmen, to keep the State, Christian, and to prevent 
its interference with the rights of conscience. He aided 
much in keeping the poor-school education in Italy 
Christian, and Catholic ; and his Nuns or Maestre Ros- 
mhiiane, as they are generally called, to the number, now 
of more than 600, in small communities in numbers of 
towns and rural districts in the north of Italy, attest his 
success. He did all that was in his power, by his 
writings, and in his arguments with Ministers of State, 
to preserve the sacredness and inviolability of the matri- 
monial contract. For he knew that the just rights of 
the Church and of society would be best secured if the 
rights of conscience in education and of the Christian 

1 6 8 Life of A ntonio Rosmini. 

household were safeguarded.^ His zeal for justice as 
regards the Pope's temporal sovereignty was conspicuous. 
He did his best to preserve it, by the project of a Con- 
stitution for Italy and for the Roman States, and for 
the Federation of Italian Sovereigns, which would have 
preserved their rights intact, with the Pope at their head ; 
as has been seen in the chapters on Rosmini' s Diplomatic 
Mission to Rome. 

Rosmini's Virtue of Temperance. — Self-government 
had been his constant study. One in whom the light 
of truth and justice, the light of the '* Reddere suum 
cuique," burned so brightly, could not easily be self- 
indulgent, and allow himself to follow the pleasant 
rather than the right. Vigilance was one of his great 
characteristics, combined with continual prayer, or 
rather a life of union of mind and heart with God. 
" Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation " was 
the constant stimulus of this pure and humble soul. It 
is no wonder then that he was temperate in all things. 
At meals he always had some Life of a Saint read by 
one of his Novices or Clerics in turn, and it was ob- 
served that so deeply interested was he in the reading, 
that it would often seem pretty certain that he took no 
notice of the food he was eating. There is a tradition, 
that once his lay brother by some accident poured oil 
into his cup instead of coffee, and that he seemed not to 
have noticed it. It was only after the meal that the 
brother discovered what he had done. Of wine, Don 
Paoli writes : " It may be said that what he took was 
scarcely more than enough to colour the water, it was 
nearer to total abstinence than to moderation." 

His conversation showed the same spirit of temper- 
ance. It was as perfectly as possible framed after the 

^ See Filosofia delta Politica and del Diriilo, which treat exhaustively 
on all the public, social, and private rights. 

On the Cardinal Virtues in Rosmini. 169 

model of the prayer of David, " O Lord, set a watch 
upon my tongue, and keep the door of my lips." He 
spoke all that was necessary to keep up cheerful conver- 
sation, but no more. No one ever heard him speak about 
the profound things and stores of erudition that were 
in his mind, unless he was directly consulted, and then 
he spoke simply and with as few words as possible. 
Vanity, and a desire to shine, was not in him. He said 
once to one who had his confidence, that he did not 
think he was troubled with vanity, for that he felt real 
pain when he was praised, so intimately was he persuaded 
of the truth of " Non nobis Domine," '' not unto us, O 
Lord, but to Thy Name be the praise," " nisi Dominus 
edificaverit domum," " unless the Lord shall build the 
house, their labour is in vain who build it." 

But in nothing did his temperance and self-command 
come out more than in that waiting upon Providence, 
which was, as we have seen, his master characteristic, 
" Bonum est praestolari in silentio salutari Dei." 

On Rosmini s Virtue of Prudence. — That grand domi- 
nion which Rosmini had been enabled to acquire 
over himself, his senses, imaginations, thoughts, and 
affections, and the great light from God in which he 
saw all things, produced that happy condition of soul of 
which the Psalmist speaks, "Anima mea in manibus 
meis semper," " My soul is always in my hands." Such 
a soul has necessarily the virtue of prudence. 

For this virtue embraces and presupposes the virtues 
of prevision and of counsel. It is prudence that directs 
our choice of the end and of the means best adapted to 
reach it. It was prudence that directed him to justice, 
as at once the end and the means of the whole Christian 
life ; to the work of building up the kingdom of God's 
justice within us, and of extending it to the uttermost 
part of the earth. 

170 Life of Anto7tio Rosmini. 

This prudence in the application of the means to the 
end he carried into the minutest details. It was seen in 
the administration of his temporal goods, and of those 
assigned to any work in his Order, in the circumspec- 
tion combined with liberality in his alms-giving. It is 
seen conspicuously in the Rules laid down in his Con- 
stitution about undertaking works of charity ; and in 
his provision that all property in the Order should be 
held by individuals responsible before the State as 
citizens, while they used their property according 
to their conscience, with the counsel of Superiors. 
The Order was, before the law, as has been said in 
another place, not a moi'al body, but a voluntary 
association of friends, living together in their own 
house, and for their own purposes, so long as it pleased 
them to do so. 

The prudence of this arrangement is clearly seen of 
late years, since Corporate Religious property has been 
seized in several Catholic countries, whereas the Insti- 
tute of Charity has lost nothing and can lose nothing, 
because it is only an assemblage of individual citizens, 
whose private rights cannot be touched without touching 
the rights of private property in general, which could 
only result from socialistic revolution. 

His prevision and wisdom appears also in his refusing 
to give a Religious habit to the members. The priests 
are simply dressed as other priests, the school brothers 
as clerics, with a slight difference in their collar, which 
distinguishes them from the priests ; and the lay brothers 
in a workman's dress or in a common black coat, such 
as is used by seculars. He said once when asked the 
reason of this, " Man is but too apt to exalt himself, and 
when he gets a distinctive habit on his back, which is 
looked upon as an honourable badge, he is very apt 
to think something of himself. The exterior habit has 

On the Cardinal Virtues in Rosmini. 1 7 1 

nothing to do with interior virtue, and if it may some- 
times be a help to us, it is because we are very little 
spiritual, and very weak in virtue." 

The Constitutions are a marvellous monument of pre- 
vision and wisdom. " One day," says Don Paoli, " I said 
to him, ' Father how is it that other Orders were first es- 
tablished and grew up, and then their Constitutions were 
written, but ours are ready-made from the first.' He 
answered, ' You need not wonder at this. Other Orders 
had to create, we have only to copy, and take advantage 
of their works. We have three Holy Founders of our 
Institute : St Augustine, whose spirit should be ours, 
and which is conspicuous in his works as regards the 
twofold order of charity ; St Ignatius, as regards 
the interior government of the Society ; St Francis of 
Sales, as regards his singular spirit of gentleness 
and tranquillity.' " The modesty of a great mind 
which seeks only to copy and compile, is a mark of 
great prudence. 

Rosmini, though his was a mind on which the truth 
came like a lightning flash, never acted on the spur of 
the moment. He tested his intuitive perceptions by 
reflection, long deliberation, and continual prayer ; and 
even when he was convinced that a thing was good and 
practicable, this was not enough unless he clearly dis- 
cerned that, in the Providential guidance of external 
circumstances, the time and the way for undertaking it 
had arrived. Here was his great prudence that he 
looked for the end and the means, solely, to the Wis- 
dom of God, and the Power of God to carry out the 
purposes of His love ; trying, as has been said more 
than once, to make himself and others, polished arrows 
that might be fitted to the use of Him Who alone can 
direct them so as to strike the mark. 

Of Rosmini' s Virtue of Fortitude, — Rosmini was long 

1^2 Life of Antonio Rosimni. 

in deliberation, and in this his fortitude was conspic- 
uous, no less than in his prompt energy in execution, 
tenacity of purpose, and calm tranquil perseverance. 

Fortitude causes man to rise to the level of great 
occasions ; to dare to undertake great things ; to en- 
counter obstacles and dangers, from which weaker 
spirits shrink. It is a certain sense of interior power of 
soul, and a light of prevision, which would seem like an 
instinct in some great men that endues them with this 
fortitude. In Rosmini there would seem to have been 
all this, but he had besides a supernatural fortitude of 
waiting on the Providence of God. He had besides 
that strength which is based on humility — a sense of 
utter incapacity for doing any good for mankind in the 
moral order except through Divine Providence, the 
power of God, and the wisdom of God. It is such 
humility that is the great stimulus of prayer, of the 
prayer of power ^ of which it is said by Christ, " Nothing 
shall be impossible to you." Rosmini's supernatural 
fortitude was the strength of weakness, as was that of 
St. Paul, who says, " When I am weak, then am I 

It needed the gift of supernatural fortitude in an 
exalted degree, to have drawn Rosmini from his humble 
hidden life, to project two of the greatest works that man 
could conceive, viz., to. reduce philosophy to a system 
and to restore to it the ancient reasonable grounds, of the 
objectivity of truth. In doing this he knew that he 
must necessarily encounter the greatest opposition from 
other schools of philosophy, within and without the 
Church. The other work was the establishing of a Reli- 
gious Institute of boundless Charity, which should be, in 
the moral order, somewhat like the idea of being in the 
intellectual order, absolutely indeterminate, unlimited, 
but capable of universal application and expansion. 

On ihc Ca7'dinal Virtues in Rosniini. 173 

Such was his courage and force — like the "Virgin 

Knight " he bore 

" A virgin heart in work and will, 
His strength was as the strength of ten, 
Because his heart was pure. 

Such was the fortitude, resting wholly on the strength 
of weakness, of a soul that was strong because undefiled 
by its own subjectivity. It was the perfect exemplifi- 
cation of his own motto, " In silentio et spe erit fortitudo 



The Essence of the Institute of Charity as exemplified in 
tJie Life and Virtues of Rosmini. 

To give the most precise notion of the Essence of the 
Institute of Charity is only to set forth the Life and 
Virtues of its Founder. The Rules he impressed on 
his Institute are those on which his own life had been 
modelled, for, like our Blessed Lord and Master, he 
" began to do and to teach," learning by practising, 
teaching by doing. 

Rosmini throughout his whole life detested nothing 
so much as outside pretence, falsehood, and meanness. 
His intellect held moral principles — truth in action — the 
innate sense of duty, as its most luminous convictions ; 
they were still more the persuasions of his will, but 
above all, his whole life was their most deliberate and 
entire expression. 

Consistency and thoroughness were his ruling char- 
acteristics, and the heroicity of his life was seen in the 
undeviating consistency and intensity of action with 
which he reduced to practice his great principle of 
morality, ricognoscere Vente secondo la sna entita — the 
divine imperative which dictates to every man " recog- 
nise being according to its beingness — according to the 
exigence of the nature of that being. 

His life was the expression of this principle ; hence 
he was thorongh in all things, perfectly genuine and 
true in every thought, word, and action ; loving God 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 1 75 

above all things, because He alone is Infinite., Essential 
Being, and all other beings, whether persons or things, 
in God, and for God, according to the measure of being 
or good that is in them from God, or which in God's 
Providence and Grace might be educed from them, for 
the carrying out of the eternal purposes of God and 
His glory in creation. 

Rosmini was, therefore, a man of entire self-sacrifice ; 
and, in this age, when the useful and the pleasant are 
the end of most men's thoughts, words, and actions, 
and when success is, to the many, the only measure of 
right, he set himself to follow the one only thing he saw 
which was worth following — to succeed in which was 
the only true success — the one light which so fixed the 
eye of his soul that all lesser lights paled before it. ' 
This light was tnitJi — heavenly truth — the one light of 
the firmament of heaven that shines down upon this 
earth — divine objective truth, by which man is able if 
he ivill to see truth in all things — the essences of things. 
Therefore his whole soul sought after justice, which is 
the honest recognition and love of truth in all things — 
to give what is just to all, and therefore, above all, to be 
just with God. 

This led him to the great principle of Charity, which 
is a Divine fire supernaturally infused into the soul, 
nay rather, " the Holy Spirit shed abroad in the human 
heart," by which through actual union with God the 
Christian is made " a partaker of the Divine nature," 
and it becomes possible for man to love God with all 
his powers, natural and supernatural, with an infinite 
love, through union with the love of God that is in the 
heart of Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Hence he felt himself moved to draw men into union 
with himself, for love is essentially diffusive, that they 
might seek with him, and aid one the other to seek after 

176 Lije of Anto7iio Rosmini. 

this Truth, Justice, and Charity in God ; and to pro- 
mote their growth in the souls of other men, if it should 
please the Providence of God to make use of him or of 
any of those whom God might give hini, in order to draw 
other men to the love of God for which they were created. 

This is the meaning and design of the Institute of 
Charity. It is nothing but the perfect Christian life of 
imitation of Jesus Christ, followed under the vows of 
effective poverty, chastity, and obedience, which aid the 
soul to detach itself from all that is not God, and is not 
loved for God's sake. Rosmini could with difficulty be 
persuaded that he was called to found a Religious 
Order. He said in the audience he had of Pope Pius 
VIII., " I am not called by any special and extraordi- 
nary vocation like St. Ignatius." He went on to 
explain to the Pope that he only aimed at leading him- 
self, and drawing others to lead, the perfect Christian 
life under the vows of the Evangelical counsels ; that 
they would not aim at undertaking any special work, 
but only at being ready for any work to which God 
might please to call them, especially through the voice 
of Christ's Vicar upon earth. To this the Pope replied, 
" You are on the right road, provided you begin thus in 
a small way, not aiming at great things. I give my 
blessing on the way of perfection you have placed 
before me." 

The Rules and Constitutions of the Institute of 
Charity as they were formed by the Founder and sanc- 
tioned by the Church, have this one end in view, "to under- 
take iiotJiing beyond the sanctification of our own soul, 
to refiise nothing to which the voice of God's Providence 
may call us ; for this on receiving God's call becomes an 
element in our own sanctification." It was this which 
Rosmini said was shown him in an instant like a flash 
of light. He had laid down the germ at Rovereto on 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 177 

December 10, 1825, as has been seen in the first part of 
this work, where he speaks in his Diary of what he calls 
passivity, namely that we are not to go, in action, beyond 
ourselves, without a call from God, but have to attend 
to the cutting down and rooting up of our vices, the 
frightful growth of the inherent corruption of our nature 
through original sin. These are the moral thorns and 
thistles of the spiritual desert of our own souls which we 
have to cultivate, until by grace, restored in the higher 
region of the soul — its personality — and by our own exer- 
tions and " sweat of our brow," we have reduced cor- 
rupted nature, with all the affections of our soul, to a 
spiritiLal paradise, in which God walks once more with 
man on earth, and the soul enjoys a consciousness of its 
supernatural life of union with God, as real as the con- 
sciousness of the union of soul and body which constitutes 
man's sense of his natural life, health, and vigour, and 
thus, so far as human frailty permits, all the acts, words, 
and thoughts of the Christian are directed immediately 
to God. 

In order to produce in the soul this blessed state of 
peace with God — " the Peace to men of good will " — 
Rosmini gives what he calls " the twelve instruments of 
the Spiritual Art" — '* duodecim instrumenta Artis 
Spiritualis," " which," as he says, " if used by Novices 
continually day and night will work out the perfection 
of their souls." 

"We take the classification of these virtues," says 
Don Paoli, ^' from a golden little book which Rosmini 
composed for the use of his Novices, in which we see 
described the ideal of the Christian, and of the Religious 
man, imitating the life of Jesus Christ in the observance 
of the Evangelical Counsels. The idea is taken from 
St. Benedict," and those, like Don Paoli and all others 
we have known who lived daily and hourly with him, 

II. M 

1 78 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

and this for many years, testify that he lived the life he 

This book is called the Mamtal of the Second Proba- 
tion, and forms part of the Book of Rules of the Order. 
At the beginning we read, " These are the twelve in- 
struments of the Spiritual Art, by the use of which day 
and night the Novices will work out their perfection, 
viz. : Agreement of Will ; Love among the Disciples of 
Christ ; Abasement and Mortification of themselves ; 
Poverty ; Chastity ; Piety ; Self- Abnegation and Obedi- 
ence ; Simplicity ; Modesty ; Edification ; Good Inten- 
tion ; and the Charity of God." We will begin with the 
first of these, which is the foundation of the rest. 

AgreemeJit of Will should be, according to this first 
of Rosmini's Rules, " perfect and constant in all the 
brethren, so that being united in the bonds of fraternal 
charity they may better and more efficaciously give 
themselves to the service of God and their neighbour." 
Therefore he would have " each one endeavour to have 
his will so disposed as to agree with others ; and to take 
in good part with holy discretion whatever they may 
say or do, so that before examination of reasons on either 
side they should be disposed to prefer the opinion of 
others to their own, and should not allow the least self- 
love to make them less ready to consider what makes 
for the opinion of others." 

Don Paoli tells us that, as it seemed to him, Rosmini 
sometimes carried this virtue "even a little too far." 
And again, in another place, he says, " I would observe 
that if Antonio Rosmini had an observable defect, it 
was an excessive esteem of persons with whom he was 
in contact. Being unable, through the limitation of 
human nature, to see at a glance the amount of being 
imparted to each individual, he was apt to exaggerate 
in his esteem of men, for fear of not esteeming them 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 1 79 

as they deserved. He would often say that by reason 
of a particular defect in any person, we are not at 
liberty to pass a judgment on his character as a whole." 
Thus, it came to pass that Rosmini was in practice 
an embodiment of his Rule^ in his disposition to 
defer to the judgment of others, when no evident reasons 
were against it. 

There was no proportion between such a man as he 
was, the Founder and Superior General of his Order, the 
profound philosopher and theologian, versed also in 
great knowledge of the world, and with a wonderful 
insight into human character and any, or all of his 
companions put together. "Yet," as Don PaoU tells 
us, " every matter, great or small, he submitted to con- 
sultation, and not only did he allow each of us freely to 
express our opinion, but he took great account of the 
reasons given. He did not call his Consultors together 
in order to register a foregone conclusion of his own, 
but he held his mind in balance until he had heard 
their judgment. This was clearly seen from the manner 
in which he weighed the reasons, pro and contra, and 
from his delay in coming to a conclusion. He seldom 
said, * I have my reasons ' without stating them, but 
whenever charity and prudence did not oblige him to 
be silent, he gave his reasons with the greatest candour 
and simplicity." 

Such was the esteem in which he held intelligences, 
far inferior to his own, and the readiness with which he 
conformed to their judgments, that he was sometimes 
seen to admit a doubt of some of the propositions in his 
writings, when any objection was raised to them, and he 
often accepted amendments which touched only the 
form, but not the substance, of what he wished to say. 
He always evidently studied, according to the words of 
the Rule he has left us, "whenever he could, by an act of 

1 8 o Life of Anton to Rosmini. 

humility, or for the sake of charity, to favour the opinion 
of others, provided truth was promoted and not com- 
promised." Whenever, however, as the Rule continues, 
he " could not wholly or in part agree with others, this 
never in the least degree diminished mutual charity." 
He had the greatest tolerance for difference of opinion 
in things open to different judgments, as was seen in the 
fact that two of his professors and one of his secre- 
taries held opinions on various questions of philosophy 
and theology very different from his own ; yet he never 
showed the least coldness to them on this account. 
They felt they were not less dear to him than the rest, 
nay, he respected them for their honest difference of 
opinion. In this he fulfilled perfectly his own Rule, " Let 
the brethren, although differing on intellectual questions, 
live none the less united in the closest charity." 

" In conversation," says Don Paoli, " no one ever saw 
in him the slightest movement of temper. He never 
insisted on his reasons. When he saw they did not 
produce their effect, he left them to be reflected on. By 
the modesty of his judgments, the largeness of his heart, 
the gentleness of his words, the courtesy of his manners, 
he gained the hearts of all ; he thus made the Religious 
Family which he governed an image of that multitude 
of the faithful in Apostolic times, who had one heart 
and one soul." 

This disposition to agree with others made daily con- 
versation with him delightful, so marked was it by a 
refined courtesy. He was more than all that is so de- 
lightful, in the imitation of Christian politeness by the 
polished gentleman. He used to say, " One must never 
hurt a man's self-love without necessity. Sacrifice your 
own self-love on all occasions, even when you are bound 
to defend the rights of truth." 

"I remember," says Don Paoli, "an instance, one 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 1 8 1 

amongst many, which I noted down at the time, show- 
ing his marvellous humility in deferring to the judg- 
ments of his inferiors. I was then a Novice at Monte 
Calvario, and he called me to accompany him to 
Domodossola. As we were on the road, he began to 
speak of a certain postulant, and asked me my opinion 
as to his Vocation. I said ' I thought very well of him, 
owing to his spirit of generosity.' He replied, ' that it 
seemed to him there were strong reasons of pru- 
dence to doubt his succeeding in the Institute. But,' 
he continued, ' I always fear to depend on my own 
judgment, and, therefore, v/e will take counsel of some 
other person of weight, and as you suggest Don Carlo 
Rusca, I will take his advice.' ^ This he said with such 
simplicity and truth that I remember I spontaneously 
raised my hat in expression of the veneration I felt for 
a man of such wisdom and light from God, who showed 
himself so ready to submit to the judgment of one who 
was his own spiritual son, a youth without experience, 
ignorant, and a mere novice in the spiritual life, and 
in general education." 

Rosminis Love for the Disciples of Christ. — The 
Charity of Rosmini extended to all men, but especially 
" to those of the household of the Faith." The disciples 
of Christ ought to be united by a special bond of union, 
which was to be preserved by agreement of will. This, 
as we have seen, was based on charity and humility. 
This is the new Commandment of which Christ speaks 
— "A new Commandment I give you, that you love 
one another." This was still more to be the mark of 
those who lived in the practice of the Evangelical coun- 
sels in the Institute of Charity, who ought to feel and 
exhibit in their converse with one another, as the Rule 

^ This youth was received into the Noviciate, but, as the Father fore- 
saw, he did not persevere. 

1 82 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

says, " an exquisite Charity, such as the world knows 

Rosmini treated all his brethren with this same tender 
effusion of charity, which evidently came from his heart. 
It was the same with the roughest of the lay brothers 
who had never before been beyond their mountain 
villages, as with the most refined by birth and educa- 
tion. It will be remembered how, on his return from a 
long visit to Rome, he speaks of the tender emotions of 
fraternal love with which he embraced his brethren at 
Monte Calvario. He was at all times accessible to any 
of the brethren who wished to speak to him, and in the 
midst of his dictation on the profoundest philosophical 
themes, or other important occupations, he never showed 
himself pre-occupied, or unable to throw his whole 
interest into what they had to say. He encouraged all 
to write to him freely, and he never left them long 
without a reply, which showed that he had entered 
fully into the case put before him, and he gave them 
always comfort, gentle reproof, or encouragement, as 
the case might demand. He required, as he laid down 
in the Rules, that all Superiors should use great gentle- 
ness and care with the sick. He himself visited them 
frequently with the most fatherly kindness, and with all 
a mother's tender solicitude for their wants. He took 
special care to see that all did their duty, whether Supe- 
rior or subjects, and especially that all duties of piety 
or of intellectual training were attended to thoroughly. 
So also in regard to the exercises in plain chant, the 
accurate learning of the ceremonies of Divine worship, 
the practice of dissertation and preaching, and the con- 
ferences on spiritual and theological subjects. 

He never exempted himself, however great his occu- 
pation, from the hour of conversation in common 
recreation after dinner and after supper, and from the 

The Esse7ice of the Instittcte of Charity. 1 83 

visit of a few minutes to the blessed Sacrament after 
dinner, just before recreation. He composed and 
established the custom of reciting the beautiful prayer 
which is said in all our communities, at that time, to ask 
grace to use well our converse with one another : 

O Lord Jesus Christ, who wast pleased to appear on earth and 
converse with men, to mould the race of men to a heavenly life, 
grant that we may so honour Thy holy converse with men that we 
may impress its blessed image on ourselves. Who livest and 
reignest, God, world without end. Amen. 

For the end of recreation, when we again visit the 
Oratory before the time of silence begins, he composed 
the following prayer, which is also in daily use : 

Suffer us not, O Lord, to be troubled about many things, but 
shed Thy sweetness abroad in our hearts, so that whilst necessity 
obliges us to speak, our joy may be still in listening to thee. 

The same fraternal charity which he would have 
among his own brethren, he would have extended 
especially to all priests and Religious. It has been 
mentioned in a former chapter how he received and 
entertained the Jesuits when they were driven out of 

Amongst Religious none were more welcome than 
the Franciscan Fathers, who, in their journeys to and 
fro over the Alps, knew they had a cordial welcome to 
expect, and aid for their journeys, from the Rosminians. 

Rosviinis Spirit of Self-abasement. — Rosmini taught 
that Charity was itself no small reason for self-abase- 
ment. To humble oneself is not degrading, but it is 
rather a high and generous virtue, because it is just to 
appreciate the merit of others, without exaggerating 
our own good points ; which last is a thing so natural 
to self-love, it is therefore good to make abstraction 
of our own merits, and it is not against truth to put 

184 Life of Ant 071 20 Rosmm /. 

them out of sight, in order to recognise more impartially 
those of others. This is one of the many forms of 

But Rosmini had so low a sense of his own good 
qualities, that he had no difficulty in humbling himself, 
and putting himself, as it were, out of sight. In his 
Rule on this point he teaches that *' to employ oneself 
in humble offices is a great help to the practice of 
humility," hence he was used when at Monte Calvario 
to take his share in all domestic duties, of sweeping the 
house, serving in the kitchen and at table, distributing 
the soup and bread to the poor, and giving them 
religious instruction. 

He taught and practised the duty of never speaking 
of himself, or saying anything that might turn to his 
own praise. No one ever heard him speak, even indi- 
rectly, as if he were rich or of noble family, and had 
connections of rank and title. If in his presence any one 
spoke of his connections, of his rank, riches, learning, 
or of any other thing that tended to vanity, he would at 
once, though gently, turn the conversation, with as great 
modesty as a pure soul turns instinctively from every 
object dangerous to chastity. It has been observed 
that he seemed to have a strong repulsion from pro- 
nouncing the personal pronoun " I," and whenever in 
stating his personal opinion even on scientific subjects, 
he could do so without affectation, he used the word 
" We." It will be observed in his scientific writings, 
that whenever he can do so he states his opinion in the 
words of St. Augustine, St. Thomas, or of some approved 
theologian, in order, as far as possible, to avoid the 
appearance of egotism and of any claim to originality. 

When the public began to call the Fathers of 
Charity, Rosminians, he was much annoyed, and wrote 
to all our houses to beg that we would use our influence 

The Essence of the Instihde of Charity, 185 

with our friends that he might be spared this pain. 
But gradually the custom grew up, especially after his 
death. Fathers of the Institute of Charity, was too long 
a title, there were so many other Religious or Chari- 
table Institutions that bore the name of Charity, as 
Padre di Carita, Fratelli di Carita, &c., that although 
in England we are generally known as " the Fathers of 
Charity," in Italy, and in Rome itself, we are known 
(and feel proud that the title has been given us by 
Providence) as Rosminian Fathers— Padre Rosminiani. 
He preached, what this same Rule teaches, that we 
''ought to hide the gifts of God, and advance in hidden 
virtue, unless the service of God obliges us to manifest 
ourselves." Hence it was that he passed the best 
years of his life hidden in the library of his father's 
house, or in the retirement of Monte Calvario, and in 
this " hidden life " he would have remained to the end, 
if the Providence of God had not called him forth into 
active service. He never put himself forward, and 
when he had performed some work to which he was 
called by a direct request, he instantly sought his 
retirement again. 

He taught in his Rule, that " We must rejoice when 
any occasions, justly or unjustly, are afforded us of 
humiliation, for human nature, corrupted as it is, is 
always seeking, forgetful of God, to elevate itself, often 
unjustly; and therefore it is good and just that our 
nature should be humbled, according to the words of 
our Divine Master : ' He that is greater among you let 
him be as your servant, for he that exalteth himself 
shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall 
be exalted.' " 

" Hence," says Don Paoli, "this servant of God^made 
himself the servant of all. He would have no dis- 
tinctions reserved for him in the house. Though 

1 86 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Founder and General of the Order, he would have 
nothing but the common fare, table linen, bed, and 
clothing, no better than was given to the rest. He 
would not be called by any title but that of Padre, and 
to please him we were careful not to give him his title 
of Reverendissimo, 

But the greatest proof of his profound humility and 
love of humiliation was seen when, as has been stated 
elsewhere, his two books were placed on the Index. It 
is then his letters showed a certain exultation that 
he had an occasion given him of humiliation, which he 
had not sought for, but which came to him by God's 
direct permission. So also when his works were under 
examination, he writes that he would be glad if some 
involuntary error which would do harm to no one, 
should be found in them, in order that he might have 
occasion to make an act of public humiliation and 
obedience. On the first of these occasions he wrote to 
a friend : — " The Lord has willed that we should be 
humbled ; this too was necessary for the advancement of 
the Kingdom of God, and since we seek nothing else 
but this, let us rejoice." 

" One day," says Don Paoli, " he was walking with 
Father Molinari and another, along the margin of the 
Lago Maggiore, when a beggar asked him for an alms. 
The Father instantly gave him what the others thought 
a very handsome alms, not so, the beggar, who began 
to grumble and use very abusive language ; the Father 
kept perfectly silent, and when he had arrived at the 
door of the College, asked the man in the mildest tone 
if he had said all he had to say. Then on entering 
the house, he told the lay brother to give the poor man 
a good meal." 

Rosmini s Spirit of Mortification. — After what has 
been already said of Rosmini's interior and ex- 

The Esscjice of the Institute of Charity. 187 

terior life, it is needless to say more in proof of 
his spirit of mortification, A life of perpetual self- 
command is the result and the continual observance 
of interior mortification. His exterior mortifications 
were the ordinary ones of the discipline and catenella, 
which he used with moderation and constancy, accord- 
ing to the rules he had laid down for himself. His 
spirit of indifference as to food has also been noted. 
He took only what was necessary for the body. He 
set forth, however, in his life, what he lays down in his 
Rule, that '' the mode of living in his Institute was to 
be the ordinary common life, with no special fasts or 
mortification by rule ; and this, in order that the 
brethren might be in a condition of health to undertake 
any works of charity that Divine Providence might 
present to them. They were to consider that their 
chief mortification was to be that of the will, in con- 
forming themselves to the will of others, and in accept- 
ing with gladness whatever inconveniences, crosses, and 
humiliations might come to them in their state devoted 
to charity." 

Such was the daily life of Rosmini, which is thus 
described by a certain Doctor in theology, who resided 
for a year or more with Rosmini at Stresa. " He was 
always the same, never showing any melancholy or 
depression of soul, always cheerful and never pre- 
occupied, always kind and ready to receive any one 
who sought an audience or came to him for some per- 
mission, counsel, or other purpose ; residing with him it 
was impossible not to be impressed with esteem and 

His daily and hourly mortification was, never to give 
way to the movements of his subjectivity, but always 
to act Avith reflection for the objective good — ^justice, 
the Will of God ; and " whatever his hand found to do, 
to do it with all his heart." 

t88 Life of A^itonio Rosmini. 

Rosmmi's Spirit of Poverty. — "Blessed are the poor in 
spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." " Poverty 
and charity," says our Rule, "supply great and con- 
tinual occasions of mortification, and render a man 
better equipped for the exercise of Universal Charity." 
In the exercises of the school of self-mastery, Rosmini 
never considered himself more than a scholar, the daily 
practice of Evangelical poverty held a chief place ; and 
in this his rule was, the exact observance of the common 
life of his Religious. 

As has been said when speaking of this matter under 
other heads, Rosmini had established, and it was at 
last accepted at Rome, that the Institute could have no 
property in common, but each one of its members was 
to have a maintenance sufficient to support him at a 
common table j those who had an income of their own 
retained the legal proprietorship, but placed their in- 
come in the hands of Superiors for their disposal, and in 
the first instance for the support of those who had no 
means of their own. 

Rosmini's property has been exaggerated. However, 
among the nobles of the Tyrol, where none are opulent, 
as fortunes are counted in England and America and 
in some Continental countries, Rosmini's fortune was 
certainly considerable. People judged of his riches 
from seeing how splendidly he spent in charity, in 
buildings, in the support of institutions, but especially 
in the maintenance of so many of his brethren, who, 
like St. Peter and the rest, had little but their goodwill 
to contribute to the good of the Community. But the 
strictness of Rosmini's personal effective poverty was 
little known. Literally, as our Rule says, " his living 
was like that of poor men ; " not a penury which might 
weaken the health for works of charity, but a poverty 
like that of the artisan who lives by his labour, the 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 1 89 

poverty in which our Lord lived in the Holy House of 

But man easily deceives himself, and thinks he wills 
effectively what he sees he ought to will, and would 
theoretically wish to will. These illusions may often 
deceive even spiritual men, who, as St. James warns 
us, may be like those who have seen themselves, as it 
were, in a glass — i.e., the theoretical image of them- 
selves — '* and then go away and forget what manner of 
man their real self is." Therefore Rosmini recommends 
in his Rule what he practised, " to rejoice whenever any 
occasion arose of suffering effective poverty and a real 
want of things necessary for comfort, that so we may 
the better sympathise with the poor who suffer often, as 
Christ Himself willed to suffer for our example real 
want of the necessaries of life, as He says, ' pauper sum 
ego et contemptus abjectio hominum ' — ' I am poor, de- 
spised, and abject' " In order to this he made no pro- 
vision for himself; he left everything to be provided for 
him. He had no sitting-room or study, but the room 
in which he wrote all his works also contained his bed. 
This was of the commonest description, without curtains, 
like a bed in an hospital of the poor. His room con- 
tained a desk of unpainted wood, two plain wooden 
chairs and a kneeling-stool, over which there was a 
common crucifix, a picture of the Mater Dolorosa, and 
a common earthen holy-water vessel. 

He kept in his room no change of habit, but only his 
cloak. He wore the same cassock summer and winter ; 
only in cold weather he wore more underclothing, with 
a zimara over his cassock. These, like the rest of his 
garments, were of common rough cloth of the country. 
So careful, however, was he of his clothing, which was 
always clean and neat, and well mended by the lay 
brother who attended to him, that, wonderful to say, on 

IQO Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

his death in 1855, when the sculptor Vela was making 
the model for that beautiful kneeling statue which is 
over his tomb in the Church at Stresa, Rosmini's mantle 
was lent him which he had used every winter for five 
and twenty years. 

When he went to visit the Signora Madre at Rovereto, 
she took particular pains to provide him with necessary 
under garments, which she thought he needed, charging 
his lay brother to keep them carefully for his use. But 
always on his return the lay brother got a scolding from 
the Contessa, because he had neglected her orders, for 
the things all went into the Community stock. In fact, 
Rosmini had given strict orders to his lay brother that 
he should not allow anything whatever to be set apart 
for his own private use. Monsignor Rizzoli, Superior- 
General of the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood, 
writes : — 

I was a student then (when Rosmini was at Trent), and I well 
remember how amiable he was, and how simple in all his ways. I 
remember well the poverty of his dress, and in particular his hat, 
which was of the coarse woolly description, such as few of the 
poorest priests of the Trentino would have worn. When I con- 
sidered the nobility of his birth and his large fortune, I felt that 
his detachment from worldly things was truly heroic, and also 
that of his Institute, which he had founded in the true spirit of 
Evangelical Poverty. 

Don Giambaptista Frigo writes that 

The life of the Fathers of the Institute at Trent, and especially 
that of its Founder, Rosmini, was the edification of all. It was 
said that he took his week regularly with the rest in the service of 
the house and in the kitchen, wearing the wooden shoes of a 
peasant in cleaning mats, sweeping the yards, and the like. 

When he had to travel, after the railways had begun in 
Italy, he said to Carli, his lay brother, " We must not 
go first class, for the second is good enough for us ; and 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 1 9 1 

we must not go third class, because that might make 
people talk." 

Once on a journey from Milan to Rovereto, Carli had 
left behind at the Hotel a portfolio of MS. which had 
been given into his charge. It contained also the pass- 
port and a bank note for several thousand lire. When 
he discovered this loss, poor Carli was in great tribulation, 
and wanted to return immediately, on foot, to Brescia, but 
Rosmini was quite quiet under it, regretting most the 
loss of his passport, which might make it impossible for 
him to enter Austria, so as to arrive at Rovereto at the 
time appointed for a Retreat he was going thither to 
give to the Clergy. He contented himself when he got 
to the end of his journey, with writing to the head of 
the Police, giving notice of his loss, and in due time the 
portfolio and its contents came to hand. 

Once, walking up the hill at Stresa, he picked up a 
piece of charcoal, dropped by accident by the man who 
supplied the College ; having picked it up, he carried it to 
the house, telling the porter to put it in its place, saying, 
" Gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost." This 
sentence, which he was very fond of, is expressed in our 
Rule, which reminds us that " all things in our houses 
belong to our Lord, and are sacred to His service ; every- 
thing must therefore be treated with reverence, and 
nothing must be wasted." 

Yet with all this, when he had to entertain persons of 
distinction. Bishops and other Ecclesiastics, he showed 
an elegant hospitality in all the appointments of the 
table, using fine linen, plate, and china, which was 
reserved for strangers, though, when he dined in the 
community, he used a wooden or tin spoon, and the 
coarse napkins and table-cloths which are used by the 
poor in Italy. 

Rosmiiii's Spirit of Chastity.— 0\xr Rule says, " In all 

192 Life of A ntonio Rosmini, 

that regards the virtue of chastity but few words are 
needed." It need not be said that one so enlightened 
as Rosmini, who had dwelt by faith continually from 
earliest childhood in the brightness of the Divine 
Presence, was in soul pure as crystal. " Blessed are the 
clean of heart, for they shall see God." 

To look upon his face, to mark the purity of his 
expression, the virginal modesty, the bright and gentle 
glance of his eye, was to feel that we were in the 
presence of one of those of whom it could be said, 
" These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever 
He goeth, for they are Virgins." 

Rosmini' s Spirit of Piety. — The characteristic of his 
piety was, as is expressed in our Rule, " devotion to the 
Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, for Christ has 
said. As the loving Father hath sent Me and I live by 
the Father, even so He that eateth Me the same shall 
live by Me. From this inexhaustible fountain proceeds 
at once union with Christ, the greatest charity between 
brethren, and the practice of never ceasing prayer ; as it 
was said of the first disciples, they continued daily in 
the temple, and in the Breaking of the Bread from 
house to house, they took their meat with gladness and 
simplicity of heart, praising God, and having favour 
with all the people." 

The celebration of the Holy Mass and the recitation 
of the Divine Office were the first and most substantial 
food of his soul. He never omitted to say Mass unless 
when seriously ill, every day of his life of Priesthood, even 
on journeys and with great inconvenience and fatigue. 
He felt that he had a duty to perform, a debt due to the 
whole Church ; to the living and for the dead, for the 
honour of God and His Saints. His feeling was that 
as nothing that he could do could compensate for the 
loss of a single Mass, so it was his first duty to offer up 

The Essence of the Institttte of Charity. 193 

this Divine Sacrifice, unless prevented by some grave 
hindrance. Father Serafino Calvi, a Capuchin Friar, 
writes : — 

When I have seen him in his most devout celebration of Mass, 
and afterwards in the Sacristy making his thanksgiving, wholly 
concentrated within, his eyes closed, his face pale like wax, in 
profound meditation, one would have said he was in ecstacy, so 
absorbed was he in God. In the Hnes of that grand countenance 
there was a mixture of humility, of confidence, of love, and filial 
child-hke veneration towards that great God whom he held within 
his bosom, so entranced was he that he seemed as if he felt and 
heard nothing of the outer world, but God only. 

" In reciting the Breviary," says Don Paoli, " every 
one was apt to be too fast for him. He knew it nearly 
all by heart. He generally recited it walking up and 
down with a companion, and with a movement of body 
which kept time with his voice, so that it seemed, as 
some have observed, as if he were joining in a sacred 
song and spiritual dance with the Saints in heaven. 
Adagio, adagio, he would say, and yet we were not 
going fast. But from the first days of his Ordination, 
he had accustomed himself to make the recitation of 
the Divine Office a continual meditation and contem- 
plation ; this came from the habit he practised, and 
so strongly recommended, of attending with the under- 
standing to the meaning of every w^ord in making vocal 

He generally said Mass in a private Oratory, where 
he could allow himself long pauses at the most sacred 
parts without causing inconvenience to others. Father 
Molinari, who, when a Cleric, used to serve his Mass at 
Monte Calvario, relates that when he folded up his 
Alb and Amice after Mass, he used to find them 
frequently damp in the coldest weather in those Alpine 
regions, owing to the extraordinary fervour of spirit 
with which he offered the Divine Sacrifice. One day, 

II. N 

194 Life of Antonio Ros7nmi. 

he says, the Father told him that he had learned more 
in that half hour of the Holy Sacrifice than in ten years 
of study. Although he made his examinations of con- 
science twice every day, and always made one hour's 
meditation before Mass, he made also a special act of 
preparation in the Sacristy before vesting, and a long 
thanksgiving afterwards. In fact he never spent less 
than between four and five hours a day in vocal and 
mental prayer, and this was not interrupted even on 
journeys. To this must be added that it was his prac- 
tice immediately after his Mass to read on his knees a 
portion of Holy Scripture, beginning from Genesis and 
coming in regular order to the end of the Apocalypse. 

Besides this, he always had in private reading some 
ascetic book^ or Life of a Saint. The last Life he had 
in hand was that of St. Theresa ; it was on his prie dieu 
when he died. 

He made the regular practice of meditation and the 
regular preparation of the morning's meditation over 
night, a point of strict observance, in himself and with 
all his Brethren. He used to assemble the Community 
of his own House every evening after the Rosary in his 
cell, and after reading a few verses of the Gospel, he 
commented on them briefly, proposing three points 
for meditation for the morrow. I remember, when 
staying with him in 1854, this practice — Rosmini's 
grand figure, half-a-dozen disciples round their great 
master, all dimly seen by the light of his shaded lamp. 
The meditation was given in the most simple way 
possible. I did not then know enough Italian to be 
able to follow more than the general drift, but the scene 
was enough to impress me with a life-long conviction 
of the importance of daily meditation, and of the great 
advantage, as a general rule, of regular preparation for 
it over night. 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 195 

Before the Rosary, which from childhood he had 
been accustomed to recite kneeling, and without any 
support, he always said, and it has become a custom in 
the Order, " Let us recite this Rosary to ask for the 
kingdom of God and His justice." After the Rosary 
he established the custom, which we still observe, of 
saying a Pater and Ave for each of the following nine 
Intentions : — ist. For our Holy Father the Pope and 
the wants of the universal Church, and that God would 
send labourers into His Harvest ; 2nd. For the Institute 
of Charity and all Religious Orders ; 3rd. For our own 
and all other Civil Governments ; 4th. For the Bishop 
and Clergy of the Diocese ; 5th. For our parents, friends, 
and benefactors ; 6th. For those who are recommended 
to our prayers ; 7th. For our enemies and persecutors ; 
8th. For the conversion of infidels, heretics, and sinners ; 
9th. For the sick, the tempted, the afflicted, and the 
dying. After this he recited the Salve Regiiia, " for 
our own particular necessities," and lastly the De Pro- 
fundis, " for the Holy Souls in Purgatory." If any one 
through inadvertence changed the order of these Inten- 
tions^ he would tell them of it, saying the order ought 
to be diligently observed, because it was not arbitrary, 
but fell in with the relative order of ideas, and of the 
beingness of things, or the greater or less excellence, 
greatness, and universality of the objects prayed for. 
Besides this, he had his various private ej'aculatory 
prayers, and Brother Paolo Zamboni, who for a time 
had the office of svegliatoi'e, i.e., the Brother who calls 
all the rest up with the salutation Benedicanms Domino, 
attests that as soon as Rosmini had answered Deo 
gratias he always began immediately to recite aloud 
the Credo. In this we cannot fail to see, not only the 
pious Priest who turned to God the first thought and 
affection of the day, but also the humble Philosopher, 

196 Life of Antonio Rosmmi. 

submitting his understanding to the obedience of Faith, 
and thus turning with the first Hght of day to " the 
true Light that enlighteneth every man coming into 
the world," that he might be guided in all he 
wrote by no false lights, but by the " Light of Truth " 

Every year Rosmini made " a Spiritual Retreat of ten 
days " according to our Rule. During this time he laid 
aside every other care, spending the whole time alone, 
in meditation, vocal and mental prayer, and examination 
of conscience. In 1849 when he was in Rome, he made 
his annual Retreat with the Passionist Fathers of Saints 
John and Paul on the Celian Hill, in the midst of the 
political excitement below in the city. He was the first 
among us to make the "Month's Retreat" which the 
Rule lays down for those who make their " third Pro- 
bation " or year of retirement, after many years spent 
in external duties as Religious. He has left the Rules 
for making this Retreat with profit in his Maniiale dello 
Esercitatore, a Golden hand-book, which forms the basis 
of all the Retreats and Missions given by the Fathers of 
the Order. The substance of it is the Exercises of St. 
Ignatius, but with certain developments which are his 

" But, besides this," says Don Paoli, "his mind was in 
continual prayer, because the actual presence of God 
had become an habitual, and, as it were, necessary part 
of his consciousness from his earliest youth. His every 
study and his every thought was turned to God. God 
was the immediate Object of his studies ; and he saw 
all other objects and reflected on them, in the light that 
came from God, and every study that he made was in 
order to know God better, and to make better known 
to men the ' God of his heart.' His every act and all 
his affections began from God and ended in Him. 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 1 9 7 

Adoration and love of God and universal charity to man, 
moved him to esteem the goods of God that were in 
men, and to desire for them all those goods that he saw 
were wanting to them." 

"These assertions," says Don Paoli, "are approved 
by my conscience, from the knowledge I had of Ros- 
mini during a course of five-and-twenty years, and from 
the no slight familiarity which, as his secretary, he per- 
mitted me to have with him. During this time, in my 
daily intercourse with him, there were occasions without 
number in which the soul of Antonio Rosmini showed 
itself, as full of the Spirit of God and of prayer as I 
have said ; and all others, and they are many, who had 
the same opportunities of knowing him as myself, attest 
that my words express their own convictions." 

But the five hundred and forty letters of Rosmini, 
published in the two volumes of the Epistolario, are a 
speaking picture of his soul. Still more, the Super- 
natural Anthropology^ and the Cominentary on the first 
Verses of St. John's Gospel, which have been lately 
published in Italian, and are nearly ready for the press 
in English, attest a soul "hidden with Christ in 

His devotion to the Blessed Virgin was the pure and 
simple love for the Madonna of an Italian peasant child, 
grown up into the profounder knowledge, but not less 
simple faith and piety, of the Theologian and Christian 
Philosopher. His Commentary on the Magnificat is a 
proof of this. It was written amidst his anxieties for 
Church and State, at Gaeta, where his diplomatic 
career terminated with the public humiliation of having 
his two political works placed on the Index, where, 
instead of the purple robe of the Cardinalate, he received 
the '' pjcrple robe'' of derision. 

Rosmhii's particular devotion to the Saints reigning 

198 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

with Christ, and to the Holy Angels our protectors, 
was shown especially by the fact that each day, when 
he began to write or dictate his philosophical treatises, 
the first thing he did was to mark the date on the 
margin of his manuscript, by the name of the Saint whose 
festival it was, and whom he took as his Patron for the 
day. He had also a most tender devotion for the Holy 
Souls in Purgatory, and generally on every feria or 
festival less than a Double, he chose the Black Vest- 
ments of the Mass of Requiem. The custom was thus 
introduced among us of always saying mass in black on 
those days. He was no less observant in performing 
all the conditions required for the gaining of Indulg- 
ences, especially applying them in suffrage for the 

It was this same intimate consciousness of the Pre- 
sence of God in persons, that made him so full of ven- 
eration for Episcopal authority, and for the person, not 
of Bishops only, but also of Priests, and of all Baptised 
souls, especially those in whom he recognised the State 
of Grace ; and as he could not judge infallibly of the 
state of a soul, his humility and sense of justice led him, 
with great simplicity, to have such respect for others, 
whatever their position in life, that he followed literally 
the counsel of the Apostle, '' Let each esteem others 
better than himself," and again, " In honour preferring 
one another." 

In Holy Water and other Sacramentals he had great 
faith. One could see this by the way he made the sign 
of the Cross in taking the Holy Water, or in giving the 
Blessing, whenever he was asked to do so. It was 
always a reflected act of Religion, and he discouraged 
the use of sacred things of tliis kind, with either super- 
stition or want of thought, because they were things 
giving grace ex opere operantis — namely, in proportion 

The Essence of the Institttte of Chaidty. 199 

as they are reflected personal acts, and not material 

He had a very special devotion to the Passion of 
Christ,^ and to the Sorrows of Mary. He established the 
Devotion of the seven Blood-sheddings of our Lord, 
and of the seven sorrows of Mary, as the special office 
of the Sisters of Providence. His Church at Calvario 
was dedicated to the Crucifixion, so was the one he 
restored at Trent, and the one he built at Stresa, and 
he died on the Feast of the Precious Blood of Christ 

"Some," says Don Paoli, ''may say, So many 
prayers ! and we have heard wise men and friends say, 
'would it not have been better if Rosmini had spent 
some of this time in writing and in other enduring 
works for the good of mankind } ' We answer, and we 
believe we say truth, if he had prayed less, he would 
have done and written less, and less well." 

Rosmini s self-abnegation and obedience. — " Denial of 
our own will is a characteristic," says our Rule, "of the 
true disciple of Christ, Who says, ' If any one will come 
after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and 
follow Me.' This is done by perfect conscientious 
obedience, which ought not to be difficult to those who 
have to agree with the will of others, and behold in 
their superior and companions, disciples of Christ, who 
think basely of themselves, live mortified, poor, and 
chaste, and know that they are paying obedience, not 
to man but to God, when they pay it to those who are 
invested with legitimate authority. Such as these will 
not consider the person of him they obey, and will be 
equally prompt in submitting to one inferior, as to one 
superior to themselves, when this can be done without 
offending any duty, and for the advancement of charity." 
So did Rosmini teach, so did he act. 

200 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Of his obedience to the Pope as Vicar of Christ, 
mention has already been made in several heroic in- 
stances, which need not be here repeated. But it has 
not been mentioned that when his works were to be 
examined he scrupulously sent to the Sacred Congre- 
gation of the Index every line he had ever published. 
As he had given the most unqualified submission to the 
sentence prohibiting his two small works or rather 
pamphlets, so he rejoiced indeed when the sentence 
appeared which, after four years' examination, absolved 
his other works from every censure. But he gave a 
grand proof of submission in this, that he never sought 
for the publication of the sentence, which he knew to 
contain a high encomium of his person, his writings, 
and his Order. It was sufficient for him to know that 
his works wxre dismissed by the Holy See free from all 
suspicion, and at the same time that the Holy See 
had not thought proper to publish the Decree in full — 
in fact, it was not published until twenty years after 
his death, as will be shown in another chapter, which 
speaks of that part of the history. 

Whenever he went to Rome it was, as has been said, 
through a distinct call of duty. His Diplomatic Mission 
was an act of obedience to the King of Piedmont, 
where he resided by permission of his Emperor, as was 
required by the law of his native country. He accepted 
the Cardinalate unwillingly, but in obedience to the 
Pope, and by his distinct command prepared all that was 
necessary, at great expense, for that high office. The 
Pope's mind came to be changed ; he did not wish to 
make him Cardinal, in the altered circumstances after 
the Roman Revolution, and the return to another policy; 
and Rosmini gladly obeyed. He refused to be made 
Secretary of State, though he knew the Pope had long 
intended this, but when the offer came, he knew the 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 20 1 

Pope was not free, for he was a prisoner in his Palace, 
and, therefore, with permission of the Pope, he respect- 
fully refused the office. He followed the Pope to Gaeta 
through obedience ; he left the Pope at Gaeta at the 
Pope's suggestion. In the same way he acted with 
Bishops. When they asked his aid, and wished to 
establish the Institute at Rovereto, at Trent, or Verona, 
he at once spared neither himself, his money, nor his 
subjects ; but when it turned out that they had changed 
their mind, owing to the influence of the Government of 
Austria, he quietly retired, in obedience to the Episcopal 
desire, and in order not to involve them in anxieties ; 
he asked nothing for the expenses incurred, but nobly 
gave all for the benefit of the Dioceses where he had 

In a word, " he was obedient to every ordinance of 
man for the Lord's sake." To his parents, as a child 
and youth, with a perfection like only to the obedience 
of Christ, whose life of thirty years is comprised in 
three words, '' Erat subditus illis," " He was subject to 
them." He waited for their consent that he might 
embrace the ecclesiastical state. He paid to his 
master in Philosophy special honour, dedicating his 
first great work to him ; and his old tutor was treated 
by him with particular respect. He always spoke of 
him as Signor Maestro, and gave him apartments in 
the Palace at Rovereto so long as he lived. When he 
began the Institute he placed himself under obedience 
to Father Lowenbriick, his first companion, who after- 
wards left him ; he wished him to have been chosen 
Superior of the house, and only accepted that office 
himself, when he was chosen by the others, and this 
provisionally only, until he came to be named General 
by the Pope himself 

In his daily life, his every action was directed by 

202 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

obedience. Every employment had its appointed time, 
set down in his Horary, which he submitted for the 
approval of his Admonitor or Confessor. He was 
most punctual in changing his employment at the 
appointed time, or leaving anything he was doing, 
however engrossing, when the bell rang for some public 
duty of the house, or if any one asked to see him in the 
parlour. He depended on the cook for his food, the 
wardrobe keeper for his clothing, for his writing on his 
amanuensis at the appointed times, as much as if he 
had been any simple brother who had no authority in 
the house ; and whenever he wanted anything he asked 
for it, and on receiving it, expressed his thanks, as 
simply as if he had no right to command. Though the 
master of all, he was, as it were, " the servant of all." 
Even when he had an order to give, it was never given 
in a tone of command, but always, '' It would be well 
if you were to do this or that." His subjects learned 
in their turn to obey the slightest indication of his will, 
as if it were a command. Even in giving correction he 
almost always led the brother who was in fault to blame 
himself, rather than inflict direct correction, and in this 
he succeeded, where harsh words would perhaps have 
done more harm than good. In a word, conversation 
with him was a continual lesson in the school of Jesus 
Christ : ** Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of 
heart, and you shall find rest for your souls ; My yoke 
is easy and My burden is light." 

On Rosmini s Virtue of Simplicity. — " Duplicity of 
heart," says Rosmini in our Rule, " is a subtle enemy 
capable of miserably undoing the whole man, unless 
it be swiftly discovered and eradicated, by the most 
vigilant watchfulness of the mind and heart. It 
must therefore be avoided as a most hateful pest by 
the spiritual man, whether he is dealing with superiors 

The Essence of the InstitiUe of Charity. 203 

or with equals. He that shall have perfectly destroyed 
this odious vice, abominable to God and man, will have 
his heart right, and will make great progress in virtue. 
What would it avail to have offered to the worship of 
God, our will by obedience, riches by poverty, pleasures 
by continence, if these things were not offered up in 
simplicity of heart, and with that spiritual joy which 
comes from simplicity, and unless we can say with 
David, ' I know, O my God, that Thou pro vest hearts 
and lovest simplicity, therefore all those things in the 
simplicity of my heart I have offered to Thee.' Great 
was the virtue of simplicity in Rosmini, and he would 
have all his brethren to have a like simplicity, whether 
treating with others or with themselves. 

He had the simplicity of a child, there was so 
thorough a genuineness in all he said, but his con- 
sideration for others, his great tact and delicacy, never 
allowed him to say anything that might hurt another's 

He was naturally inclined to think too well of every 
one^ and if it had not been for his great power of self- 
restraint, of never acting on impulse, and his unerring 
penetration when he had had time to reflect, he might 
easily have been deceived. People about him thought 
him too simple, and Carli, his lay-brother, who was 
with him in Rome, having heard that the Pope meant 
to make him a Cardinal, like the honest, blunt Tyrolese 
mountaineer that he was, said to him frankly, "You 
are not the man, Padre inio, for a Cardinal, you are too 
simple ; I shall go to the Pope and tell him so." And, 
in fact, Rosmini heard that he had actually asked for 
an audience, and being known as Rosmini's confidential 
attendant, had obtained it. The Father only said to 
Carli, with a smile, " Why, I did not think it was in 
you to do it." 

204 I^'^f^ of Antonio Rosmini. 

Rosmini's humility and charity made him, as has 
been said, a Httle too ready to believe the best of 
every one. But he had that great power of silence — of 
suspending decision and action, and this often for a 
long time, until by reflection he had analysed the case 
in all its bearings, so that he was never actually 
deceived ; because he made it a rule of conscience to 
make his first judgments provisionally only. This, he 
says in several of his letters, is a strict duty of justice, 
and that "all our false judgments arise from short- 
sightedness and haste ; that we do not take time to 
make an accurate judgment, and make our hasty 
judgments without sufficient light." It is the nature of 
the human mind to get at truth gradually and by 
reflection. We cannot see all the sides of a case at 
once, and it is a sin against justice to form anything 
but a provisional judgment at first, or to act upon a 
provisional judgment, unless it be a case in which 
we are bound to act on the instant, and have, there- 
fore, to choose what on the whole seems most probable. 
It was this practical principle of reflection, which had 
become a part of his moral being, that saved Rosmini 
from being ever deceived in important matters. 

To some he seemed, as has been said, too simple 
and guileless, to others, wanting in decision or variable 
in his judgment, being, as it seemed, on the point of 
acting one way, and in the event taking a diflerent 
course. What has been said on his principle of the 
provisional judgment is the key to this apparent incon- 
sistency. That he was not wanting in decision of 
character is clear, from the energy with which he acted 
the instant he saw clearly the bearing of a case, and 
that to act or to abstain from action was the Will of 
God. Then his tenacity of purpose and gift of per- 
severance were conspicuous. 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 205 

Don Paoli says, in his appreciation of the candour 
and simplicity of Rosmini's character — 

His mind was ahvays occupied in seeking for the truth ; always 
rejoiced in its contemplation when found ; but so deeply persuaded 
was he of the limitations of human reason, which are apt to veil 
parts of the truth from us, that he was always open to receive 
truth discovered by others. His mind was therefore most receptive 
of impressions ; and having an intense love of truth, he showed the 
impressions made on him, though he reserved, as we have said, 
his judgment upon them. This gave him that character of un- 
affected simplicity which so clothed his soul, that those who met 
him for the first time and did not know who he was, thought him 
an excellent and simple Abate, a thorough gentleman, indeed, of 
good education, but did not suppose they had been speaking with 
the profound philosopher and master in the spiritual life, whom 
they knew by fame as " the great Rosmini." 

Rosmini's Virtue of Modesty, — " Simplicity of heart," 
as Rosmini taught in his Rule, "produces that joyful 
and gentle modesty recommended by the Apostle. 
* Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice. 
Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord 
is near.' " So did he show in all his life, as the 
Rule continues, "with all persons in every place, 
and in every movement, act, and w^ord ; in walking, 
standing, or sitting ; in the expression of the counten- 
ance, in the w^hole person, and in the dress, there 
should be nothing that could cause annoyance to 
others, or useless gloom. All should indicate a holy 
gravity and propriety, a manly reasonableness, respect 
for others, and amiability, in the Lord." 

This gentle modesty and refinement was in part a gift 
of nature, and the result of a cultivated education, but 
it v/as also the deliberate expression of his soul. Some 
one, observing on a certain exaggeration of compliment 
in letters : " Onoratissimo Signore," '' Most honourable 
sir," " Your most humble and most devoted servant," 
and the like, Rosmini replied: "Well, but I really 
mean what I say." 

2o6 Life of Antojtio Rosinini. 

He was, as his Rule says, " prompt in listening to 
what others have to say," and Don Paoli observes, 
" This I can say frankly, that, long as I resided with 
him, and heard him converse with all sorts of persons, 
learned and ignorant, but all inferior to himself, I 
never heard him say anything like, ' Be silent, what do 
you know about the matter ? ' ' Let me finish,' ' You have 
not attended to what I was saying.' On the contrary, 
he always paid the greatest attention to what others 
had to say ; stopped in the middle of what he was 
saying, to listen even to untimely interruptions, then 
re-stated his proposition, so as to answer the other's 
remark, and so continued the thread of his observations. 
He also had a wonderful way of giving a short resume 
of all that had been said, even in a general and animated 
conversation, so as to take in all that had been said, and 
reply to each observation in a few short sentences, so 
that every one felt that the case had been 'thrashed 
out,' exhausted, so that, as the Rule continues, ' let your 
replies be well thought out,' was thoroughly fulfilled in 
conversation with him." 

When anyone failed to see a point, he never 
humbled him before others, but led him by an easier 
road to fix his mind on the point in question ; or if this 
failed, and the matter was important, he would take an 
opportunity of bringing him to see where he had failed, 
in private conversation, so that self-love might be no 
hindrance to his admitting himself to have been wrong. 
He used to say, " Hurt no man's self-love unneces- 

The illustrious Professor Paganini, of the University 
of Padua, one of the most profound students of Ros- 
mini's works, and of his character, has written under his 
portrait, well chosen words, " Where shall we find virtue 
more pure, a harmony of soul more lovely in every 

The Essence of the Instititte of Charity. 207 

relation of life, a sacrifice more complete of self, and of 
all he possessed, to the honour of God and the good of 
his neighbour ? " 

Rosminis Virtue of Edification. — It is modesty 
which is, as it were, the garment through which the 
soul is seen in all its due proportions, so that the 
virtues of the soul are felt by others ; for modesty 
means exterior grace, harmony, beauty arising from the 
inte7'ior grace, harmony, and beauty of spirit. Neither 
modesty nor moderation, modestia, fully express ; or the 
" modus in rebus,'' which we have tried to put into words. 
The result of this unstudied expression of the human 
personality which is seen in the harmony of its moral 
unity and completeness, is that which gives Edification, 
the less there is of self-consciousness in virtue the 
greater is the edification. This was the Virtue of 
edification in Rosmini, as may be gathered from all 
that has been told of him. 

I remember a saying of Father Gentili, and doubt not 
he had heard it from Rosmini, on whose model he had 
tried to form himself. He said to me once, " Let us never 
think about giving edification, let us take care not to 
disedify." Few things are more irritating than to see in 
really good and holy men, mannerisms which betray 
self-consciousness and a wish to edify. What is com- 
monly called " improving the occasion " is seldom done 
naturally, the actor betrays himself from behind the 
mask, and the part is ruined. Exaggerated "custody 
of eyes," a mincing manner, a sort of tone between 
the purring of a cat and the cooing of a dove, which 
seems to say, "how sympathetic we are," are some 
of the Arts of Edification. Edification must be un- 
affected, artless, the unconscious expression of union 
with God. 

Such was it in Rosmini. The only words that ex- 

2o8 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

press it are these of St. Paul to the Colossians, " If you 
be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where 
Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Mind the things 
that are above, not the things that are on the earth. 
For you are dead, and your Hfe is hid with Christ in 
God. When Christ shall appear, Who is your Life, 
then you also shall appear with Him in glory. Put on 
the New man, who is renewed unto knowledge, accord- 
ing to the Image of Him who created him. Put ye on 
therefore, as the elect of God, and beloved, bowels of 
mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience, bearing 
with one another, and forgiving one another ; if any have 
a complaint against another, even as the Lord hath 
forgiven you, so do you also. But above all these things, 
have Charity, which is the bond of perfection ; and let 
the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts wherein you 
are called, in One Body ; and be ye thankful. Let the 
word of Christ dwell in you abundantly in all wisdom, 
teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and 
hymns and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your 
hearts to God. All whatsoever you do in word or in 
work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, 
giving thanks to God even the Father by Him." 

Don Paoli says, and I have heard the same from all 
who were the intimate companions of Rosmini's life, 
" He edified by the wisdom of his words, the gentleness 
of his manners, the sanctity of his whole life. His com- 
panions in the Institute were edified, seeing in him the 
living picture of all he taught, the thoroughness with 
which he did everything; but especially his piety, labo- 
riousness, and charity. 

" His patience under illness," says Don Paoli, " was 
all the more edifying sin^e he never sought for sympathy 
by complaining of illness. As he was naturally of a 
very fine constitution, it was long before the malady he 


The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 209 

had for years suffered from in secret showed its ravages 
in his countenance. With wonderful fortitude he sup- 
pressed all expression of actual suffering. We only 
knew when he took to his bed how long he had been a 

In his last illness he showed the docility of a child to 
his physicians and infirmarian ; he took remedies in 
w^hich he had little faith, for he was convinced that his 
illness w^as, as it proved, beyond remedy. 

Nothing, however, edified us so much as his charity 
to his opponents, who left no art untried for the con- 
demnation of his wTitings, the destruction of his good 
fame not sparing even insinuations against his moral 
character ; but indeed this was little, since they accused 
him, in every periodical that was under their influence, 
of being an hypocritical priest, a pretended Christian, 
but in reality a Pantheist, i.e., a disbeliever in God the 
Creator, in fact, an Atheist. 

He never was heard to complain of these attacks, he 
made no protests before the authorities who permitted 
these calumnies, saying only, " The Lord permits it for 
our good. He know^s what are the purposes of His will." 
He w^as, however, intolerant of any expressions against 
charity on the part of his subjects, of murmuring 
against superiors, or at one another, or at those who 
injured us. 

It was in the May of 1850 that he put forth the 
following circular to all the brethren of the Order. It 
was partly to correct faults of grumbling and backbiting, 
and criticising the arrangements of Superiors and the 
conduct of one another, partly also to strike at the root 
of evil speaking against adversaries : 

To my most beloved in Christ, the Brethren of the Institute of 
Charity. Wishing to all the spirit of self-abnegation and love. 
I admonish you all, one by one, to abstain from every kind of evil 

II. o 

2 1 o Life of A ntonio Rosmini. 

speaking against your neighbours, but above all against Superiors. 
I admonish each brother, in particular, that if he finds any brother 
complaining or speaking against Superiors, he has hereby author- 
ity to give that brother fraternal admonition, and if the brother 
shall fall again into the same fault, he must correct him the second 
and the third time, after which every brother is placed under an 
obhgation to tell this defect to the Superior, who, if the fault is 
made clear, shall impose on him a sensible penance. If, however, 
he is not yet corrected, the General must be informed, for St Paul 
says, " Evil speakers shall not possess the kingdom of heaven," 
and such when found incorrigible, are unworthy to remain in the 
Institute of Charity, which ought to be an image on earth of the 
Kingdom of God in Heaven, and which is itself a Kingdom of 

Rosmini s Good Intention and Charity to God. — Charity 

to God and the intention of doing all for Him is the 

form and end of all Christian Virtue. Hence this 

Intention is called Good, because it is this which gives 

supernatural moral goodness to actions. 

Rosmini taught that Justice, or the recognition of the 
value of each thing, and the love, therefore, of the 
beauty of moral action, lie at the root of all virtue, for 
even God loves that which is good, because it is good, 
because it is conformed to truth, the beingness of things, 
and to His own Being, the essential Beauty, and Truth, 
and Good. All this enters into that good intention 
which is the essence of moral action. So also, that an 
action be good for us must always be included in human 
motives, but much more ought the moral goodness 
of an action and its conformity with the all perfect 
Will of God, be included, and is that which constitutes 
the supernatural excellence of every moral action. 
Justice is what we ought to seek, happiness we shall 
receive as our reward. " Seek ye first of all the King- 
dom of God and His justice, and all other things shall 
be added unto you." 

Rosmini's aim, therefore, was to rise himself, and to 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 2 1 1 

lead others to rise, to the highest and most perfect 
motives, and he had constantly before him the promise 
of beatitude to those who follow justice. " Blessed are 
they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall 
be filled." 

To see how his was a real hunger and thirst after 
Justice, we will take some extracts from his private 
Diary, beginning with 1832, when he was at Monte 
Calvario, laying down the first stones of the Institute 
of Charity. He writes : — 

" Father, as Thy Son would pray in me, so I would pray in 
Thee. O Father, give me all things ; give me good. I am created 
for good ; give me good. 

He asks not one or another good, but asks for all 
good ; and in willing it, conscious as he was of human 
limitation and infirmity, he continues : 

Give me force, O my God ; through Thy Divine Son crucified 
for me, have pity and mercy on me. 

Father, Thou seest the bottom of my soul, make me good. 
Thou hast created me. Thou canst not deny me, give me all 
things. Oh my God, I am Thine, give me Thyself; I wish for 
nothing else but Thee. 

O Heavenly Father, have mercy upon me ! Thou seest what I 
need. Thou seest it I Thou seest it ! and Thou canst deny me 
nothing^ because I ask it through Thy Divine Son. My Father, 
give me what is fitting for me ; give me all things according to the 
order of good. O Father, if Thou lovest Jesus Christ, save me. 

In these words we have the ejaculation of the Hermit 
of Monte Calvario of Domodossola ; but not less fervent 
are the ejaculations of the Pastor of Souls of Rovereto 
in 1835-36:— 

Make me to know Thee, O my God. Communicate Thy Nature 

to mine, that I may do and will that which Thou lovest. Thou art 

Good itself. I have no force by which to acquire Thee ; but do 

Thou communicate Thyself to me. Oh give me Christ, that I 

may be satisfied in Him. Thou knowest my imperfections, do 

2 12 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Thou apply the remedy. O God ! God ! God ! communicate 
Thyself to me, and I shall exalt and glorify Thee eternally. 

We come next to the time of the approbation of the 
Institute of Charity in 1839, the time also of the first 
violent assault of his adversaries, and he continues to 
cry out to God : 

My Father, do not abandon me. O Infinite, I ask of Thee, the 
Infinite. O my eternal Good ! Make me Thy servant, Lord Jesu, 
as the Father hath made Thee His Servant. Do Thou rule in me 
with almighty and absolute command. 

Great as is Thy Goodness, so much is what I ask, O Jesu. Oh 
give me that which Thou knowest I stand in need of Thy heart 
demands it for me, O my Jesus. O Father, give me that good 
that Thy Son knows of Give to Thy Son, O Father, that He may 
make of me what He wills. 

Grant, O Lord, that I may understand Thy Will with all the 
good ; that we may understand it together ; that we may find it in 
Thee ! May our hearts know each other in Thee, O Lord, wher- 
ever they may be. 

Again we take from the Diary in 1841 : 

I ask of Thee, O Father, that which is within the Heart of 
Jesus. Thou hast given me Thy word, make it efficacious in me 
and in mine. 

Give me, O Father, through Him Whom Thou dost always hear. 
I ask Thee that I may always be what that Heart wishes me to be. 

Lord Jesus, I am a false man, give me to be a truthful man, and 
that all mine may be Thy servants, as Thou art the Servant of the 

Give me Faith in God ! give me faith in God ! All Thy great 
ones come short of truth. 

O Mary, whatever is good before God and Thy Son, ask that 
for me, for that is good also for me. 

Again from 1847 the ejaculations seem to have even a 
greater elevation in form : 

May my heart be Thine, my heart be Thine. Let it be no longer 

1 that is in me, O Father, but Thy Divine Son alone ; annihilate me 
in myself Oh God, I live too long ! Kill me, that Thy Divine 
Son may live through me and in me. O Jesu, my Good, kill me 
with the fiat of Thy mouth. 

The Essence of the histihite of Charity. 213 

The "fiat of the mouth of God " is the Holy Spirit of 
Truth, and of Sanctity, and hence he adds : 

O Tnith, grant that the truth may be in me, that it may 
fulfil its law. Create in me, O Lord, that which Thou wiliest. 
Do Thou do it. O my God, grant that my limitation may 
never be found in opposition to Thy Infinite Essence. 

We arrive now in the Diary at near the term of his 
mortal life in 1855. His adversaries had again returned 
to their charges against the purity of his doctrine, not- 
withstanding the declaration of the Congregation of the 
Index which dismissed every charge. He prays for 
them, saying, 

O my God, grant that I may be in agreement with all those with 
whom Thou knowest that they accord with Thee. In agreement in 
the truth, which some see and others think to see — in agreement 
not in part but entirely. I ask Thee that which the Heart of Jesus 
desires, that is what I ask. 

Can there be greater proof of the Good Intention and 
Love of God than are seen in these breathings of this 
pure and fervent heart written down in secret during the 
space of over twenty years } 

This Good Intention is " the eye of the soul," of which 
our Lord speaks (Matt. vi. 22) : " If thine eye be single, 
thy whole body shall be lightsome ; if thine eye be evil, 
thy whole body shall be darksome ; if the light that is 
in thee be darksome, how great will the darkness be." 

It is this simplicity of intention that makes all the 
difference between the Saint and the ordinary Christian, 
nay between the saint, who is a temple of God, and 
the sinner, who is in the grasp of the devil. It is the 
same thing which is sometimes called " Virginity of 
soul," that is to say, the state of a soul that is not defiled 
by union of will with his own inordinate love of self, or 
siLbjectivity. It is that state of soul which keeps the eye 
of its intention, as far as possible, consciously fixed on 

2 14 Life of An tonio Rosm in i. 

the object of its intelligence, truth, being, God. The ex- 
ternal works of a man may seem good to others ; his 
interior acts may seem good to himself, but if the eye 
of his intention be not fixed on God he may be doing 
everything for self, making self his centre, idolising 
self. His seeming virtues may be all natural, or not 
even that ; they may be a subtile worship of self. He 
may be seeking for nothing but his own subjective 
satisfaction, to escape remorse of conscience, by avoiding 
gross sin, he may pass his life in the pleasant delusion 
of self-satisfaction. He may have no real humility of 
soul, no real mortification and detachment from crea- 
tures, and yet it may seem to himself and others that 
he is little short of a saint. This is what Rosmini 
meant, perhaps, when, as it was related to me, he once 
said, " I do not think a mortal sin of pride is so hard to 
commit," and concluded, " God only knows what may 
be the state of my own interior." 

So is it that David cries out, " Delicta quis intelligit, 
who understands sins, from my secret sins deliver me, 
O Lord ; " and St. Paul says, " I am not conscious to 
myself of anything, yet am I not thereby justified. He 
that judgeth me is the Lord." So should our daily, 
hourly prayer be the ejaculation of St. Francis, " Nove- 
rim Te, noverim me, ut amem Te despiciam me" — 
" Lord I would know Thee, I would know myself, that I 
may love Thee and despise myself; " and again "' Cupio 
dissolvi" — ''I desire to be dissolved and to be with 
Christ." *' I desire to be dissolved" and set free — ist. 
From my inordinate self-love — my own subjectivity. 
2nd. From the evil habits that, through this, I have 
contracted. 3rd. From the temporal punishments in the 
other life due to them; if I choose, against my Lord's will, 
through false love of my own subjectivity, to go to 
Purgatory. 4th. From the prison of the body in which 

The Essence of the Institute of Charity. 2 1 5 

I ought to fulfil my penance perfectly, that I may not 
at death be banished by the justice of God to that 
prison, from which " I shall not go out till I have paid 
the uttermost farthing," but may receive the reward we 
pray for w^hen we say — 

Quando corpus morietur 
Fac ut animse donetur 
Paradisi gloria. Amen. 

Prayers for Justice. 

These prayers are framed on Rosmini's great principle of 
justice, as explained in these chapters. If said slowly, with 
devout attention to the meaning of each word, they will be 
found a help to learn and practise the art of Meditation. 

Renew in us, most loving Saviour, whatever hath been 
decayed by the fraud and malice of the devil, or by our own 
carnal will and frailty. Destroy in us the iniquity of self-love 
that we may follow after justice in all things, and do Thy will 
on earth as it is in heaven. Give us perfect humility and 
contrition; perfect charity and zeal for souls; prudence, 
fortitude, temperance, chastity and self command. Preserve 
and continue us to the end in the diligent exercise of all 
good works, in the unity of Thy Church and of Thy Grace, 
that falling asleep in a holy and a happy death, we may wake 
up in Thine everlasting glory, not through our own merits and 
deservings, for they are nothing, but through Thy merits and 
mediation, O Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. 

O Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, enlighten, 
we beseech Thee, and sanctify our understandings ; sanctify 
and strengthen our wills ; sanctify our memories ; sanctify our 
imaginations ; sanctify our bodies with all their senses ; our 
hearts with all their affections, that with our whole being we 
may tend to Thee, our first beginning and our last end, our 
only true and never-ending Good, and may rest eternally in 
Thee, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and 
reignest God, world without end. Amen. 



Let us now retrace our steps awhile to say something 
of Rosmini as a writer. On his return from his first 
journey to Rome to his own country and his father's 
house, when about five-and-twenty years of age, being 
on the one hand free from other occupations, and on 
the other largely endowed with abilities and means for 
prosecuting his studies, he judged that such was at 
this time his vocation. He therefore applied himself 
to this object with a laborious assiduity, and a power of 
intellect which might be called marvellous, embracing 
in the vast compass of his mind all the branches of 
human knowledge, literature, exact science, jurisprud- 
ence, medicine, politics, metaphysics, and dogmatic and 
ascetical theology. But convinced that the Christian 
teacher ought never to pursue his studies without setting 
before him a well-defined, beneficial, and holy end (for 
science without charity puffs up instead of edifying), 
Rosmini fixed from that very time the end to which all 
his literary and learned labours were to be directed. 
Like all the truly great intellects which God from time 
to time has raised up within His Church, such as St. 
Augustine, Boetius, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaven- 
tura, Rosmini felt the supreme necessity of reuniting 
divine and human science into one great whole, and 
reconciling reason with faith, in order to show that the 
works of God never contradict each other, that grace is 
easily engrafted upon nature, and that revelation and its 

Rosmini as P hilosopher. 2 1 7 

mysteries do not destroy, but direct and exalt the 
understanding ; that they do not debase man, but only 
humble him, in order to raise him the more speedily to 
a height of wisdom which likens him more nearly than 
ever to the angels and to God. 

This undertaking appeared to Rosmini especially 
indispensable in this age, because for some time past 
two opposite parties had been labouring to fritter away 
all science, and to introduce by degrees an absolute 
divorce between authority and reason, between sacred 
and profane science, between theology and philosophy ; 
a divorce, the injurious effects of which on the civil and 
Christian, no less than on the literary republic, it would 
be difficult to exaggerate. It may here be allowed to 
quote the words of Rosmini himself on this subject, 
in the Preface to his Works. 

He (Rosmini) saw plainly the Gospel shining above all human 
systems, like the sun untouched by the clouds of the atmosphere 
of earth, and he knew also that heaven and earth shall pass away, 
but that those words shall not pass away. He knew that the 
divine Wisdom has no need of any philosophical system for the 
salvation of men. He is in all respects perfect in Himself. But 
he knew also that no contradiction can arise between revela- 
tion and true philosophy, for truth can never be contrary to truth, 
being most simple in its origin, and ever consistent with itself 
He considered also that philosophy, when it does not deviate from 
truth, is a help to the mind of man, giving it a natural disposition 
and a certain remote preparation for faith, the need of which it 
manifests ; that the errors, the prejudices, the doubts, which arise 
from the imperfection of reason, and which interpose so many 
obstacles to the full assent which is due to revealed truth, may, 
and ought to be solved and dispersed by reason itself ; that the 
Catholic Church, especially in the last Council of Lateran, invites 
and excites philosophers to fulfil this office by their studies ; that 
revealed doctrine cannot be fully expounded in a scientific form 
without supposing the truths demonstrated by philosophical 
reasoning, because rehgion does not destroy but perfects nature, 
nor does Divine revelation abolish but completes and exalts reason, 

2i8 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

and therefore nature and reason are the two postulates, or the two 
conditions and prenotions of the Gospel, and the first foundations 
upon which the edifice of sacred theology rests. 

In the first ages of the Church the Fathers made use of the 
philosophy of Plato, amended by themselves for this purpose. In 
the middle ages that of Aristotle was preferred, in like manner 
amended by the Scholastic doctors and masters. In both these 
periods the philosophical doctrine held by theologians was univer- 
sally received and approved. Diversity of opinion did not shake 
the edifice, because it was confined to a few points, and extended 
not to the whole body of science ; and the dialectic form, method, 
and language, remained always in common and unquestioned use. 
This immeasurably facilitated the study of theology, which arose 
like a venerable temple, complete in all its parts, and visible in its 
stability to the eyes of all. In the first ages this science of divine 
things might be likened to a Greek or Roman temple ; in later 
times it took as it were a Gothic form, but it was alike perfect and 
magnificent in each. In the last age, learning, criticism, and 
classical literature perfected the exposition of theological science, 
giving it greater clearness, and adding positive and well-ascertained 
proofs of its doctrines ; but the philosophical system of the Schools, 
which was supposed to be its natural foundation, being laid aside 
as out of date, and forgotten, theology lost its regularity of form 
and its marvellous scientific unity, by which, intimately connected 
with natural reason and all its noblest speculations, it appeared 
manifestly as the supernatural complement of human nature, and 
of human knowledge, — as the last finishing stroke of the Creator to 
the works of His hand. Man then felt deeply that theology was 
not a thing apart from himself, and that, although transcending in 
its origin and substance the boundaries of nature, it was still a 
continuation of himself, which passed on from the rational to the 
revealed, as if ascending from a lower to a higher stage of the 
same mental palace built by the hand of God according to one 
single design. Christian theology was unquestionably at that 
period the guide and the guardian of all other sciences, and the 
mistress of opinions. Who could then have beheved that a time 
would come when men would think it a duty entirely to separate 
theology from philosophy? And yet this thought did arise; it 
arose when there came to be no longer a commonly received 
system of philosophy, and men despaired of finding another, solid 
in itself and in all points coherent with religion. But distrust is 
never either reason or good counsel. If theology abjures philo- 

Rosmini as Philosopher. 219 

sophy, it must either ignore the deepest questions and leave 
science imperfect, or if it attempt to deal with them it will fail to 
solve them, or its solutions will be false or imperfect, and incur 
the censure of true philosophers, and the mockery of others, to the 
discredit of the sacred discipline. 

From that hour the passions and the base calculation of 
material interests have become the only counsellors, the only 
masters of men's minds, which are left open to every prejudice, 
and ready to give their immediate assent to the most extravagant 
propositions, or to withhold it from the most plainly demonstrated 
truths on the slightest casual occurrence. Proud of their subjec- 
tion to the yoke of the most preposterous opinions, and disdaining 
on this very account the most reasonable subjection ; credulous 
even to absurdity, incredulous even to evidence ; legislators of the 
whole world, and intolerant of any law ; intoxicated with their own 
judgment, and forgetful of their own duties ; enthusiastic philan- 
thropists in word, selfish and treacherous in deed ; irreligious, and 
disgraced by the most shameless licentiousness, they seem to have 
lost all consciousness of virtue and truth, whose very existence has 
become to them a problem and a vain chimera. 

Any one who knows and estimates rightly the state 
of human society in our days, will easily feel the urgent 
need that a man should arise among us, who should be 
capable of showing clear and unveiled the right and 
the wrong of adverse parties, and making himself all 
things to all, become a mighty peace-maker, binding 
tocrether once more in the concord and union so neces- 
sary and so much desired, those two primary and 
essential branches of human knowledge — theology and 
philosophy. But this want is so evident that many 
writers have expressed it. Among the rest might 
be mentioned the celebrated French historian, Abbe 
Rohrbacher, who in the fourteenth book of his universal 
history of the Catholic Church, after noticing that the 
scope and the object of the writings of the great Boetius, 
was to bring reason into the closest possible accordance 
with faith, philosophy with theology, thus continues : — 

220 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

" May Almighty God raise up a man to finish the work which 
He inspired Boetius to begin, a man like to him in genius and in 
virtue, who after his example shall luminously arrange all human 
sciences, show their accordance with that which is divine, and 
like him offer to the Church and to the world the perfect model of 
a true Catholic and a true philosopher." 

These words describe the very intention and character 
of the works of Antonio Rosmini, and we firmly believe 
him to be the man destined by Providence, at least to 
co-operate largely, in the fulfilment of this illustrious 
writer's prayer. 

Rosmini then set his hand to the work, and having 
sketched out at Rovereto a great part of those writings 
which came to light gradually in later years, the better 
to carry on his studies and perfect the works already 
conceived, he transferred his residence to Milan. There, 
in 1827-28, he collected and published in two volumes 
various philosophical treatises, most of which had been 
already separately printed, the chief object of which 
was to confute the pernicious errors which some writers 
had imported into Italy. In this publication he sought 
especially to show forth the wisdom of the ways of 
Providence in the government of human affairs, ex- 
plaining at the same time to his readers the end and 
the method which he had set before him, and which he 
intended closely to follow. This he did, not fearing 
to rouse against him the formidable power and furious 
opposition of the sensistic rationalists, who, to the dis- 
grace of Italy, then held sway in the literary republic 
of that peninsula. It was about this time that Ales- 
sandro Manzoni, having read one of these treatises, 
without knowing Rosmini either personally or by repu- 
tation, said that "heaven had given a great man to Italy 
and to the Church" in the author of that book. Rosmini 
coming afterwards, as has been already said, to Rome, 
in 1828, and remaining there about a year and a half, 

Rosmi7ii as Philosopher. 221 

was introduced by Cardinal Cappellari to the Sovereign 
Pontiff, Pius VIII. , who to great piety and humility 
joined strong sense and a profound knowledge of 
the wants of our age. He received Rosmini with the 
greatest benignity, and conversed with him at great 
length on the philosophical studies to which he knew 
him to be devoted, exhorting him earnestly to persevere 
in the enterprise he had undertaken, as especially useful 
and necessary in these days for the Church, assuring 
him expressly that such was his vocation. " The 
Church," said he, "has a sufficiency of preachers and 
confessors, but a scarcity of good writers. We want 
learned ecclesiastics to subdue the world by reason. 
You should devote yourself to this office far more than 
to preaching or the confessional." 

During his stay in Rome, urged by Cardinal Cappel- 
lari, afterwards Gregory XVI., he published the Niiovo 
Saggio siilVorigine delle idee in 1830. This book con- 
tains the germs of the whole philosophical and moral 
system which he afterwards developed in his successive 
works. Thus the roots of that colossal scientific tree 
were planted in the holy city of Rome, with the appro- 
bation of the public censors, under the eye and with the 
encouragement of the then Pontiff, Pius VIII., and of 
Gregory XVI., his immediate successor. 

On Rosmini's return to the north of Italy, he entrusted 
to the press oi Milan the great task of collecting and 
publishing in twenty octavo volumes, the works both 
edited and inedited, which he intended to give to the 
world. Of each of these works, we know that Rosmini 
humbly presented a copy to the Sovereign Pontiff, 
Gregory XVI., as they appeared, so far was he from 
fearing the eye or the censure of the Holy Apostolic 
See, and so great was his confidence that the supreme 
authority of the Church recognized and approved his 

2 22 Life of Antonio Rosviini, 

intention and pious labours for her good. The Pope 
thanked him on each occasion, either personally or by 
letter, continually exhorting him to write and publish, 
assuring him, like his predecessor, Pius VIII., that 
this was his vocation, and the Will of God for him. 
Hence, when he was informed that Rosmini had 
been constrained by the loving urgency of his fel- 
low-citizens, and the desire of his bishop, to accept the 
office of arch-priest of the church of St. Mark, at 
Rovereto, in the October of 1834, the Holy Father ex- 
pressed his dissatisfaction, and signified to him his 
express desire that he should occupy himself in writing 
rather than in other labours. " His Holiness," writes 
Cardinal Morozzo, Bishop of Novara, " desires that you 
should continue to employ yourself for the press. Your 
Lent sermons at Domodossola will be very useful, but 
the Holy Father is of opinion that you should not em- 
ploy yourself in preaching," &c. Gregory XVI. kept 
Rosmini's works in his private library, and often showed 
them to those who visited him with a certain parental 
satisfaction, and with commendation of the author. He 
afterwards set the seal to these honourable testimonies 
by the magnificent eulogium upon Rosmini, in the Apos- 
tolical Letters by which he approved the Institute of 
Charity on the 20th September 1837, i" which he not 
only calls him " most pious and most Catholic," but 
speaks of him also as a man of " extraordinary and 
excellent genius, and eminently renowned for his know- 
ledge of things human and divine." ^ 

The philosophy of Rosmini is therefore eminently 
Christian, because it is entirely directed to the removal 
of the errors which obstruct, and to the defence of the 

•^ Cum vero nobis perspectum exploratumque sit dilectum filium pres- 
byterum Antonium Rosmini virum esse excellenti ac prsestanti ingenio 
priEditum, rerum divinarum atque humanarum scientia summopere 
illustrem, &c. 

Rosmini as Philosopher. 223 

truths which prepare the way to faith, to the elucida- 
tion of the conformity between reason and revelation, 
and to the demonstration of the Divinity of the doctrines 
of Christianity. 

The sensistical systems of Locke, Condillac, Stewart, 
Hume, and their disciples, had unhappily spread their 
poison, not only in England, France, and Germany, 
but in Italy also, where, from the proximity of the light 
ever flowing from the Vatican, we might have hoped 
that true philosophy would never fail. For a long time 
past the doctrine had been taught in certain Italian 
universities, that man is born into the world wholly 
devoid of any ideas, and that, therefore, all ideas, with- 
out any exception, are acquired by means of the senses, 
i.e., enter by the eyes, the ears, the nose, the palate, and 
the skin.^ 

In this unnatural system of philosophy great numbers 
had had the misfortune to be brought up. 

The Abate Rosmini, with that extraordinary mental 
acuteness bestowed on him by the Most High, was not 
slow to perceive, even at a very early age, the fatal con- 
sequences which such a system contained within itself, 
and which, in fact, were not only drawn out in specula- 

^ I remember the late Archbishop Gastaldi, then a Father cf Charity in 
England, saying to me, " In this unnatural system of Sensism, as taught 
in Catholic Schools, I had the misfortune to be brought up. I remember 
in the Seminary saying to my professor, an excellent priest, one day after 
his lecture on philosophy, ' But if all ideas come from the senses only, 
what basis is there in reason for proving the existence of God ? how 
can we even think of God, or of spirit, or of anything beyond our own 
body?' His answer was curious. * Oh, we must not go into the 
Sacristy ! ' meaning that a thing might be philosophically false, theologi- 
cally true." The fact is. Catholics/^// that they had within their souls 
the Supernatural light, by which they knew God, and had certitude of 
His existence They did not reflect on the state of those who have only 
reason to go by ; in other words, they did not reflect on the essence of the 
light of reason, or on how they know. 

2 24 Life of Antonio Ros^nini. 

tive studies, but reduced to practice to the grievous 
injury of religion, morals, and society. 

For if man is born devoid of any idea, he is born 
devoid of the light of reason. For what can the light 
of reason be but an idea, nay, the first of all ideas, 
which serves as a guide in the acquisition and use of all 
the rest } 

But if man is born devoid of the use of reason, then 
at his birth he is not a man, but some other being, be- 
cause under the name of man we understand a being 
endowed with the light of reason ; and he becomes a 
man (upon this system) when he acquires that light. 

" But what," asks Rosmini, " shall he do to acquire it 
if he have not received it from nature } Can he ac- 
quire it by his bodily organs } No, because the light 
of reason being a thing essentially different from all that 
is corporeal, can never penetrate through any of the 
bodily senses." 

Besides, if man receives no ideas from nature, that is 
not true which has always been believed by mankind, 
which is attested by our inward consciousness, and is 
taught us by the Church,^ that there exists a natural law^ 
which, without the aid of any other teaching or legis- 
lator, makes known the distinction between moral good 
and evil, and imposes on us the obligation of following 
the one and shunning the other. P'or how could this 
law be known by man if he were devoid of any idea 
whereby to know it } 

Again, if all ideas are acquired by means of the 
senses, the ideas of God, of truth, of justice, of religion, 
of virtue, of vice, &c., must also be thus acquired ; but, 

^ The light of natural reason is defined by St. Augustine as quoted in 
the Summa of St. Thomas: "Lex seterna seu Divina est ratio Divinse 
Sapientiae ; lex naturalis est participntio Legis /Eterni in rationali 
creatura." See note at the end of this chapter, where this quotation is 
given in full, with a translation. 

Rosmini as Philosopher. 225 

inasmuch as these and other similar ideas of absolutely 
incorporeal objects can never enter through the eyes, 
the ears, nor any other organ of the body, we shall be 
driven to the conclusion that these ideas have no 
existence, and that man labours under a deplorable 
delusion in believing that he possesses them. And this 
was the very conclusion which the infidels of the last 
century, especially the followers of Voltaire, drew from 
the premisses of Locke and Condillac. It was a conclu- 
sion, which clothed in a brilliant style, and adorned with 
all that was most fascinating to the imagination, and most 
biting and ludicrous in satire, found, as might have been 
foreseen, an echo in the passions of men, and gave 
birth to that audacious infidelity, which has long up- 
lifted its impious standard in the midst of even Cathohc 
nations, and attracted to it an immense multitude of 
heedless or wicked men. 

Other philosophers of our time, without deducing 
consequences of such wide incredulity and scepticism 
from the absurd doctrines of Locke and his followers, 
have nevertheless drawn from them conclusions de- 
structive of all morality. The senses, say they, are the 
sources of all ideas without any exception ; here then 
we must seek the rule of all truth, all justice, all 
morality, i.e., that is true, just, and moral, which accords 
with the senses. To follow what pleases the senses, to 
shun what displeases them, this is the morality of man, 
whose principal duty is to labour industriously to pro- 
mote all arts and sciences, in order to multiply the 
means of increasing the gratification of the senses. 
This is the philosophy with which Byron, Victor Hugo, 
Gioja, Romagnosi and others have infected literature 
and politics ; everywhere corrupting the minds of youth, 
and artfully exciting persecution against the Church of 
Jesus Christ. It is true indeed that many of the fol- 

II. p 

2 26 Life of Antonio Rosniini. 

lowers of Locke and Condillac have not pushed their 
principles to the fatal consequences we have described ; 
but it is not the less true that they stopped short of the 
conclusion, simply because their faith was stronger than 
their logic ; and that it was in spite of logic that they 
preserved the truths of Christianity under the profession 
of a sensistical philosophy. It was because they were 
good Christians indeed, but bad reasoners, that they 
were unable to meet the attacks of infidels against the 
faith, by solid and cogent arguments. 

It is true also that a philosophy has now arisen in 
Germany, chiefly by the agency of Kant, which pretends 
to maintain the possession of truth by man without mak- 
ing it dependent upon sensism. But, however speciously 
veiled, the German philosophy actually makes truth a 
mere product of the human mind, so that it is man 
who creates truth, who creates morality, who creates 
God Himself. It is, in fact, the most impious blasphemy 
ever yet uttered by Satan. 

Rosmini, then, grieved to the heart that this false 
philosophy, the mother of so much impiety, should, to 
the destruction of all morality, have struck such deep 
root in many Catholic Schools, was impelled by his 
burning zeal for the Church of God, to strive to the 
utmost of his power to eradicate Lockism and Kantism^ 
and to recall to life that true philosophy which is con- 
tained in the works of the holy Fathers, especially of 
St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. Thomas, and St. Bona- 

He set out from the elementary principle of Christi- 
anity, which is confirmed by the tradition of the human 
race ; i.e., that man has received a ligJit from his 
Creator, which is called the ligJit of reason, because by 
it man reasons ; that this light is innate, and that by 
virtue of it alone he is man. This light can be nothing 

Rosmini as Philosopher. 227 

else but truth, since truth alone can enligJiten the 

Truth is that which is^ it is being in essence. God, 
who is truth personally subsisting, said to Moses : " / 
am Who Am : " " say to the children of Israel, He Who 
Is hath sent me to you." Truth, however, seen by man 
naturally is not God Himself ; else he would see God, 
which is contrary to experience, and to the teaching of 
faith ; but it is something which belongs to God, and is 
in Him ; it is necessary, absolute, eternal, immutable, 

^ The being which is seen {inhied) by man is not a part of him, nor 
a production of his ; but altogether independent of man, and infinitely 
superior to him, it shines before his spirit. 

It is said to be seen, intiied, from the Latin verb intueor, to see, because 
it is seen by the human mind in a direct manner, and by the agency of the 
Supreme Author of nature, without the need of any reasoning or judgment 
on the part of the mind which sees it. 

As seen {intued) by the human mind — by nature, it is something which 
belongs to God or which is in God. The reasons for this assertion are as 
follows : — 

As seen by nature, it is not God Himself, otherwise man would see 
God by nature, which, as we have seen, would be opposed to the 
Christian faith, to our internal consciousness, and to the testimony of the 
whole human race. 

And yet, if we consider, being as it is manifested to man by nature, we 
shall see clearly that it is necessary, absolute, eternal, immutable, un- 
limited, and has an existence wholly independent, not only of the mind 
of man, but of any conceivable created mind whatever. But that which 
is necessary, absolute, &c. , can only be in God and belong to Him. Is 
it then any accident of God ? No ; because in God there are no accidents. 
Is it a part of the Divine substance ? No ; for the Divine Substance has 
no parts, being simply one. What then ? It is essentially in God ; or the 
Essence of God is such, that being, as seen by man naturally, is in Him. 

Is it not in fact, the opinion of all philosophers and attested by evidence, 
that the essejices of things are eternal, necessary, and immutable ? 

A triangle can never have more or less than three sides and three 
angles ; so, two and two will always make four ; and so, to give to every 
one his own has always been a duty, and ingratitude always a crime. 

Where were these ideas before God had created intelligent minds ? Most 
assuredly in God. Were they accidents ? No. Were they substance-; ? 

2 28 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

In the natural intuition of truth or being consists the 
image and likeness of his Creator, which is stamped 
upon the soul of man. For, being, seen in all its ful- 
ness, is the only object of the mind of God, and being, 
seen in a certain measure, is the only object of the 
mind of man. It is a light which flows forth from the 
Word of God Himself, according to the words of the 
Psalmist, " Signatum est super nos lumen Vultus Tui 
Domine," '' The light of Thy Countenance is signed or 
stamped upon us," and which, irradiating the mind of 
man, imparts to it something divine. It is eternal, and 
uniting itself so closely with man as to render the 
inUiition of itself an essential element of human nature, 
it makes him immortal. It is by the intuition of being 
that the human mind is able to expatiate in an un- 
limited field of knowledge ; to embrace in one instant 
the past, the present, and the future ; to abolish dis- 
tance, and thus to triumph over time and space ; from 
this it derives the marvellous power of invention which 
is continually developing new wonders, each surpassing 
that which went before. Lastly, as God is infinitely 
holy, as he loves truth or bei^ig with an infinite love ; so 
man by loving truth or being, naturally present to him, 
may imitate the holiness of his Creator. 

Having thus asserted on behalf of man the unspeak- 
able dignity to which he has been raised by God in the 
intuition of being, Rosmini observed that being is the 
foundation of every science and of every art ; and that 
therefore, in being, seen by nature and scientifically^ 
known, consists the encyclopedia of the sciences. 

If so we must conclude that God is a circle, a triangle, &c., and all these 
at once. What conclusion must we draw, so as to avoid falling into absurdi- 
ties ? That they were essentially in God. How so ? The philosopher 
can affirm that a thing is, and that it is not, but not always hoxv it is. 
There are mysteries even in the order of natural truths. 

^ Viz. , through a well-conducted reflection ; for science is the work of 

Rosinini as Philosopher. 229 

In fact, every science and every art necessarily rests 
upon that which is, never upon that which is not. Man 
cannot take a single step in any art or science what- 
ever, without making use of the light of his reason. 
That light is one. There is not one light of reason for 
ideology, another for morals, another for architecture, 
another for painting, but one and the same light of 
reason is the rule of all our judgments, and the guide 
of every discovery in the region of truth, and of every 
process of reasoning and every conclusion whatsoever. 
But the light of reason is being, intuitively seen by 
nature. Therefore being, shining by a divine gift 
before the human mind, is the principle, the source, 
the basis, the guide, the rule of every science and of 
every art. 

It is the principle of ideology, because ideology is the 
science of ideas, and every idea is an object present to 
our mind, and that only is called an object which is ; 
being, then, is an essential element of every idea, and 
being, intuitively seen by nature, is the primal idea 
which implicitly contains all others within it. 

Next to ideology comes logic, the science which gives 
the laws of thinking and reasoning, so as to attain truth 
and avoid error. But truth is that which is, error that 
which is not. Therefore, being, intuitively seen by the 
human mind, will be the rule also of this science. The 
same may be easily shewn with regard to psychology, 
anthropology, and other sciences, as well as to the two 
we have instanced. 

With regard to morals, it is clear that morality con- 
sists in the regulation of all the affections and all the 
actions of men, so that they may never offend against 
truth, but on the contrary render it due homage. 
Truth is being; \\\q.xq.{ov^, practically to love and revereyice 
all beijig will be the supreme precept of morality. And 

230 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

indeed, all theologians have agreed in the proposition, 
that moral good is essentially /^j/Z/z/^, moral evil essen- 
tially negative. That which \sjust is called right ; that 
is just which the moral law protects ; that law com- 
mands us to give to every being that which is his own ; 
we cannot know that which belongs to each, but by the 
light of being; being, then, as the means of ascertaining 
the rights of each individual being, is the principle of 
the science of right {del diritto). The same reasoning 
may be applied to politics, which is the science of the 
protection of the rights of all the citizens in a state, 
and to the other sciences connected with it. 

Esthetics also, the science of the beautiful, proceeds 
from being, intuitively seen, and depends upon the rules 
which belong to it. For if the beautiful be not a thing 
which has its origin solely in the senses, and which 
changes according to the taste and the imagination, 
but a thing which partakes of the absolute, the eternal, 
the immutable, whence can it derive its laws, except 
from truth or being ? 

It thus becomes evident that all sciences and arts 
have an absolute certainty, because they depend upon 
being, which is not a production of the human mind, 
but is eternal, necessary, immutable, shining before the 
mind of man by the appointment of the Author of 
nature ; which in no way depends upon the senses, but 
having in itself a necessary existence, diffuses light 
over the senses and their operations. 

The certainty and truth of philosophical science 
being thus established, it is evident that all errors 
hostile to Christianity, such as sensism, both speculative 
and practical, idealism, materialism, pantJieism, scepti- 
cism, fatalism, are refuted ; and on the contrary, all the 
philosophical truths most nearly related to the Christian 
faith, such as the existence of God, the spirituality. 

Rosmini as Philosopher. 231 

immortality, liberty, and responsibility of the human 
soul, morality, and the rest, are maintained against the 
attacks of false philosophers. 

But Rosmini did not rest here. After having shewn 
what the light of reason was able to do, he shewed also 
what it could not do. 

He demonstrated that behig, intuitively seen by 
nature, is able to lead to the conclusion that God 
exists ; but cannot make God known to us. As Sub- 
sisting Being, He communicates Himself to us by 
Grace, filling our hearts with His holy love, and glorify- 
ing us by the enjoyment of His beatific vision. Truth, 
which, as it is seen by nature, is of God, when seen 
by the light of grace, is God Himself. Hence the 
Divine Word said of Himself, " / am the Tnith'' It 
is also by Grace alone that the precepts of the moral 
law can be effectually observed, and that man can 
attain his true moral dignity. 

Hence appears more clearly the necessity of Revela- 
tion, and the immense benefit thereby conferred upon 
mankind. Yet the additional illumination of Revela- 
tion does not cause the natural light of reason to 
relinquish its office. On the contrary, reason lends her 
services to faith, which treated scientifically, becomes a 
science. And thus we have Theology, that science 
which, on account of its supernatural origin, and the 
infinite excellence of the objects whereof it treats, sur- 
passes all the rest. Even supernatural theology, there- 
fore, is aided by being intuitively seen by nature. And 
as supernatural theology treats of Being, communicated 
to us by means of faith and grace, it is manifest that 
being, intuitively seen by nature is the foundation of all 
natural sciences, and Being, communicated to us by 
grace, is the foundation of all supernatural sciences. 

This, then, is the plan of Rosmini's philosophy ; a 

232 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

plan which proves the vastness, the sublimity, and the 
acuteness of his intellect. And although he did 
not live to carry it out in all its parts, but left many 
things unfinished, a careful study of those parts which 
he was able to complete will furnish the student of 
philosophy, jurisprudence, politics, social economy, 
medicine, literature, and theology, with sure rules 
whereby to attain truth and avoid error, to solve the 
most difficult questions, and to make incalculable pro- 
gress in these most noble sciences, to the great benefit 
of human society, and of the Church of Jesus Christ. 



The preliminary difficulty in understanding the 
Rosminian philosophy is that it goes deeper than what 
are /(^////^r/j' assumed to be the first principles of human 
thought. It undertakes to account for ideas. But to 
many people it has never occurred that there is any 
difficulty in this matter requiring explanation. They 
have been used to assume with Locke and others, more 
or less of the same school, that the formation of ideas 
is so simple that it does not require to be accounted 
for. It is assumed to be a simple fact like sensation. 
They say, " We Jiave sensations, and we Jiave ideas ; 
the sensations come first, and they are transformed into 
ideas by the faculty of reflection." 

Those who talk thus are not aware that between 
sensations and ideas they have jumped a gulph which is 
not less than infinite ! 

This mental condition reminds me of a conversation 
once overheard in a railway carriage between two 
countrymen. "John," said the one, "how about this 
railway telegraph ; how do they send messages by it } " 
" Oh," said the other, " it is very simple. You see them 
wires along the line. They runs from Lunnon to York. 
They are fastened to a thing at each end with a dial 
plate and hands to it like a clock, with letters all round, 
and when they turns the hands in Lunnon this 'n and 

234 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

that 'n, the hands in York goes that 'n and this 'n." 
" Ah," said the other, " it seems very simple when you 
have it explained." 

Much like this is the state of mind of those who do 
not see any difficulty in the formation of ideas, and 
serenely talk, as Locke and his school do, of "sensa- 
tions being transformed into ideas by means of the 
faculty of reflection." They ignore the crucial point in 
philosophy,^ much like the countryman who explained 
the electric telegraph, omitting all mention of electricity 
— that occult and mysterious force which is behind the 

The fundamental principle of Rosmini's philosophy 
concerns, as I have said, the origin of ideas — how the 
ideas or tJioiigJits of things arise in our mind. For, it is 
certain that whenever that modification of our sen- 
sitivity which we term a sensation takes place, we 
immediately and necessarily think, not of the sensation 
zuithin us, but of a something outside of us to which we 
attribute existence, call it a thing, and credit it with 
being the canse of our sensations ; so that we actually 
attribute to it the qualities of heat or cold, blackness, 
whiteness, or the like, which, when we reflect — or think 
again, we know exist within our own sensitivity only. 

This mental process is obviously a jtidgment, in 
which we predicate the existence of a cause of our sensa- 
tion. To say nothing at present of the idea of cause ; 
it is clear that we could not apply the predicate of 
existence unless we knew what existence is, that is to 
say, unless we had the idea of existence already in our 
mind. We have thus two modes of knowledge to be 

^ Every sensation is particular ; reflection calls to mind the par- 
tictilary imagination pictures it ; but ideas are universal, and all involve 
the idea of existence or being, v^hich is the most universal of all. How do 
we get the tiniversal? 

Rosmini as Philosopher. 235 

carefully distinguished from each other — knowledge by 
judgment, whereby we affirm the reality of individual 
things — knowledge by inttiition, whereby we intellec- 
tually think pure ideas. With this fundamental dis- 
tinction in view I now proceed to trace the origin and 
show the relative position of these two modes of 
thought. A little reflection will make it clear that the 
idea goes before the judgment, and is necessary for its 

We are said to knozu a thing when we apply to 
it the idea of existence and so judge that it is an existing 

That which is no thing is unthinkable, for the object 
of thought — the idea of existence — is gone. And this 
shows that the idea of existence is the necessary object 
of thought, as St. Thomas says, "The object of the 
intellect is being or common truth," " Objectum in- 
tellecttcs est ens vel vernni commitne " (St. Thom., S.I. 
55. I. c). It is \\\^ first idea, without which we can 
form no judgment and know nothing. It is plain, 
therefore, that the idea of existence must be self-known 
{per se nota), otherwise we should be incapable of 
knowing it or of knowing anything. And this is the 
same as to say that it must be \kiQ first idea and the one 
innate idea in the human mind.^ 

1 It does not account for the origin of the idea of existence in our minds 
to say we have in us z. faculty endowed with the virtue of acquiring the 
idea of existence on occasion of the sensations. The question is, what is 
the nature of this faculty ? What is this virtue with which it is endowed ? 
For, in order that this faculty may be able to operate must it not be 
itself in act ? For that which is not in act, has no 7-eal, actual existence, and 
therefore can not operate. For a faculty is nothing but a " first act " {actus 
priimis) whence "second acts" {actus secundi), or what we commonly 
call " acts,'' may proceed. Now \hejirst act of the intellectual faculty— 
the act by which this faculty exists— must in the very nature of things, be 
an intellectual Z.QX', else the faculty would not be intellectual ; and if the 
act is intellectual, it must consist in the vision or intuition of an object ; 

236 Life of A nton to Rosm ini. 

But how does this idea of existence make its appear- 
ance in the mind ? 

Not as the product of the senses, for we are obliged 
to apply this idea on occasion of each sensation, in order 
to form that idea of the thing which necessarily arises in 
our mind on occasion of each sensation. In the follow- 
ing brief treatise Rosmini shows very clearly from the 
very nature of the idea of existence, which is \h.Q foi^mal 
part of all our ideas, why this idea can not come from 
the senses. He shows that the sensations are limited 
to the particular impression made on our seitsorium, 
whereas ideas are unlimited, and can be applied ad m- 
finitiiin to any number of beings, and to any number of 
the same genus and species.^ Now the idea of a thing 
is the same as the logical possibility of the thing. That 
which is possible was always possible, and is therefore 
eternal, and that which is eternal is divine, therefore 
Rosmini teaches that ideas are in a certain sense divine, 
i.e., because they have divine characteristics. 

The idea, therefore, is so totally distinct from the 
sensations, so immensely elevated above them, that 
it is absurd to suppose it to be the product of sensations, 
because no effect can rise higher than its source ; 
although it is, at the same time, an obvious fact that the 

because this is what is meant by an intellectual act. The very etymology 
of intellectus (derived from intits legere, to read within) shows this clearly. 
The act of reading necessarily implies the act of seeing ; and there can be 
no seeing without something which sees and something which is seen ; in 
other words, without the intelligent subject^ and the object which this 
subject looks at and thus understands. The thing seen — the object or 
idea present ab initio to the intelligent subject — the constitutive fortti of 
the human understanding {vis intellectiva), is the idea of existence or 
being, and this is the light of reason. 

^ Rosmini makes the faculty and art of language, as taught to man by 
the tradition of human society, a chief factor in the formation of Abstract 
ideas, for words are sensible signs of ideas, and stand as sensible represen- 
tations of ideal things, enabling us to form classes of things in our mind — 
genera and species, which are all abstract ideas. 

Rosmini as Philosopher. 237 

ideas are made known to us on occasion of the sensations. 
In a word the sensations furnish the material element ; 
the innate idea of existence, the formal element, of all 
the ideas we form by aid of the senses. 

If then the idea of existence is not a product of sen- 
sation, yet if on occasion of the sensations we always 
find it in our mind, it is clear that we find there what 
was there before, which was never formed but which 
was given from withotit, by means of another faculty, 
that of intelligence, which, as Rosmini teaches, is en- 
dowed with the intuition of the idea of existence by 
God, in Whose Mind the idea of existence, and of all 
existences was from all eternity. This is expressed by 
St. Thomas when he says : " God in knowing Himself 
knows the nature of universal being," " Deus cognoscendo 
Se cog no sett natiiram universalis ejitis^^ (C. G., i. 50)- 

And, indeed, this is self-evident, if we believe in God 
as the infinitely intelligent Creator, willing and there- 
fore knowing every particle of creation from all eternity. 

These ideas of possible being in the mind of God are 
the types according to which He created all things, by 
an act of His free will, willing in His creative act such 
things as He saw it was for the best to create. Thus 
an architect forms in his own mind the design which he 
intends to draw or to build, selecting also for good rea- 
sons, not always the thing most perfect in itself, but 
that which is best, all the circumstances being con- 

In like manner, regarding the communication of 
ideas ; (to carry out the same analogy), the architect 
may if he pleases keep his idea to himself, or if he 
pleases he may communicate it or any portion of it to 
another mind, and then it becomes the thought or idea 
of that other ; yet it would still be the original idea in 
essence, and the idea of the originator would always 

238 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

stand objectively to the recipient, as something distinct 
from his own subjectivity. 

Analogously to this we say that the idea of existence, 
and the ideas of existences, which we find in our mind, 
and which were elicited on occasion of the sensations, 
are the same that were originally in the Mind of God, 
Who, seeing all creation, saw even the modes in which 
the forces of the universe would make themselves per- 
ceived by us, and be classed as tilings, objects, or beings} 
These ideas, Rosmini teaches, could come into our 
minds only by communication from God through the 
intellectual faculty, or intuition of the idea of existence, 
which combines with the sensations that are perceived 
by us, in the unity of the identical human subject, which 
is at once sensitive and intelligent. Thus it is the iden- 
tical Ego or self which feels and knows, which knows 
that it feels, and feels that it knows, and the result is 
the intellectual perception of objects, or the formation 
of ideas and the application of them. 2 

St. Thomas says : " Esse in quantum est esse non 
potest esse diversuvi'' (C. G. i. 52). The idea, there- 
fore, of existence or of possible being in the mind of 
God is the same essence of being as the idea of exist- 
ence in the mind of man. It must, therefore, be a 
communication to man of some thing that considered 
in itself is Divine, since the ideas in God are His Divine 
Substance. In God they are God. But if so, it is 
objected, " to suppose man to be by nature in communi- 
cation with the Divine Substance is the error of the 
Ontologists and tends logically to Pantheism." Ros- 

^ Qui cognoscit perfecte nattiram uiiiversalem, omnes modos cognoscit 
in quibtts ilia iiatura potest habej'i. " He who knows perfectly univer- 
sal nature knows all the modes in which that nature is able to be 
found" (St. Thom., C. Gentes, i. 50, et passim). 

'^ Rosmini teaches that there is a spiritual as well as a corporeal sense, 
and that the soul feels itself as it knows itself. 

Rosmini as Philosopher. 239 

mini replies, in his answer to Gioberti, " that the human 
mind has only the intuition of a light which descends 
from God and which is, therefore, an appiirtenance of 
God. Now every appurtenance of God is God, if we 
consider it as it is in God, but if we consider it abstract- 
ing from all the rest that makes the Reality of God, it is 
an appurtenance of God, as the Divine Goodness and 
the Divine Wisdom are appurtenances of God but are 
not God Himself, for God is not Wisdom or Goodness 
only. Thus although in God there are no real distinc- 
tions except those of the three Divine Persons, God is 
able to distinguish mentally His ideas from His Divine 
substance ; and as man likewise can abstract his ideas 
from himself and may impart his idea or a part of his 
idea to his fellow man without imparting his own 
substance, so God may abstract His ideas from Himself, 
and may communicate His ideas or some part of them, 
such as the idea of existence or being, without com- 
municating to man His Own Divine Substance. He 
may manifest His idea without manifesting His Reality 
or Subsistence ; and to the objection of Gioberti (that 
" this idea must be God, because everything is either 
God or a creature, but the idea of being is not a creature 
seeing it has Divine characters, therefore it must be 
God," Rosmini replies, " Every real being must be God 
or creature, but not so every ideal being. The idea of 
being abstracted from God's Reality is neither God nor 
creature, it is something sni generis, an appurtenance of 

The idea of existence is the ligJit of the mind, accord- 
ing to the analogy with the material light^ so that the 
light of reason is the name given universally to the 
informing constitutive principle of the intellectual 
faculty. For, as it is by the material light that our eye 
is enlightened so as to receive the impressions of form 

240 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

and colour which aid us to distinguish one thing from 
another ; and without this Hght the whole universe 
would remain for us perfectly dark ; so the idea of 
existence is the light of our mind, by which we actually 
distinguish objects and know existences, on occasion of 
our eye being enlightened by the material light, or on 
receiving other sensitive impressions. 

This light of reason is, according to Rosmini, what 
Philosophy, following the lines traced out by Aristotle, 
defines as the LUMEN intellecttis agentis, and of which 
St. Thomas tells us that : " The light of the acting 
intellect, is a participation of the Light impressed upon 
us, or a participation of the Eternal Light, participatio 
Linninis in nobis impressa, sen participatio Lucis 

St. John tells us, Dens erat Verbum . . . erat Lnx 
vera qnce illuminat omnejn Jwmijien venienteni in htinc 
mundum — " The Word of God is the light that enlight- 
eneth every man coming into the world." 

It is this " idea of existence " or " light of being " 
given to man, which constitutes the objectivity of truth, 
as seen by the human mind. For truth is that which is, 
as falsehood is that which is not. It is this which makes 
man intelligent and gives him a moral law, by which 
he sees the beingness or essence of things, and recognizes 
the duty of his own being, to act towards each being 
whether finite or infinite, creature or God, according to 
the beingness or essence of being which he beholds in 
the light of the truth of being. 

Thus is secured the objectiveness of truth; and the 
high rule of morality and religion is summed up in the 
grand sentence of Rosmini, which he shows to be the 
divine imperative in the conscience of man, *' Riconoscere 
rente secondo la sua entitd " — ^^ Recognize being according 
to the beingness that is in it^ He shows, too, that this 

Rosmini as Philosopher, 241 

same principle of natural reason/ when sublimated by 
Divine Grace, becomes the great principle of Faith and 
Charity, dictating to us the duty, and giving the power 
of loving God above all things and our neighbour as 
ourselves, inspiring the soul of man to perform deeds 
of supernatural self-sacrifice, arising from the intimate 
sense of the presence and love of God in the soul, and 
the conviction of the nothingness of all things, except 
as they give glory to God, by being used according to 
the infinitely perfect Will of God, in which He designed 
the universe, and which He causes man to know by the 
natural and supernatural light, and by the external 
manifestations of His Providence. 

^ Natural reason^ as defined by St. Augustine and St. Thomas, is cited 
in an earlier part of this chapter. The full quotation is found in the 
ordinary compendiums. It may be read in the Moral Theology of Gury, 
S.J., de Legibiis '. — "Lex aeterna seu Divina est ratio Divinae Sapientise ; 
lex naturalis est participatio Legis oeternoe in rationali creatura, juxta 
illud Davidicum, ' Quis ostendet nobis bona ? Signatum est super nos 
Vultus Tui Domine;' ordinem naturalem conservare jubens perturbare 

"The Eternal Law is the Reason of the Divine V^isdom ; the natural 
law is the participation of the Eternal Law in the rational creature, 
according to the words of David, 'Who shall show us good? The light 
of Thy countenance is signed or stamped upon us ; ' commanding that the 
order of naUire shall be kept and forbidding that it shall be transgressed." 
The order of nature is plainly the order of being — the law of the order of 
nature is the recognition and observance of the beingness of things. 

II. Q 



Modern Philosophy. 

The following sketch, written by Rosmini more than 
forty years ago, has only recently appeared in print in 
the Italian original. 

/. Locke (163 2- 1 704). 

Locke undertook to solve the problem of the origin 
of ideas. According to him all ideas are acquired by 
sensation aided by reflection. 

By reflection he meant the labour of the reflective 
faculty of the human soul exercised upon the sensa- 
tions. It follows that Locke denies to the mind every 
innate idea. 

By innate ideas we mean ideas or cognitions which 
man has in his mind by nature. 

//. Condillac ( 1 7 1 5 - 1 7 80) . 

The philosophy of Locke was propagated in France 
by Condillac with certain modifications of his own. 

Condillac professed to have simplified the ideological 
system of Locke by his suppression of reflection, which 
he held to be nothing more than sensation. 

He thus reduced all human cognitions to sensation 
only. He held, therefore, that man possessed one only 
faculty — namely, the faculty of sensation. Memory, 
imagination, intelligence, and reason were only different 
modes of sensation. 

A Sketch of Modern Philosophy. 243 

This system was most pernicious in its consequences 
as well in regard of morals as of religion. For, if man 
has no faculty but that of sensation^ it follows that good 
and evil are nothing more than agreeable or disagree- 
able sensations. Thus morality would consist in pro- 
curing for ourselves pleasant sensations, and in avoiding 
those which are unpleasing. 

This immoral system was developed in France by 
Helvetius (1713-1771), and Bentham (1748-1832), the 
leader of the English titilitarian school, applied its 
teaching to the promotion of public prosperity. 

///. Berkeley (1684- 175 2). 

Berkeley, an Anglican Bishop, was educated in the 
school of Locke. His intentions were good. Whilst some 
carried out Locke's system into Materialism, he under- 
took to deduce Spiritualism from it in the following way. 

Accepting the principle then usually admitted, that 
all human knowledge must be reduced to an aggregate 
of sensations, he observed that the sensations can have 
no existence except in the being which is sensible of 
them, and of which they are so many modifications. 
The sensations then do not exist outside of man, but 
only in man, in the human soul. 

It follows, therefore, that if man knows nothing 
beyond his own sensations, the objects of his knowledge 
are not outside him, but exist only in his own soul as 
modifications of his own spirit. Consequently the whole 
external world exists merely in appearance ; it consists 
only of sensations which manifest themselves in the soul 
as modifications of itself 

This system, which denies the external existence of 
bodies, leaving nothing in existence but spirit, is termed 

Berkeley applied his system to the analysis of bodies. 

244 ^if^ of Antonio Rosmini. 

He goes over all the qualities we attribute to bodies, and 
shows that they are only certain sensations experienced 
by ourselves. He thence concludes that our whole 
knowledge of bodies consists in an aggregate of sensa- 
tions, and that what we term the qualities of bodies exist 
not as is commonly supposed in the bodies themselves, 
or outside of us, but in ourselves only. 

Whence then do we get the sensations t This ques- 
tion is proposed by Berkeley in his celebrated Dialogues 
of Philonous and Philylas. He replies that they are 
produced immediately by God in the human soul. He 
shows by the example of dreams that there is no need 
for the presence of corporeal objects in order to our 
acquiring the persuasion of their presence, the feeling of 
their presence is sufficient. Thus, according to Berke- 
ley, human life is a continuous dream, with this differ- 
ence only, that in life the several sensations have an 
harmonious and constant connection one with another ; 
whereas in dreams they take place without this harmony 
and constancy — the visual sensations and images, for ex- 
ample, having no correspondence with those of touch. 

IV. Hume (1711-1776). 

Hume was also educated in the school of Locke. He 
accepted as certain, without examination, the principle 
that all human cognitions may be reduced to sensation. 
But, whilst Berkeley had arrived by this principle diildeal- 
ism, Hume, on the other hand, arrived at Scepticism^ or the 
system which denies all certainty to human cognitions. 

He said, human reasoning is based on th.Q prijiciple of 
cause, which is thus expressed : " Here is an effect, 
therefore there must be a cause." But this principle, he 
continued, is false and illusory, for man knows nothing 
but his sensations, and a sensation can never be a cause 
of anything. 

A Sketch of Modern Philosophy. 245 

In fact, a cause is such only in so far as it acts — it is 
an active entity. But a sensation is not an entity ; it is 
the modification of an entity ; it is not active but passive, 
therefore a sensation can not be a cause. 

But we know nothing except our sensations, we can, 
therefore, know nothing about cause. What we term 
" cause and effect " are only antecedent and subsequent 
sensations, and we reason falsely when we assume that 
the sensation which precedes is the cause of that which 
follows. The argument post hoc ergo propter hoc is false 
reasoning ; therefore, he said, when we speak of beings as 
causes of effects in the sensible world, we attempt the 
impossible, for it is certainly impossible to proceed from 
sensations to the knowledge of any cause whatever. 

The impiety of this system is manifest, since by deny- 
ing or doubting the principle of cause, we deny or doubt 
the existence of the first cause — God Himself 

V. Reid {i 710-1 yg6). 

The disastrous consequences deduced by two such 
powerful minds as Berkeley and Hume from the prin- 
ciples of Locke, aroused and alarmed the Scottish 
philosopher Reid. He saw that these consequences 
annihilated the external world, and destroyed all cer- 
tainty of human cognitions with such rigour of logic, 
that, by granting the premises, no escape was possible 
from the conclusion. 

But on the other hand he saw that these consequences 
were opposed to the common sense of mankind, and 
destroyed all morality and religion. Therefore he said, 
" They can not be true." 

The conclusion, therefore, of Reid was that the pre- 
mises were false, and that Locke's system must not be 
accepted blindly, but must be submitted to a profound 
re-examination in order to detect the falsehood which 
lay at its root. 

246 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

He set to work on this investigation with all the force 
of his genius, and in the end was convinced that he had 

Reid observed that in the fact of human perception 
there is something besides simple sensation. If it were 
true that man knows nothing beyond his sensations he 
would be able to affirm nothing beyond them. But 
experience shows us that we affirm the existence of 
real beings which are not our sensations ; since we are 
conscious of knowing not only the modifications of our 
own spirit, but also the sitbstances which are not our- 
selves, and which exercise an action upon us. We 
must, therefore, conclude that we have not only the 
faculty of sensation, but another mysterious faculty as 
well, and that whenever we experience a sensation it is 
this which excites and compels us to affirm the existence 
of something outside of the sensation. 

But here the Scottish philosopher found himself con- 
fronted by the following difficulties, which form the 
great knot of the ideological problem. 

How can we explain this faculty which affirms that 
which we do not find in the sensation 1 

The object of this faculty is not given by sensation. 
Where then does it reside — what presents it to our per- 
ception 1 

Reid endeavoured to meet the difficulties thus : he 
said, "We must not go beyond our facts. Now it is 
attested by fact that we perceive substance and beings 
things which do not fall under our senses, which are 
entirely different from sensations, but which we perceive 
on occasion of the sensations. We must therefore 
admit that the human soul has of its own nature an 
instinct which leads us to this perception. This instinct 
is a primitive faculty which must be accepted as an 
ultimate and inexplicable fact." 

A Sketch of Modern Philosophy. 247 

According to Reld, then, there is in us a suggestion 
of nature, as he, by which, on experiencing the 
sensations we are necessitated not to stop there, but to 
pass beyond them by an act of thought, to the persua- 
sion of the existence of real beings, which are the causes of 
our sensations, and to which we give the name of bodies. 

By means of this primitive faculty, which affirms or 
perceives the corporeal substance itself, Reid thought 
he had confuted the Idealism of Berkeley, and secured 
the existence of bodies. He thought also that by 
placing the criterion of certitude in this same primitive 
faculty, he had given its death-blow to the Scepticism 
of Hume. He imagined that he had thus reconciled* 
philosophy with the common sense of mankind, from 
which it had been divorced by the English philosophers. 

The merit of the thinkers of the Scottish school con- 
sists in this, that they were the first w^io attempted to 
liberate philosophy from the sensistic principles of 
Locke and Condillac. 

VI. Kant (1724- 1 800). 
Whilst it was supposed that the Scottish School had 
placed philosophy once for all on a solid basis, the cele- 
brated Sophist of Konigsberg came and shattered its 
foundations again, and w^orse than before. He took 
the author of the Scottish School at his word, and pro- 
ceeded to reason with him much as follows : " You are 
quite right in saying that our persuasion of the existence 
of bodies does not come from the sense, but from a 
totally different faculty. The human spirit is by its 
very nature obliged to affirm the existence of bodies 
when our sensitive faculty experiences sensations. If 
so, our faith in the existence of bodies is an effect of 
the nature of the human mind, and hence if our mind 
were differently constituted we should not be necessi- 

248 Lif^ of Antonio Rosmini. 

tated to affirm that bodies exist. Therefore the truth 
of the existence of bodies is subjective or relative 
to the mind that pronounces it, but it is not in any way 
objective. We are indeed obliged to admit the existence 
of bodies, because we are so constituted that we cannot 
resist this instinct of our nature ; but it does not by 
any means follow that these bodies exist in them- 
selves — that they have an objective existence inde- 
pendent of us." 

This reasoning was extended by Kant to all human 
cognitions in general. He maintained that since they 
are all and each acts and products of the human 
spirit, and this spirit can never go out of itself, so there 
can be nothing but subjective truth and certainty, and, 
therefore, we can never be sure that things are such as 
they appear. 

To support this reasoning he observed that as all 
beings act according to the laws of their nature, so their 
products bear the stamp of those laws, whence he con- 
cluded that since our cognitions are all products of our 
own spirit, they must necessarily be in conformity with 
its nature and laws. 

. " Who can tell," he says, " that if there were a mind 
constituted differently from our own, it would not see 
things quite differently from what they appear to us ? 
Does not a mirror reflect objects according to the form 
which these objects assume in it, a convex mirror show- 
ing them elongated, a concave mirror on the contrary 
making them appear shortened." 

"The human mind therefore," he continues, "gives its 
own forms to the objects of its cognitions, it does not 
receive those forms from the objects themselves. Now 
the office of the philosopher consists in discovering what 
those forms are, in enumerating them one by one, and 
in- defining each according to its proper limitations. For 

A Sketch of Modern Philosophy. 2 49 

this, all that is required is accurately to observe all the 
objects of human cognition, transferring the forms of 
such objects to the human mind itself, and thus getting 
rid of the transcendental illusion, which leads us to 
imagine that the forms belong to the objects, whilst 
they are actually the forms of our own mind." 

This task Kant undertook to accomplish in his work, 
which bears the title of A Critique of Pnre Reason. 
His method is as follows : — 

The Sensitivity, according to Kant, has two forms. 
The one he assigns to the external sense, and he terms 
it space, the other to the internal sense, and he calls this 
time. To the understanding he assigns four forms, 
quantity, quality, modality, and relation ; to the reason 
he gives three forms — namely, absolute matter, absolute 
ivhole, absolute spirit; in other words, matter, the 
universe, and God. 

By this method Kant professed to reconcile all the 
most opposite systems of philosophy. Of these he 
makes two grand divisions, the Dogmatic and the Scep- 
tical. Under the Dogmatic he includes all that admitted 
the truth and certainty of human cognitions. Under 
the Sceptical those that denied them. He said that both 
sides were in the right ; that the Dogmatists were so, 
because a truth and certainty existed— namely, the 
subjective or relative; and that the Sceptics too were 
right, because there was no such thing as objective truth 
or certainty in the objects considered in themselves, 
since man cannot know anything as it is in itself. 

This system Kant termed Criticism, because it criti- 
cised not only all previous systems, but human reason 
itself. He also called it Transcendental Philosophy, 
because it transcended sense and experience, and sub- 
jected to its criticism all that man believed himself to 
know about the sensible world. 

250 Life of A ntonio Rosmini. 

The system of Kant, however, is in fact : 

1. Sceptical, because the subjective truth and certainty 
which he admits cannot, except by an abuse of words, 
be called either truth or certainty. 

2. Idealistic^ since it admits only the subjective exist- 
ence of bodies, and declares them to be the mere pro- 
duct of instinct, and of the innate forms of the human 
mind. It admits bodies only in appearance, and denies 
their proper existence. Moreover, his system is idealism, 
transported from \.h.Q particular to the. general. It is the 
idealism which Berkeley had applied to bodies only, 
extended by Kant, no less than by Hume before him, 
to all the objects of human cognition, whether corporeal 
or spiritual, concrete or abstract. 

3. Atheistic, because if human reason cannot give us 
security of the absolute and objective truth of the objects 
presented to our perception, there is no possibility of 
knowing with certainty the existence of God, and God is 
reduced to a subjective phenomenon. Kant himself 
admits this with perfect frankness. In fact, he criticises 
all the arguments employed by philosophers to demon- 
strate the existence of God, and proves, as he thinks, 
that they are futile and useless. 

4. Pantheistic, because according to this system 
nothing is left but spirit, which produces and figures to 
itself all things, in virtue of its inherent instincts and 
innate forms. It follows that one only substance exists, 
which is the human subject itself, and which carries 
within it the whole universe and God Himself ; so that 
God, in this system, becomes a modification of man. 

5. Spiritualistic and Materialistic at once, because 
what we call matter is in the object man as a product of 
himself, and what we call spirit is also in the object man 
as producing and modifying him, so that the human spirit 
becomes at one and the same time spirit and matter. 

A Sketch of Modern Philosophy. 2 5 1 

VII . Fichte {1762-1^1^). 

Fichte was a disciple of Kant When he published 
his work The Science of Cognition ( Wissenschaftslehre), 
he intended to give a scientific explanation of the 
system of Kant. But Kant repudiated the explanation, 
and thus Fichte became aware that he had invented a 
new system of his own. 

The difference between the Critical Philosophy and 
Transcendental Idealism, as Fichte termed his system, is 
as follows : 

Although Kant held that we have no means of know- 
ing whether the objects which appear to us are actually 
such as they appear, he did not deny the possibility of 
this being the case : that they may have a mode of 
existence independent of us, although we have no 
means of ascertaining it. But Fichte went further and 
denied that this was possible. He moreover maintained 
that these objects could be nothing but the product of 
the human spirit. He argued thus: the objects of 
cognition are all the products of the act of cognition, 
but the act of cognition is a product of the human 
spirit, therefore the objects of cognition are also pro- 
ducts of our own spirit. These objects, he continued, 
may be reduced to the sensible universe, God, and 
ourselves. Therefore the universe, God, and ourselves, 
are only so many products of our own spirit, which 
places them before it as objects of its cognition. 

Fichte then goes on to explain how the human spirit 
produces from itself all these things. He says that 
with the first pronouncement or creation the Ego posits 
itself. Before man says Ego, he is not as yet under the 
form of Ego. By a second pronouncement man, the 
Ego, posits the non-Ego, or creates it. The non-Ego, 
according to Fichte, is all that is not Ego, that is to say 

252 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

the external world, the divinity, and all objects of 
human thought whatsoever. Now these two acts by 
which our spirit posits the Ego and the non-Ego are 
co-relatives, so that the one cannot stand without the 
other. The human spirit cannot pronounce itself with- 
out contrasting this self with what is different from 
itself, by which act it denies this to be itself, and thus 
differentiates itself from all the rest. It cannot pro- 
nounce the non-Ego without contrasting it with the Ego, 
and finding it to be different from itself 

This double creation of the Ego and non-Ego is 
according to Fichte the first operation of the human 
spirit, which he also terms intuition. It has two 
relations or terms, which are in mutual contrast and 
opposition. By this first mysterious operation he 
thinks he has explained not only the origin of human 
cognition, but the existence of all things as well ; for, 
since the non-Ego includes all that is not the Ego, it 
includes God as well as the external world, and thus he 
arrives at the absurd proposition that not only the 
external world but even God Himself is a creation of 

This system is termed Traiiscendental Idealism, because 
it applies the idealistic principle of Berkeley to all 
things without exception, drawing forth with an inexor- 
able logic all its consequences, and discovering the abyss 
concealed beneath. The critical PJiilosophy of Kant 
left a doubt whether or not things had a subsistence of 
their own ; this was decided by Fichte in the negative ; 
he thus changed the critical Scepticism of Kant into 
dogmatic Scepticism. 

From Fichte's system were originated in Germany 
the two others : ScJielling's system of absolute identity, 
and HegeVs of tJie absolute idea, but we omit other later 
developments as unnecessary for our present purpose. 

A Sketch of Modern Philosophy. 253 

VIII. Critique of the above Systems. 

The observations of Reid on the subject of the Sensism 
of Locke and Condillac, Berkeley and Hume were per- 
fectly just, being founded on a more complete study of 
the phenomena of the human spirit. 

He said, if man had no other faculty but that of 
sensation, he would /^^/ only, but he would never think. 
Thought is something beyond sensation, for we think of 
what we do not feel ; we arrive at substance, for 
example, at cause and spirit by thought, yet they do 
not fall under our senses. Therefore the objects of 
human thought are not merely simple sensations. How- 
ever evident the fact may be, it is difficult to understand 
how it is. It is still more difficult to understand, though 
equally evident, that we tJiink of the sensations in a 
way very different from that in which \NQfeel the sensa- 
tion itself. Our mind, in fact, affirms the sensation in 
itself, and this indifferently whether it is actually pre- 
sent, or past, or future. For example, I think of the 
pleasant odour of the rose I experienced yesterday ; the 
sensation itself is no longer present, but the thought of 
it remains. Therefore " the sensation " itself is not the 
same thing as '' the thought of the sensation." 

We may say the same as to future sensations. I think 
over the pleasant sensations I expect to-morrow in the 
chase or at a banquet. The sensations do not yet exist, 
yet the thought of them is present. ThotigJit therefore 
differs essentially from sensation. This being the case, 
I am bound to conclude that even when the sensation 
and the thought of the sensation are both present at the 
same time, they not only differ essentially, but are 
independent of one another. 

Moreover, who has not observed how many times we 
experience sensations without thinking of them, especi- 

2 54 Life of A ntonio Rosmini. 

ally if they are not very vivid or are habitual and mani- 
fold, such as we experience in every moment of our 
existence. They pass unobserved, our mind, particu- 
larly if distracted or otherwise occupied, has not time 
to reflect upon them. We can, therefore, easily under- 
stand that there are beings which are purely sensitive, 
and others in whom thought is united with sensation ; 
the first are those that have brute animal life, the second 
are human beings. This distinction once admitted 
demolishes the fundamental principle of Locke and his 
followers. Locke confounded sensation with thought, 
and attempted to apply to thought what actually applied 
to sensation only. 

The Trite Nature of Thought. — So far Reid was in the 
right in dealing with the Sensists, but in attempting to 
confute the Sceptics he found himself stranded. For, 
seeing the necessity of basing philosophy on thought, 
and of giving a satisfactory explanation of the pheno- 
mena of thought, and seeing that these could in no way 
be accounted for by the senses only, he boldly took the 
line of declaring that they were to be attributed to 
a particular and essential instinct of human nature. In 
this he took notice of the subjective part of thought 
only, entirely losing sight of its objective element, and 
so failed to grasp the true nature of thought itself. For 
it is of the nature of thought that there is always present 
to the subject, an object which can never be confounded 
with the subject, but on the contrary is constantly dis- 
tinguished from it ; and in this continual and necessary 
distinction the thought itself consists, so that if ever the 
object were confounded with the subject, thought would 
thereby cease to exist. 

This error or omission of Reid was taken advantage 
of by Kant, thence to raise doubts, not merely as to the 
existence of bodies, but as to all the objects of human 
cognition, all of which he maintains are only products, 

A Sketch of Modern Philosophy. 255 

as we have already seen, of an irresistible instinct of 
human nature, and, therefore, mere subjective creations 
of the human spirit. The transcendental Idealism of 
Fichte is nothing but a logical complement of the 
system of Kant. 

We may expose the error of Kant, which was at the 
root of the many other errors of German Pantheism, by 
the following reasoning : — " I know that I am not the 
object of my thought, and that the object of my thought 
is not myself. Thus I know that I am not the bread that 
I eat, the sun which I behold, the person with whom I 
converse. This is self-evident, because I am so known 
to myself that if I were not so known I should no longer 
be. Therefore nothing can be me without my know- 
ing it. But I do not know that the bread, the sun, the 
person I converse with are myself. Therefore I know 
that they are not myself." 

Kant could only reply to this that we are deceived, 
and that things might easily be ourselves without our 
knowing it. But this could not be, for if I did not know 
it I should not be myself, since the Ego implies the 
consciousness of myself. Without this consciousness of 
self the Ego would not be Ego but something else. 
Therefore the objects which stand before my thought 
are essentially distinct from myself. For the same 
reason they cannot be modifications of myself, because 
if so they would exist in my consciousness as modifica- 
tions of myself, since the nature of the Ego consists in 
this consciousness of myself. 

The Bridge of Communication between ourselves and 
the external objects. — But the Idealists object : What 
then is " the bridge of communication between the Ego, 
myself, and the object of the Egof Can the Ego go 
out of itself so as to reach a thing outside itself } " 

To this we reply, that however difficult the question 
may be, even though it were found inexplicable, this 

256 Life of A ntonio Ros^nini. 

would in no way weaken our assertion of a fact already 
fully verified. Sound logic demands that when we have 
a verified fact before us it is not to be given up because 
we do not know how to explain it. The only conclusion 
is that we have to admit our ignorance. This, however, 
is not our present position. 

Reflection on this matter will show that this objec- 
tion arises from what we may call a certain materialistic 
ontology^ which leads our Idealists to apply to all being, 
whether spiritual or corporeal, the laws which belong to 
matter only. For example, a law of corporeal beings 
is the impenetrability of bodies, so that one body can- 
not stand in the place occupied by another. But how 
do we know that this law holds good for incorporeal 
beings or spirits } There is no reason why spirits 
should not be subject to wholly different laws, and 
this, in fact, is what we might expect from the 
difference between the nature of body and that of 

How then can we judge of this latter nature ? 

Certainly not by arguing from the analogy of bodies, 
but by observing and well considering what spirits are 
in themselves. Now if we observe and consider well 
this intelligent spirit of ours, and its active and passive 
qualities, we come clearly to see that it obeys a totally 
opposite law from that which governs bodies, and that 
far from our being able to say that it is impenetrable 
in its nature, we find that the objects of thought may 
exist in it, not merely without being confounded with 
it, but whilst remaining perfectly distinct and different 
from it. The very word '^object'' used in common 
parlance expresses this fact by its very etymology, 
meaning something set opposite — objectiim. Such is 
the result of observation, and since it involves no 
absurdity it ought to be accepted. There is no need 

A Sketch of Modern Philosophy. 257 

then of any bridge of communication between our 
spirit and external things, since this may be found 
immediately in the spirit according to that immaterial 
mode which we call cognition or knoivledge. 

A consideration of the order of things sensible will 
lead us to a similar reflection if we regard the soul as the 
sensitive principle. Now no true sensitive principle can 
exist as such without having a sensible term, or some- 
thing which it feels. We do not call this an object, but 
a term, reserving the former word for the intellectual 
order only. Every sensitive principle, therefore, has a 
term which it feels. 

Now it is a fact of experience that the term which is 
felt remains always in the sentient principle, and can- 
not go out of or beyond it. It is also a fact of ex- 
perience that the thing felt is not the principle that 
feels. Now under the denomination of the thing felt 
or sensible term are included all sensible things without 

From these undeniable facts there flow two con- 
sequences : the first, that the sensible things or things 
felt can never be confounded with the sensitive principle 
or principle which feels them, and this is enough to 
refute completely the Idealism of Berkeley ; the second 
is that which Galluppi has well remarked — namely, 
that the sense affirms and perceives the external things 
immediately without needing any bridge of communi- 
cation whatever. 

These considerations prove conclusively that the 
systems of Kant and Fichte are based on an incom- 
plete observation of nature, which led these philoso- 
phers to confound together two diametrically opposite 
things — namely, the ''subject'' or knower, and the 
''object'' or thing known ; the "principle" that feels, 
and the "term ''felt. 

II, R 



I. Distinction betzveen Subject and Object. 

It is clear, then, from what we have already said that 
the object knozvn is a thing entirely different from the 
subject or kiiower. 

The subject that knows is a person, the object, as 
such, is impersonal. Sometimes, however, we may say 
that in a certain sense the object known is a subject 
that knows, when, for instance, the object of thought is 
man ; sometimes also the subject that knows is itself the 
object known, as when we think of ourselves. But the 
stibject that knows can never, as stuh, be confounded or 
mixed up with the object know7t. Always and in every 
case the subject and the object retain their respective 
natures, each remaining perfectly distinct from the other, 
so distinct that if it were otherwise our knowledge itself 
would be extinguished. The distinction between sub- 
ject and object is therefore an essential characteristic of 

The question, therefore, is reduced to this : Whence 
does our understanding obtain its object ^ 

Human cognitions are divided into two classes, in- 
tuitions and affirmations. 

Intuitional knowledge or cognition is that which re- 

Rosminis Summary of his own System. 259 

gards the things, as considered in themselves, the things 
in their possibility. The things considered in them- 
selves, as possible to subsist or not to subsist are the 

Cognition obtained by means of affirmation or judg- 
ment is that knowledge which we acquire by affirming 
or judging that a thing subsists or does not subsist. 

From this description the following consequences 
spring : 

1. That the cognitions by intuition necessarily pre- 
cede those of affirmation, for we can not affirm that a 
.thing subsists or does not subsist, unless we first know 
the thing itself as possible to subsist ; for example, I 
can not say that a tree or a man subsists unless I first 
know what a tree or a man is. Now to know what a 
thing is, comes to the same as to know the thing in its 
possibility, for I may know what a tree is, and yet not 
know that this tree as yet subsists. 

2. That the objects as know7i all belong to intuitional 
knowledge, because affirmation is limited to affirming 
or denying the subsistence of the object as known by 
int7iition. Affirmation, therefore, does not furnish any 
new object to the mind, but only pronounces the sub- 
sistence of the object already known. Intuitio7i, there- 
fore, places us in possession of possible objects, and 
these we call ideas. Affirmation does not furnish us 
with new possible objects, or new ideas, but produces 
persuasions in respect of the objects which we know 

There are, therefore, cognitions which terminate in 
ideas, and cognitions which terminate in persuasions. 
By the first we know the possible world, by the second 
the real and subsistent world. Hence there are two 
categories of things — \\\\\\gs possible and things subsistent, 
in other words, ideas and things. 

26o L^f^ of Antonio Rosmini. 

2. Ideas are not nothing. They have a mode of 
existence proper to themselves. 

We have seen that the objects of our cognitions are 
essentially distinct from ourselves, who are the subjects 
of the cognitions. This distinction of the object from 
the subject of cognition is proper to all objects what- 
ever, whether they are only possible {ideas) or are also 
subsistent {things). But not only are all such objects 
distinct from the cognising subject, they are also inde- 
pendent of it. By this observation a new light is thrown 
on the nature of ideas, for they compel us to conclude 
by the logic of facts : 

1st. That ideas are not nothing. 

2d. That they are not ourselves or any modification 
of ourselves. 

3d. That they have a mode of existence of their own, 
entirely different from that of real or subsistent things. 

This mode of existence belonging to the ideal objects 
or ideas is such that it does not fall under our bodily 
sense, and hence it is that it has entirely escaped the 
observation of many philosophers, who began their 
philosophical investigations with a foregone conclusion, 
or assumption, that whatever did not fall under our 
senses was nothing. Yet it is a fact that though the 
possible objects truly exist they do not fall under sense, 
and hence that we can in no way account for them by 
recurring to corporeal sense only ; which is a fresh and 
self-evident confutation of sensism. 

3. Principal characteristics of ideas. 

But if ideas, or, in other words, the ideal and possible 
objects, are not furnished by the senses, whence then do 
they come ? 

Rosmims Sttmmary of his own System. 261 

Let us begin by examining the essential character- 
istics of ideas. These are principally two — namely, 
universality and necessity. 

An ideal object or one that is merely possible, is 
always universal, in this sense, that' taken by itself it 
enables us to know the nature of all the indefinite 
number of individuals in which it is, or may be realized. 
Take, for example, the idea of man. The idea of man 
is the same as the ideal man. Whatever be the number 
of human individuals in whom this idea may be realized 
there is always the same nature of man ; that nature is 
one, the individuals are many. 

Now what does the idea of man, or the ideal man 
express and make us know.? The nature of man. 
Whoever, therefore, possesses the idea of man, if he had 
the power of creation, would be able by this alone to 
produce as many human individuals as he pleased. In 
the same way this one idea is sufficient to enable us to 
discern all men who may ever come into existence. 
So also a sculptor who had conceived the idea of a 
statue, would be able to reproduce it in marble as 
many times as he pleased, without the idea being ever 
exhausted. The ideal statue w^ould remain one and 
always the same, standing before the mind as the 
exemplar ; the material copies would be many, all 
formed and made known by means of this same idea. 
This is what is meant by the imiversality of ideas, by 
which they are categorically distinguished from the real 
objects which are dXvjdiys partial lar, and from the sensa- 
tions which are sXso pa j'ticnlar. 

The characteristic of necessity is equally evident, 
because the ideas being possible objects, it is clear that 
what is possible can never have been otherwise than 
possible, and hence it is such, necessarily. T\\q possible 
is that which involves no contradiction ; every object, 

262 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

therefore, which involves no contradiction is necessarily 
possible. Now all finite and real beings considered in 
their reality are contingent only and not necessary, in 
contradiction to possible beings. For we may think of 
any finite or real being whatsoever, as existing or not 
existing, whereas we can not think of the possible object 
ceasing to be possible, that is to say, becoming not 
possible. For example, man in his possibility is neces- 
sary, for you can not make man an impossible being ; 
on the contrary, a real man is always a contingent 
being, because he may or may not be. 

Universality, therefore, and necessity are the two 
principal characteristics of the ideas. These include 
two others — namely, infinity and eternity. 

An infinity is necessarily involved in ideas, by reason 
of their universality. No real and limited being is 
universal. For by reason of its very limits it is deter- 
mined within itself and incommunicable to any other 
being. Hence ideas do not belong to the class of real 
limited beings. 

Ideas are also eternal, because they are necessary ; 
for that which is necessary always was and always will 
be necessary, and that which always is and always was, 
is eternal. 

4. The ideas exist in God from all eternity. 

It was the consideration of these sublime character- 
istics of the ideas that led Plato, and after him St. 
Augustine and St. Thomas, to conclude that the ideas 
reside in God ^ as their source and principle. 

^ Ideae sunt principales qucedam fo7-mcE vel rationes rerum stabiles 
atque incommutabiles : quia ipsae formatae non sunt, ac per hoc aternce : 
ac semper eodem modo se habentes, quia divina intelligentia continentur. 
— St. Thomas Summ., theol. II., p. 9, xx., act 2, et passim. "Ideas are 

Rosmini's Summary of his own System, 26 


From this opinion Malebranche deduced his system 
that man, as well as every other finite intelligence, sees 
all that he does see in God. This system was after- 
wards defended from the imputations against its theo- 
logical orthodoxy by Cardinal Gerdil. 

We do not entirely accept this system, for reasons 
too long to enter upon here, but we recognise in it a 
foundation of truth, and we say in general that the 
differences between our system and that of Malebranche 
lies not in fundamentals but in details. 

5. Important distijiction of ideas in God and in man. 

We are very particular in distinguishing the ideas as 
they are in God and as seen by our intelligence. The 
ideas are in God in a different mode from that in which 
they are displayed to our mind. The ideas in God have 
a mode of existence which differs in nothing from that 
of God Himself, and this is the mode of the Divine 
Word; Who is "with God" without any real distinction in 
Himself, and "is God" Himself This is not the case with 
the ideas as exhibited to our mind. 

In our mind the ideas are many and do not constitute 
by themselves the word of man, because the word is the 
expression of a judgment or affirmation or pronounce- 
ment, which has its term always in a reality, whereas 
the ideas only cause us to know the possibility of a 
reality. Hence the ideas are limited by the human 
mind which receives them in such a way that they can 
not receive the appellation of God or the Divine Word, 
because God is the Real absolute Being Who subsists 

certain principal T^rwi- or stable and incommutable reasons of things : for 
they are not formed, and therefore are eternal : and they hold themselves 
always in the same mode, because they are contained in the Divine Iii- 

264 J^if^ of Antonio Rosniini. 

necessarily : whereas the ideas are only possibles, that 
is possible real beings of which we have the intuition. 
And yet the ideas retain certain divine characteristics, 
such as we have stated above, so that we may with pro- 
priety term them appurtenances of God. 

Hence, speaking generally, we may say that the 
origin of the ideas combes from God, Who causes them 
to shine before the human mind ; nor can they come to 
man from the external things, because finite beings pos- 
sess none of those sublime characteristics, and nothing 
can impart what it does not possess, 

6. Classification of the ideas. The one indeterminate idea 
and the determinate ideas — concrete and abst7'act 

We may now advance a step further towards discover- 
ing the origin of human ideas, explaining their multi- 
plicity, and showing how they concur in the production 
of that class of cognitions which are termed cognitions 
by persuasion. 

We will begin by classifying the ideas according to 
the order of subordination in which they stand to one 
another. We find, therefore, that there is one idea, 
which is the only indeterminate and wholly universal 
idea, and this is the idea of being or existence. All the 
other ideas are more or less determinate, and give us 
the knowledge of possible beings within a more restricted 

Now, between the indeterminate idea of being or 
existence, and all the other ideas, there exists this rela- 
tion, that all the other ideas contain the indeterminate 
idea of being, to which different determinations are 
super-added. Take, for instance, the ideas of stone, tree, 
animal, man. 

Rosmints Summary of his own System. 265 

How do I get the idea of stone ? It is a being, but 
not any kind of being, but one which has the determina- 
tions of stone. 

How do I get the idea of tree ? It is a being with 
the determination of tree. 

How do I get the idea of animal ? Again, it is a 
being which has the determination of animal. 

How do I get the idea of man } Still we have a being 
with the determination proper to man. 

We find, therefore, that being enters into all our 
ideas, and every determinate idea is nothing but this 
same idea of beings invested with and limited by certain 
determinations. All the ideas, therefore, have the same 
basis, one common element, which is ideal or possible 

These determinations of the idea of being may be 
more or less complete, that is to say, they may determine 
being entirely, or determine it only on one side, leaving 
the other sides undetermined. 

Thus, for example, I may form the idea of a book of 
a certain size and shape, printed in a certain type, and 
in fact furnished with all the other accidental determina- 
tions of a given book. This is the determinate idea of 
a book, and nevertheless this idea is still general, be- 
cause it is a pure idea, not a real book ; it is a type or 
exemplar which I have before my mind, and according 
to this type I might form an indefinite number of real 
books all precisely alike. On the other hand, I may 
have the idea of a book to a certain extent indeterminate, 
as when I think of a book with all that constitutes its 
essence, prescinding from the accidents of size, shape, 
type, etc. Now when the ideas are all fully or per- 
fectly determined we call them concrete ideas ; when they 
remain to a certain extent indeterminate we call them 
abstract. But if from the idea of book I take away all 

266 Life of Antomo Rosmtm. 

its determinations, as well accidental as essential, the 
idea of book vanishes from my mind, and nothing 
remains but the idea of indeterminate being. 

Thus the ideas take as it were the form of a pyramid. 
The first course in the structure is formed of the con- 
crete and wholly determinate ideas, and these are 
necessarily the most numerous. The other courses 
consist of the less determinate ideas, which diminish in 
proportion as we divest them of their determinations. 
The apex of the pyramid consists of the idea of being 
which alone is Avithout determinations. 

If then we wish to give a satisfactory explanation of 
the origin of ideas we must account for two things — 
first, the indeterminate idea ; and second, its determina- 

7. F ormatioii of determinate ideas. 

As regards the determinations of the idea of being 
(which is itself the indeterminate idea), we shall easily 
discover their origin by the following consideration. 

Let us suppose that man is possessed of the idea of 
being, that is to say, that he knows what being or ex- 
istence is, we see at once how the idea may be exchanged 
for the sensation. Because when we experience sen- 
sations we may say to ourselves, this is a being limited 
and determined by the sensation. For example, when 
I see a star I may say mentally, this is a luminous being, 
and the like. 

The sensations, therefore, furnish me with the first 
determinations of being, so that when I think of a 
luminous being acting upon my organ of sight, I no 
longer think of indeterminate being only, but of a being 
with the determination of luminosity, of a certain degree 
of luminous intensity, of a determinate size and shape, 
&c. All these qualities make the idea determinate. 

Rosmims Summary of his own System. 267 

and are all furnished by the senses. But it does not 
follow that these determinations of the idea are the 
sensations themselves. This we shall see if we dis- 
tinguish the different operations which take place in the 
formation of these perceptions. 

In fact, when on beholding a star we say to ourselves, 
this is a luminous being, we pronounce an affirmation 
or judgment. We have already shown the distinction 
between cognitions by affirmation and simple ideas. 
But we have said also that the first of these depend on 
the latter, so that we can not affirm the subsistence of 
an object, unless we first have the idea of it. Therefore, 
in the judgment by which we affirm the star as present 
before our eyes, and which we term the perception of the 
star, the idea of it is already contained. We have then 
to perform another mental operation by isolating the 
idea from all the other elements of the perception. 
This operation is termed universalisaiion, and it is thus 
performed : 

When I perceive the star, my thought is bound up 
with a particular and sensible object. But I can free 
it from this by abstracting entirely from the thought of 
the actual subsistence of the star, retaining the image 
of it in my mind, and considering it as a possible star, 
as type and exemplar of all such stars, indefinite as to 
their number, which might be realised by creative 
power. Now the possible star is a pure determinate 

This determinate idea is no longer the sensation ; for 
this is real not possible, yet it is true that the sensation 
was the occasion of my discovering it. It was discovered 
by my intelligence, by considering as possible that which 
my sensation gave me as real. And this my intelligence 
was well able to do, if we suppose it to know what 
possible being is. But the possible star is nniversal, 

268 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

that is to say it may be realised an indefinite number 
of times, and this operation of our intelligence is, there- 
fore, termed universalisation . 

By Universalisation, therefore, we form the ideas 
which are completely determined ; by abstraction we 
form those which are determined only to a certain ex- 
tent, but otherwise are undetermined. Thus, supposing 
that, besides abstracting from the subsistence of the 
star, I abstract also from its size and form, its degree of 
luminosity, and other accidents, what remains before 
my mind ? I have still the idea of star, but this idea 
is abstract or generic, equally applicable to a star of the 
first, second, or third magnitude. This idea, then, is 
partly determinate, because the idea of star could not 
be confounded with the idea of anything else ; but it is 
also in part indeterminate, because it does not apply 
more to one star than to another. 

If then the human mind is possessed of the idea of 
possible being, there is no dif^culty in finding how it 
gets the determinations which, as it were, clothe, limit, 
and transform it into all the other ideas. These deter- 
minations are occasioned and, materially, furnished by 
the sensations, and afterwards formed into ideas by 
means of the twofold operations above described — 
namely, universalisation and abstraction. 

8. Origin of the one indeterminate idea — The idea of 
being or existence. 

It remains still to explain whence comes the idea of 
being, the sole indeterminate idea. If we once admit 
that this idea is given to the human spirit, there is no 
difficulty as to the origin of the other ideas, because, as 
we have seen, these are nothing else but that same idea 
of being invested with determinations by the human 

Rosminis Summary of Ids own System. 269 

spirit, on occasion of the sensations, and of whatever 
feelings man experiences. 

Now in order to solve the problem as to the origin in 
our mind of the idea of being we must first of all con- 
sider certain corollaries which follow from what we have 
explained above. 

1st. The idea of being in general precedes all other 
ideas. In fact, all other ideas are only the idea of 
being determined in one way or another, and to deter- 
mine a thing supposes that we already possess the 
thing to be determined. 

2nd. This idea can not come from sensation or from 
our feelings, not only because the sensations are real, 
particular, and contingent (whereas this idea furnishes 
the mind with the knowledge of possible being, 
universal and necessary in its possibility), but also 
because the sensations and the feelings do not furnish 
to the spirit any thing except determinations of the 
idea of beijig by which it is limited and restricted. 

3rd. It can not come from the operations of the 
human spirit, such as universalisation and abstraction ; 
because these operations do no more than either add 
determinations to this same idea of being, or take them 
away when they have been added, and this on occasion 
of the sensations or feelings experienced. 

4th. The operations of the human intelligence are 
only possible, if we presuppose the idea of being, 
which is the means, the instrument, employed by it 
to perform them, nay, the very condition of its exist- 

5th. It follows that without the idea of being the 
human spirit could not only make no rational opera- 
tion, but would be altogether destitute of the faculty of 
thought and understanding, in other words it would 
not be intelligent. 

270 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

6th. If the human spirit were deprived of the idea 
of being it would be deprived also of intelligence ; it 
follows that it is this idea which constitutes it intel- 
ligent. We may therefore say that it is this same idea 
which constitutes the light of reason, and we thus dis- 
cover what that light of reason is which has been 
admitted by all men, but defined by no one. 

7th. And since philosophers give the name of form 
to that which constitutes a thing what it is, the idea of 
bei7ig in general may be rightly termed the form of the 
human reason or intelligence. 

8th. For the same reason this idea may justly be 
called the first or pa7'ent idea, the idea in se and the 
light of the intelligence. 

It is the first idea because anterior to all other 
ideas ; the pai^ent idea because it generates all the 
others, by associating itself with the sensations and 
feelings by means of the operations of the human spirit. 
We call it the idea i7i se, because the feelings and sen- 
sations are not ideas, and our spirit is obliged to add 
them as so many determinations to that first idea, in 
order to obtain the determinate ideas. 

Lastly, we call it the light of the intelligence, because 
it is knowable by itself; whereas the sensations and 
feelings are cognisable by means of it, by becoming its 
determinations, and, as such, being rendered cognisable 
to the human spirit. 

If these facts are attentively considered, the great 
problem of the origin of ideas and of all human cogni- 
tions becomes easy of solution. 

But in fact this problem has been solved long ago by 
the common sense of mankind. For the existence in 
the human spirit of a light of reason or intelligence is 
admitted by the common sense of men, which declares 
this light of reason to be so natural and proper to man 

Rosminis Summary of his own System. 271 

that it constitutes the difference between him and the 

Now since we have shown that this light of reason 
is nothing'.Pelse but the idea of being in general^ it 
follows according to the testimony of the same common 
sense that this idea is natural to man or proper to his 
nature, and therefore it is not an idea which is formed 
or acquired, but ijinate or inserted in man by nature, 
and presented to the spirit by the Creator Himself, by 
Whom man was formed. 

In fact, beiiig must be known of itself, or otherwise 
there is nothing else which could make it known ; but 
on the contrary every other thing is known only by 
means of it, for since everything else is some mode or 
determination of being, if we know not what being itself 
is, we can know nothing.^ 

9. Immortality of the soul. Existence of God. 

Such is our solution of the question of the origin of 
ideas. For all ideas, whether specific or generic, are 
nothing but the idea of being or existence^ as determined 
in various ways by the sensations and operations of the 
human spirit. And since this one primitive idea can 
not be the product of these operations, since it is itself 
an indispensable condition of them all, we must admit 
that it is given to men by nature ; so that we know 
what being is without having any need of learning it, 

^ St. Thomas has said of the light of reason — the idea of being, accord- 
ing to Rosmini ; " Omnia diciniur in Deo videre, et secundum ipsum de 
omnibus Judica^'e, in quantum, per patticipationem sui lu??iinis o?nnia 
cognoscimus et dijudicamus, Na?n et ipsum lumen naturale raiionis par- 
ticipatio qucedam est divini luminis, sicut etiam omnia sensibilia dicimur 
videre et judicare in\sole, id est in lumine solis.^'' — I. i. d. 9, xii., art xii. 
ad. 3. " We are said to see all things in God, and according to Him to 
judge of all things, in as much as by a participation of His Light, we 
know and judge of all things. For the natural light of reason is itself a 
certain participation of the Divine light, as we afe said to see and judge 
of all things in the sun, that is in the light of the sun." 

272 Life of A 7itonio Rosmini. 

and we learn all other things by means of this primitive 

We can not with reason ask for a definition of being, 
because it is known in and by itself, and enters into 
the definition of all other things. We can indeed 
describe it, and analyse its characteristics, but we can 
do nothing more. 

We have seen that this idea contains the pure 
essence of the thing. The idea of being, therefore, 
contains and enables us to know the essence of being. 

The essence has nothing to do with space ; ideal 
being, therefore, is incorporeal. But this ideal being is 
the form of the intelligent soul, and by the simple 
intuition of this idea the intelligent soul subsists. 
Therefore the intelligent soul is incorporeal, and there- 
fore spiritual, therefore again both incorruptible and 

The essence of being has also nothing to do with 
time, because being in its essence is always being, and 
can never cease to be, since it would be a contradiction 
in terms for being to cease to be being. Therefore it is 
eternal. But it was united to the soul in time. There- 
fore it was before the soul existed and is independent 
of it. But being is the light of intelligence, and the 
light of intelligence is conditioned on the existence of 
that of which it is the light. Therefore there exists an 
intelligence anterior to human intelligence, an eternal 
mind. But this eternal mind is God's, therefore God 

The existence of God and the immortality of the 
soul are the two foundations of morals. For God is 
the end to which the immortal soul ought to tend, and 
this duty comprehends the whole summary of man's 
moral obligations, so that the abstract investigation of 
the origin of ideas becomes of the gravest import to 
the destinies of man. 



Half a century ago Rosmini wrote the following 
words : " If Philosophy is to be restored to love and 
respect, I think it will be necessary, in part, to return 
to the teachings of the ancients, and in part, to give 
those teachings the benefit of modern methods, facility 
of style, a breadth of application embracing the daily 
wants of human life, and finally, to cement all the parts 
into one complete whole. The Schoolmen, now made 
so little of, are the link connecting the old with the 
modern philosophies, and deserve to be carefully 
studied. For, though the Scholastic philosophy in its 
later period became degraded, childish, and ridiculous, 
it was not so in its great writers, among whom it 
suffices to mention the prince of Italian Philosophers, 
St. Thomas of Aquin."i 

So wrote a great Christian philosopher, grieved to 
the heart at seeing the havoc caused by modern philo- 
sophy — I mean those systems which, having started 
from the " sensation and reflection " principle of Locke, 
have grown successively into the more subtle, deep, and 
insidious forms of Subjectivism of which the Kantian 
theory is the centre. 

Rosmini's voice has been re-echoed far and wide; 
and now the necessity of going back to the old teach- 
ings, so profoundly and so luminously expounded by 
^ Rosinitii, Teodicea, n. 148. 


2 74 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

the Angelic Doctor, felt very generally among Catholic 
thinkers, has been authoritatively confirmed by Leo 
XIIL, our reigning Pontiff, in his ever memorable 
Encyclical jf^terni Patris, in which he enjoins the use 
of Thomas as the text-book for students of philosophy. 

That honest and to some extent successful efforts 
have been made in that direction, is shown by some of 
the philosophical treatises now in circulation. It is 
very pleasing to observe in them so much that is really 
true and beautiful. Nevertheless, when we come to 
that most fundamental question — the " origin of miiver- 
sa/s/' or of Jiuman ideas ; for all ideas are essentially 
universal in their application, some writers pass over 
their origin altogether ; others try to explain " univer- 
sal " by means of an undefined sort of faculty, natural 
to us but not naturally informed with any self-evident 
light ; while others fall back upon the theory which 
pretends to form universal ideas by abstracting them 
from particular ones — an evident begging of the ques- 
tion. For, if our mind observing the universal in the 
particular, abstracts it therefrom, clearly the universal 
was there already ; or else the mind could not observe 
it. So the question comes back : " How did the 
universal come there } " 

Unless we can show how we get ideas, and how we 
know that they are true, it is like building a house of 
many storeys well and carefully arranged, but without 
a foundation ; or like constructing a locomotive without 
giving it steam power. A main portion of the value of 
such books is wanting. So long as this continues, it 
will not be possible to establish effectually the essential 
objectivity of truth and the unassailable certitude of 
human knowledge. Consequently it will not be 
possible to raise on a firm basis the moral sciences, nor 
indeed any science whatever, natural or supernatural ; 

Harmony of Rosmmi with St. TJiomas. 275 

for sciences are mere phantoms if their objective truth 
be not placed on a basis of certainty. The shrewd 
siibjectivist will smile at the good intentions, logical 
acumen, and erudition of these writers, but will see that 
they build on a foundation no better than his own. 

The following Essay on " Sahit Thomas of Aqiiin 
and Ideology',' from the pen of the highly-gifted, 
learned, and profound Thomist, the late Bishop of 
Casale, in Piedmont, is a slight sketch by the author 
himself of what he has written in his large work in eleven 
octavo volumes ; in which he shows, 1st, What is the 
light of reason by which we are capable of acquiring 
knowledge. 2nd, How our mind passes from being 
simply informed by the original light of reason to being 
possessed of special cognitions. 3rd, The perfect har- 
mony, on these fundamental points of philosophy, 
between Rosmini, and Scripture, the Fathers, and the 

St. Thomas of Aquin and Ideology. 
Essay of the Bishop of Casale. 
Good and thoughtful men, while rejoicing in the 
security Divinely provided for the unity of the faith, 
cannot but wish that a unity of sound principles in 
Philosophy could be established — at least in Catholic 
Schools. For this end they would like to see the philo- 
sophical doctrines of the Fathers of the Church, but 
especially of St. Thomas of Aquin, restored to their 
ancient seat of honour. The truth of these doctrines is 
admitted by the contending parties ; but instead of 

^ Translations of Rosmini's Niiovo Saggio, on the Origin of Ideas, and 
of his Psicologia are already published by Kegan Paul, London. All the 
works of Rosmini in Italian may be obtained from Pavaria, of Rome, Turin, 
and Milan ; as also the work by Monsignor Ferre, Bishop of Casale, in 
eleven volumes, Degli Universali secondo la tcoria Rosminiana, confrontata 
calla dottrina di San Tomviaso D' Aquino, 

276 Life of A nton io Rosin hii. 

unanimity, we are doomed to witness a sad spectacle of 
division, all the more deplorable since all alike appeal 
to that which one would have thought the most effectual 
means for putting an end to dissension. 

Whence does this arise ? From no other cause than 
the different or rather contrary interpretations given to 
texts of these great writers severally cited by the parties 
in question. Where, then, is the remedy } Obviously, 
in respecting the true laws of interpretation. These 
laws are that, when it is desired to know the mind of 
an author, his expressions should be taken in their ob- 
vious and natural sense ; that his true meaning should 
be gathered from the whole context ; and the passages 
which are obscure should be explained by those which 
are clear and evident. By following these simple rules 
most of the contentions would cease. 

This is what I now propose to show in reference to 
the questions of the origin of ideas and \kvQ formation of 
2iniversals ; which will naturally divide my essay into 
two parts. 

Part I. — On the Origin of Ideas. 

The true theory on the origin of ideas and on its 
kindred questions is severally claimed by three contrary 
Schools of thought. One pretends that man has by 
nature the intuition of the absolute infinite Being — in a 
word — of God Himself. The other maintains that man 
has innate the idea of being ; that is, of being wholly in- 
determinate, Ens in comviuni. The third, while denying 
all innate ideas, confines itself to the statement that 
man has naturally the power of acquiring ideas propor- 
tionate to the degree of his intelligence, without, how- 
ever, telling us in what that power consists. 

Respecting the first of these Schools, all I have to 
remark is that its view is contradicted by reason and by 

Harmony of Rosmini with St. Thomas. ^^'] 

experience, and, worse still, is opposed to the principles 
of faith. Indeed, it seems almost identical with the 
doctrine condemned by the Vatican Council, which has 
anathematized those who shall maintain that universal 
indefinite being whose various determinations give the 
genera, the species, and the individuals, is God.^ The 
other two Schools take their stand on the authority of 
St. Thomas, each unhesitatingly claiming him for itself 
As, however, they are directly opposed to each other, it 
is evident that St. Thomas cannot be with both, unless 
we wish to make him contradict himself But then each 
side is prepared with numerous quotations from the 
Angelic Doctor which it is asserted are all clearly in its 
favour. What must we conclude from this 1 Surely 
that one of them misinterprets the teaching of the Holy 
Doctor. Therefore, in order to ascertain the true mean- 
ing of St. Thomas, we must consult his works and ex- 
plain them in accordance with the rules of fair criticism 
just laid down. I shall restrict my observations to two 
points — that of the Innate Idea, and that of the forma- 
tion of Universals from particulars ; these points being, 
as it were, the two great hinges of the Ideological 

What does St. Thomas hold respecting Innate Ideas.'* 
It must be premised that he has not treated this ques- 
tion ex professo, but only touched upon it here, and 
there, according as he needed it for developing the 
theses he had in hand. It is therefore reasonable to 
expect that his real mind will be most apparent in 
those places where he has approached the question 
most nearly. And his words will have to be taken in 
their obvious and natural sense, unless a logical necessity 
should compel us to seek another explanation of their 
meaning. Nowhere has the Angelic Doctor expressed 

^ Pantheistic Ontology, or Science of being. 

278 Lif^ of Antonio Rosmini. 

himself so clearly on the origin of ideas as In his two 
treatises, De Magistro and De Veritate. In the first 
article of the De Magistro he proposes to inquire : 
" whether God alone, or man also, can instruct and be 
called a teacher," and in the second article : " whether 
it may be said that man teaches hinself " The first 
question he solves thus : — 

" The same must be said as regards the acquisition of 
knowledge. Certain seeds of the sciences pre-exist in 
us, that is to say, the first intellectual conceptions, which 
are at once known by the ligJit of the acting intellect 
{intellectiLs agens) through the species abstracted from 
sensible things, whether sueh species be complex — as 
the axioms — or incomplex — as the nature of being, of 
oneness y and such like — all which are at once appre- 
hended by the intellect. From these universal prin- 
ciples, as from so many seminal reasons, all the other 
principles are derived. When, therefore, the mind starts 
from these universal cognitions, in order actually to know 
particular things which were previously 'known potejitially, 
and as it were in nniversali, one is said to acquire know- 
ledge." 1 

What must we say of this magnificent theory of St. 
Thomas t Does it seem that this most acute philo- 
sopher excludes innate ideas, and not rather that he 

^ Similiter etiam dicendum est de scientiae acquisitione, quod pre- 
aexistunt in nobis quaedam scientiarum semina, scilicet primae concep- 
tiones intellectus, quae statim^lumine intellectus agentis cognoscuntur per 
species a sensibilibus abstractas, sive sint complexa, ut dignitates, sive 
incomplexa, sicut ratio entis, et unius, et hujusmodi, quae statim intel- 
lectus apprehendit. Ex istis autem principiis universalibus omnia prin- 
cipia sequuntur, sicut ex quibusdam rationibus seniinalibus. Quando 
ergo ex istis universalibus cognitionibus mens educitur ut actu cognoscat 
particularia, quae prius in potentia, at quasi in universali, cognoscebantur, 
tunc aliquis dicitur scientiam acquirere. {^St. Tho7}i. Quaestiones Dis- 
putatae ; De Veritate Quaest. xi, De Magistro, Art. i. Editio Parmae 
Vol. ix., p. 183, col. 2.) 

Haruioiiy of Rosmini with St. Thomas, 279 

supposes them as indispensable for the acquisition of 
all our knowledge ? 

But let us follow him : " It must be observed," he 
writes, " that in natural things something may pre-exist 
as a power in two ways : ist, As a power active and 
complete, that is, when the intrinsic principle suffices 
by itself to produce a perfect act, as we see in the 
recovery of a sick man, Avhich is brought about by his 
natural vital force ; 2nd, As a passive power, that is to 
say, when the intrinsic principle is not sufficient by itself 
to produce the act, as for example in the case of fire 
kindled in the air ; for this kindling is not the effect of 
a force existing in air itself It follows from this that, 
when a thing pre-exists as a power active and complete, 
all that the extrinsic agent does is merely to assist the 
intrinsic by supplying it with what it wants for coming 
forth into the act. Thus the physician simply ministers 
to nature, which is the principal agent, by applying the 
remedies which nature uses as its instruments for pro- 
ducing recovery. But when a thing pre-exists only as 
a passive power, the extrinsic agent is the principal 
cause of drawing the act from the power, as we see in 
the air which, being fire in potentia, becomes actually 
ignited by the action of the fire." ^ 

1 Sciendum tamen est, quod in naturalibus rebus aliquid praeexistit in 
potentia dupliciter. Uno modo in potentia activa completa ; quando, 
scilicet, principium intrinsecum sufficienter potest perducere in actum per- 
fectum, sicut patet in sanatione : ex virtute enim natural! quae est in 
aegro, aeger ad sanitatem perducitur. Alio modo in potentia passiva ; 
quando, scilicet, principium intrinsecum non sufficit ad educendum in 
actum ; sicut patet quando ex acre fit ignis, hoc enim non potest fieri per 
aliquam virtutem in aere existentem. Quando igitur praeexistit aliquid 
in potentia activa completa, tunc agens extrinsecum non agit nisi adjuv- 
ando agens intrinsecum et ministrando ei ea quibus possit in actum exire ; 
sicut medicus in sanatione est minister naturae, quae principaliter operatur 
confortando naturam, et apponendo medicinas, quibus velut instrumentis 
natura utitur ad sanationem. Quando vero aliquid praeexistit in potentia 

2 8o Ltf^ of Antonio Rosmini. 

Here one might ask : what have these observations on 
active and passive powers to do with our question ? I 
answer, very much indeed. The Saint wants to give us 
a palmary demonstration of the necessity and efficacy 
of innate universal principles for the acquisition of 
knowledge. Let us hear him. " Knowledge pre-exists 
in the learner not merely as a passive power but also as 
an active one ; otherwise man could never acquire 
knowledge by himself. Even as there are two ways of 
recovering from sickness — one by the power of nature 
alone, and another by the power of nature assisted by 
medicine — so there are two ways of acquiring know- 
ledge. The first is when the natural reason learns by 
itself what it knew not before — and this is called inven- 
tion; the second is when the natural reason is assisted in 
learning by some external aid — and this is called dis- 
cipline. Be it, however, observed that in those things 
which are produced concurrently by nature and by art, 
art acts in the same manner and by the same means as 
nature. For example, nature cures the affection of 
frigidity by caloric ; so does the physician. Hence the 
saying : Art imitates naticre. The same thing happens 
as regards the acquisition of knowledge. Discipline 
helps the pupil to acquire knowledge by the same 
process which is followed in invention. Now the pro- 
cess of invention — that is of passing by oneself from the 
known to the unknown — consists in applying the prin- 
ciples which are self-evident to some determinate 
matter ; thence proceeding to certain particular con- 
clusions, and from these to others. In the same way a 
person is said to teach another in this sense that he sets 
before him the process of reasoning natural to him. 

passiva tantum, tunc agens extrinsecum est quod educit principaliter de 
potentia in actum, sicut ignis -facit ds aere, qui est potentia ignis, actu 
ignem. {St. Thoju. de Magistro, Afl, i. ib.) 

Harmony of Rosmini zvith St. TJiomas. 281 

This he does by means of signs, which the reason of 
the learner uses as instruments for arriving at truths 
heretofore unknown. Wherefore, as the physician is 
said to cause health to the sick through the action of 
nature, even so one man is said to produce knowledge 
in another through the action of the natural reason of 
the latter. This is what is meant by teaching; con- 
sequently, a man may justly be called the teacher of 
another. Accordingly, Aristotle says that demonstra- 
tion is a syllogism producing knowledge." ^ 

Here the Angelic Doctor might have stopped ; for 
his thesis was conclusively proved. But he would go 
further in order to make us see that, although a man 
may teach another, still the principal master is always 
God Himself 

^ Scientia ergo praeexistit in addiscente, in potentia non pure passiva, 
sed activa ; alias homo non posset per se ipsum acquirere scientiam. 
Sicut ergo aliquis dupliciter sanatur, uno modo per operationem naturae 
tantum, alio modo a natura cum adminiculo medicinae ; ita etiam est 
duplex modus acquirendi scientiam ; unus, quando naturalis ratio per se 
ipsam devenit in cognitionem ignotorum ; et hie modus dicitur inventio : 
alius quando rationi naturali aliquis exterius adminiculatur, et hie modus 
dicitur disciplina. In his autem quae fiunt a natura et arte, eodem modo 
operatur ars, et per eadem media, quibus et natura. Sicut enim natura 
in eo qui ex frigida causa laborat, calefaciendo induceret sanitatem, ita et 
medicus ; unde et ars dicitur imitari naturam. Similiter etiam contingit 
in scientiae acquisitione, quod eodem modo docens alium ad scientiam 
ignotorum deducit sicuti aliquis inveniendo deducit se ipsum in cogni- 
tionem ignoti. Processus autem rationis pervenientis ad cognitionem 
ignoti in inveniendo est ut principia communia per se nota applicet ad 
determinatas materias, et inde procedat in aliquas particulares con- 
clusiones, et ex his in alias ; unde et secundum hoc unus alium docere 
dicitur, quod istum discursum rationis, quem in se facit ratione naturali, 
alteri exponit per signa ; et sic ratio naturalis discipuli, per hujusmodi sibi 
proposita, sicut per quaedam instrumenta, pervenit in cognitionem 
ignotorum. Sicut ergo medicus dicitur causare sanitatem in infirmo 
natura operante, ita etiam homo dicitur causare scientiam in alio opera- 
tione rationis naturalis illius ; et hoc est docere ; unde unus homo alium 
docere dicitur, et ejus esse magister. Et secundum hoc dicit Philosophus 
I. Posteriorum (com. 5), quod demonstratio est syllogismus faciens scire 
{S. Thoiti, de Magistro^ Art i : ib. p. 183, col. i). 

232 Life of A ntomo Rosimni. 

He continues : " If any one should propose to a 
learner things not contained in, or not demonstrable 
by the principles which are self-evident, such a one 
would not produce knowledge in the learner. He 
would only produce opinion, or faith, although even 
this depends in some manner on the innate principles. 
For it is by virtue of those principles that a man under- 
stands that those things which necessarily follow from 
them must be admitted as a certainty ; that those which 
are opposed to them must be rejected altogether ; and 
that, as to other things, he may either give or withhold 
his assent. With regard to the light of reason by which 
such principles are manifestly known, it is placed in us 
(inditnin) by God, by way of a certain similitude of the 
uncreated Truth. Inasmuch, therefore, as all human 
knowledge has its efficacy from that light, it is evident 
that God alone teaches interiorly and principally, in 
the same manner as nature interiorly and principally 
works the recovery of the sick. Nevertheless man is 
said with propriety to heal, and to teach, in the sense 
aforesaid." ^ 

The identical doctrine is repeated by St. Thomas in 
the second article of the same question De Magistro. In 
reply to the query: "Whether man may be said to teach 

^ Si autem aliquis alicui proponat ea quae in principiis per se notis 
non includuntur, vel includi non manifestantur ; non faciet in eo scien- 
tiam, sed forte opinionem, vel fidem ; quamvis etiam hoc aliquo modo ex 
principiis innatis causetur ; ex ipsis enim principiis per se notis con- 
siderat, quod ea quae ex eis necessario consequuntur, sunt certitudinaliter 
tenenda ; quae vero eis sunt contraria, totaliter respuenda ; aliis autem 
assensum praebere potest, vel non. Hujusmodi autem rationis lumen, 
quo principia hujusmodi sunt nobis nota, est nobis a Deo inditum, quasi 
quaedam similitudo Increatae Veritatis in nobis resultantis. Unde cum 
omnis doctrina humana efficaciam habere non possit nisi ex virtute illius 
luminis ; constat quod solus Deus est qui interius et principaliter docet, 
sicut natura interius etiam principaliter sanat ; nihilominus tamen et 
sanare et docere proprie dicitur modo praedicto {St. Thot7i. de Alagistto, 
Art. i. ib., p. 114, col. I). 

Harmony of Rosfnini with St. Thomas. 283 

himself ? " he says : " Certainly, a man may discover 
many unknown things with the innate light of reason 
independently of external teaching ; as we see in all 
those who acquire knowledge by invention. In this 
way a man is the cause of knowledge to himself. 
Nevertheless, he cannot be strictly called his own in- 
structor and master. . . . For active instruction imports 
a perfect actuality of knowledge in the instructor. 
Hence it is necessary that he should possess explicitly 
and perfectly the knowledge which he wishes to com- 
municate to his pupil. But he who acquires knowledge 
by his own study, does not start with the full knowledge 
ready made, but only with an initial knowledge, that is, 
with the seminal reasons or the common principles. 
Consequently he is not entitled to the name of instructor 
and master in a strict sense." ^ 

It must be admitted that this demonstration is truly 
marvellous and well worthy of the Angel of the Schools. 
There can be no mistake as to his opinion about the 
origin of human cognitions, and as to the great import- 
ance he attached to this mode of solving the question. 
I will make a few observations on it. ist, His reasoning 
rests entirely on the distinction between a knowledge 

^ Absque dubio aliquis potest per lumen rationis sibi inditum, absque 
exterioris doctrinae magisterio vel adminiculo, devenire in cognitionem 
ignotorum multorum ; sicut patet in omni eo qui per inventionem scien- 
tiam acquirit ; et sic quodammodo aliquis est sibi ipsi causa sciendi ; 
non tamen potest dici sui ipsius magister, vel se ipsum docere. . . . 
Doctrina autem importat perfectam actionem scientiae in docente vel 
magistro ; unde oportet quod ille qui docet vel magister est, habeat 
scientiam quam in alio causat, explicite et perfecte, sicut in addiscente 
per doctrinam. Quando autem alicui acquirituu scientia per principium 
intrinsecum, illud quod est causa agens scientiae, non habet scientiam 
acquirendam, nisi in parte ; scilicet quantum ad ?-ationes sejinnales 
scientiae, quae sunt principia conimunia ; et ideo ex tali causalitate non 
potest trahi nomen doctoris, vel magistri, proprie loquendo {St. Thorn, de 
Magistro, Art ii. ib., p. i86, col. i). 

284 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

which is innate or natural, and a knowledge which is 
acquired. He teaches clearly that the latter derives all 
its efficacy and indeed its very possibility from the 
former. 2d, His natural and innate knowledge is not a 
mere potentiality but a something actually existing. 

As many persons are of a different opinion, I will 
quote another text in which the Holy Doctor explains 
himself so fully as to leave no room for doubt as to his 
real meaning. In the fourth lesson of his commentary 
on the third book of Aristotle De Anima, he writes : 
" No power passes into action except by something 
which is in action. It is so with our power of knowing. 
However much we may study or be taught, we can 
acquire no actual cognition except by virtue of some 
diOXVi-dWy pre-existing knowledge, whence that cognition 
is generated." ^ 

It is evident that, according to St. Thomas, if we 
deny all innate ideas, that is, some kind of knowledge 
to start from, we annihilate the power of acquiring 
any knowledge whatever. 3rd, The Angelic Doctor 
describes in beautiful order the process of human cogni- 
tions. First of all, he says, there is the ligJit of reason 
placed in man by God, as a resplendent similitude of 
the first truth. Then come the common and tcniversal 
principles^ which are also self-evident and innate because 
contained in the light of reason. Yet we do not appre- 
hend them distinctly until the mind by the aid of 
sensations perceives the material terms to which they 
are applied. 

But it may be objected : Why then does St. Thomas, 

^ Quod in potentia est, non reducitur in actum nisi per aliquod quod est 
in actu. Et sic etiam de potentia sciente, non fit aliquis sciens actu, 
inveniendo, neque discendo, nisi per aliquam scientiam prasexistentem in 
actu ; quia omnis doctrina et disciplina intellectiva fit ex prseexistenti 
cognitione {De Aniina. I. m., Led. x. Opera, Ed. Par?nae, Vol. xx. p. 
123, col. 2). 

Harmony of Rosmiiii luith St. Thomas. 285 

after affirming that the principles relating to the Ens 
and the Unu7n are innate, say that these principles 
become known by means of the ideas drawn from 
sensible things ? Does not this seem to imply that 
they are innate only m potentia, and begin to exist only 
when the mind abstracts them from the species received 
through the senses? Not so, I answer; St. Thomas 
himself repudiates such interpretation. For in the sixth 
lesson on the fourth book of the metaphysics of Aristotle 
he says : " The first principles are manifested by the 
natural light of the intellectiis agens itself; nor are they 
acquired by reasoning, but simply by our becoming 
acquainted with their terms. This happens because 
from the sensible species we derive memory, from 
memory experiment, from experiment the knowledge 
of the terms, knowing which terms we apprehend also 
the common propositions which are the principles of 
the arts and sciences." ^ 

To the first idea of truth in its most universal sense, 
and to the common principles therein contained, and 
which are developed out of it through the species ab- 
stracted from sensible things, succeed all the other 
cognitions, which we acquire by applying the hmate and 
universal principles. This exposition of the nature and 
development of the human intelligence accords entirely 
with the most rigorous logic and with the data of 

8. As a further proof that the above is the genuine 
teaching of the Angelical Doctor on innate ideas, I will 

1 Ex ipso lumine nattirali intellectus agentis prima principia fiunt 
cognita, nee aequiruntur per ratiocinationes, sed solum per hoc quod 
eorum termini innotescunt. Quod quidem fit per hoc, quod a sensibilibus 
accipitur memoria, et a memoria experimentum, et ab experimento illorum 
terminorum cognitio, quibus cognitis cognuscuntur hujusmodi proposi- 
tiones communes, quae sunt artium et scientiarum principia {^Metaphysic. 
I. Led. vi. Ope7-a ib.,p, 353, col, 2). 

286 Life of Antonio Rosinim. 

adduce another quotation from the question, De Veritate, 
Art. IV. His object there is to prove that truth is 
manifold. Against this an objection was brought from 
the doctrine of St. Augustine, who says that, forasmuch 
as truth is superior to our mind, and dwells in God, 
truth ought to be one, for God is one. Here is his 
answer : " What makes the soul fit to judge of all things 
is the first truth. For as the innate ideas of things flow 
into the angelic intelligences from the truth of the 
Divine Mind, and by the ligJit of those ideas they know 
all that they know ; so is our mind illumined by the 
truth of the Divine Mind — with the truth of the first 
principles, according to which truth we judge of all 
things. And as it cannot serve us for making judgments 
except in so far as it is a similitude of the first truth, 
even so it is right to say that we judge according to 
the first truth." The comparison of man with the 
angels is very noteworthy. No one certainly will deny 
that, according to St. Thomas, the angels are illumined 
with innate ideas. But if so, we must needs concede 
that, according to him, man also is possessed of an 
innate idea ; for he teaches most clearly that " man 
receives from the Divine Mind one innate idea even as 
the angels receive many." ^ 

We must then discard altogether the wonderful 
treatise of the Holy Doctor on created intelligences, 
or accept this conclusion. 

Lest the great theory of the Angelical Doctor should 

'' Veritas, secundum quam anima de omnibus judicat, est Veritas prima. 
Sicut enim a veritate intellectus Divini effluunt in intellectum angelicum 
species rerum intiatae, secundum quas omnia cognoscit ; ita a veritate in- 
tellectus Divini exemplariter procedit in intellectum nostrum Veritas pri- 
morum principiorum, secundum quam de omnibus judicamus. Et quia 
per earn judicare non possumus nisi secundum quod est similitudo primae 
veritatis; ideo secundum primam veritatem de omnibus dicimur judicare 
(6". Thorn, ib., Quaest., /., art. iv., ad ^, p. ii, col. /.). 

Harmony of Rosmini with St Thomas. 287 

be misunderstood, I am anxious to impress very clearly 
the fact that his admission of the innateness of the 
common principles and the seminal causes of know- 
ledge is not synonymous with the admission of many 
hinate ideas, and of any special cognitions supplied by 
them. For he says distinctly that there is but one 
innate idea — that of t^'iith, or of being, taken in the most 
universal sense ; and likewise that this one idea, being 
entirely indeterminate, gives to man no special cognition 
whatever. His declarations on this head are perfectly 
clear. In the passages already quoted from the De 
Magistro, he declares that the light of reason is placed 
in us by God ; and that this light contains indeed the 
common principles, but only virtually, or in such a way 
that, in order that these principles be developed, the 
mind must, through sensation, perceive the terms to 
which they are applied, and finally, that all knowledge 
derives its objective validity from this light alone. And 
so in the other passage, when he compares the human 
with the angelic intellect, he says that man receives 
naturally from God the similitude^ that is to say the idea 
of the first truth. Therefore he admits as innate the 
first idea only, the most elementary of all, that which 
is the origin and the foundation of all the others. 

If I am asked, "What is this first and innate idea } " 
I answer that it is the " idea of being (of existence 
pure and simple) ; for in the first part of the Siimina, 
quest. i6th, art. 3rd, he says : "as being is a convertible 
term with good, so it is a convertible term with triUh, 
Nevertheless, it is not convertible with both in the same 
sense. For, while good is being in so far as appetible, 
truth is being in so far as intelligible." ^ 

^ Sicut bonum convertitur cum ente, ita et verum. Sed tamen sicut 
bomim addit rationem appetibilis supra ens, ita et verum comparationem 
et intellectum [S. TJioni. Suju/na I. Qiiaest. xvi., arL Hi.). 

288 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

And in the first art. of the quest. De Veritate he 
writes : " Being is that which the intellect conceives as 
most known, and into which it resolves all its concep- 
tions." 1 

Consequently, this light, this truth, this innate idea, 
being wholly indeterminate and most universal, does 
not by itself produce any special cognition in the mind. 

The Holy Doctor takes great pains solidly to estab- 
lish this view. In the Sttnima, part i, quest. 55, art. 2, 
he says : " The lower intelligent substances, namely 
the human souls, have an intellectual power naturally 
incomplete. It becomes gradually completed in pro- 
portion as they receive the intelligible species from 
things. But in the superior intelligent substances, i.e., 
the angels, the intellectual power is naturally complete, 
inasmuch as the intelligible species by which they under- 
stand everything which they can know according to 
their nature, are cofinatural to them. This is seen also 
by the different manner of the being respectively be- 
longing to these substances. For human souls have a 
being akin to the body, inasmuch as they are the forms 
of their respective bodies. Accordingly, in order to 
attain to their intellectual perfection they require the 
instrumentality of their bodies. Were it not so, their 
union with bodies would he purposeless. On the con- 
trary, the superior intelligences are entirely disengaged 
from bodies — their substances being purely immaterial 
and intellectual ; hence they receive their intellectual 
perfection from intelligible species which are communi- 
cated to them by God together with the intellectual 
nature." ^ 

^ Illud quod primo intellectus concipit quasi notissimum, et in quo 
omnes conceptiones resolvit. est ens {S. Thoni. Quaest. disputat Quaest, 
I. De Veritate. art. i., p. 6, col. i). 

^ Inferiores substantiae intellectivae, scilicet animae humanae, habent 
potentiam intellectivam non completam naturaliter ; sed completur in eis 

Harmony of Rosmini with St. TJiomas. 289 

To understand fully this splendid passage, we must 
observe that according to St. Thomas (as he explains in 
the Stimnia, part i, quest. 85, art. 3rd), the cognition is 
incomplete when it apprehends the thing only in tini- 
versali, and it is complete when it refers to particular 
things. Such being the case, it is evident that by affirm- 
ing that the human soul has naturally the idea of being 
in tmiversali, he does not attribute to it any special 
cognition, because, that idea being most indeterminate, 
constitutes an intellectual power extremely incomplete, 
and therefore utterly insufficient, by itself, to give any 
kind of detenninateness to human knowledge. 

After these observations we can understand why St. 
Thomas, although teaching repeatedly that the human 
mind is naturally illumined by truth, or has the intuition 
of ideal being in universalis says in many places that 
all knowledge begins by the senses, and that the soul 
before acquiring knowledge is like a tabula rasa, with 
nothing written upon it. By these propositions, far 
from contradicting himself, he explains the true doctrine 
under all its various aspects. In fact, if the most 
universal innate idea shows us nothing special, if it can 
be developed only through sensation, therefore all 

successive per hoc quod accipiunt species intelligibiles a rebus. Potentia 
vero intellectiva in substantiis spiritualibus superioribus, id est in Angelis, 
naturaliter completa est per species intelligibiles connaturales in quantum 
habent species intelligibiles connaturales ad omnia intelligenda quae natu- 
raliter cognoscere possunt. Ex hoc etiam ex ipso modo essendi hujus- 
modi substantiarum apparet. Substantiae enim spirituales inferiores, 
scilicet animae, habent esse affine corpori, in quantum sunt corporum for- 
mae ; et ideo ex ipso modo essendi competit eis ut a corporibus, et per 
corpora suam perfectionem intelligibilem consequantur ; alioquin, frustra 
corporibus unirentur. Substantiae vero superiores, id est Angeli sunt a 
corporibus totaliter absolutae, immaterialiter et in esse intelligibili sub- 
sistentes ; et ideo suam perfectionem intelligibilem consequuntur per in- 
telligibilem eflFiuxum, quo a Deo species rerum cognitarum acceperunt 
simul cum intellectuali natura. — S. Thoni. Sumvia T. Quaest. h. art. ii. 

290 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

deteri}iiiiate knowledge begins by means of the senses ; 
and therefore, before acquiring such knowledge, the 
mind is, as has just been said, a tabula rasa. But this 
does not do away with the innate idea, nor with the fact 
of its being the principle of the human intelligence, nor 
of its constituting the formal part of the human cogni- 
tions, the office of the senses being merely to contribute 
the material part. So far as regards Innate Ideas. 

In fact, St. Thomas, although adopting from Aristotle 
the similitude of the tabula rasa, together with the 
axiom, " Nihil est in intellectu quod non fuerit prius 
in sensu," " there is nothing in the intellect that was 
not first in the sense," would almost seem to have 
foreseen that some of his interpreters would endeavour 
to draw therefrom sensistic conclusions opposed to his 
doctrine concerning the innate idea. And so he has 
taken care to explain the meaning of these scholastic 
terms. " So far, only," he says, " the knowledge of the 
mind is said to have its origin from the senses, not be- 
cause the sense apprehends everything the mind knows, 
but because from those things which the sense appre- 
hends, the mind is led to further knowledge.''' ^ Nor was 
St. Thomas alone in his apprehension lest these axioms 
improperly understood should be made to mean what 
they were never intended to express. For St. Bona- 
venture, who taught in the Schools contemporarily with 
the Angelic Doctor, explains in precisely the same 
sense as the latter, the true meaning of these much 
abused terms. " It is asked," says he, " whether all 
knowledge comes from the senses. And the answer is 
no. For it must be laid down that the soul knows 
both God and herself, and what she knows in herself 

^ " Protantum dicitur cognitio mentis a sensu originem habere, non quod 
omne quod mens cognoscit senstts appreJiendit, sed quia ex his quae sensus 
apprehendit mens in alif[ua ulteriora nianuducitur. — De Menic, art. vi. 

Harmony of Rosmini with St. Thomas. 291 

without the instrumentality of the external senses."^ 
And again, with reference to the tabula rasa, he says, 
"The knowledge of Jiappiness and of many natural 
things, as, for instance, of numbers, is natiirally iiinate 
within us, so that, if the soul is said to be a tabula 
rasa, this is understood only in as much as regards 
ideas and images which sJie acquires tJirougJi the senses!' ^ 
And, speaking elsewhere on the same subject, St. Bona- 
venture attributes this doctrine to St. Augustine himself. 
" It is well worthy of note," he observes, in explaining 
the above axioms of Aristotle, "that the Philosopher 
says that nothing is wTitten in the soul, not that there is 
no knowledge in her, but because there is no picture. And 
this is what Augustine says in his book De Civitate 
Dei, ' God has placed in us a noble breast-plate of 
Judgment, wherein it is known in the book of Light, 
which is Truth itself, what is lightsome and what is 
darksome ; for the Truth is naturally impressed in the 
heart of man.' An instance of this is the tabula rasa, 
which is without any picture, but which is capable of 
receiving any." '^ 

I now come to the Abstraction of Universals. 

^ " Quaeritur utrum omnis cognitio sit a sensu. Et dicendum est quod 
non. Necessaiio enim oportet ponere quod anima novit Deum et seip- 
sam, et quae in seipsa sine adminiculo sensuum exteriorum." — Sent. Dis- 
tinct, xxxix., a.i., q. ii. 

- " Cognitio beatitudinis et multarum rerum naturalium utpote numeri 
naturalis nobis innata est, et si aninia dicatur esse ut tabula rasa, hoc 
intelligitur solum quantum ad species et similitudines quas acquirit per 
sensus." — 4 Sent. Dist. xlix., a. i,, q. ii. 

'^ " Valde notabiliter dicit Philosophus, quod in anima nihil scriptum 
est, non quia nulla in ea sit notitia sed quia nulla est in ea/zV/wv?, vel 
similitudo abstracta. Et hoc est quod dicil Augustinus in libro de 
Civitate Dei, Inseruit nobis Ueus nobile Judicatorium, ubi quid sit 
lucis quid tenabrarum cognoscitur in libro hicis qui Veritas est, quia 
Veritas in corde hominum natiiraliter est impressa." — Lib. Sent. Dist. 
xxxix., art. i., q. ii. " Cujiis exeniplum est tabula nullam habens pic- 
turani, protest tamen tjuamcumque." — Coinpcnd. Dialoi^. Vcrit. lib. 2, 
c. 46. 

292 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Part II. Hozv itniversals are formed. 

Our inquiry will be facilitated by premising three 

1st. The Angel of the Schools, while admitting that 
the idea of indeterminate being is innate in man, says 
also that the universal stands before the human mind 
prior to all particular cognitions. 

Besides the conclusive evidence on this point already 
brought under notice in the first part, the following 
remarkable passages of St. Thomas are worthy of close 
attention. '* The first tiling that is presented to the 
imagination of the intellect is being., without which 
nothing can be apprehended by the intellect — whence 
all other things in a certain manner are together and 
indistinctly included in being as in their principle." 1 
And again : " That which the mind first conceives as 
the thing most of all known to it, and to which it 
reduces all its cognitions, is being, whence it is necessary 
that all other concepts of the mind be received as an 
addition to being. The soul can proceed to understand 
nothifig unless those things are supposed of which the 
knowledge is innater ^ 

2nd. This universal, according to St. Thomas, is not 
an act of the intellect, nor a qiiality of the intelligent 
subject, but an object seen by the mind. In fact, he 
declares that ''the object of the intellect is being or 
common truths ^ 

^ Primum quod cadit in imaginatione intellectus est Ens, sine quo nihil 
potest apprehendi ab intellectu . . . unde omnia alia includunlur quoda- 
modo in ente unite et indistincte sicut in principio. — In Sent. Dist. viiu, 
q. i., a. in. 

^' Illud quod primo intellectus concipit quasi notissimum, et in quo 
omnes conceptiones resolvit est Ens, unde oportet quod omnes aliae con- 
ceptiones intellectus accipiantur in additione ad Ens. Ad nihil intelli- 
gendum anima potest procedere nisi ex suppositione illorum quorum cog- 
nitio est innata. — Lib. in Sent. Dist. xlix., a. i. 

^ Objectum intellectus est ens vel veiaim commune. — St. Thcni, Sttnwia 
?"., Quaest. Iv., art, i. 

Haynwny of Rosmini ivith St. Thomas. 293 

This distinction between the intellect and its natural 
object is clearly laid down by the Angelic Doctor in 
those other words of his where he says, " In the human 
intellect the similitiLde of the thing understood is 
different from the substance of the intellect ; " ^ as again 
also where he distinguishes the viind from its form, 
which is the same thing as its Light whereby it is made 
intellect. " The human intellect," he says, " has a cer- 
tain form, i.e., the intelligible light itself - This being 
the case, no w^onder if St. Augustine declares that the 
niijid must on no account be confounded with its object. 
" No creature, indeed," says he, " although rational, is 
illuminated by itself, but is lit up by a participation of 
the Eternal Truth ; say, therefore, that you are not 
your own light : at most you are the eye, but you are 
not the ligJit'"^ And again he says, ''The light of men 
is the light of minds. The light of minds is above the 
minds, and exceeds all minds." Epist. 3." 

Therefore, the universal {i.e., ideal being or common 
truth) cannot be confounded with the mind which sees 
it, otherwise the object would be confounded with the 
subject — a contradiction in terms. Besides, in all the 
places where he teaches that the human intellect knows 
the truth, the common principles, the moral law, he as- 
sumes as an undoubted fact that these nniversals (for 
such they are) cannot in any way — that is, neither as 
objects of direct nor of reflex knowledge, be acts of the 

^ In intellectu humano siuiilitiuio rei intellectae est aliud a substantia 
intellectus. — In Sent. ii. lib. Dist. Hi., quest. Hi., a. i. 

' Intellectus humanus habet aliquam formani scilicet ipsuni intelligibile 
iiinien. — /. II. q. cix., a. i. 

^ Nulla quippe creatura quamvis rationalis a seipso illuminatur, sed 
participatione sempiternae veritatis accenditur. Die ergo quia tu tibi 
Lumen non es ; ut multum oculus es, lumen non es. — St. Aug. viii., De 
Verbis DoDiini. 

^ Lux hominum est lux mentium. Lux mentium supra mentes est et 
excedit omnes mentes.— ^/z'^/. Hi., St. Atigustimis. 

294 ^if^ of Antonio Rosmini, 

mirxd or qualities of it. On no other hypothesis could 
he be conceived to speak of them (as he always does) 
as objects present and superior to the mind. To give 
but one instance. In the third book of his Siunma 
contra Gentes he says : " Forasmuch as the law is 
nothing but a certain reason and rule of action, it can 
be imposed only on beings capable of understanding 
such reason. But to understand belongs alone to 
rational creatures. Therefore, the law ought to be given 
to rational creatures only." ^ 

I need not say that this rule, to which each singular 
human action is to be conformed, is an universal. But 
were we to admit that this tmiversal is an act of the 
mind itself, the law would be destroyed. For, according 
to the Holy Doctor, the law stands to the acts of man, 
and consequently to his mind, in the same relation as a 
measure stands to the thing measured, or a rule to the 
thing ruled. Now if the measure and the rule were 
identical with the thing measured and ruled, there could 
be no such relation ; consequently in our supposition 
there could be no law. Add to this that the very idea 
of law implies a superiority over those bound by the 
law. If you take away this superiority, and remove all 
distinction between the lazv and its subject, the law is 
gone, unless indeed you should be prepared to maintain 
the absurd proposition that the subject is at one and 
the same time superior and inferior to itself 

3d. According to St. Thomas the universal is not the 
substance of real hemgs ; it does not include their reality 
at all ; it does not exist out of the mind which contem- 
plates it. That the universal is not the substance of 

1 Quum lex nihil aliud sit quam quaedam ratio, et regula operandi : illis 
solum convenit dari legem qui sui operis rationem cognoscunt. Hoc 
autem convenit solum rational! creaturae. Soli igitur rational! creaturae 
fuit conveniens dari legem. — St. Thorn. Contra Gentes, Lib. Hi., Cap, 

Harmony of Rosmini with St. Thomas. 295 

real beings, nor indeed any substance at all, appears 
plainly from the 15th lesson on the 7th book of the 
Metaphysics of Aristotle, where our Holy Doctor writes : 
" The universal is common to many, that is, its nature 
is to belong to and be predicated of many. Now, if the 
universal were a substance, to what would that substance 
belong ? Evidently, either to all the things in which the 
universal is found, or only to one of them ! Now it 
cannot belong to all, for one substance cannot be many 
substances ; nor again can it belong exclusively to one, 
because in that case all the other things in which the 
universal is found would be identical with that of which 
the universal is the substance. In other words, an uni- 
versal is not the substance of anything." ^ 

This argument is so clear and so unanswerable that 
it seems impossible to take exception to it. 

Not less forcible is the way in which St. Thomas 
proves that the universal does not include the reality of 
the things to which it relates. We find it in Opusc. 
48th, on the Ten Predicaments, 2d chap,, where he says: 
"In creatures, the essence (zukich is an universal^ and 
the actuality or subsistence {zvJiich is particular) differ 
as two really different entities. In fact, that which is 
not contained in the essence of a thing differs really 
from that thing. But actnality or subsistence does not 
belong to the essence of things ; for when we give the 
definition of an object we indicate its entire essence, 
that is, we mention the genus and the dijference, but we 

^ Universale est commune multis ; hoc enim dicitur universale, quod 
natum est multis inesse et de multis praedicari. Si ergo universale est 
substantia, oportet quod sit substantia omnium quibus inest, aut unius. 
Non est autem possibile quod sit substantia omnium ; quia unum non 
potest esse substantia pluribus. . . . Sed si dicatur, quod sit substantia 
unius eorum quibus inest, oportet quod omnia sint illud unum, quibus 
ponitur esse substantia. . . . Relinquitur ergo, quod ex quo universale 
non potest esse substantia omnium de quibus dicitur, nee unius alicujus, 
quod nuUius est substantia. — Metaphysic, c. vii. Led. xiii., p. 498, col. i. 

296 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

say nothing as to whether the object defined subsists or 
not. This is evident, for we cannot understand a thing 
unless we apprehend all that belongs to its essence ; 
whereas it is a fact that I understand the thing, a rose 
for instance, even though I do not know whether the 
rose subsist or not. Therefore, actuality or subsistence 
differs really from essence ; " or, what comes to the same, 
the universal does not include in itself the reality of 

Lastly, that universals do not exist out of the mind 
which has the intuition of them, is most unmistakably 
declared by the Saint in numberless places. I shall 
content myself with the following. In Opusc. 55 he 
writes : " Universals as such, do not exist in sensible 
things; for even their sensibility is in the soul, and no 
ways in them." ^ 

From these remarks I draw three evident conclu- 
sions ; 1st, Those must be in error who understand St. 
Thomas to say that the human intellect abstracts the 
universals from sensible things by a power natural to it, 
but without being naturally illumined by the first 
universal which implicitly contains all the others. By 
their interpretation, the first operation of the intellect, 
which should be drawn from the very fount of all 

^ In creaturis esse essentiae et esse actualis existentiae dififerunt realiter, 
ut duae diversae res. Quod sic patet : illud enim quod est extra essen- 
tiam alicui dififert realiter ab ea. Esse autem actualis existentiae est 
extra essentiam rei, nam definitio indicat totam essentiam rei. . . . 
Quia in definitione ponitur solum genus et dift'erentia, et nulla fit mentio 
utrum res definita esistat vel non existat. Apparet hoc manifeste. Nam 
impossibile est posse intelligere aliquam rem, non intelligendo ea quae 
sunt de essentia ejus. Tamen constat quod ego intelligo rosam non 
intelligendo utrum actii sit vel non. Ergo actu esse, vel esse actualis 
existentiae differt realiter ab essentia {Opusc. xliv. {ed. Roinana xlviii.) 
de totiiis Logicae Aristotelis Stanma. Tract, ii. Cap. ii., p. 63). 

- Universalia ex hoc quod sunt universalia non habent esse per se in 
sensibilibus, quia sensibilitas ipsa est in anima, et nullo modo in rebus. 
— Opusc. /., p. 129 {col. 2 ed. Romana Iv.). 

Harmony of Rosmmi with St. TJiomas. 297 

evidence in order that the light may be diffused over 
the whole series of acquired cognitions, is an act done 
without Hght and without sight ; 2nd, To attribute to 
the Holy Doctor the opinion that the iiniversals exist 
in the particulars^ or that the wiiversals are simply 
subjective acts or qualities of the human mind, is simply 
to misinterpret him ; 3rd, So also are those mistaken 
who quote his authority to prove that the intellect acts 
directly on the realities of things, and on their sensible 
species, in abstracting the universals from them ; for the 
universals themselves (of which man has a natural in- 
tuition in the way aforesaid) are the only means by 
which the mind can know real tilings and judge of 

These erroneous views of the doctrine of St. Thomas 
being excluded, it remains to be seen briefly : ist, What 
operation of the intellect (according to him) precedes 
abstraction ; 2nd, How the abstraction itself is per- 
formed } 

As we have seen, he teaches that the knowledge 
which the human soul has by nature, is incomplete in 
this sense that the idea of being (or the natural light of 
our intellect) inasmuch as it is wholly indeterminate 
gives us no special cognitions. He also says that the 
soul is united with a body for this very purpose that it 
may be able to complete its knowledge ; in other words, 
that it may by means of the senses come to know deter- 
minate or particular things. Conformably to this theor)^, 
he also declares that man's knowledge is completed by 
applying the common and self-evident principles, con- 
tained in the idea of indeterminate being, to determinate 
matters, that is, to the data of sensation, and hence 
drawing conclusions, and from these other conclusions 
again and again. 

But how do we apply common principles to determinate 

298 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

matters ? Certainly through d. judgment. For to apply, 
means to unite one thing to another, and in logic the 
predicate (the universal qualities represented by the 
common principles) and the siilject (the sensible im- 
pressions caused by the subsistent determinate matter) 
are united only by a judgment. This judgment is 
always found in the intellectual perception, by means of 
which we conclude the subsistence of real things of which 
we knew nothing before. The necessity of this applica- 
tion of the universal ideas to the data of sensation in 
order to acquire knowledge, is stated so expressly and 
so repeatedly by the Saint, that one would think no 
one can mistake his mind on the subject. In quest, x., 
art. 6, de mente^ he thus expresses himself: "The 
sensible forms, that is, the forms abstracted from sensible 
things, cannot act on our mind, except in so far as they 
are rendered immaterial by the light of the intellectns 
agens, or acting intellect, and thus rendered in some 
way homogeneous with the intellectus possibilis ox possible 
intellect whereon they act." ^ 

But how can sensible things be rendered immaterial 
and homogeneous with the intellect .'' ^ Undoubtedly by 
applying the universal idea of being to them, and in that 
being observing the determinations or particularities 
belonging to each. Thus our intellect apprehends the 
universal directly (by intuition), and singidar things 
indirectly, through having its reflection drawn to them 

^ Formae sensibiles, vel a sensibilibus abstractae, non possunt agere in 
mentem nostram, nisi quatenus per lumen intellecttis agentis immateriales 
redduntur, et sic efficiuntur quodammodo homogeneae intellectni possibili 
in quern agunt. — De Veritate, Qiiaest x. de Mente Art. vu ad i. Edit. 
Parmae, vol. ix, d. 164, col. i. 

2 Our sensation of sight, e.g., produces from the phenomena outside 
us, a material image on the retina of our eye, this is reproduced as a 
spiritual image or phantasm in the imaginative faculty, as it were, on the 
tablet of the spirit, to this we apply the idea of being, and so obtain 
■universal ideas. — Ed. 

Harmony of Rosmini zvitJi St. Thomas. 299 

by sensation, in other words through the primitive 
judgment ; agreeably to the statement of the Holy 
Doctor, S. I. quest. Z6, art. i. It follows from this 
that, in the process of the human intelligence, the first 
operation is the ijitellectual perception, which applies tlie 
universai to the data of sensation. Then comes abstrac- 
tion, ^\'hich draws tJie nniversal, not from the real tilings 
(in which it does not exist, and upon which the mind 
has no power to act), but from the intelligible species 
which have been acquired through the intellectual 
perception. The Holy Doctor says as much : '' The 
pJiantasms are first illumined by the intellectiis agens 
(here we have perception), and then again the same 
intellcctus agens abstracts from them the intelligible 
species " (here we have abstraction) (5. /. Quaest. 
Ixxxv. Aj't. i). ^ 

Although the mind can know particular things 
through the universal idea only, nevertheless, on first 
perceiving them, its attention is so concentrated on 
them that it does not reflect on the universal. Now, 
the attention of the mind to real and determinate 
things would stop at this stage, were it not for the 
various stimuli which excite the human subject to 
action. One of the effects of these stimuli is to with- 
draw the attention of the mind from the subsistence of 
the things it has perceived. And this is the first degree 
of abstraction. It is called universalization, for the 
reason that it leaves before the mind the intelligible 
species by itself alone, that is, not as designating exclu- 
sively the individual thing which fell under the senses, 
but as applicable to all the individuals of the same 
species. This operation is also expounded by the 

1 Phantasmata et illuminantur ab intellectu agente, et iterum ab eis per 
virtutem intellectus agentis species intelligibles abstrahuntur. — St. Thorn. 
.Smmna. I. Quaest. Ixxxv. Art. i. 

300 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

Angelical Doctor, saying : " When the intellect appre- 
hends the intelligible form, or the quiddity, as deter- 
minate to a certain given matter, for example, when it 
apprehends Jiumanity as actualized in a particular case 
— say in tJiis flesh, in tJiese bones, &c., then the intellect 
fixing its attention on the concrete, e.g., on this parti- 
cular man, understands the pai^ticular, and attributes 
particiilajdty to it. It is not so when the intellect looks 
at a form not as determined to some particular matter ; 
the one form being applicable to any number of indivi- 
duals, the intellect attributes universality to it ; hence in 
the case alleged we have universal man."^ 

Why is universalisation the first degree of ab- 
straction ? Because the only element which the mind 
drops is the subsistence of the object which it had 
received. For the rest, the species of the object remains 
before the mind in full, as for instance in the above 
case, the whole of the constituents of the man and all 
his qualities. But to this first degree of abstraction 
succeed innumerable other degrees, according as the 
mind withdraws its reflection, not only from the act of 
subsistence, as just said, but also from such among the 
common qualities found in the thing represented by the 
idea, as constitute more or less wide species and genera^ 
until it reaches that most fundamental and universal of 
all conceptions without which we could not think at all 

^ Quando intellectus intelligit praedictam (sc. illud quod intellectus 
intelligit de re) formam seu quidditatem ut est determinata ad hanc 
mater iam, puta humanitatem ut est in hac materia signata, scilicet in his 
carnibus et in his ossibus et hujusmodi ; tunc faciendo concretum, puta 
hunc honiinem, intelligit singulare, et huic attribuit intentionem singulari- 
tatis. Si vero dictam formam intelligit non ut est determinata ad hanc 
materiam, quia omnis talis forma de se plurificabilis est ad hanc et ad 
illam materiam ; habenti talem formam intellectus attribuit intentionem 
universalitatis, unde homo est universale {Opicsc [Ed. Parmae, xliv. Ed. 
Romana xlviii.) de totius Logicae Aristotelis Suvima. Tract i. Cap. it. 
vol. xvii. p. 55, col. 2). 

Harmony of Rosmini luith St. Thomas. 301 

— I mean the idea of being. These modes of abstrac- 
tion are thus described by the Angelical Doctor in his 
treatise on the Pozuers of the Sold : "" Now the separa- 
tions resulting from the abstraction of which we speak 
do not take place in the thing themselves, but in the 
thought alone. For, as in the sensitive powers, we find 
that although certain things be united together in 
reality, nevertheless the sight or any other of the senses 
can perceive some of those things without the other ; 
even so, and for a much greater reason it may happen 
as regards the intellect ; for, although that which dis- 
tinguishes a species and a gemis is never realised except 
in an individual, nevertheless the mind may apprehend 
one without apprehending the other. For example, we 
may apprehend animal in general without thinking of 
man, ox, ass, or any other species of animal ; again we 
may apprehend man without apprehending Socrates or 
Plato ; so also we may apprehend flesh and bones, 
without apprehending this particular flesh, or these 
particular bones." ^ 

It is clear, then, that according to St. Thomas, the 
intellect, as such, always looks at abstract forms, ?>., 
those which are more elevated, without noticing the 
inferior ones, except as occasions arise to direct its 
attention to them. 

Innumerable other texts could be added, proving 

^ Ista autem abstractio non est intelligenda secundum rem, sed secun- 
dum rationem. Sicut enim videmus in potentiis sensitivis, quod licet 
aliqua sint conjuncta secundum rem, tamen illorum sic conjunctorum visus 
vel alius sensus potest unum apprehendere altero non apprehenso . . . . ; 
sic multo fortius potest esse in potentia intellectiva ; quia licet principia 
specieivel generis nunquam sint nisi inindividuis, tamen potest apprehendi 
animal sine homine, asino et aliis speciebus ; et potest apprehendi homo 
non apprehenso Socrate vel Platone ; et caro et ossa .... non appre- 
hensis his carnibus et ossibus. — Opicscul. xl. Cap. vi., vol. xvii.^ p. 31, 
col. 2. Ed. Romatia Opusc. xliii. 


02 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

more and more conclusively that the theory so far ex- 
plained, on the origin of human cognitions and on ab- 
stractions, is the one held by the Angel of the Schools, 
but the passages already quoted would seem quite 
enough to settle the matter. 

Fully agreeing with those who affirm that the unity 
of Catholic teaching, so desirable and necessary, cannot 
be secured except by taking the great Catholic Tradi- 
tion for our guide, I have diligently studied the immor- 
tal writings of St. Thomas, the principal exponent of 
that tradition ; I have searched the places in which he 
touches most nearly on the arduous questions agitated 
now-a-days ; I have interpreted his expressions in their 
obvious and natural sense ; I have endeavoured to pre- 
serve to his testimonies the sense demanded by the 
logical order of the questions which he was treating ; I 
have sought light from their context, and explained 
such propositions as seemed to convey an obscure and 
uncertain sense, by those where the sense was evident. 
The result has been that I have found that philosophy ^ 
of which I have given a rapid sketch in this discourse. 
•^ I have considered this system, and I have seen that it is 
perfectly free from the grave errors which corrupt 
modern science to so alarming an extent. In it I have 
discovered a philosophy which shows the true dignity 
of man, who, as St. Augustine says, is attached imme- 
diately to TRUTH ; a philosophy which indicates how 
man, according to St. Bonaventure, possesses an immut- 
able rule for judging of all mutable things ; and last 
though not least, a philosophy which lays down an in- 
destructible basis for the logical, moral, and social 
orders. I pray fervently that all men of study may 
become acquainted with this salutary philosophy, and 

^ The Bishop of Casale refers in this place to the Philosophy of RosDiini^ 
of which his vast work in eleven vcjlumes, which has been mentioned 
above, is the most complete vindication. 

Harmony of Rosinini with St. Thomas. 303 

through it, renouncing all divisions of opinion, and all 
strife of schools, work together in that unity which is 
the most valuable characteristic of Truth. Let this 
philosophy be adopted, and it will be found a most 
faithful handmaid to theology. We are told in the 
Gospel that the Word of God enlightens every man 
that Cometh into this world. This is true not less as 
regards Reason, than as regards Faith. It is the Divine 
Word Who, while keeping His Essence at present veiled 
from us, raises our mind by nature to the intuition of 
Ideat Truth. And it is the same Divine Word Who 
infuses into us the light of Faith, and gives us, in His 
Supreme Vicar, the Roman Pontiff, an infallible exponent 
of the Deposit of Faith. Between these two orders of 
truth, both proceeding from the same Divine source, 
there can be no collision ; there must be an entire 
harmony, and the inferior must serve the superior. 
Therefore, the philosophy of which I have treated under 
the guidance of the great Angelical Doctor, as it ail 
rests on that truth by manifesting which the Eternal 
Word makes men intelligent, so on its part, it cannot 
but prepare men to second the impulses of grace, and 
to receive w^ith perfect submission from the lips of the 
Vicar of the Word Incarnate those infallible teachings, 
which tend to sanctify them in time and to fit them 
for the blissful fruition, not of the sparse rays of Ideat 
Truth, but of the full Vision of the Truth SiLbsistent ; 
not of the Light of Faith only, to which mysteries 
still belong, but of the unveiled Contemplation of the 
Glorious Majesty of God Himself 


(A.D. 1831-1854.) 

Before the Sentence. 

It is not difficult to understand that Rosmini would be 
attacked by the Sensistic philosophers, of whom mention 
has been made in the first volume of this Life. No 
one has written, by the admission of those he wrote 
against, with greater force than Rosmini, whether 
against Sensism, Idealism, Ontologism, Pantheism, but 
especially against Kantism and every shade of German 

The strange thing is that he should have been accused 
by some of his Catholic brethren of the very errors 
which it was the labour of his whole life to confute ; 
and these attacks have been made with an impetuosity, 
and carried on by this particular School of writers with 
a perseverance, that seems still untiring, though they 
have endured for half a century. 

It is also wonderful that although they have failed in 
every instance, as will be seen, to induce the Ecclesi- 
astical authorities in Rome, which are the judges, for 
Catholics, of sound or unsound doctrine, to accept their 
view of the^^matter, or to fake any step against Ros- 
mini's teaching, they do not yet seem to have lost all 
hopes of success. 

Rosminis Scientific Opponents. 305 

It will be necessary now to take up the thread of the 
history, going back as far as 1831 in order to point out 
how this opposition to Rosmini first took shape, how it 
has continued, and what have been its results up to the 
present hour — the end of 1886. 

How it came about that a certain small knot of 
writers in Rome of the Society of Jesus began to sus- 
pect Rosmini's orthodoxy cannot here be explained. 
But as early as 183I; the year after Rosmini's second 
visit to Rome, the first year of the Pontificate of 
Gregory XVL, reports against Rosmini and his pro- 
jected Order were whispered about in Rome. Wo^knoiv 
they came from one particular quarter. Father Gen- 
tili's vocation to the Institute of Charity, and Mr De 
Lisle's confidence in Rosmini, as has been said in a 
previous chapter, were so shaken by these secret whis- 
perings, that it required the authority of the Cardinal 
Vicar to reassure them. 

The letters I have printed at the end of the chapter 
" on Rosmini's second visit to Rome " from the General 
of the Jesuits, and from leading Members of the Order, 
are sufficient evidence that the Society of Jesus, as re- 
presented by these high authorities, had formed from 
the beginning the most favourable opinion of the sound- 
ness and extreme value of Rosmini's writings. 

It would seem, however, that in the Society of Jesus, 
as in other Orders, considerable liberty is given to their 
theologians and learned men to form their own judg- 
ments on open questions. In this way Schools of opinion 
come to be formed, and there has been, for at least 
forty years, an Anti-Rosminian School among the 

The first public attack made on Rosmini in print by 
Catholic writers was that contained in an anonymous 
work, entitled, Eusebto Cristiajio, which appeared in 

II. u 

3o6 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

1 841. It was known to have been written by certain 
Italian Jesuits. 

It was an attack on Rosmini's doctrine on Original 
Sin. In this matter he follows, substantially, the tradi- 
tional doctrine, as taught by St. Augustine and St. 
Thomas, the received teaching of the great Dominican, 
Augustinian, and Franciscan Schools, and the sense, 
as generally understood by theologians, of the dogmatic 
teaching on Original Sin of the Council of Trent. 

That there was nothing dangerous or novel in the 
doctrine of Rosmini is proved by the following fact. 
There had been various replies and counter replies and 
accusations against Rosmini, of holding all the errors of 
Luther, Calvin, Jansenius, &c. As the controversyseemed 
likely to be interminable, and to disturb the peace of the 
Church, Pope Gregory XVI. in 1843 thought proper to 
call together a Congregation of Cardinals and Con- 
suitors of the Index, to whom he committed the charge 
of examining the writings on both sides. Having 
heard their opinions, which were entirely favourable 
to Rosmini, he concluded by imposing silence on the 
controversy, leaving Rosmini's doctrines free to be 
taught as before. 

On the publication of this Decree, Rosmini instantly 
suspended writings he had in the press, in further reply 
to his opponents. He put out a circular letter to all the 
Superiors of his order, in which, after reciting the 
Decree of the Pope, he says : — " Without making any 
decision on the merits of the controversy, the Holy 
Father intends to impose absolute silence on both 
parties. . . . The same communication, in the same 
terms, has been made to the most Reverend Father- 
General of the Society of Jesus." Rosmini then goes 
on to enjoin on all his subjects " to abstain from taking 
any part in the controversy, or even speaking of it ; at 

Rosminis Scientific Opponents. 307 

the same time, according to the intentions of His Holi 
ness, no one is prevented from holding his own opinion, 
as to the merits of the doctrines that have been at- 

So matters went on quietly until after the death of 
Gregory XVI. in 1846. It has been seen, in the chapter 
on Rosmini's Diplomatic Mission to Rome, that he stood 
in high esteem with Pius IX., and that he had received 
many intimations through his friend, Cardinal Castra- 
cane, that it would give the Pope satisfaction to see him 
in Rome. But Rosmini, in his humility, looked on this 
as the expression only of the good will of the Cardinal, 
and of the great benevolence of the Pope towards him, 
not as indicating that the Pope had any need of his 

After a time, at a very critical moment in the political 
affairs of Italy, he was urged to accept, and actually 
undertook a special Diplomatic Mission from the Sar- 
dinian Government to the Holy See in 1848. 

On presenting his credentials at the Vatican, he was 
immediately admitted to an audience of the Pope, who 
received him with the greatest affection, said he had 
long been hoping to see him in Rome, that now he had 
come he should " retain him a prisoner." The next day 
he explained the meaning of his words by sending Car- 
dinal Castracane to say that " the Pope desired him to 
prepare himself for the Cardinalate, to which His Hoh> 
ness intended to raise him at the next Consistory." 

Soon after this the Revolution broke out, Pius IX. 
was driven to quit Rome, Rosmini, at the Pope's desire, 
followed him to Gaeta. 

After a time, a gradual though complete reaction took 
place in the Pope's councils. He had tried with the 
most benevolent intentions to content his subjects by 
giving them Constitutional Government and a Repre- 

''oS Life of Antonio Rosmini, 


sentative Chamber, like the other States of Italy and 
Modern Governments elsewhere. This had been frus- 
trated by the Revolutionists, whose aim was to dethrone 
the Pope and the other Princes, and to establish a 
United Republican Italy. 

The party opposed to Rosmini represented that the 
Roman Revolution was the result of the Pope having 
listened to imprudent counsellors and Liberal Catholics, 
such as they represented Rosmini to be, though, in fact, 
as is seen clearly in the chapter on Rosmini s Diplo- 
matic Mission^ he was very far from approving the form 
of the " Liberal Concessions," as they were called, that 
the Pope had been advised to grant by other counsel- 
lors, before Rosmini's arrival in Rome. 

However, the party of reaction had now the vantage 
ground of being able to say that they had always fore- 
told that nothing but evil could come of the ^'Liberal'' 
policy of the Pope. Their object was to remove Ros- 
mini's influence. By aid of the Austrian and Neapolitan 
Governments, they induced the Pope to sanction a 
Decree placing on the Index two small works of Ros- 
mini, The Five Wounds of the CJinrcJi and the Project 
of a Constitntion for Italy, both which, however, had 
been read and approved by the Pope, at the time when 
he was proposing to make Rosmini a Cardinal, and 
had also intimated his intention to make him Secretary 
of State. 

Cardinal Mai was then Prefect of the Index, and the 
office of examining these works was committed to him, 
but he was so displeased with the haste and irregular 
mode of action of those who pushed this matter forward 
(it was chiefly the work of Cardinal Antonelli), that he 
resigned his office, and Cardinal Brignole was appointed 
Prefect of the Index in order to push on the prohibi- 
tion of the works without delay. This, which is recorded 

Rosmini's Scientific Opponents. 309 

in Rosmini's Diary, was told him by Cardinal Mai, 
whom he met at Naples, and it has been since pub- 
lished by Cardinal Mai's Secretary, Canonico Quattrini. 

On receiving the intimation that these works had 
been placed on the Index, Rosmini instantly wrote, 
making his act of submission, so that his submission 
was appended to the Decree of prohibition in the words, 
" A nctor laudabiliter se snbjecit!' " the author has laudably 

Rosmini wrote many letters at this time, which show 
the beautiful spirit in which he received this and other 
humiliations he was then meeting with ; which may be 
read in the chapters on The Diplomatic Mission. 

The opponents of Rosmini's doctrines had always 
proclaimed that before long all his works would be 
prohibited. Up to that moment they had completely 
failed in discrediting any of his writings before the 
Holy See ; but now they could point to two works that 
were actually on the Index. No doctrine indeed in the 
works had been censured by the act of the Holy See ; 
and it was open to Rosmini's friend and to all impartial 
persons to say that these works were not prohibited 
from any errors in doctrine, but simply withdrawn for 
prudential reason from circulation. 

But the School opposed to Rosmini's doctrines in- 
sisted that the works had been condemned for heretical 
opinions, and that this would be proved by the speedy 
condemnation of all his writings for most grievous 
heretical depravity. 

They accordingly lost no time. They had before 
drawn up a pamphlet entitled Pastille (or points for 
condemnation), containing *' no less than 327 doctrinal 
censures. According to these, Rosmini taught the most 
dreadful heresies, about the Church, the Ecclesiastical 
Hierarchy, prayer, the Sacraments, the Divine Incar- 

3 1 o Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

nation, the nature and operation of Grace, original sin 
and concupiscence, the human acts, moraHty, the nature 
of the intellectual soul, and the natural free-will of 
man ; not to speak of Fatalism, Quietism, Pantheism ; 
also doctrines inciting to sedition, irreligion, and the 
false principles concerning modern progress, &c." 

To support this terrible indictment, a very large 
number of short passages, detached from the context, 
some taken at leaps, and pieced together, were quoted 
from the works of Rosmini, and all were twisted into 
the meaning fixed with a great air of authority by the 

This pamphlet was in manuscript lithographed, with- 
out name or date. It was placed confidentially, and 
only for a few hours, in the hands of such Cardinals, 
Bishops, Prelates, and laymen of rank, as were thought 
likely to approve and promote the condemnation of 
Rosmini, for political reasons. For his influence with 
the Pope was, as has been said, greatly feared. Many 
influential persons were secretly enraged with Pius IX. 
for his Constitutional, or what they called Liberal 
tendencies, and were glad to make a scape-goat of 
Rosmini, and render it impossible for the Pope ever to 
make him a Cardinal, or to recall him to his counsels. 

This anonymous pamphlet had been thus handed 
about for some considerable time before Rosmini heard 
of it, and it was through a curious incident that he at 
last saw a copy. Two Jesuit Fathers called on a certain 
Bishop in the North of Italy. It was just at the 
moment when they had to leave Rome. They placed 
in his hands the Postille, together with an address 
signed by many Bishops, asking the Pope to condemn 
the works of Rosmini, on account'of the errors censured 
in the Postille. The Bishop was engaged at that 
moment with a Professor, a friend of Rosmini, not 

Rosmini's Scientific Opponents. 3 1 1 

known to the visitors. His Lordship said, " Leave the 
papers with me, I will read them, and if I see reason, 
give you my signature to morrow." As they hesitated, 
the Bishop said, " Unless I have time to read, I do not 
sign ; " so the papers were left. The professor just 
named being consulted about the affair, read the paper, 
and spent the whole night in copying it ; in this way it 
passed into the hands of Rosmini. The affair, therefore, 
was well prepared before Rosmini went to Rome, and 
the prohibition of the two pamphlets at Gaeta was to 
be the first step, as the anti-Rosminian party expected, 
to the condemnation of the rest of the works. 

There was also a work in two volumes put out a little 
later than the Pastille by the same parties, under the 
pseudonoin of Prete Bolognese. This also was at first 
not published, but circulated privately, in the same way 
as the Postille. The accusations were the same, but 
they were supported by a certain amount of sophistical 

Jansenism was one of the chief accusations. Pan- 
theism another — ill-sounding names. If you " Give a 
dog a bad name," proverbial wisdom foretells the result. 
They were well calculated to catch the imaginations of 
religious Catholics, fill them with horror, and prejudice 
the judgment of those who were not disposed for the 
dreary and arduous work of examining the justice of 
charges, which they felt they might take on faith, since 
they came from such unexceptionable sources. We do 
not accuse these good Professors of making charges 
which they believed to be false ; but that they had, as 
they say in Italy, iinafizzazione, or as we should say in 
English, " they had Rosmini on the brainy 

The Pope had now been restored to Rome, by the 
army of the French Republic, under President Cavagnac. 
It was in the year 1850. The formal demand for the 

3 r 2 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

condemnation of Rosmini's works had already been 
presented to the Pope at Gaeta. 

Pius IX. seeing himself called upon to acquit or con- 
demn the works of so celebrated a writer as Rosmini, 
felt that a duty of high justice was laid upon him. He 
resolved that both parties should have every ground for 
the most perfect satisfaction, in the exhaustive char- 
acter and impartiality of the examination of the works. 

The first step of the Pope was to renew, for the second 
time, the precept of silence, that had been made by his 
predecessor. He went on to say that ''the Holy See 
proposed to place under the most mature examination 
the controverted opinions." 

In the next place he appointed a Special Congrega- 
tion of Cardinals, and Consultors of the Index, to 
examine the works. Twenty Consultors from among 
the most learned men in Rome on philosophical and 
theological subjects were selected to study all the works. 
Each was placed under an oath to keep secret that he 
had received this charge, and was forbidden to take 
counsel with any one, so that he might be able to give 
his own individual unbiased opinion in writing on every 
point that had been censured in Rosmini's writings. I 
know myself from one of the Consultors that he had 
not a notion that any one but himself was occupied in 
the matter, and the same was the case of the rest. 

The examination began in March 185 1. Rosmini 
was informed that his works were before the Index, and 
was invited to send his Procurator to reply to any ques- 
tions that might be proposed by the Congregation. 

For this purpose Father Bertetti, who has been more 
than once mentioned, was sent to Rome as Procurator- 

It is a slight indication of the spirit of those imme- 
diately about the Pope, that Father Bertetti, although 
the official representative of the Institute, was entirely 

Rosmini^s Scientific Opponents. 3T3 

frustrated by the officials at the Vatican, so that he was 
in no way able to get an audience of the Pope in the 
ordinary way. It so happened that an English gentle- 
man, Captain Washington Hibbert, was then staying in 
Rome, and asked Father Bertetti, who was his parish 
priest in England, to accompany him to an audience of 
the Pope and act as his interpreter. In this way only 
did Pius IX. know of Rosmini's Procurator being in 
Rome. He was received by the Pope with the greatest 
cordiality, and from that time he had free access when- 
ever he had occasion to ask an audience. 

The examination of the works continued for more 
than three years. The Congregation held many 
sittings, in which all the opinions, pro and contra, were 
discussed. The examination was precise, as to every 
one of the censures of the adverse party, so that the 
verdict of acquittal, which was unanimous (one Con- 
suitor excepted who would not vote), was the most 
complete declaration possible, that all the 327 charges 
were unsustainable, and that Rosmini's works had 
passed through the ordeal unscathed.^ 

In the chapter on Rosmint s Second Visit to Rorne^ I 
have said that it would be a great mistake to suppose 
that the opposition to Rosmini was the work of the 
Society of Jesus. I gave some proofs of this in letters 
I have printed at the end of that chapter from the 
Father General, and other leading members of the 

^ The principal Consultors who wrote their opinions on the works of 
Rosmini were Father Buttaoni, Dominican, Master of the Sacred Palace ; 
Father Secchi-muro, Order of Servites ; Father d'Arignano, Franciscan ; 
Father Smith, Benedictine ; Father Gigli, Dominican ; Mgr. Tizzani, 
Bishop of Nisibis (now Patriarch of Antioch), Augustinian, Professor of 
the Sapienza ; Mgr. di St. Marzano, Archbishop of Ephesus ; Mgr. Car- 
doni, Bishop of Corinth ; Professor Luigi Rezzi ; Father Abbot Zuppani, 
Procurator- General of the Cameldolese Order ; Father Cajazza, Pro- 
curator-General of the Augustinians; Professor Barola; Father Marzocca; 
Father Trullet, Franciscan ; Father Modena, Dominican . 

314 ^i^ of Antonio Rosmim. 

Society. What I have now to relate will still further 
confirm this, and it comes here in chronological order. 

In the winter of 1853 and the spring of 1854 I was 
in Rome, as companion to our Procurator General, 
Father Bertetti. It was towards the close of the 
examination of Rosmini's works. Already it was 
rumoured that the opponents of Rosmini had failed to 
make good their charges. One day, I think in April, I 
was sitting in my room in the Via del Gesu, when I 
heard a knock at the door, and on going to open it, I 
introduced two Fathers, whom I knew at once as 
Jesuits. At that time the Jesuits were again in Rome 
after the restoration of the Pope, and still wore that 
well-known venerable habit now never seen in Italy. 
The senior introduced himself as Father Etheridge, a 
much respected English Jesuit, at this time Father- 
Assistant to the newly-elected General, who still sur- 
vives in a vigorous old age (1886). After the usual 
friendly salutations and conversation on general topics, 
P'ather Etheridge said : " Reverend Father, you are 
perhaps surprised at my visit, as we are personally 
strangers." I replied, of course, that "good Father 
Etheridge could be no stranger to me, and that I was 
always glad to meet any of the Society, for which I 
had always felt the greatest respect and affection." He 
continued : " I have come, sent expressly by my Father 
General, to say to you, and through you to your 
Superiors of the Institute of Charity, that the Father 
General regrets the opposition to your venerated 
Founder, Rosmini, and he wishes it to be understood 
that this is not the work of the Society of Jesus, but of 
a School of opinion in the Society." I expressed my 
satisfaction at this assurance, which I promised to 
convey to my General, Father Rosmini. I said that 
we ourselves had always formed the same notion as to 

Rosmints Scientific Opponents. 3 1 5 

the controversy ; that we looked upon it as a con- 
troversy of the Schools, not as a contest between us 
and the Society of Jesus. I added, that it was now in 
the hands of the Holy See, to which we both deferred, 
and from which w^e both expected a decision that, I 
hoped, would put an end to the controversy, by in- 
dicating who was right and who was wrong. 

I write this after the lapse' of thirty years, but I have 
a letter by me from Father Etheridge, written some 
years ago, in which he endorses the substantial accuracy 
of my statement. 

The decision, which was unanimous in Rosmini's 
favour, was published two months later. The Pope 
made the decision his own, by presiding personally at 
the final Act of the Congregation and sentence of ac- 
quittal. He then and there imposed, for the third time, 
a Precept of Silence^ forbidding the same " accusations 
to be renewed." Yet, notwithstanding all this, this 
" School in the Society " has never ceased its efforts, 
but in vain, to obtain the cancelling of the sentence of 
acquittal and the condemnation of the doctrines of 

I have said that we do not complain of scientific op- 
position, and when I have said that we think these 
w^orthy Professors are " suffering from a fizzazione of 
Rosmini on the brain," I do not mean that there was 
not, before the solemn examination, legitimate ground 
for fair controversy, as to the meaning or the soundness 
of some of Rosmini's statements. But after the above 
decision of the Holy See, we say it is not legitimate to 
call Rosmini a heretic, or to censure wdiat the Holy See 
has declared free of censure ; and it is not fair to make 
use of the arts of journalisni to get up a popular preju- 
dice, and stigmatize a great writer, a holy man, and the 
Founder of a Religious Order, with the foulest charges 

3x6 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

that can be made against a Christian, of being a Jan- 
senist and a Pantheist. 

I am glad to be able to quote here the words of one 
of the most learned Thomists of the Dominican Order 
— Gonzales, Archbishop of Cordova, recently raised to 
the Cardinalate. In these words we see the ancient 
true tradition of the Dominican Order which has led 
them, although by no mea*ns agreeing with Rosmini in 
all he teaches, to be the strenuous defenders of liberty 
in Catholic Philosophy. In his Eminence's work, 
Philosophia Eleinentaria (1863, vol. iii., in the chapter on 
St. TJioinas and Rosmini), he writes : 

There are few who have not heard the name of Rosmini ; but 
perhaps there are not many who have read the works which have 
given to his name a just and well-deserved celebrity. Those, how- 
ever, who have read and meditated on his Niiovo Saggio On the 
Origin of Ideas, and on his Rintiovamento, or Restoration of 
Philosophy in Italy ^ cannot but agree in this, that Rosmini is, be- 
yond all doubt, one of the most illustrious philosophers of modern 

It is true that his mode of expression is sometimes a little 
obscure ; ^ yet, notwithstanding this obscurity, the grand charac- 
teristics of a veritable genius for speculation are clearly seen. 

Rosmini, without being, rigorously speaking, original, may be 
said to be so with good reason, because of the light which he 
throws on the great truths of Science, as well as by the elevation 
shown in his ideas, and the profundity of philosophic thought 
which dominates all his writings. 

It is not the least merit of Rosmini, that he has found the way 
to avoid the rock upon which great men of vigorous intellects have 
but too often run, namely, that spurious originality which strikes 
out short cuts from the beaten track, ending in error, and in 
absurd and dangerous theories. For, the philosophy of Rosmini 
is, at the bottom, the Christian Philosophy. It is the Philosophy 
of St. Augustine, of St. Anselm, and of St. Thomas, the imprints 

^ It is sometimes said that Rosmini is obscure. But it is a fact that 
ahhough his defenders are so many, and from so many parts of Italy, and 
unknown to one another, they all understand him substantially in the same 

Rosminis Scientific Opponents. 3 1 7 

of which are clearly and deeply marked in every step of the writ- 
ings of the Italian Philosopher. 

If it were necessary, it would not be difficult to show clearly the 
intimate relations, and in fact, the identity of doctrine, that exists 
between the Philosophy of Rosmini and that of St. Thomas, in 
respect of all the greatest and most important problems of Philo- 
sophical Science. 

We may take an example, and a partial proof of this in what he 
says on the question of being. It is sufficient to read the works 
of Rosmini, especially his Nuovo Sa^gio On the Origin of Ideas., 
to be convinced that his theory on being., considered in itself, and 
in its relations with the idealogical problems, has not merely many 
points of contact with that of St. Thomas, but we may say it is 
identical with it^ if we except some particular points of minor im- 

Cardinal Gonzales then goes on to make large ex- 
tracts from St. Thomas and from Rosmini, demonstrat- 
ing their identity of doctrine on the theory of being. The 
Eminent author concludes : 

Those who have read the works of St. Thomas, and meditated 
somewhat on his Ontology and Ideology, will have no difficulty in 
recognizing that the passages of Rosmini, which we have tran- 
scribed, are \w perfect harmony with the substance of the solution 
given by the Holy Doctor, on some of the principal Ontological 
and Idealogical problems, and may be considered as a commentary 
on the doctrine of St. Thomas. Nevertheless, we must observe 
that, by the side of this affinity of doctrine and identity of thought, 
as regards the substance., there exist some differences, more or less 
perceptible, although, as we have said, they are always accidental, 
and on matters of detail. 

In the Introduction to the same work (p. 12), Cardinal 
Gonzales writes : 

The philosophical writings of Rosmini, Balmez, and Ventura 
are, at bottom, nothing but the philosophy of St. Thomas. (At 
p. 26.) Pascal, Bossuet, Rosmini, and Balmez in their teaching of 
the philosophy of St. Thomas, have illustrated and developed it, 
and prese7ited its ideas under ttew aspects. 

The philosophy of St. Thomas contains an elevated and worthy 
solution of the most important problems of philosophy, and of the 

3 1 8 Life of Antonio Rosmim. 

moral and political sciences \ but, at the same time, it is necessary 
to recognise that some authors and some modern Schools do not 
merely present those truths and those problems in a more con- 
venient form, method, and style, but that they have given a new 
aspect to certain truths, illustrating and developing many problems 
of science, analysing its different phases and relations. In a word 
it cannot be doubted that philosophy is indebted to these authors 
and Schools for observations, as exact as they are interesting, for 
special classifications and analytical processes, which are as 
worthy of imitation as they are calculated to promote the develop- 
ment and progress of science. 

Speaking (p. i8) of the similarity and difference be- 
tween the philosophy of St. Thomas and that of 
Aristotle, Cardinal Gonzales says : 

Some suppose that the philosophy of St. Thomas is identical 
with the philosophy of Aristotle, judging only from certain external 
appearances and forms. This is a very serious mistake. It is in 
the part relating to physics only that there is a true affinity between 
the philosophy of St. Thomas and that of Aristotle. As regards 
philosophy, properly so called, namely, Ontology, Cosmology, 
Theodicy, Psychology, Ideology, the Moral and Political Sciences, 
the philosophy of St. Thomas is in its basis as much Platonic as 
Aristotelic^ and at the same time it is neither one nor the other. 
The Philosophy of St. Thomas is the Christian Philosophy founded 
by St. Clement of Alexandria and St. Athanasius, developed by 
St. Augustine, cultivated by St. Anselm and by St. Bonaventura, 
brought to its perfection in a systematic and complete manner by 
St. Thomas himself, taught afterwards in part by Malebranche, 
Paschal, and the Scottish School, and continued to our days by 
Fenelon, Bossuet, Leibnitz, Rosmini, Balmez, Ventura. 

The words of Cardinal Gonzales carry great addi- 
tional weight; ist, because they were written more 
than ten years after the examination and acquittal of 
Rosmini's works by the judgment of the Holy See ; 
2nd, because they were also written with the full know- 
ledge of all the persistent charges brought against his 
doctrine, before the examination, and since, by the 
anti-Rosminian party in Rome, all directed to show 

Rosmim s Scientific Oppo7ie7its. 319 

that Rosmini's doctrines are erroneous, and are in con- 
tradiction with those of St. Thomas ; 3rd, because it 
was with the full knowledge of his written opinions that 
Gonzales was made Archbishop of Cordova and raised 
to the Cardinalate by Leo XIII. ; an additional proof 
that the party who attack Rosmini do not represent 
the mind of the Holy See, or anything else but the 
opinions and modes of action of what Cardinal Newman 
has called, with his usual incisiveness, " a forward ag- 
gressive faction," 



After the Sentence of Acquittal. 

(a.d. 1 854- 1 876). 

RoSMlNl knew that in all he had ever written he had 
had no object before him but truth, and that he had 
never written a sentence without having used extreme 
carefulness to see that it was free from any taint, and 
well defended by the authority of St. Thomas, and the 
great Theologians, or that it was a sound inference from 
ascertained principles. Yet, profound in humility, he 
deeply felt that he might have made statements wanting 
in clearness or material precision, so that his meaning 
might in some places be obscure and misunderstood. 
He was therefore not without grave anxiety during the 
whole of the four years' examination. 

What grieved him was not the possibility of error 
being found in his writings, but the animus of his 
opponents, who spared no pains to circulate all manner 
of injurious reports against him. In this way was 
created a wide-spread distrust of his works and of his 
Order, throughout Italy, and even in France, Germany, 
and England. These unfavourable opinions continued 
even after the acquittal of his works in 1854, and con- 
tinue to the present day. In almost every number of 
the Civilta Cattolica, and of the journals that are its 
echoes, we find, repeated with a wearisome want of 

Rosminis Scientific Opponents. 321 

elty, the old charges of the Postille and of the Prete 

tognese, which were thoroughly sifted and dismissed, 
s untenable, by the sentence of the Holy See thirty 
/ears ago. The fact of the acquittal was, as we shall 
see, studiously concealed at the time, and afterwards 
minimised, so as to seem no acquittal at all, and it was 
continually repeated, '* that though not yet condemned, 
his works were on the verge of condemnation." This has 
gone on for thirty years. 

These were some of the trials of the last ten years of 
Rosmini's life, and there is little doubt they gradually 
wore away his naturally robust constitution, so as to 
prepare the way for his death at the age of fifty-eight, 
under an attack that in itself might not have caused it. 

During all these years he suffered under the incessant 
stings of calumny, which touched his honour as a man, 
a Christian, a priest, and the head of a Religious Order; 
but it was for his Religious brethren that he felt more 
than for himself 

Some even of Rosmini's oldest friends (not Manzoni 
who was always true to him), and even his other dearest 
friend, Mellario, were affected by these calumnies, coming 
as they did from persons of repute, and with the 
prestige of the great Society, whose name they were 
able to subjoin to their own. He bore all with a spirit 
of perfect peace and tranquillity. He used to say, " God 
knows what amount of good name we require for His 
service, we must rejoice that He keeps us humble." In 
the portion of this work in which the Virtues of Ros- 
inini are treated, there are several extracts from letters 
which show what was his spirit of interior peace during 
this time of trial. 

But he had his consolations also in the sympathy of 
many old and true friends, and in that of many who, up 
to that time, had been unknown to him, but who now 

II. X 

32 2 Life of Anto7i io RosiJiin i. 

rallied round him, having been first led to examine his 
doctrines for themselves, in consequence of the extrava- 
gance of the charges made' against him, as well as by the 
extraordinary authority given to his philosophical prin- 
ciples, and to the orthodoxy of his doctrinal statements 
in the complete acquittal of his works by the Holy 
See. For it was seen that they had passed uncensured, 
through so searching an examination as had in no other 
instance been given to any system of philosophy in its 
relation to Catholic dogma. 

Among the many letters of sympathy and adhesion 
which Rosmini received, there was one from the 
Capuchin Fathers of Rovereto. Rosmini's beautiful 
reply shows what was the nobleness of his mind, his 
charity towards opponents, and submission to the Will 
of God. 

In the first place (he writes), my grief is tempered by the thought 
that those who assail me, although in ways that are unbecoming, 
are moved in some way by a zeal for the purity of faith, a thing 
so precious, that it ought to be set before every other thing. 

Don Paoli, his daily companion and biographer, 
observes on this passage, " Such was the total absence 
in the Father of all feeling of animosity, in respect of 
his opponents, that he always tried to excuse what he 
could not justify. He never allowed any of us to say 
a bitter word against them, and declared that ' if our 
own hearts were better, we should think better of them.' " 

To continue the extract from the letter to the 

Next, I consider that such things as these are permitted by our 
Eternal Lord and Creator, without whose Will nothing happens 
in heaven or on earth, Who permits everything with a most high 
design, and out of everything that is evil, knows how to draw out, 
with infallible effect, a greater good. 

As regards myself, it would be impossible to number over the 
advantages and compensations I have received through means 

Rosmims Scientific Opponents. 

-» o '^ 


of my opponents. How many friends in Christ have been 
made known to me, whom I did not know before ! I do not 
reckon among these gains, so much, the praises I have received 
(for these are often dangerous to our self-love), by which, as well 
by word of mouth as in printed works, so many endeavour tc 
compensate me for the censures of my opponents ; but I reckon 
as the most precious of the advantages that have come to me. 
those dear prayers that are offered for me, by so many faithful 
souls, disciples and followers of charity in truth, and truth in charity. 
That from all these events permitted by our Lord wherein bitter- 
ness is woven together with much sweetness, my poor soul may 
draw profit, so as to serve our Lord with greater fidelity and greater 
alacrity and courage, virtues which are nourished only in trials, 
is what I most ardently desire, and it is this I hope to receive 
through the many prayers of the good that are offered for me, and 
especially from those of your Reverend Community. 

This was, through all these years from 1831 to his 
death in 1855, the spirit of Rosmini, as we learn from 
all his letters which refer to the continually repeated 
charges against his orthodoxy. 

On the three days preceding the judgment of the 
Holy See in 1854, he ordered, as we have seen in 
another place, a Triduum of Exposition of the Blessed 
Sacrament ; and on the momentous day, and at the 
hour of the decision, he was seen before the Altar fixed 
in the most rapt adoration. 

When the sentence of acquittal was pronounced, it 
was not published, but it was only intimated to 
Rosmini's Procurator that the sentence was Diniittantiir 
Opera, which is the formal sentence always given in the 
case of works examined and dismissed from all charo-es 
that have been brought up against them. Father 
Bertetti, Rosmini's Procurator in Rome, asked whether 
the decision was not to be made pubHc. The reply 
was that "he must be satisfied with information that the 
sentence was Dimittajitiir Opera, and with the Precept 
of silence ; as it was not thought well to irritate in any 

324 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

way the adverse party, and for the present the matter 
was to pass in silence. 

It must be said this was not all the justice that 
seemed due after the great publicity that had been 
given by Rosmini's opponents to their censures on his 
works, and the announcement of the expected con- 
demnation ; but things are sometimes done in Rome, 
by indirect influence, which never reach the ears of the 
Pope himself 

The adversaries of Rosmini, however, so used their 
influence, that the fact of the sentence of acquittal was 
excluded from all the Journals of Rome and of Italy, 
and no notice was taken of it in the Civilta Cattolica. It 
appeared first in a French paper, the Journal des 
Debats, more than a year later, after Rosmini's death, in 
October 1855. 

From this suppression, by the Clerical Journals 
which were under the influence of the adverse party, of 
the sentence favourable to Rosmini and damaging to his 
opponents, a very widespread impression has prevailed 
that his works had not been acquitted, nor any sentence 
favourable to them pronounced. Of the thousands 
who have heard of the charges against Rosmini, very 
few comparatively have heard of the sentence of 
acquittal. This I can testify ; for in an experience of 
thirty years, I have met few Catholics of education who 
had not heard that Rosmini's works had been accused 
of heresy, many who supposed that they had been 
condemned, more had been assured that they would 
soon be prohibited, but I think I could count on my 
fingers those who knew, before I told them, that his 
works had been acquitted, and this by a sentence 
equivalent to the highest sentence in the case of the 
works of Canonised Saints, of nil censiu'ce digntun. 
^ So things went on for twenty years after the sentence 

Rosmini's Scie^Uific Opponents. 325 

o{ Dimittantur Opera; and notwithstanding \.h.Q Precept 
of silence, the attacks on Rosmini had been incessant. 
At last the authorities in Rome thought themselves 
bound to speak. 

The Civiltd Cattolica had stated, and the Osservatore 
Romano and the Osservatore Cattolico of Milan had 
echoed the statement that, admitting that the sentence 
Dimittantur Opera had been pronounced on Rosmini's 
works, this was no judgment on the merits of the case, 
but only a suspension of judgment, which did not free 
the works from the suspicions raised by the charges 
made against them. This was in 1876. 

On this, the Master of the Sacred Palace, Father 
Vincenzo Gatti of the Dominican Order, brought the 
statement of these writers before the Sacred Congrega- 
tion of the Index, and received authority from the 
Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal di Luca, to 
write to the Editors of those periodicals, requiring them 
to retract the erroneous propositions they had put for- 
ward, as to the force of the sentence Dimittanttcr Opera, 
and against the orthodoxy of the writings of Rosmini 
that had been examined and acquitted. 

In this letter, I would observe, was published for the 
first time the full text of the sentence of acquittal of 
Rosmini, twenty years after he had gone to his 

The following official communication, therefore, ap- 
peared in the Osservatore Romano of June 20, 1876, 
addressed to the Editor : — 

Most illustrious Marquis, — In No. 136 of your esteemed 
Journal^ June 14, 1876, I have read with pain an article on a 
little work entitled, "Antonio Rosmini and the Civiltd Cattolica 
before the Sacred Congregation of the htdcx, by G. Buroni." 

You are well aware that the works of the distinguished philo- 
sopher, Antonio Rosmini, were made the subject of a most rigor- 
ous examination by the Sacred Congregation of the Index from 

326 Life of A ntonio Rosniini. 

1 85 1 to 1854, and that at the close of this examination our Holy 
Father, Pope Pius IX., still happily reigning, in the assembly of 
the Most Reverend Consultors, and the Most Eminent Cardinals, 
whose votes he had hdard, and over whom he deigned, with a 
condescension seldom shown, to preside in person, after invoking 
with fervent prayers the light and help of heaven, pronounced the 
following Decree : — " All the works of Antonio Rosmini-Serbati, 
concerning which investigation has been made of late, must be 
dismissed J nor has this same investigation resulted in anything 
whatever derogatory to the name of the author, nor to the praise- 
worthiness of life and the singular merits before the Church of the 
Rehgious Society founded by him. 

The author of the article referred to undertakes to discuss the 
meaning of the sentence Dimittajitiir Opera ; but, while professing 
to admit its force, he reduces it well-nigh to nothing. For he 
says, *'\Ve do not deny that Diinittatihir is in a certain respect 
equivalent to Permittantur : but to permit that a work may be 
published and read without incurring ecclesiastical penalty, has 
nothing whatever to do with declaring the work iiiceiisurabler 
Now by these words one is led to suppose that the Sacred Con- 
gregation, or rather the Holy Father, by pronouncing that judg- 
ment, did nothing more than permit that the works of Rosmini 
may be published and read without incurring a penalty. 

But, I ask : What penalty did the editors and readers of 
Rosmini's works incur before those works were subjected to so 
lengthened and accurate a scrutiny? None whatever. What, 
then, would the Sacred Congregation of the Index have done by 
such grave study and labours so protracted .f* Nothing whatever. 
And to what purpose would the judgment of the Holy Father have 
been given.'' To no purpose whatever. If, then, we do not wish 
to fall into these absurdities, we must say that the accusations 
brought against RosminVs works were false ; that in these works 
nothing was found contrary to faith and morals ; that their publi- 
cation and perusal are not dangerous to the faithful. Who can 
ever suppose that the Holy Father has set free for publication 
works containing erroneous doctrines 1 and liberated their readers 
from penalty.? To liberate from penalty the readers of books 
infected with error would be an act productive of greater injury 
than if a penalty were imposed, or (assuming its previous existence) 
were maintained in full rigour. 

I have to request that you will not in future receive any articles 
either on the sense of the judgment Dimittantur, nor against the 

Rosminis Scientific Opponents. 327 

learned and pious Rosuiini^ nor against his works examined and 

I take this opportunity to remind all concerned that the Holy 
Father, from the time of the issuing of the Dimittantur Opera, 
enjoined silence, and this in order that no new accusations should 
be put forward, nor under any pretext a way be made for discord 
among Catholics : v.g., " That no new accusations and discords 
should arise and be disseminated in future, silence is now for the 
third time enjoined on either party, by command of His Holiness." 
Who does not see that the seeds of discord are sown by traduc- 
ing the works of Rosmini, either as not having been yet sufficiently 
examined, or as suspected of errors which were not seen either 
before or after so extraordinary an examination, or as dangerous ; 
or by using expressions which take away all the value, or diminish 
excessively the force and authority of a judgment, pronounced with 
so much maturity and so much solemnity by the Supreme Pastor 
of the Church ? 

By this it is not meant to affirm that it would be unlawful to 
dissent from the philosophical system of Rosmini, or from the 
manner in which he tries to explain some truths ; and even to 
offer a confutation of them in the schools ; but if one does not 
agree with Rosmini in the manner of explaining certain truths, 
it is not therefore lawful to conclude that Rosmini has denied 
these truths ; nor is it lawful to inflict any theological censure 
on the doctrines maintained by him in the works which the 
Sacred Congregation has examined and dismissed, and which the 
Holy Father has intended to protect from further accusations in 
the future. 

The following appeared in the Osservatore Cattolico 
of Milan, July i, 1876:— 

The Sacred Congregation of the Index by a letter addressed to 
His Grace the Archbishop of Milan, under date of June, 20, 1876, 
and signed by His Eminence Cardinal Antonio di Luca, Prefect 
of the Congregation, and the Very Reverend Father Girolamo Pio 
Saccheri, of the Frian Preachers, Secretary, and delivered by His 
Grace in person to one of the responsible Editors of this journal 
on July 28, has enjoined us : 

1st. To maintain in future the most rigorous silence on the 
question of the works of Antonio Rosmini ; because in consequence 
of the authoritative decree of the Holy Father, " ///a/ no new 
accusations and discords should arise and be disseminated in future, 

328 Life of Antonio Rosmtnt. 

silence is for the third time enjoined ott either party by command of 
His Holiness^'' it is not lawful — in matters pertaining to faith and 
sound morals— to inflict any censure on the works of Rosmini or 
on his person ; " the ojily thing upon which freedom is allowed 
being to discjiss in the schools and in books, a7id within proper 
limits^ his philosophical opinions, ajid the inerits of his manner of 
explaining certain truths, even theological." 

2d. To declare in an early issue of this journal that we have 
not right])' interpreted the sentence of Diniittantur which the 
Sacred Congregation of the Index thinks fit sometimes — after 
mature and diligent examination — to pronounce upon works sub- 
mitted to its authoritative judgment. 

Full of reverence for the supreme authority of the Holy See, 
and wishing to be faithful to our duty, as well as to the programme 
of this Journal, we, the responsible Editors of the Osservatore 
Cattolico^ on our own behalf and of all who have written in our 
columns on the question aforesaid, intend to declare, and do 
hereby declare in the most docile and submissive manner pos- 
sible, that : 

1st. As to the silence now imposed, we repeat and confirm 
what we said on occasion of reproducing in this Journal the letter 
of the Master of the Sacred Palace to the Editor of the Osse7'va- 
tore Rojna?io, viz., that it shall be observed. 

2nd. The sentence of Dimitta7itur, as used by the Sacred Con- 
gregation of the Index, was not rightly interpreted by us. 

(Signed) Enrico Massara. 

Davide Albertario. 
Editors of the Osservatore Cattolico. 

Milan, lime 30, 1876. 

A similar admonition was sent at the same time to 
the Editors of the Civilta Cattolica. It was, however, 
strongly represented to the authorities that to require 
the publication in its pages would be too great a 
humiliation to that periodical, and too great a triumph 
to the Rosminians. The publication, therefore, was 
dispensed with. 

The charges, however, of the adverse party have 
continued just as before. 


Journalistic A ssassination. 

(A.D. 1876-1886.) 

The Holy Father Pius IX. acted with the accustomed 
wisdom of the Holy See when he endeavoured, as has 
been seen in the last chapter, to prohibit the dis- 
cussions in the JOURNALS, of the Rosminian question. 
The Dimittantur Opera had cleared the inculpated 
works from all the 327 censures. These had been 
sifted and dismissed as untenable. Although so 
stringent an examination, resulting in a sentence of 
complete acquittal, places Rosmini's doctrines on a 
very high eminence, it was not thereby intended to 
endorse them as unassailable. Accordingly, the letter 
of the Authorities of the Index, which was published 
with the Pope's full personal knowledge and sanction, 
while forbidding discussions such as those of the 
Journals, from which "accusations and discords are sure 
to arise," says that it is open '* to discuss in the Schools 
and in books, and within proper limits, the philo- 
sophical opinions of Rosmini, and the merits of his 
manner of explaining certain truths, even theological, 
but not so as to inflict any theological censure on the 
doctrines maintained in the works, which the Sacred 
Congregation has examined and dismissed, and which 
the Holy Father has intended to protect from fiirtJier 
accusations in the future." 

Within these limits, if they had been observed, dis- 

33^ Life of A ntonio Rosmini. 

cussion was perfectly legitimate. One does not, how- 
ever, see how such ill-sounding names as Jansenist and 
Pantheist could be tolerated "in the Schools and in 
books," after the express injunction of the Holy See, 
that " no theological censures were to be inflicted on 
Rosmini's doctrines." But let this pass, and let us 
suppose that these and similar phrases are used only in 
some technical or scientific sense, understood in the 
Schools as expressing only that certain premisses of an 
opponent, ought logically, in the opinion of the dis- 
putant, to lead to these extreme consequences ; in this 
sense, e.g., one might say that " all who hold the Sen- 
sistic philosophy are Atheists ; " only we do not say 
this, because we do not believe it, and the charge would 
be opprobrious. So it might be said that calling one 
another Jansenist on the one side, and Pelagian on the 
other, may mean no more than that, in the opinion of 
the speaker or writer, the opponent holds dangerously 
narrow or wide views on the doctrines of human Free 
Will and Divine Grace. 

This kind of " calling names," if ever tolerated, is a 
bad tradition from the latter days of the Scholastics ; a 
part of the bad manners of a half-barbarous age. We 
doubt, however, if Thomists and Scotists ever gave to 
one another a tithe of the abuse that has been given to 
the Rosminians. Even Luther, who was not particular, 
about his language, and he had the tradition of the 
Schools of his day, when he wished to be particularly 
provoking, only called his royal opponent, Henry VHI., 
a " Thoniistical Ass." But those days are gone by. 
Scholars, who are also gentlemen, do not apply abusive 
epithets to their opponents. Parliamentary etiquette has 
made men behave almost as politely as Michael the 
Archangel, who "brought no railing accusation against 
his adversary the Devil, but said, the Lord rebuke thee." 

JoMrnalistic Assassination. 331 

Personal abuse might pass, in those rough days of old, 
when knights and nobles amused themselves and the 
ladies of the family, by tilting against one another, to 
the danger of life and limb in the lists, and yeomen 
slashed and broke each others' heads in pure good will 
with broad-swords and quarter-staves. Then Scholars, 
Friars, and Clerics, at universities, broke each other's 
heads morally in the Schools. All was fair in Logic ; 
" words broke no bones." Little harm was done then 
by calling each other " heretic^ All were firm Catholics 
together; they knew just how much it meant, as their 
brothers in the lists or on the village green meant just 
nothing, by their rough blows, except good humour 
and manly sport, and to prove which was the best man. 

But now, when all these polemics go into print — when 
the daily journal has taken the place it now holds in our 
Modern Civilizatmi, and controversies on vital questions 
are carried on in the newspapers, the public take this sort 
of abuse seriously, according to the plain meaning of 
words ; and when a Priest or a Religious Body is ac- 
cused of Jansenism or PantJieism, people think it really 
means that they are arch-hypocrites in disguise.^ 

Besides this, even when no bad names are used, if 
discussions such as we are speaking of are carried on in 
the columns of newspapers, "accusations and discord 
are sure to be disseminated " among the Catholic public, 
the majority of whom have neither ability, time, nor 

^ An amusing illustration, one in a hundred that might be given, oc- 
curred on the Feast of the Purification this year in Rome, when, accord- 
ing to custom, as Procurator-General I had to go up with the other 
representatives of Religious Orders to present a candle to the Pope. An 
old Marchese, a very pious Christian, one of the attendants at the throne, 
said afterwards in Society in Rome, "What do you think I saw to-day? 
the Procurator-General of the Rosminians coming up to present his 
candle to the Pope. I was astonished, for I did not think the Ros- 
minians were Christians at all ; I thought they were all Pantheists. Wha 
is the meaning of this ? " 

2,2,2 Life of A ntonio Rosmini. 

inclination to study for themselves and understand the 
merits of the case in subtile questions. Thus the matter 
becomes one chiefly of party spirit, and people take 
sides, and attack or defend hotly what they do not un- 
derstand, "jurantes in verbum magistri," swearing by 
the word of their newspaper, or by a school of writers, 
or the body it is supposed to represent. We see this 
every day in the discussions on politics and even on 
practical questions which everybody is supposed to un- 
derstand, but on which we generally find there are two 
or more irreconcilable parties. Still more is this very 
frequently the case on philosophical questions, which are 
too deep, and on theological questions which are often 
too subtile, and always too sacred, for newspaper discus- 

Whatever is capable of generating party spirit tends 
to create heat and prejudice, '' accusations and discord." 
In this ^^y persons come to be attacked, and not prin- 
ciples only ; odiiini for opinions, real or supposed, infects 
men's judgment of the person who holds them, or of the 
society to which he belongs ; many partisans on both 
sides are drawn into the feud, and if once the journals 
take up the matter, there are sure to be one-sided state- 
ments, and the controversy is pretty sure to become 
more and more rancorous, personal, and calumnious. 

When argument fails, persons of authority or position 
are invoked to give weight to censures by their name. 
If the other party has not the same means of making 
itself heard, the public ear is gained, for the public go 
generally with the last word. Then, abuse takes the 
place of argument : '' Throw plenty of dirt, some of it 
will stick," was the experienced remark of Voltaire. 
The person attacked is thus placed in the pillory, pelted 
with unsavoury missiles, and is often so damaged in re- 
putation as to be reduced to silence, because he can find 

Journalistic Assassination. 333 

no adequate means of being heard. Judgment then 
goes by default, and the real or supposed delinquent is 
sometimes completely extinguished, and his system for- 

Rosmini has been subjected for a number of years 
to this treatment, by those so-called Clerical journals 
of Italy, which are the Echoes of the Civilta Cattolica ; 
and in Italy the other Journals take no notice of what 
they contemptuously call " Clerical squabbles ; " or 
their defence is not such as the Rosminians have cared 
to invoke. 

The chief difference in Rosmini's case, from the one 
we have imagined above, is that his name has not been 
forgotten, nor his system extinguished. Rosmini's name 
is now known everywhere, and numbers of adherents 
of his system have sprung up, among thoughtful men, 
who were first led to study him for themselves, owing, 
chiefly, to the unfairness and virulence they had 
observed in much that has been written by his 

At the time I am writing (Oct. 1885) the Civilta 
Cattolica has just summed up its accusations, in a 
very neatly conceived sentence, " Rosmini is in Theo- 
logy a Jansenist, in Philosophy a Pantheist, in Politics 
a Liberal ! " While I was revising these sheets for the 
press in Rome, on the 28th day of November 1885, I 
was debating with myself whether I would not cancel 
all I had written on the details of this miserable exhi- 
bition of odinm theologicnm, when a copy of the Divin 
Salvatore was placed in my hands. It is a Magazine 
for pious families ; its second title is The Religions 
Week of Rome. It would seem to be one of the many 
Echoes of the Civilta Cattolica. 

The Magazine came to me accompanied by a card 
from an old friend of mine, a Redemptorist Father, one 

334 Life of Antonio Rosmifii. 

of the most esteemed Confessors in Rome. His words 
as written on his card were : 

I send you a copy of the Diviii S alvafo re ]vi?,t published (Nov. 
25). Pray read the notice on St. Catharine. It is atrocious to 
write in such a way of that which the Church has not condemned. 

The article is on St. Catharine of Alexandria, and it 
concludes with the following pious reflections and 
aspirations : — 

Let us make it a duty, and feel it an honour to pay honour 
to this most wise among women, and pray her, as the Patroness 
of Philosophy, to eradicate from the Schools, certain systems of 
Atheistic-Pa7itJieistic philosophy, clothed in Catholic garb. It is 
time that the most wise Leo XIII. should be obeyed, and the 
philosophy of Rovereto banished from the Schools for ever. 

The most learned Liberatore, Cornoldi,^ and Zigliara, have 
proved to evidence the dangerous doctrines which Rosmini, a 
priest, and, so far as appears, very pious, scatters through his 
works, as if he were not aware of it. 

A very great- Cardinal, whom we highly honour, says that 
Rosmini is in Theology a Jansenist, in Philosophy a Pantheist, in 
Politics a Liberal. Deny it who can .'' 

O Catharina ! dear Mother of Philosophers, strike death to 
the false philosophy of Gioberti, Mamiani, Rosmini, and to all 
false philosophies. Amen. 

O Catharina ! raise the glorious standard of the Aristotelian 
philosophy, as explained according to the mind of the great 
Scholastics. Amen. 

This interruption to my revision of manuscript 
led me to insert the above extract, and to leave my 
work as I had written it. But I decided to put all 
this portion into a Last Chapter or Appendix, and 
I hope the " Life of Rosmini" may be read for edification 
when the facts in the Appendix are forgotten. It pains 

^ Why was poor Ballerini omitted ? He deserves as well as the rest — 
but then he is dead, and the Italian proverb says, "Better a living ass, 
than a dead Doctor." 

^ The remark of this "great Cardinal," if this remark was ever made, 
vras not original. The Civilta. Cattolicn deserves all the credit of it, 

Jotirnalistic Assassination. 335 

me to write these facts, because they do not redound 
to the credit of an Order, which I love and venerate, 
but which has given too much latitude to a " School in 
the Society " to censure, by private authority, what the 
Holy See has not censured, and has forbidden to 
be censured; and this has been done with acrimony, 
and "not within proper bounds." It cannot be denied 
that this has "fomented accusations and discord 
among Catholics " by the very dangerous weapon of 
quasi-religious Joiirnalisin. If all this were omitted, it 
would not be giving a true history of Rosmini. AH that 
I can do is to state facts, without acrimony against the 
authors of them, but simply as a part of the Providen- 
tial action of God, who never permits false accusation 
and wrong, except because He sees it necessary for 
the bringing out of truth and right. 

I will now venture to state what was never published 
before, as it bears upon the matter in question, and 
forms part of its history, especially as regards the accusa- 
tions made so repeatedly, and echoed in the journals, 
that the Rosminian doctrine is opposed to the teacJiing of 
St. Thomas, rebellious against the Pope, and was in- 
tended to be condemned by Leo XIII. in his Encyclical 
^terni Pair is. 

In this famous Encyclical, the Pope had earnestly 
exhorted all Bishops and Superiors of Seminaries, 
Colleges, and Religious Orders,, engaged in the Higher 
Education, to make St. Thomas Aquinas the standard 
of Philosophical teaching. 

A great demonstration was projected for the 7th of 
March 1880, to present addresses to the Pope, thanking 
him for the Encyclical. It was greatly promoted by 
the opponents of Rosmini in the North of Italy, instigated 
principally by the Osservatore Cattolico of Milan. 

In these addresses, after thanking the Holy Father 

336 Life of All ton io Rosm in i. 

for his Enciclica stiipenday they went on to observe that 
" however obvious it was to all well disposed Catholics 
that the Encyclical implicitly condemned Rosmini's 
philosophy, yet in order to take away all subterfuge 
and pretence from evil disposed persons, they humbly 
besought the Holy Father to deign to speak out so 
explicitly, that by condemning Rosmini by name, his 
adherents may either be led to abandon his system, or 
else stand confessed as no longer owning the name of 

These addresses were printed in the Osservatore 
Cattolico of Milan, and probably in most of the pious 
magazines ; and great numbers of signatures, many of 
them being those of young ladies of Religious Confra- 
ternities, servants, and others, who could know nothing 
of the merits of the question. 

A good many persons unconnected with this part of 
the programme were disposed to join in the demonstra- 
tion in honour of St. Thomas of Aquinas, and to thank 
the Holy Father for his Encyclical. Amongst these a 
certain number of the Rosminians, both members of the 
Order and well-known writers in the cause outside the 
Order, decided to join the demonstration. 

It was thought well that some one should go to repre- 
sent the English Province of the Institute of Charity, 
and I was sent to Rome for this purpose. 

Cardinal Newman, the honour of whose friendship I 
have had for more than forty years, and who had always 
taken a great interest in Rosmini's Order, was good 
enough to write a letter to the Pope introducing the 
present writer, and asking for an audience, in order that 
he might lay before His Holiness the deep sorrow and 
anxiety felt by the Fathers, and the injury done to the 
Order by the public statements made in journals and 
periodicals by writers who carried weight with the public, 

Journalistic Assassiiiation. 2)ol 

that the Pope had intended implicitly, if not by name, 
to condemn Rosmini in his late Encyclical. His 
Eminence prayed the Holy Father to send for him, and 
glvQ to the Order through him such indications of His 
Holiness's mind as might console or direct them. 

After he had been in Rome a few days he received 
an order to present himself at the Vatican for an 
audience. The Pope received him most graciously. 
After he had made the usual acts of reverence, the 
Holy Father bade him rise, and with great kindness of 
manner thus addressed him : — " Father Lockhart, I am 
informed by Cardinal Newman that you Rosminians 
are much grieved, fearing that it is my intention to 
condemn the works of your Founder Rosmini. This is 
not true ; up to this moment such a thought has not 
entered my mind. In my Encyclical CEterni Patris, in 
which there is not a word that I had not well weighed, 
there is nothing that has any application to Rosmini. 
It is true that I have commended the works of St. 
Thomas as the foundation of Philosophical teaching, 
but I have never intended to exclude the study of other 
writers. Let Rosmini and other authors be read, in 
order to throw light upon questions, but let St. Thomas 
be taken as the text-book." I replied, " Holy Father, I 
am greatly consoled by your Holiness's words, but 
Cardinal Newman has not quite expressed our meaning. 
We are not afraid that your Holiness will ever con- 
demn Rosmini ; but we cannot accept the censures of 
Journalism as if this was the voice of the Holy See. 
We believe that in following Rosmini we are following 
St. Thomas, but if ever the Holy See should instruct us 
that we are in the wrong, we are prepared to obey. We 
are Rosminians by conviction, but first of all we are 
obedient children of the Holy See." To this the Pope 
replied, " Bravo ; and are all your Italian Fathers of the 

II. Y 

338 Life of Anton io Rosui in i. 

same mind as you English Rosminians ? " I assured 
the Holy Father that this was the case. He was 
evidently well pleased with the few words I said to 
him. I then asked leave to present a little work I had 
written some years before, " On the Temporal Sovereignty 
of the Popes and the Roman Question!' saying, " Holy 
Father, you will see from this work, which has the 
imprimatur of Cardinal Manning, and which was pub- 
lished with the sanction of my Religious Superior, that 
we Rosminians are not the Liberali they report us to 
be, in the Italian Journals." At this the Pope laughed, 
saying, '' No, no, I know you are not Liberali, but excel- 
lent Religious." He then began to ask me many ques- 
tions as to religious affairs in England and the work 
there done by our Institute. The audience must have 
lasted nearly half an hour. I was then preparing to 
make my exit in the usual way, by walking backwards 
to the door and making the three customary genuflec- 
tions. But the Pope rose from his seat, and with most 
unusual condescension conducted me to the door, which 
was opened from without. 

The Holy Father then stood conversing with me at 
the entrance of the Audience Chamber in sight of the 
crowd of officials and persons waiting in the Anti- 
camera. He inquired very affectionately after the 
health of Cardinal Newman, sending him his blessing 
as I knelt to take leave. 

Demonstrations of this kind on the part of the Pope 
are rare, and they are well understood in Rome to be 
intended to express that the subject of them stands 
well with the Holy See. In my case, as representative of 
an Order, and of a cause that had been much canvassed, 
like that of Rosmini, it was understood to mean that 
nothing that had been said by its opponents had pro- 
duced any impression to its disadvantage at the Chair 
of Peter. 

Journalistic Assassination. 339 

Those in Rome who heard the account of my audience 
were much impressed with its significance, but I told 
it to very few, and to those in confidence, for I did not 
feel that at the time it would be wise or respectful to 
the Holy Father to make public, words that he had 
spoken to me in private audience. Now, however, that 
five or six years have passed since the event, and that 
the Holy Father has repeated substantially what he 
said to me, to many Bishops in private audience, who 
have spoken of it publicly, I do not feel that I am 
breaking any confidence in recounting this very con- 
solatory audience with Leo XI 1 1. 

Since that time I have never asked for a private 
audience, as I have always felt that the Pope could not 
say more than he had said on that occasion, and that I 
had no need to seek for any additional token of his 
good will ; but when I have had occasion to go to him 
officially in public audience with the other Procurators 
and representatives of Orders, or as one of the Lent 
preachers, I have always found that the Holy Father 
recognised me by name, and had some kind word to 
say expressive of his favour; and two years ago, when 
I presented the candle as usual on the Feast of the 
Purification, he asked me publicly whether I was going 
to preach again that year in Lent to the English. 

My appointment for two successive years to be one 
of the Lent preachers was itself remarkable. The 
Civilta Cattolica had continued its attacks, as also the 
Journals that are its Echoes, and even pious magazines, 
such as the Divin Salvatore, just referred to, had now 
and then a stinging paragraph — always to the same old 
tune — that Rosmini was just goiitg to be condemned ! 
At last, just before Christmas 1882, a book was pub- 
lished by Father Cornoldi, one of our old opponents, 
entitled Rosniinianism^ a Synthesis of Ontologisni 

340 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

and Pantheism ; this was simply a compilation from a 
number of articles that had appeared successively in the 
Civiltd Cattolica. 

It was immediately after this that my name was 
published on the doors of all the Churches of Rome 
and in the Journals of the Vatican, amongst the ap- 
pointments of the Cardinal Vicar to preach the English 
sermons in Rome, at the Church of St. Andrea del] a 
Valle, during the solemnities of the Epiphany, and also 
during the Lent in the same and the following year, 
1883 and 1884. 

The moral of this was understood in Rome to be 
that, notwithstanding all the accusations of heterodoxy 
against the Rosminians, the representative of the Order 
in Rome was selected, with the full sanction of the 
Pope, to be one of the public instructors in Christian 

But still with a stolid perseverance worthy of a better 
cause, the clique of writers continued to write, as they 
have written for so many years past, though they had 
nothing new to say, wholly ignoring the fact that all 
they had said, or had to say, had been already weighed 
and found wanting thirty years ago. Still, nothing 
moves them from the steady purpose of so many years, 
the destruction of Rosmini's good name, and, as a con- 
sequence, the ruin of his Order. 

Various other attacks have been since organised, 
especially against the force of the Dimittantur Opera, for 
it w^as seen that it would be impossible to obtain a 
re-examination of Rosmini's works, unless it were first 
proved that the Dimittantur Opera was no judgment on 
the merits of the case. This had been answered in the 
letter of the Congregation of the Index in 1876, which I 
have given at length in the last chapter. In all these 
attempts they have failed, for with all their efforts they 

Journalistic Assassination, 341 

have not moved the Holy See one inch Irom the sentence 
of acquittal pronounced thirty years ago. At present 
they give out that they are not attacking the works 
that are covered by the Diniittaittitr, but Rosmini's 
postJmmous works that have never been examined. 

This and the other charges have brought out a num- 
ber of writers, not members of the Order, in all parts of 
Italy, and even in France. The substance of their 
replies has been already stated in the course of these 
chapters, but I will refer to several of the more im- 
portant before I finish.^ 

The matter, therefore, stands thus : the Diviittantur 
Opera was a real judgment on the merits of the case. 
Rome does not go back without reasons. No new 
reasons against Rosmini's doctrines have been shown, 
the judgment, therefore, on the original works cannot 
be re-opened. The posthinnoiis works have not been 
shown to contain any new matter that was not covered 
by one or other of the 327 censures that were examined 
and rejected as futile thirty years ago. Therefore, so 
far all the labours of the opposition have been lost. 

What, then, is the present situation of the Rosminian 
question at the latter end of the year 1886. It is like 
that of an armour-clad vessel that has passed and re- 
passed the Dardanelles under the heaviest fire that the 
Turks could bring to bear upon her, without damage to 
her armour-plating. This does not prove that the 
vessel is absolutely invulnerable, but it need cause no 
wonder if the crew feel confident that no projectile that 
can be forged is likely to do the good ship any serious 

Such is the feeling with which the Rosminians regard 

^ See Appendix, i. Encomium of the Faculty of the Sapienza on 
Rosmini, 1858. 2. Count de la Motta's retraction of calumnies on Ros- 
mini. 3. Honourable testimony of English and French Jesuits. 

342 Life of Antonio Rosmini. 

the doctrines of their Founder, and they are confident 
that no Theological principles or Philosophical system 
of any Catholic writer has ever gone through a more 
searching ordeal, during so long a period, namely more 
than fifty years, since Rosmini's fundamental opinions 
were given to the public ; with a result so favourable, that 
not a single doctrine has been declared censurable by 
the Ecclesiastical authority charged with safe-guarding 
the purity of doctrine. This is as much as is required 
in the process of the Canonization of Saints ; for the 
highest judgment ever given on the published writings 
of Saints is that of the Congregation of Rites, " nil cen- 
sures dignum^' which is strictly equivalent, according to 
the estimate of theologians, to the judgment Diinit- 
tantur of the Congregation of the Index, in the case of 
books denounced, examined, and dismissed free of all 

The result of this long opposition to Rosmini as a 
writer and as the founder of a Religious Order is three- 

First : it has been the means of keeping many persons 
from joining the Order; has made it comparatively 
weak in the number of its subjects, and of the good 
works it has been enabled to do. But on the other hand, 
it has helped to keep us humble, and with a sense of 
absolute dependence on Divine Providence, making the 
life of its members a daily practical meditation on the 
word of St. Paul : " We are not sufficient of our- 
selves to do anything of ourselves, as of ourselves, but 
our sufficiency is of God." Meantime, Almighty God 
has been pleased to use us for his service in Italy, Eng- 
land, Ireland, France, and America, where our brethren 
are at work ; and wherever we are we have the consola- 
tion of knowing that we possess the warm approval of 
our Bishops. 

Journalistic Assassinatio7i. 343 

The second result of the opposition is that it has 
raised up for us, not only in Italy, but in England, 
France, Germany, and America, many valiant defenders, 
and speaking in particular of Italy, that number is 
continually increasing.^ 

There is no one who has done more in our defence 
than the learned Bishop of Casale in Piedmont, now 
departed to his rest with God. He is known as one of 
the most learned of Italian theologians and philosophers. 
For forty years he has made the works of St. Thomas 
his chief study. He has written a stupendous work, in 
eleven octavo volumes, showing the perfect substantial 
harmony between Rosmini and St. Thomas. In this he 
has only been working out the problem stated in the 
words of the illustrious Dominican Cardinal Gonzales, 
which I have quoted a few pages back, that " it would 
be easy to prove to demonstration the complete sub- 
stantial identity between the philosophy of Rosmini and 
that of St. Thomas." 

The celebrated American Catholic writer, Dr Brown- 
son, who began as an opponent of Rosmini and sup- 
porter of Gioberti, in the Magazine which he so ably 
conducted for many years, came in the end to the 
conviction that Rosmini's was after all the one true 
system of Christian philosophy. 

The third result of the opposition of the Civiltd 
Cattolica it is very gratifying to mention. It has done 
us invaluable service in two ways. ist. It has given 
to the name of Rosmini and to his doctrines the immense 
advantage, that could not have been purchased by 
money, of the world-wide advertisement of the columns 

^ Among our most valiant and successful defenders outside the Order 
we must mention the late Archbishop of Turin, Monsignor Gastaldi ; 
Prof. Buroni, also departed, as well as Mgr. Ferri, R.I.P., Professors 
Papa of the Sapienza, Biginalli of the Atoieo of Turin, Pestalozza, Corte, 
Angeleri, Stoppani, Casara, Paganini. 

344 Life of Aiitonio Rosmini. 

of that ably-conducted Review, which, whether sent out 
gratuitously or to subscribers, penetrates into almost 
every Seminary and College of higher studies ; and is 
found on the library table of almost every Cardinal and 
Bishop throughout the Catholic world, as well as in the 
office of every important Catholic Journal or Review. 
2nd. We have to thank the Civilta Cattolica for having 
made the soundness of Rosmini's principles more 
evidently unassailable, through the utter failure of all 
their ablest writers, in all these forty years, with all the 
prestige of their position as professors in Rome, the 
power of their Journalism, their freedom of access to the 
sources of influence in Rome, to establish, in the judg- 
ment of the Holy See, a single point against the doc- 
trines of Rosmini. 

We have, therefore, no reason for anything but thank- 
fulness to the Providence of God which has preserved 
us, and of confidence in the same Divine protection for 
the future. 

" The life of man is a warfare." " Blessed is he that 
endureth trial, for when he hath been perfected he shall 
receive the crown of life." " Truth is great, and will 

This is the way in which God proves individuals, and 
Religious Societies in the Church. Men and associa- 
tions of men are viade by contending with opposition. 

It is the way in which truth is brought out, made 
more clear, and by which it becomes in the end vic- 

We are inclined to think that the term of our proba- 
tion is near at hand ; yet God alone knows whether we 
have been sufficiently purified in the fire, and the spirit 
of vanity and self-confidence, and of that exaggerated 
esprit de corps which is but too common a defect in 
Religious Societies, as in all corporations of men, has 
been brought low enough among us. 

Journalistic Assassination. 345 

One great consolation we have among many others, 
and it is that, during all this thirty years of trial, not a 
single professed Father has left the Order, through his 
confidence in our Founder, in his wisdom and in his 
sanctity, having been undermined by any of the 
accusations they have heard, and the reports repeated 
for the hundredth time, that Rosmini's works were 
"^^jiist going to be condemned^ 

Some "threatened folk live long," 

" Condemned to death, are fated not to die." 


In this Appendix will be found — ist. A very im- 
portant Decision of the Doctors of the Sapienza in 
Rome, and their high Eulogium of Rosmini, A.D. 1858, 
in the case of a trial in Rome before the Court of the 
Rota. 2nd. Articles favourable to Rosmini by English 
and French Jesuits. 3rd. Most important of all, the 
Letter of Leo XIII. to the Archbishops of Piedmont 
and Lombardy, in which he prohibits the calumnious 
attacks on Rosmini in certain Journals of Italy, and 
forbids them to write any more on the Rosminian 

I. Decision of the Doctors of the Sapienza, 
AND High Eulogium of Rosmini. 

A.D. 1858. 

One among the good effects that have come from the 
attacks on Rosmini has been that they have often been 
the immediate cause of defenders coming forward, as 
we have already seen. 

One of these attacks was in a work by the late 
Count Avogadro de la Motta, O71 the Scientific Value 
of Rosmini s PhilosopJiy. This work came out as one 
in a Series of CatJwlic Woi^ks for pious reading under 
the auspices of a Religious Society. A bookseller at 
Naples had subscribed for a quantity of the Series, but 
on reading this work he was so displeased with its un- 
fairness and inappropriateness in a Series of this kind, 
that he refused to accept any more of the volumes. 

Appendix. 347 

A suit was the consequence, brought before the 
Court of the Rota in Rome in the time of Pius IX. 
The case was referred to the Doctors of the University 
of the Sapienza in Rome, the point being whether the 
charges against Rosmini in the work of de la Motta 
were fair or not. 

The case was decided in favour of the bookseller, on 
the ground that the charges in the work were " false 
and calumnious," after the sentence of the Index, which 
had rejected the same charges. In the words of the 
Judgment of the Doctors of the Sapienza, Rosmini is 
styled, " Omnium syncJirononim scriptorum longe claj'is- 
simnsl' " By far the most illustrious of contemporary 
writers." This decision was given in 1858, and was 
communicated to Rosmini by the Most Reverend 
Father Modena of the Dominican Order, Dean of the 
Faculty of the Sapienza. In this we have another 
instance of the defence of Rosmini by an illustrious 
Dominican in official position in Rome. 

It is gratifying to be able to state that Count de la 
Motta made a most honourable retraction of all his 
charges against Rosmini, and in the Senate at Turin, 
of which he was a member, he pronounced the highest 
eulogium on his memory. 

It would seem that his son has been badly advised, 
by the party afflicted with '' Rosmini on the brain^' to 
reprint, a few years ago, his father's work, without a 
word of his father's retraction. This work is nothing 
but a repetition, in a more popular form, of the censures 
which the Civiltd Cattolica is never wearied of reiterating. 

II. The English and French Jesuits and 


Up to this time the minds of Catholics in England and 
Ireland have not been much troubled with the Ros- 
minian controversy. For in these countries the Ros- 

34^ Life of Antonio Rosniini. 

minians, or Fathers of Charity, are well known and 
respected by the clergy and laity, and no one who had 
not an easily excitable brain would believe that they 
were Jansenists or Pantheists. They have been before 
the public for half-a-century, as professors, pastors of 
souls, preachers, confessors, and writers. They enjoy 
the confidence of their Bishops, and are in the most 
kindly relations with the clergy. Secular and Regular, 
with none more so than with the English and Irish 
Jesuit body. Here we have no people with " Rosmini 
on the brain." 

Nothing could be more genial than the way in which 
the Life of Rosmini, in the Italian, has been reviewed in 
France by a French Jesuit ; and the First Volume of 
the English Life of Rostnini, on its appearance three 
years ago, was spoken of with much cordiality in the 
Month, conducted by the English Jesuits, in the Nicmber 
for May 1885. 

We will quote the English Review first in order. 
After a rather full notice of the Life, the reviewer con- 
tinues : 

We have no space to show more at length how full and active 
for good was Rosmini's life up to the close of the year 1827 — the 
period covered by the present volume. We must pass on to the 
principle which, according to our author, is the key-note to Ros- 
mini's consistency of character, and blends the active and passive 
so harmoniously in his whole course. 

This is the principle of passivity, which has come 
frequently before us in the course of the present work. 
Of this the reviewer writes : — 

It has sometimes been the subject of misconception, and has 
quite an exceptional importance, as on it depends the special form 
of the Rule of the Rosminian Order. 

The writer then goes on to observe that there is no 
real difference between this principle of waiting for the 

Appendix. 349 

manifestations of Providence and a similar principle laid 
down by St. Ignatius. 

The principle of passivity (says the reviewer) was the sancti- 
fication of Rosmini, and it will be the sanctification of his chil- 
dren. The Fathers of Charity need not be under any fear that 
their brethren in other Orders will fail to recognise its worth. 

We have purposely (continues the reviewer) left ourselves no 
space to discuss the Rosminian System of Philosophy. That 
will require, and will perhaps hereafter receive, more extended 
treatment than is compatible with the limits of a short notice. 
The biographer has himself, so far, said comparatively little on 
this part of his subject. It is a question which, to be handled 
properly, must be separated from such irrelevant matters as are 
the degree of holiness, or even of learning and talent, possessed by 
Rosmini. A distinction must be made between the great Catholic 
priest and the great Catholic philosopher, the founder of an Order 
devoted to the practice of Christian Charity, and the restorer, if 
not the founder, of a scientific system devoted to the vindication of 
Christian truth. For this reason, we regret some expressions in 
this volume. The writer seems to regard those who differ from the 
Rosminian philosophy as personal assailants of Rosmini himself. 

This is a most kindly notice, and we gratefully thank the 
conductors of the Month for the way they have spoken. 

We must, however, say that the first part of this work 
has not conveyed the sentiments of the Rosminian 
Fathers, if it has led to its being supposed that we look 
on all who differ from the Rosminian philosophy as if 
they were personal assailants of Rosmini. Certainly 
I have stated very clearly that we consider Rosmini's 
system as open to any amount of fair criticism, and we 
should never dream of wishing to abridge the liberty 
of opinion which the Church leaves open, as well to 
Rosmini as to his loyal opponents. 

III. Review of Rosmini's Life in "Annales de 
Philosophie," by Father Bonniat, S.J., 1881. 

In addition to the authority of the two last Generals 
of the Jesuits, and of other illustrious writers of the 

3 5 o Life of A ntonio Rosnimi. 

Order in favour of Rosmini, we are very glad to be 
able to quote another eminent Jesuit writer, Father 
Bonniat. In a review of Don Paoli's Italian Life of 
Rosmini in the Annales de Philosophie Chretienne, of 
May 1 88 1, Father Bonniat thus writes : — 

The Abbe Rosmini is beyond dispute one of the most remark- 
able men of this century. It is his Philosophy which has chiefly 
distinguished him before the public ; but we think him still more 
eminent for the gifts of his heart and of his soul. The master 
quality of this chosen being was, as we think, rectitude; rectitude 
of intelligence, and rectitude of will. He was sincere in the 
presence of truth, sincere in the presence of God. . . . 

His Institute, to which he gave the lovely name of Charity, is in 
a most true sense a fruit of his philosophic thought. Philosopher 
and priest, servant of truth and servant of God, he was a man 
who possessed the rare merit, so far as it is granted to human 
weakness, of being 07ieP 

This writer then goes on to give a short description of 
Rosmini's voluminous works. He concludes : — 

I will refer only to the name of one of his works, The Super- 
natural Anthropology in which he shows the insufficiency of the 
light of reason to lead man to his end. . . . 

Is it possible for any man, how great soever his penetra- 
tion and knowledge, to write such a great number of volumes 
without wounding unintentionally, at some time or another, some 
Catholic truth ? If passion were a proof of this, the ferocity with 
which Rosmini has been combated in Italy would lead us to 
believe that his works are sown with heresies. The Sovereign 
Pontiff having vainly imposed silence on the two parties in the 
philosophical and chiefly theological war, ordered the Congrega- 
tion of the Index to submit the works of Rosmini to examination. 
The works were examined during four years by twenty censors, of 
whom nineteen were unanimous in declaring that Rosmini had 
written nothing that could not be freely sustained. 

The Sacred Congregation has not intended, by this Decree, to- 
canonize the ideas of Rosmini ; but it declares that they contain 
nothing contrary to Christian Doctrine and Morals, and this is no> 
small merit. 

Appendix. 351 

Letter of Pope Leo XIII. to the Archbishops 

January 1882. 

Pope Leo XIIL, seeing the "accusations and discords " 
resulting from the treating of these subtile matters of 
theology and philosophy with party spirit by the 
opponents of Rosmini in some of the journals of the 
North of Italy, published a letter to the Archbishops of 
Milan, Vercelli, and Turin, in January 1882, bidding 
them to do their best to restrain Catholic Journals from 
" discussing questions which endanger peace among 
Catholics concerning the doctrines of an illustrious 
philosopher (Rosmini), one of the most renowned 
among modern writers." 

The Pope continues : 

As regards philosophical studies, We have already declared in 
Our Encyclical (Eter7ii Patris of August 1879, directed to all 
bishops, Our desire that youth should be instructed in the doctrine 
of St Thomas Aquinas, which has always been found of the 
greatest use in the wise cultivation of human minds, and is 
admirably adapted for confuting false opinions. 

This suggestion of Our Encyclical was sufficient to have easily 
kept all minds together in harmony, had not too great subtlety 
been used in its interpretation, and if that moderation had been 
observed which, while investigating truth, and without any sacrifice 
of faith and charity, learned men on both sides of the question 
have been accustomed to use in their contro\-ersies. 

But since We have observed, not without anxiety, that too much 
party spirit has been stirred up, it is a matter of public interest 
that some restraint should be placed on this excitement of minds. 
Hence, seeing that in treating these subjects, much study and 
tranquillity for forming calm judgments is required, which cannot 
be had in journals that appear from day to day, it is to be desired 
that Catholic Journalists should abstain altogethci' fj-om discussing 
these questions. 

352 Life of A jiton io Rosm int. 

The Pope then goes on to remind those over busy 
journaHsts that 

The Apostolic See is ever careful to perform its duty, especially 
in grave matters which regard the soundness of doctrine, and does 
not omit to direct its watchful and prudent care to controversies, 
whether old or new, when they arise, making use of such prudent 
counsels that every Catholic should feel satisfied with the decision 
when arrived at. We would not, however, on this account, that 
any injury should be done to a Society of Religious men who take 
their name from Charity, and which, as it has hitherto, according 
to its Institute, usefully devoted itself to the service of its neigh- 
bour, so We hope it will continue in future to flourish and bring 
forth every day more abundant fruit. 

The Pope concludes with exhorting the Bishops 

To do what they can to second Our counsels and omit nothing 
that may tend to promote concord among Catholics ; and this all 
the more, since the enemies of Catholicity increase in their 
numbers and in their bitterness, so that it is necessary that our 
whole strength should be directed against them, and should 
not be weakened by division, but augmented by union among 

This letter is the last official act of the Holy See in 
defence of Rosmini's good name, extending over a 
course of more than forty years. We can say, whenever 
Roma loaita est, it has been in our defence. We do 
not ask for more than " a fair field and no favour ; " we 
ask only to be left free to state and defend the teaching 
of our great Founder, ready always to accept the decision 
of the Holy See, if ever it should declare any of Ros- 
mini's theological or philosophical opinions to clash 
with any principles of Catholic Doctrine. 

Holy iihost 


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EVANS, yJ/arZ'.— The Story of our Father's Love, told to Children. 
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REANEY, Mrs. G. 6".— ^Waking and ^ATorking ; or, From Girlhood 
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Blessing and Blessed : a Sketch of Girl Life. New and 

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STRETTON, Hesba.—TiSLvid Lloyd's Last AATill. With 4 Illustra- 
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