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THE NEW WORLD.
It has been remarked that the Discalced Carmelite Friars have generally been preceded by their sisters, the daughters of St. Teresa. Thus the reformation of the Order originated amongst the nuns, and these were introduced into France and Belgium before the friars had entered into either of those countries. North America, however, seems to have made an exception, for we find Carmelite Friars there as early as 1601. In that year Don Sebastian Viscayno having been sent to explore the coast line of the Californias, two Discalced Carmelite Fathers accompanied the expedition.
On November 10th, 1602, the first Mass in California was celebrated by the Carmelite Father, Andrew of the Assumption, at San Diego. After remaining ten days at this place, they sailed towards the North, and on December 16th, of the same year, landed at Monterey, where they offered up the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass beneath a wide spreading oak. The Fathers gave the name of Carmelo to the site of the new "Presidio," as they thought it resembled Mount Carmel of Palestine, surrounded as it was by a fertile valley and looking out upon the broad blue sea. The Carmelites won the hearts of the Indians, and taught them to love the name of Carmel's Queen. Within the old Carmelo mission repose the remains of the saintly Franciscan, Father Junipero Serro, and of many others who labored in that portion of the Lord's vineyard.
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In 1720 a foundation of Carmelite Friars was attempted in old Colonial Louisiana. Its history is as follows: The Council of the province, that had been placed under the administration of the Western or India Company, wrote to the Bishop of Quebec, the saintly Jean Baptiste de la Croix Chevrières de St. Vallier, to whose diocese Louisiana belonged, requesting him to allow this extensive portion of his diocese to be divided into three districts. These districts were to be placed under the jurisdiction of the Capuchins, Discalced Carmelites and Jesuits. The permission was granted and the division made. The administrators of the company then offered a mission to the Discalced Carmelites of the Province of Normandy, through the medium of its president, Captain Roger. The following agreement was entered into between the company and the Discalced Carmelites.
1º. The company was to give 300 francs to each missionary before his leaving for America.
2º. It agreed to give 400 francs annually in substance to each religious, and provide them with certain kinds of necessary food.
3º. It was to build a church and residence for the missionaries, and to furnish all the movable requirements of the church and house, to grant land for a garden and yard, and to pay parochial rights to the Fathers.
The Carmelites on their side were to exercise the duties of the holy ministry and to fulfil all parochial functions.
This foundation and all others that might spring from it, were to be under the jurisdiction and government of the general of the Order and his definitors. On February 12th, 1720, the Order accepted the mission of Louisiana.
Father James of St. Martin, professed religious of the Province of Normandy, was appointed superior of the foundation. He was fifty-six years old, and had been thirty-nine years professed in the Order. The companions assigned to him were Fathers Charles of St. Alexis, and William of St. Mary Magdalen, and a lay brother, all of the Province of the
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Blessed Trinity in Normandy. Father James was directed by his superiors to have the conditions of the foundation drawn up by formal act, and to arrange all the other necessary matters belonging to it.
The Carmelites left France in a ship of the " India Company " in March, 1720. By a decree of the Propaganda, dated June 3d, of the same year, Father James bad been appointed prefect of the new mission with the usual powers and faculties. These powers were afterwards defined and explained in a rescript of the Holy Office, dated December 3d, 1720, and Pope Clement XI granted to the Discalced Carmelites, for the mission of Louisiana, all the privileges before accorded to the religious of the same Order, who were missionaries in the territory of the Grand Mogul and in Malabar.
The missionaries arrived at their destination after a long voyage of five months. They were kindly welcomed by the French officials, and excited not a little interest among the Indians. When the division of the Province was made, the Carmelites were to have their headquarters at Mobile, at that time the capital of Louisiana, and have the management of all the missions on the eastern bank of the river, from the Ohio to the Gulf, and eastward to the English colonies. Biloxi and Fort Toulouse, the garrisoned post among the Alibamons, were within their district.
The India Company accordingly began the erection of the residence for the Fathers at Mobile. The zealous missionaries themselves at once entered upon their work among the colonists, Indians and Negroes.
The future seemed promising, but the hopes of the good Fathers were soon blasted. A short time after their arrival, John Law, the director-general of the India Company, failed, and the company itself, in presence of overwhelming difficulties, found itself unable to keep its agreement with the Discalced Carmelites.
The Fathers, having no resources of their own to fall back upon and build up the mission, were compelled, much to
46 Carmel in America
their regret, to abandon the undertaking. Meanwhile the fatigues and trials of this year of hardship in the wilds of the New World, had told on Father James of St. Martin. He died, regretted by the colonists and Indians, but particularly by his brethren who had shared his labors. He left behind the reputation of having arrived at great sanctity of' life.
Entries appear on the parish register of Mobile, dated April, 1721, by Father Charles of St. Alexis, who signs himself Curé des Apalaches, Parish Priest of the Apalaches. These Indians were Catholics, and had fled from Spanish Florida.
After the death of their superior, those who had accompanied him, left the field of their recent labors and thus ended the Carmelite mission of Louisiana. The district that the India Company had assigned to the Carmelites is now covered by four flourishing dioceses in the Southern States.
Nearly seventy years after the Carmelite Friars had labored in Louisiana, the brown habit of their Order appeared in that portion of the New World, which, a few years previous, had become the United States of America. The State of Maryland was to have the honor of harboring the first daughters of St. Teresa in the United States.
Maryland, that had been explored by the Spaniards more than half a century before the English Catholics landed on the shores of the Chesapeake, was settled in 1634 by Lord Baltimore and his companions. Leonard Calvert, first governor of Maryland and brother of the Lord Proprietary, was accompanied by many English Catholic families, who went to seek in the wilds of America, that religious freedom which the country of their birth denied them. Two Jesuit Fathers, Andrew White,1 whom we have already met with in this history,
1Father Andrew White was born in 1579, and ordained in 1605. He was in Belgium between the years 1619 and 1632. He died December 27th, 1656, aged 79 years. Records of the Eng. Prov., S. J.
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as confessor of the English Carmelite nuns of Antwerp, and John Altham, accompanied the Catholic Pilgrim Fathers.
Maryland was destined by Divine Providence to possess the first religious community of women in the United States, for although there existed a community of Ursulines in New Orleans since 1727,1 we must not forget that Louisiana did not belong to the United States when the Carmelite nuns landed in America.
In the year 1790, Maryland, one of the original States of the Union, was in the enjoyment of that freedom for which it had helped to wage a bloody contest, and for which many of its noblest sons had fallen. Its governor was John Eager Howard, and the Catholic signer of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, one of its representatives in Congress. Its ecclesiastical superior was John Carroll, first Archbishop of Baltimore, consecrated in London, August 15th, of the same year. " Archbishop Carroll," says Clarke in his Lives of the Deceased Bishops, " in an historical point of view, occupies the most prominent place, both in time and in importance, in the history of the American Catholic Hierarchy, of which he was the founder. Illustrious for the exalted position he occupied, and for the great virtues of his life, his purity of character, his labors and services to religion, his memory is cherished with undiminished veneration by the whole Catholic Church of the United States. As a patriot, he was surpassed by none of the great and good men of his day in love of country and devotion to well-regulated liberty. As a citizen, his public virtues were formed in the same political school with those of Washington. That his talents, capacity for affairs, calm dignity, sincere piety and zeal for the salvation of men, eminently fitted him for his high position, is not only evinced by the voice of his colleagues in the sacred ministry, whose choice he was for the episcopal office, but also by the testimony of history. It was a beneficent Providence which,
1O'Kane Murray: A popular History of the Catholic Church in the U. S.
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at such a crisis in the history of the infant church of America, bestowed upon it such a man as its first ruler and chief pastor; a ruler who governed as a Father; a pastor who became the patriarch of religion in his country."1
He was born, January 8th, 1735, of Daniel Carroll and Eleanor Darnall, at Upper Marlboro, Prince George's County, Maryland. At the time of John Carroll's birth, the Catholic Marylanders sighed under an intolerable yoke of persecution. At the accession of William of Orange to the throne of' England, a Protestant governor was sent to Maryland, and the Anglican Church established by law. In 1704 a law was passed "to prevent the increase of popery." Catholic priests were forbidden to exercise their ministry. Catholics were deprived of the right of elective franchise; they were forbidden to teach, and obliged to support the established church. They were forced to pay a double tax. It was, moreover, strongly recommended that " children were to be taken from the pernicious influence of Popish parent."2 This spirit of intolerance on the part of Protestants finally went so far that Catholics were forbidden to appear in certain parts of the towns. In course of time, however, they were permitted to hear Mass in their own families. With few exceptions, the descendants of the Maryland pilgrims remained faithful to the church of their fathers. Thanks to the zeal of the Jesuit missionaries, a grammar school for the Catholic youth of the province had been established at Bohemia Manor, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Here the future Archbishop of Baltimore, with his cousin, the illustrious signer of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and his relative, Robert Brent, received his preparatory education.
The more wealthy Catholics of Maryland generally sent their sons and daughters across the Atlantic, to be educated in the religious institutions of Europe. To this number
1Lives of the Deceased Bishops.
The New World 49
belonged the parents of the youthful John Carroll. He was sent to Europe about the year 1748,1 with the two aforementioned students, to study at the Jesuit College of St. Omer's. This establishment of learning, and place of refuge for the persecuted English Jesuits, was situated in French Flanders, and was founded about the year 1594 by Father Robert Parsons, in the small town of Watten, at a distance of two leagues from St. Omer's.2
In 1753 John Carroll entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus, and was ordained in 1759. After the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773, Father Carroll, having spent some time in England, returned to America, where he arrived June 26th, 1774. In 1776, at the request of Congress, he accompanied Dr. Franklin, Samuel Chase, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton to Canada on a political mission. In 1784 he was appointed superior of the American clergy, and five years later the Holy See created him Bishop of Baltimore. He was consecrated in England by the Vicar-Apostolic of London, August 15th, 1790. His diocese comprised the whole of the United States, the white population of which was, at that time, about 3,200,000; of these about 30,000 were Catholics, according to Bishop Carroll's estimate. About thirty or forty priests ministered to the spiritual wants of this population.3
The year that witnessed the consecration of the first American Bishop, beheld also the brown and white habit of Carmel, for the first time under the flag of the American Union.
During the eighteenth century, as we have already seen, owing to the want of educational institutions in America, many Catholic families were constrained to send their children to be educated on the other side of the Atlantic, where several of the young men enrolled themselves in the ranks of the clergy, and a number of the young ladies attached
1Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus.—Brother Foley.
2U. S. Catholic Magazine, vol. III, p. 33.
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themselves to religious institutions. Thus we read in a manuscript of Father George Hunter, that in 1760 he sent two young ladies, named Boone, to the Convent of Lierre in Belgium. Rev. George Hunter, an Englishman, was born in Northumberland, July 25th, 1713, and entered the Society in 1730. He had been for a time vicar-general of the Vicar-Apostolic of London, and superior of the clergy in Maryland. He resided at St. Thomas' Manor, in Charles County, Maryland, where he died August 1st, 1779.
Among the ladies who entered religious communities in Europe special mention must be made of Miss Mary Brent, daughter of Robert Brent and Mary Wharton. She appears to have been a second cousin of Father Charles Neale, for a great aunt of hers, half-sister of her grandfather, married Oswald Neale, grandfather of' Charles Neale. Miss Mary Brent entered the community of English Carmelites at Antwerp before the year 1773,1 for in a will, preserved in the archives of the ancient courthouse of Port Tobacco, Maryland, under date of probate February 1st, 1773, we find that Mrs. Mary Brent, born Wharton, widow of Robert Brent, bequeathed to her daughter, Mary Brent, then residing in the Convent of Antwerp, twenty pounds sterling money to be remitted to the convent, in case said Mary Brent should die before receiving the money. It would even appear that Mary Brent was in the Antwerp community before 1760; for Fattier Hunter, S. J., wrote, October 5th, 1760, to Madame Howard, superior of' the convent, introducing two young Americans, and sent her by the occasion one guinea for herself from Madame Brent, "ye Mr. of Mistress Brent," and one guinea for Mrs. Pye. This Mrs. Pye, whose name was Margaret, was Sister Mary Magdalen of St. Joseph. She was an American and cousin of Mother Margaret Brent, with whom she went to Europe, and was professed.
1Liber A. E. 6, p. 176.
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The Convent of Hoogstraeten also possessed its quota of American inmates, in the persons of Ann Mathews and her two nieces, Ann Teresa and Susanna Mathews. The Mathews family were amongst the oldest in Maryland, and probably belonged to the first settlers. Ann Teresa Mathews was born in Charles Co., Maryland, in the year 1732, of parents who enjoyed a high social position, and were at the same time most pious and virtuous. Her father was Joseph Mathews, and her mother, Susanna Croycroft. Her brother, Ignatius Mathews, about two years older than herself, being born in 1730, entered the Society of Jesus and labored on the Maryland Mission; he resided at Port Tobacco, and died at Newtown, Md., May 11th, 1790, before the arrival of his sister in America.
The good example and instructions which Ann Teresa received from her parents, instilled into her youthful heart principles of true and solid piety. Animated by the desire of becoming a religious, she left her native country and entered the Carmelite Convent at Hoogstraeten, where she received the habit on September 30th, 1754, taking in religion the name of Bernardina Teresa Xavier of St. Joseph. She made her profession on November 24th, 1755, being 23 years of age. She was greatly esteemed for her sanctity, and for the gift of directing souls. She also appeared to know many things, without a possibility of her having any human knowledge of them. She was successively mistress of novices, discreet and sub-prioress, and was chosen prioress in the year 1774, and gave great satisfaction in that office to which she was always reëlected.
Her two nieces—Susanna Mathews, in religion, Sister Mary Eleanora of St. Francis Xavier, and Ann Teresa Mathews, in religion, Sister Mary Aloysia of the Blessed Trinity—were sisters of Father William Mathews of Washington, D. C., and daughters of William Mathews and Mary Neale. They had long had the desire of becoming Carmelites, but could not cross the ocean on account of the war of the Revolution. As
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soon, however, as peace was restored they joined their aunt at Hoogstraeten, in Belgium, and were professed in 1784.
While the three religious whom we have just mentioned were serving God in the sacred obscurity of their monastery, there lived in Belgium a countryman of theirs, who was destined to be hereafter their spiritual Father and guide. This was Father Charles Neale, S. J., who was descended from the ancient family of the Neales of Maryland.1
His ancestor, Captain James Neale, served in the Spanish dominions, and is said by some to have been an admiral in the English navy. At any rate he was a favorite of the crown. He once captured a Spanish vessel, and also the heart of a Spanish lady who, it seems, became his wife. One of his daughters was named after the unfortunate queen, Henrietta Maria; a name which, to the present day, is very common among his descendants. Four of his children were born in the Spanish or Portuguese dominions, and subsequently naturalized in Maryland. Being disgusted with the persecutions of Catholics in England, he followed Lord Baltimore to America, where he arrived before the year 1642. He became privy councillor of Maryland, and possessed a plantation near the mouth of the Wicomico river, called Wolleston.2 The two silver cups, bearing the coat of arms of the Neale family, have always been preserved by his descendants in the
1Davis' Day Star of American Freedom.--U. S. Catholic Magazine, III.
2This is a corruption of Woolstanton, a town in Staffordshire.—Davis' Day Star, p. 243.
Rev. Pye Neale, S. J., writes as follows concerning the Neales of Maryland:—
"I don't see why it is improbable that Capt. Jas. Neale sprung from those Neales who lived at Allesly, near Coventry in England, where tombs with the names may be seen, and that he was related to Father Thomas Neale, who was sent by Bishop Bonner to watch the sham consecration of Matthew Parker. Capt. Jas. Neale is said to have stood on the scaffold and waited on Charles I, who gave a present to each one of his 'faithful attendants present.'
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direct line, and are now in possession of Mr. Augustine Neale of Charles Co., Md.
Father Charles Neale was born the 10th of October, 1750, of William and Ann Neale at Chandler's Hope, the mansion of the Neale family, adjoining Port Tobacco, Charles Co., Md. He was baptized by Rev. George Hunter, S. J. His father died, leaving him with his four brothers and a sister to the care of his widowed mother. His oldest brother, William Chandler, became a religious priest, and died in England; Benedict, also a priest, died in Maryland in 1787, having been received into the Society of Jesus, and having made his vows on his death-bed; Leonard, whom we shall meet again, became Archbishop of Baltimore, after the death of Archbishop Carroll; and Francis, the youngest of the children, a priest and member of the Society of Jesus, died in 1837, and is buried at St. Thomas' Manor, Maryland. His sister Anne became a nun of the Order of Poor Clares, at Aire, in Artois.1
" His present to Neale was a ring of a remarkable kind, that I have heard described by Mr. Ben. Harris of Baltimore. Neale named his daughter Henrietta Maria, after King Charles's wife, and left her the ring; she named her daughter Henrietta Maria, and left it to her; and so it has been handed down with the name Henrietta Maria, going from family to family, Protestant and Catholic, from Virginia to Maryland, from Eastern to Western Shore; and is now in Baltimore, with whom I don't remember. It was last with the Olivers, I was told by a Miss Tilghman, in whose family it had been."
1Lives of the Deceased Bishops.
The convent of Poor Clares, at Aire, was founded by the convent of the same Order at Gravelines, in the year 1629. The religious at Aire had to experience all the miseries of the French Revolution, and were for a long time detained as prisoners in their own convent. In the autumn of 1799 they obtained permission to proceed to England. Thomas Weld, Esq., of Lullworth, whose sister Mary Euphrasia was among the religious, extended his protection to them, and gave them the free use of his seat at Britwell in Oxfordshire. Here they remained until 1813, when they removed to Coxside, near Plymouth. In 1834 they left for Gravelines, and finally it appears settled in Yorkshire.--Oliver's Collections, 134.
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At the age of 10 years Charles Neale was sent to Europe, and commenced his studies at the Jesuit College, at Bruges, where he remained till he completed his humanities. He entered the Society of Jesus in l771, and was ordained priest at Liege, a short time before the suppression of the Order.
Shortly after that unhappy event, his cousin—Mary Margaret Brent, in religion, Mary Margaret of the Angels—then superior of the English Carmelite Convent at Antwerp, addressed him a letter, in which she earnestly entreated him, to take upon himself the direction of that monastery. He, however, modestly declined to accept the invitation, excusing himself on the score of youth and inexperience. Being convinced of his superior merits and distinguished talents, she urged him anew, and at the same time wrote a pressing letter to Father John Howard,1 President of the English College at Liege, that he might use his influence with Father Neale. After a lengthy correspondence on the subject, her perseverance succeeded. The permission of the Bishop having been obtained, Father Neale left for Antwerp. He arrived there, and entered upon the discharge of his duties in October, 1780. For ten years he labored at Antwerp, and administered to the spiritual wants of the Carmelites.
During his residence at Antwerp, his intercourse with his friends in America awakened a desire among the latter to see a branch of the Carmelite Order established in the vicinity of Port Tobacco, Maryland. Their desire was soon to be fulfilled, as we shall see hereafter.
Before we close this chapter we must make mention of a sister living in the Antwerp community, who was to accompany
1Father John Howard was born October 26th, 1718. He entered the Society in 1737, and was professed on February 2d, 1755. He was chosen rector of the College of Liege on February 29th, 1768. After the suppression of the Society he was named president of the English Academy at Liege. In this office he remained until his death, October 16tb, 1783.Oliver's Collections toward illustrating the Biography of the S. J.
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Father Neale to America, and afterwards to become superior of the Carmelites in Maryland. Mother Clare Joseph of the Sacred Heart--in the world Frances Dickenson--was born in London, England, July 12th, 1755, and was brought up by her pious parents in the fervent practice of our holy religion. Following the example of so many other English ladies, she left her home and country and entered among the English Carmelites at Antwerp, and was clothed with the habit of the Order, May 1st, 1773. After the usual probation, she made her vows with great fervor on the 3d of June, 1774, and thenceforth devoted herself courageously to the attainment of the true perfection of her holy state.
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