In some families there were girls who, because they were approach- ing womanhood or for other reasons, were ashamed to come and be taught in the church. Peter stirred up the zeal of some pious matrons who were highly esteemed for their virtue and gravity, to go from time to time into the houses of the citizens, and there teach the rudiments of the Christian faith.
One of the most efficacious means which he employed for effecting a reformation of manners, and for forming and strengthening good resolutions, was the frequentation of the sacraments. At that time very few persons con- fessed except at Easter. Thus when Favre succeeded in inducing a great many to approach the holy mysteries weekly, a great noise was raised in Parma in opposition to him : there was one person who even went so far as to blame his conduct in this respect publicly from the pulpit, as being more productive of disrespect to the sacraments than of an increase of devotion.
Not- withstanding this, he remained firm, and continued to recommend his method, in which he was supported by the Legate and the ecclesiastical authorities. In the end, the example of the nobility, with Doha Ippolita Gonzaga, Countess of Mirandola, at their head, and that of the most respectable citizens, so encouraged the people to persevere in frequenting the sacraments, that Favre himself says that any one who did not cleanse his soul by sacramental confession at least once a month Digitized by Google 28 The Spiritual Exercises.
This pious practice was kept up throughout the duchy of Parma for a long time. Ignatius, in which, as we have already said, he had a remarkable skill and grace. No sooner did it become known what great fruit had resulted from this means in the case of certain persons who had put themselves under his direction, than great numbers, especially of the nobility and clergy, offered themselves to make the Exercises, and after experiencing their virtue in their own case, urged others to do the same, and instructed them in doing so.
Among these was Doha Zerbina, a very devout lady, who passed for a saint in Parma. She had been for a long time confined to her bed by continual and severe illness, and at her desire her confessor, who had been instructed by Favre, gave her the Exercises. She found in them so much spiritual sweetness and consolation, that she could not keep it to herself, and spoke of it to those who were in the habit of visiting her. They all afterwards came to Favre, entreating him to impart to them this wonderful means of perfection.
He says himself, writing on the subject to Rome to his dear friend St.
As to the Exercises, we cannot enter into minute particulars about them, but I may say that there so many who have made them and who are giving them to others that we cannot count them. Convents and other religious communities which had become some- what relaxed and free in their way of life, were seen to return to the rules of regular observance. Curates, parish priests, ecclesiastics of every rank, reformed their lives, and became full of zeal not only for their own salvation, but for that of others.
Men and women of every age and condition turned from a sinful to a blameless life, or passed from a virtuous life to a still better and more perfect. The habit and method of meditating well on the eternal truths, and on the examples of the Life, Passion, and Death of Christ, was introduced among a great number with all the profit which is the consequence of this practice. The infant Society, too, gained greatly not only in the high place to which it rose in the esteem of persons of all ranks, but also by the accession of several men who afterwards added great lustre to it.
This was enough to make him at once give himself up to him as a son and companion. The first martyr also of the Society, Father Criminale, came from among the scholars of Favre. Criminale was a native of Sissa, a large town ten miles from Parma. He had come to that city for the purpose of study, and was introduced by his countryman, Pezzani, who has just been mentioned, to Favre, under whom he made the Spiritual Exercises, and then consecrated himself to God, being ordained subdeacon.
Burning with zeal for the salvation of others, he took Favre with him to sow the seed of God's Word in Sissa, his native place, and there observing more nearly the example of his life, his heart was touched by God, and he resolved to enter the Society. Accordingly, the following year, he went on foot as a pilgrim to Rome, and gave himself to St.
Ignatius as a son. Being afterwards sent to the Indies, and appointed by St.
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Francis Xavier to the charge of the Christians of the Fishery Coast, he met, at the hands of the enemies of the faith, with the glorious death which he so greatly longed for. In the Parmesan territory. The zeal of the Blessed Father was, as we have seen, not confined to the city of Parma, but extended to the towns and villages of the immediate neighbourhood and elsewhere. We possess five original letters of his, written during his residence at Parma. The first three, dated December 4th, , and March 25th and April 7th, , are addressed to Father Peter Codacio and Father Francis Xavier; and the last two, of the 16th April and the 1 st September, to his father, St.
One of them is written from Brescia. The circumstances which led to his visiting that city were as follows.
Fr. Joseph Illo
Immediately after his arrival he began to preach the Word of God in various churches with unusual fervour and spirit. Great numbers came to hear him, and many wonderful conversions fol- lowed ; amongst others, there were more than a hundred young men who agreed together to change their lives and to serve God faithfully, either in the world or in religion. Several of them joined the Society; among them John Angelo Paradisi, who, soon afterwards falling dangerously ill, and desiring to confess to and be con soled by one of our priests, information of this was sent Digitized by CaOOQle Brescia.
He soon made himself known by his charac- teristic gentleness, and won the hearts of the citizens, who entreated him to prolong his stay among them ; but he was not of himself able to make any promise, as he was at the disposal of the Cardinal Legate of Parma. They have written to Mgr. Datario, begging him to speak of this to your Reverence. The Vicar of Brescia also wishes for him very much, and would also like to have a priest of the Society to assist him in his spiritual ministrations.
But he was so oppressed by incessant labours that he was only able to do so very superficially, just as he was on the point of setting out for Germany. We shall here quote his letter to the Society at Rome, translated from the original Spanish — 1 May the grace and love of Christ our Lord be with us always.
And as to the plentiful harvest that has been reaped in this evangelical field, I will just say that it is a thing of frequent occurrence to see persons come every day to the Hospital where I am to confess and communicate. As a rule, a good number commu- nicate every Sunday; and many of them are men and young students.
I say nothing of the other parishes of the city in which this good custom has been introduced by several priests who went through the Spiritual Exer- cises during the first days of our residence in Parma, and who then became masters in them and have greatly pro- pagated their use. Thus, even teachers in the schools have given them to such of their scholars as are most capable of making them. There are also some married ladies who make it their business to go from house to, house to instruct the young girls who cannot freely come to the church.
It would be impossible to say how much fruit has been obtained by these means in Parma and its neighbourhood. Neither can I express what good has been done in the city and neighbourhood outside it by means of frequent confessions.
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In one little village more than three hundred persons went to communion on the feast of the Assumption. Canon Jerome Domenech will tell you by word of mouth better than I can write how many priests, and of what quality, have been moved by the Exercises to lead good lives, and how they have not only persevered in virtue, but have induced others to do as themselves.
Much of this fruit is owing to the sermons, which are given not only by us two, but by three or four other priests, who, having made the Spiritual Exercises, have - given themselves up to the work of spreading God's Word in the country about. Already ten or twelve of the most populous villages in the Parmegiano have returned to the way of salvation. I say nothing of the fruit which has been gained at Sissa, where there is a good priest named Orlando, who has devoted himself entirely to hearing confessions, catechizing children, and preaching on all festivals in three or four different places successively.
The lady of the manor there, together with other noble ladies, has been to confession regularly every week from the Epiphany till now. And her husband also, hearing that I was about to leave, des- patched a messenger begging me to go to Sissa, that I might hear his confession. The noble Pallavicini family, who live in a place at no great distance, made the same request to me. There is a lady named Giacoma , 2 who has an income of about five hundred scudi, besides her dowry, and she has offered voluntarily to spend all that she possesses in good works prescribed by me.
This lady, having heard about a week ago of my approaching 8 This lady appears to be Giacoma Pallavicini, to whom St.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Paris
Ignatius wrote on the 17th February, , praising her for the good and holy desires with which God had inspired her. Fiora to use his influence with his Holiness, that I might not be removed from Parma. I know that there is a great deal of stir in the city on the subject, and that the Pope has been written to. I do not take any part myself, you may be sure, in these matters.
I beseech the Divine Goodness that the more we are separated in body the more we may be united in spirit ; and so it will be if we pray to the Spirit of the Lord, Who fills the whole earth, to direct us all according to His most holy will. Besides this he formed another, consisting of laymen, to whom he gave very wise rules for their increase in number and in fervour. This congregation continued to flourish for many years, to the great profit of the city. He was confined to his bed for three months; and while he was in that state, God, ever liberal of His graces to His faithful servants, visited him, pouring into his soul the most sublime sentiments and indescribable spiritual consolations.
The citizens came to see him very often ; and he, thinking nothing of his own state of suffering, was always ready to receive everybody, to hear their confessions, and to strengthen their good resolutions by his holy counsel. So that it may be truly said that even in his sickness he did not cease to work for the glory of God and the salvation of his neighbour.
It seems that at this time his devoted followers would not allow him to remain in the hospital. Rules for the Congregation of the Name of fesus. As soon as his health was somewhat recovered, Peter Favre was about to resume his ministrations with redoubled energy, when he had orders from Rome to prepare to go to Germany with Dr.
Pedro Ortiz, Ambas- sador of Charles V. As soon as the news spread in Parma, all the inhabitants were greatly troubled.
Some of them, men of influence, wrote letters, as has been before mentioned, to Paul III. But the Pope, looking rather to the general good of the Church than to that of one par- ticular city, remained firm, and repeated the order for his departure. Then all pressed round Favre, particularly the numerous associates of the Confraternity of the Holy Name, which he had founded, entreating him to leave them some rules for their direction.
The holy man con- sented, and wrote down full instructions for their manner of living and working, which we shall follow Orlandini in translating, as they may be useful, not only to societies of the same kind, but to all good Christians.
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Such was not the opinion or teaching of the philosopher, who, treating of bodily aliment, asserts Digitized by CaOOQle Rules for the Congregation that the substances suitable for the nourishment of our bodily frames, avail likewise for the increase of the same. Taught as you have been, by your own experience, that the holy exercises you are wont to perform are most efficacious in fostering the spirit of piety, you must needs be convinced that they will be of no less use in forwarding its increase. This Bread is far more necessary for the life of the soul than that we daily break for our bodily sustenance.
You will, in like manner, value your devout practices, such as calling oneself daily to account, getting rid of sin by confession, meditating on the things of God and the truths that concern salvation, and, lastly, assiduity in works of mercy.
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If by these several practices you have made any progress in self-knowledge, or in the love of God and your neighbour, be assured that, in order to advance in the ways of Christ, you must persevere in these works with ever increasing fervour and diligence. And I should like you to give as much time to medi- tating on one or other of these things, as it would take to recite three times the Patei m noster and the Ave Maria. After this, pass in review your spiritual condition, making your examination on all the actions of the day; and after rendering due thanks to the divine mercy for favours received, be truly penitent for the sins you have committed, and resolve to confess them at a given time, and to a particular confesssor.
For this is a kind of spiritual confession, when a man finding out his sins, Digitized by Google of the Name of Jesus. Lastly, you must pray God to give to you and all the living a quiet and peaceful night, and to the dead who are in purgatory, pardon and relief, reciting three Paters and Aves for this intention. If you have time, you may, before your crucifix, or during Mass, meditate on some point of the life of Jesus Christ, with the desire to conform your life and conduct to that great Model.
After the priest has consecrated the Body of Christ, or when he elevates It in sight of the people, ask God to grant you the cure of your impurities and tribulations, and the graces you desire, such as fortitude of mind, the knowledge of yourselves, mutual fraternal charity ; and, lastly, that hunger and thirst after justice, which is one of His most precious gifts.
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