Booklet 11: Charismatic Foundation of the Claretian Mission Part II

Jesus Bermejo, CMF.

English Translation: Joseph C. Daries, CMF.


AAS Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

AG Ad Gentes. Vatican II Decree on the Church’s missionary activity.

AH Archivo Histórico de la Congregación de Misioneros Hijos del Immaculado Corazón de María (Madrid 1915), vol.

AN Archivo de la Nunciatura Apostólica en Madrid. ASV Archivo Secreto Vaticano.

CCTT Constituctones y Textos sobre la Congregación de Misioneros, Edition prepared by John M. Lozano, CMF (Barcelona 1972).

CPR The Claretian in the Process of Congregational Renewal, Document of the 2Oth General Chapter (Rome 1985). English translation, Joseph C. Daries, CMF.

DC Declaration on the Charism of the Congregation, Document of the l7th General Chapter (Rome 1968). English translation, Eugene Grainer, CMF.

EA St. Anthony Mary Claret: Escritos autobtograficos. Edition prepared by José María Viñas and Jesùs Bermejo, CMF, BAC (Madrid 1981).

EC St. Anthony Mary Claret: Epistolario Claretiano. Edition of the Correspondence, prepared by José Maria Gil, CMF (Madrid 1970-1 987), 3 vols.

EE St. Anthony Mary Claret: Escritos espirituales. Edition prepared by Jesús Bermejo, CMF, BAC (Madrid 1985). Cf. SSw.

EN Evangelii Nuntiandi, Apostolic Exhortation of Paul VI.

HD EI Beato Antonio María Claret. Historia Documentada de su vida y empresas by Cristòball Fernàndez, CMF (Madrid 1946), 2 vols.

IPT informative Process of Tarragona (on Claret)

PV Informative Process of Vic (on Claret)

LMT Letter to the Missionary, Theophilius. Eng. tr. in SSW.

MCT The Mission of the Claretian Today, Document of the l9th General Chapter (Rome 1979). English translation, Joseph C. Daries, CMF.

Mss Claret – Manuscripts of St. Anthony Mary Claret (cited according to volume and page numbers)

SSW Selected Spiritual Writings of St. Anthony Mary CIa ret. Joseph C. Daries, CMF. English Translation of EE.

Chapter I


A – Claret: a prophetic vocation

Anyone who is even superficially acquainted with the life of St. Anthony Mary Claret will find it quite easy to note the deeply prophetic roots of our Saint. His whole life was enveloped in the light born of the Old Testament and revealed in all its fullness in Christ, the great prophet and missionary of the Father.

In the first place it should be noted that Claret’s vocation arose with extraordinary force through his contact with the Word of God and especially through his charismatic reading of the Prophets.

Starting in Autumn, 1830, when he had spent a year in the Seminary of Vic, he began to feel God calling him through Scripture. Even earlier, the text of “quid prodest”,[1] which had also been a determinant in the conversion of Francis Xavier, had awakened him from the state of spiritual coldness into which he had fallen in Barcelona: “This phrase impressed me deeply and went like an arrow lo my heart.”[2]

The Word of God had violently uprooted him from the world. From 1831 to 1839, it kept pushing him evermore insistently and clearly toward an evangelizing-prophetic mission. Several other experiences gave birth to his apostolic vocation and influenced Is further development and confirmation, among them prayer, reading the lives of the saints and other spiritual readings; but his charismatic reading of the Bible was decisive. “But what moved and stimulated me most was reading the Holy Bible, to which I have always been strongly attracted. There were passages that impressed me so deeply that I seemed to hear a voice telling me the message I was reading”.[3]“In many passages of the Bible I hear the voice of God calling me to go forth and preach.”[4]This was undoubtedly an extraordinary phenomenon produced under a special movement of the Spirit. This is shown by the power, insistence and persistence of the movements and their markedly prophetic character. The Word of God was shaping Claret as a great witness and tireless messenger of that same Word:

  • driving him to consecrate himself totally to the apostolate;
  • making him take a prophetic view of his ministry and of the sufferings that it would occasion for him;
  • making him see, moreover, the strength and effectiveness that God himself, through his unfailing presence, would confer on his evangelizing mission.

Claret has left us three lists of these vocational texts, partly the same and partly different. We find the first in Autobiographical Document IV: “I understood this when I was a young seminarian,” which would seem lo date back to the years between 1831 and 1835.[5] The second is in the résumé of his life, written in 1856.[6] The third appears in his Autobiography, written in 1861.[7] Many texts spurred and moved him, but he selected these which were the most important and incisive for him: “There were many such passages, but the following stand out …” [8]

If we take these texts as a whole, we can easily divide them into two categories: Prophets and Gospels. And here we are in for a double surprise: there are more texts from the Old Testament than from the New, and in the Autobiography, which is a mature reflection on his vocation and missionary life, he completely omits the Gospel texts, whereby he seems to be telling us that it was above all the prophetic texts that awakened his vocation. Yet we should note that Father Claret does not contemplate these texts from a merely Old­ Testament viewpoint or from one tinged with Jansenism, but rather under a strongly New Testament and Christological light. In reality, the main passage that God made him understand “in a very particular way” is the well-known “Spiritus Domini super me et evangelizare pauperibus misit me Dominus et sanare contritos corde.”[9]Citing it from memory as he wrote his Autobiography, he doubtless meant to cite Is 61:1, with Lk 4:18 in mind although he cites neither literally. But as we know, Jesus applied this Isaian text to himself in order lo justify his own mission.

St. Anthony Mary Claret, in contemplating Christ the missionary, felt invaded and anointed by the Spirit and sent to preach the Gospel. He saw himself, by the will of the Father, to be personally involved in and committed lo the mission of Jesus. For Claret, his passage, like the “quid prodest,” was a substantial word that touched the very fibre of his being, marking out his definitive destiny. The other texts spell out some modalities of this missionary vocation:

that gratuitousness of the calling;[10]God’s providence for his envoy;”[11] enemies, persecutions and confirmation of divine help;[12] effects of mission;[13]recipients: the poor and needy;[14]the vigilance of a watchman;[15]and the obligation lo announce the message.[16]

It is rather surprising that he did not include in the Autobiography two important Gospel texts that figure both in Autobiographical Document IV and in the “résumé of his life.” The first, from the Lukan Infancy Narrative, reads: “Did you not know that I had to be about my Father’s business?”[17] The second refers to poverty: ‘The foxes have lairs and the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”[18]To explain this, we can venture a hypothesis that is not too far-fetched. The Autobiography, written as we know out of obedience to the Superior General, Fr. Joseph Xifré, had a deliberately pedagogical aim. Claret did not attempt to tell all, but only what could help the missionaries espouse their vocation and live the spirituality and contents of their mission. And he new that his missionaries, rooted in their own vocation, were concerned with the Father’s business and living the spirit of poverty that he had inculcated upon them in the Constitutions and in the personal contacts that he kept up with them. Perhaps this is why he did not deem it necessary to repeat these texts, which were already well known and rehearsed. In contrast, he was indeed interested in insisting on these lines from the Prophets which had so deeply influenced his own vocation and mission.

The last statement leads us to another that might seem even more surprising. In offering us a vision of his vocation and mission, Claret identified more with the Old Testament Prophets than with the Apostles, except for Paul, who awakened his deepest enthusiasm.[19] lt seems legitimate, then, to conclude that Fr. Claret was aware of the extraordinarily prophetic character of his vocation as a prophet chosen by God in a crucial moment for the Church and the world, to respond to determined challenges to renewal in the complicated historical circumstances of his time. lt would not be too much to say that he felt like and Old Testament Prophet situated in the New. The Old Testament Prophets anticipated the reality of salvation, white these of the New disclosed it and carried it out. But they agreed in some fundamental traits, among which we would highlight the following:

1) The extraordinary character of their vocation.

2) Their awareness of speaking in God’s name.

3) A strong desire for inner purity.

4) Their clairvoyance in judging the situation of the people and in pointing out remedies for the problems that affect them.

5) The return of sources: simplicity and poverty.

6) Their insistence on the primacy of love above all other values.

7) Their inviting consecrated persons to live their own consecration consistently.

All of these traits converge in high relief in the vocation-mission of St. Anthony Mary Claret.

1 – The extraordinary character of his vocation was manifest not only in the way he was called, through singular movements and lights, but also in the fact that God entrusted him with an extraordinary mission: to be a principle of regeneration of the Church of his time and a spiritual father to an ample family of evangelizers.

2 – His awareness of being an authentic prophet, who had to speak in God’s name and with His unfailing assistance, is seen in his awareness of having been chosen as an instrument of salvation, like an arrow in the hand of God or the Virgin,[20] a trumpet sounded by another,[21] a minister or even the jawbone of an ass in the Lord’s hand[22] The other, less important aspect of deep or anticipatory prophetic foresight dearly appeared in a number of prophecies he let fall white speaking, preaching or writing: earthquakes and plague in Cuba, the ability to read others consciences, etc.

3 – His unquenchable desire for inner purity was directed first of all at himself, and can be clearly seen in his lifelong practice of asceticism, and then toward others, in his ardent desire to save sinners, thinking up and putting manifold means into practice for that end, and in his tireless activity to lift others to the summit of perfection, above all through a spiritual direction that was comprehensible and flexible, but also demanding.

4 – His clear-sightedness in judging people’s situations in the light of faith, and then applying timely remedies to them, is patent in his watchful attention to the reality around him, which he studied in depth and followed up by treating them with the most modem and effective pastoral means. This he did not only in Catalonia and the Canary Islands but also in Cuba, as well as throughout Spain and even on the level of the whole Church. This same clear-sightedness also appears in his grasp of what God would require of the Church in the future: the total apoliticism of the clergy; the apostolate of the laity, not just as privilege but as a duty inherent in baptism; the need for Councils as a regenerating force in the Church; the creation of secular institutes as an evangelical leaven in the heart of the world: the return of the clergy and religious -through an efficacious reform, above all a spiritual reform– to a more decidedly evangelical tenor of life.

5 – His desire for a return to the sources of Christian life, above all to simplicity and poverty, was airways one o his fundamental concerns. In this matter as in so many others, he began by being a prophet for himself. This is perhaps the aspect emphasized most highly by these who knew him and dealt closely with him: the well known tact that a man like him, who could have lived a rich and ostentatious life, preferred at all times to lead a simple and poor life, which he carried to incredible extremes in his quarters, apparel, meals, travels, etc. And what he chose as an unbreakable resolution for himself, he also proposed to the Church of his times: bishops, priests, religious and missionaries, because, as he told Mother Paris, in these times “God wants a public witness to be given in favour of poverty.’[23]

6 – His insistence on the primacy of love above all other values -which are relativized by this reality that will never pass away[24] because it is the greatest of all virtues–[25]was borne out not only by his constant reminders of and exhortations lo charity, but also by his overarching and effective missionary zeal. His love for God, for the Blessed Virgin and for his neighbour, sometimes takes on the ring of a fervent passion.[26]

7 – His invitation lo consecrated people -bishops, priests, religious, missionaries- is constant in his writings and other exhortations, especially during retreats or other preaching engagements. He himself, besides founding two Claretian missionary congregations, for men (1849) and for women (1855), both strongly committed to an evangelical life, also formed a genuinely religious community in Cuba together with his missionary team. He often gave his missionaries norms for living and spared no efforts to establish common life in cloistered convents, above all in Andalusia, during a royal visits there in September-October 1862. Also, though not very successfully, he worked to set up common life among secular priests, by publishing in 1864 his “Rules for the Institute of Secular Clergy Living in Community and form the Second Order of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” He did manage to establish it in a mare lasting way in the community of the Chaplains of El Escorial.

All these longings and concerns are reflected in the notes he made in connection with the First Vatican Council, in which he took a lively interest in the last year of his life.[27]

A particular moment clarifying this prophetic vocation, undertaken and lived with enormous commitment and an ever tireless spirit of serving God and neighbours, was the Saint’s vision of the Angel of the Apocalypse, which took place in Cuba on 2 September 1855. His special mission-vacation in the Church was ratified by the prophetic insights of Mother Paris, and largely embodied in the “Notes of a Plan to Conserve the Beauty of the Church,” first published in 1857 and later in 1865. In them he set forth a plan for a profound reform of the people of God, which was begun in germ in Vatican I and was spurred on and developed by Vatican II.

There are persons who know hew to live in the present and discover its needs, its demands and challenges. Their vision is focused within the historical circle in which they happen la live. But there are also other persons –mainly saints– who break through that circle and got ahead of their time, which they foresee with a prophetic gaze and somehow anticipate in a surprisingly daring way. These are people who love and commit themselves, who are invaded by the Spirit of the Lord and sow things through God’s eyes. Fr. Claret was doubtless such a man. His gaze was not bound by the limits of the “here and now.’ Breaking through the barriers of space and time, the great missionary of the l9th century, by a sort of divine transfiguration, managed to see the “there and then’ of the future with the clairvoyance of a mystic and prophet.

B – Claret’s fortitude

One important aspect of a prophet is fortitude in the face of the difficulties and persecutions that arise against his ministry. In Claret’s life it is easy to show, on the one hand, the progressive unleashing of opposition, sometimes covert and others overt and violently hostile, and, on the other, the missionary’s invincible resistance and fortitude in struggling against the enemies of truth and justice.

“Among the most wise, discreet and holy confessors of monarchs, Father Claret is second lo none. His admirable and admired zeal for the salvation of souls and for the glory of God was no less than that holy and heroic soul’s gift of fortitude, with which (as the Venerable Mother Agreda writes) he resolutely carried out whatever his understanding saw as most holy, perfect and agreeable to the Lord. This gift of fortitude of the heroic soul of the Venerable Fr. Claret never shine so brightly or in a more exemplary and edifying way, than in the years in which he fulfilled the very difficult, harsh and thorny office as confessor of the Queen.”[28]

One of the Provincial Superiors of Castilla, in a circular addressed to the Province on the occasion of the Beatification, highlights this same aspect: “Our Blessed Father’s Spirit in Face of Dangers and Persecutions. The gigantic spirit of our Blessed Father was never daunted by the manifold difficulties that stood in his path. With tireless zeal he went on, always working, like a good soldier of Christ, on behalf of the cause of God and of souls. In Catatonia, Cuba and Madrid, his ardent apostolic zeal was subjected, as everyone knows, to terrible trials of slander, of fire, of steel, of explosives, of narcotics and of as many harmful agents as human hatred could mobilize or nature could provide. Everything was used and directed by men without faith or conscience against the reputation and life of the missionary, archbishop and confessor. He knew this, and he knew quite well the tenacious and systematic opposition that was aimed against his burning zeal. He was not ignorant al the fact that by reason of his apostolic activities a price had been set on his head; but nothing could ever make him deviate, even for an instant, from hewing to the line that the hand of God had traced out for his life. He always found the greatest comfort in being al the points of greatest danger. Not that he sought them or rashly placed himself in such spots; but he liked it when his superiors sent him an the most dangerous assignments, so. that he might have the joy of being put to death for love of Christ. When he was still a simple priest, speaking with his own Bicep, he told him: ‘Let Your Excellency send me anywhere in your diocese, for I will gladly go, even though I knew that the road were lined with two rows of murderers waiting for me with daggers drawn.’ And we all know that what he said, he did. The Lord’s saying to St. Catherine, ‘Care for me and I will care for thee,’ was the norm that our Blessed Father always adopted.”29[29]

Let us look at some of the traits of this invincible fortitude:

1. In Catatonia

– In Sallent, he adopted a valiant posture regarding the scandalous public irreverence of some of the faithful.[30]

– He defended himself against the charge of being a pro-Carlist, which had some disagreeable repercussions on his own father.[31]

– He demanded what was by right owed to him.[32]

– Later, when he went to preach the Lenten Services in Vic in 1841, the mayor sent him an order from the governor, forbidding him to preach them. He then had lo move to Pruit, where he told Michael Alibés and Peter Roquer, in reference to that prohibition:

“Even if I knew that they had been waiting for me with daggers drawn when I was ascending the pulpit, I would not have hesitated. [In moving to Pruit,] I have simply been obeying my superior, the Vicar General.”[33]

Speaking of his period as a missionary in Catatonia, he says in his Autobiography: “In the province of Tarragona, I was loved by nearly all the people, but there were a few who wished me dead. The archbishop knew this, and one day as we were talking about this possibility, I told him, ‘Your Excellency, this in no way frightens me or holds me back. Send me anywhere in your diocese and I’ll go there gladly, even if I know that the road was lined with two rows of murderers waiting for me with daggers drawn. I would gladly walk on, thinking it a gain to die. My gain would be to die at the hands of these who hate Jesus Christ.”[34]

2. In Cuba

“All of us, his sons, held a very great regard for his immense charity and his apostolic integrity; but when we see him confronted by all-powerful and arbitrary authorities, and struggling doggedly and tearlessly against their false application of laws, our notion of his greatness swells to extraordinary heights.”[35]

As we page through his correspondence, we meet a rich, balanced and valiant personality, with no fear at all in defending the rights of the Church. Here are some paragraphs from a better addressed to the Captain General on 28 March 1851: “It is not lawful for me through silence or negligence to sacrifice the cause of God and of the Church out of mere human respect.”[36]“No worldly interest has brought me here from Spain. Indeed, at the very outset I declined the appointment, insisted on declining it and, when pressed a third time, accepted it under obedience. I have never possessed anything, and today, when I find myself invested with a dignity that I rightly find repugnant, since its burden far surpasses my powers, that I continue in it only by placing myself in the hands of Providence. Under the glitter of my dignity, I glimpse naught but my misery: I was poor, I lived poor and I remain poor. I repeat, only obedience has been able to subdue me, and that, only on the supposition that I may thus provide more fuel for charity, for the love of God and of my neighbours, in which I desire to be set aflame. The day I find my mission blocked, the day my hands are tied to prevent me from doing good or my voice goes unheard, so long as my aims are founded on justice and charity -the only incentives I deem worthy of acting for- on that day I will leave my post and will not regard it as any sort of loss to my person, since all I need, as a missionary, is to be poor, to love God, to love my neighbours and to win their souls and at the same time, my own”[37]

Claret’s fortitude was made manifest above all in Puento Principe, in the face of a faited attempt at a revolution. The first time Fr. Claret came to visit Puonta Principe, “minds were troubled and public spirit was perturbed by the upsets occasioned by the cerebrated Narciso Lòpez. Hence the visit and preaching of the Prelate claimed much greater public attention. Some portrayed him as an authorized emissary at the Spanish government, who was only going to threaten with hell-fire these who were thinking of becoming independent of Spain, using religion to upheld the earthly interests of the State. And it cannot be denied that the fact that he had recently arrived from the Iberian Peninsula might have given a certain appearance of truth to the slander, which would more readily be listened to by troubled minds. Others believed that, since he was so virtuous and charitable, he could do no less than sympathize with the unhappy lot of slaves and be horrified at the excesses committed by some Spaniards, and they feared that the Prelate, impelled by these sorrowful impressions, would be led by his zeal to fight against them indiscreetly in his sermons, thus worsening matters, and indirectly and unwittingly favouring the cause of the revolution.”[38]

The letters the Saint addressed to General Concha on that occasion clearly demonstrate his charity and integrity. The first of these letters, of which we possess a draft copy, is dated 26 July 1851, and reads as follows:

“Most Excellent Sir: In his Holy Gospel, Jesus Christ tells us that the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. And in effect, what He taught by word, He upheld by His deeds; since to save and redeem us He gave Himself over to suffering and even death. Now, hew could I regard myself as a good shepherd at this flock that the Lord has entrusted to me, unless I strove by all means possible la save the lives of these unhappy people who, though they have rebelled against and disobeyed the authorities, are still my subjects and my sheep? The men I refer to are Dan Joaquin Agùero, etc.

“Your Excellency will tell me that according to every law they ought to die. I know it, sir. But let me also say that same times there are circumstances in which the capital punishment duet to certain crimes is commuted to exile or imprisonment.

“The aim of applying penalties to the guilty is not just to punish these who have committed crimes, but also to serve as a warning and a lesson to others. As for the former (imprisoning the guilty), these proud and haughty men are so fond of their independence that they would be punished more keenly by chains and imprisonment than by death itself. A sentence such as I propose would have a greater impact than the news of 700 killed in battle. As for the latter [teaching others a lesson], I can assure you, my dear general, that no good will come of the death-sentence, but rather a great deal of harm, to the public cause; for if these men suffer the death penalty, they will be regarded as heroes, victims… for the freedom of their homeland. From then on, they will be thought or spoken of only with enthusiasm, the people’s blood will boit, and they will always be plotting to shake off the yoke and tyranny (as they say) of the Spaniards.

“And what will our enemies in other countries say?. I leave that for Your Excellency to conjecture… Besides, we hardly need a lesson of this sort at the present moment, when the country is at peace and both the trouble makers and the troubled are disenchanted. Thus, if they see that the government is of a kindly bend, they will be persuaded that the Spanish Government is paternal and not tyrannical, as some charlatans would like to characterize it.

“As Your Excellency already knows, I have never meddled in political affairs, but on this island religion is so closely entwined with politics that when a person speaks of one, he can hardly avoid clashing with the other, even when he does not mean to do so. It is true that in my exhortations to the people I have thus far not budged -nor will I budge- from the holy and salutary maxims of God’s good news; but I have inadvertently and unwittingly disarmed the revolutionaries and undermined all the plans of the ringleaders, so that some have said that ‘no one did them more harm or caused them more fear than the Archbishop, because through his preaching and aims he has completely won the people over, and we can do nothing without the people. And not only does he lessen respect for us among our own countrymen, but also among these from abroad. For if the day comes when the foreigners arrive, all the Archbishop has to say is this: These men are Protestants and heretics, you cannot communicate with them or favour them, rather you must resist them. Then the people will simply get rid of them.’ This is why, since they know of no way to get around me, they have tried to poison me, and would have succeeded in doing so, except that one of them who had been hired to execute the deed repented of it. I pardoned them wholeheartedly. I am telling Your Excellency this so that you may better understand the current state of the country. I can assure you that I have the people in the palm of my hand, and that so long as God preserves my life on this island, there will be no revolution. And if some ringleader raises the banner of insurrection, he will be left dangling alone on the horns of the bull, as has happened in the present attempted coup, which has had practically no followers.

“And thus, my dear General, I ask you, not only as Prelate but also as a Spaniard, to spare the life of these seven men, and I trust that you will grant what I ask, because I know that your intentions are both holy and praiseworthy.”[39]

In view of the General’s unbendingly negative reply, Fr. Claret returned to the charge with the following, even more pressing and dramatic letter, dated in Puerto Principe on 8 August of the same year:

“My very dear and honoured Sir: I received your letter with such sentiments as you might well imaging, in view of the fact that I had gained nothing from your noble, human and generous heart, although I know that it is animated by the same sentiments that animate my own. Moreover, with the keenest concern and sorrow, we have been in dread lest the Commandant General, in keeping with the instructions he received, should carry out his instructions condemning such and such to the death sentence.

“This being so, Your Excellency, I have been advised that as Prelate of this country, Primate of the Indies and Councillor of Her Majesty (God save her), I had the faculties to tell the said General to suspend the execution of this sentence until I had recourse to Your Excellency, to acquaint you with my feelings, which I now do with all these affections of charity and zeal that befit the hear at a Spanish Prelate.

“Most Excellent Sir: unworthy though I be, I am Archbishop, and undeserving though I be, I am a Councillor of Her Majesty. Therefore, Your Excellency should deign to heed carefully what I have to say to you. I respect and honour all the motives and ends which Your Excellency has indicated to me in support of levying the death penalty against these unhappy men; and in truth I can see that they are most just and fair. Nevertheless, allow me to state my feelings on the matter. I, perhaps more than anyone else, understand hew things are in this country. For, besides seeing with my own eyes what others see, very many persons have opened up their hearts and confided in me. I know the complaints, plans and motives that they inwardly harbour. God knows the good that I have been able, with their help, to do in this regard in the City of Santiago, and I trust that I shall do even more in this city, because in truth there is more reason for it here. And so I tell you: it does not behove you to apply the death sentence to the guilty. In the first place, since the coup has already failed, this penalty would smack more of vengeance than of justice. In the second place, if this sentence is carried out, it will rankle in people’s minds and they will never again be Spaniards at heart, but only outwardly and by force, white inwardly they will always be scheming, taking advantage of external pressures and preparing the country to yield to the pretensions of ambitious men from the United Slates. Moreover, as this uprising (I am not sure if Your Excellency realizes this) is more the work of women than of men, they will be infuriated and will nurse their families, from the cradle onward, on the milk of insurrection. And I dare say that if this sentence is carried out, the day will come when the Spanish Nation will lose this rich Isle. But if, on the contrary, these men are spared the death penalty and given a lesser one, I have been promised, and I believe it, that the people will be so grateful that they will ever offer be faithful subjects of the Spanish Nation, and if they learn that outsiders are planning an invasion, they themselves will be the first to prevent and oppose it. Moreover, the whole people rely on me, so that, after God and Mary Most Holy, they place all their trust in me; and if I can obtain for them this favour, my prestige among them, great as it is, will be much greater and I will be able to do much more to foster pubic order. Moreover, besides being a Prelate, I am also a Spanish Prelate, and I dare say that if I did not take this step, it seems to me that I would neither be deserving of the confidence that Her Majesty’s Government has placed in me, nor would I be fulfilling the mission that it entrusted to me.

“Therefore, having seen, since the last letter I wrote you, how greatly the sentence given has affected the public Cause, I can do no less than to write to you once more, as prelate, on behalf of these poor members of my flock, and to advise you, as Her Majesty’s Councillor, that it is not fitting for them to be put to death. But if Your Excellency fears compromising yourself or failing in your rightful duty, then be so good as to order a suspension of the sentence and allow me to have recourse to Our Lady Queen. For since I am acting with this conviction and with these sentiments of charity, and for the national good, I have no fear of compromising myself, and I am ready to sacrifice my life for the good of my flock and that of the Spanish Nation.

“On this occasion, I again offer myself as Your Excellency’s most attentive servant, who kisses your hand. A. M. C.”[40]

Unfortunately, the Archbishop’s repeated petitions failed, and the rebels were killed by firing squad a few days later, 12 August 1851, on the savanna of Arroyo Mèndez.

“There was a strong opposition between slave owners, who favoured annexing the island with the pro-slavery United States, and reactionaries, who opted for maintaining the social status of the island.”[41]

With extraordinary courage and tenacity, the Archbishop defended his missionaries against false charges by second-level civil servants who accused them of violating the seal of confession in cases of concubinage. The main object of these slanders were the Capuchin, Fr. Stephen Adoain and Fr. Francis Mirosa. In defence of the latter, Fr. Claret speaks of the “firmness and character of a Spanish Prelate who would rather lose his life than to yield an iota of what he deemed bound in conscience to upheld, as in the present case.”[42]The matter was appealed to Madrid, but was countered by a letter dated 7 February 1854 from the Marquis de la Pezuela, Captain General of Cuba, who made an extraordinary apology on behalf of Claret and his missionaries.

An important witness to the Saint’s apostolic integrity was the public excommunication he pronounced in the town of Yara in August 1852, against one Agustin Vitlardona who was living in notorious concubinage. In contrast to the position of the regional authorities, who favoured the guilty party, Fr. Claret adopted a truly prophetic stand. The Royal High Court had made two statements that wounded the archbishop’s heart to the quick: first, that this man was a merchant of a public store and was renting a farm from the State; and second, that cases of concubinage should not he reputed to be grave.[43]The reaction of the saintly archbishop was firm and decisive. He stated it in these terms: “I can do no less than confess and make known that by reason of my character, I am ready to base my life a thousand times rather than la yield a jot of what I know to be my duty in conscience.”[44]His letter to the Governor General, dated 15 October of that same year, is highly significant.[45]

3. In Madrid

During his Madrid period, violent and denigrating persecution of him reached such a pitch that he had to ask the minister of government to command the minister of the press not to allow journals to deal with his person and writings for the sole purpose at attacking and slandering him, because, as the Saint himself wrote: “Since they can find any issue on which to attack me, They invent whatever they please.”[46]

His position on the recognition of the Kingdom of Italy is well known. He decisively confronted the Queen and, despite her repeated entreaties, left her service and Madrid. Shortly afterwards, when some newspapers invented the fable that Fr. Claret had adapted an attitude favouring recognition, against the view at the whole Spanish episcopate, he came to his own defence in a brief article, published by many newspapers, in which he left not the slightest room for possible misinterpretations.[47]

Two years earlier, on 6 March 1863, when he foresaw the coming revolution, he wrote to Fr. Xifré: “Regarding the revolution, there is no reason to fear. If they persecute us in one place, we’ll go on to another. The first Christians were more persecuted than we. In this matter it is not fitting to be overly prudent. We must put ourselves completely in the hands of God and of Mary Most Holy. I do not fear the revolution or even all hell; the only one I fear is God.”[48]

His last prophetic cry, perhaps unattended la by some, but no less valiant for that reason, was the one he uttered on 31 May 1870 al Vatican I, where his confession of faith in the Church came as the culmination of his evangelizing mission.

The Claretian Missionaries are also called to follow in the footsteps of Fr. Claret in the mission that has been entrusted to us: “if we are looking for an image for our prophetic and liberating mission, we have it in our Founder: a man who perceived and announced the plan of salvation in the concrete circumstances of his times. His denunciation was not that of a huckster, a demagogue or a sower of discord. He first experienced a divine vexation and then, expressing himself with evangelical liberty, denounced sinful and unjust situations. And it was thus, pursuing a proposal for Christian transformation beyond any personal interest or self-vindication, that he became an artisan of community and fraternity.”[49]

C – Evangelization in the line of authentic Christian liberation

The Prophet Isaiah foretold that the future Messiah would he one who set captives free. But we know that the greatest slavery is that of sin, for “everyone who sins is a slave lo sin.”[50]Claret’s liberating action, even though it was far-reaching, always tended toward realizing this liberation in human beings. Summing it up, we can say that Claret’s evangelizing action was oriented toward liberation:

  • from sin and its consequences;
  • from an unholy fear of God, viewed more as an inflexible judge than as a laving Father;
  • from the terror-tactics used by these preachers of his time who frightened people by their ‘apocalyptic’ preaching;
  • from ignorance of the Word of God, of Christian faith, at the duties of one’s state in life (married, religious, priestly, etc.). Hence he made teaching a high priority, above all in Cuba. To this end, in 1855 he founded, together with Mother Antonia Paris, the Claretian Missionary Sisters and later oriented his Congregation of Missionary Sons along this line, by including education within the scope of their mission;
  • from misery (not from poverty), among the Cuban clergy and people, by promoting agriculture and cattle-raising, and by founding licensed credit unions;
  • from the bondage of slavery, insofar as the adverse circumstances of the island allowed him To do so;
  • from the oppression of civil authorities; mainly in the matter of countenancing concubinage by a twisted interpretation of laws that were officially established, but abusively and unduly applied;
  • from immorality, both among the clergy and the people;
  • from materialist and atheistic ideologies, which were beginning to grow and infiltrate all spheres of society.

Let us consider Claret’s liberating action in greater detail:

1. In the Catalan Stage

Fr. Claret strove to liberate the people from war, by preaching peace and concord, and from the terrorism al preachers, by preaching God’s kindness and merciful love. His prophetic action was never harsh. His favourite virtue was meekness, “the virtue an apostolic missionary needs most, after humidity and poverty,”[51]and is also important for any priest.”[52]We find a precious witness to his conduct in Balmes’ note: “Little terror, gentleness in all…Doesn’t want to exasperate people or drive them crazy.”[53]For converting sinners, he always strove ta catch sinners by using the gentle strategy used in cooking escargols.[54]

2. In the Cuban Stage

As an Archbishop, his liberating action was much broader. As shepherd of a local Church, he saw the social consequences of personal sins, which moved him to work on several fronts: not only liberation from sin, but also from slavery, lying, ignorance, etc. Hence his ample and deep social work along very modern, sagacious and incisive lines, almost a century ahead of his time, addressing some of the most pressing social issues of our own era, in order la pave the way for the Gospel.

One thing that must have seemed truly revolutionary was his desire that the lands in the district of Manzanillo which had once belonged to Orders, should be handed over to the poor who were working there: “As for their alienation,” he told the Captain General, “I should in conscience also show you what I doom the most orderly way to handle it not only in equity and justice, but also with the charity that should always preside in affairs that affect or concern the Church. Even in its material interests, the Church benefits more by leniency and mercy than by insisting on strict rights, reckoning usefulness down to the last detail. Supposing this, the part of these lands that consist or should consist of tobacco plantations should be adjudged preferable, if not exclusively, to the poor who have been cultivating them or could do so, as tenant farmers, excluding the rich, or at least giving them second place, regarding the plots so alienated.”[55]

Bishop Torres y Bages could rightly say that on the island of Cuba “Claret set himself up as a defender of morality and protector of the rights of oppressed humanity and of the weak and disdained classes.[56]

3. In the Madrid Years

“In his final stage in Cuba and in his years in Madrid, Claret realized that a new sign of destruction had appeared: atheistic ideologies: German idealism (with Hegel’s Pantheism), English Positivism, Encyclopaedism, Renan’s Rationalism and Marxist Communism – all these were indeed the powers of darkness in high places that were going to influence the world more than Liberalism. It was the beginning of the definitive struggle of man against God, and the very existence of faith was al risk. St. Anthony Mary Claret became aware of this reality not only by his reading and study, but also on the level of prayer and supernatural communication. Moreover, Protestantism, through the effective proselytizing of some of its sects, kept harrying simple people who were unprepared to defend themselves, and had to resist these onslaughts more by an inner instinct than by doctrinal enlightenment.”[57]

Fr. Claret would spend his energies in his struggle during the last years of his life, not only by preaching tirelessly but also by spreading the truth in books and short works, through the Academy of St. Michael and many other initiatives, among them Popular Parish Lending Libraries, the Association of Catholic Mothers, the Holy Family Conferences for emigrants, and his work in the field of education, above all in EI Escorial, and also by insisting that his Congregation of Missionaries should rather broadly take up this apostolate. [58]

As we have just seen, Claret’s evangelisation was eminently prophetic and liberating — liberating man, every man and the whole man. In many ways Fr. Claret can be called a post-conciliar man and apostle. This is shown, among other things, by his decidedly missionary thrust, by his very daring apostolate of the press, and by his no less daring work in the social field.

In a certain sense, the epitaph placed on his tomb in the monastery of Fontfroide sums up his whole life, fully rooted in the Gospel, and his admirable evangelizing action: “I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.”

Chapter II


A – Claret’s mission: to evangelize the poor.

Writers have always underscored, and mightily so, the universal character of St. Anthony Mary Claret’s mission, but also his preferences, within the purest lines of the Gospel.

According to Fr. Xifré, who knew and followed him so closely, he wanted to convert and evangelize everyone: hierarchy and people, poor and rich, learned and unlettered, priests and laity,[59] religious and soldiers, young and old, evangelizers and evangelized. Yet he never hid, but rather always manifested his preference for the poor, because he, like Jesus, had been sent to bring glad tidings to the poor. “Fr. Claret,” said his friend, Vicente de la Fuente, “was not sent by God lo preach lo the rich but to the poor, and each must carry out the mission that God gives him.”[60]He confirmed this with an example that was his norm of conduct during the years in Madrid: “Fr. Claret was so persuaded that his mission was to preach to the poor, that he never preached in the royal chapel or at showy and highly ­attended novenas and religious functions.”[61]And this predilection for the poor also explains the popular character al his publications: “If Fr. Claret had a mission to evangelize the poor by his words, he also did so by his writings. This is how he saw it, and this is how the people, who read all of Fr. Claret’s pamphlets avidly, also saw it.. Accustomed to address the people from the chair of the Holy Spirit, with the gentleness and fervour that the Spirit inspired in him, when Claret wrote for the people, he wrote as he spoke, and he spoke the language of the people and they understood it.”[62]

Fr. Claret was a man of the people. He had a special sensibility for capturing the soul of the people and drawing it To God. His human kindness and the apostolic zeal that consumed him allowed him lo got in touch with the masses.

When he first got in touch with the people, he saw that they had faith and were hungry for God, but were disconcerted by the horrors of a !fratricidal war and torn by hard-set hatreds that had led la killing, burning and pillaging, and had sown desolation, sadness and terror in their hearts.

This sad state was only exacerbated by the negative consequences of a galloping industrialization that led to greed, oppression and irreligion. And finally, the disconcerting “terrorism” of non-evangelical preachers instilled a spirit of anxiety in the people by constantly harping on the wrath of God, instead of leading them gently to discover and admire His loving mercy. Hence our Saint, as Balmes tells us, always chose a diametrically opposed attitude: “Little terror, gentleness in everything… Doesn’t want lo exasperate people or drive them crazy.”[63]

B – Claret: popular missionary

“Claret was always ‘an apostle of the unevangelized masses of the people,”[64]an authentic popular missionary, because he himself was of the people and know how to evangelize the people by getting in touch with them and speaking their own language. “Speaking of the great apostle at Catalonia,” writes Mantsonis, “we would stress his sensibility To everything relating to the soul of the people (their way at being, thinking, feeling, seeing things: their language, images, popular piety). Thanks to this fellowship and togetherness with the people, the human element in his work and pastoral action had an irresistible efficacy.”[65]

Even his enemies, such as The anarchist Jaume Brassa, had to admit that Fr. Claret’s sermons were “of an extraordinarily popular quality.”[66]One of the pillars of the avant-garde ‘Generation of ‘98,’ the writer Azorin, who had once mocked him, later came to sec him in a new light, and was able to penetrate into the soul of St. Anthony Mary Claret with fine insight and sensibility. He wrote: “He felt a deep attraction for evangelization. What most aroused his sympathies was the people. With humble folk, artisans, workers and businessmen, his fervour blossomed. From the very outset and with great exactitude, Claret set the keynote of his whole life. He was going to address the humble and the poor. The rich classes were another matter. His simple, modest and plain character harmonized perfectly with the lowly. In Catalan, Claret wrote with elegance and refinement. Castilian was not his native language, but he had lo preach in Castilian, and he understood that he could only do so in simple and elemental terms. But then, since he was addressing the people, what would he have gained if he had decked himself out in the borrowed flowers, finery and bombast of rhetoric?”[67]

His fundamental criterion was always la follow the spirit and behaviour of Jesus, whom he took as his model and inseparable guide throughout his life.

C – Preference for the poor

Our Saint exhorted secular priests to follow the example of Christ in their ministerial preferences: “In God’s eyes, there is no partiality, for God looks not at the outward appearance… If our Divine Master showed a preference in anything, it was in His special love for sinners, the sick, the poor and little children. Follow in His footsteps, then, and love all these with a preferential love. Seek them out insofar as you can, in the confessional, in catechising, in hospitals, in prisons, etc.”[68]

All of this explains why, when he speaks in his Autobiography of the means he used in evangelizing, he indicated the familiar conversations he used to strike up with simple folk as he went on foot from one town to the next. This text is worth citing for its poetic worth and its apostolic opportuneness: “While I was travelling I would strike up a conversation with these who chanced to join me about the various things we saw. If I happened to see some flowers, I would point to them and remark that, as these plants produced beautiful and fragrant flowers, we should produce virtues. The rose, for example, teaches us love, the lily symbolizes purity, the violet, humility, etc. We must, as the Apostle says, be ‘the good odour of Christ in every place.’[69]If I saw a tree laden with fruit, I would remark that we, too, should bear the fruit of good works, so as not to end up like the two fig trees in the Gospel.[70]If we passed by a river, I would say that the running water reminds us that we are passing on toward eternity. If we heard birds singing or music being played, I would refer to the new and everlasting song of heaven, etc. I have personally witnessed the great value of conversations like these; their effect is like that of the conversation Christ held with the two travellers on the road to Emmaus.[71]I also found that they had the further advantage of avoiding useless talk and grumbling”.[72]

Later on, speaking of his missions, he alludes again to this same systematic custom: “Because I always went on foot,” he tells us, “I would fall in with mule-drivers and ordinary folk, and so I had a chance la talk with them about God and instruct them in their religion. This had the added advantage of helping take our minds off the road and giving us a great deal of consolation.”[73]

This preference for simple people also explains his behaviour when he travelled by train during his Madrid years. The following is a precious witness to this: “Since some people had noticed that whenever His Excellency Bishop Claret travelled, he bought a third class ticket, and one of them asked him:

‘Why does Your Excellency travel in third class, when you could go in a first-class car?’

He answered: ‘I travel third class in order to get in touch with workers and townspeople, so that I can talk with them about profitable things and recite the holy rosary with them, which is much easier to do than it would be in first class. For when simple people see an Archbishop in their midst, they admire it and gladly receive whatever I say to them.”[74]

To this preference for the poor, especially for the popular masses who were well on their way to losing their Christian upbringing, Claret later added in his Madrid years, a concern for the world of culture: the godless elite who were fostering atheism among the intellectuals. He would carry out this evangelising action mainly through the Academy of St. Michael.

In this as in other matters, the important and decisive thing for Claret was to faithfully follow the example of Jesus. The terminus ad quem (the recipients of his evangelizing action) was not so important as the terminus a quo (the behaviour of the Lord, from whom we must always learn our lesson) and the terminus in qua, which, as we shall later say, drove him to give a fully evangelical witness to poverty: to live in poverty and to live as poorly as Jesus himself lived.[75]If “Jesus was the friend of children, the poor, the sick and sinners,” [76] he too would have to be their friend, even though it might cost him renunciation and sacrifice.

D Alongside the poor

The divine instinct and keen sensibility that constantly stirred his apostolic zeal, also made him aware that in some mysterious but real way, Christ himself is incarnate in the simple, in children, in the poor, in the sick and in these living in sadness and loneliness. He knew that in these humble people, some of them heartbroken and heartbreaking, the Lord himself was hidden and revealed. And this insight, repeatedly renewed in faith, kept dictating to him the norms of conduct he should follow with these people, in keeping with their differing circumstances.

i – In his youth

One of his most marked preferences was for the sick. When he was still a seminarian in Vic, he attended to and apparently converted a poor soldier who had no one else to care for.[77]He did much the same as a young priest in Sallent: “Every evening I walked through The main streets of the town, especially these where there were sick people. I visited them every day la bring them Viaticum, until they either died or got better.”[78]in his declaration for entering the Jesuits, he manifested the joy that this brought him: “I am strangely inclined to spiritual practices, especially visiting the sick…”[79]

During his novitiate, he and some of his companions devoted themselves to hospital ministry and To visiting those in jail: “On Fridays we always went to the hospital at San Giacomo to hear the confessions of the sick, and on Saturdays, to preach in the prison.”[80]

He was la exercise this ministry most frequently in Viiadrau, where he was obliged to servo as both bodily and spiritual physician.[81]These who knew him there and still remembered him many years later declared that “he was a great friend of the poor, and especially of the sick.” [82]

He manifested this same predilection, as far as circumstances

allowed, in his mission campaigns throughout Catalonia and in the

Canary Islands. We know that in Las Palmas he visited the hospital of

St. Martin and the leprosarium. situated in the former convent of St.


In Madrid, when he went To receive the pallium from Nuncio Brunelli in October of 1850, he visited at least the General Hospital. He would do the same in Cuba, especially during the earthquakes and the outbreak of the plague, also in Madrid and on his travels with the Royal Family throughout the regions of Spain, and finally in Rome, where he assiduously visited at least the Tiberina and Consolazione hospitals.[83]

2 In his Cuban period

It was doubtless in Cuba that we see most clearly Fr. Claret’s never flagging desire to evangelize the poorest and most needy people from the same prospective of following in the footsteps and example of Jesus.

Before he even embarked for Cuba he strove to become informed on the situation of the island.[84]And during a spiritual retreat he made, he drew up a “synoptic plan of the duties of a good prelate,” which was to serve him at once as a check and a stimulus. In this document of capital importance, referring to the bodily needs of the laity, he wrote: “The prelate 1) -Must visit and care for the poor, the sick and the imprisoned. 2) -Must attend even to the healthy who are poor, to orphans, to needy widows and to the elderly poor. 3)-Must use this occasion to instruct them and help them receive the sacraments. 4)-Must see to it that they learn some craft or get a jab, considering that the prelate is a father of the poor. 5)-Must gladly give hospitality to pilgrims, considering that in receiving them he is receiving Jesus Christ.”[85]The poor –whether through slavery, a lack al resources or of respect for their fundamental human rights– were vigilantly watched over by Claret during his stay in the island.

On one occasion the Viscountess of Jorbalàn (Saint Micaela of the Blessed Sacrament) was emboldened to asking him for economic help. He answered: “I have shared your request with Fr. John Lobo [his provisioner], and we are agreed to do something on behalf of that house; but I cannot do as I will, since my income is not for the poor of Madrid, but for these of Cuba, who are many after the earthquakes and the epidemic. And St. Thomas of Villanova says that the Prelate must seek to remedy the poor of his diocese and not those of other dioceses, because the former have been entrusted to him by the Lord, and it is not good to deprive one’s own children of bread and give it to others.”[86]In fact, Fr. John Lobo confirms the Archbishop’s conduct in this respect and testifies to his scruples regarding it:

“The use he made of his income befitted that of a true apostle: all for the benefit of the poor. It cost him dearly to resolve to set aside a tiny pension of ten reales per day for his father, a poor worker in his seventies, no longer able to work because of his age and other setbacks. His delicacy in this matter reached such a point that he did not believe he was authorized to deprive the poor of his diocese of that tiny sum that he had to furnish for barely two years. I know that he consulted a wise and most virtuous prelate, Bishop

Codina of the Canary Islands of the matter, and with his prudent advice resolved to go ahead and attend to this natural and pious duty. His father died soon thereafter and he could again spend all his income on the poor of his flock, save for the small amount he set aside for the room and board of the poor and virtuous missionary priests who had accompanied him from the Peninsula… Meals were very frugal. Fr. Claret never ate meat, and thus he took no more than a fasting meal, or perhaps fasted all year long. He assisted a very great number of families.” [87]

In 1861, while writing the Autobiography with the pedagogical aim we all know of (“so that the missionaries may learn from it”),[88] he spoke of his broad reforming and evangelizing activity, indicating the successes he had. Here we note his undoubted preference for the poor. His work was aimed in three directions: 1) material help to remedy people’s most pressing and immediate needs; 2) formative and economic advancement, based on his conviction that, as the well-known Chinese adage goes, it is better to give a poor man a fi­shing pole and teach him how to fish, than simply to give him a fish; and 3) evangelizing action, especially catechesis and preaching, aimed at the spiritual betterment of the people. In the Autobiography he notes all of this in a very clear and significant way: “With the Lord’s help, I saw to the needs of the poor. Every Monday of the year, as long as I was in Cuba, I gathered together the poor of whatever town I happened to be in and gave each person there a peseta; but since they were often poorer in spirit than in the flesh, I first instructed them personally in Christian doctrine. After teaching them catechism I always gave them a talk and urged them to receive the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Many of them did go to confession to me, because they knew I loved them — for the Lord has indeed given me a heartfelt love for the poor.”[89]Sometimes the members of his household informed the Archbishop that some poor people showed up twice to ask alms and then sold the books that the saint had given them. To this Father Claret answered:

“It doesn’t matter. If the poor come back, it is because the first alms wasn’t enough. And if they sold the books, the buyers will benefit from reading them.”

Some months he spent more on the poor than on meals for the members of his household. For example, in September 1856 he spent 111 pesos for himself and his household and gave 176 to the poor. In October of that year he spent 125 pesos for his kitchen and 150 for the needy; and in November, 120 for his household and 149 for the poor.

He tells us in his Autobiography: “I bought a ranch for the poor of Puerto Principe. By the time I left Cuba I had spent 25,000 duros of my savings on it.”[90]

We should note that this marked preference for the poor -with whom he enjoyed being and sharing his goods, while living in voluntary poverty and austerity- never implied aversion, rejection or contempt for others. In his broad and simple heart there was indeed a patent preference for the poor and needy; but there was room for all. The example of Christ -who did not spurn the rich young man, Matthew, Nicodemus or Simon the leper- served as a norm and guide for his own conduct. Fr. Lobo witnesses to this: “He was utterly poor in all his personal effects, modest in the highest degree, a lover of the poor, accessible to all, solicitous for the general and particular good, loving everyone with the affection of a true father, he was ever eager, though energetic and prudent, in attracting everyone, even the unruly, to God; he encouraged the good, moderated the wicked and bore them all in his heart, because he poured out his life for all at them.”[91]

In This, he was doing no more than following the conduct that he had already shown in his home town when he was vicar and econome in the parish there: “I loved and served everyone equally, rich or poor, relatives or strangers, townsmen or outsiders.”[92]A short time later, during his crossing from Marseille to Rome, he was able to perceive that the rich, too, could open their hands to the universal and saving reality of the Gospel. This happened to the rich English passenger, who “was travelling in Oriental luxury,’ yet was deeply impressed by Claret’s witness of poverty and generosity.[93]“This whole adventure confirmed what I had already believed: that the best and most effective means to edify and move people is good ‘example, poverty, detachment, fasting, mortification and self-denial”[94]

In Cuba, as he told his friend Caixal confidentially in a letter, “There are very many poor people, and many of them are not content with a cent, which is the lowest coin, or even with a quarter, but must have a peso, and they’re not ashamed to ask for hundreds.”[95]Later he wrote in the same vein to Fr Fortian Bres: “There are very many poor people, and every week I need very many duros for ordinary alms; for the smallest alms one con give a poor person here is a coin that you would call a vinti-vuit (a 28th), but that is next to nothing here. Indeed, if you offer some of the poor people who come to the door a peseta, they will say that they don’t want it. Those who seek extraordinary alms are quite capable of asking for duros in the hundreds.”[96]

When poor people wanted to get married, he did not hesitate to waive the stole tees, so long “as the curate knows that they are poor.”[97] When Canon Joseph Caixal, who was in charge of the Religious Library, was nominated Bishop of Urgell, Fr. Claret wrote him, not so much to congratulate him, as to express his concern for the collapse of the Library and especially for the money involved in the enterprise: “In case the Religious Library is dissolved, see to it that the sums I lent you are not lost, for it is not my money, but rather that of God and of the poor.”[98]“A prelate’s incomes,” he told Fr. Palladi Currius, “are for the needs of his diocese and not for other places.”[99]

The aim of the projected almshouse in Puerto Principe was, according to Fr. Currius, “to gather in all the poor old men and women who did not have the wherewithal to maintain themselves, and also all boys and girls who had lost both parents, or even those whose parents did not have the resources needed in order to instruct and educate them.” [100]

3 – During the Madrid Years

During his long sojourn in Madrid, where he felt oppressed by the pomp of the court, he continued to show his preference – though not exclusive– for the poor, who flocked about his house like bees around a honeycomb. Of this and of the way he spent his income, his first biographer tells us: “His house seemed to belong to the poor. We rarely went there without finding someone who had come to set before him needs of the sort that are not met by any common alms. But when he held a public audience, the number of beggars and needy folk was so great that we sometimes had a hard time elbowing our way through the crowd in order to reach the stairway. What did he do with his income? We have shown that in the first year he spent 6,000 duros on repairs to the Church of Montserrat We have the account for what he spent on books, leaflets and holy cards that he bought from the Religious Library in the year 1862, which came to some 95,000 reales, besides what he spent of the same time and for the same purpose from the publishing houses of Aguado and Olamendi. We have also seen a note of persons whose needs he attended to in secret. He sent a modest pension to one of his sisters and to his old nursemaid. We know that he helped, with no small sums, the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the teaching Sisters he founded, and other establishments of piety and welfare. This is what Senor Claret spent his income on. None of us who Witnessed this ever asked him: What is Your Excellency doing with so much money? Rather, we asked: How can you do so many things with the endowment your received? He sometimes did so without leaving a pittance behind for himself and for the members of his household, who only remained at his side in order to share in his virtue… We know that one day be sent out one of his pontifical ornaments to be sold in order to meet someone’s need. But as we did not know which ornament or for which need, we asked whether Senor Pérez, a goldsmith of this court who had served his Excellency on other occasions, might know something about the case. Dan Victor Pérez told us that he would look in his books to sec if there was some record of it, and the other day he sent a note copied from his account books, phrased as follows: ‘On 5 July, 1866. An archiepiscopal cross of His Excellency, Bp. Claret: 1,314 reales and 29 maravedis. To pay for the travels of a poor person.”[101]

E – Within a lifestyle that was radically poor

In order to evangelize the poor, and of the same time to allow himself to be evangelized by them, Fr. Claret decided from the outset to lead a totally poor life, embracing poverty as a demand of the following of Christ in the ministry of preaching.

He wanted to imitate Jesus’ poverty in clothing, food and lodging, ‘without a stone on which to lay his head,’[102]in always travelling on foot, and in a voluntary lack of money.[103]Glancing at the world of his time, he made these keen observations: “In our day the thirst for material things is drying up the heart and bowels of modern societies.”[104]“We live in a century that not only adores the golden calf as did the ancient Hebrews, but also worships gold so avidly that it has pulled down the most generous of all virtues from their sacred pedestals.”[105]

And the saint was aware that “this dreadful giant, which worldliness calls all-powerful, must be confronted with the Holy virtue of poverty.”[106]Moreover, he roundly declared that “God wants a public witness of poverty to be given, for today, alas, people put more trust in money than in God.”[107]

He knew that “people were deeply impressed by this radical detachment” [108]and so, following the admirable example of Jesus and Mary, he cultivated a lifestyle that was radically poor, both affectively and effectively: “I had nothing, wanted nothing, refused everything. I was content with the clothes I had on and the food that was set before me. I carried all I had in a bandanna.”[109]“I never carried money or wanted any.” [110] “I had no money, but then I had no need of it.” [111] “I knew quite clearly that it was God’s will for me not to have any money, nor to accept anything but the meal that was set before me, never carrying any provisions.”[112] Always and in all things he put his trust in Providence, because, as he says: “When one is poor and really wants to he poor, freely and not by force, then he enjoys the sweetness of poverty. Moreover, God will take care of him in one of two ways – either by moving the hearts of those who have something to give so that they will give it to him, or else by helping him have without eating. I have experienced both.”[113]

Throughout his long experience, he became increasingly aware that evangelical poverty is a necessary road for reaching holiness: “I had observed that the holy virtue of poverty not only edified people and upset the idol of mammon, but also helped me greatly to grow in humility and advance in perfection.”[114]And he corroborated this with the example of a harp: “The virtues are like the strings of a harp. Poverty is the shortest and thinnest cord and hence gives the highest sound. The shorter we are in life’s conveniences, the higher we reach on the scale of perfection.”[115]

These convictions led Fr. Claret to practice a radical poverty. He did so throughout his whole life. He voluntarily chose the poorest things for himself. [116] Early on in his mission program, he made this resolution: “Poverty.- I will not complain, rather I will rejoice, if I lack anything I need; and as far as it lies in my power, I will choose what is most contemptible for myself. I will dress decently and neatly, but as poorly as I possibly can.”[117] “Dress and eat simply and poorly, and do not complain either about one’s clothing or about one’s food.”[118]

Another resolution, related to this spirit of poverty, was to work intensely in the apostolate, never accepting any remuneration for it: “I will be entirely occupied with hearing confessions, catechizing, and preaching privately or publicly as the Opportunity arises (and I do not want, nor will I accept, any stipend, for I will bear in mind that this is a favour that I have received from Mary, and ‘freely give what you have freely received’).” [119]

He never went back on following this tenor of life. Even his enemies were unanimous in acknowledging this. Fr. Claret wanted to be poor and really was poor. He showed this clearly in Catatonia and the Canary islands, in Cuba and Madrid, in Paris and Rome, and finally in Fontfroide. “He never ate meat or fine or exquisite fish, nor did he drink wine or liquor. His room and furnishings were very poor, and he gave away abundant alms.” [120]

We know, for example, that the Bishop of Tarazona, Don Cosmo Marrodàn, became “converted” to Claretian poverty. On a certain occasion he visited the Queen’s confessor in Madrid, “and he went away so deeply impressed by the poverty of the Servant of God, that when he reached his residence, he ordered his majordomo to remove the furnishings he had in his room and replace them with others of a humbler sort, like those used by Bishop Claret.”[121]

While he was drafting his autobiography, the holy missionary wrote these words: “I have always wanted to die a poor man in some hospital, or on the scaffold as a martyr, or tobe put to death by the enemies of the holy religion we profess and preach, thus sealing the virtues and truths I have preached and taught with my blood.” [122]

And the Lord fulfilled the desires of his !faithful servant who, after living in Rome under grinding economic straits and, gratefully accepting the generous hospitality of the Mercedarians in the Convent of Sant’ Adriano since he was bereft of all things and detached from his very self, spent the last weeks of his life in extreme poverty amongst the Cistercians of Fontfroide, where he rendered his spirit to the Lord in the greatest interior poverty and abandonment. His burial was as poor and simple as he himself would have wished. It was the seal on his radical poverty, as the burial of Jesus had been.

“Claret, while be expressed an overwhelming desire ‘to preach to and catechize everywhere, the poor and rich, the wise and ignorant, priests and laity’ (cf. Chronicle of the Congregation, Annales 1915, p. 190), was well aware, on the other hand, of the fact that, like Jesus, the vocational anointing he had received from the Spirit implied a special dedication to evangelizing the poor (cf. Aut 118), and that this must also be the work of his companions, the Missionaries of the Congregation (cf. Aut 687)”[123] “In this respect, the clear awareness of our Founder is a vivid reminder for us.”[124]

Chapter III



One of the great preoccupations of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, even in his youth, was the creation of an army of evangelizers in a world that was galloping full tilt toward secularization, for lack of any deep mooring in the Word of God. His attempts to associate numerous persons –lay, as well as priestly and religious– in evangelizing work were manifold and gave rise to various movements associations and institutes decidedly oriented toward evangelizing tasks. And not only did he promote this shared apostolate, but also helped numerous religious institutes to collaborate actively in the work of re-Christianizing society through a varied and deep evangelizing activity.

A. Laity

I. Claret, promoter of lay spirituality and apostolate

“Through his preaching and his writings, Saint Anthony Mary Claret, an Apostolic Missionary, awakened in the laity an awareness of the apostolic capacity conferred on them in baptism. They could and should be apostles in their own environment. By means of the Catechism -Explained, he made parents the evangelizers of their children and made it easier for men and women school teachers to be true catechists. Ahead of his lime, he wanted to create a group of ‘deaconesses,’ lay women dedicated to evangelization, worship, peacemaking among families, rehabilitating fallen women, and other forms of apostolate.

“While he was Archbishop at Cuba, he received inner lights on the Church, the Mystical Body and Sacrament of Salvation. In connection with the attempt on his life of Holguin, he received some new enlightenments, especially on the role of the laity in evangelization, which is a duty of the whole Church. He founded the Academy of St. Michael with a twofold aim: To dignify the arts and sciences by thawing the light of faith on them, and also to make use of the arts as a means of evangelization, defending the faith against the attacks of certain scientists. Furthermore, by means of the Popular Parish Lending Libraries, he facilitated the spread of culture and made it easier for common folk to have access to the Word. He strove to put the economic advances of his time –licensed credit unions– in the service of farmers and the promotion of field labourers, by making it easier for them to acquire the tools of their trade.

“Claret also awakened in the laity an awareness of their vocation to holiness. At that time, for the laity, holiness was viewed as a matter of fulfilling their Christian obligations, whereas for the members of the ‘states of perfection, it was viewed as their private preserve. All that ordinary folk had to do was to fulfil the common obligations of the Christian life and save their souls, that is, to die in the state of grace.

“In his popular preaching, the Saint spread the teaching that holiness consists of charity toward God and neighbour, which is expressed in the fulfilment of the duties of one’s state in life. Besides his preaching to the masses, he gave spiritual exercises to the laity in order to give them a firm footing on the way of holiness. The houses of his Missionaries were to be retreat houses open to secular priests and the laity.

“Moreover, he spread the idea of the universal call to holiness and offered the means for attaining it through his apostolate of the written word. His famous Straight Path was not just a popular book of devotions, but a way of holiness for all, in all situations and in all walks and offices of life. By means of his no less celebrated Advice to series, addressed to all classes of persons, he mode a life of Christian perfection accessible to all. He wrote special works for soldiers and for field workers.

“He recommended the following of Christ according to the Gospel to everyone. Against the liberal secularization that had suppressed religious orders, he established a way for living a consecrated life in the world, by spreading thousands of copies of his short work, Nuns in their own Homes, which was an attempt to revive the early Church’s movement of Christian virgins. Consecrated in the world. These women were to act as an evangelical leaven in the midst of the mass.

“Among the persons who were reached by the apostolate and life-witness of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, some were only beneficiaries of his message; others, in contrast, both priests and laity, felt caught up in his person, animated by his spirit. They felt united to him and with one another in the same gift of the Spirit, in one and the same charism.”[126]

Claret lived in an era at liberal and Masonic secularization. The very foundations of the faith were being undermined. Society was setting up its own anti-Christian bases. The holy missionary, driven by the charity of Christ, was aflame with a pressing desire for re-Christianization

In view of the shipwreck of religious and moral values in the l9th century, Father Claret dreamed of re-Christianizing society with a generation of holy priests and committed laity engaged in evangelizing tasks.

In Catalonia he noted the lack of evangelizing agents, which he bewailed and lamented. Of Tarragona he says, for example: “This is one of the predominant evils of the Clergy of the Archdiocese: few clergy and little liking for hearing confessions. This is a pity, because there are some very good-hearted souls who, if cultivated properly, would bear fruit a hundred fold.”[127]“I assure you, it kills me every day to sec two or three hundred persons who need and want to make a general confession. They are ignorant, simple folk, but ore involved in a thousand complications of many years, each conscience a highly tangled skein. We hear confessions from a quarter to five in the morning until night, but we still can’t take care of them all. Even the men weep with compunction and spend the whole day fasting, despite the rigorous winter cold. They suffer and I suffer to see them suffering. Ah, would that God were to carry me of to heaven”[128]

It was much the same in the Canary islands. In a letter to Msgr. Brunelli, the chargé d’affaires for the Holy See, Bishop Codina wrote:

“In these isles there is a copious harvest that is apparently ripe and ready for the sickle, but there is a lack of workers.” [129] In the Canary islands there was the added problem of Jansenism, which had made strong inroads among the clergy and through them, among the simple faithful.

In Cuba, given the task of evangelization, he could have promoted the lay apostolate by establishing, for example, the Brotherhood of the Heart of Mary, once there was no further impediment for doing so. Why, then, didn’t he do so? And why didn’t he create another Religious Library for the spread at good books?

We do not have enough data to answer these questions. It is almost certain that he considered these moves, but circumstances did not favour carrying out vanguard initiatives. There was a dramatic need for clergy reform, and Claret know that without a wise and holy clergy it would be difficult, if not impossible, to implement an authentic lay apostolate.

Besides, forming laity committed to evangelizing work takes time. If he had continued in the archdiocese, he might have begun something after the attempt on his life of Holguin. Indeed, in connection with that attempt the Lord inspired him with the idea of creating the Academy of St. Michael. Perhaps if the model ranch of Puerto Principe had jelled, it would have given rise to an apostolic association. We are sure that he wanted to establish “Nuns in Their Own Homes” There.

In contrast, in Madrid he was able to carry out and consolidate the great work of the Academy of St. Michael. And he was so concerned lest it disappear, that in a letter to Pius IX in 1865, in which he lists the pros and cons of continuing in the post of Royal Confessor, he offered the following reason: “If I withdraw from Madrid, the Academy of St. Michael, which is yielding so much fruit, will disappear. Likewise, it will mean the end of the Popular Parish Lending Libraries.”[130]

II. Organized Forms of Toy Apostolate

“St. Anthony Mary Claret appreciated the advantages of a shared or associated apostolate, both for the effectiveness of its activity and for the practice of fraternal charily that it involved. It is hard to fit all of the groups he created into a logical framework, because they were not based on some preconceived plan, but arose in response to various needs as they emerged. But to simplify them somewhat, we con distribute them under three main headings:

  1. 1.Associations in which apostolic prayer predominated;
  2. 2.Associations in which apostolic action predominated;
  3. 3.Associations in which the bite of evangelical consecration is to some degree joined to action.

i Associations of Apostolic Prayer

“As an Apostolic Missionary, Claret was thoroughly convinced that conversion is a gift of grace, which is obtained through prayer. Hence, he always had recourse to prayer as the first and greatest means of the apostolate .[131]He used to ask for prayers “all virtuous and zealous folk.”[132]

“In a certain sense,” writes his first biographer, “it can he said that all his listeners formed one great association of mutual prayers, since in each place he charged them to pray for his intentions, a charge which his audience accepted and gladly fulfilled, so that saying these prayers became a regular custom.’[133]

“The first really organized group was the Pious and Apostolic Union of prayers and other good works to achieve the conversion and sanctification of Spain and of the whole world under the special protection of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of the Apostles. The members were organized into “choirs” of 12 members, to each of which the various provinces of Spain and the other regions of the rest of the world population were assigned. This Union began functioning in 1845.

“The aim of the Spiritual Society of Mary Most Holy Against Blasphemy (April 1845), was to pray for the conversion of blasphemers.

“The Congregation of Catholic Mothers (1863), under the patronage of St. Monica, was made up of the mothers or sisters of unbelievers and revolutionaries, to obtain their conversion.


“The Confraternity of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary for the conversion of sinners (1847) was the Most widespread and popular of these groups, with the largest number of members. It was a sort of basic organization which was joined by or gave rise to other, more specialized groups. Later it also became an organization aimed at perseverance.”[134]

2 Associations of Apostolic Acton

Two sharply differentiated groups can be distinguished:

some for spoken evangelization, and others for written and graphic evangelization.

First group:

The Fraternity of Christian Doctrine

Fr. Claret created this associations, which was praised and sponsored by the Bishop, Don Lucian Casadevall, in Vic in 1849. his catechists entered factories and workshops, spread out through neighbourhoods and catechized people out of doors. Later, as Archbishop of Cuba, he installed it in his archdiocese on 9 July 1851. In its rules, he states: “Its aim is to promote by all means possible the moral and religious instruction of all the faithful of either sex, on the same basis and using the same catechism, seeing to it that all live a Christian life, avoiding evil, practicing virtue and fulfilling all the obligations of their respective state. Members of this work and confreres of Christian Doctrine will include all pastors, economes, curates, all other priests and religious, candidates for orders and laity of either sex who are enrolled in it.”[135]

Some years later he wrote: “Not only priests and clergy, but also schoolmasters and schoolmistresses must be occupied in this teaching. Fathers and mothers, tutors, guardians and masters have the same and even stricter obligation to teach Christian Doctrine to their children, servants and dependents. If parents will not or cannot fulfil this charge perfectly, we order them to share the burden and lay it upon the members of this holy Fraternity.”[136]The catechists, in groups of two, went out to their assigned towns, ringing a bell to call the children to groups of children.

Second group:

Spiritual Brotherhood of Good Books (1846)

St. Anthony Mary Claret founded this association with a view to gathering funds for the publication and spread of good books. Some years later, when the Religious Library, founded by him, with the collaboration of Canons Joseph Caixal and Anthony Palau, began functioning, it would be an effective support to sustain the publishing house and to enhance its outreach as much as possible in Spain and in Cuba.

The Academy of St. Michael

a) Origin and approval

The idea for founding the Academy of St. Michael came to St. Anthony Mary Claret during his convalescence from the attempt on his life of Holguin. He considered this inspiration a striking phenomenon, along with the healing of his wounds and the appearance of an image of Our Lady of Sorrows in the scar on his right arm: “The third striking phenomenon was the master plan for the Academy of St. Michael, which come to me during these first few days I was in bed. As soon as I could get up, I started designing its emblem and drafting its bylaws, which have since been approved by royal charter and have received the blessing and good wishes of His Holiness, Pope Pius IX.” [137]

Back in Madrid, he made the final drat of the work and had it published by Aguado in Madrid in 1858. His friend and collaborator, Vicente de la Fuente, wrote: “He sketched it out in rough draft in May of 1858 and sent it to Fr. Formin de la Cruz so that during his absence from Madrid (travelling with the Queen through Castile, Leòn, Asturias and Galicia) he might consult with some Catholic men of letters about it. With the observations they made he proceeded to have it printed by Aguado in a quarto-sized notebook, and in order not to offend tho sensitivities of the government, he had it printed only as a project with the title of a plan for the Academy of St. Michael, and thus he presented it to the attorney general for his approval.”[138]

The Academy was praised by Pope Pius IX on 28 February 1859. The project was approved by royal order of 16 March 1859, receiving a royal charter on May 6th of that year, registered in the chancery of the attorney general. Attached to it, after the insertion of its statutes, a not stated: “Your Majesty grants her royal permission and licence to establish in Spain a literary and artistic association entitled the Catholic Academy of St. Michael, aimed at counteracting the evil done to the Catholic Religion by the spread of bad books .“[139]

b) Objectives

Fr. Claret himself indicates the objectives of the association in his booklet:

– “To associate learned and honourable men to praise God in this life and to journey to Him by means of virtue.”[140]In view of the many societies formed “with the merely worldly aim of fostering the arts, industry and commerce,” and associations of men of letters “with the laudable aim of making advances in human letters and sciences,” as well as these founded by Professionals “in order to publish and spread everywhere their adulterated Bibles [141] and other books that strive to spread their errors and infest Catholic countries, it is crucial that men given to ecclesiastical studies, who love their religion and desire the spiritual well-being of their brothers, should also strive, as sons of the light, to become associated in order to foster the sciences and arts under their religious aspect.”[142]

– Thus “gathered in a literary and artistic society they con combine their efforts to combat errors, spread good books and with them good doctrine, while waging war on vice, defending and practicing sound morals and, in achieving these holy aims, making use of all those means dictated to them by their zeal, prudence and charity.”[143]

– One of the association’s indispensable conditions was full submission to the hierarchy and the avoidance of all political or partisan aims: “The Academy of St. Michael places itself under the auspices of the supreme leader of the Church, to whose decisions it does and will subject itself in all things, defending his authority and that of the Church. Entirely alien to politics, it will abstain completely from taking part, either directly or indirectly, in contentions between parties, nor will it become an instrument for any of them. Neither will it foster the issuing or circulation of books that might in any way be conducive to the subversion of the social order, the disparagement of civil authorities or the exalting of one form of government over any other, even in books that are otherwise good and pious. The Academy of St. Michael seeks only the kingdom of God and His justice. [144]

c) Structure

The structure of the Academy of St. Michael was simple and functional. It was divided into three “hierarchies”:

1. The first was mode up of men of letters, whose task was to struggle, through their writings, against contempt for the word of God and for revelation, against the prideful spirit of independence, against disregard for the will of God and for the commands issuing from lawfully constituted authorities.[145]

2. The second hierarchy was made up of artists: painters and musicians. Artists who were pagan or lacking in genuine Christian spirit put themselves in the service of evil customs “and even of the most abject obscenity. Against this abuse of the fine arts, Catholic artists must strive by their works to combat evil, to awaken piety and to teach the uneducated through sight what they would not grasp well through hearing… (For their part), “musicians and singers abstai­ning from impious or immoral compositions, songs and toccatas, will perform only these that favour good taste, piety and religion.” [146]

3. The third hierarchy was made up of collaborators and propagandists, “Catholics of acknowledged piety and zeal” who, “animated by holy zeal and fitted with Christian charity, not only strive for their own mutual good, but work to spread it among all their peers, either by good words and salutary advice or by spiritual books, banding or giving them to others insofar as their faculties or their bent for this will allow.” [147]

d) Life style of the Associates

Their lifestyle should be based on the Gospel.[148]All members should lead a Christian life in consonance with the apostolic idea proper of the Academy: ‘Among themselves the academicians shall strive to live with the simplicity and fervour of the first Christians, who were of but one heart and soul, striving to draw into their ranks persons who are upright, zealous and prudent, for the spread and permanence of the Academy.” [149] The members of the first hierarchy are exhorted to receive the Eucharist often, [150] “to devote themselves painstakingly to the study of Sacred Scripture,” to read “the works of the Holy Fathers in their original languages if possible, or at lest in well-known versions and editions,”[151]‘to acquire a knowledge of theology…, disregarding all questions that might he purely bookish. They will also strive to read some Catholic works on controversial issues…; to devote themselves to the study of Church discipline and both sacred and profane history; and finally, to become imbued with the systems and theories of ancient and modem philosophy, and the advances in the natural and exact sciences, according to their respective bent, so as to be able to combat the errors that impiety has fostered under the trappings of these sciences.”[152]

The members of the second hierarchy, besides being “religious and skilled in their art,”[153]should purify their soul and lift it up with the holy Sacraments.[154] As a concrete commitment to piety, “Their will daily recite one Our Father and ten Hail Marys, that is, a decade of the living rosary.” [155]

These of the third hierarchy should be outstanding “for their piety, zeal and prudence.”[156]As distinct from the other two hierarchies, the members of the third will hold a meeting on the first Sunday of every month. In it, besides the prescribed prayers (three Hail Marys and an Our Father), “there will he a measured and moving reading of a chapter from the Imitation of Christ by à Kempis. They will choose by lot the fifteen decades of the Holy Rosary, so that each member will recite daily during the month one Our Father and ten Hail Marys in honour of the mystery he has drawn by lot.”[157]“Each member will daily or at least weekly read a chapter of the Gospel According to St. Matthew.”[158] “They will receive Communion of least once a month, or of the latest every three months”[159]The members of each group of fifteen “will help one another in a spirit of charity in their spiritual and temporal needs, recommending one another in their respective offices or professions, unless it be for public charges or appointments.”[160]

In the “Résumé of the Principle Obligations” that appears at the and of the work, the Saint insists on the witness of evangelical life and on the need for apostolic zeal to rule in the hearts of all the members of the third hierarchy, as well as those of the other two: “At all times they must live well and holily, keeping the precepts of the holy law of God and of the Church, and perfectly fulfilling the obligations of their state, edifying others by their good example and never scandalizing anybody. They should be continuously consumed with holy zeal for the greater glory of God and the good of souls, whom God has created for Himself in His own image, and whom Jesus Christ has redeemed with His most precious Blood.”[161]

As one can easily note, Fr. Claret offers some general lines of lay spirituality which he later, of the request of one or more members of the Academy, developed at greater length in his Ascetical Letter.[162] It is also possible that the invitation to write the Letter to a Devout Client of the Heart of Mary[163] came from another member of the Academy.

e) Members and Results

Some very distinguished members entered the institution:

“The Queen and King were the first to be enrolled.”[164]Through the diplomas preserved in the Claretian Museum in Rome, we know that the Queen’s brother-in-law, the Duc of Mantpensier, was also a member. Among the Most eminent affiliates we can single out Don Rosendo Salvado (Bishop of Port Victoria), the priests José Maria Tenario and Tomàs lglesias Barcones, the Archbishop of Santiago and the Bishops of Plasencia, Urgell, Astorga and Segorbe, as well as the layman Vicente de la Fuente (a great friend of Claret), Leòn Carbonero y Sol, Enrique and Càndido Ojero de la Cruz, Juan Manuel Orti y Lara, Gabino Tejado, Domingo Martinez (who engraved the diploma designed by Claret), the Duke of Bailén, the Marquis of Viluma, Canons Matias Garcia and Joseph Guell, and many other persons, both clerical and lay.

“The first meetings,” says Vicente de la Fuente, “were held in the modest apartment that His Excellency occupied in the Hospital of Montserrat, where be lived until he left the court never to return again. 20 choirs of 15 members each come to be formed in Madrid and as many others in the Provinces; but as some of them had fallen off, it was necessary to re-found them, leaving 24: 12 in Madrid and as many more in the Provinces. These were the ones still functioning in the summer of 1868, several of which have continued working even in the midst of the revolution.”[165]

Summarizing what the Academy published and distributed up to the year 1868, when it suffered the dire consequences of the revolution: 24 books and short works, 15 prints and fliers. It distributed gratis 1,071,000 books, 1,734,000 prints, 25,000 medals, 2,112 crucifixes and 10,101 rosaries; moreover, it loaned 20.396 books and handed out countless short works and leaflets.[166]

f) Spread

Its spread was also defined in Claret’s little book. In the mind of the Founder, it was not limited to Spain: “The Academy of St. Michael will be universal, admitting into its ranks people of every tongue and nation, provided they ore true Catholics… in each country it will have its own printery and corresponding bookstore.”[167] Vicente de la Fuente claims that “in effect, it spread to one foreign country,”[168]Though we cannot pin point this. It had a timid resurgence in Brazil around 1910, but it did not take hold.[169]

“This very daring institution would borne even more fruit with its prestige and powerful resources if, at the outbreak of the revolution of ‘68, which mistreated so many Claretian foundations, there had been same relevant and valiant figure led by the guidelines and aims of the archbishop. But with this catastrophe, this beautiful and promising work visibly began to languish, and all that remained, as a reminder of more adventurous days, were the vestiges of only one or another choir, for example, the first one, which Don Vicente de la Fuente kept presiding over in 1880, out of respect for the blessed memory of Father Claret, who had presided over it in his lifetime. At any rate, the Academy of St. Michael, which would be timely at any time and whose revival would perhaps be one of the most decisive victories of modern Catholic Action, will remain a monument to the propagandizing and constructive genius of Father Claret, one still not surpassed or equalled in this stunning array of activities.”[170]

In 1935, Fr. José Dueso, referring to the organizing activity of the holy Archbishop, wrote: “The great Father Claret, with his Academy of St. Michael, his Religious Library and his very intense personal propaganda, did such a colossal work in this field, that it would suffice of itself to immortalize his name and earn him the admiration and gratitude of posterity. I don’t know if Church History since Gutenberg’s day has recorded a bishop who was more a bishop, an apostle who was more an apostle, a man more holily impassioned and enamoured of the press than our glorious Founder and Father. And though it is true that he was a bishop by force, he was an apostle and missionary by liking, by inclination, by conviction and, if I may use the term, by divine obsession.”[171]

-Popular Parish Lending Libraries (1864). Those in charge had to be laypersons and those libraries served as a means for spreading the efforts of the aforementioned organization.

3. Lay Associations in which apostolic action was joined to evangelical consecration in varying degrees.

a) Nuns in Their Own Homes, or the Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (1847).

“For single women who want to live religiously in the world.” Living religiously implied consecrated virginity, with evangelical obedience and poverty. Moreover, they were devoted to the apostolate of the Liturgy, catechesis, Christian education and charity. It is a pity that we do not have concrete data on the number of single women who committed themselves to this kind of life, but we can catch a glimpse of it through the indications in the book itself. Claret once asked for a thousand copies and for another five hundred. There are thirteen known editions of it, and in five of them as many as five thousand copies were issued.

b) Secular Priests Living in Community.

This was a society of common life without vows, inspired on that of the Redemptorist, Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser. “The aim of this institute,” states Chapter 1 of the Fundamental Rules, ‘is not to found an order or a congregation, or even to introduce a new form of ecclesiastic of life. Its only aim is to put into practice again the clerical and priestly state instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ, practiced by the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, and continually mandated by the sacred canons, so that priests may live with that purity of their primitive spirit, in the midst of the world, occupied in fulfilling their sacred functions.”

These priests lived in the midst of the world and in the service of the local Church, in positions of governance, administration and the preservation of faith and Christian life. St. Anthony Mary Claret saw them as a complement to the animating and evangelizing action of his Missionaries.

Data are lacking on the number of priests who accepted this kind of life.

c) Integration of the lay apostolate with the priestly apostolate

As early as 1847, Saint Anthony Mary Caret aimed of integrating the diverse apostolates not only on the level of activities, but of persons, in a Brotherhood which failed through the opposition of the Archbishop of Tarrogona, because of the active role that women were to play in it. Later, in 1864, he attempted to coordinate in the Heart of Mary a sort of super-association, made up of the Congregation of Missionaries, Secular Priests Living in Community, and laity.

d) The Brotherhood of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Lovers of Humanity (1847).

The aim of this Brotherhood was the greater glory of God, the sanctification of its members, and the spiritual and corporal good of their neighbours. A distinctive trait was that it was made up of priests and laiy, and its board of directors was composed, besides the Director, of two priests and two laypersons. Outstanding among the laypersons were the “deaconesses,” women who “besides fulfilling the obligations of their state,” were devoted especially to the apostolate of catechesis, education and charity, together with the witness of an irreproachable Christian life. The priests were mainly dedicated to preaching and giving retreats. The laity, to writing and spreading books, exhorting people to virtue, pacifying families, keeping married couples together, rehabilitating fallen women, charity toward the sick, prisoners, the poor, the elderly, orphans and widows.

The association began in Vic and spread to other cities, but the Archbishop of Tarragona suppressed it because it gave women an active role in the apostolate. [172]

Since this association “was made up of priests, laymen and deaconesses, the range of its apostolic actions could have been very broad and timely, from priestly ministry strictly so-called to works of social advancement.” [173]

e) The Enlarged Confraternity of the Heart of Mary (The Army of the Heart of Mary – 1864)

In the title page of the Rules of the institute of Secular Clergy Living in Community, Saint Anthony Mary Claret pinpoints that they “compose the second order of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” in the Introduction he explains his intention: “Mary is, for the enemies of our souls, like an army standing in battle array… The army of Mary is made up of angels and of these devout clients of her Immaculate Heart who are enrolled in for Arch confraternity.” The Saint regards the Arch confraternity as a gift of God to the Church which transcends, by its inner force, the canonical limits of a pious association. Hence he adds: “In the Arch confraternity there are three distinct orders, each with its own regulation which it fulfils exactly. Joined together in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, they form an admirable ensemble and perfect whole, dreaded by their enemies, namely, the world, the flesh and the devil.”

The three orders are distinguished by the intensity of consecration of their life according to Gospel and by their freedom to devote themselves to evangelization. “In the first order are those who make up the Congregation called the Sons at the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These are priests and brothers who are entirely consecrated to God and Mary Most Holy, and are continually occupied in preaching missions, giving spiritual exercises to clergy, nuns, etc.. They have fixed houses in which they live and reside; but they do not remain there, except for the time that their superior disposes that they do so, for he may send them to another town, another diocese or another nation, according as the greater glory of God and the good of souls may require. Hence their members do not possess benefices, dignities or anything else, so that they, like the holy apostles, entrust themselves totally to the arms of divine Providence, and thus far nothing has been backing them, nor will it be lacking them hereafter.”

“In the second order are those who make up the institute of secular clergy who live in community… they are fixed in dioceses and may possess offices, benefices, curacies, canonries, dignities, professorships, etc.”

“In the third order are these other faithful who are devoted to Mary and are enrolled in her Archconfraternity.” To this group of the faithful St. Anthony Mary Claret proposes a life of holiness in keeping with the duties of their state and praying for the conversion of sinners. Moreover, he gave those endowed with special charisms an opportunity to do good in other apostolic works organized by him, especially for the apostolate of the written and spread word.

There was a complementarity of functions among these three orders: prophetic priesthood, sacramentalizing priesthood and lay apostolate. There was a union of inner grace, but not a super­ organization to coordinate the efforts of all. Perhaps the Revolution of 1868 prevented a harmonious development that could have led to a coordination or common programming.[174]

B. Claret, Promoter of Priestly Evangelizers[175]

i Disciples and Companions

“As they had been for former Captain Inigo de Loyola, the Spiritual Exercises were for Claret a fundamental tool in the formation of his collaborators. His tireless commitment to popular missions was not just an escape valve for his own personal vocation to evangelize -although it was indeed partly that– but, in his own judgment and in that of some of the best clergy of his day, the Most adequate and effective response to the acute needs of society at the time. For one thing, the people in general still had enough faith to come and listen to the long sermons delivered by the missioners. We have already noted that practically the whole town entered into a sort of retreat. Missions and retreats had became the most common forms of renewal ministries. They had been adopted by most priests belonging to religious Orders. in 1840, during his exile in France, Canon Joseph Caixal, one of Claret’s collaborators, had planned to form a group of missioners dedicated to the spiritual re-conquest of Catatonia. These plans were never carried out.

“But the suppression of religious orders in 1835 had depopulated the monasteries and houses that supplied the mission preachers. A good number of them had gone to Spanish-speaking America. One of them, the famous missionary and future collaborator of the Saint in Cuba, was the Servant of God, Father Esteban de Adoain, a Capuchin. In Catatonia, The Franciscan Monastery at Escornalbou (among others), a traditional centre for mission preaching, had been closed. Saint Anthony Mary Claret had, then, launched out on his career of mission preaching during some politically and militarily stormy years, when this ministry was particularly difficult and dangerous (1841-43); but very soon the situation grew more peaceful for a time and the conservative backlash that led to revolutions throughout Europe in 1845 did the rest.

“Saint Anthony Caret, after boldly beginning to venture out through the lands of Catalonia, had been forced to interrupt his apostolic travels in May, 1842. But even in his retreat at Sant Joan d’Olò, looking forward to better times, he had begun to prepare a team of young missionaries. As early as the autumn of 1842, he had been laying plans for this. His friend Soler, vice-rector of the seminary of Vic, come with a little group of priests to Claret’s first round of retreats, followed by pastoral conferences, in July, 1843 at Campdevànol, an important town situated at the foot of the Pyrenees in the Ripollés district. We do not know whether any of his listeners offered to work with him, but in the retreat that he preached shortly afterwards in August, to a group of priests gathered of Gombreny (also at the foot of the Pyrenees), he gained a most vibrant collaborator in the person of the young Mossèn Esteve Saa, who became his successor as General of the future Claretian Missionaries, when their founder was consecrated Archbishop of Cuba. By the end of 1844, he already had a group of disciples and companions. The Servant of God, Don Joaquin Masmitjà states as much in a letter of December l7th of that year: ‘He [Claret] continues with. his sermons and his apprentices in Catella.’ [176]

“In 1845, through the good offices of Brother Francesc Bosc, S,J, (1799-1847), he sent a petition to the Roman Curia, requesting the bestowal of the title of Apostolic Missionary on ten priests. Some of them, since they were officials and professors of the Seminary of Vic (Jaume Soler, who had already served as its rector for a year, Jaume Passarell, Marià Puigllat and Marià Aguilar), obviously could not accompany him in his ministry, although Dr. Soler continued recruiting candidates for him; and all of them supported him in one way or another. Neither could his beloved confessor, Father Pere Bach, help him, since he was busy restoring the Oratory of Vic (of which he was superior) and was involved in many other ministries in that city. The five other priests, however, should indeed be numbered among Claret’s ministerial companions: Francesc Gonfaus, a pastor; Esteve Sala; the Manresan, Manuel Subirana (who later accompanied him to Cuba); Father Manuel Battle; and Ramon Vicens, a priest of Solsona. We know for sure that Sala, Subirana and Baule accompanied the Saint in preaching. The petition for the title of Apostolic Missionary failed because, as Brother Bosc rightly perceived, the Curia would not grant such a coveted tile to a group of ten people, so he changed it to a petition for certain special faculties, which were granted. The beginning of this petition, written by the Saint, reveals to us how he saw himself and his work in 1845:

“Anthony Claret, a priest and Apostolic Missionary of the diocese of Vic in Spain and resident in the same, prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness, humbly expounds: how, considering the hardships suffered by the Catholic Religion in Spain, he decided to oppose them effectively and has, for five years now, been committed to the sacred ministry of missions, retreats to clergy and laity, and the assiduous hearing of Confessions, which he has frequently done even into the night, since the daytime did not suffice, and has travelled in the style of the apostles throughout the dioceses of Catalonia.

“His efforts have been blessed by God, and thus he has very soon seen a great number of stray sheep return to the bosom of their Heavenly Father who, through his mercy, has now deigned to call other evangelical workers, animated by zeal, and disposed and resolved to follow the same tenor of life and apostolic labours as him who makes this petition, so that they may thus be enabled to spread through the other regions of Spain to sow in them the seed of God’s Word.[177]

“These plans of Mossèn Claret were doubtless as broad and strong as the apostolic zeal that coursed through his veins. He had barely begun to unfold his apostolic ministry throughout the Principality of Catalonia, yet he was already thinking about sending collaborators throughout the rest of the Spanish kingdom.

“in the years that followed, other companions were to appear alongside the Saint. A use of ‘Brothers’ around the end of 1846 or the beginning of 1847 includes, besides Sala, Bach, Francese Gonfaus, Subirana and Blessed Francesc Coll, the Franciscan Miquel Febrer, the Augustinian Josep Benet, as well as the following diocesan priests: Ramon Gonfaus, Manuel Vilarò, Domènec Fàbregas, Pere Abel, Pio Puigrefagut, Anton Danti, Sebastià Obradors, and a Mossèn Vilas.[178]In the list of new companions for 1848, there is mention of Coll, Bonet, Febrer, Ramon Gonfaus and Vilarò, with the addition of the Carmelite Francesc Solà.[179]Some of these, as one can see, were most devoted and constant, such as Blessed Francesc Coll, O.P.”

The priestly association was already functioning in 1846. On June l3ih of that year the correspondent for the Madrid newspaper “La Esperanza” wrote from Barcelona that the Month of May had been preached in the Church of Santa Maria del Mar by Fr. Esteve Sala, “a priest belonging to the society established in Vic by the Reverend Father and apostolic preacher Don Antonio Claret, whose members are obliged to go and preach wherever the Vicar General of Vic decides, without receiving any stipend whatever.”[180]

The Saint’s holy restlessness in this priestly field is reflected in some remarks in his correspondence. On 19 June 1847 he wrote from Vic to his friend Caixal: “Here, besides devoting myself to my apostolic tasks, I am busy preparing some young priests who have not yet left the nest, but promise some day to become very good fliers and warblers.”[181]And less than a month later, he again wrote to Caixal: “Now I am, among other things, extremely busy with some young priests who are being prepared for preaching and hearing confessions, and their number will surpass that of last year.”[182]

2 Priestly Communities

“We have not yet called attention to the importance of the year 1864 for the further development of Claret’s notion of the apostolate. To do this we shall gather together some of the data that have been appearing in unconnected fashion here. It was in this year

–as he undertook to rewrite the first chapter and the spiritual and apostolic rule of the second Constitutions of his Missionary Sons–that the Saint decidedly changed his conception of his Congregation from that of an institute dedicated to preaching missions and retreats, to the much broader conception of an institute committed to the proclamation of the Gospel in all its forms; to the ministries of reconciliation and spiritual direction; and to the spiritual and pastoral formation of seminarians. 1846 was also the year in which he fought for the unity of the catechism throughout the Spanish Church, launched his proposal for the spread of popular parish lending libraries, and announced the important role that the laity would play in the apostolate.

“In 1864 he also published a little book which seems, unfortunately, to have had practically no impact, although it reveals the richness of the author’s vision of the Church. This little book of some 96 pages, printed by the Religious Library in a single issue of 5000 copies, was entitled: Rule of the Institute of Secular Clergy Living in Community, who form the Second order of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It contains excerpts from a similar set of Rules by Bartholomew Helzhauser, approved by Innocent XI, which were taken from the Biography of Holzhause written in French by J.P.L. Gaduel.[183]

“The Saint inserted numerous additions of his own as well as a long introduction. He published it with a view to propagating community life among the diocesan clergy.

“Saint Anthony Mary Claret had founded his Congregation on the basis of earlier teams and associations by adding the element of community life to what had earlier been their simple collaboration. The Servant of God Antonio Paris had told Caixal that it was decidedly ‘God’s will that Mossèn Claret should join with other companions and that they should live plainly and simply in community.’[184]

“Thus was born a community of priests and brothers committed to itinerant evangelization. In Santiago, Cuba the Archbishop and his collaborators had also lived in a community of shared goods, with such a vibrant spirit that it caught the attention of visitors.[185]But this, too, was a missionary community, designed for missionary dispersal. Now, in 1864, a new element appeared: community life among priests who were bound to one place by the care of souls.

“Claret’s proposal was linked to a long and rich tradition, an example of which, in the Church of the Fathers, was given by Saint Augustine, with his various initiatives that culminated in a community of priests, headed by him as their bishop. The Augustinian project remained at a standstill for centuries, throughout the Middle Ages, in fact, when community and monochate became fused. But the memory of the project remained in Christian memory, springing into life in the Church of the 11th and 12th centuries, with the emergence of canons regular; that is, priestly communities with the care of souls, living according to the apostolic rule in fraternal charity and communion of goods. That is what some of the regular clergy had revived in the 16th century, and which Holzhauser, followed by Claret, attempted to re-establish in the Church: a type of priestly life which gave visible embodiment to the typical Christian element of communion. During the first Vatican Council Claret noted with some satisfaction the interventions of certain Council Fathers in favour of priestly communities, such as that of the Bishop of Imola on February 8, 1870,[186] and even earlier, the report presented by Archbishop Melchers of Cologne on an association of priests with promises of poverty and chastity.’[187]

But our apostle wanted something more than merely spontaneous communities of priests. He understood these future communities as integrating cells of an institute united by a common rule. Since he did not provide a central organization for them, and since he asked no further commitment of them than fraternal life, these priests, canonically speaking, would be fully diocesan, with no further form binding them together. Even if his project had been carried out, this community of spirit and rule would naturally have led to certain elements of dialogue and encounter. The fact that similar projects have been carried out in our days is one more proof of the prophetic spirit that moved the Saint.”

C. Claret, Promoter of the Apostolate of Religious

Saint Anthony Mary Claret always had a keen sensibility regarding the religious life. In his youth he twice attempted to join a religious Institute, first, one of rigorously contemplative life (the Carthusians) and later, when he was a priest, one of apostolic life (the Jesuits). But God had other plans for him, so both times –for reasons of sickness– he was forced to give up. Nonetheless, he always lived a radically consecrated life with an enthusiasm and ardour that were truly admirable. And at length, he gave birth to two religious missionary congregations: the Missionary Sons of the Heart of Mary and, in collaboration with Mother Mary Antonia Paris, the Religious of Mary Immaculate, Claretian Missionary Sisters. On October 8, 1870,0 few days –barely two weeks– before he committed his soul to the Lord, he chose to make his profession in the Congregation he had founded, in the presence of its Superior General, Fr. Joseph Xifré.

He never flagged in his esteem for the religious life as an evangelical force for the inner renewal of the Church. To appreciate this, one only has to read a few of his writings on this theme.[188] He was fully aware of the witness value and power for spreading the Gospel that the consecrated life entails and is in itself. Hence, with enormous generosity, he lent his valiant aid to numerous religious congregations, among which the Carmelite Sisters of Charity, the Adoratrices and the Sisters Servants of Jesus.

The life style that he wanted his Missionaries to follow and which he embodied in the two drafts of their Constitutions, is rigorously evangelical. Austerity of life, union with God, fraternal communion and eagerness for renewal and updating through ongoing solid and well-programmed formation, was linked with the evangelical transparency of the missionaries and their apostolic fruitfulness in proclaiming the Kingdom. All of this, doubtless inspired by the Spirit, led him in the last years of his life to envision an “acies ordinata,” a sort of evangelizing army, with the Heart of Mary as is centre of communion and the core from which its missionary work radiated.

D. A Broad Apostolic Organization

“During the months in which this little work on priests was being prepared its author was doing a good deal of reflection on the nature of the Congregation of the Sons ob the Immaculate Heart of Mary, whoso second Constitutions he was in the process of writing. This process of reflection led him to relate them, in the prologue, not only to the aforesaid communities of priests committed to the care of souls, but also with a broader secular movement. He thus sketched out an idea involving a broad association among these three sectors. For an association of this sort, the society of his time (when the only international movement was freemasonry, and even multinational corporations did not exist) had but one model: the army. This model fitted quite well with the Saint’s constant notion of the apostolate as divine warfare. Thus he imagined the broad group he was projecting as a large army under the aegis of the immaculate Heart of the Mother of God, and made up of three ranks: the members of the Congregation, the communities of diocesan priests, and the laity joined together in the Arch confraternity of the Heart of Mary. The difference between the first and second ranks, it should be noted, was not the religious character of the first rank (they were not religious as yet), but rather in the full commitment too evangelization whereby they set aside their incardination in their local Church of origin, in order to serve all churches; whereas those of the second rank or order were dedicated To pastoral activity within their own local church. It is fairly obvious that, given Claret’s many initiatives an behalf of the lay apostolate, the members of the third rank or order, although broadly included under the ‘umbrella group’ of the Arch confraternity, would have given rise to numerous apostolic initiatives and organizations.

All of this was fraught with important consequences for the Congregation founded in 1849, which in this larger context would have ceased being a separate apostolic organization, becoming an integral part of a much broader aggregate. The communion between the different ranks of this aggregate was not organizational, nor did the Saint subject the second and third ranks to the first. Their union was based on their common goals and on certain common traits of spirit. Although their originator did not establish any concrete channels for dialogue among the groups, these would almost inevitably have come into existence. In some respects, this dialogue is taking place now between the members of the Claretian Family:

religious men and women, members of a secular institute, and lay Claretians.”[189]

4. Summary and Conclusion

Summing up, nobody can deny the enormous drawing power that Father Claret had throughout his life:

– In Gombreny, he won Fr. Stephen Sala and others.

In his Catalan period he formed several organized groups or perhaps only one which kept developing. Among these groups were the Brothers of Jesus and Mary.

– In 1849 he created and formed a group of priests dedicated to missions. Thus he tells the Nuncio an August 12th of that year:

“Seeing the great back of evangelical and apostolic preachers in our Spanish territories, the people’s great desire to hear the Word of God, and the many requests that I have received from all parts of Spain to go and preach the Gospel there, I determined to gather and instruct some zealous companions, so as to be able to do with others what I could not do by myself alone. Thanks be to God, my idea is off to such a good start that I find myself with fifty-nine clerical disciples, some of whom will turn out to be very gifted preachers.”[190]

– On July 16, 1849, the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary come into being.

– In Cuba, he established an authentic missionary community.

– In 1855, together with the Servant of God Mary Antonia Paris, he founded the Religious Mary Immaculate, Claretian Missionary Sisters.

– Starting in 1860, he founded a community of chaplains in EI Escorial. His intention, repeatedly stated to Fr. Joseph Xifré, was to create in that central and strategic point a community of Missionaries dedicated to giving retreats and mission throughout the Peninsula.

– He created various lay associations: the Pious and Apostolic Union, the Apostolic Brotherhood, the Academy of St. Michael, Popular Parish Lending Libraries, the Association of Catholic Mothers, the Association of the Holy Family (for Hispanic-American émigrés) and the so-called “great army of the Heart of Mary,” made up of the Congregation of Claretian Missionaries, one association of priests and another of laity.

What was Father Claret aiming of in raising up evangelizers, above all the laity? What was his main aim in founding the Academy of St. Michael? While he was still in Cuba, he stated it quite clearly to the Abbé Gaume, who had asked his opinion –as many other had– on the origin and spread of evil in Europe: “I assure you without wavering,” Claret wrote in answer to him, “that I am very much of your idea of depaganizing education, literature, the sciences, politics and all the tendencies of the present age; because that is the cancer that is eating away of society.”[191]

In order to launch a broad offensive of re-Christianization, as we have seen, Father Claret devoted much of his energy in seeking out and grouping evangelizers. But he did not have them alone, on their own. Throughout his missionary life he strove to offer them a mystique, an evangelical and apostolic spirituality. Besides different rules or constitutions he wrote the Ascetical Letter and many other short works for the laity; he wrote The Daughters of the Heart of Mary for ‘nuns in their own homes’; for the clergy, he wrote Advice to a Priest, The Well-Instructed Seminarian and the Rules of the Institute of Secular Clergy Living in Community, taken largely from Holzhauser; for priests with missionary longings, he wrote the Letter to the Missionary Theophlius; and for the Missionaries of the Heart of Mary, he wrote his Autobiography.

“The personal urgency for evangelization, the orientation of today’s Church, and our own evangelizing vacation for the building up of the Kingdom of God all demand that we re-actualize the sensibility that Claret had in his own day, and make us opt today for the task of raising up and promoting evangelizers: priests, religious, and laypersons. We understand this as an objective inherent in our mission.”[192]

Currently we, the Claretian Missionaries, who are in some way the prime protagonists of this great evangelizing movement, are called to back and promote all these initiatives of Claret We have yet to realize the “second order” of secular priests living in community. And as regards the laity, we ore exhorted to raise them up and actively collaborate in their Claretian formation:

“The sensibility that we have inherited from our Founder, sustained by a correct notion of Church, should lead us to acknowledge, take up and promote the participation of the laity in the dynamism of mission. And we would have to offer them, in keeping with the lesson of our Founder himself, formation, a feeling of association and a mystique of apostolic service.”[193]


In Saint Anthony Mary Claret, evangelization was an obsessive and all-consuming reality. Aware of his prophetic mission, the lifestyle of Jesus, the Apostles and the apostolic missionaries who preceded him, he devoted all of his energies, soul and life to the up building of the Church through the power of the Gospel of salvation.

Anointed and sent by the Spirit, he worked marvels among the people of God and left a deep imprint on the Church as one of the great evangelizers of all time.

His experience and witness are still valid in today’s world. His sensibility, his apostolic ardour, his strategies and the content of his evangelizing action illumine the ways of the formation and mission that we Claretians ore called to make real in our own time.

To follow in Father Claret’s footsteps is indispensable for all of those who, in him and like him, feel called to continue the work of salvation in the heart of the world. His missionary charism prods us, impels us and launches us toward the “new evangelization” aimed of by the Church today. And today more than ever, “the Congregation feels the need for persons who are seriously prepared to communicate the Gospel in a competent way to today’s people, and who can at the same time assume our search for new responses” (CPR 30).

The incarnation of Father Claret in history, his vision of reality and his ardent apostolic zeal constitute a continual questioning and challenging of ourselves.

By faithfully listening to his word and following his example, we too can and ought to be a word of life, a light of truth and a force for salvation for our brothers and sisters, believers and non-believers, who are most in need of truth and of love.




  1. A. Claret: a prophetic
  2. B.Claret’s
    1. 1.In
    2. 2.ln
    3. 3.In
    4. C.Evangelization in the line of authentic Christian
      1. 1.In the Catalan
      2. 2.In the Cuban
      3. 3.In the Madrid


  1. A.Clarets mission: to evangelize the
  2. B.Claret: popular
  3. C. Preference for the
  4. D.Alongside the
    1. 1.In his
    2. 2.In his Cuban
    3. 3.During the Madrid
    4. E.Within a lifestyle that was radically


  1. A.
    1. I.Claret, promoter of toy spirituality and
    2. II.Organized Forms of Lay
      1. 1.Associations of Apostolic Prayer
      2. 2.Associations of Apostolic

First group:

  • The Fraternity of Christian Doctrine

Second group:

  • Spiritual Brotherhood of Good Books (1846)
  • The Academy of St. Michael
  1. a.Origin and
  2. b.
  3. c.
  4. d.Lifestyle of the
  5. e.Members and Results
  6. f.Spread
  • Popular Parish lending Libraries
  1. 1.Lay Associations in which apostolic action was joined to evangelical consecration in varying degrees
    1. a.Nuns in their own Homes, or Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
    2. b.Secular Priests Living in
    3. c.Integration of the lay apostolate with the priestly
    4. d.Brotherhood of the Most Holy and immaculate Heart of Mary, Lovers of Humanity,
    5. e.The enlarged Confraternity of the Heart of Mary (The Army of the Heart of Mary,

B.Claret, Promoter of Priestly Evangelizers …. .

  1. 1.Disciples and
  2. 2.Priestly.
  3. C.Claret, Promoter of the Apostolate of.
  4. D.A Broad Apostolate Organization

4 Summary and Conclusion




[1] Mt.16.26: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world…?”

[2] Aut 68

[3] Aut 113.114

[4] Aut 120

[5] EA pp.416-418

[6] EA pp. 427-429

[7] Aut 114-119

[8] Auto 114

[9] Aut 118b

[10] Is 41.9; Aut 114

[11] Is 41.10; Aut 115

[12] Is 41.11,13; Aut 116

[13] Is 41.16¸Aut 117

[14] Is 41.17-18; Aut 118

[15] Ez 3.17; Aut 119

[16] Ez 3.18-19; Aut 119

[17] Lk 2.49

[18] Lk 9.58; EA,p.418, 429; MCT, 57-59

[19] Cf. Aut 224

[20] Aut 156, 270

[21] IPT, sess.3

[22] IPV, sess 82

[23] Letter of 30 January 1862: EC II, p.440

[24] Cf. I Cor 13.8

[25] Cf. I Cor 13.13

[26] Cf. Aut 444-448

[27] Cf. EA pp. 450-504

[28] J M. dei Campo, “EI acto del Padre Claret”: EI Siglo Futuro, 1919, n. 3.765, cited by Fr. Tomas Echevarria in Studios claretianas, LXXXII: Paréntesis: “Iris de Paz” 36 (1919 11) 92.

[29] Fr.Mariano Usero: Cron. Prov. Castilla, CMF” 1 (1936) 2-3

[30] Dispatch to the Mayor of Sallent, 2 May 1836: EC I, pp. 76-77

[31] Cf. Letter to Don Francisco Riera, 16 October 1837: EC I, pp. 80-82

[32] Cf. Letter to the Diocesan Board of Vic, 17 February 1839: EC I, pp

[33] F. Aguilar, Vida del Excmo. e Ilmo. Sr. D. Antonio María Claret (Madrid 1871), p. 416; IPV, sess. 74; HD I, p. 148

[34] Aut 466

[35] F. Zapatero, “Recuerdos de nuestro V. P. Fundador en Cuba”: Annales

CMF 24 (1928) 694.

[36] EC I, p. 480

[37] EC I, pp. 484-485

[38] F. Aguilar, op. cit., pp. 158-159

[39] EC I, pp. 573-581. This ink stained letter is dated 25 July 1851

[40] EC I, pp. 585-588

[41] la Cierva, “Un santo en la corte de los milagros,” in YA, 10 December 1892, p.44

[42] Letter to the Governor of Cuba, 28 December 1853: EC I, p. 924.

[43] Cf. EC I, p. 692.

[44] Letter to the Regent of the Royal High Court, 22 September 1852: EC , p. 693.

[45] Cf. EC I, pp. 697-699.

[46] 13 January 1864: EC 11, pp. 742-745.

[47] Cf. Open Letter of 25 July 1865: EC Il, pp. 913-914.

[48] EC. II, p. 637

[49] MCT 171

[50] Jn . 8:34.

[51] Aut 372.

[52] Cf. SSW 363-365

[53] EA, p. 423

[54] Aut 471

[55]. Letter of 27 April 1854: EC I, p. 987

[56] Letter to the faithful of Sallent, 9 January 1900, cited in F. Sola, Historia de Sallent (Vic 1920), p. 418

[57] J. M. Viñas, La misién de San Antonto Mar/a Clarei, in BA, p. 31

[58] Cf. Letter to Fr. Xifré, 16 July 1869: EC TI, pp. 1406-1408.

[59] Annales CMF 15 (1915-1916) 190

[60] F. Aguilar, Vida del Excmo. e Ilmo. Sr. Don Antonio Mar/a Claret (Madrid 1871), p. 309.

[61] Ibid., p. 311-312

[62] Ibid., p. 314

[63] EA, p. 423.

[64] . Leghisa, The Heart of Mary and the Congregation in the Present Moment (Circular L.etter) Rome 1979, p. 47.

[65] A65 S. de Montsonis, Un segle de ~ida catalana 1814-1930 (Barcclona 1961),

p. 786.

[66] . Brunet, Actualidad del Padre Clarei (Vic 1953), p. 39

[67] Cited in F. Gutièrrez, Azorin y San Antonto Mar/a Claret (Rome 1979), p.86.

[68] “Advice to a Priest,” in SSW, pp. 294-295.

[69] 2 Cor 2:15.

[70] Cf. Mt 21:19 ff.

[71] Cf. Lk 24:32 ff.

[72] Aut 336.

[73] Aut 461.

[74] “EI Iris de Paz” 35 (1918,1) 248.

[75] Aut 429-435

[76] Aut 435

[77] Cf. HD 1, p. 74

[78] Aut 110

[79] EA, p. 422

[80] Aut 165.

[81] Aut 171

[82] J. Clotet, Resumen de la admirable vida del Excmo. e Ilmo. Sr. D. Antonio María Claret y Clara (Barcelona 1882). p. 255.

[83] EA, p. 672

[84] Cf. EC I, pp. 517, 529

[85] J. Clotet, Vida edificante y admirable del Excmo. e Ilmo. Sr. D. Antonio María Claret, unpublished, p. 264 (Studium Claretianum, Rome).

[86] Letter of 13 May 1853: EC I, pp. 815-816

[87] Letter from Fr. John N. Lobo to Fr. Xifre, 22 January 1880: Cartas Edificantes de la Provincia de Aragòn (Jesuits), 1912, n.2 (Manresa 1913, p.347.

[88] Aut 483

[89] Aut 562

[90] Aut 563.

[91] Letter ta Fr. J. Xifré, 22 January 1880, in J. Clotet, Resumen de la adrmirable vida del Excmo. E Ilmo. Sr. Don Antonio María Ctaret y Clara (Barcelona 1882), p. 214.

[92] Aut 111.

[93] Cf. Aut 133-134.

[94] Aut 135.

[95] Letter of 25 March 1851: EC 1, p. 469.

[96] Letter of 5 January 1852: EC I: p. 620.

[97] Letter to the Faithful of his Diocese,21 July 1851: EC I, p. 544.

[98] Letter of 23 January 1853: EC I, p. 746.

[99] Letter of 15 June 1853: EC I, p. 861.

[100] AH CMF, I, pp. 188-189; HD I, p. 736.

[101] F. Aguilar, op. cit., pp. 292-293.

[102] Mt 8:20. Cf. Aut 431.

[103] Cf. Aut 429-433.

[104] Aut 357.

[105] Aut 358.

[106] Aut 359.

[107] Letter to Mother A. Paris, 30 January 1862: EC It, pp. 440-441.

[108] Aut 362.

[109] Aut 359.

[110] Aut 360.

[111] Aut 361.

[112] Ibid.

[113] Aut 364.

[114] Aut 370.

[115] Ibid.

[116] Aut 649: “If there is a choice of two good things…I will choose whatever is poorest, meanest and most painful.” Aut 699: “Faced with a choice of two goods, each of which would give God equal glory, I feel called to choose the poorer, the humbler and the mare painful.”

[117] Retreat Resolutions for 1843: EA p. 524.

[118] Particular Examen on the Virtue of Humility: EA p. 525.

[119] EA, pp. 523-524.

[120] J. Ctotet, Resumen de la admirable vida del Exc,mo. e Ilmo. Sr. D. Antonio María Claret y Clara (Barcelona 1882), p. 61.

[121] APT, sess. 6: HD 11, p. 712.

[122] Aut 467.

[123] MCT 174.

[124] MCT 175.

[125] This theme has been well studied in Fr. Josè M. Viñas’ introduction to EI apostol claretiano seglar (Barcelona 1979), from which the main pages that follow are taken, interspersed with more extensive material on the Academy of St. Michael.

[126] Ibid., pp. 17-19

[127] Letter to Canon Caixal, 26 December 1846: EC 1, p. 187.

[128] Postscript to the same letter. Ibid.

[129] ASV_AN Madrid, 332, title XVIII, A-L.

[130] EA p. 448.

[131] “The first means I have always employed and still do is prayer. In my opinion, this is the greatest means that can be used for the conversion of sinners, the perseverance of the just, and the relief of the souls in purgatory” (Aut 264).

[132] Aut 265.

[133] F. de A. Aguilar, Vida del Excmo. e Ilmo. Sr. Don Antonio María Claret (Madrid 1871), p. 87.

[134] 134 J. M. Viñas, “Imagen del apòstol seglar Claretiano,” in EI apòsto1

Claretiano seglar (Barcelona 1979), pp. 38-39.

[135] SAMC, Circular Letter to All Members of his Diocese: EC I, p. 562.

[136] SAMC, Pastoral Letter to the Clergy, reprinted and enlarged, Appendix 6 (Barcelona 1855), p. 97; e!. 1. Bermejo, EI apòstol Claretiano seglar (Barcelona 1979), p. 120.

[137] Aut 581.

[138] F. Aguilar, op. cit., p. 233.

[139] Ibid., p. 234.

[140] Plan of the Academy of St. Michael, Religious Library: Barcelona 1859, p. 4.

[141] Protestant biblical propaganda was very intense in Spain at this time, above all through the efforts of a Quaker, George Borrow, ‘an outlandish and rather unlettered fellow.” M. Menéndez Pelayo, Historia de los heterodoxoa espanoles, Bk. 8, ch. 2.

[142] P1an of the Academy of St. Michael, RL: Barcelona 1859, p. 3.

[143] Ibid., p. 4.

[144] Ibid. p. 14.

[145] Cf. Ibid., p. 6.

[146] Ibid pp 10 11

[147] Ibid., p. 12.

[148] On this point, see J. M. Viñas, “Vocaci6n y misión del laico seglar segun San Antonio María Claret,” in Studia Claretiana 7 (1989), 193-200.

[149] Plan of the Academy…, p. 15.

[150] Cf. Ibid., p. 7.

[151] Ibid., p. 21.

[152] Ibid., p. 24.

[153] Ibid., p. 25.

[154] Ibid., p. 9.

[155] Ibid., p. 26.

[156] Ibid.

[157] Ibid., p. 27

[158] Ibid., p. 28.

[159] Ibid., p. 29.

[160] Ibid., pp. 29-30.

[161] Ibid. p. 39.

[162] SSW, pp. 137-138.

[163] SSW, pp. 583-593.

[164] Aut 582.

[165] F. Aguilar, op. cit., p. 235.

[166] Ibid., pp. 236-238; HD. II, p. 509.

[167] Plan of the Academy…, p. 16. F. Aguilar, op. cit., p. 234.

[168] F. Aguilar, op. cit., p. 234.

[169] “The Academy was a literary one artistic society for Catholic

propaganda, created for the exclusive aim of combating errors and vices by means of truth, virtue and beauty, through art, literature and good works. It was a universal society of attack and defence on behalf of the Catholic Church, somewhat vaster in scope than the Society just founded by Cardinals Rampolla, Mercier and Maffi for progress in the sciences among Catholics. The Revolution of September did away with it, but there has been an attempt to revive it, thanks to the Rev. Fr. Francisco Ozamis, who has started it this very year in Brazil” (J. Postius, “Diploma de la Academia de San Miguel in EI Iris de Paz 24 [1907] 249.

[170] HD II, p. 509.

[171] EI Iris de Paz, 1935.

[172] . M. Viñas, “Imagen del apòstol Claretiano seglar,” in J. Bermejo, EI ap6stol Claretiano seglar (Barcelona 1979), pp. 4 1-43.

[173] J. M. Viñas, “Vocaciòn y misión del laico segun San Antonio María Claret: Studia Claretiana 7 (1989) 212.

[174] Viñas, “Imagen…,” op. cit., pp. 43-44.

[175] We take the matter relating to Claret’s promotion of evangelizers among the clergy from J. M. Lozano’s A Life at the Service of the Gospel (Chicago 1985), pp. 86-88, 356-357, complementing it with other data.

[176] Letter of J. Soler to J. Masmitjà, 17 December 1844, in T. Noguer y Musqueras, Biografia del siervo de Dios. . .Don Joaquin Masmitja y De Puig (Gerona 1952), p. 428.

[177] CCTT: “Hermandad apostolica,” pp. 79-83; sec EC I, pp. 147-150

[178] CCTT, pp. 89-91.

[179] CCTT, p. 101.

[180] F. Gutiérrez, EI Padre Claret en el periòdico La Esperanza (1844-1874), Madrid 1987, p. 50.

[181] EC I, p. 224.

[182] EC I, p. 227.

[183] Cf. J. Gaduel,V/e du Vénérable Serviteur de Dieu Barthélemy Holzhauser (Orléans-Paris 1861), pp. 99-130, 401-408.

[184] Mother A. Paris, Outobtogrqfia, o. 241: Escritos espirituoles (Barcelona 1985), p. 158.

[185] Aut 608-612.

[186] EA, p. 488.

[187] EA, p. 447

[188] See the two beautiful chapters (VII and VIII) that he devotes to the religious life in Selfishness Overcome. Chapter VII is titled: “On the Very Special Providence God Has Over the Church Militant,” and Chapter VIII is titled: “On the Most Special Providence that God Has Over Good Souls”: SSW, pp. 480-492.

[189] . M. Lozano, A Life at the Service of the Gospel (Chicago 1985), pp. 356-357.

[190] EC I, p. 305.

[191] Letter of 14 March 1852: EC I, p. 625.

[192] MCT 177

[193] G. Alonso, La misiòn Claretiana en Africa hoy: “Annales CMF” 58 (1987-1988) 39.