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he had finished his sermon, and he introduced me to the Vicar-General of the Archbishop of Prague. This venerable Vicar-General recommended me to the care of an abbot of a Benedictine convent in Prague; and a monk of this convent read with me the Prophets, the Gospel, and the most spiritual works of Catholic authors, viz. Stolberg's, Sailer's, Schwarzhueber's, Thomas a Kempis, and Augustin's; and after six weeks I was baptized in the name of Christ, being seventeen years old at my baptism. They advised me to go to Vienna, and study philosophy and the oriental dialects. I did so; but the want of sustenance, and being obliged to give lessons, hindered my improving in philosophical learning and languages as I wished.
I must now mention something which had considerable influence on my future conduct. I sought, when I arrived at Vienna, some good Catholic Christians, and especially a pious confessor. I heard a good deal of F. S. who is one of the most learned men and excellent poets in Germany: he was once a Protestant Christian only in name; for his religion was formed upon the model of the ancient Greeks and Romans. His lady was the daughter of the famous Jew called M. Mendelsohn of Berlin, and both became Catholics by persuasion. I introduced myself to them, and was kindly received: his lady is indeed a true Christian, and inherits the talents of her father. She and her husband recommended me to their confessor, called Pater Bofbauer. If the Lord our God had not watched over me, I should now have been entirely initiated in the abominable system of Jesuitism; and indeed I was too much the dupe of it. I did not then discern the sophistry of the system. But by the grace of God I saw it after my departure from Rome, through experience of its deformity. It is well perhaps that I here give the character of P. Hofbauer. Pope Ganganelli abolished the Jesuits, and died soon after that noble decision. The popes after him lamented it, and considered the loss of the Jesuits as the loss of their best soldiers; they purposed therefore again to re-establish this order; but as they could
not yet do it openly, Alfonsio Maria Lignori, Bishop of Agatha in the kingdom of Naples, established a new religious order, and gave to it the name, Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris, the statutes and manners of it being precisely those of the Jesuits. Their common habit is a black rough garment, to which a long chaplet of the Virgin Mary is attached. Their shoes are without buckles, and hats large, but whilst engaged in a mission, they use any sort of dress. And Bishop Lignori, by his zeal and eloquence, and feigned holiness, and pretended miracles, brought many young men to embrace his new order. P. Hofbauer came from Vienna to Rome : when the order was sanctioned by Benedict XIV. he was incorporated with it, and afterwards sent by Pius VI. as Vicar-General to Germany and Poland, and thence he went to several places in Germany.
When Hof bauer caine to the diocese of Constance, he petitioned Baron Wessenberg to give him a place as confessor : Baron W. made him confessor of a nunnery in his diocese; but when he began to engage young men as noviciates for his religious order, without permission of the baron or of the government, and to propagate the doctrine of worshipping the Virgin Mary, and to distribute amongst the people miraculous images and scapularies according to the commandment of Lignori, and likewise a work of Lignori, entitled, Visitationes beatæ Virginis Mariæ, an idolatrous book, Wessenberg expelled him from that country; and he departed with the noviciates he had engaged, and came to Warsaw, from whence he was again expelled in the year 1806 by the French, and every member of his convent ordered to return to his own country. P. Hofbauer with another, proceeded to Vienna, but the other subjects of his order went to the Valais, in Switzerland. When the police of Stettin asked a lay-brother of that order, from what country are you? he answered, I am from the Valais : the police understood that he was born there, and by this Jesuitism was deceived. I discovered all this after my banishment from Rome, when I enternd in their convent in Switzerland. This same lay
brother is considered as a saint by his religious brethren.
While Hofbauer was my spiritual guide, one of his fraternity told me that Hofbauer was Vicar-General of a Missionary order; I replied with joy, that it was always my intention to become a Missionary, and requested to be incorporated as one in the Society; but they said, they had not then a convent; but they expected to obtain one in Swizerland. I saw a young lady of nineteen years, come every day to this man; she seemed to possess great piety, and desired to enter in a convent.
A Bohemian baron, who was a great bigot, began at this time to persecute me, because he thought I had embraced some Protestant doctrines; and once when I spoke of Ganganelli with respect, Hofbauer was very angry, and said to me,
You are full of Lutheran notions. I began to read the works of F. Schlegel, which he published after his turning to the Roman church; the Roman church is there represented as I never saw it before ; so that it was neither like the church of Christ, nor like that of Rome, as it now is, nor as it is described by Bossuet and Fenelon : it is the delineation of a religion, partly poetical and partly philosophical, in which are introduced the mythology of the old Greeks, and the more modern superstition of the Hindoos. He is a Pagano-Christian. Schlegel considers the crusades as the most noble and holy undertaking of mankind, and as the triumph of Christianity; and he stops with pleasure to dilate on the destruction of those who fell by the sword of nominal Christian crusaders; he defends Charles the Fifth, and Philip the Second; and he calls the Virgin Mary the queen of the heavens.
The public sermons of P. Hofbauer seemed to me to be according to the Gospel, but he distributed at the same time scapularies and chaplets, and the work Visitationes beatæ Viginis Mariæ; and I heard both Hofbauer and Schlegel speak more of the authority of the pope than of Christ, but I excused it as a respect due to a bishop of Christ. In short, I was not able to refute the wonderful sophistry of Schlegel. I remained a year
and a half in Vienna, and I undertook a journey during the vacation into Hungary, where I had a recommendation to a Catholic Archbishop. He was a pleasant man, and had some Scriptural knowledge, but I can protest that the name of Christ, and the Bible, are unknown to the Catholic people of Hungary, which accounts for the great number of robbers and murderers in that country.
The worship of images has taken place of the worship of Christ, though in some places in Hungary religious worship is altogether forgotten. I found in Erlan, a town of Hungary, a Jewish boy, six years of age, in a house called the house of converts. I asked how this little Jew came there? They answered me he was taken from his parents by force, at the express command of the Bishop. When I heard this, I became indignant, especially when I observed the sorrow of the poor child, who was forced to worship images and not Christ, instead of Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! I returned to Vienna after an absence of six 'weeks. Being unable to reconcile these abuses with the spirit of the Catholic religion as it is represented by the most enlightened Count Stolbergh, who is the Fenelon of the German Catholics, I wrote to him, and entreated him to permit me to come to him; he replied, that he, as well as his lady and his children, would receive me with brotherly kindness. With the money which I gained by my lessons, and with the assistance which the Archbishop of Vienna afforded me, I was enabled to take a place in the coach to Landshut, where I gave a public lecture on the Hebrew language, and I obtained so much by it, that I had sufficient to bring me to the palace of Count Stolberg, in Westphalia.
As I passed from Vienna to Westphalia, I found true Christians as well amongst Catholics, as amongst Protestants. I was astonished when I arrived at Count Stolberg's, and saw that great man: he and his lady, and fifteen children were examples of true humility and piety. He read with me the New Testament in the original text; he, himself, and his wife, spoke with me of the power of Christ, and of his resurrection; of his bu.
ther the greatest part of it, and when I came to T. I
mility and love to his elected people : and he said to me very often, I feel great concern and love for you, and for your brethren the children of Abraham! He spoke with horror both of the inquisition and the crusades, and considered both as abominable. He considered John Huss a martyr, and spoke of Luther with great regard. It was his intention, I should remain in his house some years; and I also desired and intended it, because I found myself very happy in the company of this great man.
But it was not the will of God that I should remain any longer than three months, in the house of this great man. When Napoleon returned from Elba to France, Count Stolberg and his family were in great distress, because he was always an adversary of that tyrant, and wrote continually against him; and being so near France he was in danger, and determined to go to Holstein to his brother, to put himself and children in security. I left his house with tears because he was my true friend,
and believing that his system is the true spirit of the Roman church, and accords with the system of Catholicism in all ages, I continued a true follower of the Roman church; and when I stopped after my departure from Count Stolberg, sometimes with learned men of the Protestant denomination, I defended with great fire the Roman church; and when they said, the Catholics believe the infallibility of the Pope, and command to worship images, I denied, and declared that Count Stolberg had taught me the true spirit of Catholicism, which was nothing else than the true doctrine of the Gospel. They replied, Stolberg is a good Christian, but has formed for himself his own Catholicism, which is different from that of Rome; go to Rome and you will be convinced.'
I experienced at this time the almighty hand of Providence. Count Stolberg gave me, when I left him, twenty-eight guineas for my journey ; I sent to my mo
means of living. I hired a lodging, and promised to pay every month. When the last day of the month arrived, I did not know how to pay, and I kneel.