1902 Encyclopedia > Propaganda


PROPAGANDA, or Sacred Congregation de Propaganda Fide, is the name given to a commission of cardinals appointed for the direction of the missions of the Roman Church. The idea of forming such an institution was conceived by Pope Gregory XIII. and other pontiffs, but it was Gregory XV. (1621-1623) who, after having sought counsel from cardinals and information concerning the state of religion in various countries from apostolic nuncios and superiors of religious orders, published, 22nd July 1622, the bull Inscrutabile by which he founded the Congregation of Propaganda and provided means for its continuance. The cardinal vicar and the cardinal secretary of state were amongst its first members. Additional privileges were granted it by other bulls; and all the pontifical colleges founded up to that date as well as those which should afterwards be founded for the propagation of the faith were declared subject to the Propaganda. The deliberations of this body, embracing a great variety of important questions, when formulated in decrees and signed by the cardinal prefect and the secretary were declared by Urban VIII., in 1634, to have the force of apostolic constitutions, which should be inviolably observed. The cardinal prefect is the head of the Congregation, and as such governs the Catholic missions of the world; the secretary is assisted by five subalterns (minutanti), who act as heads of departments, and these again are assisted by inferior employees (scrittori). The more important acts of the Congregation, which are discussed in weekly meetings by the cardinal prefect and the officials, are submitted to the pope for his supreme decision. The archives of the institution were transferred, in 1660, from the Vatican to the Palazzo Ferrattini in the Piazza di Spagna, Rome, which is the seat of the Congregation. They form a valuable collection of historical, ethnographical, and geographical documents, embracing a period of two hundred and fifty years, and serve as a record of past events and of precedents to be followed in decisions on -questions that may arise. The funds of the institution were supplied in the first instance by Gregory XV. and by private bequests. Cardinal Barberini, brother of Urban VIII., provided for eighteen places in perpetuity for students, Mgr. Vives for ten. Pope Innocent XII. be-queathed to it 150,000 crowns in gold; Clement XII. gave it 70,000 crowns. In the second assembly of the Congregation it was proposed, and accepted as a rule, that prelates on being raised to the dignity of cardinal should pay for a ring offered them by the pope a sum which was at first fixed at 545 golden scudi, and which is now 600 Boman scudi. Large donations were made to the Propaganda by Catholics in England, Scotland, Ireland, the United States, Spain, and Italy. The cardinal prefect administers the property of the institution in the name of the Congregation. To provide for the affairs of the Church of the Oriental Rite, Pius IX., in 1862, appointed a special Congregation with its own secretary, consultors, and officials.

The primary purpose of the Propaganda being to secure laborious and pious missionaries, colleges for their education and training were established. Chief amongst these is the Propaganda or Urban College in Rome, so named from Urban VIII. It is a general missionary seminary for the whole world. Here students are received from all foreign nations, and there are special foundations for Georgian, Persian, Chaldaean, Syrian, Coptic, Brahman, Abyssinian, Armenian, Greek, and Chinese students, as well as for students from England, Ireland, America, and Australia, although these last have special colleges in Rome. After the age of fourteen each student takes an oath to serve the missions during his whole life in the ecclesiastical province or vicariate assigned to him by the Congregation, to which he must send annually an account of himself and of his work. He is maintained and clothed free of expense. His studies embrace the full course of Greek, Latin, and Italian letters, some of the chief Oriental languages, as Hebrew, Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, and, when necessary, Chinese. There are also schools for the teaching of rational and natural philosophy, a complete course of theology, and the institutions of canon law. Besides this principal seminary, the Propaganda has colleges dependent on it both in Rome and in other countries, under the direction of regular and secular priests. From its beginning it had at its disposition national colleges,—such as the English, founded by Gregory XIII.; the Irish, by Cardinal Ludovisi in 1628 ; the Scotch, by Clement VIII. in 1600 ; the German and Hungarian; the American, of the United States, opened by Pius IX. in 1859; the Greek, founded by Gregory XIII.; the Armenian, recently established by Leo XIII.; and the Bohemian, opened 4th November 1884. The jurisdiction of the Propaganda extends over the English colleges of Lisbon and Valladolid, the Irish college of Paris, and the American of Louvain. Until recently it had the Chinese college of Naples, transformed by the Italian Government, and the Illyrian college of Loreto, suppressed by the same Government; and it still has the Albanian pontifical college of Scutari. Besides these, other colleges serve for the education of missionaries for the Pro-paganda, as the college of SS. Peter and Paul in Rome, founded by Pius IX., in Milan the seminary of St Calocero for all foreign missions, and at Genoa the College Brignole Sale for Italian emigrants to America, The institutions at Verona for central Africa are the support of the missions in the Soudan. Chief of all the seminaries is that of Paris which, for two centuries, has supplied missionaries for India and China. To these is committed the vast college of the island of Pulo Penang, where young men from China and neighbouring countries are trained to the priesthood. In Paris many missionaries are taken from the French seminary directed by the fathers of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost, who go to French colonies. At Lyons is the college for African missions. In Belgium there are the colleges of Foreign Missions, of the Immaculate Conception, and of St Francis Xavier for Chinese missions. In Holland there was recently established the college of Stiel, whose students go to China. In All Hallows College, Ireland, the students are educated for the missions in Australia, Canada, and the Cape of Good Hope. In England a seminary has grown up within a few years at Mill Hill, which has already supplied priests to the missions of Borneo and Madras. Previous to the late changes in Rome, the Propaganda had dependent upon it the college of Reformed Minors in S. Pietro in Montorio, the Carmelites in S. Pancrazio (suppressed), the Minor Observants of S. Bartolomeo all' Isola recently re-established, the Conventuals (suppressed), and the Irish Minor Franciscans of St Isidore. Outside of Rome there were also colleges of regulars for the missions, as Ocana in Spain, Sernache in Portugal, and others. The Propaganda, in the establishment of vjcariates or new episcopal sees, has always encouraged the formation, as soon as circum-stances would permit, of seminaries for the education of a native clergy, and frequently these have flourished, as the community of the "Houses of God" (case di Bio) in Tong-king, the seminaries of Sze-chuen, of Peking, and of Nanking. The first step taken in a new mission is the erection of a chapel, followed by the opening of a school and an orphan-age. As numbers increase, and more priests come to the new mission, they are united under a superior invested with special powers by the Propaganda—in fact a prelect apostolic. As churches increase and the faith spreads, a vicar apostolic, who is a bishop in partibus, is appointed, and, if the progress made requires it, the mission is erected into an episcopal diocese. Such has been the method of proceeding in the American and Canadian missions; such, in part, what has happened in India, China, and Africa. Through these, whether prefects or vicars apostolic or bishops, the orders of the Propaganda, which are those of the head of the church, are transmitted to the faithful, and they are the ordinary centres of its correspondence, although it does not disdain the reports furnished by the humblest members of the Christian flock. The prelates furnish exact reports to the Propaganda of the progress and circumstances of the faith in their various missions.

The material means for the diffusion of the faith are supplied in the first place by special grants from the revenues of the Propaganda and from various associations in Europe. The greatest part is furnished by the society for the propagation of the faith of Paris and Lyons, This society is independent of the Propaganda, relying wholly on the energy of the two central councils of Paris and Lyons and on the charity of the faithful, though it attends to the suggestions of the Propaganda, which indicates to it the needs of new missions. Contributions are also furnished by other associations, as that of the Holy Infancy, or that for the education of Oriental nations. Similar societies, occupied with the support of special missions, exist in Bavaria, Germany, and Austria. The Propaganda likewise takes care that, as soon as a mission is established, pious foundations are constituted by native Christians, and become the local property of the church, and so supply it with a stable and enduring vitality. Subscriptions from Europe are given only to the poorer missions, which, however, are very numerous. One of the most powerful aids adopted by the Propaganda in the diffusion of the faith is the printing-press. The missionaries are required to study the lan-guages of the countries to which they are sent and exhorted to publish books in these languages. Printing-presses are introduced into new missions. In China, what may be described as wooden stereotypes are employed for the printing of Catholic works in the Chinese language. Early in its career the Congregation of Propaganda established at its seat in Rome the celebrated Polyglott Printing Press, and gave it a character of universality. There people of all nations—the Copt, the Armenian, the Arab, the Hebrew, the Japanese, and the native of Malabar— may find books in their native tongue and in their special type. Although great progress has been made by other countries in polyglott printing, the Propaganda press still holds a high position.

The part of the world to which the cardinals of the Congregation of Propaganda first turned their attention was Asia. In no region of the globe has Christianity had greater difficulties to struggle against than in China. An ancient tradition exists, confirmed by documents, that in the early centuries of the Christian era Christianity had penetrated into and left traces in China. It was re-introduced in the 13th century by Franciscan fathers. It flourished at Peking for a time, but died out with the Mongolian dynasty, and China remained closed to Christian influences until 1555, when the Dominican father Gaspare della Croce introduced it into the province of Canton. After he was expelled came the Jesuits Rogeri and Ricci. They established a residence there in 1579, and were followed by Dominicans and Franciscans. These were succeeded a century later by the priests of the Paris seminary of foreign missions, in the last century by Augustinians and Lazarists, and in the present century by the missionaries of the seminary of St Calocero of Milan. Two bishoprics were created in 1688, one at Nanking, the other at Peking, and the missions of Yun-nan and Sze-chuen founded. At the beginning of the 18th century the number of churches in the northern provinces reached 300, and of Christians 300,000. In 1803 a college for native clergy was opened in Sze-chuen, and the work of the Holy Infancy introduced. In 1837 the Portuguese-patronage of Chinese missions was brought to an end, with the exception of that exercised over Macao, a Portuguese colony.

In 1310 B. Odorico di Friuli, a Franciscan, entered Tibet and made many converts. In 1624 Father DAndrada penetrated into the same country, but was not allowed to remain. Others followed, and were put to death. In 1847 the Propaganda entrusted to the seminary of" foreign missions the task of entering Tibet, and in 1857 a vicariate apostolic was erected on the frontiers. In Mongolia, constituted a vicariate apostolic in 1840, many converts were made and several priests educated in the seminary of Siwang-se. This mission offers great hopes. It was divided into three vicariates in 1883, and is entrusted to the Belgian congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Manchuria mission was made a vicariate in 1839; in 1854 a clturch, S. Maria ad Nives, was erected, and many other churches have since been, built for the increasing mission. In 1592 an attempt was made to Christianize Corea; but repeated persecutions, crushed out the germs of Christianity. Its first neophyte,, its first native priest, its first bishops, and its first European, missionaries were martyrs. From 1784 to 1789 4000 Coreans were converted, but their number was greatly reduced by persecution. In 1831 a vicariate was established; in 1835 the number of Christians was 6280; in 1861 they reached 18,000; but in 1866 persecution began, anew. Christianity was introduced into Japan in 1549 by S. Francis Xavier. In less than fifty years there were in Japan a bishopric, 380 churches, and 30,000 professing Christians. Persecution broke or.tt in 1601, and in 1614 became so fierce that the priests were put to death and the people dispersed. In 1640 all Europeans, missionaries included, were banished from Japan, this proscription continuing for two centuries. Missionaries were admitted in 1843, but so jealously watched that little good was. accomplished. In 1863 a treaty was concluded between the emperor of the French and the Japanese Government permitting the preaching of the gospel. The first church was built after a lapse of two centuries; the number of catechumens soon reached 10,000; other churches were constructed; and the descendants of the old Christians, who had still preserved the faith, came forth from their-concealment. A new persecution broke out in 1870 ;-. many Christians apostatized; a great number died of hunger, and many were exiled. Peace was established in 1873. The vicariate apostolic was divided in 1876 into two—the northern and southern vicariates. By the treaty of Peking, concluded between the French and Chinese Governments, liberty of religion was granted in the Chinese empire and a new era opened. In 1873, in the eighteen, provinces of the Chinese empire, the number of Catholics was 410,644, with 4054 centres, 1220 churches and public chapels, 294 bishops and missionaries, 252 native priests, 137 European female religious and 924 native, 104 orphanages with 6853 orphans, and 947 schools frequented by 10,624 pupils. In spite of popular tumults and persecutions these numbers have increased in late years.

In the year of its foundation the Propaganda established, a prefecture apostolic in Burmah. Italian Barnabites penetrated into the country in 1721, and two of them, Fathers Gallizio and Nerici, were put to death. The-priests of the seminary of foreign missions continue the work, and three vicariates have been established. Malacca was visited by S. Francis Xavier, and was for a long time under the Portuguese jurisdiction; but a vicariate was.

Established in 1841 and entrusted to the Paris seminary, which has a college in Penang for natives of China and neighbouring countries. Jesuits, Dominicans, and Fran-ciscans brought the Catholic faith to Siam in the 16th century. The first vicar apostolic was appointed in 1678. A terrible persecution of Christians, causing great loss, broke out in 1772, and it was not till 1821 that the missions were restored. The vicariate was divided into two in 1841. In the missions of the Anamite empire, comprising Tong-king and Cochin China, and the missions to Cambodia and to the Laos people, Christianity may be said to have had its birth and its growth in blood, so fierce and numerous have the persecutions been. In the 14th century the faith was introduced by Dominicans and Franciscans, and the first mission established in 1550 by Gaspare della Croce. The Jesuits came in 1615, and in 1665 the Propaganda established here the priests of the seminary of foreign missions. A few years later the number of Christians in the southern provinces of Cochin China was 17,000, with 60 churches. Persecution followed persecution. The Dominican Father Francesco Gil, after nine years' imprisonment, was martyred in 1745. All foreigners were driven from the kingdom in 1825, and in 1826 an edict was issued against the Christians. What seemed a war of extermination was undertaken in 1833. Missionaries sought refuge in tombs and grottos, whence they issued by night to administer the sacraments. Mgr. Delgado, vicar apostolic of Western Tong-king, Mgr. Henares his coadjutor, several Chinese priests, Mgr. Barie, vicar apostolic of Eastern Tong-king (about to be consecrated bishop), and an incredible number of lay persons of all ranks were put to death. In 1842 the cause of the beatification and sanctification of the Anamite martyrs was introduced by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Persecution was renewed in 1844; the exiled missionaries and prelates returned, though a price was put upon their heads. Christianity was proscribed throughout all Anam in 1848; native priests were exiled, and European clergy cast into the sea or the nearest river. Nevertheless the vicariate of Cambodia was founded in 1850, and Eastern Cochin China was made a separate vicariate. A new edict appeared in 1851, again enjoining that European priests should be cast into the sea, and natives, unless they trampled upon the cross, severed in two. The missionaries Schaeffler and Bonnard were put to death; the vicars apostolic perished of hunger; the mass of Christians were imprisoned or exiled. In 1856 and 1857 whole Christian villages were burned and their inhabitants dispersed. The edict of 1862 enjoined that Christians should be given in charge to pagans, that their villages should be burned and their property seized, and that on one cheek should be branded the words "false religion." In 1863 the number of martyrs had reached forty thousand, without reckoning those driven into the woods, where they perished. Nevertheless, the Anamite church, steeped in blood, has increased, and is regarded as the brightest gem of the Propaganda missions.

India is one of the most extensive fields in which the missionaries have laboured. Previous to the founding of the Propaganda the Jesuits had established several missions in India. The introduction of vicars apostolic consolidated the basis of Christianity, and now twenty-three vicariates apostolic and a delegate apostolic direct the spiritual affairs of this great country. In Africa, Catholic missionaries were the first travellers, two centuries prior to Livingstone and Stanley. The earliest mission was that of Tunis (1624). The missions of the Cape of Good Hope were Entrusted to the clergy of Mauritius; the Reformati and the Observants went to Egypt, the Carmelites to Mozambique and Madagascar, the Capuchins and Jesuits to Ethiopia and Abyssinia. The spiritual affairs of Africa are directed by one metropolitan and thirty-six bishops, vicars, and prefects apostolic. The progress of Catholicism in Australia is evident from the fact that two metropolitans, those of Melbourne and Sydney, with twelve suffragans direct its ecclesiastical affairs. While the missionary field of the Propaganda embraces Asia, Africa, Oceania, and both Americas, as well as England, Ireland, Scotland, Holland, Germany, Norway and Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Switzerland, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, &c, perhaps the most splendid results of its work are to be met with in the United States and in Canada. In 1632 many Catholics settled with Lord Baltimore in Maryland. A century and a half later, in 1789, they had so increased that the Congregation of Propaganda withdrew them from the jurisdiction of the vicar apostolic of London and formed a new see in Baltimore, comprising the territory of the United States. In 1808 the sees of New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Bardstown (Louisville) were erected, and Baltimore was made the metropolitan diocese. At the end of 1884 there were twelve metropolitans and seventy-six bishops and vicars apostolic in the United States. In 1659 Mgr. Francois de Laval was the first vicar apostolic of Canada; shortly afterwards the episco-pal see of Quebec was established. Now Canada has four metropolitan and sixteen suffragan sees.

The Italian Government, in virtue of the laws relating to ecclesiastical property of 1866, 1867, and 19th June 1873, sold the Villa Montalto, Fraseati, belonging to the Propaganda, and placed the price in the Italian funds, paying interest to the Congregation. Other property of the Congregation having been sold, a law-suit was entered upon and decided in the Court of Cassation at Rome, 31st May 1881, in favour of the Propaganda. Appeal was made to the
tribunal of Ancona, where, '14th December 1881, decision was given against the Propaganda. Appeal being again made, the Court of Cassation of Rome gave final judgment, 9th February 1884, against the Propaganda. This sentence empowers the Italian Government to sell the landed or immovable property of the Propaganda, place the proceeds in the Italian funds, and pay the interest to the Congregation. Protests against this act have been issued by Pope Leo XIII., by Cardinal Jacobini, secretary of state to the pontiff,
by nearly all the Catholic bishops, and by innumerable thousands of lay Catholics and many Protestants. (D. J.)

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-19 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries