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Crisostomo Henriquez

A Cistercian religious of the Spanish Congregation; b. at Madrid, 1594; d. December 23, 1632

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Henriquez, CRISOSTOMO, a Cistercian religious of the Spanish Congregation; b. at Madrid, 1594; d. December 23, 1632, at Louvain. At the age of thirteen, after having finished his humanities, he entered the Cistercian monastery of Huerta, where he received the religious habit, and in 1612 was admitted to profession. He was then sent by his superiors to different monasteries of the order, where he studied successively philosophy and theology under the most eminent professors. During his studies he manifested a marked aptitude and taste for historical research; and, while yet a student, published his first work, the “History of the Monastery of Meyra”. Having completed his studies, he returned to Huerta. During this time his parents had left Spain to take up their residence at the court of the Archduke Albert, Governor of Flanders, and at their request this prince wrote to the general of the Cistercian Congregation of Spain to ask that Henriquez be sent to the Low Countries. The general acceded to this petition, and Henriquez left Spain never to see it again.

He now received from his superiors the command to write the history of the Cistercian Order. With this end in view, he visited the various Flemish monasteries, especially those of Aulnes, of Villers, and of Dunes—then the most flourishing in all Europe—consulting their libraries, studying their archives, and seeking all the information obtainable for the realization of his great project; everywhere he received cordial cooperation, his amiable character having won the sympathy and goodwill of all. A complete list of all his works cannot be given within the limits of this article. From 1619 until 1632 he published upwards of forty separate works in Latin, Spanish, and Flemish, chief among them being “Thesaurus Evangelicus vel Relatio Illustrium Virorum Ordinis Cisterciensis in Hibernia”, which was among his earliest works; “Sol Cisterciensis in Belgio”, or “History of men remarkable for their virtues and miracles of the Abbey of Villers, so fruitful in saints” “Fasciculus SS. O. C.”, where he recounts the lives of the patriarchs, prelates, abbots, defenders of the Faith, and martyrs of the order, and also speaks of the origin of the military orders; “Coronae Sacrae O. C.”, in which he gives the lives of queens and princesses who had renounced the world in order to be clothed with the Cistercian habit. In his “Bernardus Immaculatus” he explains and justifies the opinion of St. Bernard concerning the Immaculate Conception, the sanctification of St. John the Baptist, and the beatitude of the elect before the general resurrection. In “Phoenix Reviviscens” he gives interesting notices of ancient Cistercian authors in England and modern ones of Spain. It is in this work also that he gives us a short autobiographical sketch. His “Menologium Cisterciense” (2 vols., folio) was his principal work; in the first volume he gives the lives of Cistercians notable for their sanctity, while the second volume contains the rule, the constitutions, and privileges of the order, with a history of the founding of the military orders thereunto attached. It was through him, too, that portraits were engraved of very many of the beatified and other illustrious members of the Cistercian Order, for the honor and glory of which he never ceased to labor during his all too brief life.

All his works are written in a style at once elegant and concise, and manifest a profound erudition; nevertheless, they are not wholly without fault. Claude Chalemot, Cistercian Abbot of La Colombe (France), an esteemed historian, reproaches him with having omitted many saints of the order, and of having inserted persons in his menology who have no right to be there, either because they did not merit it or because they were never clothed with the Cistercian habit. Another fault is that he does not always give the dates with exactitude. He was, however, an exemplary religious from every point of view, his knowledge was only equalled by his humility, and his submission to his superiors was unqualified, while his agreeable demeanor gained for him the affection of all. His superiors were lavish in bestowing on him marks of esteem and honorable titles. He was appointed successively historian of the Spanish Congregation of the Cistercian Order, afterwards vicar-general of the same congregation, and finally Grand Prior of the Military Order of Calatrava.



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