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Herbert Vaughan

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Vaughan, HERBERT, cardinal, and third Archbishop of Westminster, b. at Gloucester, April 15, 1832; d. at St. Joseph‘s College, Mill Hill, Middlesex, June 19, 1903; he came of a family which had been true to the Catholic Faith all through the ages of the persecution. Its members had suffered for their faith in fines and imprisonment and double land taxes. Sometimes, too, they suffered for their politics. In the Civil War they sided with Charles I and were nearly ruined. After the Stuart rising in 1715, John Vaughan of Courtfield refused to take the oath of allegiance to the House of Hanover, and two years later his name appears in a list of “Popish Recusants Convict”. When “Prince Charlie” in 1745 raided south to Derby, two of the Vaughans rode back with him to Scotland and fought by his side at Culloden. Driven into exile, both took service under the Spanish king, and the younger rose to the rank of field-marshal. The son of the elder brother, the great-great-grandfather of the cardinal, was allowed to come back to England and to resume possession of the family estates at Courtfield, in Herefordshire.

Colonel John Vaughan, the cardinal’s father, married, in 1830, Eliza, daughter of Mr. John Rolls, of the Hendre, Monmouthshire, and an aunt of the first Lord Llangattock. Mrs. Vaughan became a convert to the Catholic Faith shortly before her marriage and was, in many ways, a remarkable woman. It was her habit to spend an hour every day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, begging of God that He would call her children to serve Him in the choir or in the sanctuary. In the event all her five daughters entered convents, and of her eight sons six became priests, three of them bishops. Herbert, the eldest born, went to the Jesuit College at Stonyhurst in the spring of 1841, and remained until the summer of 1847. From Stonyhurst he went to the Jesuit College at Brugelette, in Belgium, for three years. From an early age his thoughts had been turned to the priesthood. His mother, writing when he was only fourteen, said she was confident that he would be a priest. His father’s dearest wish was to see him win distinction as an English soldier, but when he was only sixteen he had made up his mind to give himself to the Church. On leaving Brugelette he went to the Benedictines at Downside Abbey for twelve months as an ecclesiastical student. In the autumn of 1851 he arrived in Rome to attend the lectures at the Collegio Romano, and there for a time he shared lodgings with the poet, Aubrey de Vere. The student years in Rome were a time of trial and difficulty. Wretched and incapacitating health made the labor of study a constant strain. At length Vaughan’s friends, fearing that he would not live to reach the canonical age for the priesthood, sought and obtained from the Holy See permission for him to be ordained before the usual time. But with this delicacy of health went something of the energy which was so characteristic of his after career. In the intimate diary which he kept at this time he constantly reproaches himself for his excessive impetuosity in speech and action. He was ordained, at the age of twenty-two, on October 28, 1854, at Lucca, and said his first Mass in Florence at the Church of the Annunziata on the following day.

During all his student years he had hoped to be a missioner in Wales, but at Cardinal Wiseman’s call he now accepted the position of vice-president at St. Edmund’s College, Ware, the principal ecclesiastical seminary for the south of England. He went there in the autumn of 1855, after spending some months in a voyage of discovery among the seminaries of Italy, France, and Germany. Though not yet at the canonical age for the priesthood, and younger than some of the students, he was already vice-president at St. Edmund’s. The position, a difficult one in any case, was made impossible when it became known that he had recently become an Oblate of St. Charles and therefore was a disciple of Manning. At once he was involved in the controversy between Wiseman and his chapter which darkened and embittered the last years of the cardinal’s life. Wiseman was the friend and protector of Manning, and Vaughan was regarded as the representative of a man suspected of a wish to bring all the ecclesiastical education of Southern England under the control of the Oblates. Litigation followed in Rome, and the Oblates eventually withdrew from St. Edmund’s. Vaughan looked back upon his work at St. Edmund’s with a sad sense of frustration. The disappointment worked in two ways. He began to look for external work in the immediate present and, for the future, he dreamed dreams. He collected money and built a church in the county town, Hertford, and founded a mission at Enfield. But he wanted to do something great for God. Since he was a boy his constant prayer had been that whatever else was withheld he might live an intense life. He resolved to consecrate himself to the service of the Foreign Missions. Blessed Peter Claver was his ideal hero and saint, and his first purpose was to go himself to Africa or Japan.

But, gradually, after many months of indecision, he came to want something which should be more permanent than anything dependent on the life of an individual. A great college which should send out an unending stream of missioners to all the heathen lands seemed a worthier object of effort. He had no money but he had a sublime faith, a perfect courage, and he determined to go abroad and beg, and to begin with the Americas. With the approval of Wiseman and the blessing of the pope he set sail for the Caribbean Sea in December, 1863. Landing at Colon, he crossed the Isthmus of Panama, then part of New Granada. The Government was at war with the Church, and the clergy were forbidden to say Mass or to administer the sacraments until they had taken an oath to accept the Constitution, which required what was regarded as an acknowledgment of the supremacy of the civil power in spiritual matters. The churches were all closed and, though hundreds of people were dying of small-pox, they were left to die without the help of a priest. That was enough for Vaughan. He threw himself into the work, said Mass, heard confessions, and gave extreme unction without the least regard for the government prohibition. He was summoned before the president and told to desist. He had promised to say Mass the next morning in the house of a dying woman and to give her Viaticum. He kept his promise, but was taken before the prefect of the town. His offense being admitted he was required to give bail, and instructions were given that he should not be allowed to leave the port. It was clear that he could do no more good in Panama, so, forfeiting his bail, he at once went on board a United States steamer and sailed for San Francisco. Here, in spite of the limitations put to his appeals for money, during a stay of five months he succeeded in collecting $25,000. From California he went back to Panama, intending to beg his way through Peru and Chili, then ride across the Andes into Brazil and thence to sail for home or for Australia. In Peru he collected $15,000, and nearly twice as much in Chili. In March, 1865, he left the cities of the Pacific but, instead of crossing the Cordilleras, he sailed round the Horn in “H. M. S. Charybdis”. In Rio he had an interview with the emperor and money came in fast. In June his campaign was brought to an abrupt close by a letter of recall from Manning, who had just been appointed Archbishop of Westminster, and Vaughan sailed for England in June, 1865.

In the following March the College for Foreign Missions was started in a hired house at Mill Hill, some eight miles from London. It began in a very humble way. Vaughan determined to keep the money he had collected in America as a permanent endowment for the college, as a fund for the maintenance of the students; and when the growing numbers of the students made it necessary to build there was nothing for it but to beg again. Happily friends came to his aid, as they did in a wonderful way all his life, and in March, 1871, a new college, built on a freehold site, was opened with a community of thirty-four. In the autumn of the same year St. Joseph‘s Missionary Society had as-signed to it its first sphere of work among the colored population of the United States. To make himself familiar with the conditions of the problem on the spot Vaughan went back to America, and travelled all through the southern states. He was away seven months, and in that time he visited St. Louis, New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, Memphis, Natchez, and Charleston, making careful investigation in each place as to the spiritual provision for the negro race. Shortly after his return to England his direct super-vision of St. Joseph‘s College was brought to an end by his appointment as Bishop of Salford. But though St. Joseph‘s now had its local superior, Vaughan, to the end of his life, was the head of the Missionary Society. He may have done more conspicuous and important work in his life, but there was none that was dearer to his heart than the founding of this great college, which is still doing the things he planned. His missioners are at work in the Philippines, in Uganda, in Madras, in New Zealand, in Borneo, in Labuan, in the Basin of the Congo, in Kashmir, and in Kafiristan. In 1910 they gave baptism to more than 10,000 pagans.

Among the results of Vaughan’s first visit to the United States must be reckoned a new appreciation of the power of the Press. He came back resolved to own a paper of his own, and eventually bought “The Tablet”. It proved a fortunate investment from every point of view. During the time of the great controversy which preceded the definition of papal infallibility, under the direct editorship of Herbert Vaughan, “The Tablet”, for services to the Catholic cause, received the special thanks of the Holy See.

Vaughan was consecrated Bishop of Salford on October 22, 1872. His first concern was for ecclesiastical education and the proper supply of priests for the diocese. The seminarians were scattered about in different colleges, some in England and some abroad. When they had completed their theological studies at Ushaw, or in Rome, Paris, Valladolid, or Lisbon, they returned to the diocese almost as strangers to each other and to their bishop. Bishop Vaughan planned what he called a pastoral seminary. It was to be attached to his own house, and when clerical students came from Ushaw or seminaries abroad, they were to live with him for a year and, while continuing their ecclesiastical studies, were to be trained by experienced priests in the practical work of a parish. The bishop explained that he had no money for building, but £18,000 was collected and the seminary was built as he desired. He next considered how best to secure a regular supply of candidates for Holy orders. He knew that among the poorer classes there were always boys who, having all the required dispositions for the clerical state, lacked the funds necessary for their education. To meet the difficulty, the bishop endeavored to secure the foundation of a number of burses for the education of ecclesiastical students. In the case of students whose parents were in easy circumstances the difficulty seemed to take another form. With the principal Catholic secondary schools in Lancashire in the hands of the religious orders, an undue proportion of those youths who had vocations for the priesthood would join the regulars and so lessen the ranks of the secular clergy. The bishop thought this difficulty was incidentally met when he had made up his mind to open a commercial college in Manchester. Soon after opening St. Bede‘s he acquired the Manchester Aquarium, and converted it into a central hall and museum for the college. Four years after this purchase the south wing of the college was opened, and the central block was completed in 1884. St. Bede‘s has long since taken its place as one of the recognized and permanent centers of Catholic life in England, and at the time of the cardinal’s death 2000 boys already had been educated within its walls.

Meanwhile litigation in Rome had begun between the English hierarchy and the representatives of the religious orders on a number of important points of jurisdiction and discipline that had been agitated since the restoration of the hierarchy in 1850; such as the exemption of regulars from episcopal jurisdiction; the right of bishops to divide parishes or missions cared for by regulars, and to give the newly-divided parish to secular priests; the obligations of regulars engaged in parish work to attend diocesan conferences or synods; their right to found new houses or schools, or to convert existing institutions to other purposes; the right of bishops to visit canonically institutions in charge of regulars, to inspect accounts, etc. Though Cardinal Manning was the principal in this litigation, the hierarchy deputed Bishop Clifford of Clifton and Bishop Vaughan to represent them in Rome, the latter being intimately concerned in the matter, as a test case had been a claim of the Society of Jesus to reopen in Manchester a college which they had once closed. After a year and a half spent in this matter at Rome, the Bull “Romanos Pontifices” (q.v.) was issued to govern the relations between the religious orders and the bishops in all missionary countries. When Bishop Vaughan first went to Salford he found the diocese comparatively well equipped in regard to its elementary schools, but in most other respects without any sufficient diocesan organization. Long before he left the whole administration was placed on a thorough business footing. Strenuous efforts were made to reduce the burden of debt which weighed upon the diocese. The people were very poor, but they gave generously out of their poverty, and before he left for Westminster the bishop had the satisfaction of knowing that the general debt had been reduced by more than £64,000. The diocesan synods, which formerly had been held every seven years, were made annual. The system of administering the affairs of the diocese through the establishment of deaneries was greatly extended, the dean being made responsible for the proper administration of the missions within the limits of his deanery. A Board of Temporal Administration was formed to advise the bishop on all matters connected with finance. Vaughan was always eager to identify himself in every possible way with the public life of the people of Manchester, with every movement for social reform, and every crusade in behalf of temperance, or sanitation, or the improvement of the houses of the working classes. Lancashire soon came to recognize in him a large-hearted citizen to whom the interests of no class or creed were alien. When he went to Westminster, the proposal to commemorate a great episcopate by placing a marble bust of him in the Manchester Town Hall, at the public cost, was carried without a dissentient voice.

In the autumn of 1884 “a horrible suspicion forced itself on his mind” that every year a multitude of children were being lost to Catholicism, through the neglect of parents, from the operation of the work-house system, and through the efforts of proselytizing societies. A house-to-house census of the whole Catholic population of Manchester and Salford was at once undertaken, and every child in every family had to be traced and accounted for, in whatever part of the country it might have migrated. The bishop instructed his clergy to throw aside all other occupations that were not imperative, for the sake of this work, “let them have fewer services in the churches if these were a hindrance in hunting out the souls that were astray”. By May, 1886, the census was complete. Out of an estimated Catholic population of 100,000 in Manchester and Salford, 74,000 persons were individually registered. Of the children under sixteen no less than 8445 were reported as in danger of losing their faith? and of these 2653 were described as being in extreme danger. Then the Rescue and Protection Society was started. The bishop gave £1000 to its funds on the spot, and the episcopal income for the same object, during the time he remained in Sal-ford. His example was contagious and the people gave generously in money and service. At the outset the bishop issued a public challenge to the Protestant philanthropic societies of the city. Their plea for accepting and detaining Catholic children in their institutions was that the children were destitute. Bishop Vaughan himself boldly undertook to maintain every destitute Catholic child in Manchester and Salford. Public opinion instantly sided with the bishop. In some cases, however, the societies were obdurate, and time after time the law courts had to vindicate the right of poor Catholic parents to recover the guardianship of their own children. One by one the Protestant institutions were emptied of their Catholic inmates.

A greater task remained. The whole workhouse system of Lancashire had to be changed. In the year 1886 it was found that there were over 1000 Catholic children in the fourteen workhouses of Manchester and the neighborhood and that, on the average, 103 Catholic children left the workhouse schools every year. The bishop’s report showed that 80 per cent of these were lost to the Catholic Church. It was no part of the duty of the Lancashire guardians when they placed these children out in service to take care that they were placed in Catholic families. The bishop did not blame the guardians. The faith of a workhouse child, always part of a timid minority, was generally weak and was easily lost amid new Protestant surroundings. At that time London was far ahead of Lancashire in the fairness of its treatment of Catholic Poor Law children. In Middlesex it was already the custom to hand over Catholic children to Catholic Certified Homes with an agreed sum for their maintenance. In Lancashire there were no Catholic Certified Homes for the children. To create such homes the bishop knew would require a vast sum, but his faith in the inexhaustible charity of his people was once more justified. Two great homes were quickly provided and in each case the certificate of the Local Government Board was obtained. There remained the task of persuading the Boards of Guardians to utilize the opportunity now brought to their doors. It was a strong card in the bishop’s hand that he could promise that every child handed over to a Catholic Home should cost the guardians considerably less than if it stayed in the workhouse. The more economical working of the Catholic Homes was, of course, due to the fact that the members of the religious orders who managed them gave their services without payment. Finally, homes were provided for Catholic waifs and strays of whatever sort, whether they came within the reach of the Poor Law or not. Before the bishop left Salford the Rescue and Protection Society had caught up with its work and was fairly abreast with the evil. It is possible even for one who writes under the shadow of Westminster Cathedral, and remembers St. Bede‘s and the missionary College at Mill Hill, to think that it was then Cardinal Vaughan achieved the greatest work of his life.

Cardinal Manning died on January 14, 1892. There never was any doubt in the public mind as to who would succeed him. Vaughan faced the prospect with something like dismay. He thought the day of his strength was nearly done, and that at sixty he was too old to be transplanted to the new world of Westminster. He wrote privately to the pope protesting that he was better fitted to be a Lancashire bishop than the English metropolitan. Rome gave no heed to the letter, and Vaughan was appointed Archbishop of Westminster on March 29, 1892. In May he was enthroned, in August he received the sacred palhum, and jn December he knew that he was to be made a cardinal. He received the red hat from the hands of Leo XIII on January 9, 1893, with the presbyterial title of Sts. Andrew and Gregory on the Caelian. One of the first works to which the archbishop set his hand was to try to improve the education of the clergy by uniting all the resources in men and money of several dioceses for the support of a central seminary at Oscott. In the autumn of 1894 he took steps to reverse the policy which had sought to prevent Catholic parents from sending their sons to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The bishop’s prohibition was being disregarded and evaded, and he thought it better that it should be withdrawn, and steps taken to secure for the Catholic undergraduates such safeguards for their faith in the way of chaplains and special courses of lectures as the circumstances would allow. He lived long enough to be assured that the change for which he was responsible had been completely successful.

During the next few years a great deal of the cardinal’s time and attention was taken up by a controversy which arose out of the movement in favor of corporate reunion associated with the name of Lord Halifax. Representing a small fraction of the Anglican body, Lord Halifax and his friends, warmly encouraged by certain French ecclesiastics, thought the way to reconciliation would be made easier if what they called “a point of contact” could be found which might serve to bring the parties together. It was thought, for instance, that a consideration of the question of Anglican orders might lead to discussion and then to friendly explanations on both sides. If an understanding could be arrived at in regard to the validity of the orders of the English Church, other conferences might be arranged dealing with more difficult points. The cardinal felt that the subject chosen for discussion was unhappily selected. The validity of Anglican orders was mainly a question of fact, and was not one which admitted of any sort of compromise. Moreover even if the orders of the Anglican Church were admitted to be valid, that body would still be as much outside the unity of the Church as the Arians and Nestorians of the past or the Greeks of today. However, he was quite willing that all the facts of the case should be investigated anew—all he insisted on was that the investigation should be as thorough as possible and made by a body of historical experts. A strong commission was appointed consisting of Father de Augustinis, S.J., M. l’Abbe Duchesne, Msgr. Gasparri, Abbot Gasquet, O.S.B., Rev. David Fleming, O.S.F., Canon Moyes, Rev. Dr. T. Scannell, and Rev. Jose de Llevaneras. The commission held its first conference on March 24, 1896. When after a series of meetings the process of investigation was finished, the collected evidence was laid before the cardinals of the Holy Office, who delivered judgment on July 16, 1896, and declared the orders of the Anglican Church to be certainly null and void. This decision was confirmed by the Bull, “Apostolic Sedis”, published on the thirteenth of the following September.

When the cardinal came to Westminster he came resolved to build a great cathedral. His predecessor had secured a site, but the site was mortgaged for £20,000, and there was no money for building. Few men ever collected more money than Cardinal Vaughan, though to him it was always “hateful work”. In July, 1894, he made his first public appeal for the cathedral. In June of the following year the foundation stone was laid and the cardinal had £75,000 in the bank. It was a cathedral of no mean proportions that he meant to build. The design of Bentley (q.v.) combined the idea of a Roman basilica with the constructive improvements introduced by the Byzantine architects. In May, 1899, the building fund stood at £100,848. A little later the sale of a city church which the shifting of the population had made superfluous enabled the cardinal, after setting aside £20,000 for a new church, to add £48,000 to the credit of the cathedral building fund. In June, 1902, he made his last appeal. He asked for another £16,000, and it came. The cathedral was opened for public worship a year later, and Cardinal Vaughan was there before the high altar in his coffin. During the last years of his life the cardinal suffered from almost continuous ill-health. He labored strenuously to the last, especially in the cause of the denominational schools. He had fought their fight for a quarter of a century and had the satisfaction of seeing the great Act of 1902 safely on the statute book. On March 25, 1903, he left Archbishop‘s House for ever. St. Joseph‘s College, Mill Hill, had been his first love and it was his last; he went there to die and he chose it for his place of burial. He lingered on until the nineteenth of June, when the end came a few hours after he had made his public profession of faith in the presence of the Westminster Chapter. When the body was laid out for burial an iron circlet was found driven into the flesh of the left arm. Cardinal Vaughan was a man of strong vitality, and his energies were devoted, with rare singleness of purpose, to one end—the salvation of souls. He loved directness in thought and speech, and had little taste for speculation or analysis. He knew how to win and to hold the allegiance of men, and the touching extracts from his intimate diary which were published after his death showed him to have been a man of exceptional and unsuspected humility.


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