The conventional designation of the country more properly called the Netherlands
Holland. — The conventional designation of the country (more properly called THE NETHERLANDS), occupying an area of 12,648 square miles on the shores of the North Sea and the Zuyder Zee, about the mouths of the Rhine and Meuse. This country is contiguous to Belgium, on the south, and to Hanover, Westphalia, and Rhenish Prussia, on the east. The name, Holland, was originally applied only to a countship which occupied the territory now covered by two provinces (North and South Holland) of the modern Kingdom of the Netherlands. The history and actual conditions of Holland will be treated under these heads: I. The Republic; II. The French Period; III. The Kingdom; IV. Statistics.
I. THE REPUBLIC.—Almost all of the region comprising what we now call Holland belonged in the Middle Ages to the Counts of Holland, the Bishops of Utrecht, and the Dukes of Brabant and Gelderland. Between 1433 and 1543 all these territories came successively under the dominion of Burgundy and the House of Austria, which through hereditary succession also acquired Spain. Consequently, Holland belonged to Spain and was governed by Charles V and, after 1555, by Philip II. In 1566 occurred the revolt which resulted in the secession not only of the northern, but also of the southern, provinces. Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma, succeeded, by the treaties of Utrecht (January 6 and May 17, 1579), in restoring some of the southern districts to the Spanish monarchy. Thus Belgium was preserved in the Faith. William of Orange, to bring about a closer union among the northern districts, concluded the Union of Utrecht (January 23, 1579), signed by Gelderland, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Groningen, and the neighboring states, also by a number of Belgian cities which had been subject to Parma, and he induced the States-General to confer the sovereignty upon the Duke of Anjou.
Before Anjou could be recognized as sovereign, it was first necessary to renounce the legitimate prince. This was done at Bois-le-Duc July 24, 1581, though the majority of the inhabitants disapproved of the act. Anjou took possession February 12, 1582. He was solely occupied with increasing his power (French Fury, 1583) and was forced to flee the indignation of the populace (1584). Orange was killed on July 10, 1584, by Balthasar Gerards. The States-General requested that Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, friend and confidant of Queen Elizabeth, should act as governor. Unequal to the task laid upon him, he was not the man to succeed William of Orange. When it became known that he had been charged with the mission of bringing about peace with Spain, his power was at an end.
The States themselves now took in hand the direction of affairs. The States-General, consisting of delegates from seven provinces—Gelderland, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Overijsel, Groningen, and Friesland—undertook the government of the republic. Neither Drenthe nor the conquered provinces over which the States-General now held suzerainty—namely, Brabant, Flanders, Limburg, Upper Gelderland, and Westerwolde—had any vote in that body. The delegates had an imperative commission and for each district one vote. The executive power was vested in the Council of State, consisting of twelve members. By degrees, however, the States-General themselves assumed the conduct of most of the affairs of government, which was disastrous to the prosperity of the republic.
Freedom of worship was out of the question in the republic. An article in the Union of Utrecht recognized freedom of worship outside of Holland and Zeeland, but this was not effective. The political supremacy of Orange carried with it the political supremacy of Calvinism. Wherever the revolutionary party was in the ascendancy, the Catholics were persecuted. Not only the States of Holland and Zeeland, but the cities as well set the example in this respect which was followed by all the districts; and on December 2, 1581, William of Orange issued an edict in which the Catholic cult was forbidden. In Gelderland this order was put in force with great severity by John of Nassau, William’s brother, and by his cousin, Louis of Nassau, in Groningen, in the surrounding country, and in Drenthe. Although only a small portion of the population adhered to the heresy, all the churches were turned over to the Calvinists. Continued oppression, violation of religious peace, renewed iconoclasm and plundering under Hohenlohe and Sonoy, as well as under the two leaders mentioned above, drove the Catholic population to a desperate resistance, which, however, was violently suppressed. The situation of the Catholics became more and more precarious as Calvinism came to be the only lawful form of worship. Lutheranism was also driven into obscurity. Zwinglians, Anabaptists, and other sects were forbidden to hold public worship, while the Calvinists triumphed. Nor was this progress surprising, for their preachers had been subsidized since 1573 with the revenues of the old Church, confiscated by the State that year.
In 1574 the University of Leyden was founded for the purpose of “forming learned and worthy pastors”. With a similar end in view, Louis of Nassau established a high school at Franeker in Friesland, where, in 1580, Calvinism had gained the upper hand. For the Synod of Dort, held in 1618, see Arminianism. Henceforth, by means of persecution and force, the Reformation made steady, though slow, progress. While rigorous Calvinism acted as if it alone possessed the right of existence in the Netherlands, Catholicism kept its hold upon two-thirds of the population until far into the seventeenth century. The causes of its gradual decline were various. At the beginning of the Reformation, the condition of the clergy, and consequently of the people, was a very sad one. As a means of improvement, the erection of the following new episcopal sees was considered: Middelburg, Haarlem, Deventer, Leeuwaarden, Groningen, Boisle-Duc, and Roermond (1559). The first five were occupied for only a short time. The choice of the first bishops was, in general, not happy. On this account the unfortunate state of the clergy continued, so much so that their corrupt morals led them even to abandon their faith and go over to the heretics, carrying with them whole parishes. Lukewarmness was also rife among the laity. In Holland, as elsewhere, especially in the cities, the irreligious spirit of the Renaissance had weakened the simple faith of many. The principal reason for all this was the continued oppression under which Catholicism suffered. William of Orange proposed to secure victory for the Calvinists by the persecution of the Catholic Church. His son Maurice thought it intolerable that Papists should enjoy the same rights as the Reformed, and opined that they could be held to the Union only by force. The Catholics were persecuted even when all classes took their stand against the Spaniards, and although, at the time of the Pacification of Ghent, all parties, Catholics and Reformed, agreed to cooperate against the common foe. Later on, when Catholics, driven to despair by cruel treatment, showed any disposition to resist, this was at once met by an edict. Divine service was forbidden by the States. The priest who celebrated Divine worship, as well as any one who lent his house for the purpose, was heavily fined. Higher ecclesiastics and foreign regulars were not tolerated in the country.
No Catholic educational institution nor any Catholic book-printing establishment was allowed to exist in the republic. Sending Catholic children to foreign Catholic schools was severely punished. The Catholic was considered inferior, and was excluded from all government service. The manner of procedure in the various provinces and cities was very similar, differing only in the greater or less severity with which the laws were executed. Oftentimes the Catholics were permitted to hold Divine service by paying for the privilege. From the clergy a recognizance was required. These concessions on the part of the officials became very expensive for the faithful. The devout were strengthened, but the tepid fell away. Laborers in the Lord’s vineyard were wanting. Monasteries and abbeys, formerly so numerous, no longer existed. The last congregation of women at Utrecht went out of existence in 1613. In 1608 the French ambassador, Jeannin, wrote that the States confidently believed “that in the present generation Catholicism among them would die of itself”. In 1602, however, the vicar Apostolic, Sasbout Vosmeer, submitted to Rome a very remarkable report. He expressed the positive hope of a “final restoration of Divine worship in this country”. In 1580 the last Archbishop of Utrecht, Frederik Schenck van Toutenburg, had died. He had not been able to render much assistance. Johannes van Bruhesen was chosen vicar-general. The King of Spain named Herman van Rennenberg for the archbishopric, but he died in 1585, before his installation. Johannes van Bruhesen was then designated, but he died in 1600, also before his installation. Sasbout Vosmeer became prominent as vicar-general as early as 1583, and showed much zeal in gathering together the dispersed flock. In 1592 the Apostolic nuncio at Cologne received extended jurisdiction over the Dutch Catholics, and before the end of the same year he named Sasbout Vosmeer vicar Apostolic with jurisdiction over “Holland, Zeeland, and the remaining parts of Lower Germany which, following the inspiration of Satan, had abandoned the Catholic Faith and obedience to their lawful king”. In 1596 Brussels received its own nuncio, to whom was turned over the jurisdiction of the whole of the Netherlands.
In spite of many obstacles, the vicar Apostolic, Sasbout Vosmeer, was consecrated at Rome, in 1602, as titular Archbishop of Philippi. He remained at Cologne, whence he governed his extensive diocese. This state of things continued until his death in 1614. Philippus Rovenius succeeded him and was able to report, in 1616-17, that “priests were, almost without exception, pure in their doctrine, without reproach in their conduct, self-sacrificing and full of zeal for the welfare of the Church and the propagation of the Faith“. The vicars Apostolic received great support in their labors from members of the religious orders, who travelled from place to place as missionaries, encouraging the Catholics, and here and there took up their permanent residence.
The training and education of the regular missionaries took place, of course, outside of the country, for the most part in the southern Netherlands, whither also the feeble and superannuated returned. The secular clergy likewise strove to prepare their young recruits in special institutions. In Amsterdam they succeeded, under Vosmeer, in establishing a kind of preparatory seminary which soon had sixty pupils, but was later transferred to Cologne. Another Dutch seminary was founded by Vosmeer in Bierbeek near Louvain, but it did not thrive. After taking up his residence at Cologne, he enlarged the school which had been transplanted thither and made a seminary of it. But this Cologne establishment was not satisfactory to all and especially not to the Haarlem clergy, most of whom had studied at Louvain.
As a result of this feeling a seminary was founded at Louvain after the death of Vosmeer. Although this last institution gave to Holland many priests, it was, without doubt, a source of great harm to the Church during the prevalence of Jansenism. Most of the priests were animated by the spirit of Baius and Jansenius. In 1701, about three hundred priests declared for Pieter Codde, the first instigator of the Dutch schism. It is true that most of them later came to their senses, but the harm was done. The division between regular and secular priests was fostered to a considerable degree by this Jansenistic spirit. In 1616 there were active as missionaries two hundred secular priests and sixteen Jesuits; by 1700 there were 271 seculars and 108 regular priests. In 1651 Jacobus de la Torre became vicar Apostolic.
He was succeeded in 1655 by Zacharias de Mets, and the latter, in 1665, by Balduinus Kats; in 1668 Johannes van Neerkassel, a friend of the Jansenists Arnauld and Quesnel, became the incumbent of the office. About 1700, under the leadership of Pieter Codde, the Jansenistic split began. Theodore de Cock was banished; in 1705, Gerard Potkamp died; Adam Doemen was not permitted to exercise his functions, and in 1717 Joannes van Bijlevelt was exiled. After this the mission came directly under the control of the papal nuncio at Brussels (1721), who was assisted by the archpriests.
During this period there was great activity. Zeal revived among the Catholics. The garrets and hiding-places which served as churches were always full to their capacity; the catechism was thoroughly taught. In this field the so-called “Klopjes”, a sort of sisterhood that did not live in community, effected a great deal of good. They grew so numerous that the Calvinistic synods, with considerable exaggeration, declared their membership to amount to twenty thousand. Thus the Faith was preserved.
The material progress of the republic was wonderful. No sooner had it torn itself free from Spain than commerce and industry, and consequent wealth, increased from day to day. The chief cause, however, was the military exploits by which independence was established and maintained. Prince Maurice was the first to take the offensive, and he inflicted heavy losses on Spain (1590-1601). In 1596 an alliance was formed with France and England which yielded but little advantage. On the sea the Hollanders covered themselves with glory. A truce extending over twelve years (1609-21) brought rest to both parties. Frederik Hendrik (1625-1647) permanently established Holland’s prestige. The grand pensionary, Jan de Wit, even planned, in concurrence with France, the subjugation of a great part of the southern Netherlands, which would have been unfortunate for the Catholics of Belgium. For a moment the hopes of Holland’s oppressed Catholics revived, when the French army occupied a large part of the provinces and established headquarters at the camp of Zeist near Utrecht. When he invaded the republic, Louis XIV had counted on the general support of the Catholics, but the Catholics conducted themselves as true patriots (Blok). Catholic worship was reestablished in those parts conquered by France. Processions were held as of old. The vicar Apostolic, Neerkassel, enjoyed complete freedom of movement as a Catholic bishop. But with the reconquest of these districts by the Hollanders, all this was changed again. The churches were confiscated and despoiled, and the Catholics were reminded of the edicts against them. However, their liberty was greater than it had been.
Another cause of this improvement was the formation, in 1602, of the East India Company. It received from the States-General a grant of all lands east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of the Straits of Magellan. The conquests of the Company were very numerous and soon formed extensive Dutch possessions. In these possessions, unhappily, the Hollanders destroyed many a flourishing mission, especially in Molucca and Ceylon. In Timor and the Sulu archipelago alone, the Faith resisted their influence. Even at the present day the missionaries come upon the ruins of missions which flourished in those times.
The Holland of those days was one of the first nations of the world. Amsterdam had, in 1658, about 150,000 inhabitants. Its harbors, churches, arsenals, warehouses, and city hall were unequalled. Leyden flourished by means of its cloth trade and its university. Haarlem was the seat of the linen industry. Rotterdam, one of the largest cities in the land, became great through her trade with England. Dordrecht (Dort) was the center of the river traffic, especially in foreign wines. To these commercial centers may be added some thirty smaller cities and four hundred very prosperous villages. Thus Holland properly so called, comprised about one million inhabitants of the republic. Here, above all, was the heart of its commerce. The herring fisheries brought enormous riches. The Rhine traffic was estimated at a hundred millions annually. Besides this the commerce on the Mediterranean overshadowed that of all other nations.
Agriculture also advanced. A great deal of territory was gained by drainage. The Dutch painters, wood-carvers, and scholars of that period are famous. Holland had five universities: Leyden (1575), Franeker (1585), Harderwijck (1600), Groningen (1614), and Utrecht (1636). Besides there were famous schools in Amsterdam, Middleburg, Breda, and Deventer. But many among the lower classes were illiterate. On the other hand piety did not increase; the simplicity of former times gave place to luxury, and this produced indifference in matters of religion among the Protestants, while among the Catholics there were throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries many defections. In the year 1623 the vicar Apostolic estimated the number of Catholics at four hundred thousand; Codde (1700) held the number to be 333,000, while the census of 1810 showed 374,856.
Thus far there has been question of the mission of the north only. In the southern provinces, Brabant and Limburg, the administration of the Church was subject to many vicissitudes. The bishops of Roermond succeeded one another regularly from 1562 to 1801, when Bishop Van Velde van Melroy resigned his bishopric, the jurisdiction of which covered French territory and was joined ecclesiastically to Liege. After 1713 the territory of the Diocese of Roermond belonged partly to Austria and partly to Prussia. Not long after, the Dutch Republic received Venlo and Stevensweert, with the understanding that Catholic worship should remain free, which agreement was adhered to. Brabant did not fare so well. After the capture of Bois-le-Duc (1629), the celebration of the Mass was forbidden, and the churches were turned over to the Reformed. Although the Government became somewhat more lenient, the inimical laws remained on the statute-books until the revolution put an end to the tyranny. By all this Brabant had not only been impoverished, but its morals and culture had dropped to a very low level.
II. THE FRENCH PERIOD.—French ideas of liberty penetrated into Holland, and, in 1795, a revolution took place as a result of which the “Batavian Republic” came into existence (1795-1806), and restored to the oppressed Catholics liberty of worship, equal civil and state rights with the Protestants. The latter were disposed to be tolerant, and the more thoughtful among them were of the opinion that “for dominant Churches to enjoy civil rights beyond any others is in violation of the equality of all.” Neither was the orthodox party unfavorably disposed, cherishing the glad expectation that the revolution would end “with the overthrow of the already violently shaken Roman Church“. The Constitution of the Batavian Republic was not yet proclaimed when the Catholics took the first step towards securing from the Government their rights to reestablish the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In the name of all the clergy, H. F. ten Hulscher, Archpriest of Holland, addressed a petition to the provisional representatives of Holland requesting permission to elect a bishop. The reasons advanced for the request were that the States-General, while oppressing the Church, had, nevertheless, tolerated a vicar Apostolic; that the Jansenists had their bishops, and that Catholics were deprived of the Sacrament of Confirmation except under extraordinary circumstances, as when, in 1792 and 1794, the papal nuncio, Brancadoro, had received permission to administer it. The delegates decided favorably, and, after an interval of two long centuries, the Catholics were once more at liberty to have their hierarchy.
Unfortunately, the unrest of the times did not permit the Catholics to make use of their recovered right. For the time being, the question of bishops remained undecided. In the meantime freedom of worship was more and more firmly established. The Government of the Batavian Republic, on April 8, 1800, decreed that “the State, from now on, would no longer meddle with the organization of the Church“. Complete freedom had at last arrived, but the pope, under the pressure of Napoleon, was unable to provide for the needs which had accumulated in two centuries. For the time, matters remained in statu quo. In 1806 the Batavian Republic ceased to exist, and Louis Napoleon, the brother of the mighty emperor, became King of Holland. In the same year the Constitution was promulgated. In relation to the Church, article six was of special importance. It read: “The king and the law extend protection to all forms of worship which are practiced in the state; by their authority will be determined everything which may be judged necessary for the organization, protection, and exercise of all cults.” However much the Catholics might long for a regular administration of the Church, they had a well-founded fear of state interference; all the more because of certain rumors concerning plans entertained by some counsellors of the Crown. The organization commission which was appointed did not meet with the approval of the higher clergy; nevertheless, the commission, as well as King Louis, seemed well disposed. But the report of the commission did not please the minister of worship. He considered that there were too many bishoprics, and he opposed separate preparatory seminaries for Catholics. In addition, there was the plan of the commission on studies to abandon the theological seminaries of Halder, Warmond, ‘s Heerenberg, and Groote Ypelaar, and to establish in their stead a Catholic academy at one of the universities.
All this was state interference and met, therefore, with disapproval and opposition from the Catholics. It was not put into execution. As has already been stated, popular education was not in a flourishing condition. The Batavian Republic, in 1801 and 1803, had passed school laws which brought about some improvement. Somewhat more was accomplished by the law of 1806, but the good features it contained were almost nullified by the odious restrictions on the erection of separate schools and the use of school books. Under the administration of King Louis a number of churches were restored to the Catholics. They almost forgot the former oppression in their happiness at having a prince who professed their own religion. The King of Holland was unable to satisfy the demands of his brother, who first, on March 6, 1810, annexed Brabant, the southern part of Gelderland, and Zeeland, and, on July 9, after Louis Napoleon had left, the whole country. After the Netherlands had been divided into ten departments the Emperor Napoleon began to rule the Church in Holland with nothing less than tyranny. The Vicar Apostolic of Bois-le-Duc, who forbade public prayers for the excommunicated emperor, was imprisoned at Vincennes. The despotic decree of April 26, 1810, prescribed the division of the dioceses; one of May 10, 1810, ordered that the whole ecclesiastical administration be controlled by a commissioner and by the prefects. The supervision of the seven Dutch departments was discussed in a somewhat milder tone in a regulation of October 18, 1810, which simply declared: “Article two hundred.—The organization of the Catholic and the Protestant clergy will be continued as it exists at present. Article two hundred and seven.—Our minister of worship will report to us as to the needs of churches and their ministers, so that, in case of insufficient support, they may be provided for.” On January 6, 1811, it was finally determined that the French laws and regulations should be in force in the Dutch departments in so far as they were compatible with the existing church organization. In consequence, former regulations in the main continued.
In 1810 Napoleon himself visited Holland. With the utmost shamelessness he thundered against the clergy at Antwerp, Breda, and elsewhere. The high schools of Franeker and Harderwijk were abandoned permanently, the burying of the dead in churches was forbidden, civil and political rights were defined, and the judiciary was organized. In 1810 Napoleon ordered a census to be taken. Exclusive of a very large part of the present province of Limburg, the population amounted to 1,727,918. Of these 374,856 were Catholics; 1,128,804 were Reformed; the remainder consisted of Lutherans, Baptists, and Jews. There were 408 priests, who received from the State, as salary, 14,280 francs, and for the expenses of public worship, 476,069 francs. Besides this they had a revenue of their own amounting to 193,321 francs. After the defeat of Napoleon at Leipzig on November 16, 1813, the population of Amsterdam and The Hague revolted against French rule, the French general, Molitor, left the country, and Napoleon was abjured.
III. THE KINGDOM.—On November 30, 1813, William, son of the last stadtholder, William V, landed at Scheveningen and, as King William I, assumed sovereign authority on the condition that a Constitution would immediately be formulated. This Constitution of 1814 was formulated in great haste. Freedom of worship was granted, but unfortunately there was a fatal condition attached, namely, “the right of inspection and control over those institutions which enjoy assistance or a subsidy from the State” (Article CXXXIX). The Catholics did not agree to this right of control and of inspection, and refused to accept any subsidy from the State “under such conditions”. Even after the Government had, on May 16, 1814, given out a reassuring declaration, and after Pope Pius VII‘s pacifying intervention, there remained a suspicion in the minds of most Catholics. In 1815 Belgium was, in an evil hour, united with Holland under the dominion of William I. Two of the conditions set forth by the Congress of Vienna were that the United Kingdom was to be governed in conformity with the constitution already in existence in Holland, which was to be modified (Article I), according to circumstances, as follows: “No innovation shall be made in the articles of this constitution which assure equal protection and favor to all religions, and [which] guarantee to all citizens, of whatever religious belief, admission to public employments and offices” (Article II). This article was afterwards violated by the Government.
The modified constitution was submitted to the delegates and, in Holland, unanimously approved. This was not the case in Belgium, however. It soon became apparent that the Government was not favorably disposed towards Catholics. Although Belgium suffered most as the result of this attitude, Holland also felt its consequences. That country had, in 1818, about 2,000,000 inhabitants of whom almost 400,000 were Catholics. This was the period of concordats. In Holland, as well as elsewhere, negotiations with the Holy See were very desirable; but every move in this direction failed, owing to the ill-will and unfriendly attitude of the Government, which was controlled chiefly by the ministers van Maanen, van Gobbelschroy, and Baron Goubau, who, in 1815, became chief of the Department of Public Worship. In 1823 Monsignor Ignatius, Count Nasalli, came to The Hague and conferred with the authorities for almost two years, but he failed to bring about an understanding. The blame for this failure was laid upon the Holy Father, who, it was said, should have been more forbearing. The distrust increased on both sides. A system of espionage was inaugurated in regard to the regular clergy. The Jesuits and the school brothers were no longer tolerated. Minister van Maanen worked with great haste on an “organization of the Roman Catholic Communion” which was to be put into operation without the intervention of Rome. The plan proposed four bishoprics: Utrecht, Bois-le-Duc, Haarlem, and Groningen, each to have a chapter. The Church in the Netherlands was to be independent of Rome and under the sole dominion of the bishops, with the Metropolitan of Utrecht in control in Holland. The plan did not materialize, because a prominent Protestant warned the king against the danger of schism. On June 14, 1825, appeared the fatal decrees which have caused so much evil. The first declared that all Latin schools and colleges which were not in accordance with the law should be closed by September 1, and that the preparatory seminaries were to be replaced by boarding schools in connection with the institutions of learning where the seminarians attended lectures. The second announced the founding of the Collegium Philosophicum.
In consequence of the first decree the three preparatory seminaries in Holland were abandoned. The inauguration of the Collegium Philosophicum, which was to serve as preparatory school to the seminary, took place on October 17. This college, with a capacity for twelve hundred students, was attended by only 551 students during the whole of its five years existence, of which the northern provinces sent only 15, which was a sure sign that the college was held in detestation. Dissatisfaction among the Catholics increased constantly. On September 2, 1826, Count de Visscher de Celles was made ambassador extraordinary to the papal court. The pope, on December 12, named Cardinal Capellari and Monsignor Capaccini to represent the Holy See. The negotiations lasted from January 2 to June 18, 1827. In spite of thousands of obstacles, the concordat was completed, and was signed on the latter date. Of great importance for the North was the decision that bishoprics were to be established at Amsterdam and at Bois-le-Duc, and that each was to have its own seminary and chapter.
Cardinal Capaccini came to Holland to assist with his counsel in putting the concordat into operation. He had to conciliate such powerful enemies as van Maanen, van Ghert, and van Gobbelschroy. Nevertheless, he obtained almost everything—even the abolition of the Collegium Philosophicum. The last details had not yet been agreed upon, when there broke out at Brussels the uprising by means of which Belgium threw off the yoke of Holland (1830). While in Belgium all the bishops had already been appointed, the king had delayed providing for Holland, so that nothing was done. Bois-le-Duc had to wait a long time for its bishop. Amsterdam was destined never to receive one. But the concordat remained in force. After the separation of Holland and Belgium, the religious conditions in Zeeland, Dutch Limburg, and Brabant were the first to be settled. Parishes belonging to the two Dutch provinces were not permitted to form part of the Diocese of Liege, which belonged to Belgium. At first there was thought of joining Dutch Limburg to the Vicariate Apostolic of Bois-le-Duc. The Limburgers petitioned not only Rome, but The Hague as well, and Pope Gregory XVI, June 2, 1840, established the Vicariate Apostolic of Limburg. The vicar Apostolic took up his residence at Roermond. At the same time the vicariate, comprising Grave, Ravenstein, and Megen, was joined to that of Bois-le-Duc. Finally, on March 19, 1841, Gregory XVI issued a Brief embodying in the Vicariate of
Breda those parishes in Zeeland which had belonged to the Diocese of Ghent.
On October 7, 1840, William I abdicated and married the Catholic Belgian Countess Henriette d’Oultremont. William II succeeded him. On November 28, 1840, the king signed two decrees in favor of religious communities. Again the intolerance and opposition of the Protestants were manifested so intensely that not alone the Catholics, but the king as well became uneasy. On May 19, 1841, Monsignor Capaccini went to The Hague to confer about the concordat. At that time the southern provinces (Dutch Limburg and North Brabant) had about 700,000 Catholics, and the northern provinces 400,000, so that the total number of Catholics in the whole kingdom amounted to 1,100,000. It was realized that the concordat could not be made operative at that time and must remain in suspense. Holland remained under the supervision of the archpriests over whom stood the vice-superior, or internuncio, of The Hague. Limburg already had a vicariate. Two new ones were established, at Bois-le-Duc, and at Breda.
For the time being, the king could do no more. In order to put the Jansenists on the same footing as the Catholics, their bishops were, from now until 1853, no longer recognized as such by the Government. No changes had been made in the law governing elementary education since April 3, 1806. This had proved disastrous for the Catholics. William II promised something better, but he could not do much as yet. A royal decree concerning elementary instruction appeared on January 2, 1842. The greatest benefit to the Catholics resulted from Article X, by which the public and private schools were obliged to furnish the clergymen of the different denominations “in their city or municipality in response to their written application for the same, a list of the books, songs, and writings in use in their instruction and schools”. From this period dates the actual emancipation of the Catholics; since 1795 it had existed in theory only. This is particularly noticeable in the Catholic literature. For a long time past efforts had been made at establishing periodicals. The “Godsdienstvriend” (1818) and the “Catholyke Nederl. Stemmen”, founded by the convert Le Sage ten Broek, alone survived. Those who tried to follow his example did not succeed. In 1841 “De Katholiek” was founded; it exists still, and has accomplished untold good for Catholicism in Holland. The first Catholic daily paper was “De Noord-Brabander” (1829), then followed “De Tijd” (1845) at first published in Bois-le-Duc, but, in 1846, transferred to Amsterdam, where it was to surpass greatly its predecessor. During the struggle for emancipation “De Katholiek” and “De Tijd” rendered the greatest service of any periodicals in Holland.
Another sign of emancipation was the formation of the Catholic Committee (1848), which in its first year consisted of eighteen prominent Catholics. The committee fostered the project of a general Catholic association, a general Catholic electoral association, a Catholic daily paper in French to be published at The Hague, and the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy. All except the first of these objects were attained. In 1847 the placet was removed from the penal code, principally through the intervention of the king, in spite of the strong Protestant opposition. When the Constitution was amended in 1848, Catholics made known their wants and obtained more than they could have hoped for. Article X favored the monastic state; Article CLXIV concerning freedom of worship was better formulated. Article CLXVIII accorded salaries to the Catholic clergy, but treated the Protestants more liberally. Through Article CLXX the placet became a thing of the past.
Unfortunately, William II died on March 17, 1849. His successor was William III. After the revision ofthe Constitution under the Liberal Thorbecke ministry, the Catholics were more than ever before hopeful as to the restoration of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The initiative was taken by prominent laymen, who, even before the revision of the Constitution, had presented a petition. After 1848 different petitions from laymen and from Catholic members of Parliament followed one another. At first the higher clergy feared too much interference on the part of the laity; but the higher clergy were soon carried along with the general movement, and, in 1851, sent a petition to the pope requesting the reestablishment of the hierarchy. After Rome and the Dutch Government had agreed that on the restoration of the hierarchy the Concordat of 1827 and the agreement of 1841 should cease to exist, the minister of foreign affairs, van Sonsbeek, and the internuncio, Belgrado, continued the negotiations. On October 16, 1852, the last document was signed by the minister of foreign affairs.
Rome was now free to proceed to the erection of the hierarchy. The Dutch Ministry denied that the preliminary notification promised by Cardinal Antonelli the papal secretary of state, had been duly transmitted by the internuncio, and a dispute thereupon arose between the Holy See and the Netherlands Government. But while this dispute went on, the curial officials were busy in Rome preparing the Brief, signed March 4, 1853, which provided for the restoration of the hierarchy. An archbishopric was to be established at Utrecht, and four bishoprics at Haarlem, Bois-le-Duc, Roermond, and Breda respectively.
When the appointment of bishops was announced the so-called “Aprilbeweging” (April Movement) broke forth, during which, in a few days’ time, hundreds of pamphlets and circulars gave vent to the spite of intolerant Protestants against Rome, against the Catholics, and against the Government. The king dissolved the Thorbecke cabinet in order to appease the anger of the Protestants. The law of September 10, 1853, in which Catholic worship and the Catholics were slightly favored, was greeted in the same manner. The bishops were officially recognized on September 23, 1853, and on the same day they received the franking privilege for all correspondence relating to their office. On September 24, the king signed a decree allowing the bishops the same salary which had been paid the vicars Apostolic, namely, 2500 florins (about $1000). The secretaries received 400 florins and administration expenses to the amount of 6 florins for every parish within their jurisdiction. On November 7, 1853, the Archbishop of Utrecht received the pallium. In October, 1856, the division of parishes was approved and, shortly afterwards, enforced. On July 23, 1858, appeared the constitution for the erection of chapters, each one of which was to have eight canons, these, however, not to receive any pay from the State.
At the time of the restoration of the hierarchy, the number of Catholics and Catholic parishes was as follows: the mission of Utrecht and Haarlem, 542,590 Catholics in 435 parishes; Bois-le-Duc, 340,000 Catholics in 222 parishes; Breda, 125,181 Catholics in 77 parishes, Roermond, 196,152 Catholics in 184 parishes; total, 1,203,923 Catholics in 918 parishes. These were ministered to by 1552 ecclesiastics—918 pastors and 634 assistants. The Church in Holland was to experience a great revival after the restoration of the hierarchy. The last provincial synod had been held in 1565 by the Archbishop of Utrecht, Frederik Schenck van Toutenburg. Exactly three centuries later, September 24, 1865, the First Provincial Synod of Utrecht assembled in St. John’s church at Boisle-Duc. It furnished the basis for those of the diocesan synods which were to take place in all the diocesan seminaries in 1867. In lieu of synods, Rome, on July 16, 1866, ordered that, “once every year the pastors shall meet under the presidency of the dean of the district; in the same manner shall the deans meet once a year with their bishops. Every year the bishop shall call a meeting of his chapter, some professors of the diocesan seminary, and some pastors. This meeting shall take the place of the diocesan synod and shall therefore be called a pro-synodal meeting. The bishops shall meet at least once a year. This meeting shall replace the provincial synod”.
Strong proof of the flourishing condition of the Church in the Netherlands is offered by the struggle for Catholic education. After 1857 every state school was neutral and without religious instruction. There were but few private schools. The danger was great. The bishops issued the famous joint pastoral letter of July 22, 1868, on education, which forbade parents to send their children to neutral schools wherever there was a Catholic school. This caused the establishment of a large number of private schools. Another great blessing was the closer relations with Rome. This was shown not only by the increased Peter’s-pence, but also by the thousands of Zouaves who left Holland for Rome to fight for the pope. It was further manifested by the Park Meeting of 4000 Catholics at Amsterdam on June 21, 1871, and the meetings of December 17, 1888, at Utrecht and September 22, 1895, at Bois-le-Duc. The St. Vincent de Paul Society was flourishing by 1845.
Moreover, since 1853, fully one hundred and fifty churches have been restored and enlarged and about five hundred new ones have been erected at an expense of at least 50,000,000 florins, Besides, many magnificent monasteries, seminaries, and colleges have been established. To ensure these ecclesiastical buildings the St. Donatus Ecclesiastical Insurance Society was founded in 1852. For the promotion of religion and learning societies of “Faith and Science” have been formed. There is a central organization with twelve branches. The “Peter Canisius Apologetic Association” proclaims its object by its title. So also the association for the study of science among Catholics of the Netherlands, with sections for jurisprudence, medicine, the natural sciences, and literature, which has in all three hundred and thirty members. With the object of founding a Catholic high school the “St. Radbond-Stichting” was organized a few years ago. In the meantime, great efforts have been made since 1880 to diffuse Catholic knowledge and promote Catholic life among Catholic students. Among themselves they have formed associations of “Faith and Science” in the cities of Amsterdam, Leyden, Groningen, and Delft. Since 1901 the Catholic students have published a year-book.
Catholic social action has been flourishing now for ten years. There is a Catholic “People’s Union”; every diocese has a union of different workingmen’s societies which, in turn, are formed into federations. There are branches wherever a number of working-men are to be found. In addition, there are twelve or thirteen professional associations with a membership extending over all the country. Their meetings are productive of good by their useful resolutions. The middle classes of the citizens have also organized and in each diocese number many associations under the old name of “Hanse”. But it is the protectories, with a central board of direction in every diocese and an establishment in every city and in many villages, which have prospered the most. The association “Sobrietas” is a federation of Catholic societies for the promotion of Christian temperance. Associated with this are the Society of the Cross, for men, the Society of Mary, for women, and the St. Ann’s Society for parents who bring up their children without the use of alcohol. Associations for the moral welfare of soldiers exist in twenty-four cities, kept alive and fostered by diocesan congresses which take place frequently—in the Diocese of Roermond annually.
The Catholic parliamentary party has continued its alliance with the Liberals, who have assisted it even after the restoration of the hierarchy, until about 1869-70. For a time, the attitude of the members of the chambers was wavering; but it became gradually apparent that the Catholics and believing Protestants had the same interests. The baleful educational law of 1879 confirmed the Catholics in this position. In 1883, Schaepman substituted the draft of his program, which led to the union between the Catholics and the Christian National Party. The credit for the formation of this alliance is due to Dr. Schaepman, the celebrated priest, statesman, and poet, and to Dr. Kurper, the leader of the anti-Revolutionists. The Catholic Party and, later, the united parties have obtained many rights. The law of 1861 provided that clergymen and theological students should be exempt from active military service. A law of 1869 accorded to parish authorities the right to establish their own burial-places. The law of 1809, vesting in the civil authorities the right of interference in Church government, was repealed in 1876. But they could not prevent the abolition, after 1870, of the ambassadorship to the papal court. A law enacted in 1889 provides for a subsidy from the State for private elementary schools. In 1901 education was made compulsory. In 1905 the private intermediate schools were subsidized. The University of Amsterdam maintains two professors, who are priests, especially for Catholics. In general, however, Catholic professors are excluded from the universities; hence there are only three or four in all at the four state institutions. They are also ignored in the Royal Academy and in the examining commissions.
IV. STATISTICS.—The population of Holland at the beginning of 1908, according to calculations, amounted to 5,747,269 souls, which number is greatly on the increase. Of these fully 2,000,000 are Catholics, 104,-500 Jews, and almost all the rest Protestants. The Catholics have fallen from 38.99 per cent in 1839, to 35 per cent in 1909. The relative decrease is attributed principally to the less favorable economic conditions in the southern (Catholic) provinces, which conditions cause a very large infant mortality. The number of Catholic parishes in the five dioceses has reached almost 1030, grouped in 76 deaneries; each diocese has its seminary and preparatory seminary, with a total of about 130 professors and 1500 students. There are in Holland about 2400 secular priests, and 140 religious houses of men and 510 of women. Of the former a goodly proportion, and a still greater number of the latter devote themselves to the education of youth. There are nearly 730 private schools and 125,000 pupils. Besides the seminaries there are 21 colleges and high schools, almost all of which are under the control of regulars. Then there are 28 mission houses where religious, both men and women, receive their training as missionaries. Not fewer than 13 missions in Borneo, Brazil, the Dutch West Indies, Porto Rico, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines are maintained by Dutch missionaries. The number of hospitals is about 160, while the hospices, orphanages, reformatories, and poorhouses are very numerous. Of the 105 Catholic journals and periodicals, the following are the most important: “De Katholiek”, “Studien”, “Van Onzen Tijd”, “Katholieke Nederlandsche Stemmen”, “De Tyd”, “De Maasbode”, “Het Centrum”, “De Residentiebode”, “De Voorhoede”, “De Limburger Koerier”, “Het Huisgezin”, and the “Geldenlander”. A majority, both of the Upper and the Lower Chamber, is Christian. Out of 50 members of the Upper House 16 are Catholics, while 25 of the 100 members composing the Lower House are of the Faith. Three of the nine cabinet ministers are Catholics. Except in certain processions, no religious service or religious garb, is permitted outside of church buildings or enclosed grounds. Civil marriage must precede the religious ceremony. This, however, very seldom causes practical difficulties. In accordance with Article CLXXI of the Constitution, the Catholic clergy, as well as that of every other denomination, receives not only salaries from the State, but pensions also. The collective amount paid to the Catholics in 1898, when they formed 35 per cent of the population, was 565,000 florins, while the Reformed and other sects received 1,304,800 florins.