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Thomas Codrington

Catholic divine (d. 1691?)

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Codrington, THOMAS (d. 1691?), Catholic divine, chiefly known for his attempt to introduce into England the “Institute of Secular Priests Living in Community”, founded in Bavaria by Bartholomaus Holzhauser. He was educated and ordained priest at Douai, where he taught humanities for a time. Later on he lived with Cardinal Howard at Rome, acting as his chaplain and secretary. He returned to England in July, 1684, and on the accession of James II in the following year, he was appointed one of the royal chaplains and preachers in ordinary. While he was in Rome he had joined the institute above mentioned, in which Cardinal Howard took a great personal interest, and his return to England seemed to the superior, Father Hofer, a favorable opportunity for extending the institute. Accordingly Mr. Codrington and his companion, Mr. John Morgan, were appointed procurators to introduce the institute into England. The object of the society, the constitutions of which had been approved by Innocent XI in 1680, was to encourage community-life among the secular clergy. This was to be attained by priests residing together, and doing their work from a common center, all being subject to the bishop. In this work he received much assistance from Cardinal Howard, who addressed letters both to the secular clergy and to the dean of the chapter, exhorting all English priests to join the institute. Even before leaving Rome he had been active in propagating the institute, and had, with his colleagues, endeavored not only to introduce it into all the English colleges abroad, but even to make it obligatory on the superiors by a decree. Some progress was in fact made, but before much could be effected the Revolution took place, and in 1688 James II fled from England. Mr. Codrington followed his patron abroad to Saint-Germain, where he continued to act as chaplain until his death, which took place about 1691. For some years strenuous efforts were made to spread the institute in England, and in 1697 special constitutions, designed to meet the peculiar circumstances of English priests, were published with a preface, which shows that several of the leading missioners had joined it. The chapter, however, were unrelenting, on the ground that it was unsuitable in England and would lead to dissensions among the clergy, and ultimately Bishop Giffard suppressed it. Mr. Codrington published a sermon preached before the king and queen, November 28, 1686, and another preached before the queen-dowager, February 6, 1687. The former of these was republished in the 1741 reprint entitled “Catholic Sermons”.

EDWIN BURTON


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