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permitted to add, and to pronounce aloud, in the Holy Liturgy, and especially in the preface to the Mass of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, this word-Immaculate. To these requests, our predecessor and ourselves have yielded with the utmost readiness. It has come to pass, further, Venerable Brethren, that a large number of you have not ceased to address, to our predecessor and ourselves, letters, in which, expressing redoubled wishes and lively solicitations, you have urged us to define as a doctrine of the Catholic Church, that the conception of the blessed Virgin had been immaculate, and absolutely exempt from any soil of original sin. There have not been wanting, also, in our time, men, eminent for genius, virtue, piety, and doctrine, who, in their learned and laborious writings, have cast a light so brilliant upon this subject, and upon this very pious opinion, that many persons are astonished that the Church and the Apostolic See have not yet decreed to the thrice Holy Virgin this honor, which the common piety of believers so ardently desire to see assigned to her by a solemn judgment, and by the authority of that same Church and of that same See. Certainly, these wishes have been singularly agreeable and full of consolation for us, who, from our most tender years, have had nothing more dear or more precious than to honor the blessed Virgin Mary with a particular piety, with a special veneration, and with the inmost devotion of our heart, and to do all which seemed to us capable of contributing to her greater glory and praise, and to the extension of her worship. Also, from the commencement of our Pontificate, we have directed, with much earnestness, our cares and our most serious thoughts, to an object of such high importance, and we have not ceased to raise, to the very good and very great God, humble and fervent prayers that he may deign to enlighten our mind with His celestial grace, and to make us know the determination which we ought to take on this subject. We confide especially in this hope, that the Blessed Virgin who has been elevated by the greatness of her merit above all the choirs of ongels, to the throne of God, (St. Greg. Pap. De Expositione, in lib. Regl.) who has bruised, under the foot of her virtue, the head of the ancient serpent; and who, placed between Christ and the Church, (St. Bernard Serm. in Cap. xii, Apocalypse,) all full of grace and of mildness, has always snatched the Christian people from the greatest calamities, from the snares and the attacks of their enemies, and has saved them from ruin, [we hope that she] will deign equally to show us that pity and that immense tenderness which are the habitual effusion of her maternal heart, to deliver us, by her instant and all-powerful advocacy before God, from the sad and lamentable misfortunes, the cruel anguish, the pains and the necessities under which we are suffering, to turn away the plagues of the Divine wrath, which afflicts us for our sins, to appease and disperse the frightful tempests of evil by which the Church is assailed on all sides, to the immense grief of our soul; and in fine, to change our mourning into joy. For you know perfectly, Venerable Brethren,
that the foundation of our confidence is in the thrice Holy Virgin; since it is in her that God has placed the fullness of all good, so that if there is in us any hope, if there is any favor, if there is any salvation, we know that it is from her that we receive it, because this is the will of Him who has willed that we should have all things through Mary.
In consequence, we have chosen some ecclesiastics distinguished by their piety, and well versed in theological studies, and at the same time a certain number of our Venerable Brethren the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, illustrious by their virtue, their religion, their wisdom, their prudence, and by the knowledge of divine things; and we have given them the mission to examine with the greatest care, in all respects, this grave subject, according to their prudence and their doctrine, and afterwards to submit to us their advice with all the maturity possible. In this state of things, we have believed it our duty to follow the illustrious steps of our predecessors, and to imitate their example.
It is on this account, Venerable Brethren, that we address to you these letters, by which we excite earnestly your distinguished piety and your episcopal solicitude, and we exhort each of you, according to his judgment, to order and cause to be recited, in his Diocese, public prayers, that the merciful Father of lights may deign to enlighten us with the superior brightness of his Holy Spirit, and to inspire us with a breath from on high, and that, in an affair of so great importance, we may be able to take the resolution which shall the most contribute to the glory of his holy name, as well as to the praise of the Blessed Virgin, and the profit of the militant Church. We earnestly wish that you should let us know, as promptly as possible, with what devotion your Clergy and the faithful people are animated towards the conception of the Immaculate Virgin, and what is their desire to see the Apostolic See issue a decree on this matter. We desire especially to know, Venerable Brethren, what are, on this subject, the wishes and feelings of your eminent wisdom. And as we have already accorded to the Clergy of Rome the authority to recite a proper canonical office of the Conception of the thrice holy Virgin, composed and printed quite recently, in place of the office which is found in the ordinary breviary, we accord to you also, by the present letters, Venerable Brethren, the right to permit, if you judge it becoming, to all the Clergy of your Diocese to recite, freely and lawfully, the same office of the Conception of the thrice holy Virgin, which the Clergy of Rome are actually using, without it being necessary for you to demand this permission from us or from our sacred congregation of rites.
We doubt, in no wise, Venerable Brethren, that your singular piety towards the thrice holy Virgin Mary, will make you yield with the greatest care and the liveliest earnestness to the desires which we express, and that you will hasten to transmit to us in time fitting the answers which we ask. In the meantime receive, as a pledge of all the celestial favors, and above all as a pledge of our good will
towards you, the apostolic benediction, which we give from the bottom of our heart, to you, Venerable Brethren, as also to all the Clergy, and all the faithful laity confided to your vigilance.
Given at Gaeta, the second day of February, in the year 1849, in the third year of our Pontificate.
With Pius Ninth as a potentate, playing the game of kings, or as an impostor asserting dominion over our faith, we feel at liberty to deal as with any other who tries the trick of democratic kingcraft, or insults the liberties of the Catholic Church. Yet, in seriously considering a letter, in which he asks aid from the opinions of the whole Catholic world, and virtually comes down from his assumed judgment-seat of controversy, we would not forget the respect due to the document of a bishop, even though we earnestly suggest that it lies under that terrible anathema, which is pronounced by St. Paul against another gospel, with the proviso of its being delivered by an apostle, or by an angel from heaven. At least three things are of especial weight in our estimate of its import. It is the boldest thing that has been done by the papacy since the publication of the Tridentine Creed; and as it proposes to do what the Tridentine Synod dared not undertake, it is altogether the boldest thing that a Pope has done since the Middle Ages. It is the broadest and most significant adoption of the theory of development, as the real theory of Romish faith; and hence it is an adoption of the principle of progress in Christianity. And it is the basis and pledge of further developments, which cannot now be predicted, or even imagined. This to us is the most startling consideration, which it inspires. If a doctrine which in the 12th century was a novelty, shocking to St. Bernard, and intolerable to him, even though he had surpassed his predecessors in homage to the Virgin; and which, ever since, has been a debatable opinion, and one long contested, and fiercely impugned, by the strongest parties in the Roman Church; if such a doctrine, while slowly gaining credit, as a mere opinion, has been able to alter the Latin Ritual, and to infuse itself into the whole spirit of Latin theology; what will it not demand, when it becomes as inseparable from the Creed, as the doctrine of the Trinity? Let us reflect that at present the whole system of Mariolatry rests upon a mere opinion, and one far less important than the opinion of the Immaculate Conception. The Assumption is a mere matter of pious belief, favored but not formally attested by the Roman Church; and one of which such a papist as Alban Butler can say that while we ought to receive
it with deference, as an ancient tradition, we ought to be discreet, and not "put opinions, any way, upon a level with articles of faith, or matters of divine revelation." Yet from this mere opinion (studia abeunt in mores) has risen that whole "Deification of St. Mary," which already pushes aside the worship of the Trinity, in many Romish countries, and which is now developed into another doctrine, and through that into a Creed, from which any degree of apostate progress may be made, with accelerated rapidity. What can possibly deny the Father and the Son, in a more practical way, or more fully define another Gospel, and an Antichrist?
It is interesting to see how a mere opinion is made the whole foundation for an article of the Faith. The pope gives three quotations, from two of those fathers of the Church, whose times make them of minor authority, which, while they commend the "pious belief," that Mary was translated, after death, into the heaven of heavens, are the utmost he can bring to sustain his doctrine with any show of antiquity. Yet they have nothing to do with the Conception; and the most imposing of the quotations, though given without reference, is actually from the writings of that St. Bernard, who so abominated and anathematized the mere suggestion that Mary was purely conceived. "You know perfectly, venerable brethren," says the letter, "that the foundation of our confidence is in the most holy Virgin; since it is in her that GOD has placed the plenitude of all good." The whole quotation is taken from a sermon of St. Bernard,* preached on the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin, in which he grievously departs from his own principle and honest intention of not being more learned or devout than the primitive Fathers. He had adopted, as we too should probably have adopted in that day, the common superstitions with regard to the Virgin, which he had not the wisdom to estimate either as to their origin or results. He held them without scruple, however, for, forgetting the Vincentian test, he imagined that the Church held them, as at least lawful surmises. But he went no further. He did not confound them with the faith; and he strongly resisted their further development. As he is commonly reckoned the Last of the Fathers, it is of great importance to observe that on this matter of the Conception, we of the Anglican communion, have, therefore, the undeniable testimony of the whole body of the Fathers, as well as that of the greatest of the Schoolmen, in support of our contempt
* De Aquæductu.
for this most heretical novelty, and this worst of all the corruptions of Tridentine Rome.
For the Mariolatry of St. Bernard, great allowances are to be made. It was, as we have said, a mere persuasion; and in fact, he made it more a matter of poetry, than of doctrine. We must not forget, that of a Tridentine pope, and a Tridentine theology, he had no knowledge. The rising school divinity, which contained their germ, he earnestly withstood, in his contest with Abelard. He in fact repudiated it, in the strong language in which he condemned the tendencies of that famous scholastic. "To the contempt of the Church's doctors," says he, "Abelard-going forth like a Goliath, with Arnold of Brixia for his armor-bearer-lauds the philosophers, and prefers their inventions, and their novelties, to the doctrine and faith of the Catholic Fathers; and when all fly before him, me too, the least of all, he challenges to single combat." In the same connection, he prefers a complaint against the growing plague, which seems an inspired prophecy of its great result-the Council of Trent. "A new gospel is forged for people and nations; a new faith is proposed; another foundation is laid, than that which was laid. Of morals-it treats not morally; of the Sacraments-not faithfully; of the mystery of the Trinity, it debates neither soberly, nor simply; but proposes every thing perversely; every thing, in an extraordinary way; every thing-just as we have received it not." Judge what St. Bernard would have said, had he lived to see the same philosophy exalted into the Faith of the Roman, and of the Gallic Church, and treating of the Incarnation, so presumptuously, as to make it begin with that Conception of St. Mary which he accounted a lie, and which he argued might as well be extended back to Bathsheba and Ruth! We deplore, then, St. Bernard's imaginative Mariolatry, but we must make a grand distinction between it, and that of Pio Nono. In the whole letter of the latter, no mention is made of JESUS CHRIST; but all that Bernard says of Mary is kept in scale, with what he says of Christ. Those who are familiar with his writings know that, extravagant as are his raptures with regard to the Virgin, they are but the fringes and tassels of that language of wrought gold with which he invests His Redeemer. He exalts even Mary for His sake, not for her own; and nobly protests against so exalting her as to rob the Lord of Glory of His incommunicable regalities. His ardent fancy beheld the Virgin in the crowned woman of the Apocalypse; in the fervid imagery of the Canticles; in Mary of Bethany, and even in Gideon's