Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 55

          In Parish we had the opportunity of seing [seeing] more visitors than at Issy. This year members of the first pilgrimage to Lourdes visited the seminary. I saw Bishop Boenger of Fort Wayne who was the spiritual director of the pilgrimage, and Father Delieulder of Louisville with whom I was acquainted in America. He had been partially paralyzed and hoped for a cure at Lourdes. In this he was disappointed, but he was resigned to God’s will. I saw him at my return to America three years later and he seemed to be as cheerful as ever.

          Members of the French hierarchy called often, and some of the prelates-elect came to us for a rehearsal of their consecration ceremonies. Of these I remember Bishops Langeniux and Perraud, both of whom became cardinals afterwards. A Roman priest who visited us was once the center of an international storm. This was the Rev. Mortars [Mortara], then a professor in the college of the Propaganda Fide in Rome. He was of Jewish parentage but was baptized by a nurse when in his childhood he was supposed to be in danger of death. The parents refused to permit the child to be brought up as a Christian and the civil authorities withdrew him from their care to place him under Christian influences. This was when the Popes ruled Rome and the Jews were only tolerated there, but with less restrictions than in any other nation. The bigot know-nothings of America protested loudly and even asked the President to interfere. It was the eternal groan of the hypocrite: the Catholic child might most virtuously be taken from its parents and guardians and put in Protestant almshouses, and taught, with or without law, to hate the religion of its father and mother as a mass of superstitions, of scarlet crime and idolatry, but the “Mortara Case” was different in their eyes. The world is wiser now but not exactly sane on this point yet, while Father Mortara, the one most interested, went on with his studies to become a priest of Jesus Christ in order to teach others the blessings of that religion which they wished to deprive him of in his helpless years.

          The celebrated Monseigneur Dupanloup was a visitor, and I remember Archbishop Perche of New Orleans, before he was Bishop of Grass Valley in California. Some of the Irish Bishops called, but they came mostly to see the Abbe Hogan.

          Of the great ones of the world we saw but little. Once, however, we had the honor of a visit to the parish church of Marshal McMahon while he was President of France. He looked very dignified, even royal in his decoration with the broad ribbon of the Legion of Honor across his chest. I can still recall the night of suppressed excitement when we expected him to hand over the supreme authority to the Count deChambord, and let us wake up the next morning as subjects of Henry V, King of France. It was a disappointment to learn that the work of McMahon and his friends was wrecked by the Count’s refusal to accept the tri-color as the flag of his kingdom. He staked his kingdom and lost on an idea which many said was only a sentiment. With him it was a vital principle, and the fleur-de-lis was its expression but his action put an end to the ancien regime and Bourbonism went into an eclipse forever.

          With our fellow students we indulged in no prophecies, but there were some who rose to eminence in their careers. Leon Adolphe Amette was there, future Cardinal-Archbishop of Paris; Paul Bruches was there, the future Archbishop of Montreal; the Abbes Negro and

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