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FATHER JERÓNIMO DOMÉNECH
the Universal Good of the Society over that of a Particular Province
Rome, January 13, 1554
summary | text
of letter | footnotes
Jerónimo Doménech1 was provincial of Sicily and was concerned
about the lack of Jesuits to staff the various positions in his province. He
wrote to Ignatius complaining of the few men who had been sent him for a
harvest so vast, and had commented to some that the founder was not sending
men to Sicily because he had little interest in the place. Ignatius heard of
this remark and directed Polanco to write this letter of reproof. Polanco
writes that Ignatius did not appreciate the provincial's comment, informs him
that the other houses in Italy are likewise suffering from lack of men, and
reminds him that Ignatius has to consider the universal good of the Society
rather than that of any single province. By enumerating the several Italian
colleges that were understaffed, Polanco shows that Sicily is the best
provided of all. Doménech is, of course, to make his needs known to Ignatius,
but he is then to leave everything in the general's hands. Polanco's letter
was written in Spanish [Ep. 6:178-180].
The peace of Christ.
My dear father in
I would much prefer
to write in a way that would console you rather than offend you, but your
reverence must refrain from giving occasion. Indeed, if our Father were not
kept busy by other pressing matters, he would show in a much more effective
manner his dislike of your reverence's complaints, which reflect, discredit on
him, not only because you do not submit your own judgment to his in his
appointments but because, in the presence of others, you also condemn them as
being bad. This is clearly seen in the instance of the three who had recently
come from Spain.2 You tried to keep Master Pierre Chanel3
and you complained to him that, while our Father in the beginning sent you
outstanding men of the Society, he later withdrew all of them, and so forth.
overlooks the fact that some recompense had been made for those who were taken
away, and you fail to see (something still more surprising) that our Father is
obliged to keep the universal good in mind. Thus, besides providing you with
enough men to carry on the works you have undertaken, he must assist others in
places where our Lord wishes to make use of the Society and its members. The
college of Venice has only one priest4 who has no knowledge of
philosophy or theology; that of Padua has two5 who are weak in
literature and without advanced training; that of Modena has two6
who are only average in Latin and still mere youths. At Ferrara, Pelletier7
was alone until another was sent to help him, who does not know a great deal
of literature or higher studies.8 Father Francesco Palmio9
is at Bologna, but no other priest can be sent as companion to him, since
there is no other. Master Louis10 is at Florence, and another11
who has only with difficulty completed his literary studies. There are two at
Gubbio,12 but neither of them is a theologian. There is a single
theologian at Perugia13 and another who is no theologian.14
And I think that there is an equal or even greater lack of schoolmasters in
these places. But this does not prevent them from producing fruit, God making
up for what our poor efforts cannot accomplish. If we compare conditions in
Sicily with conditions in all of Italy, there is no doubt that it is better
provided than any other place, even after making all necessary allowances.
Now, despite all
this, our Father does not wish that your reverence fail to declare your mind.
Rather it is his wish that you do so, but he does not wish that your reverence
allow any word to escape that would seem to indicate that you are complaining
of what he does. Do not broadcast your needs abroad. He will be content if you
make them known to him, and then leave everything to him. You should prefer
the general good to the particular, and convince yourself that our Father,
once he has been informed simply, and without any attempt to use pressure,
will decide what will be to the greater service of God our Lord and the
general good. Indeed, this should be the aim of all, even though local angels
have a special preference for their particular provinces or localities.
To help your
reverence not to forget to keep confidential what you think you need in
Sicily, and to write by way of representation and so forth, send in your own
writing what you think of doing. This our Father expressly commands. Try also
to console him occasionally, seeing that he has so much trouble keeping so
many places here in Europe and in Ethiopia supplied with men, besides
maintaining this university in Rome, where there is much sickness among the
professors and students. Doctor Olave,15 who lectured twice a day
in theology, is worn out, and it has become necessary to relieve him of one
course to preserve his health. This course will be taken over by Master Jean,16
who has just come from Sicily. However, God is our help, whose glory we seek
in Sicily, Rome, and everywhere.
May He fill us with
knowledge of Him and hope in Him, and dwell in our souls with perfect love.
From Rome, January
||Doménech was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1516, and was
a priest when he met Pierre Favre in Parma, Italy, in 1539. He made
the Exercises and was accepted into the Society in September of that
year. He was rector of the students studying in Paris (1540-1542),
served as Ignatius’ secretary in Rome (1544-1545), was provincial of
Sicily (1553-1561, 1562-1568, 1570-1576), and rector of the Roman
College (1568-1570). He returned to Spain and died in Valencia on
December 20, 1592.
||The three priests were Pierre Chanel (see note 87
below), Jean Couvillon (see note 100 below) and Jean de la Goutte.
They sailed from Spain in late 1553, and landed in Sicily and then
made their way toward Rome. De la Goutte, known as Guttanus, was,
unfortunately captured on his way to Rome by Turkish pirates somewhere
near Naples, and all attempts to secure his release proved fruitless.
He died in 1555. The other two arrived in Rome shortly before this
letter was written.
||Chanel, known as Canal or Canale, was born near Lyons,
France, about 1526. He entered the Jesuits in Paris (1543), studied in
Spain, and was called to Rome to teach at the Roman College. He died
at Billom, France, in 1562.
||This was Cesare Helmi, rector of the college. He was
born in Foligno, Italy, in 1522, entered the Society in Rome (1549),
and died in Venice on July 31, 1576.
||The two in Padua were Giovanni Battista Tavona and
Luigi Nappi. The former was rector of the college, having been born in
Modena, Italy, about 1520. He entered in Rome (1541) and died in
Bovona on November 21, 1573. Nappi was born in Milan, about 1531,
entered in Rome (1550), was ordained priest in Padua (1553) and died
in Milan on July 22, 1589.
||Those in Modena were Philip Leernus and Giovanni
Lorenzo Patarini. Both were under thirty years of age (see letter 29
in this collection).
||See letter 17 in this collection.
||This may be a reference to Louis Harmeville, who was
born near Verdun, France, about 1528, entered the Society in Rome
(1550) and died at Pont-à-Mousson on October 4, 1578.
||Palmio was born in Parma, Italy, in 1518, and became a
Jesuit in 1547. He was rector of the community in Bologna at this time
and died there on April 23, 1585.
||The rector in Florence was Louis de Coudret, born in
Savoy in 1523. He entered the Society in Rome (1546) and died in Paris
on November 12, 1572.
||This seems to be a reference to a member of the
community known simply as Father Desiderio. He was a Frenchman, born
about 1521, entered the Society in Rome (1550), and died in Florence
on July 19, 1561.
||The two in Gubbio, Italy, were the rector Alberto
Ferrarese (see letter 40 in this collection), and Giovanni Agostino
Riva, who had been born in Padua about 1503. Riva became a Jesuit in
1552, and died in Loreto on August 17, 1563.
||This was Everard Mercurian, rector of the college. He
was born about 1515 at Marcourt, Luxembourg, and entered the Society
in Paris in 1548. He served as rector in Perugia (1552-1557),
provincial of Flanders (1558-1565), German assistant (1565-1572), and
general of the Society (1573-1580). He died in Rome on August 1, 1580.
||This was Jean Lenoir, a Frenchman, known among the
Jesuits by his Latin name Niger. He entered the Society as a priest in
Rome in 1552, and died at Ferrara on February 17, 1555.
||Martin Olave was also dean of the Roman College. He was
born in Vitoria, Spain, about 1512, was ordained in 1544, and received
his doctorate from Paris in the same year. He became a Jesuit in Rome
(1552) and died there on August 17, 1556.
||Jean Couvillon was a Frenchman, born in Lille in 1523.
He entered the Society at Louvain (1544) received his doctorate at
Gandía (1550), and after teaching many years at the Roman College,
died in Rome on August 17, 1581.