BEFORE further describing the journey of Father De Audreis, and the Missionaries of Louisiana, it will be well to give a short notice of that vast country, not only with reference to its civil and political situation, but also with regard to the state of religion. The country then called Louisiana, was situated on both banks of the Mississippi, and extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the lakes of Canada. The part nearest to Florida, was discovered by the Spaniards, under Ferdinand De Soto, but they did not long retain possession of it ; and the French who proceeded thither from Canada, may be called its first settlers, and the first who introduced’ therein the Christian religion. They named this immense territory Louisiana ; it was divided into two parts, one called Upper, and the other, Lower Louisiana. About the year 1720, was founded the city of New Orleans, thus named from Philip of Orleans, then Regent of France, and the small town of St. Louis became the capital of Upper Louisiana. The first mentioned of these two places was situated in the southern part of the country, near the mouth of the Mississippi ; and the other in the norther!), part, about eighteen miles below the confluence of„the Missouri and the Mississippi. New Orleans and St. Louis are twelve hundred miles apart, by river.
From the hands of the French, Louisiana passed into those of the Spaniards, who took possession of it in 1763. It remained thus until 1803, when Spain restored it to France, which was at that time governed by Napoleon Bonaparte. Shortly after, it was ceded to the United States.
Under the first dominion of the French, the Jesuit fathers came to Louisiana and strove, by their labors, to diffuse around them the light of the holy gospel. But the majority of the inhabitants being almost in a state of barbarism, these fervent missionaries obtained but little success. Civilization and good morals, having subsequently made some progress among them, religion became more prosperous. Under the Spanish rule, as Catholicity was the only religion recognized by law, the government provided for the maintenance of priests in different posts, sent missionaries to various places, and received with truly paternal care, the French, German, and American Catholics who came to settle in Louisiana, giving them portions of land, and even providing for their immediate wants, until they were able to do so for themselves.
The Spanish government also obtained from Pope Pius VI. the establishment of the episcopal see of New Orleans, in 1793. This diocese comprised the whole country, in this part of America, then subject to Spain : namely, the Floridas, and Upper and Lower Louisiana, the two latter containing about a million of square miles, or as much as the rest of the United States put together. The first bishop of New Orleans was Mgr. Pegnalvere, a Spaniard by birth, who when the country was ceded to France and subsequently to the United States, was transferred from New Orleans to another episcopal see in the Spanish dominions of South America. That of New Orleans being vacant, the diocese was governed by two canons, who formed the whole clergy of the Cathedral, until the Holy See conferred the administration on Bishop Carroll, first bishop of Baltimore.
This bishopric of Baltimore had been erectedby Pius VI. in the year 1789, and its jurisdiction extended over all the United States, containing with Louisiana, about two millions of square miles. About forty or fifty thousand Catholics were dispersed throughout the vast region.
In 1808, Pope Pius VII. raised the See of Baltimore into an archbishopric, and nominated as its suffragan sees the four bishoprics (which he established,) of Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Bardstown. The Most Rev. John Carroll was the first Archbishop of Baltimore. This prelate sent Rev. Father DAbourg, a native of Bordeaux, and who belonged to the Congregation of St. Sulpice, to New Orleans, entrusting him with the administration of that diocese. As this clergyman was endowed with the most eminent qualities,” and displayed in a particular manner, zeal united with prudence and great learning joined to exemplary piety, the Archbishop did not long delay to petition the Holy See that he might be appointed to fill the vacancy of that bishopric, and Pius VII., sure of finding in his person a worthy prelate, did in fact so nominate him.
Father Dubourg subsequently went to Rome, though with the intention of refusing the episcopal consecration, if he were not able to find in Europe a sufficient number of laborers willing to assist him in the cultivation of his truly desolate diocese ; which, while it abounded in errors and vices, was, to crown its misfortunes, destitute of priests. Divine Providence granted his desires ; he obtained the co-operation of Father De Andreis and some other missionaries, as related in a preceeding chapter, and was afterwards joined by many more, as we shall see hereafter.
On the 26th of July, 1816, Father De Andreis and his companions landed at Baltimore. The holy Missionary was filled with enthusiasm as he stepped ashore. At last he had reached the land for which he had so long been praying. Continuing the letter quoted at the close of the last chapter he says:
“I cannot describe the impression produced on us by the magnificent view of the harbor of Baltimore, together with the splendid situation of the bay ; I hardly think there can be, iu the world, a more beautiful prospect.
Our first impulse on landing, was to kneel and kiss the ground, but the place where we disembarked was so crowded that we deferred doing this. Having entered the place, we soon perceived the difference between the cities of Europe and those of the New World, with regard to construction of houses, streets, etc. The streets here are wide and the houses rather low than otherwise ; there are sidewalks, as in the Corso at Rome and sometimes they are bordered with trees. Numerous pumps are to be met with, by which means water is constantly on hand.
Hungry and worn as we were we had to traverse the entire city, inquiring as we went along for St. Mary’s College, the house of the Sulpicians, which was outside the city, at the very opposite end from our place of landing.
At last we reached the college and were received by the president, Father Brute, the most holy, learned, humble and affable man I ever knew. He welcomed us with the utmost cordiality, and during the whole time of our stay in Baltimore, and even’ afterwards, he never ceased to bestow upon us marks of his kindness. He obtained for us many handsome donations of some hundred crowns, besides which he supplied us with everything that we could possibly need. For some days we remained at the college, after which we were located with different clergymen, as had been done at Bordeaux. The worthy vicar-general, the Rev. Mr. Fenwick, conferred on me the honor of singing high Mass at the Cathedral, on the Assumption, which is the principal festival of the diocese and the day on which the first bishop in the United States was consecrated. We were constantly employed on feast days, in various sacred functions at the different churches, but it was a painful thing for me, to hear bells pealing from magnificent temples, and to be told that these edifices belonged to heretics; although in the State of Maryland, and especially in the city of Baltimore, the Catholics are most numerous and fervent.”
What is mentioned above by the servant of God is fully confirmed by Bishop Rosati, his first companion and fellow-laborer, who speaks in the following terms:—”The Sulpician priests of Baltimore, who have the direction of the college and seminary of St. Mary’s, and to whom we had been recommended by a letter from Bishop Dubourg, received Father De Andreis and his companions as if they had been so many brothers. Father Brut4, the president of the college, who was then the only one at home, (the others having gone to recreate themselves a little in the country), hastened with the most tender charity, to procure lodgings for him and his twelve companions, loading them with all possible kindness and attention. He saw to our baggage and the payment of the duties concerning; it. When the other Sulpicians returned to the college they hastened to give us a hearty welcome, each one endeavoring to find out in what manner he could serve us. 0! how beautiful is Christian charity ! How truly is it called Catholic ! It makes no distinction of nation, language, or person ; but takes all men into one family ! And, not without motive, does it teach us to address all by the tender name of brother ! Such were the reflections that Father De Andreis suggested to us in many circumstances, but especially with regard to the cordial reception we met with in Baltimore.
“Meanwhile, the servant of God, without losing time, wrote to apprise our vicar-general in Rome of our arrival ; he also wrote to the archbishop of Baltimore, who resided at Georgetown, requesting him to grant us the necessary faculties ; and to Bishop Fla-get, at Bardstown in Kentucky, to obtain from him some information respecting the remainder of our journey. In this last letter he enclosed the one written by Bishop Dubourg, recommending the missionaries to his attention. The letter he wrote to Rome was as follows :
“BALTIMORE, July 28th, 1816.
” ‘We safely reached the American shores on the octave-day of St. Vincent, after forty-three days of a wearisome sea-voyage, during which the writer suffered less than any one. The good Sulpicians received us as so many angels. Maria et montes which seemed so frightful in anticipation, vanish, little by little, as we advance ; the rest of our journey to St. Louis, is described to its as being of easy accomplishment. We shall start anew, please God, after resting for a month. This morning, to my great delight, I celebrated the most holy sacrifice in the church of the seminary; there was a great concourse of persons, many of whom approached the holy table. Although there exist in this city about a dozen different sects, the Catholics form the richest and most numerous portion of the population ; religion is evidently on the increase, and I was both surprised and delighted to see the number of churches, together with the fervor of the Catholics and the favorable dispositions manifested by our separated brethren towards a reconciliation with their true mother the Church. I sincerely hope we may find the same sentiments among the Indians. We are all in good health, notwithstanding our journey and the change of diet; things which in Rome would have been very injurious to me, here cause me no inconvenience. And thus has Divine Providence arranged all things ; in Rome, I was in spite of myself, a burden and a trouble to all my good companions, of whose society I was not worthy on account of my more than gigantic pride and self-love, which, with all my efforts I have not yet succeeded in subduing perfectly; therefore the Almighty has designed to bury me among the savages, whither I am now hastening with the greatest joy, firmly resolved to live and die in complete forgetfulness of all creatures. There remains for me nothing more to desire in this world but death ; delay will only make me long the more for it.
“The Lord vouchsafes to favor me with profound peace in the midst of the troubles inseparable from my employment. I beg your prayers and those of the Community.
FELIX DE ANDREIS.”
In reply to the letter which the servant of God addressed to the archbishop of Baltimore, then residing at Georgetown, he received a most courteous answer, granting him and his companions the most ample faculties. Bishop Flaget also wrote, encouraging them to start for Pittsburg as soon as possible before the winter should set in, promising that he would do everything in his power to assist them. This caused them to decide upon their immediate departure.
“Having made the requisite arrangements,” continues De Andreis, “a seminarist, Brother Blanka, and the two postulants, set out from Baltimore on foot, on the 3d of September. They were to accompany our baggage ; the others, who were not strong enough to go on foot, started on the ioth, in a public conveyance which we had previously bespoken, at a high price. It was a kind of diligence, called here a “stage,” very inconvenient, and exposed to all the inclemency of the weather. Eight of us got into it, with our travelling bags. The first day everything went on well ; we spent the night at Chambersburg, one of the congregations, (or rather parishes,) of Father Zochi, a Roman, who, when we passed through, was in another place called Taneytown. The next day the rain began, and seemed to follow us for four or five days, during which we passed over the most frightful roads; we were obliged to get out every now and then, to ease the vehicle. Two occurrences, almost of a miraculous nature, took place on the way ; one was that Father Aquaroni and two others, wishing to take a shorter route through the woods, having lost the road during half a day, thereby causing us the greatest anxiety, were found at our first stopping place. The other circumstance to which I allude, and of which, I was, myself an eyewitness, was as follows: an enormous fragment of rock became detached from its place, and rolling rapidly down the mountain, crossed the road at the very moment that two of our companions were passing. It seemed impossible for them to escape death, or, at the very least, severe injury; but they were preserved, the immense mass passing within a hair’s breadth of their feet, without touching them. The rain continued to fall in such torrents that it was almost impossible to continue our journey. Night overtook us at the foot of a steep hill, where, with the excessive rains, the bad roads filled with ruts, and the fatigue of the horses, (one of which fell and had to be raised on his legs again,) we were reduced to the most pitiful condition. Indeed one among us, could not refrain from shedding tears1. And, in fact, there we were, in the midst of frightful precipices, in the impossibility of seeing each other, as the rain prevented us from having a light ; far from the habitations of men, with streams of water running off, with no aid to raise up the horse, and no way to continue our journey. It is hard to depict all the horror of such a situation. At length, after many efforts, the horse was lifted up ; wet through as we were, we returned to the “stage,” where, every moment, we were iu danger of being upset ; and, after two or three hours, we arrived at a wretched inn, where there was not fire enough to dry our dripping garments.
“The next day we reached a place called Bloody-Run,’ so named in memory of the outrages there committed by the savages. Here we seemed to be in the midst of a spacious sea, for the whole country had been inundated ; we were, therefore, detained for some days, at no slight expense. We started at last, but after proceeding some three or four miles, the driver very coolly put us down at an inn and turned back, under pretext that the Juniata having overflowed its banks, the stage would not be able to cross it. Thus, after paying the whole fare to the end of our journey, we were left half-way on the road. Luckily, I had a letter of introduction to an Italian doctor who lived at Bedford, on the other side of the river. I therefore requested one of our priests and a student to ford the river, as best they could, in order to convey it to its address, and procure another stage. Their undertaking succeeded, and the next day we crossed the river in boats, which being long and narrow, we had to be very careful while in them, to preserve our equilibrium. On the opposite bank we found the stage awaiting us, and in it we proceeded on another day’s journey ; but, towards evening, or, if I mistake not, the following morning, we met with the same difficulties at Stoystown. Here we had to remain two or three days more, to wait for another stage. It came at length, but was already crowded with passengers, and we were told that it would be vain to wait for another. The expenses which we incurred threatened to leave us without resources, in a country where there were but a few dispersed Catholics, no church, no priest, and amid strangers, whose language and customs were entirely foreign to our own. Having well considered the matter, we put our baggage into a wagon and set out on foot, in two bands. Then it was that, happening to be alone, and somewhat apart from the rest of the company, in the midst of these frightful mountains, in doubt as to the road and scarcely knowing how to get on, the smiling picture of Rome, its churches, and the friends ‘I had left there, presented themselves to my mind in glowing colors, and like daggers, made me experience, for an instant, all the tortures of melancholy; but thank God, faith, and the desire of the salvation of souls, soon brought back to my soul peace and serenity. A few days later we found a stage, and arrived at Pittsburg on the r9th of September. Here we accomplished the vow we had made to St. Vincent, and received letters from Europe, which were a considerable source of consolation to us. We were well received by the Catholics of the place ; but I think I remember to have related all that occurred, in some of my previous letters.”
Only one of the letters written by the servant of God, from Pittsburg, has reached us; it is dated the 22d of September, 1816, and addressed to Rev. Mr. Sicardi, Vicar-General of the Congregation. It is in the following terms:
“As I feel sure of affording you, as well as my dear companions, some gratification, by an account of our long and disastrous journey, I will, in fancy, turn with my pen from this our third station, towards ever dear Rome, which becomes only the more beloved as we advance into the midst of these regions, almost destitute of any vestige of Catholicity. Having set out in two parties from Baltimore, we crossed, partly on foot and partly in wretched vehicles, the rugged mountains of Pennsylvania; some of us accomplished the journey in nine, others in ten days ; but, for all, it was attended with great expense and inconvenience. The distance we had to go was about three hundred miles ; and, not meeting with any Catholic church on our way, we could neither celebrate nor hear Mass. The worst of it was however, that even when we reached Pittsburg, a pretty considerable town, in a commercial point of view, there was no means of obtaining this consolation. Among a population of ten thousand, the Catholics scarcely number three hundred. They are also generally very poor, so that the church is almost destitute of everything; the pastor, who has under his care a parish nearly equal in extent to ten dioceses, is constantly employed in visiting his parishioners. He was absent when we arrived, and having taken with him the chalice, our devotion no less than that of the people, was disappointed, for all seemed most anxious to see us officiate. At last a pewter chalice was found, but there was no paten ; however, yesterday late in the evening, having gone with one of my companions to our lodging in the house of a worthy Catholic family, a paten was found, most unexpectedly. I sent my companion to bear the good news to the others and to the principal Catholics of the place, who soon spread the tidings from house to house ; so that, this morning we celebrated our five Masses, including one that was chanted. Those who did not celebrate went to communion, and this afternoon we had Vespers, after which a good Catholic invited us all to dine with him on the morrow. We attribute our success in finding all that was requisite for the most holy sacrifice, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, whose feast of the Seven Dolors we celebrate today; may she be for ever blessed ! We have been most earnestly requested to hear confessions and to preach, but my English will not, as yet, allow me to venture so far. Of eight persons, only seven of us understand French. We are waiting for our troublesome baggage, in order to embark immediately on the Ohio for Louisville, in Kentucky, the boat which is to convey us being in readiness. Everything is very dear here ; we had to pay twenty crowns for a small cart to carry our traveling-bags for about thirty-five miles. A boat, to cross a small river, cost us three crowns; and, for a common portfolio which, at Rome, would cost three Paoli, we had to pay here five crowns. Everything else is in proportion. Very little coin is in circulation ; banknotes are negotiated with great caution, according to different localities of the United States. Divine Providence blesses us with most extraordinary marks of continual assistance, causing to fall into our hands sums of no less than three hundred crowns at a time, and indeed, no less than that would suffice to pay, in so expensive a country, for the food, clothing, and travelling expenses of twelve persons. We are all in excellent health, notwithstanding our hardships, the constant privation of wine, soup, etc. The perspiration often freezes on our skin, for here it may almost be said that we have the four seasons in one day. In the morning one shivers with cold, and a few hours after is ready to melt with the heat. When we first arrived, we went to the hotel; but seeing that our lodging would cost us about two crowns a day, we removed to the house of a poor Catholic family, where we are now boarding. We are not very comfortable, but we are all cheerful and happy, consoling ourselves in the Lord, living peacefully together like good brethren, mutually encouraging one another to unite our sufferings with those of the Son of God, who endured so much for the salvation of souls. We have meditation, spiritual reading, conferences, etc., according to the custom of the Congregation, and everything is conducted with admirable harmony.
“FELIX DE ANDREIS,
“Priest of the Congregation of the Mission.”
“We had to remain,” continues the servant of God in his Journal, “until the 23rd of October at Pittsburg, the waters of the Ohio being too low to allow us to proceed on our way. On the above-named day we started in a sort of vessel called a ‘flatboat,’ made precisely like a small house, the roof of which served as a deck. It was a moving sight to behold the banks of the river crowded with people who came to bid us farewell ; many of them gave us considerable sums of money, and exhibited lively marks of sorrow for our departure. Our voyage went on very well ; there is not, I think, in the whole world, a river whose banks are more diversified with beautiful scenery ; from time to time we went ashore on one side or the other of the splendid stream, which is about six times the length of the Tiber, and we walked about among the thick forests, where no human foot ever trod save that of the savage, nor human voice but theirs had ever been heard. Joyfully we made the echoes repeat, for the first time, the sweet names of Jesus and Mary! In these forests one is stopped at every step, by brushwood and pendent branches, while the ground seems to sink under the feet, covered as it is with decayed trunks of trees and leaves, which have fallen during so many years. There is also some danger in advancing too far into the woods, on account of snakes, especially rattlesnakes. I saw some of the latter ; their tails are provided with a set of bony rings, running one into another ; when the serpent moves, these rings give warning of his approach, and allow the traveller time to put himself on his guard. I think I have, elsewhere, mentioned the cordial welcome which we received as we went along, but especially at Marietta, where a lawyer, one of the principal citizens of the place, earnestly endeavored to detain us in order that we might teach him the Catholic religion, promising that he would be most docile to all our instructions ; but Providence willed us to be elsewhere.
At last, on the 19th of November, 1816, we reached Louisville, where, after two or three days rest, I left my party in the house of a good Catholic, and I went on horseback to Bardstown, about forty miles distant, in order to deliberate with Bishop Flaget, quid faciendum. He was well acquainted with Louisiana, having been there some years before, since which period he had kept up a correspondence with persons resident there. We had yet a long way to go to reach St. Louis ; the winter was rapidly approaching ; we ran the risk of being stopped by the ice ; besides which we needed some time in order to study the English language, and become more perfectly acquainted with the French. The question now was, whether we should go on immediately or stop. The bishop received me with the greatest kindness, and convinced me that it would be very imprudent to proceed immediately to St. Louis, where there was nothing prepared to reeeive us. We therefore resolved to accept the generous offers of Bishop Flaget, and to stop awhile at his seminary of St. Thomas, about four miles from Bardstown. When Bishop Dubourg heard of my determination, he disapproved it ; but, when he arrived on the spot, and saw how matters stood, lie could do no less than applaud it.”
This was the fourth delay made by Father De Andreis and his companions, since their departure from Rome. In describing this part of his journey, we have given the details written by his own hand in his journal ; we must however notice that he purposely omits mention of anything that might redound to his own praise. We will therefore, in order to supply this deficiency, and acquire some further knowledge of his virtues, return to the account of the journey from Baltimore to Bardstown, as it is given by Bishop Rosati, who minutely describes the daily occurrences as they took place on the way. The following are the words of the worthy prelate :
“Some may be inclined to think that, during this journey from Baltimore to Pittsburg, performed in an uncomfortable close vehicle, (such as our stage,) over high mountains and through wretched roads, very different from those that have lately been made, we could, but with difficulty, conform to a regular order of common prayer and other exercises, and that it was almost impossible, in the midst of the frequent interruptions to which we were liable, to keep ourselves constantly attentive to the presence of God. Yet Father De Andreis succeeded in adapting all this to the circumstances of our journey, and he enjoyed the satisfaction of seeing his regulations faithfully observed by us all. Every morning when we started, the prayers designated by the Itinerary were recited, followed by the Litany of the most holy Virgin. Then we made an hour’s meditation; Father De Andreis proposed the subject, and as we could not make our spiritual reading before day-light, he supplied its place by suggesting pious reflections which penetrated our hearts. In conclusion, we recited the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, and the Angelus Domini. Later in the morning we recited the canonical hours, read a chapter in the New Testament, and somewhat later still, another pious book. After dinner, we took an hour’s recreation, then recited Vespers and Complin, which were followed after a certain interval, by the third part of the Rosary, Matins and Lauds. We ended the clay with the usual prayers, accompanied by examination of conscience.
“It may, perhaps, seem that so many religious exercises, following so closely one upon an other, must have been weari7 some, or at least importunate to travellers, tossed about, as we were, among the. mountainous and dangerous places through which we had to pass. But such was far from being the case, whether on account of the tact which the servant of God displayed in arranging all our religious exercises, in parts to be performed at suitable hours, or that being himself always in good humor, he was admirably skilled in keeping up the spirits of those who surrounded him, by his agreeable and interesting conversation. Now and then he would relate an amusing anecdote, or enliven us by some pleasant saying ; at other times, discuss some scientific or theological question, and while he excited our curiosity, he filled our minds with useful knowledge. In a word, his conversation was so pleasing that Bishop Dubourg, who was equally remarkable for his great endowments of mind and his polished manners, frequently told me that he had never known any one whose society was so useful and agreeable to him, as that of our servant of God. And thus it happened that time, however long, seemed short, when spent in his company.
“But notwithstanding his constant cheerfulness, the journey was very trying for rather De Andreis, whose health was exceedingly weak, the strength of his body being much inferior to that of his mind. Vor many years he had been subject to violent attacks of colic, which made him suffer most acutely, and many times during our long journey lie experienced them. The jolting of a vehicle without springs, in which ten persons were crowded one upon another, the wretched roads over which we had to travel, the accidents by which sometimes our stage was overthrown or broken down in the midst of the mountain torrents, and the darkness of night, while a deluge of water was pouring upon us, all this was hard for the youngest and most robust among us ; it can then easily be imagined, how much the delicate health of one like rather De Andreis must have suffered. On one occasion when his clothes had been drenched with rain, he was obliged to wear them in that state for two days, it being utterly impossible to change or dry them. And very far from allowing all these inconveniences to depress his spirits, he was ever cheerful, encouraging us to bear our sufferings courageously, by the example of what the apostles endured for the salvation of souls. We were sometimes obliged to walk for forty miles across the mountains, but at last, after all our trials, we reached Pittsburg on the i9th of September.
“In this place, as in all others where the servant of God had to remain for any length of time, he was welcomed by the Catholics to whom he was recommended, with all possible marks of affection and respect. But he needed no letters of introduction for all who approached him, Protestants as well as Catholics, immediately conceived for him sentiments of the strongest friendship, and even a sort of veneration, and all were eager to testify these feelings whenever an opportunity offered. In 1816, Pittsburg was not such as it is now, but even then one could, in a measure foresee what it would afterwards become. The number of Catholics was pretty large, and the first church erected there, being already too small for the congregation, it was proposed to build another, for which purpose a suitable piece of ground was purchased, whereon a splendid edifice was subsequently erected. On our arrival at Pittsburg, we found that the Rev. Mr. O’Brien was absent ; he had under his care not only this parish, but several others, situated at some distance apart. However, a Catholic merchant by the name of Beelen, to whom we had been recommended, was of great assistance to us ; it was he who procured for us suitable lodgings, and took us from the hotel, to which we went on our arrival, and where our expenses were very considerable. Some among us availed ourselves of the hospitality generously offered by some of the Catholics of the place, and Father De Andreis, with a few others, went to board in a poor but respectable Catholic family. Shortly after, we enjoyed the satisfaction of welcoming our three companions who, in order to accompany our baggage, had taken a longer route. To continue our journey we had to embark upon the Ohio, which is usually about a mile in width, but, at this season of the year its waters were so low that we were forced to postpone our departure for a period, which turned out to be longer than we at first anticipated. But Father De Andreis knew how to derive profit even from these delays, which necessity alone compelled us to make, and which he might have devoted to rest. He daily employed his missionaries in the customary duties of the Congregation, and in the study of the sacred doctrines and the English language. Our lodgings being somewhat distant from the church, so only one in turn said Mass every day, and the others received holy communion. Father De Andreis subjected himself, like the others, to this regulation, desiring that no exceptions should be made for him on account of his rank as superior. However, on Sundays, all offered the holy sacrifice and assisted at high Mass and Vespers, which we chanted with great recollection and solemnity. All the inhabitants of the place who assisted at the ceremonies, both Protestants and Catholics, were deeply touched, never having witnessed in Pittsburg anything similar. Very solemn was also the festival of the death of St. Vincent, which in fulfilment of our vow already mentioned, we celebrated on the 27th of September. The Rev. Mr. O’Brien, who returned before this, was edified, and conceived sincere esteem and affection for our venerated superior.
“We enquired almost every day about the means of continuing our journey, but so many obstacles presented themselves that we were a long time in doubt with regard to it. In 1816, navigation upon the Ohio was very slow and difficult. It is true that a few small steamboats were to be seen on its waters, but this was seldom and the fare they exacted was exorbitant, being no less than two thousand dollars for twelve persons. Father De Andreis could not think himself justified in giving.so large a sum, not only because he had no money to spare, but because his love of poverty inspired him with the strictest economy. He therefore preferred to take our passage on one of those rough barks, called by the people of the place, “flat-boats,” and which somewhat resemble those which are made use of in sea – port towns to convey merchandise on board large ships, or those by which troops are sometimes landed on a shallow coast. In this wretched vessel, very poorly sheltered from the inclemency of the weather, Father De Andreis and his Missionaries embarked for Louisville, which is about six hundred miles from Pittsburg. Many of the inhabitants accompanied him to the boat, and only left the shore when he had completely disappeared from their view.
“In this portion of our travels as in the others, the servant of God, always the same, conformed as usual to the practice of his rules, and to all the devout exercises of a religious community, not neglecting the study of the English language and of theology. He was, above all, careful to give us good example, while he refused to avail himself of any privilege or distinction. He had to suffer much from the cold, which was very severe; the rain sometimes poured down in such torrents as almost to overflow our common dormitory, while occasionally the snow found entrance between the boards; but in the midst of all these inconveniences he ever showed a cheerful countenance, and in truth we were almost tempted to believe that the sensations of nature were extinct within him. The sublimity of his soul shone forth still more brightly while sanctifying the Sundays and festivals that occurred during our journey. On All Saints we rose at four, in order that every one might have the opportunity of saying Mass, and on the following day we chanted the Office for the Dead and the Requiem Mass. In this way did Father De Andreis shed everywhere around him the good odor of Jesus Christ, for not only were the Catholics whom we met from time to time, edified by our manner of life, but also the Protestants, who had never seen Catholic missionaries before. Struck with what they beheld in us, they would enquire who we were, where we were going, and what was the object of our mission ; and on receiving an explanation of it, would gather around eagerly pressing us to remain among them, promising that if we did so, we should be well provided for and have many followers. Some of us having gone ashore, a few miles from Marietta, met a person on horseback, in the garb of a hunter. He seemed well educated and accosted us very politely. We afterwards discovered that he was a lawyer. He questioned us very closely, and having received satisfactory answers to his numerous interrogatories, with much kindness offered us part of the produce of his chase. He then accompanied us on our return to the boat and entreated us to pay him a visit at his house, which was at no very great distance from the river-side. We cheerfully accepted his invitation and went to his dwelling, where he introduced us to his wife and children, the former having been an invalid for the last sixteen years. We enquired if our host and his family professed any religion, and being told that they knew of none we spoke to them of the Catholic faith and of the necessity of receiving and practising its doctrines. To these words the poor family listened with tears, while they made the most generous offers and promises to any one of us who would remain with them, even for a short time. One of you at least, said they, can stay with us; and we were all deeply touched by their entreaties. But we could not remain long, and when the time for our departure drew near, we knelt down (the father and his sons following our example) and implored the blessing of God upon this interesting family. The master of the house obliged us to accept somefruit, and then with a worthy old man who was present, he accompanied us back to the boat. Here he espied the crucifix, and, taking off his hat kissed it most respectfully after which he embraced each one of us in turn, recommended himself anew to our prayers, and received with gratitude a catechism and some other books which we gave him. This and some other occurrences of a similar nature, made a deep impression on the mind of Father De Andreis, so that the ardor of his zeal for the salvation of souls appeared in his countenance, and thus enkindled in the hearts of his companions the flame which consumed his own.
“As we passed Gallipolis we heard that about forty Catholic families, of French origin, were living there without a church, a priest, or any means of practising their religion. It was indeed painful for us not to be able to stop, for a few days at least, to render some assistance to people so sadly abandoned. But we could not delay the boat, and were prevented by the same reason from stopping at Cincinnati, where many Catholics resided, also without a church, being visited from time to time by Father Fenwick, of the Dominican Order, who afterwards died bishop of Cincinnati. On the 19th of November our boat landed us at Louisville. At this place we soon found lodgings prepared for us in the house of a good Catholic, through the kind precaution of Bishop Flaget. The latter had been frequently in Louisville, previous to our arrival, in order to meet us ; but being obliged to absent himself at the time we reached there, he left a letter in which he apologized for his inability to be in Louisville, and earnestly begged Father De Andreis to meet him in Bardstown before he continued his journey, so that, both together, they might deliberate on what was best to be done under the circumstances.
“On the reception of this letter Father De Andreis, leaving his companions in Louisville, went to confer with Bishop Flaget. The holy prelate gave him a most cordial welcome, and then spoke of his future destination and that of the Missionaries who accompanied him. The Bishop told him candidly that, to set out immediately for St. Louis did not seem to him a wise determination, and that it would be better to defer their departure to a later period. `The people of St. Louis,’ said he, ‘have not yet been informed by Bishop Dubourg of your arrival, and certainly, however well disposed they may be, it will be a great surprise to see you arrive thus suddenly among them. Neither will they he able to give you a suitable residence ; and although I am certain that you would be satisfied with even a wretched cabin, yet your new habitation must be large enough to hold you all, and be likewise adapted to the functions of your institute. Now, all this requires both time and money, and as I know you have not at your command sufficient funds, either for your maintenance or the construction of the building which you need, you cannot at the present time, make a good beginning. Besides this, it is requisite that you and your companions should be well acquainted with the French and English languages ; and it will be difficult, if not impossible for them, as well as yourself, to acquire a perfect knowledge of these tongues while merely studying among yourselves without the aid of an experienced guide to direct you. All these things well considered, it is my opinion that you should all, priests and lay-brothers, remain for some time in Kentucky, and here await the arrival of your bishop. Meanwhile you will be able to learn the languages, and take the necessary measures to found in St. Louis, a useful establishment. You can likewise during your residence in this place, begin to pave the way for a favorable reception in your future mission. Such is my opinion,’ concluded Bishop Flaget ; ‘if it meets with your approbation, my dear Father De Andreis, and if this locality and my poverty be not too disagreeable, you are welcome to them, for I am willing to share with you all that I possess. My seminary (which is my ordinary residence) is situated at a place called St. Thomas ; it is at your service. Let us then live there together in common, like good brothers.’
“Father De Andreis was charmed with these affectionate words, and, being also intimately convinced of the strength of the arguments, brought forward by the good bishop, he determined not to prosecute his journey any farther. He therefore thanked the bishop, and willingly accepted his generous offer. This arrangement being concluded, the priest who had accompanied Father De Andreis, and the procurator of the seminary, returned to Louisville, bringing word that the remainder of the party should go on horseback, to Bardstown, and there remain. All were delighted at this, and set out forthwith for the seminary of St. Thomas. The superior of that place was, at that time, the Rev. Fr. David, afterwards bishop of Mauricastro, and coadjtitor bishop of Bardstown. He had then under his guidance, twenty young ecclesiastics ; they all resided together, in a house constructed of logs, the crevices of which were filled with clay, which, in drying, became as hard as stone. The upper part, roofed with rough boards, served as their common dormitory. Not far from the seminary was the episcopal residence, also constructed of logs, but somewhat better put together. It was divided into two stories besides the basement. The first floor contained three rooms, the largest of which served as a school-room and refectory. Fathers De Andreis and Rosati were located in the two others. The bishop had his room in the upper story; near it was a small cabinet, used as a library, and which he gave up to one of our hand. Some were lodged in the seminary, and others in the houses of good Catholic families.
“Father De Andreis was never weary of admiring the generous hospitality of the holy bishop of Bardstown, who notwithstanding his poverty and the smallness of his dwelling, received us with such affectionate charity, sharing with us not only his table and his house, but even his own room. The servant of God never ceased to bless Divine Providence for having led him and his companions to a place where he could so well learn the practice of the sacred ministry in this country, and be guided by the experience of two such holy men as Bishop Flaget and Father David. Both of those zealous and vigilant pastors had grown old in the labors of the Apostolic career ; and, for many years, they had been employed on the American mission, to the great advantage of the flock confided to their care. “And most assuredly,” adds Bishop Rosati, “we learned from them many useful things, of which it might have been very prejudicial to ourselves and others that we should be ignorant. For example, they advised us not to attack certain customs of the country, which were not wrong in themselves, nor opposed to the gospel or the laws of the Church, but merely different from the customs of Europe. A certain amount of toleration is laudable and if it had always been observed by other missionaries, many scandals would have been prevented ; the enemies of Christianity would not have so many arguments against us, and, in fine, the abjuration of heretics, and the conversion of infidels and savages would become a work of much less difficulty.” Such were the instructions, which these two excellent prelates with so much prudence recommended ; they supported them by many peculiar facts which had already occured, and, both the servant of God and Bishop Rosati found out in course of time, by their own experience, how important these instructions were.2 But the best instruction, and that which made the most impression on Father De Andreis and his companions, was the irreproachable and austere life led by the two bishops in their little seminary. Both of them observed total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, the use of which some had endeavored to justify, under the specious pretext that they were a substitute for wine, which could not always be obtained in some parts of the country. These liquors were therefore banished from the common table of the seminary, as well as from the bishop’s private apartments ; and in consequence of this invariable rule, when persons offered anything of the kind as a present, to recruit the strength of these two laborious prelates, they never accepted any such donation. This example of mortification, being followed by the priests and students of the seminary, was a source of much edification to all the faithful of the diocese where, unfortunately, the use of strong drinks generally prevailed ; and Fathers De Andreis and Rosati, seeing this abstinence so strictly observed, determined to follow it in the same manner, as soon as they were settled in St. Louis.
Meanwhile Father De Andreis was appointed by the Rev. Fr. David, to teach theology in the seminary and his lessons were no less beneficial to the ecclesiastics of Bardstown, than they had been to so many others in Rome. The best of it was, that while the servant of God spoke as a master, on questions concerning the sacred sciences, he himself became a scholar in the study of the English language, under Father David. He came every day with the others, his “spelling – book” in his hand, for, though he already possessed a tolerable knowledge of the language, and could even write it pretty well, he desired to perfect himself in it, and especially to acquire a correct pronunciation. He was not ashamed then, to seem but a beginner in this study, and to place himself on a level with the scholars to whom he taught theology in so masterly a manner ; using, like them, the elementary books of the language, learning and reciting the usual lessons, and stammering over the English like a child just beginning to learn. He took the utmost delight in this humiliation, and said, several times, Those words of the Govel, “nisi efficiamini sient parvali, non intrabitis in regnum coelorm,” must be fulfilled in our regard. Father David, on his side, was very much pleased to give these lessons of English, saying, with holy pleasantry, that he cheerfully exchanged them for those of theology, which Father De Andreis gave so assiduously. How fortunate I am, he would say, to teach you English! I shall share in the merit of your apostolic labors, and when, one of these days, you announce the word of God in various places, I shall, in some sort, preach it myself by your mouth!
The occupations of Father De Andreis, in the seminary of St. Thomas, were more regular and conformable to his desires, than any others in which he had been employed since he left Rome. He began to preach in English, which he had never yet done ; he also heard confessions in that language, and, in a word, exercised all the functions of the sacred ministry, being very much delighted to be enabled thus to promote still more the glory of God and the salvation of souls. He translated his sermons into English, having already put many of them into French ; his translations were excellent, because he had learned the beauties of both languages from the best writers both in prose and poetry. Whenever he went out to walk with his pupils, he conversed with them in English, and desired to be told whenever he made use of any unsuitable expression.
He did not fail to include in his studies, the best ascetic books, especially the writings of St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa, St. Francis de Sales, Father Saurin, Bond-ran, and others. It was his delight to read these books, because, in the sublime perfection which they taught, he beheld that to which he himself aspired, and felt his love for God increase by the holy inspirations which they breathed. His heart became more and more inflamed with this divine love, during his profound meditations, his exercises of piety, and his frequent and fervent visits to the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. To all this he united the most affectionate kindness towards his missionaries, and, in fact, towards every one. He watched over their health and comforted them in their trials. The moment he perceived any one in trouble, he endeavored to win his confidence, in order to dispel from his mind any symptom of sadness ; and, when they all gathered around him, he encouraged them to put their whole trust in God, or amused them by some interesting anecdote. As they all experienced the effects’ of his paternal solicitude, they easily manifested to him the most secret emotions of their hearts, and nearly all desired to have him for their confessor.
During his stay at Bardstown, Father Dc Andreis judged it expedient to send to Rome some further information concerning himself and his companions ; we will therefore give his letter precisely as written by himself. It will not merely afford more ample details on what has already been said, but may mention some facts that have perhaps been omitted. It is addressed to the Rev. Mr. Sicardi, and dated November 29th, 1816.3
“I avail myself of an opportunity afforded me by the Very Rev. Vicar-General of the Jesuit fathers in America, who is going to visit the capital of the Christian world. I am much obliged to him for his attention, though I have not the honor of knowing him otherwise than by his letters ; if you are kind enough to write to me in return, you can send me your reply by the same Rev. Father. These facilities occur so seldom, that we must not lose sight of them.
“The change of climate, food, etc., has caused me to suffer not a little during the past winter. At one time the cold was so intense, that I fell down at the altar, apparently lifeless, and it was with great difficulty that animation was restored. I am now in excellent health, and, since Lent, have been preaching and hearing confessions in English. Father Rosati does the same, and the other three priests are preparing to follow our example. Father Rosati has been absent since Easter, on a mission with a Sulpician priest. They have gone to a ,poor Catholic locality, called Fort Vincennes, inhabited by persons of French origin, who scarcely ever see a priest more than once or twice during the year. I am in daily expectation of Father Rosati’s return.
“The life of a missionary, in this country, is pretty hard ; he must be constantly on horseback, finding his way here and there through immense woods, to visit the sick and attend the congregations. Sometimes he is obliged to go thirty or forty miles to see a sick person. The congregations are what we call parishes ; the people assemble in cabins, built of trunks of trees, laid one upon another, the interstices being filled up with clay, (like the greater number of houses, into which the wind and rain enter without difficulty.) These are our churches, without pictures and ornaments of any kind, provided merely with a poor wooden altar. They are scattered about among the woods, and on festival days, Catholics, and not unfrequently Protestants too, for ten or fifteen miles around, gather together within their walls. All come on horseback, and it is really amusing to behold the surrounding woods filled with horses, and to hear them neighing as if a regiment of cavalry were in the vicinity. Confessions take up the greater part of the morning, Mass is said or sung, a sermon or homily preached, and then follow the baptisms, generally very numerous; the sick must be visited, and the poor priest, worn out with fasting, fatigue, the journey, and the heat, has at length to beg his dinner here or there. This meal usually consists in some corn-bread, beefsteak, and water, without wine, vinegar, soup, or oil. Sometimes he is obliged to say two Masses and to preach in places far apart, for the people are very much dispersed, every one being employed in cultivating his own land. There are neither towns nor villages ; you see no peasantry nor servants ; all the work is done by negro slaves, who are very numerous.
“The other evening, having been sent for to visit a sick person, about twenty miles away, I was left alone in the midst of the woods, without a guide or horse, the latter having made his escape into the forest while I dismounted for a moment, and the guide had to run after him some time before he succeeded in bringing him back. However, the actual good that is done and that which we hope to realize is a great consolation. Last week, I was called to assist a poor sick woman, whose only dwelling was a miserable cabin, in which she and her whole family were living. As this could not possibly accommodate both myself and my horse, a rich Protestant gentleman, who lived about a quarter of a mile farther, came to offer me his house, which I found full of company. Controversial subjects were discussed, and my host was so well satisfied with the manner in which his objections were removed, that he promised me he would become a Catholic. Protestants are generally very respectful towards priests, and even make it a point of honor to treat them with all possible politeness and generosity ; but priests are too few for the work that has to be done, and they can barely attend to the wants of Catholics. How many die without a priest and are buried without his ministry ! How many congregations pass entire months, even the greatest festivals of Religion, .without Mass ; in a word, without a priest! In this immense diocese of Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, there arc scarcely twelve priests, including the bishop, who is continually on horseback, riding here and there like the youngest of his missionaries. He goes alone, without any distinction of rank, save that of taking for himself the most difficult and laborious share of the ministry. The Sulpicians do a great deal of good ; we are under very considerable obligations to them for the charitable attention they bestowed upon us at Montpellier, Toulouse, Bordeaux, and Baltimore ; also at the seminary where we now are. They are repjete with zeal, religion and piety ; indefatigable and fervent in the discharge of their duty, devoted to the Holy See, pure and unerring in the doctrines which they teach. The Dominicans also render many services to the Church in this country. I had the pleasure of becoming personally acquainted with Father Fenwick, their founder in America, and some others. I have no doubt, indeed I am sure, that when once we begin our establishment, we too shall have many students We expect our bishop in the course of next summer, and we shall go with him to our place of destination. We experience, thank God, the truth of those words of St. Vincent, that One fares well at the Inn of Divine Providence. How admirable! to he solicitous for nothing, and yet want for nothing! such is our state. On the one hand, I well know how incapable I am of acting the superior, while on the other, I see that everything goes on well ; better could not be wished were I the most efficient man in the world. Thus, God does all himself, and I can do nothing but annihilate myself in his divine presence, in order to act, speak, let alone, go or stay ; in a word, follow blindly in everything his most holy will, even unto death, which is now the only end I have in view.
“I have already written to you several times, Reverend sir, and have given you all the news concerning our band. I have now been teaching six months at the seminary. I have ten pupils, four of whom belong to us and the others to Kentucky. Father Rosati does wonders already ; it is easy to see that God has called him to this mission for the execution of great designs. His health is robust, and he has made surprising progress in the English language. He began to preach before me, and I very willingly humble myself at his feet, as I ought, seeing that the Almighty grants him lights and graces which he very justly refuses me, on account of my sins, ingratitude, and unconquerable pride. Indeed I think it my duty, Reverend sir, in all sincerity, and for many reasons which I have not time, at present, to develop fully, to entreat you to transfer to him the office of superior. This, I hope, will meet with universal approbation, and will redound to the greater good of our mission, and of the whole Congregation. I have written in the same strain to Bishop Dubourg, with reference to the office of vicar-general. My pride renders it needful for me to be under a superior, and my capacity is too limited for the pilotage of a bark such as this. I will, however, labor as usual without sparing any pains, until I receive your permission to resume the yoke of obedience. I assure you that nothing in the world possesses now any charm for me ; life is a burden, and I desire but death. I know I ought to tremble on account of my sins, but I trust in the infinite mercy of God. We all recommend ourselves to your prayers, and those of the congregation.
“I remain, etc.,
“FELIX DE ANDREIS”
The same details were given more fully by the servant of God in one of his other letters, which we will likewise insert in this place ; it is addressed, like the last, to the Vicar-General of the Congregation of the Mission at Rome, and dated January 5th, 1817.
“With pleasure I prepare to fulfil the task imposed upon me, by giving you Reverend sir, an account of the state of the Congregation in this part of the world, and I undertake it the more willingly, being now enabled to give you some exact information respecting our future residence, as we are almost on the spot. It is only three hundred miles from here to St. Louis, a journey which can easily be performed on horseback in a week, it not being necessary to go up the Mississippi.
“One must be blind, non plus ultra, not to perceive clearly the hand of God, throughout this undertaking. He removes obstacles, disposes hearts in our favor, opens a way for us, preserves us from danger, and by unforeseen succors, abundantly provides for all our wants, in a country where, as in England, everything is exorbitantly dear. We meet everywhere, thanks to the same divine hand, a welcome such as we could hardly expect from our dearest fellow missionaries in Europe, or even from our nearest relatives. The expense of clothing food and traveling for twelve persons, all young and with good appetites, is, of course, considerable ; yet I can assure you that, so far, I have given it no more thought than if I were at Monte Citorio. Our Lord abundantly provides for us without any care on our part ; we are, however, ready to suffer poverty, which is the most precious treasure of all Apostolic men. It is true, we had some trials to undergo in our tiresome and inconvenient journey down the Ohio, in a boat made like a cabin, where the rain often visited us even in our beds, and where, in the space of a few feet, (the remainder being crowded with boxes, etc. ) we had our kitchen, refectory, church, sacristy, sleeping-room, and everything else, for nearly a month. But when we reached Louisville, after a journey of six hundred miles or more by water, we were most courteously received by a good Catholic, whom the kind bishop of Bardstown, Mgr. Flaget, had requested to receive us into his house. A few days after, in compliance with a letter which I received from the bishop, I started from Louisville for this place, (which is his usual residence,) in order to deliberate with him whether it would be better for us to continue our journey to St. Louis, or remain for some time in Kentucky, the season being already far advanced, and the journey, in consequence, somewhat perilous. The above named bishop, who, in the absence of Bishop Dubourg had been nominated administrator of part of the diocese of Louisiana, agreed with me that for many reasons it would be wiser to remain here until the arrival of Bishop Dubourg, that we might make our formal entrance into the place altogether. I wrote therefore to my companions, who came here on horseback through the woods, and we purpose to remain some time, in order to rest both body and mind, and learn English in a proper manner. Divine Providence has given us an excellent teacher, under whose tuition we hope, in a few weeks, to be able to begin to preach. Our seminary here has something very Trappistic, or Carthusian about it, located as it is in the midst of the forest, in a poor log-house. The bishop is at the head of the seminary, though he is nearly always absent for the purpose of visiting different portions of the Catholic population. Missionaries in this country sometimes ride over ninety or one hundred miles a day, a fact which in Europe, will seem almost incredible. I am employed in teaching moral theology to seven young men, four of whom belong to our company. I hardly believe there exists a country, to which the words of the gospel : messis multa, operarii autern pauci, would be more applicable than to this. The missionaries work beyond their strength, going con-, stantly on horseback, through these immense woods, to assist the Catholic population scattered here and there. They have not time to attend properly to the conversion of Protestants, who seem well disposed and desirous of hearing religious discourses, and who therefore might easily be brought back to the Faith. Not far from the seminary is a house of the Sisters of Charity, established by the zealous pastor of the diocese. They follow the rules of St. Vincent, though in order to adapt themselves to the country, they have made some changes in the dress and regulations ; they also make perpetual vows. We cannot appear in public unless we wear a short coat, cravat, and round hat. In the seminary we wear the cassock, and this having been noticed, some persons came from a long way off to see, as they said, ‘A Roman priest dressed like a woman.’
“So far, we are only four belonging to the Congregation. Brother Blanka is very well, although he has much to do, having to attend to the service of the whole band (aided by the two postulants only,) to take care of our movables, which is no little matter, and to have them conveyed from one place to the other. Father Acquaroni acts as procurator in the best way he can, and supplies the dexterity that is wanting in Father Rosati and me. Father Rosati makes rapid progress in the English language, and his zeal, health, and other excellent qualities, give promise of much good to the country. As for myself, miserable wretch that I am, most unworthy to occupy the place of vicar-general, I hope to be able to discharge some of my numerous debts towards Divine Providence, by laboring and suffering until death, without any reserve. Here we drink nothing but water, with the exception of a little coffee in the morning, and tea in the evening, with a piece of corn bread. My stomach finds some difficulty in becoming accustomed to this diet, but I never cease to exclaim : Felix necessitas quae nos ad nzeliora compellit! We celebrated the Christmas festivals with great pomp, and a pontifical high Mass, which being a most unusual sight here, attracted a large concourse of persons. The only Sulpician, who bears the burden of the whole seminary, numbering about twenty members, addressed the people iu our presence, and demonstrated very well the truth of the Catholic Church, from the very fact of our coming among them.
“I perceive clearly, to my great delight, that our Lord vouchsafes to treat me with mercy, as he sends me crosses and humiliations enough to check my self-love and force it to take flight. I entreat you to help me by your prayers, and to cause others to come to my aid that I may thank him worthily, for I candidly avow that I know of no grace more precious than these joys of Paradise.
“Here, almost on the spot, seeing things as they are, or according to the information which we obtain from the bishop, we are certain of the establishment of our seminary, and of meeting with many subjects who will seek admittance into our Congregation. A little later on we may also hope for several other establishments in various places, having before our eyes the example of what the Jesuits and the Dominicans have done, they being already settled in many places. I have had a personal interview with Father Fenwick, the superior of the Dominicans, and some correspondence with good Father Grassi, an Italian, the vicar-general of the Jesuits, a man about any own age, but gifted with most excellent abilities, which enable him to do wonders in these parts. To him I am indebted for considerable aid, as also for many kind offers. I very much regret that we have not been able to become personally acquainted, all the arrangements made on both sides, for that purpose, having failed.
“I feel strongly impelled to devote myself, in a particular manner, to the conversion of the Indian tribes who live beyond the Mississippi. Here, no trace of them remains, while on the contrary, the Mississippi, which serves as a boundary to the United States, and separates them from the immense wilderness, which extends even to the Pacific Ocean, flows by St. Louis, and makes of it the central point of all these savage nations. Among these, so far, the light of the gospel has never penetrated, though they seem well disposed to receive it. Therefore I intend, when our seminary is well established, to leave rather Rosati at its head, and to wend my way, in nomine Domini, along the banks of the Mississippi and Missouri, preaching the gospel to these poor people. Before I leave St. Louis. I will have the Catechism translated into their language. This I can do with the assistance of some Indians who come from time to time to St. Louis, and persons of the place, who are pretty well acquainted with their language. I have received from men of experience, much information, both with regard to the difficulties to be encountered and the manner of overcoming them, and, with the help of God the undertaking seems as easy as if I already witnessed its execution. I shall have much to suffer, but of this I do not think, nor will I allow my mind to rest on it one moment. Too much already have I thought about myself, and I am ashamed to have clone so, but in future, nothing but God and the interests of his glory shall occupy my attention. I see clearly that he is very merciful in my regard, for I should be an infidel, did I not trust in him and follow solely the impulse of his Spirit.
“To tell the truth, the Indians are uncivilized, ferocious, inconstant, and haughty. They habitually lead a very austere life, and sometimes spend several days without taking any nourishment : but then, if they chance to kill a buffalo or a deer in their hunt, they will eat it all at once, almost raw. They wear very little clothes, and torment their bodies to please the ‘Great Spirit.’ The old people, with the women and children, remain in the wigwams, but the others are nearly always away hunting wild beasts, whose skins they prepare very skilfully, and exchange them with the Americans for provisions and strong liquors. They are exceedingly fond of liquor, so much so that this propensity constitutes one of the principal obstacles with which the missionary has to contend, in the work of their conversion.
“The holy bishop, in whose house we now are, looks upon our coming as a sign that a season of mercy has arrived for these regions, and I feel myself irresistibly inclined to the same opinion. But the works of God, as St. Vincent says, have their beginning, progress, and end ; we must follow Divine Providence, step by step, without ever interrupting, anticipating, or deserting it. Have the charity to recommend us to God, that we may be faithful in following this important maxim.
“The manifold changes to which our situation has exposed, and still daily exposes us, have never caused me to feel oue single moment’s regret for having come to this country ; on the contrary, my inward satisfaction daily increases, and leaves me nothing more to desire, but death, from the effects of my labors. The world has vanished for us ; we all look upon ourselves as victims immolated to the glory of God, and the salvation of these poor souls. The thought of returning to Europe never even crosses the mind of any one of us. After Easter, Father Rosati will go about three hundred miles hence, on his first mission ; a Sulpician priest is to accompany him. He will have a good opportunity of meeting with the Indians.
Excuse the length of this letter. I thought it was not worth while to write from such a distance, without filling my paper. A kind remembrance to all.”
It will not be amiss to insert here some other facts mentioned in part of a letter written by Father De Andreis to Monsignor Paulinus Martorelli, canon of the Lateran basilica, August 24th, of the same year. It is as follows :
“It would be difficult and tedious to give you a full description of the state of the Church in America, for, where you are, you can form no correct idea of this country. Picture to yourself an immense tract of land, entirely covered with woods and forests, dwellings scattered here and there without any order, the towns and cities being few in number, which is very inconvenient on account of the small number of priests, and for other reasons of minor importance. The churches are situated in open plains, surrounded by the woods ; on feast- days, men women and children, of every age and condition, come on horseback, ten, fifteen miles, or even more, to attend Mass, hear the word of God, and receive the sacraments ; so that, when they wish to go to holy communion, they are compelled, notwithstanding the fatigue of the journey coming and going, to remain fasting until the evening, when they reach their homes. These churches, in their outward appearance, resemble all the other houses, being built of rude logs and trunks of trees, (which are never scarce in this country), put together with mud, and through which the wind, cold, heat and rain cuter by turns. They are entirely devoid of ornament.
“Although, with regard to the population, these churches are few in number, still, as priests are likewise very scarce, every one of the latter has to attend to four, five or six of these parishes, or, as they are called here, congregations ; and though a priest is sometimes obliged to say two Masses on one day, some of the congregations are whole months without a clergyman.
“On account of the great distance at which the congregations are situated one from another, the missionary is obliged to be constantly on horseback, going here and there to preach, assist the sick etc. Hence twenty, thirty, sixty or even ninety miles in one day are his customary rides ; his life is, indeed, a hard and laborious one. Today he is in one place, but he knows not where he will be to-morrow ; he depends entirely for his food and lodging on the hospitality of the planters who, thank God, are delighted to show every mark of attention to a priest ; even Protestants will do all in their power to receive him well, though the best fare that he can expect consists of nothing but some corn-bread very badly baked, tough salt pork, potatoes and water. This is the refreshment that the missionary finds after a pretty long journey, having heard confessions the whole morning until one or two in the afternoon, said Mass, preached, baptized, etc.; sometimes at five in the evening he is still fasting.
“However, blessed be God, who in thc midst of so many labors and difficulties sends us the most exquisite consolations, both interior and exterior ; they would be still greater, could we afford to give more help to these poor souls. Alas ! to what can a Christian, a priest, better devote his talents, his wealth and his possessions than to this excellent work ! For want of means we are not able to assist Catholics as we should wish, much less can we attend to the conversion of Protestants and Indians, who are, on the other hand, very well disposed fo receive us. How many Protestant ministers would change their religion, could we but offer them some resource for themselves and their families, their unhappy ministry being at present their sole means of subsistence ! Who would not be moved with compassion for these poor souls !
“It is indeed a trial for any one who has seen Rome, to come to this country. I beg your prayers, Reverend sir. that I may die sword in hand, since my only comfort in the world is this hope. We are expecting Bishop Dubourg, who is coming this time with twenty-eight other missionaries, and we shall all enter Louisiana (the place of our destination) together. This State borders on Kentucky, and with regard to religious matters is pretty much in the same condition, with a few additional obstacles. I am delighted that our sojourn here has given me some practice in the language and customs of the country, for, having gone through our novitiate in the ministry, we shall succeed the better when called upon to labor ex professo.
“I remain, etc.,
“FELIX DE ANDREIS.”
- While perusing the account which Father De Andreis gives us of the dangers and difficulties encountered by himself and his companions, during this and their subsequent journey to St. Louis, the reader should bear in mind, that ninety years ago, none of the present rapid modes of travelling were common in the United States, and that, consequently, a journey which could now be performed with the utmost facility, was then an undertaking attended with no slight amount of peril and inconvenience.
- Father De Andreis, thanking God for this useful advice, thus expresses himself in his considerations: —”Denique hoc Bardense seminariunt tamquam probaticam piscinam mihi paraveras, rit hic alterius generis mirabilia ‘Wits experirer. Frusi u conarer exponere omnia commoda et utilitales, quas hic invenire nobis foil et quoad corpus, et quoad animam. Di17acile admodttm dicta est quot ascensiones in corde nosh.° disposuisti, per quot adiuncta el inexplicabilia facto voluntatent tuam manifestast , et hic quasi futures missionis tyrocinium suppedifasfi in doctrina linguarum, in morum region is /Jujus agnitione iu ntinisterii experrn:euto, in soliludinis emolument°, in function um preparandam m 4pr/imitate, in guide el tranquilitale, iu gradala vita hujus habitatione.”
- From the contents of this letter, we perceive, that, though it bears a previous date, it must have been written after the next, which is dated January 6th, 1817.