Life of Felix de Andreis. Chapter 06

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Author: Joseph Rosati, C.M. · Year of first publication: 1900.

Arrival of Father De Andreis at St. Louis, and his Apostolic labors.

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IN September Father De Andreis, in con­cert with Fathers Acquaroni and Ferrari, having concluded the retreat at the semi­nary of St. Thomas, received the welcome intelligence that Bishop Dubourg, with some thirty priests, had arrived in Balti­more, from which place he was on his way to Louisiana. The letter containing this news was addressed to Bishop Flaget of Bardstown, whom the former Prelate re­quested to proceed to St. Louis with Fathers De Andreis and Rosati, in order to sound the intentions of the inhabitants of the place, and to make the requisite arran­gements for the Mission about to be estab­lished there. Bishop Flaget set out then with the two above-named priests and Brother Blanka, all being on horseback. They had to travel over three hundred miles. The roads were in a most dreadful state, so that they lost their way once or twice, and were overtaken by night in the midst of frightful precipices. Another day they were drenched by the rain, without having any means of drying their garments; finally, on another occasion, they had to go with­out food from morning till night. Among so many hardships and dangers the Bishop did not complain of his own sufferings, so many years spent in the sacred ministry having, as he said, identified him with similar trials ; but he deplored those that his companions had to undergo, especially Father De Andreis, who suffered so much that he could hardly remain on his horse. But he conquered his bodily weakness by the energy of his ever cheerful soul.

After travelling nine days, they arrived at Kaskaskia, a village of French origin, almost wholly composed of Catholics. It is one of the oldest settlements of the country, and was formerly the centre of the missions commenced among the Indians by the zeal of the Jesuit fathers. On descend­ing the hills which bound this magnificent plain on the east, Father De Andreis and his companions were moved even to tears at the sight of the cross that rose on the spire of the church, and with lively senti­ments of faith they reverenced this sign of our redemption, which at that period was but seldom seen above the cities and vil­lages of the United States. Their pious emotions still further increased when, on entering the place and stopping at the house of Colonel Peter Menard, one of the principal citizens, they heard, as the sun went down, the sound of the bell, remind­ing the faithful to recite the Angelus Domini, in memory of the divine mystery of the Incarnation. This pious custom, so conducive to the preservation of the Cath­olic faith, had been carefully maintained among the Creoles, or descendants of the French, who were the first settlers of that place.

Col. Menard and his family welcomed the good bishop of Bardstown with the ut­most delight, gave him a suitable lodging, and bestowed on him all the attentions that hospitality demands. They had long known the Prelate, as he had been there to give a mission, and administer the sacrament of confirmation. He had deservedly acquired the esteem of all the inhabitants, and the principal persons of the town hastened on his arrival to visit him and show marks of respect to the missionaries who accompanied him.

On the following day all the priests en­joyed the consolation of saying Mass in the parish church, which had long been with­out a resident pastor. Father Don Dona­tian Olivier (who died at the Barrens in February 1841, at the age of nearly ninety-three years,) came every Sunday to celebrate the holy sacrifice, administer the sacra­ments, and preach. For this purpose he had to come from Prairie do Rocher, fifteen miles distant. “As this venerable priest,” writes Bishop Rosati, “came to the place as usual on the Sunday which occurred during our stay, lie was kind enough to accompany us to St. Genevieve, another French village, situated on the opposite bank of the river, about seven miles above.

“The parish-priest of St. Genevieve, the Rev. Henry Pratte, came to meet us with several of the parishioners, and as they all knew Bishop Flaget, who had given a mission in that place, he was received with many demonstrations of joy. Some of us were quartered in the house of the pastor, others in good Catholic families. On the following Sunday Father De Andreis sang high Mass and Bishop Flaget preached. He spoke of the object of our mission, which caused several of the principal in­habitants to assemble on two occasions, when they testified their earnest desire that we should remain among them ; but one of their number, a worthy old man, told them plainly that they need not hope for that. `St. Louis,’ said lie, ‘will have the pre­ference, and we shall be obliged to yield;’ such, in fact, was eventually the case.

“At length, on the i7th of October 1817, we arrived in the city of St. Louis, which at that period had no pastor ; it was at­tended every three weeks by a priest from the other side of the river. The Bishop and the missionaries went to the presbytery, which was an old stone building almost in ruins, divided by planks into two portions, one of which, the smaller of the two, served as a sleeping-room, and the other was ap­propriated to the parochial and municipal assemblies. In this tottering house Bishop Flaget determined to take up his residence, and as there was no bed in it, some of the inhabitants prepared one for him. Father De Andreis and his companions had to sleep on buffalo skins spread on the floor, in the same room or the one adjoining. It is true that the citizens were very willing to offer their own houses, but the missiona­ries concurred with the bishop in thinking that it was better to be satisfied with a poor but independent abode, rather than accept the offer of any private individual. The parish church, situated very near the presbytery, was in no better condition ; it was small, poor, and falling into ruins. In a word, wherever the eye turned, nothing could be seen, but poverty and desolation. Who would have thought then, that in the space of a few years there would arise on the same spot a vast, well-built, and well-furnished cathedral ! Who would have thought that the population, then consist­ing of four thousand persons only, would, in 184o, have increased to the number of thirty-four thousand !1

“As soon as Bishop Flaget arrived at St. Louis, he interested himself in the affair entrusted to him by his fellow- laborer, Bishop Dubourg. Having assembled the principal heads of families, he spoke to them of the approaching arrival of their own bishop and the missionaries he was bringing with him to fix their residence in that place. He proved to them that they should feel very grateful for the choice that had been made of their city ; for, in con­sequence, it would rapidly become not only the centre of the extensive country around, but the centre of all religious and literary instructions, whence they and their families would derive immense benefit. He also told them, that since the bishop’s residence among them would confer so many advan­tages on their city, they ought, on their part, to co-operate in his views, and cheer­fully give him all the help they could. He then began to speak of what it was most requisite to do first, and mentioned particu­larly the preparation of a suitable residence; and, as all these arrangements could not be considered in the first meeting, he held several general assemblies, at which he begged every one to express his own opin­ion. During one of these meetings a certain Mr. L … arose, and addressing himself to the bishop and his fellow-citizens, said : ‘I am far from disapproving the choice that Bishop Dubourg has made of this city for the place of his ordinary resi­dence. He is a bishop, and is, therefore, at liberty to fix his abode in whatever part of his diocese he may think proper to select ; but, inasmuch as it concerns the inhabitants of St. Louis, I see no particular reason why they should contribute to the expense that he will consequently incur. The expenses of a diocese should be divided among the whole population ; it is not just that they fall on us alone. We have a parish-church ; we will give our pastor a proper salary ; this will be quite enough for our share. If the church is going to ruin, it is our duty to repair it ; and, though we have no pastor at present, let one be sent to us and we will cheerfully receive him; but, as to the bishop, we are not obliged to do anything, because his permanent residence belongs alike to all.’ “

Such were the arguments he advanced, but his words made no impression on the assembly, because every one knew that he was not actuated by genuine zeal for the public good. He was a Catholic only in name, who scarcely ever entered a church, attended instructions, or approached the sacraments ; consequently, his words pro­duced no effect on those who heard them. On the contrary, all manifested sentiments of an entirely opposite nature, and willingly offered to contribute, both by labor and money, to whatever the projected establish­ment would require.

Meanwhile there arrived at St. Louis two deputies from St. Mary’s of the Bar­rens, a parish situated about eighty miles from the above-named city, and eighteen from St. Genevieve. They were sent by the parish – priest, Father Dunaud, (the last Trappist then remaining in Missouri, ) and, in the name of all the other inhabi­tants, amounting to thirty-five families, they came to Bishop Flaget, telling hit that they were sent to beg him to be their intercessor with Bishop Dubourg on his arrival, that he might choose their parish for the foundation of his future seminary. They assured Bishop Flaget that this was the unanimous and urgent desire of all, and that they proposed to purchase, for the pur­pose of realizing it, six hundred and forty acres of land, the whole of which they would offer to their bishop. The worthy Pre­late and the missionaries received this gen­erous deputation with all possible kindness, and gave them every reason to hope that the general wish of the inhabitants of the Barrens would be gratified on the arrival of Bishop Dubourg.

At length it had to be decided, whether or not the people of St. Louis would set about preparing a dwelling for the bishop and his priests, for the time of their arrival was drawing near. Bishop Flaget, seeing that every one was well disposed, returned to his own diocese with Father Rosati. As the bishop passed through St. Genevieve, he left Father De Andreis there, and sent the Rev. Mr. Pratte to St. Louis, so that, by his presence, he might hasten the work, superintend the laborers, remove any diffi­culty that might arise, and see that the undertaking was completed in a skilful and orderly manner.

The parish of St. Genevieve was then the first scene of the Apostolic labors of Father De Andreis in the diocese of New Orleans, for which he had left Rome. The parish was extensive; and it was inhabited by two thousand Creoles, or French Cath­olics. They were all well instructed and attended by the indefatigable vigilance of their excellent pastor. The zeal of Father De Andreis, on taking the direction of the parish, was no less ardent. He was assidu­ous in hearing confessions, instructing the children, visiting the sick ; on festivals, he celebrated two Masses, and preached several times with much success. His explana­tions of the gospel were so pleasing, that those good people never grew weary of listening to him, and endeavored to put in practice all he said. Even yet, a grateful remembrance of him is preserved among them, as they call to mind what their an­cestors told them of his uniform mildness and his other saintly virtues.

While continuing to employ himself in this holy manner, the servant of God had, near the end of 1817, the greatest consola­tion he could desire. His Bishop, accom­panied by Bishop Flaget, arrived at St. Genevieve. Bishop Dubourg did not bring the band of ecclesiastics who came with him from Europe, having left them in Ken­tucky to learn English and become ac­customed to the manners of the country. Father De Andreis accompanied the two bishops to St. Louis, where they made their formal entrance on the feast of the Epi­phany, 1818, and were received with ac­clamations of joy. Here the servant of God took his post as vicar-general of the diocese, the functions of which office he discharged, principally whenever the bishop, on account of his frequent missions, or his pastoral visitations, was obliged to leave St. Louis. But the office of parish-priest was peculiarly his own, and he daily devoted himself to it, performing, in the best manner, all its duties, as he had done at St. Genevieve. The people of St. Louis, who had been so long deprived of a pastor, seemed to appreciate his merits as soon as they began to know him, and to experience the effects of his paternal solicitude ; most assuredly they could hardly do otherwise. Meanwhile the servant of God, before ad­vancing any farther in the sacred ministry, thought it his duty to write to the vicar-general of the Congregation of the Mission at Rome, to give him a particular account, not only of what concerned himself per­sonally, but also of the state of the mission. These details are to be found in his letter to Father Sicardi, written from St. Louis on the 24th of February, 1818, about forty days after his arrival in that place. It is as follows :

“I thank Almighty God for the consola­tion afforded me by the letter of our worthy visitor, Father Ceracchi. It was trans­mitted to me from Kentucky by Father Rosati, and I was delighted to receive such good news of our Congregation in Italy, and especially to hear of their friendly feel­ing towards the American mission ; again I humbly thank our Lord for the kind re­membrance in which we are held. Al­though I have lately written two long let­ters, one to Father Giordana to apprise hini of our arrival at our destination, and another to Father Giriodi, I think it ad­visable”to add something to Father Rosati’s, as so many letters are lost, and also to make up for anything that he may chance to have omitted.

“I write you this from the very ends of the earth, on the banks of the Mississippi, only a few weeks journey from the Pacific Ocean, which separates us from China. The country lying between here and the Pacific is inhabited only by wild beasts, and savages, whose state is not unlike theirs. Though the climate ought to be rather warm, our latitude being only 39°, the cold is so intense, that I never ex­perienced anything like it. We cannot remain very far from the fire, though we often put one coat over another ; the cold is so piercing, that it seems to reach the brain, and almost makes one giddy. I have very frequently found nothing but ice in the chalice while at the altar, and had some difficulty in melting it by means of fire, which had to be brought to the spot ; and even then, in consuming the sacred species, I was compelled to make use of my teeth. This extreme cold proceeds from the north winds, which, descending from the icebergs of Greenland, and passing over the frozen. lakes of Canada, come here to freeze us to death. We can say, with St.. Paul, ‘Blessed be God in frigore,’ though not in meditate, for we are but too well pro­vided for.

“I am transported beyond myself, when I consider the admirable care of Divine Providence in favor of this mission, and overcome by gratitude on the one hand, and confusion, by reason of my unworthi­ness, on the other, I can only exclaim : et uncle hoc mihi! . . . . Junes ceciderunt mihi in praeclaris ! it is not merely difficult, but impossible to describe what I feel. The most ardent zeal would here find an ample field for its labors, and we have already many bright prospects of success. This diocese covers an immense extent of coun­try, and the labor that it will require will soon render it expedient to divide it2; cities, towns and villages are growing up before our eyes with marvellous rapidity; emigrants are arriving in crowds from all parts of the United States, as well as from Europe. Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and France send multitudes to people the smiling and fertile plains of Missouri, and in a few years the country will become so flourishing, that Europe will no longer ex­cite envy. The chief part of the popula­tion is French, (or Creole as they call it,) and consequently Catholic, but without any religious culture, on account of the long period during which the place has been destitute of clergymen and of every means of instruction. One of the most re­spectable citizens said to me : If Bishop Dubourg had not come in time to our relief, the last spark of faith would have been ex­tinguished in our country.’ But the French part of the population will soon be ab­sorbed by the American and the English, among whom only a small portion are Catholics, but these are generally very fer­vent; the greater part are Protestants of various denominations. We have also both French and English infidels, who call them­selves Nullifidians, that is to say, without any religion whatever.

“Let us now proceed to the numerous Indian tribes ; there are among them fifty different nations ; they acknowledge one only God, whom, in their language, they call Classemenetu, which means ‘Father of Life’ ; to him they address their prayers and offer the first fumes of their pipe. To please this god, they treat themselves most cruelly; indeed their whole religion con­sists in these practices, some of which are too horrible to relate. They live like the very animals of which they are constantly in pursuit ; their chase provides them with food and scanty clothing, (for they go al­most naked,) and enables them to trade with the white people, who, in exchange for furs and venison, give them powder, spirits, paint to decorate their bodies and silver rings for their ears and nostrils. Their aspect is frightful, and one feels al­most inclined to doubt if their reasoning powers be fully developed. I have seen several, and have conversed with them by means of an interpreter ; in general, they regard priests with great respect, calling them .Mccateocoriatte, which means Black Gown ; they also call them ‘Fathers of Prayer.’ Some few among them are Cath­olics, and, in spite of the efforts made by Protestant missionaries to imbue them with false doctrine, they constantly refuse to adopt it, objecting that the true ‘Fathers of Prayer’ have no wives and children like the Protestant ministers, but that they devote themselves wholly to God and the salvation of souls. Notwithstanding the difficulties attending the work of their conversion, I am convinced that, when the first obstacles are overcome, it will be almost easy. The chief impediment is the language, which is not the same among the various tribes, though the dialects are very much alike, and the Indians of different nations under­stand one another. With the assistance of an interpreter, I have made some attempts to arrange their principal language accord­ing to grammatical rule. It is a difficult undertaking, as my interpreter, knowing nothing of such laws, cannot translate word for word, nor supply me with equivalent expressions for every idea ; however, I have begun a small dictionary, and made some translations. Their scarcity of ideas renders their language poor in words. They are consequently obliged to express them­selves with the aid of circumlocution, especially on the subject of religion. As some curious person may be glad to meet with a specimen of their language, I will here insert the Pater Nosier as I translated it by means of periphrasis, for they have no word to express either sanetificetar, reg­nant, dimitte or tentatione.3

“Bishop Dubourg, our worthy Prelate, arrived in his diocese on the 29th of December, the feast of St. Thomas of Canter­bury. I was then officiating as parish-priest at the village of St. Genevieve, about sixty miles below. Accompanied by some forty of the principal inhabitants, I went on horseback to receive him, and we con­ducted him in triumph, under a canopy, to the church, the bells ringing all the time, amidst the universal joy of Catholics, and even of many belonging to the Protestant part of the population. After he had taken possession, by a pontifical high Mass, we went, on the feast of the Epiphany to the capital, in order to perform the same cere­mony. Everything went off admirably, thanks be to God. The mere presence of the Bishop, (who with us is just the same as we knew him at Monte Citorio, ) his kindness, benignity, and suavity of manner have dispelled the storm, dissipated in a great measure every prejudice, and cap­tivated all hearts ; so that the plan of a cathedral, to be built of stone, is already traced, and will soon be carried into execu­tion. When this is done, we will begin to think of the other buildings ; it is but just that we should commence by the church, for we have nothing now to serve the pur­pose of one, but a miserable log-cabin, open to every wind, and falling to pieces. The bishop has, however, bestowed upon it a splendid temporary decoration, chiefly com­posed of the ornaments he obtained while in Europe. The population being a mix­ture of English and French, we must exer­cise the holy ministry in both languages. The bishop has truly donum sermonis, and is perfectly master of both. I crawl after him, as well as I can ; we have every reason to predict great things for the future, and to trust that we may be able to see all united in unum ovile et union pastor.

“From the time we left Bordeaux, the Bishop gave me the patent of vicar-general, and, in case any accident might befall me, he also gave one to Father Rosati. Called as I am, in virtue of this office, to share so largely in the solicitude of a pastor, especi­ally in our present beginnings, and having so few subjects for the ministry, it will be very difficult for me to place the house that we are going to erect, on the same footing with those in Italy. In this country we must be like a regiment of cavalry, or flying infantry, ready to run wherever the salva­tion of souls may require our presence ; making ourselves all unto all, to gain all to Jesus Christ, for whom we came, that he might be known, loved and served. A missionary country, and one like this, must needs be an exception to the general prac­tice, strict adherence to which would, in our case, be prejudicial to the greater glory of God and the welfare of souls. I believe that the Congregation is for the Church, and not the Church for the Congregation. However, I will do all in my power to establish, as soon as possible, all the offices customs and exercises, as prescribed by our institute. In a short time we shall all be­gin, according to our regulations, to take our turn in the missions. For this reason, besides the discharge of our daily duties, we are obliged to labor not a little to trans­late our sermons into French and English. Our greatest difficulty is not in writing, but in speaking and pronouncing the language. I perceive that I am almost too old to learn a language, and Father Rosati succeeds better than I do. Father Acquaroni will do an immense deal of good with his French. His health, however, has been somewhat delicate, but Father Rosati has enough for himself and plenty to give away, and I am, without any comparison, better than when I was in Rome. We need whole colonies of missionaries, with con­siderable pecuniary resources, in order to make rapid progress in these immense woods. But I remain tranquil, limiting my desires to what God has called me to do. Were they but to save a single soul, to prevent one sin, the toils, money and trials of a thousand missionaries would be amply repaid. God only is great, and happy is the man who lives but for Him. If I do not become a saint, with so many excellent opportunities of practising acts of the most noble apostolic virtues, it may be said with truth that I am an inveterate and incor­rigible sinner. I am more and more deeply convinced that I am, have always been, and shall always be good for nothing, if God does not perform a miracle by en­lightening, strengthening and sanctifying my blind, weak and perverse nature. This is my constant prayer ; do me the charity to render it efficacious by your intercession, and obtain for me also the prayers of fer­vent souls. Prayers, prayers, these are what we most need. My respects to all, in which my companions unite.

“I remain, etc.


From this letter we may infer how vast and difficult was the field presented to the servant of God on his arrival in St. Louis ; he had to deal with uncivilized Indians, open unbelievers, professed heretics, but few Catholics, and those few leading so corrupt a life, that they could hardly be distinguished from infidels themselves. As he had come to Louisiana for all, he would have wished, in his ardent zeal, to enlighten and convert all ; he was prepared to endure any fatigue, and would have been happy, had he been able to devote his whole life without intermission to this holy work. Touched by his sanctity, all eagerly crowded to hear his sermons and instruc­tions, and no one left the church unmoved. In conversation he delighted them by his gentleness and the affability with which he received every one, so that they were not only led to love him as a father, but almost to revere him as an angel sent to them from Heaven. It was, therefore, no wonder that thousands of Catholics were converted, that heretics abjured their errors, and that in­fidels earnestly begged to receive baptism. We prefer, however, to relate these details in his own words, (letter of December 7th, 1818, addressed to Father Baccaria, Vicar-General of the Congregation of the Mission: )

“Religious affairs wear a very favorable aspect, and promise much for the future ; meanwhile the good that is actually done is not little, though to my confusion I must acknowledge myself to be nothing but a sterile plant et igni devoranda.

“One of the Indian interpreters having fallen sick, I went to visit him ; he made his confession, and gave himself entirely to God. He now frequents the sacraments, and is helping me to translate into the In­dian language a catechism, which will be of great use in our future apostolic labors. The harvest is great, and the laborers ex­ceedingly few in comparison to the im­mense extent of this diocese. We are nearly all employed in preparing the other ecclesiastics, of whom about forty have re­cently come from Europe. We are trying to revive faith in the doctrines of Catholi­city among the people, who for the most part know nothing of them but the name. We meet with many persons, far advanced in age, who are completely ignorant of God and of religion ; who have never made their first communion, who live in con­cubinage, and have no vestige of Christi­anity about them. Some do not know how to make the sign of the cross, or recite the “Our Father;” while the religious ideas of others have become so confused, that they believe there are three gods, that Jesus Christ began to exist as God at the moment lie was born of the Virgin Mary, and other similar errors without end, especially with regard to morals. In visiting the sick, they have frequently expected me to bap­tize them without water, thinking that this could be done without any difficulty. There are a great number, (particularly among the Anglo-Americans,) who call themselves “Nullifidians ;” they profess no religion. Others are constantly wavering between different forms of belief, unable to make up their minds to embrace any. We gain over a great many of both kinds, especially when they are at the point of death.

“Although we are here almost dead to the world and buried in loco horroris et vastae solitudinis, we are pleased to receive now and then news of our dear fellow-laborers in Italy. Funes ceciderunt in praeclaris! Truly it is a noble destiny to be employed in assisting the most desolate portion of the flock of Christ in an unfruit­ful land, which unites all the inconvenien­ces of extreme cold and excessive heat ; a land which produces none of these numer­ous little comforts that are within the reach of every one in Europe. Here we have neither wine, grapes, figs, oil, nor oranges, etc. But we look upon all these little pri­vations with the eye of faith, and then every sacrifice becomes precious, and calls forth our gratitude. If we had done nothing else than baptize a single person, who was on the point of dying without baptism, or bring back one soul, hitherto lost in the mists of ignorance and vice, all our privations and sacrifices would be amply repaid. Through the divine mercy such cases are not of unfrequent occurrence, and they fill us with the utmost consolation.”

In another place he adds:

“I attribute in a great measure the rapid success of our labors to the prayers of our good brethren in Europe. Conversions are numerous, especially among Protestants and unbeliev­ers, of whom many become very fervent Catholics. In all my life I never performed so many baptisms, nor attended so many dying persons, as in this place within one month. Not long ago I was called up in the middle of the night to visit a sick man who professed no religion ; I instructed and prepared him as well as I could ; I then baptized him, and he died in the most beautiful sentiments. Similar cases occur frequently ; this very day I baptized a con­siderable number of adults. I stood god­father (for the first time in my life) to a Jew, who was baptized by the bishop, and who is now a most fervent Catholic. A sin­gular circumstance, worthy of mention, took place during the ceremony. At the very moment that the baptism was performed, a swarm of bees covered the roof of the church, an incident so remarkable, that the children rau with loud cries from the street, to chase them away. Scarcely was the ceremony concluded when the bees dis­appeared and were no more seen afterwards than they had been before. This favorable augury, of which we have many examples in ecclesiastical history, seems already as if about to be realized in the wonderful zeal which our neophyte displays. I receive from time to time most beautiful letters from him ; they show how much grace is working in his heart. He is preparing to publish an account of his life and conver­sion ; it will be a means of salvation for many others. The touching ceremony of the boys’ First Communion was the im­mediate occasion of his own change.

“That you, Reverend sir, as well as others who are interested in our behalf, may be enabled to form a correct idea of the situation of this country, with regard to the three most important objects of our mission, I will enter into some details con­cerning each class with whom we have to deal, namely Catholics, Protestants, and savages.

“As to Catholics, who are here those domestiei ficlei, who have the first right to the zeal of the missionaries, on account of their ignorance and indolence, the neces­sary consequences of having remained so long without any spiritual guidance or as­sistance — they present to the zeal and vigilance of the evangelical laborer a sight similar to that formerly beheld in spirit by the prophet Ezekiel, a vast plain covered with dry bones, devoid of life. This is a spectacle fit to discourage the most active zeal, for really one knows not where to be­gin. On account of their constant inter­course with sectarians and infidels of every kind, their ideas of the first and most essen­tial points of Christianity have become dis­torted ; and, unfortunately, they show very little inclination to reform them. For ex­ample, I happened to be in a place, where a rich merchant, who enjoyed the credit of being the principal supporter of Cath­olicity, treated us with all possible atten­tion and kindness ; but one evening that I went to visit him, he began, while we were at supper, to assert that one can be saved in any sect, provided only, he be an honest man. And he held so tenaciously to his opinion, that it was but with the greatest trouble I convinced him that out of the Catholic Church there is no salvation. Another missionary told me that while he was staying in the house of one of the best Catholics, whose wife was said to be the most excellent Christian in these parts, this fervent lady told him one day that she highly esteemed the custom of assisting at Mass and hearing sermons, but as to con­fession, it was, she said, a most abominable practice ! We meet with others of the same description who are not well con­vinced of the existence of hell, and who are ignorant of the most essential points of religion. It is pretty hard work to remove their prejudices. We can do the most good with the youth of both sexes, who really are a consolation to our hearts. They make their first communion with admirable fer­vor, and afterwards continue to frequent the sacraments and attend catechism. The young girls, especially, delight me by their candor and simplicity; they are lilies of purity, angels in human form, and their piety will do much good among the rising generation. Others are caught on their deathbed, at the latest ; we have some of every nation, even Italians, who know how to pay compliments, but who are iu reality perhaps more estranged from religion than any other people. The Irish are generally very fervent, and show no mercy towards Protestants. As the government tolerates every form of belief, those who feel the greatest antipathy towards Catholics can proceed to no open measures against them, though they contemptuously denominate them “Papists.” Our separated brethren are, however, very well disposed, and not unfrequently whole families of them em­brace Catholicity.

“As to the savages, it is rather a more difficult task. These poor creatures seem incapable of forming any idea of spiritual and divine things. They know that there is a God, and they begin all their employ­ments by an act of worship ; (a fact which should make many Christians blush with shame!) When they come to trade with the white people, they begin to smoke, and directing the first cloud on high, they say : 14nare,qare kii ohakanda, which means 🙂 `May this ascend to the Divinity.’ But these notions only concern the present life ; they believe that God has given them a religion different from ours, and if they are told of a future life they understand nothing about it… With patience and time, however, something will be made of them.”

In the midst of so many occupations for the spiritual advantage of his flock Father De Andreis never neglected the particular attention, which, in his capacity of superior, he owed to the Missionaries, whom he had left in Kentucky. He wrote them several letters in which he exhorted them to observe, as faithfully as circumstances would permit, the rules of St. Vincent, as­suring them that his most ardent desire was to see them all once more gathered together in an establishment belonging to the Con­gregation. Father Acquaroni was the first whom he called to St. Louis ; but, only a few days after his arrival, Father De An­dreis was obliged to relinquish his services in favor of three parishes, namely : St. Charles, Dardenue, and Portage des Sioux, where he was obliged to send him. Father Rosati had another destination. A short time after Bishop Dubourg’s arrival at St. Louis, there came from the Barrens, (a place about eighty miles distant, ) a certain number of deputies offering to give the bishop a parochial establishment. The pre­late accepted their proposal, in favor of the Congregation of the Mission, so that the Missionaries might build in that place their first house and seminary. But we will speak more fully on this subject in the next chapter; here it will suffice to mention that Father Rosati was sent to the Barrens as superior of the house and seminary to be erected. However, as the novices could not be accommodated, nor properly trained there, the servant of God directed them to come to St. Louis, where he himself superin­tended their exercises. Before they had completed their time in the novitiate, Father De Andreis was often obliged to send them wherever the urgent wants of the diocese demanded their, presence. Others arrived from Europe ; these also he trained, habituating them to the many wants and privations which they were obliged to undergo, until they were provided with a suitable abode. Besides the Bar­rens, the good bishop had assigned them another residence on some uncultivated land within the precints of the city of St. Louis. It would be hardly possible to believe, or even imagine, how many hard­ships were endured by Father De Andreis and his companions, had he not left us an account of them in the following words : (Letter to Father Baccaria of the 19th of September.)

“I wish I could give you some idea of our establishment, which covers about one square mile of land, seemingly uncultivated since the time of Adam. Our house will be habitable next November ; the expense of building is enormous in this country, though we are as saving as possible, and every one does his share of the work. Father Celliui labors like any hired work­man, and the bishop himself does not shrink from helping to carry the lumber ; lie remains the whole day in the heat of the sun, spurring on the workmen and super­intending the undertaking. I hope to be able to enclose you a sketch of our plan.

“Meanwhile our seminary is located in a miserable cabin, made of logs roughly put together, or as they say here, a `log-house.’ We have introduced into it the regular observance of our rule, and the or­der of our daily exercises, with as much exactitude as our situation will permit. Our fare is exceedingly poor ; ill-baked bread, fresh water instead of wine, meat only now and than, potatoes, cabbage, and other vegetables. Our supper is composed of bread and milk, this being our choicest food. We sleep crowded together in the best way we can, and we have plenty to do in the labors of our holy ministry and in teaching. In this country the cold and heat are both extreme, and the soil which is so unproductive of fruits and eatables, abounds on the contrary with insects of every de­scription, which trouble us considerably. I have counted no less than ten different species of insects, which attack us during the night, and will not let us rest. It seems almost incredible, and yet it is per­fectly true that, in one night, I killed as many as one hundred large bugs. There is especially one insect here, quite unknown in Europe ; it is called the Tick. When it succeeds in burying itself in the flesh, (as it always seeks to do,) it makes one suffer agonies. I have been told that a person died from the impossibility of having it extracted from the place where it had lodged itself. It can never be removed but by making a wound and extracting it piecemeal. The best way to destroy it, is to crush it with an iron.

“I must apologize for entering into so many details, but I wished thereby to satisfy the curiosity of those who like to be informed of everything ; besides, by giving a few particulars in each letter, I shall, in time, tell you all. I assure you that when I think of Italy, it appears to me an earthly paradise, in comparison with America ; and I cannot conceive how so many Europeans undergo such privations and trials, for a miserable worldly gain. I know that were it not for the glory of God and the salva­tion of souls, I would not stay where I am for all the gold in the world,”

Through this motive alone Father De Andreis endured with intrepidity every hardship, and even appeared to become daily more desirous of fresh sufferings. Besides the labors already noticed, the ser­vant of God was obliged to undertake an­other no less fatiguing occupation, namely of teaching the ecclesiastical sciences. Bishop Dubourg had founded in St. Louis a college for clerical students, and a school for seculars, in which, all being well in­structed and trained, might afterwards, each one according to his vocation, diffuse the light of the gospel among others. Father De Andreis was chosen by the bishop to be the director of both establish­ments. He was entrusted, in a special manner, with the instruction of the clerical students, and of those young priests who had not yet concluded their regular course of study in theology and the Scriptures. He fulfilled this office with the greatest joy, and with that excellent judgment, which enabled him to explain clearly all that serves to make a perfect theologian.

It is difficult to understand how one per­son could discharge so many different em­ployments, each of which was enough to require all the talent of a perfect clergy­man ; and yet it is a fact that he fulfilled them all with diligence and accuracy. The duties of one never interfered with those of another, but on the contrary, he performed each one with as much perfection as if it alone were the object of his care ; and all this he did constantly without ever seeming to be busy or anxious. In this we must again acknowledge, as we had occasion to do elsewhere, that he was abundantly gifted with uncommon talent and light, which rendered him skilful in every science, and apt to discharge properly any employment, however unexpectedly he might be required to fulfil its duties. He was also endowed with extreme facility in writing on any subject ; and his zeal was such, that he seemed insensible to any amount of labor, however multifarious his occupations might be. Neither did he confine himself to these ; he found time (we know not whether during the day or night,) to write a prodi­gious number of letters, some to his fellow-missionaries to encourage them in their apostolic functions, others to secular priests, who, aware of his learning, had recourse to him as to an oracle, to obtain his decision in intricate or difficult matters ; and these were of very frequent occurrence. He like­wise found time to compose discourses, or translate his former ones into English and French, making in them many alterations that circumstances of time and place rendered necessary. He also noted down on paper the particular inspirations which he received from God in his daily medita­tions ; and he wrote and dictated every­thing with so much precision and rapidity, that it might be said of him with truth : Lingua pica calamus scribue velociter scri­bentis. He often dictated his compositions or explanations, because his frequent infir­mities kept him in bed, in which, when unable to rise, he kept class, wrote letters, and settled the affairs of the parish. In one of these attacks he became so sick that it was necessary to give him the holy viati­cum, his life being completely despaired of. When Bishop Dubourg, accompanied by several ecclesiastics, who were shedding tears, came to give him the last sacraments: “Come now, Father De Andreis, he said to him : I want you to pray for your re­covery.” In obedience to this command the invalid prayed, and was immediately cured.

As soon as he was restored to health, he resumed all his accustomed duties, in re­ference to which, writing to his superior in Rome, he says : “You tell me, Reverend sir, in your letter, that I am burdened beyond my strength. Perhaps I am, but this is only because of my weakness. But I must tell you something which redounds to the glory of God, to whom alone it is due : the number of adult baptisms is very great. I have sometimes baptized whole families at a time, during high Mass, ex­plaining meanwhile, one by one, all the baptismal ceremonies to a crowd of people. Sometimes we have savages to be baptized, at others, persons of every sect and nation. We always have catechumens in course of in­struction, sick people to be visited, who often become converts at the point of death, and all. this, with our other duties, keeps us constantly employed. Besides the class of theology, the confessional may be called our daily task. We are obliged to preach very often, as no marriage nor baptism takes place without a sermon. We have also to preach at funerals, so that without taking into account our regular sermons in French and English, we are often obliged to preach several times a day in both languages.”

Father De Andreis hoped that his novices would one day be able to share his numerous duties ; but this expectation proved vain. Mr. Tichitoli fell sick ; his lungs became so weak, that it was feared lu would soon die of consumption. The physicians declared that lie would not live long, unless he im­mediately left the climate of Missouri, where the cold of winter is extreme. It was, therefore, judged expedient to send him to a milder region in the southern part of Louisiana, and, as be had already com­pleted his entire course of theology, Bishop Dubourg promoted him to the priesthood, and sent him to Donaldsonville, in 1819, in order that he might exercise the holy ministry under the direction of Rev. Joseph Bigeschi, the excellent pastor of that place. Mr. Tichitoli deeply felt his separation from his cherished guide and superior in the novitiate ; and his grief was the more acute, as he feared that his removal might cause him to be excluded from the body of the Congregation. But Father De Andreis (himself much grieved to part from one whose virtues rendered him estimable in all eyes,) consoled him by telling him that, as long as he continued to observe the rules of the novitiate, he would always consider him as a true son of St. Vincent ; and that when the time of making his vows had come, lie would send for him to make them at the seminary in St. Louis, as he eventually did. Neither did Father De Andreis keep his two other novices with him very long ; after six months’ novitiate, he was compelled to part with Mr. Ferrari, who was sent to Vincennes, then dependent on the diocese of Bardstown, some idea being entertained of founding a house of the Mission there. By the same motive, and with similar in­tentions, Mr. DaInnen was taken from the novitiate. Brother Blanka had previously left St. Louis for the seminary of St. Mary’s of the Barrens, where his services were ab­solutely necessary.

The servant of God, thus separated from all his novices and companions, though he experienced great pain at so many pri­vations, felt consoled by the thought that his beloved children, scattered in different places, were laboring with zeal in the vine­yard of the Lord. He heard of their fidelity to the rule, of their perseverance in the spirit of their vocation, and rejoiced par­ticularly at the prospect of the speedy establishment of his Ccingregation in the United States. He witnessed with equal delight the daily progress of the novitiate opened at the Barrens, under the superin­tendence of Father Rosati, and the arrival of numerous Missionaries, whom Father Bee­caria, superior of the Congregation after Father Sicardi, sent to the aid of the Ameri­can mission. The arrival of this little colony, composed of one priest, some seminarists and two lay-brothers, who were all to remain under the immediate direction of Father De Andreis, was a source of great joy to him, and he gave them a most hearty wel­come when they came to St. Louis to place themselves under his orders. The last consolation of the servant of God, was that of re-opening the novitiate for new can­didates for admission. Among them, a certain Mr. Leo De Neckere, although very young, was remarkable for his uncommon talents and piety. He was aft9rwards raised to the episcopal see of New Orleans, where he soon fell a victim to his zeal for the salvation of his flock. Only one spiritual consolation was now wanting to Father De Andreis, the one which he had in view in leaving home, for which he undertook the journey to America, and endured so many hardships ; in a word, that which had ever been the object of his most ardent desires, of his fervent prayers ; this was the entire consecration of himself to the conversion of the Indians. He had met with several of these poor people at St. Louis and else­where, and had endeavored to make him­self understood by a great many of them. The sight of them did but increase his desire to labor among them, while he com­passionated from the bottom of his heart their unhappy state, deprived, as they were, of the knowledge of God and re­ligion. Still cherishing the hope of being one day able to go among them, he studied the dialect used by one of the Indian tribes, trusting that this knowledge would be a key to the language of the others. At length he seemed on the point of attaining the end for which be so ardently sighed, being re­quired to accompany his bishop to those immense forests; already, in the transports of his joy, he wrote to the seminary of the Barrens in the following terms :

“Alleluia! Deo grat’ias! At length we are to commence a mission among the savages. I am to have the happiness of accompanying the bishop to visit these un­fortunate people !” But these wishes were the last sparks of that flame of charity which burned within his heart ; for he was soon to depart for heaven, for which he constantly sighed, that he might be united for ever with his God. Like St. Vincent, who was not able before his death to behold the establishment of his Missionaries in the island of Madagascar, for which he so ardently longed, and bad made so many sacrifices ; like St. Francis Xavier, who had to stop on the very threshhold of China, without entering the kingdom, because God called him to himself ; so was Father De Andreis to see the Indian tribes, and to approach them, without having it in his power to liberate them from the bonds of their ignorance. God destined others, after his death, to undertake this work.

  1. And, in the year 1900, to about six hundred thousand, with sixty Catholic churches.
  2. What Father De Andreis predicted in 1818 is now more than verified, five archdioceses and twenty dioceses being formed in the territory then com­prised in the single diocese of New Orleans.
  3. “Nossak Pemenke, chilaape, ceckimitouseig­nia to para quissolimi, chiriah debehere tams-cane­cecki nironau, chirah cehecke deberetan onahe Aposi pemeuke. Inoke micipeneh miricane oueni pera chiro cehecki meteo ackeek chiritoingh ra­pini-ira ui oueni piraki cehecki iuereo-ackeek ni­voesittacu. Callauossa deboe tavichcane mereo ackeek checoa sitojaugh. Cecki merce mereo ackeek paquitarno cane pervi mionan.” To express Amen, they have “Ouajak deboataouiakann.”
    They have a great many aspirations, which they articulate slowly, sing their words, and gesticulate a good deal in order to compensate for the poverty of their language. Some, but very few, can speak English and French. The dialect, of which I have given the above specimen, is spoken by nearly all, and may serve as a key to the others.

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