Ward, Mary (DNB01)

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WARD, MARY (1585–1645), founder of a female order modelled on the rule of the Jesuits, born at Mulwith, near Ripon, on 23 Jan. 1584–5, was the eldest child of Marmaduke Ward of Givendale, Mulwith, and Newby, in the West riding of Yorkshire, by his wife Ursula, daughter of Robert Wright (d. 1594) of Plowland in Holderness, and widow of John Constable (d. 1581) of Hatfield in the same district. John Wright (1568?–1605) [q. v.] was Mary's uncle. She was at baptism named Jane, a name which at her confirmation was changed to Mary. Her parents were Roman catholics, and she was educated in the same faith. At the age of five she went to live at Plowland with her grandmother, Ursula Wright, the daughter of Nicholas Rudston of Hayton in the East riding. On the death of her grand-father in 1594 she returned to Mulwith, but the household was broken up by the persecution of 1597–8, and she was entrusted to her kinswoman, Mrs. Ardington of Harewell, a daughter of Sir William Ingleby of Ripley. From 1600 to 1606 she resided with the wife of Sir Ralph Babthorpe of Osgodby and Babthorpe, near York. Her birth and her great beauty attracted numerous suitors, but her heart was set on the monastic life, and in 1606 she proceeded to St. Omer, and entered the community of the Colettines, the severest order of St. Clare. Somewhat against her inclination she was appointed to collect alms from the townspeople, her own desire being for greater solitude and contemplation. Moreover, as a lay sister she was not subject to the rule of St. Clare, but to the less rigorous discipline of the third order of St. Francis. In May 1607 she left the convent, resolved on founding a community especially for Englishwomen. She repaired to the court of the archdukes at Brussels, and in spite of considerable opposition obtained land for a convent near Gravelines. On Christmas eve she commenced her community in a temporary dwelling at St. Omer, with five English nuns transferred from 'the Walloon monastery' in that city. In 1609, however, she left this convent also, after endowing it with most of her possessions. She returned to St. Omer, after a visit to England, accompanied by five young English ladies, with whom she founded a community in the Grosse Rue, which chiefly concerned itself with the education of girls, and did not bind itself to the life of strict seclusion which was characteristic of most female orders. In 1611. after a severe illness, she resolved, in consequence of a supernatural communication, to adopt the rules of the Society of Jesus for her community, adapting them for the use of women. About 1611 the first affiliated community was established in London at Spitalfields. By 1617 the number of inmates in the parent community had increased to sixty persons, and in that year a second subordinate community was established at Liege, Mary Ward herself removing to the new house. During the next few years she travelled constantly in England and the Low Countries, and on one occasion was arrested and thrown into prison in London. In 1620 and 1621 she was occupied in founding houses in Kciln and Trier.

At the close of 1621, finding considerable opposition arising to her order, she resolved to proceed to Rome, where she arrived on Christmas eve. She immediately submitted to Gregory XV a memorial, stating that she and her companions had by divine appointment taken upon them the rule of life of the Jesuits, and requesting the establishment of an order under his sanction. Finding that the English clergy were hostile and passed strictures on the conduct of her house in London, she requested leave on 1 July 1622 to establish a house in Rome, that her plan might be made a matter of observation. Her request was granted, schools for girls were instituted, and the community was quickly organised.

For more than a year affairs went well, but renewed trouble arose at the close of that period. In June 1625, in consequence of fresh charges brought against Mary of preaching publicly in London before an altar, and similar absurdities, the schools were closed by the order of Urban VIII. In November 1626, despairing of obtaining the ratification of her order, Mary determined to proceed to England through Germany. At Milan she was received with great respect by the saintly cardinal archbishop, Federigo Borromeo. Passing through the Tyrol she arrived at Munich, where the elector, Maximilian I, permitted her and her companions to remain, and gave them a residence and a yearly allowance for their maintenance. In 1627 the Emperor Ferdinand invited Mary to Vienna, and provided a foundation for her in that city. The dislike aroused by her independent action pursued her to Germany, and in July 1628, in consequence of a communication from the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Klessel, a private congregation was called by Urban VIII, when it was decided that measures should be taken through the legates of the various countries to break up the houses of the intitute without issuing a papal bull. Warned of the imminence of the peril Mary set out for Rome, but owing to illness was unable to reach the city until February 1629. After laying her case before Urban VIII and the cardinals she returned to Munich, and thence proceeded to Vienna. The report of the suppression rapidly spread ; but on hearing that Mary was to be imprisoned as a heretic, the emperor refused to allow the measures against her to be carried into effect at Vienna. Unwilling to be a cause of strife, she removed to Munich, where on 7 Feb. 1630-1 she was arrested and confined in the Anger convent. The unhealthiness of her prison brought on an illness that was almost fatal. Her friends, however, interested them- selves in her behalf, and on 15 April she was released by a papal mandate. During her imprisonment a papal bull for the suppression of the institute had been issued ; but, owing to the favour of Maximilian, Mary and her companions were permitted to remain in their abode at Paradeiser H aus in Munich. In April 1632 she again set out for Rome to intercede for the dispersed members of her sisterhood, who were undergoing great hardships. She was well received by Urban VIII, who seemed won by her patience under trial, and gave her permission to establish a new house in Rome itself. In October 1634 she took possession of an abode on the Esquiline, which became a frequent resort of English catholics in Rome. Here she remained until 1637, continually beset by spies, and assailed by the malice of her opponents, but supported by the esteem of Urban. In September 1637 she set out for England, arriving in London on 20 May 1638. There she drew companions round her in a house in the neighbourhood of the Strand. She remained in London until the strict parliamentary regime that followed the departure of Charles I for the north in 1642 rendered it too unsafe. She left the city on 1 May, sought refuge in Yorkshire, where she was well received by her catholic kinsfolk, and settled at Hutton Rudby in Cleveland. In 1644 she removed to Heworth, near York. Her health, which had been much impaired during her later years, altogether failed during the hardships of the siege of York by the parliamentary troops, and she died on 20 Jan. 1644-5 at Heworth, soon after the capitulation of the city, and was buried on 22 Jan. in the comer next the porch of Osbaldwick church on the east side, where a gravestone was afterwards placed bearing an inscription which is still legible. It is, however, probable that her body was secretly removed to the Netherlands by her companions at a later date.

After Mary AVard's death various communities following her rule subsisted unrecognised by ecclesiastical authority, until on 13 June 1703 a bull of confirmation of the Institute of Man-, the blessed Virgin, was obtained from Clement XI, which sanctioned all the essential features of Mary Ward's scheme. The headquarters of the order were established at Munich until 1809, when their property was secularised with most of the ecclesiastical possessions in Germany. In Austrian territory, however, they enjoyed the protection of the emperor, and several communities exist at the present day in England, Ireland, and Germany, an well as dependent houses in Asia, Africa, and America. In 1877 Pius IX gave his final approbation to the whole institute.

Mary Ward left fragmentary autobiographies in English and Italian, which are now in possession of the community at Nymphenburg, near Munich. An oil painting of Mary Ward, executed about 1620, is in possession of the nuns of the English Institute of the Blessed Virgin at Augsburg, and a second, representing her in later life, 10 in possession of the nuns of the institute of Altotting in Bavaria. Many of her autograph letters, as well as many historical documents relative to the society, are in the Nymphenburg archives.

A life of Mary Ward by her friend and companion, Winefrid Witrmore, was written between 1645 and 1657. Several copies exist in manuscript both in French and English. A manuscript life in Italian by Vincento Pageti, secretary of Cardinal Borghese and apostolic notary, written in lHi2, and entitled 'Breve Raconto della Vita di donna Maria della Guardia,' is in the possession of the community at Nymphenburg. The next biography in point of time was compiled in Latin in 1674 by Dominic Bissel, canon regular of the holy cross at Augsburg. There is a copy among the archives of the diocese at Westminister. In 1689 a life was written in German at Munich by Tobias Lohner, a Jesuit father. The autograph copy is in the Nymphenburg archives. All of these are in large measure independent, although that by Winefrid Wigmore is of primary importance. In 1717 an account of the order by the Benedictine father, Corbinian Khamm, entitled 'Relatio de Origine et Propagatione Instituti, Mariæ nuncupati, Virginum Anglarum,' was printed at Augsburg, and about 1729 a life of Mary Ward by Marco Fridl, a priest. The chief incidents of Mary's life are portrayed in fifty very large oil paintings which have existed in the convent of the institute at Augsburg almost from its foundation in 1662. The series is known among the nuns as 'the painted life,' and was probably constructed from descriptions given to the artist by Mary's surviving companions. The German descriptions appended to the pictures are quoted by Lohner as early as 1689, indicating that they were existing at that early date. These various sources have been collated in the 'Life of Mary Ward' by Mary Catherine Elizabeth Chambers, which appeared in the 'Quarterly Series' in 1882 and 1885 (vols. xxxv. and lii.), under the editorship of Henry James Coleridge.

[Miss Chambers's Life of Mary Ward, 1882-1885 (with portraits); Poulson's Holderness, ii. 516, 517; Foster's Yorkshire Pedigrees, s.v. 'Constable of Flamborough;' Foley's Records of the English Province, i. 128, 458-9, 670; Dodd's Church Hist. 1739, ii. 341; Butler's Memoir of St. Ignatius, 1812, p. 405.]

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