Historical account of Lisbon college/Chapter 14

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Acting on the advice of the Protector, Cardinal di Pietro, who having brought to a successful conclusion the Concordat between Portugal and the Holy See, was contemplating his departure for Rome, it was decided by the Superiors, in 1855, to purchase the country house with the vineyard attached, called Quinta de Ponte, which His Eminence for several years had rented. The limited accommodation afforded at Palma, would not permit of the whole College being at one time transported to the country, and it was thought that it would conduce to the health of the students if, by the acquiring of larger premises, they could all have the benefit of a sojourn in the country during the summer months. It was hoped, also, that it would prove a good investment of the money spent in the purchase; and it was considered that any outlay upon property belonging to the College would be preferable to spending money on the property of others, as had been hitherto done at Palma. The wisdom of this purchase was at once illustrated in a manner, so remarkable as to make it appear to have been a special interposition of Divine Providence in favour of the College, for in this very year Lisbon was visited by a virulent outbreak of yellow fever. It was confined principally to the lower and less cleanly portions of the city which bordered on the river and, fortunately, never passed beyond the boundaries; and thus the students, who on this occasion spent the entire year in their new house at Luz, were preserved from the danger of contagion.

About this time, 1856, the finances of the College became the source of considerable anxiety to the Superiors. It was found that they were no longer adequate
"Cardinal Camillus di Pietro"


to meet the current expenses. This deficiency had been of gradual growth, and was attributable to three special causes. First: the disease in the vines which for the most part desolated the wine producing countries of Europe had made its appearance, diminishing very considerably the profit accruing from the College vineyard, and entailing considerable expense in the purchase of wine for the daily use of the Community. Secondly: the purchasing power of gold had considerably diminished and was followed by the consequent rise in the prices of the commodities necessary for food and clothing. This arose from the sudden accession of gold from the newly-discovered gold mines of America and Australia. Thirdly: the revenues of the College were greatly reduced by the conversion of the English Funds in which they were invested into issues bearing a less rate of interest. To meet this latter difficulty it was decided, after mature deliberation and with the approval of the Ecclesiastical Authorities in England, to change the investments of the College funds into the Securities of different nations thus securing, instead of three, a return of four or five per cent. The President proceeded to England for the purpose of carrying out this conversion, and on his return the Secular School which he had handed over to the College in a flourishing state, and which had for some time proved a source of income, was returned to him as its numbers were found to be gradually diminishing, and it seemed no longer to compensate for the trouble it involved.

A project important from its bearing upon a matter necessary to the more perfect and satisfactory training for the Priesthood, was also carried out at this time. By means of the ceremonial with which the Church accompanies the more solemn performance of her central act of worship and also gives, as it were, a kind of dramatic representation to the various mysteries commemorated in her Festivals throughout the year, she seeks to enlist the aid of the senses in impressing these mysteries more vividly on the mind, and thus intensifying the influence which they naturally tend to produce. This result will be secured in proportion to the solemnity and dignity with which this ceremonial is carried out, and hence it is important that those destined for the priesthood should have a familiar acquaintance with the Church's ceremonies.

The very limited proportions of the College Church it was felt, had always been a great obstacle to securing this object, and some years previously it had been decided to enlarge the church by the addition of a spacious choir. The want of funds, however, had hitherto prevented the project from being realized but, in the year 1857, Providence sent to the College a benevolent friend and great benefactress in the person of Donna Joanna d'Araujo Carneiro d'Œynhausen. This truly pious lady on being made acquainted with the straitened state of the finances which prevented the proposed alteration from being undertaken, offered to make over to the College £1800 on the condition of receiving five per cent, during her lifetime. This was readily agreed to, and the work immediately commenced, the foundation stone being laid by the Most Rev. Jeronymo de Matha, Bishop of Macao, who was spending some days as a guest at the College on his return home from his Diocese. The work was vigorously pressed forward, and happily completed in the following year, 1858, and on December 18, the church was blessed and reopened. During the progress of the works the opportunity was taken to transfer from the college cemetery, and place under the pavement of the choir, the bodies of Dr. Winstanley, Father Hurst, and Father Le Clerc. Among other benefactions made by this same lady to the College, it is worthy of record that she established two burses for the education of students for the priesthood, leaving the nomination to them to the President and Superiors.

In the April of this year Dr. Laurence Richmond, after a sojourn of thirty years at the College, resigned his position as Superior and proceeded on to the. English Mission. For eighteen years he had
"The College choir"


charged with distinction the duties of various Professor ships, which included the Classics, Scripture and Canon Law, and he had received from Pius IX the degree of Doctor of Divinity. In the following year, 1859, Cardinal di Pietro, the first Apostolic Nuncio who had acted as Protector of the College, having successfully completed his negotiations with the Portuguese Government, left Lisbon for Rome. Prior to his departure he made over to the College, under certain conditions, the country house and vineyards known as Torre de Fato, adjoining the property already acquired at Luz; the Superiors purchasing from him a small villa called De Romeiros which stands at one corner of Torre de Fato.

It will have been noticed that the six years of Dr. Ilsley's Presidentship, which had intervened from the death of Dr. Winstanley, had been marked by various changes conducive to the intellectual and material well-being of the Establishment. By the introduction of additional subjects in the curriculum, both of the lower and higher departments of the House, the course of studies throughout had been brought more abreast of the requirements of the time, while the health of the students had been consulted for, and their material comforts thus greatly promoted. But at length the anxieties of a busy and laborious life, began to tell upon his health. For some years he had suffered from occasional slight epileptic attacks which did not, however, materially interfere with the discharge of his duties, but in 1859 the disease suddenly assumed a very grave character, and while preaching in the College church he was seized for the first time with a fit of such a violent nature that it seemed to endanger his life. Rest from labour and anxiety was recommended by the medical men whom he consulted, and during the two following years he was absent for considerable intervals from the College, But in spite of all efforts the disease increased, and at length finding himself quite unequal to his duties, he petitioned the Holy See to be allowed to resign the office of President, and in 1862 returned to England.

Dr. Goss, the then Bishop of Liverpool, with a kindness and consideration which did him great honour, recognizing what sometimes seems to be overlooked, that those who devote their lives to preparing priests for the Mission, are labouring for it, as much as those actually engaged in Missionary work, and to show his respect and esteem, as he expressed it, for the priests of Lisbon College working in his Diocese, appointed Dr. Ilsley to the Mission of Scorton, where for some time he did Missionary duty. He soon however began to be afflicted with an almost total loss of sight, and at length worn out in body and mind he died on the 30th of August, 1868.

He was born at Maple Durham, on December 20, 1805, and he entered the College on June 29, 1819. In 1829, he was admitted amongst the Superiors, and appointed Procurator, and on the death of Father Le Clerc became Vice-President, an office which he held until the death of Dr. Winstanley in 1852, whom he succeeded as President in 1854. He was a man of remarkable ability and activity and his devoted labours during many years in favour of the children of the poor, which have already been detailed, are evidence of the eminent charity which actuated him. It was in consideration of his labours in the cause of the free education of the poor that Queen Donna Maria Secunda conferred upon him the honour of Knight Commander of the Order of Christ, and on one occasion at least she was pleased to manifest her esteem, and to promote the good work in which he was engaged, by graciously favouring with her presence a grand concert which had been organized for this purpose.

Another proof of the very high reputation which he enjoyed was his selection by Stephanie, the Queen Consort of Don Pedro V, to be her Confessor, an office which he continued to hold until his departure for England. He taught successively for many years the Philosophical and Theological Classes, and his chief efforts as President were directed towards raising the standard of proficiency in all the branches of study throughout the College. He was a devoted son of Alma Mater to whose interests from the time of his appointment as Superior he had devoted thirty-three years of his life, and by the services he had rendered to all classes in Lisbon and by his own personal high character, preserved for her that esteem from the public in general which she had hitherto enjoyed.