Martin, Francis (DNB00)

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MARTIN, FRANCIS (1652–1722), Augustinian divine, sprung from one of the fourteen tribes of Galway, was born there in 1652, but soon joined in the exodus caused by Cromwell's policy in Ireland, and entered the university of Louvain. His promotion in the faculty of arts is recorded in 1675, and his subsequent distinctions procured him the office of lector in theology in the convent of St. Martin of the Augustinian order at Louvain. Martin threw himself energetically into the controversies then raging concerning Jansenism, the infallibility of the pope, and the rights of the Galilean church (cf. Avis Salutaires à Messieurs les Protestans et Deliberam de Louvain, and Avertissement touchant les prétendus Avis Salutaires, Louvain, 1719); his vehement espousal of the ultramontane party led his adversaries to charge him with being a tool in the hands of the Jesuits. In 1683 he became professor of Greek in the College des Trois Langues (or Collegium Buslidianum as it is frequently called, after the name of its founder, Buslidius), and in 1686 he wrote a thesis defending the infallibility of the pope and attacking the Gallican church. Either in 1687 or early in 1688 he apparently visited England. While there he suggested, in a letter to the papal nuncio, means by which James might meet the impending crisis; he entered minutely into military details, and advocated the, assassination of William of Orange (L'État Present de la Faculté de Theologie de Louvain. Trévoux, 1701, pp. 247–60). On 26, 29, and 31 Jan. 1688, he delivered his theses for the decree of doctor of theology at Louvain, but his extreme opinions caused fifty-three bachelors of theology to protest against his admission; the influence, however, of Tanara, the nuncio, to whom Martin had dedicated the first of his theses, prevailed, and Martin received the degree. Soon afterwards the Archbishop of Malines appointed him to teach divinity in his seminary at Malines, where Martin published a thesis on Genesis attacking St. Augustine. This was condemned at Rome, and by the chapter of Malines, and another thesis reflecting upon the university of Louvain called forth protests from that body. In March 1690 he was prohibited from exercising his functions in the university, but on his petition the prohibition was removed 17 Aug. of the same year. In 1694, in spite of the protests of the faculty, he was made regius professor of holy scripture at Louvain, became censor of books, archiepiscopal examiner in the archdiocese, vice-president of the College du Saint-Esprit, and a member of the body of eight who formed the regents of the faculty of theology, and was installed a canon of St. Peter's collegiate church of Louvain. He won considerable reputation as a teacher; his intellect was active and memory quick; he befriended his exiled countrymen and gave liberally to the poor; but he was endowed with the litigious character of his family (Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 3rd ser. vii. 1101), and continual legal troubles seriously hindered his work.

In 1712 some friends sent him a copy of Tillotson's sermon on the 'Hazard of Salvation in the Church of Rome,' with a request that Martin would reply to it. This called forth his chief work, the 'Scutum Fidei contra Hoereses hodiernas,' Louvain, 1714, 8vo. Martin's ultramontane views had apparently been modified, and in the hope of conciliating and converting his opponents he took this opportunity of recommending English catholics not to press their claims to their forfeited property; it is dedicated to a former pupil of Martin's, Dr. Henry Joseph Van Sustern, bishop of Bruges: four copies are preserved in the Galway Diocesan Library; there is one in the British Museum, and another in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. Soon afterwards Martin began a correspondence with Edward Synge, archbishop of Tuam, concerning a proposed union of catholics and protestants (Add. MS. 6117, pp. 145-148). The archbishop said that notwithstanding his popish education Martin seemed 'to have preserved something of freedom in his judgment,' and 'to mean well at bottom,' Martin spent his last years in the Collegium Buslidianum. In 1720 he published his 'Motivum Juris pro Bullae Unigenit us Orthodoxia,' Louvain, 8vo, and in 1721 'Brevis Tractatus circa prsetensam Pontificis Infallibilitatem,' Ixmvain, 8vo; he suffered from calculus, and died on 4 Oct. 1722 from the effects of an operation performed at St. John's Hospital, Bruges. He was buried in the chapel of the hospital, with an inscription on his tomb; but his enemies composed and circulated the following epitaph: 'Ex gratia speciali, Mortuus est in Hospitali, Doctor F. Martin, 4 Octobris 1722, Expectans judicium, R.I.P.'

Besides the works already mentioned Martin wrote: 1. 'Refutatio Justificationis editæ pro defendenda doctrina Henrici Denys,' Louvain, 1700, 4to. 2. 'Statera Quæstionis an ad fidem pertineat Sanctis in cœlo notas esse mortalium preces,' Louvain, 1710, 8vo; a thesis entitled 'Via Pacis,' and numerous others which are said to be preserved at Brussels.

[Works in Brit. Mus. Library; Addit. MS. 61 17, pp. 145-8; L'Etat Present de la Théologie de Louvain, Trevoux, 1701, contains an exhaustive polemic against Martin; a more favourable account is given in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record, 3rd ser. vii. 1100-6; Ware's Ireland,, ii. 281.]

A. F. P.