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From the time that the abode and virtues of St. Paul the first hermit (q.v.) were revealed to St. Anthony, various communities of hermits adopted him as patron. The name Paulists, however, was also applied to the members of congregations established under the patronage of St. Paul the Apostle. (See the articles on BARNABITES; MINIMS; PIARISTS; and THEATINES.)
(1) Hermits of St. Paul of Hungary
Formed in 1250 by Blessed Eusebius of Gran, of two communities, one founded at Patach in 1215 by Bishop Bartholomew of Pecs who united the scattered hermits of his diocese, and the other consisting of his own followers. In 1246 Blessed Eusebius, canon of the cathedral of Gran, resigned his dignities, distributed his goods among the poor, and withdrew to the solitude of Pisilia, a forest near Zante, to lead a life of penance with a few companions. Four years later he is said to have been admonished in a vision to gather into community the other hermits living in the vicinity, for whom he built a monastery and church. In the same year he proposed and obtained affiliation with the Patach community under the rule prescribed by its founder, and was chosen superior. He received the approbation of Ladislaus, Bishop of Pecs, for the new congregation, but the publication of the decrees of the Lateran Council at this time necessitated a journey to Rome to secure the further sanction of the Holy See. In 1263 a new rule was given the congregation by the Bishop of Pecs, which was superseded by still another drawn up by Andrew, Bishop of Agria, after the death of Eusebius (20 Jan., 1270), and this was followed until 1308, when the permission of the Holy See was obtained to adopt the Rule of St. Augustine. The order was accorded many privileges by succeeding pontiffs, among others that of exemption from episcopal jurisdiction, and provisions were made for the pursuit of higher studies in many of the monasteries, one papal regulation ordaining that no member could be raised to any dignity in the order without the degree of Doctor of Divinity, for which a rigid examination was prescribed.
The congregation spread rapidly through Hungary, where alone it soon numbered 170 houses, and it attained an equal degree of prosperity in other countries, being divided into five flourishing provinces: Hungary, Germany (including Croatia), Poland, Istria, and Sweden. In 1381 the body of St. Paul, patron of the order, was transferred from Venice to the monastery of St. Laurence in Hungary, which thereby gained greatly in prestige. Among the other famous houses of the congregation were the historical Polish monastery of Our Lady of Claremont (commonly called Czestochovia), with its miraculous image of Our Lady (according to legend the work of St. Luke and discovered by St. Helena with the True Cross), and the monasteries at Presburg and Neustadt near Vienna. The church of San Stefano Rotondo at Rome was attached to the Hungarian College by Gregory XIII. In 1783 a number of houses in Austria, Bohemia, Styria, etc. were suppressed, and political disturbances in Hungary brought the same fate to most of the Hungarian convents, which had rendered incalculable services to religion and education. The destruction of the annals of these houses left the historical sources very meagre. There are still a few houses of the congregation in Galicia and Russian Poland, and the church connected with the monastery at Kracow may be regarded as a national sanctuary.
Among the members of the congregation to attain prominence were George Martinuzzi, bishop of Grosswardein and cardinal (murdered 16 Dec., 1551), an important figure in the history of Hungary; Matthias Fuhrmann of Hernals (d. 1773), historian of Austria and editor of the Acts of St. Paul of Thebes; Fortunatus Dürich (1802), and Franz Faustin Prochaska (d. 1809), editors of a Czech translation of the Scriptures. The garb was originally brown, but about 1341 white was adopted, with a cincture, and over the habit a scapular with a hood. In choir a white mantle is worn.
(2) Hermits of St. Paul of France
Also called Brothers of Death. There is much discussion as to the origin of this congregation, but it was probably founded about 1620 by Guillaume Callier, whose constitutions for it were approved by Paul V (18 Dec., 1620) and later by Louis XIII (May, 1621}. There were two classes of monasteries, those in the cities, obliged to maintain at least twelve members, who visited the poor, the sick, and prisoners, attended those condemned to death, and buried the dead; and the houses outside the city, with which were connected separate cells in which solitaries lived, the whole community assembling weekly for choir and monthly in chapter to confess their sins. Severe fasts and disciplines were prescribed. The name Brothers of Death originated from the fact that the thought of death was constantly before the religious. At their profession the prayers for the dead were recited; their scapular bore the skull; their salutation was Memento mori; the death's head was set before them at table and in their cells. This congregation was suppressed by Urban VIII in 1633.
(3) Hermits of St. Paul of Portugal
Among the conflicting accounts of the foundation of this congregation, the most credible seems to be that it was established about 1420 by Mendo Gomez, a nobleman of Simbria, who resigned dearly bought military laurels to retire to a solitude near Setuval, where he built an oratory and gave himself up to prayer and penance, gradually assuming the leadership of a number of other hermits in the vicinity. Later a community of hermits of Sierra de Ossa, the date of whose foundation is also in dispute, being left without a superior, prevailed on Mendo Gomez to unite the two communities, under the patronage of St. Paul, first hermit. At the chapter held after the death of the founder (24 Jan., 1481), constitutions were drawn up, which at a later date were approved, with some alterations, by Gregory XIII (1578), at the request of Cardinal Henry of Portugal, who also obtained for the congregation the privilege of adopting the Rule of St. Augustine. This congregation was later suppressed. Probably the most celebrated member was Antonius a Matre Dei, author of "Apis Libani", a commentary on the Proverbs of Solomon.
(4) Blind Sisters of St. Paul
Founded at Paris in 1852, by A. F. Villemain (d. 1870), Anne Bergunion (d. 1863), and the Abbé Jugé, to enable blind women to lead a religious life, and to facilitate the training of blind children in useful occupations. A home was established for blind women and girls with defective sight.
(5) Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres
(Also called to St. Maurice). Known also as Hospitallers of Chartres, founded in the latter part of the seventeenth century for teaching and the care of the poor and sick. After the Revolution the congregation was revived, was authorized by the Government in 1811, and soon numbered 1200 sisters and over 100 houses in England, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Corea, China, Japan, Further India, the Philippines, etc. In China a novitiate has been established for native subjects, and in Hong-Kong a school for European children, besides various benevolent institutions. In Further India there are thirty institutions, chiefly of a benevolent nature, in addition to a novitiate, which has already admitted a number of native postulants. In the Philippines are schools and a leper hospital.
HEIMBUCHER, Orden und Kongregationen (Paderborn, 1907); HÉLYOT, Ordres religieux (Paris, 1859), s.v. EGGERER, Fragmen panis Corvi proto-eremitici (Vienna, 1663); cont. by BORKOVICH AND BENGER (Presburg, 1743); MALLECHICH, Quadripartitum regularium s. de privilegiis et iuribus O. s. Pauli (Vienna, 1708); Reguloe s. constitutiones monachorum excalceatorum s. Pauli primi eremitoe cong. Lusitanoe (Lisbon, 1785); NICOLAS DE MARIA, Chron. da ord. dos Conegos Regrant. de S. Agostino; La congrégation des soeurs aveugles de St Paul pendant son premier demi-siècle (Paris, 1903).
Florence Rudge McGahan.