The new order was confined to the small town of Scala for two years, and its very existence was threatened by attacks from various quarters. The Propaganda expelled Liguori as a restless innovator, and the archbishop of Naples spoke unfavorably of the new undertaking. Only two of Liguori's original companions remained steadfast; but he went forward undiscouraged, and soon was able to establish a second house at Villa Schiavi in the diocese of Cajazzo, and a third (1735) at Ciorani in that of Salerno. The vows were first solemnly taken on July 21, 1742, when Liguori was unanimously elected superior-general for life. Papal confirmation was given by Benedict XIV. (Feb. 25, 1749), though the Neapolitan government refused to accept the brief. The order made rapid progress, especially in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, where the founder was unwearied in missionary labors, his influence being seen not only in the foundation of new houses, but also in the winning of various classes of the community--the clergy, secular and regular, the nobility, the laboring classes, and even the prisoners in the jails--to participation in his spiritual exercises. He won his power over them partly by his ardent devotion and by the skilful tactics employed in his missions, and partly by mild treatment of penitents in the confessional, together with the habit of encouraging them to frequent reception of the Sacrament, both of which points were contrary to the rigorist practise of that part of the Italian clergy which was inclined to Jansenistic views.
In 1762, much against his will, Liguori was named by Pope Clement XIII. to the bishopric of Sant' Agata de' Goti. He turned over the direction of his congregation to a vicar-general, Andrea Villani, and applied his zeal to the care of his diocese, using every means to promote piety and education within it for thirteen years, until, on the ground of failing health, Pius VI. relieved him of the burden of the episcopate in 1775, after which he lived in ascetic retirement and poverty, refusing his episcopal pension, in the house of his order at San Michele de' Pagani near Nocera. His later years were troubled by a division in his order arising from the discord between the liberal Neapolitan government
The theological works of Liguori may be divided into four principal groups: moral; pastoral and ascetic; dogmatic and apologetic; and homiletic. The principal work of the first class appeared first as a new edition of H. Busenbaum's Medulla theologiæ moralis, with notes by Liguori (Naples, 1748); the second edition, revised and greatly enlarged (2 vols., 1753-55), bears his name as author--Theologia moralis, concinnata a R. P. Alphonso de Ligorio . . . per appendices in Medullam R. P. H. Busenbaum. Nine editions in all appeared during Liguori's life, and the nineteenth century saw a large number of reprints, condensations, translations, etc., so that in one form or another the work is used as the basis of moral instruction in many Roman Catholic institutions. Other works in moral theology were the practical instructions for confessors, published first in Italian, Istruzione e pratica per un confessore (3 vols., Naples, 1757), and then in Latin, Homo apostolicus, instructus ad audiendas confessiones (Bassano, 1759); and certain controversial treatises in defense of his system, which until 1762 was simple probabilism, later developing into equiprobabilism (see PROBABILISM).
To the class of pastoral and ascetic theology belong, besides the Homo apostolicus, which may be classed under this head, the Instructio ordinandorum (Naples, 1758); Institutio catechistica (Bassano, 1768); La vera sposa di Gesù Cristo, for nuns (Venice, 1781); and a number of small vernacular tractates on devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, the Way of the Cross, etc. The best-known work of this class, much admired by Liguori's adherents and sharply attacked from the other side, is Le Glorie di Maria (2 vols., Naples, 1750), in which he follows the Jesuit Pepe in teaching what amounts to the thesis that the help of Mary is necessary to salvation, and supports it by a vast mass of uncritically accepted stories.
The earliest of the dogmatic and apologetic writings of Liguori was the Breve dissertazione contro gli errori dei moderni increduli, written in 1756 and directed against the pantheism of Spinoza and the philosophy of Berkeley, Leibnitz, Wolf, etc. A more extensive work along the same lines appeared a year later under the title Evidenza della fede, ossia verità della fede. In 1767 he published a new edition of this in three books, in which besides materialism and English deism the French philosophers Helvetius and Voltaire were attacked, and in 1772 a fourth book was added against the deists. At short intervals appeared another series of polemical works: a Latin treatise (under the pseudonym Honorius de Honorio) against N. von Hontheim, Vindiciæ pro suprema Romani pontificis potestate contra Justinum Febronium (Naples, 1768), defending not only the primacy but the infallibility of the pope; Opera dommatica contro gli eretici pretesi riformatori (1769), a defense of the dogmatic decrees of the Council of Trent; the Trionfo della chiesa (3 vols., 1772), a history and refutation of heresies; and a work commending unity of religious belief in nations, enforced if necessary by their rulers, with special praise of the example of Louis XIV., La Fedeltà de' vassalli verso Dio li rende fedeli anche al loro principe (1777).
As a homilist Liguori began the publication of sermons for every Sunday and greater festival, in Italian, in 1769, and extended the series to four volumes, besides other smaller collections. As a religious poet and composer Liguori enjoyed some reputation. His "Recitative and Duet between the Soul and Jesus Christ" and "Passion Cantata" have recently been published, the former in Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, xlix. 441, and the latter at Paris in 1900.
The ascetic practises originally prescribed by Liguori for his followers were partially mitigated in the constitutions drawn up by him after 1742, but not a little of the primitive rigor remained in force. In common with the Jesuit order, from whom he borrowed a number of points, he prescribed a fourth vow in addition to the usual ones of poverty, chastity, and obedience--not to accept any dignity or benefice outside of the congregation except by the express command of the pope or the superior-general, and to remain in the congregation until death unless dispensed by the pope himself. The unconditional obedience to the infallible pope here expressed and taught in Liguori's writings led to difficulty in the later years of his life and brought about the division already alluded to. The Neapolitan branch was required by the government to submit to certain changes in the rule. No overt resistance was made, except by a few fathers who left their house at Illicetto and migrated to the Papal States. Pope Pius VI., however, required strict adherence to the statutes, and went so far as to declare the Neapolitan branch excluded from the congregation and deprived of its privileges, while Liguori himself was sentenced to deposition from his office as superior and to expulsion from the order. This harsh decision
Before Liguori's death, the extension of the congregation beyond the limits of central and southern Italy was planned out, and carried into effect under the auspices of Clemens Maria Hoffbauer, who is justly considered as the second founder of the order. He was born at Tasswitz in Moravia Dec. 26, 1751, and was at first a baker, but got a taste for theology and the beginning of his education at the Premonstratensian house of Bruck where he was employed, and after two years among the hermits of Mühlfrauen and a period of combined work at his trade and study in Vienna went to Rome, where, with two companions, he joined the Redemptorists in 1782. In 1785, having been ordained priest, he was sent to Vienna to found a house there, but on account of the Emperor Joseph's hostility went to Warsaw, where the congregation soon had two churches and before the end of the century twenty-five members. The work spread, and Hoffbauer was named vicar-general for Germany and Poland in 1792; but the Napoleonic wars destroyed what had been done, and Hoffbauer was obliged to go to Vienna, where at the time of the Congress he was the rallying-point of the reviving Catholicism, and contributed largely to keeping it Roman in opposition to the attempt to found an independent German Church. He died Mar. 15, 1820, and in the same year the order established a college and obtained possession of a church in Vienna under the guidance of Joseph Constantin Passerat, a Frenchman, Hoffbauer's most gifted disciple. The order continued to grow in Austria, and besides numerous houses for men began to establish some for women. The female branch is traced back to the early years of Liguori's ministry at Scala (see above), where the community under his guidance obtained papal confirmation in 1750; and he had founded a second house in 1766 in his see city of Sant' Agata. The Redemptorist nuns increased in number under Passerat's care and spread to Belgium, Holland, and France. The male order gained a rapid extension in the German states, especially in Bavaria, where it took the place of the Jesuits who had been expelled. It spread also to Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, France, England, and the United States. Their resemblance to the Jesuits, which in spite of some fundamental distinctions is an obvious one as to purpose and methods, brought about the exclusion of the Redemptorists from Germany during the Culturkampf from 1873 to 1894, when, on the motion of the Bavarian government, made after consulting the aged Dollinger, who declared that there was no essential connection between the two, and that the reasons which made the Jesuits dangerous to the State did not exist in the case of the younger order, the prohibition was removed. No other important obstacle to their growth came up in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
The congregation now numbers about 150 houses, divided into twelve provinces--three in Italy (Roman, Neapolitan, Sicilian); two German (northern or Rhenish-Westphalian and southern or Bavarian, the former with colonies in South America); one Austrian; one Belgian (with colonies in Canada and the West Indies); one Dutch (with a colony in Surinam); one French, including Spain and the western states of South America; one English, in cluding Scotland, Ireland, and Australia; and two North American (Baltimore and St. Louis). The Paulist Fathers (see PAUL THE APOSTLE, CONGREGATION OF) may be considered an offshoot of the Redemptorists, the separate organization (established in 1858) having been intended to meet more closely special American conditions.
The first Redemptorist convent in the United States was established in Detroit in 1832, and such has been the development of the order that at present (1909) it comprises two independent provinces, viz., that of Baltimore and that of St. Louis. There are 38 convents and 2 colleges besides 2 novitiates and 2 houses of study. The total number of the fathers is 338, of the professed students and novices 111, lay brothers 124, lay novices and postulants 51. The Redemptorists have convents in most of the large cities, and, although parishes are generally conducted in connection with these houses, the fathers make a specialty of preaching-missions or retreats in parishes throughout the country. There are two vice-provinces of the order in the Dominion of Canada, viz., one attached to the Belgian province, the other to that of Baltimore; convents 9, fathers 68, novices 21, lay brothers 52.
Collections of the Works in Italian have
been published: Monza, 1819; Venice, 1830; Naples,
1840; and 3 vols. at Turin, 1887 sqq.; in French at Tournai, 1895 sqq.; in German in 42 vols., Regensburg, 1842-1847;
and in English in 22 vols., at New York, 1887-95
(vols. xxiii.-xxiv. contain the Life). A very complete
collection of the " Letters " was made at Rome, 1887
sqq. On the life of Liguori consult the works by K.
Dilgstrom, 2 vols., Regensburg, 1887 (the best); A. M.
Tannoja, 3 vols., Naples, 1798-1802 (by a scholar of
Liguori); Villecourt, 4 vols., Tournai, 1813; P. V. A.
Gratini, Rome, 1815; Jeancard, Louvain, 1829; Rispoli,
Naples, 1839; M. A. Hugues, Münster, 1857; Saintrain,
Tournai, 1879; O. Gisler, Einsiedeln, 1887; G.
Schepers, Mainz, 1887; A. Capecelatro, 2 vols., Rome,
1893; A. de Meffert, Mainz, 1901; A. des Retours, Paris,
1903 A. C. Berthe, St. Louis, 1906; KL, vii. 2023-52;
and Encyclopædia Britannica, xiv. 634-639.
On the order consult: K. Mader, Die Kongregation des heiligeten Erlösers in Oesterreich, Vienna, 1887; F. Ratte, Der heilige Alphonsus und der Redemptoristen-Orden, Luxemburg, 1887; A. Zapf, Die Redemptoristen, Erlangen, 1894 F Dumortier, Les Premières Rédemptoristines, Lille, 1884; M. A. Hugues, Die Klosterfrauen Maria Victoria und Marianna, Freiburg, 1883; Heimbucher, Orden und Kongregationen, ii. 313 sqq., 331 sqq., 498; Currier, Religious Orders, pp. 466 sqq., 673 sqq.
Calvin College. Last modified on 10/03/03. Contact the CCEL.