St. Clement Mary Hofbauer

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St. Clement Mary Hofbauer

The second founder of the Redemptorist Congregation, called “the Apostle of Vienna”, born at Tasswitz in Moravia, 26 December, 1751; died at Vienna 15 March, 1821. The family name of Dvorak was better known by its German equivalent, Hofbauer. The youngest of twelve children, and son of a grazier and butcher, he was six years old when his father died. His great desire was to become a priest, but his family being unable to give him the necessary education he became a baker’s assistant, devoting all his spare time to study. He was a servant in the Premonstratensian monastery of Bruck from 1771 to 1775, and then lived for some time as a hermit. When the Emperor Joseph II abolished hermitages he went to Vienna, where he worked once more as a baker. After two pilgrimages to Rome he again tried a hermit’s life (1782-3), this time under the protection of Barnaba Chiaramonti, Bishop of Tivoli, afterwards Pope Pius VII, taking the name of Clement, by which he was ever afterwards known. He once more returned to Vienna, where at length by the generosity of benefactors he was enabled to go to the university and complete his studies; In 1784 he made a third pilgrimage on foot to Rome with a friend, Thaddäus Hübl, and the two were received into the Redemptorist novitiate at San Giuliano on the Esquiline. After a shortened probation they were professed on 19 March, 1785, and ordained priests a few days later. They were sent, towards the end of the same year, to found a house north of the Alps, St. Alphonsus, who was still alive, prophesying their success. It being impossible under Joseph II to found a house in Vienna, Clement and Thaddäus turned to Warsaw, where King Stanislaus Poniatowski, at the nuncio’s request, placed St. Benno’s, the German national church, at their disposal. Here, in 1795, they saw the end of Polish independence. The labours of Clement and his companions in Warsaw from 1786 to 1808 are wellnigh incredible. In addition to St. Benno’s, another large church was reserved for them, where sermons were preached in French, and there were daily classes of instruction for Protestants and Jews. Besides this Clement founded an orphanage and a school for boys. His chief helper, Thaddäus Hübl, died in 1807; In the next year, on orders from Paris, the house at Warsaw and three other houses which Clement had founded were suppressed, and the Redemptorists were expelled from the Grand Duchy. Clement with one companion went to Vienna, where for the last twelve years of his life he acted as chaplain and director at an Ursuline convent. During these years he exercised a veritable apostolate among all classes in the capital from the Emperor Francis downward. Unable to found a regular house of his congregation, which was however established, as he had predicted, almost immediately after his death, he devoted himself in a special way to the conversion and training of young men. “I know but three men of superhuman energy”, his friend Werner had said, “Napoleon, Goethe, and Clement Hofbauer.” “Religion in Austria”, said Pius VII, “has lost its chief support.” Indeed it was to Clement Hofbauer perhaps more than to any single individual that the extinction of Josephinism was due. He was beatified by Leo XIII, 29 January, 1888; (See AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN MONARCHY, II, 129.)


His life in German by HARINGER, translated into English by LADY HERBERT (New York, 1883). Another life by O. R. VASSALL PHILLIPS (New York, 1893); BERTHE, Saint Alphonse de Liguori (Paris, 1900), tr. Life of St. Alphonsus de Liguori (Dublin, 1905).

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APA citation. Magnier, J. (1908). Blessed Clement Mary Hofbauer. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Magnier, John. “Blessed Clement Mary Hofbauer.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

The Holy Lance

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The Holy Lance

We read in the Gospel of St. John (19:34), that, after our Saviour’s death, “one of the soldiers with a spear [lancea] opened his side and immediately there came out blood and water”. Of the weapon thus sanctified nothing is known until the pilgrim St. Antoninus of Piancenza (A.D. 570), describing the holy places of Jerusalem, tells us that he saw in the basilica of Mount Sion “the crown of thorns with which Our Lord was crowned and the lance with which He was struck in the side”. The mention of the lance at the church of the Holy Sepulchre in the so-called “Breviarus”, as M. de Mely points out (Exuviae, III, 32), is not to be relied on. On the other hand, in a miniature of the famous Syriac manuscript of the Laurentian Library at Florence, illuminated by one Rabulas in the year 586, the incident of the opening of Christ’s side is given a prominence which is highly significant. Moreover, the name Longinus — if, indeed, this is not a later addition — is written in Greek characters (LOGINOS) above the head of the soldier who is thrusting his lance into our Saviour’s side. This seems to show that the legend which assigns this name to the soldier (who, according to the same tradition, was healed of ophthalmia and converted by a drop of the precious blood spurting from the wound) is as old as the sixth century. And further it is tempting, even if rash, to conjecture that the name Logginos, or Logchinos is in some way connected with the lance (logche). Be this as it may, a spear believed to be identical with that which pierced our Saviour’s body was venerated at Jerusalem at the close of the sixth century, and the presence there of this important relic is attested half a century earlier by Cassiodorus (In Ps. lxxxvi, P.L., LXX, 621) and after him by Gregory of Tours (P.L., LXXI, 712). In 615 Jerusalem was captured by a lieutenant of the Persian King Chosroes. The sacred relics of the Passion fell into the hands of the pagans, and, according to the “Chronicon Paschale”, the point of the lance, which had been broken off, was given in the same year to Nicetas, who took it to Constantinople and deposited it in the church of St. Sophia. This point of the lance, which was now set in an “yeona”, or icon, many centuries afterwards (i.e., in 1244) was present by Baldwin to St. Louis, and it was enshrined with the Crown of Thorns in the Sainte Chapelle. During the French Revolution these relics were removed to the Bibliotheque Nationale, and, although the Crown has been happily preserved to us, the other has now disappeared. Continue reading