Rome, Church of St. Adrian ……………………………………………………9th Page
Claret’s room, Convent of St. Adrian, Rome;
Cistercian Monastery of Fontfroide ………………………………………………10th Page
Cloister, Monastery of Fontfroide;
Sepulcher of Fr. Claret in Fontfroide …………………………………….11th Page
Sepulcher tombstone of Claret in Fontfroide …………………………..……12th Page
Sepulcher of Fr. Claret in Vic; Crypt of St. Claret Church in Vic………… 13th Page
Paintings of Fr. Claret …………………………………………………………. 14th Page
Drawing of the Saint; Painting of Claret for India;
Model for Engraving………………………………………………………… 15th Page
Mosaic of Claret in the Basilica of St. Peter…………………………………..16th Page
Introduction to English Edition To open one’s heart to the story of another person’s life is always an enriching experience, often awe-inspiring. The narrated events and the various resonances that these found in the heart of that person are transformed into messages of life for us who receive with great respect, the testimony that is given to us.
Anthony Mary Claret wrote the story of his own life because someone who was profoundly inspired by it and ardently desired that it continue being an inspiration for many asked him to do so. It was difficult for Claret to respond to this request and he only did it because, in that moment, the one asking, Fr. José Xifré was the superior of the Congregation of Missionaries that Claret himself had founded. Anthony Mary Claret has left us in his Autobiography a living testimony of those events and experiences that marked his life and guided his tireless apostolic work.
The life of Claret, like that of each human being, had it moments of light and of darkness. Reading the Autobiography will reveal them. It is important to make oneself a “fellow traveler” to be able to take in all of the force of the testimony presented to us.
It is of capital importance to discover the underlying principles that guided his life and that appear, in various ways, during the different periods of the same. Reading the Autobiography draws us into the spiritual experience of a man who allowed himself to be questioned and guided by the Word of God, who felt with a very strong intensity the call to dedicate his life to the proclamation of the gospel and who knew how to bring many others into that work. The Autobiography allows us to peer into the interior of the person and see how the Spirit of the Lord guided him to new horizons of sanctity and apostolic commitment.
The Autobiography of St. Anthony Mary Claret is available in many editions and in various languages. Many people from diverse countries and cultures have been able to approach these pages born in the heart of one who lived passionately for Christ and for the proclamation of the Gospel. The Spanish and English editions had finished and there were calls for new editions. It is a joy, dear reader, to be able to put this now into your hands. Fr. Jesús Bermejo, an expert in St. Anthony Mary Claret, and the team of the Center for Claretian Spirituality (CESC) in Vic, Spain, have done a revision of the text and its notes and have prepared some pedagogical materials that will facilitate greater comprehension of the pages of the Autobiography.
With regard to this English edition, I cannot but thank the work done for many years by Fr. Joseph Daries, who has dedicated countless hours so that the person of Anthony Mary Claret might be better known in the English-speaking world. To him do we owe the basic translation of the Autobiography and many of the autobiographical writings contained in this volume. I also want to acknowledge the invaluable collaboration of Frs. Rosendo Urrabazo who together with the CESC team of Frs. Anthony Ejikeme and S. Jesu Doss have reviewed and revised all of the English texts. Special thanks also to Fr. James Overend who translated the interesting and extensive notes by which this edition has been enriched.
I hope that contact with the testimony of Claret touches your life and increases your love for Jesus and the ardent desire to work for the kingdom. I place this edition in the hands, even more, in the heart of Mary, for whom St. Anthony Mary Claret felt so loved and accompanied in the growth of his faith and missionary commitment.
Rome, August 4, 2009
JOSEP M. ABELLA
of the Claretian Missionaries
Introduction to the
The edition of the Autobiographical and Spiritual Writings of Saint Anthony Mary Claret published by the Biblioteca de Autores Crisitianos (BAC) in 1959 placed an exceptional document, the Autobiography of the Saint, at the disposal of the public-at-large for the first time; which until that time had been the private patrimony of the Missionary Sons of the Heart of Mary. As a matter of fact, the two previous editions (1915 and 1951), although with different characteristics, had only been planned for a limited distribution among the communities of the Congregation.
However, starting from the 1959 edition, the Claret Autobiography has been published in several languages (French, Portuguese, English, Italian), in addition to another–manual size–edition in Spanish. This has resulted in a widespread distribution of this document which has subsequently been extended even more with this new edition that the BAC now presents, with the intention of being critically more refined, while at the same time better situating the period, mainly through introductions and notes.
In presenting this new edition, I do not think it is necessary to refer to literary or historic aspects of the text. Even though they have their validity and it would be fair to focus on them when the time comes, these aspects do not correspond to what the author and editors specifically intended. I would like, therefore, to underline that the Autobiography of Saint Anthony Mary Claret is, above all, a testimonial and pedagogical document. Its greatest values and the key to its optimum reading are found there.
But most of all, it is a living testimony, in the sense that it communicates, emotionally and personally, a special experience of God and man, through which existence itself takes on a sense of mission, as it did with Jesus Christ. It is the testimony of a lived experience through a long process of search and affirmation, of action and passion, of dedication and martyrdom, and which little by little makes a total identification with Jesus Christ, the only measure of the missionary vocation.
It is a fact that the 19th century for Christians (especially in Spain) has much greater weight for its living testimonies than from its elaboration of a theology or a spiritual doctrine. For this reason, also is this autobiographic document of Claret of some importance. It can help in the understanding of an historic fragment of ecclesial life. Moreover, above all, it illustrates the encouraging presence of the Spirit in the ever-current praxis of the mission, which, through a total and unifying experience, gives meaning to life, placing it before the Father of Jesus, unchangeable source of the sending, and before the sometimes turbulent events of the people to whom we are sent.
On the other hand, the Autobiography of Saint Anthony Mary Claret has a stated pedagogical intention: to serve in the formation of those called for the mission. It entered into the plans of whoever imposed upon the Saint the obedience to write these pages. And, on the other hand, it fit in with Claret’s constantly sought purpose, since the first years of his priesthood, in which he invested so much time and effort to cultivate in priests the dedication and adequate preparation for the missions. The Congregation of Missionaries that he founded has considered his Autobiography a living interpretation of the Constitutions and a necessary place for the encounter with his spirit.
But, going beyond this particular reference, it is natural that a document of this type, profoundly evangelical and vivid, retains a contemporary relevance in times when, everywhere, the Lord is arousing vocations for the service of missionary evangelization throughout the Church. It is truly a manual of missionary spirituality that introduces the experience of a life dedicated to the Gospel, to the proclamation of the Good News, the same as the life of Jesus. Transmitted in clear and warm pages, full of serenity and strength, this living proposal of Father Claret is fostering today the birth of many consecrated, as well as secular missionary, vocations from the most diverse latitudes.
Claret, moved by his apostolic keenness, having written extensively about many diverse subjects, found nothing more repulsive as in narrating his own life. Maybe because of this, with a sense of death to himself by which he planted this seed, today it has such force and is producing an abundance of missionary vocations. And, by the same token, nothing is more pleasing to his spirit, which yearned for the formation of a large family of evangelizers.
I hope that the optimum work carried out by the responsible persons of “Studium Claretianum” of Rome and by the BAC in the presentation of this volume is blessed by this same fruit: a new emergence of vocations for the mission, in a Church that is again clearly conscience of its everlasting condition: sent, as Jesus, for the salvation of mankind.