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The Catholic Historical Review 90.2 (2004) 296-298
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The Paulist Order originated in Hungary. St. Paul the Hermit, who lived in Egypt during the third century, was the paragon of the Hungarian eremites. Prior to the Mongol invasion in 1241-42, Bishop Bertalan of Pécs (Quinqueecclesiae) had a monastery built for hermits on the Mecsek Mountain, though it was Özséb (Eusebius), canon of the cathedral at Esztergom, who laid the foundations for the Order when he, with six others, moved to three caves near Szántó in the Pilis Hills, to lead the eremitic way of life. Hermits had lived there, and on Ürög Hill near Pécs, for a long period of time. Özséb organized the hermits and made them lead the way of life in accordance with, and in the spirit of, St. Paul the Hermit. Next to his cave, he had a church and a monastery built in [End Page 296] honor of the Holy Cross. He became the first head and provincial prior of his order. About 1300, Lrinc (Laurentius), general of the Order, had a monastery built near Buda in honor of St. Lawrence, and Budaszentlrinc (St. Lawrence Convent at Buda) became the head monastery of the Order. In 1308, Cardinal Gentilis, the papal legate, suggested that they accept the Rule of St. Augustine, and arranged for it that they were exempt from the jurisdiction of the regional bishop, gaining control of their own affairs during their annually held general chapters. From 1329 on, they were able to elect their Order's general from among themselves. The Paulists spread out rapidly in Hungary, in Poland, and in southern Germany; during the fifteenth century, Spanish and Portuguese eremites asked for permission to join the order. They excelled as preachers and authors of religious literature. Louis the Great of Hungary (1342-1382), with permission of the republic of Venice, had the relic of St. Paul the Hermit transferred to Budaszentlrinc. The Paulist Ladislas Báthori translated the whole Bible into Hungarian, and sent his translation to the library of King Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490). Numerous codices bear witness to the artistry of the Paulists, such as the Festetich, and the Czech codices, and perhaps the Peer codex. (Felicián Gondán, A középkori magyar Pálosrend és nyelvemlékei [The medieval Hungarian Paulists and their linguistic achievements], Pécs, 1916.) The reformation and Turkish conquest caused much hardship for the Paulists, but the order renewed itself, and reached its fullest influence and expansion by the eighteenth century. Emperor Joseph II (1780-1790) abolished the Paulists' flourishing Hungarian and Austrian provinces; their convents were oppressed in Prussia and in Russia during the nineteenth century, while on Polish soil, only two of their monasteries survived, at Cracow and at Cz stochowa. In Hungary the once so influential order still remained quite active until the end of World War II; however, after decades of communist oppression, the Paulists were able to re-emerge there during the 1990's.
The book contains twelve articles dealing with the earlier history of the Paulists. After the carefully prepared study on the eremites and their thirteenth-century background by the editor, Kaspar Elm, Stefan Rebenich analyzed with great readiness and dedication the Life of St. Paul the Hermit attributed to the authorship of the Latin Church Father, St. Jerome. Interesting and worth reading is Gábor Sarbak's essay dealing with the books and libraries of medieval Paulist monasteries, while a fully prepared Magda Fischer commented on the condition of Paulist libraries in southern Germany during the seventeenth-eighteenth centuries. Dirk Kottke analyzed and translated into German two Latin poems describing the history of the monastic community at Langnau, and his learned comments make good reading. József Török's analyses of the Paulist liturgy provide fascinating reading as always, and render new data for liturgy...