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OUR LADY’S PART IN THE REDEMPTION ACCORDING TO SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY WRITERS1 II. A f t e r t h e A p p e a r a n c e o f t h e Monita Salutaria The annals of Mariology register a rather unfortunate con­ troversy in the last decades of the seventeenth century, the occasion being furnished by an anonymous booklet published at Ghent, 1673, under the somewhat assuming title, Monita salutaria Beatae Virginis Mariae ad cultores suos indiscretos.2 Since not a few of the authors referred to in the course of this paper revealed their mind concern­ ing Our Lady as Co-redemptrix precisely in their reaction toward these so-called "wholesome admonitions,” a brief account of their author and their contents may prove enlightening to the reader. The true author of the Monita salutaria, according to reliable documents, was none other than Adam Widenfeld (1618-1678), a distinguished lawyer from Cologne. Whether or not he was a con­ vert from Protestantism, as some have claimed, is not so easily es­ tablished. But the fact that he was a sincere Catholic when he wrote the pamphlet under discussion, cannot be reasonably ques­ tioned. Moreover, his ardent zeal for the conversion of heretics is amply vouched for by his other treatises in defense of the purity of the Catholic faith.3 Contending that the abuses then rampant in the Church, especially concerning the cult of Our Lady, would in no small degree retard the return of Protestants to the fold of Christ, Widenfeld thought that he might easily obviate this diffi1 . The first part of this paper appeared in the previous number, Franciscan Stud­ ies, N. S. Ill (1943), pp. 3-20. 2. Hie pamphlet was re-edited several times and even translated into several languages. The English translation, prepared by James Taylor, is entitled Wholesome advices from the Blessed Virgin to her indiscrete worshippers (London, 1687). Con­ cerning the Monita salutaria, see the vast bibliography given by P. Hoffer, S. M., in his La dévotion à Marie au déclin du X V IIe siècle, autour du Jansénisme et des 'Avis salutaires de la B. V. Marie à ses dévots indiscrets’ (Paris, 1938), pp. 369-381. See also the beautiful article of Father H.-M. Baron, S. J., "Jean Crasset (1618-1692), le Jansénisme et la dévotion à la Sainte Vierge,” in Bulletin de la Société française d’études mariales, 1938 (Paris, 1939), pp. 137-184. Concerning Father Hoffer's work see the observations made by Father Aubron, S. J. in Recherches de Science religieuse, vol. 19 (1939), pp. 249-255; and likewise Dillenschneider, C. SS. R., "Le concours sotériologique de Marie à notre Rédemption chez les théologiens du X V IIe siècle, étrangers à l’école bérullienne,” in Ephem. Theol. hovan., vol. 16 (1939), p. 780. 3. Cf. P. Hoffer, op. cit., p. 188. 143 144 FRANCISCAN STUDIES culty by exhorting those who had the care of souls to double their efforts in eradicating such abuses from their flock. This, then, was the true purpose of the Mornta salutaria. Hence, historically speak­ ing, it would seem to us that an injustice has been committed against Widenfeld by those who claim that his real endeavor was not only to belittle but even to abolish entirely the cult and devotion to Our Blessed Lady. So much in regard to the author’s scope and his intention, in so far as extant documents allow us to judge. As to the method adopted by him to attain his end, we must frankly confess that it was a most unhappy one. By detecting imaginary abuses everywhere, by not unfrequently exaggerating those really existing, and by revealing throughout this process an unreasonably rigorous scrupulosity, our hypercritic naturally rendered himself sus­ picious of Jansenism. Add to this the great imprudence displayed by him while treating of certain Marian prerogatives in such an ambiguous and equivocal terminology that at times he does seem to minimize certain doctrines commonly accepted as belonging to Catholic teaching. As it was to be expected, these "wholesome admonitions” im­ mediately gave rise to a most vehement controversy among con...


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