The history of father Michael Salpa SJ against the background of jesuits schools in Braniewo, Poland
The history of father Michael Salpa SJ against thebackground of jesuits schools in Braniewo, Poland. Author: Marcin Kasprzak, Kraków 2010
Jesuits, who during two hundret years were leading in teaching young people amongcatholic Europe, were not founded as a teaching monastery. Ignacy Loyola didnt include teachingto the programm of Jesuits aims. The idea was to admit theologically educated mature people. Butthe situation, with all the difficulties and new opportunities, reconsidered the Loyolas point of view.Soon he and his comrades realized that if they want to make SJ bigger and bigger, there is need toadmit young people and take care about the education of them. Jakub Laynezs fought was to createcolleges – seminaries next to the old universities, just for pupils-jesuits. The idea was approved bythe Pope Paul III. First colleges was founded in Paris, Lisboa, Padova, Cimbr, Leuven etc. Despiteit, in the project of Jesuits constitution (1540-1541) Loyola excluded teaching in schools and inuniversities. Probably the reason was too small community of Jesuits to handle it. In addition theywere not able to identify themselves with a specific place – they were ready to go where the Popedecide. Few years later Pope backed up the decision limited number of Jesuits to 60 and acceptednon-profesi in the monastery. In 1544 Loyola, on request of Franciszek Borgia, opened college inGandia, where next to young Jesuits, secular youth was tought. For Jesuits founder it was just anexception, but for SJ it was the revolution. The main change in Loyolas mind happened along withopening college in Messina. Jusuits were only requested to cooperate with the school, but indeedthey claimed all the responsibility. Ignatius sent there the best staff leading by Hieronimus Nadal.To stress that new era in jesuits teaching just started, opening was quite splendid.1 Messina was a stone which started the avalanche. The success in teaching and upbringingbecame known around continent. From all over the catholic Europe flooded in the requests forJesuits to found educational establishment. In 1549 the history of college in Rome started.According to Loyola it was the model jesuits school. Seven years later was set up Billom college –the first jesuits school for secular pupils only. Full success in teaching area confirmed Loyola to putit to main aims of Jesuits (with the same importnance as ministry or mission). Holy See started toemphasize this role of jesuits. The Pope Pius Quartus let them to give degrees in their universities.Thats how Societas became the first legimitate teaching order ever. The Pope Gregorius TertiusDecimus in his encyclical Salvatoris Domini wrote even that from the down of jesuits history theywere appointed by God to teach and bring up (sic!).2 Really one of the first requests to the founder of Society of Jesus arrived form Poland. It wasin 1554. The author was the bishop of diocese of Ermland (Warmia region in present Poland),Stanisław Hozjusz (Hosius, Stanislai Hosii). He asked about 10 german speaking jesuits (germanlanguage was in use mainly in towns of diocese of Warmia, in villages main language was polish),but the answer was negative – jesuits focused then on Germany, which was in Protestant danger,1 L. Piechnik SJ, Gimnazjum w Braniewie w XVI w. (Gymnasium in Braniewo in 16th c.), Nasza Przeszłość, T. VII, Kraków 1958, s. 1-7.2 Ibidem, s. 7-8.
and had no people to send to Poland. The main reason of the need of coming jesuits to the diocesewas lack of priests (Hosius wanted to have seminary). 3 The issue was waiting 10 years to befinished successfully. Opportune circumstance was the spirit of the Council of Trent. One of theresults of the Council was decree instructing bishops to set up seminaries in each diocese to trainpriests. In the end of the Council bishop Hosius spoke with the second Superior General of theSociety of Jesus, Jacob Laynez, and requested of sending Jusuits to Poland. This time, with theadvocasy of Giovanni Francesco Commendone, request was approved. Cathedral body of dioceseof Warmia decided to get over post-franciscan monastery in Braniewo (Latin Brunsberga, now inNorth-Eastern Poland, in the 16th century in Royal Prussia, under the Kingdom of Poland) forJesuits and to provide existance for them. A group of nine Jesuits came to Poland on November 2 nd1564. Firstly they spent two months in Lidzbark (dioceses capitol) because of epidemic inBraniewo. With another two, who came later, they moved to Braniewo on the 8 th of January 15654.Thats how the history of Jesuits started in Poland. The east part of the monastery they reserve for school. In the beginning the number ofJesuits let only to set up college. It was not remarkable of its numerical size. There were usuallybetween 250 an 300 pupils on its roll. However it was a model grammar school for the Societyscolleges subsequently opened throughout Poland and Lithuania5. The main aim of bringing Jesuits in Braniewo, according to letters of Hosius, wasfoundation of diocesan seminary. Warmia had inufficient number of priest that time. In short time,after 2 years almost, in spite of some doubts 6 and after special permission of the General, diocesalseminary was established. Official opening date is 25 th of November 1567. It set up a modelfollowed by other seminaries that were instituted later by Polish Jesuits (e.g. Poznań, Vilnius,Kalisz, Pułtusk)7. In the 16th century the number of clerics ranged from 17 to 24. Diocesal seminarywas directed by a rector of the college and by a prefect (lat. praefectus), called later a regens, whowas responsible for its students. Jesuits continued extension and opened boarding school for the sons of the wealthy nobility(convictus nobilium, 1565), novitiate (1568), pontifical seminary (1578), bursars school for poorerpupils (1582). More and more Jesuits arrived to Braniewo. The foundation was designed for 20brothers, but the number of them approached to 80, what resulted in problems with the finances of3 L. Piechnik SJ, Seminaria diecezjalne w Polsce prowadzone przez Jezuitów od XVI do XVIII wieku (Diocesanseminaries in Poland under the management of the Jesuits from the 16 th to the 18th century), Ignatianum, WydawnictwoWAM, Kraków 2001, s. 20.4 Piechnik, Gimnazjum..., op. cit., s. 11-12.5 M. Inglot SJ, L. Grzebień SJ, Uczniowie – Sodalisi gimnazjum w Brunsberdze (Braniewie) 1579-1623 (SodalistsStudying at the Jesuit College in Braunsberg (Braniewo) 1579-1623), Ignatianum, Wydawnictwo WAM, Kraków 1998,s. 344.6 Second General Congragation SJ (1565) let Jesuits establish diocesal seminaries under special circumstances only. This change in point of view happened when new Superior General, Francis Borgia, was elected.7 Piechnik, Seminaria..., op. cit., s. 21-22.
the schools and suitable number of school-rooms. The problems with existance caused moving thenovitiate to Kraków in 15868. One of the Jesuits who was sent to Poland was Michael Salpa. He is best known as a rectorof Vilnius Academy between 1614 and 1618. Reasercher who try to explore jusuits history admire accurate work in documentation of itsactivity. Everytime they created a paper locally, e.g. in college, one copy went to province andanother to General in Rome. After the suppresion of The Society some local documents are missing,but many copies we can still find in Rome9. According to archives Salpa was born in Martina (present Martina Franca in Italy), wich wasNapoli dominion that time, in 1560. He joined to Societas Jesu in Napoli on 29 th of September1581. In Italy he was studing philosophy and humanities. He was teaching in the class of syntax 10.After two years of teaching he was sent in 1587 to Varadinum11 (Oradea in present Romania veryclose to the border with Hungary, another official hungarian name is Nagyvarad, in polishWaradyn) in Transylvania to help Jakób (Jakub) Wujeks mission. Wujek was sent to Transylvaniaon request of Polish King and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1576-86) Stephen Bathory, who was aprience of Transylvania (1571-86)12. Salpa was a prefect of college during one and half of year 13. Inthe end of 1588, under the pressure of Calvinists and Arianists, succesor of Stephen Bathory,Sigismund (Zsigmond) Bathory signed exile decree for Jesuits. After this decision Jesuits wereabsent in Transilvania for almost 7 years14. Salpa was sent to Vilnius, where he started to study theology for four years. He became aprefect of Sodality of Blessed Virgin Mary15. Sodality was a gathering of pupils who declared to bepersonal perfection in virtue and study, as well as works of charity and zeal for souls. The Sodalitywas originally founded in 1563 in Roman College by John Leunis (Latin Leonius or Leonis)16. In 1593 he was moved to Braniewo, where he was a teacher (lector) of mathematics17. In1595 he was sent to military camp outside the province (extra provinciam), where he was achaplain18. In that time Poland was not in war time, but it is a year of the Cecora battle, so he could8 Inglot, Grzebień, Uczniowie..., op. cit.9 D. Oramus, Jezuici – niesamowity zakon i jego zbiory (Jesuits – extraordinary order and its archives), „Konspekt” , nr 2/200 (29).10 ARSI, Pol. 7-II f. 99 v.11 A. Veress, Epistolae et acta Jesuitarum Transylvaniae temporibus principum Bathory (1571-1613), vol. 2: 1575- 1588, Athenaeum, Budapest 1913, s. 234.12 J. Sygański, Ks. Jakób Wujek z Wąrowca 1540-1597 w świetle własnej korespondencyi (Priest Jakób Wujek 1540- 1597 in the in the light of own correspondence), Kraków 1914, s. 26.13 Roman Archives of the Society of Jesus (later ARSI), Polonica (later Pol.) 7-II, f. 159 v.14 Sygański, Ks. Jakób..., op. cit., s. 42.15 ARSI, Pol. 7-II f. 159 v., Pol.43 f. 6 v.16 Encyklopedia wiedzy o jezuitach na ziemiach Polski i Litwy, 1564-1995 (Encyclopaedia of Information on the Jesuits on the Territories of Poland and Lithuania, 1564-1995), oprac. Ludwik Grzebień SJ, Wydz. Filozoficzny TJ, Kraków 1996, entry: Sodalicja Mariańska, acces from internet website www.jezuici.krakow.pl17 ARSI, Pol. 43, f. 8 v.18 ARSI, Pol. 43, f. 14 f.
be a participant (as a priest) of Jan Zamoyskis warfare in Moldavia – but that is not confirmedanywhere. Anyway he is in 1596 back in Braniewo. Salpa is again a mathematics teacher, but hasanother role – prefect of pontifical seminary19. Next year he is called professor (?) of mathematics,prefect of seminary and of Solidaty of Blessed Virgin Mary 20. After few years spending in Braniewoin 1597, as many Jesuits, he was sent to Vilnius, where he is a teacher of mathematics and prefectof papal seminary21. Soon he became a prefect of diocesan seminary as well22. In 1598/99, besideshe is a prefect of both seminaries, he is a teacher of Hebrew 23. In 1600 he is confirmed as a prefect24.This year is a year of his proffesed of the four vows – exact date is the 2 nd of February25. EveryJesuit has to be ready for moving him – it happened again to Salpa. His new college was Nesvizh(Latin Nesvisium, polish Nieśwież, now in Belarus). Between 1605 and 1608 he was a rector of thiscollege. In 1609-11 he was a professor of moral theology. He continued this work in Vilnius, wherein 1614 he became a rector of Academy. Death in 1618 stopped his great work 26. Time of hisleading the academy was succesful. The number of students in 1616 increased to 1200 from 1000 inthe previous year. Many of them belonged to nobility. Solidaty was quiet popular – almost 400students joined. Academy was so popular that was a need to open second class of infima and secondcourse of moral theology. The spiritual life in Academy was vibrant, many activities were signs ofit: activity of sodalist (taking care of sick poeple in hospitalities, help classmates in learning,religion practise: frequent confession, regular Communion etc.) and numerous vocations for orders,mainly to Jesuits (in 1615 there were 42 such a vocations). In 1616 printing house was rebuild afterthe demage in the big fire in 1610. In 1618 new dormitory was opened (Korsaks dorm), library wasexpanded by new books given by Gregorius Święcicki and Mikołaj Dicius. It shows how auspicioustime it was for the Academy and the city of Vilnius27. Michael Salpa was one of those italian Jesuits who had big impact on Polish province andon its schools. Besides having really good education in the field of humanities and theology wasSalpa talented in organizational area. Carrying about progres of Academy and its teachers he wasresponsile for public theological disputes between Jesuits and other orders, which had own studiadomestica in Vilnius. The years when he was a rector, was especially succesful. He died in Vilniuson 20th December 1618.2819 ARSI, Pol. 43, f. 10 v.20 ARSI, Pol. 7-I, f. 202 v.21 ARSI, Pol. 43, f. 17 v.22 ARSI, Pol. 43, f. 20 v.23 ARSI, Pol. 43, f. 23 v.24 ARSI, Pol. 43, f. 25 v.25 S. Rostowski, Lituanicarum Societatis Jesu historium libri decem, Parisiis-Bruxellis 1877, s. 466.26 Polski Słownik Biograficzny (Polish Biographical Dictionary), t. 35, Instytut Historii PAN, Kraków 1994, s. 392.27 L. Piechnik SJ, Rozkwit Akademii Wileńskiej w latach 1600-1655 (Time of Thriving Vilnius Academy 1600-1655), IHSJ, Rzym 1983, s. 24-26.28 Polski słownik... op. cit.
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