Wadding, Luke (1588–1657), Franciscan priest, scholar, and churchman, was born 16 October 1588 at Waterford and baptised on 18 October, the son of Walter Wadding, a wealthy merchant, and his wife, Anastasia (née Lombard), a relative of Peter Lombard (qv), archbishop of Armagh.
Family background and education Luke was the eleventh child in a family of ten sons and four daughters. His brother Ambrose (qv), who became a Jesuit and professor of philosophy at Dilligen in Bavaria, died young. His sister Mary married the merchant Laurence Baron of Clonmel and was the mother of Bartholomew, who became the scholarly Franciscan Bartholomew Baron (qv) (Fr Bonaventure), and of Geoffrey (qv), the talented lawyer and member of the Catholic Confederation of Kilkenny. Another sister married a Patrick Harold of Limerick, and Francis Harold (qv), who succeeded Luke as annalist of the Franciscan order, was their son. Among Luke's distinguished cousins were Richard Wadding, an Augustinian, professor of theology at Coimbra University; Peter Wadding (qv), a Jesuit and professor of theology at Louvain, then at Prague, and chancellor successively of Prague and Gratz universities; his namesake Luke Wadding (d. 1651), a Jesuit, theologian and jurist in Spain; and Michael Wadding (qv) (Miguel Godínez), also a Jesuit and missionary in Mexico.
Luke received his early education at Waterford, perhaps in John Flahy's school, and acquired an admirable knowledge of the classics and logic. His parents died in 1602. Matthew, his eldest brother, took him in 1603 to Portugal, where he entered the Irish college at Lisbon as a seminarian. After six months he left the college to join the Friars Minor (1604). He was a novice at the friary in Matozinhos, near Oporto, took his religious vows there 23 September 1605, and was sent to the friary in Leiria to study philosophy for two years. From there he was transferred to Lisbon to study theology and at the beginning of 1609 to Coimbra for a complete course in theology at the university. In 1613 he was ordained priest in the town of Vizeu by Bishop João Manuel.
The mission to Rome and early works In 1615 the vicar general of the order, Antonio de Trejo, impressed by Luke's erudition, arranged for him to pursue further studies in Spain in his own province of Santiago. Wadding, with his flair for acquiring languages, studied Hebrew at Alba de Tormes, whence he returned to Salamanca; there in the friary, and then for less than a year at León friary, he taught theology. He was brought back to Salamanca, where he professed theology at the university, and was master of clerical student friars in the friary of San Francisco and chaplain and confessor to the Poor Clares. On 9 July 1618 Antonio de Trejo was provided to Cartagena as bishop, and after his consecration he was appointed by Philip III as his ambassador-extraordinary on a special mission to ask the pope to define the immaculate conception of Mary as a dogma of faith. De Trejo took Wadding with him to Rome as theologian of the mission. On 16 December 1618 they entered Rome and lodged with the bishop's brother Cardinal Gabriel de Trejo. Luke's advocacy of the immaculate conception is to be found in a series of memorials, which he prepared for presentation to the holy see; they were published in Presbia sive legatio Philippi III et IV (1624; reprinted 1641). Wadding again studied Hebrew and persuaded Franciscan superiors to procure a Hebrew font for the studium at the Aracoeli. His essay on the Hebrew language was printed there (1621) as an introduction to his edition of the four-volume Hebrew concordance of the bible of the Franciscan Mario of Calasio.
Luke resided at the friary at San Pietro in Montorio, which has the tombs of the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell. He edited Angelo del Paz's commentaries on St Mark's gospel (1623) and on the gospel of St Luke (1625, 1628). He published St Anthony of Padua's concordance (1624) and a Promptuarium morale attributed to an anonymous Irish Franciscan friar.
The mission, for many reasons, did not achieve its purpose, but it brought opportunity and success to its Irish theologian, whose erudition and dedication pleased Romans as well as Spaniards. The path to a career was opened for him in a remarkable way. Popes Paul V (1605–21) and Gregory XV (1621–3), the cardinals, and the curial officials to whom he was introduced by the de Trejo brothers saw Luke Wadding as a friar of high intelligence, holiness, patent loyalty, and competence. It was a reputation that was to grow, not diminish, over the thirty-nine years he spent in Rome. Those who knew him there regarded him as a man of absolute personal integrity, severely ascetical, but quite approachable. They trusted him, confided in him, and frequently assisted him.
Franciscan foundations in Rome In 1625 Wadding accepted from Benignus of Genoa, the minister general of the order, the new, unfinished, and debt-laden church of St Isidore and its small friary on the Pincio, on condition that he be allowed a free hand to establish there a college with studium for the training of friar priests for the Franciscan province of Ireland. With the help of influential friends he paid all the debts, finished and embellished the church, and built a large college, with impressive aula maxima and library. Wadding was a patron of the arts and chose many distinguished artists to work at St Isidore's. Domenico Castelli, architect to several popes, designed the choir and the chapel of St Anne, and was buried in the church (1661). The architect Mario Arconio at Wadding's request designed the new marble high altar with sarcophagus; and Orazio Torriani was responsible for the large new cloister garth. The sculptor Giuliano Finelli was also employed in the college. Pier Paulo Baldini (alias Naldini) painted the chapel of St Anne, Andrea Sacchi painted St Isidore in ecstasy for the new high altar, and the renowned Carlo Maratti decorated the chapel of St Joseph and painted the immaculate conception for the lady chapel. The painter and art critic Gianpietro Bellori was a close friend of Luke and papal syndic of the college.
There Wadding established a first-class school of philosophy and theology and Franciscan formation, thanks to the influx of a large number of friar professors and students of outstanding ability. St Isidore's sent back to Ireland many preachers and missioners who played a positive role in the renewal of the catholic church and Franciscan life in Ireland. The college, which occupies a distinguished place in modern Irish history, also became under Wadding the centre of a remarkable revival of Scotism in seventeenth-century Europe. When he was in Portugal and later at Salamanca he developed an abiding admiration for the medieval Franciscan scholastic John Duns Scotus, the ‘Subtle Doctor’. St Isidore's made a twofold contribution to Scotism: writings and professors. Wadding's greatest service to Scotism was the publication (1639) of the first critical edition of the works of John Duns Scotus in sixteen folio volumes. Its impact was immense. It inspired a very large number of commentaries and cursus. Within a few years of the founding of his Roman studium Wadding received many requests to provide professors of philosophy and theology to the various studia of the Franciscan order. By the 1640s teachers were also sought by other religious orders and by diocesan seminaries, such was Wadding's international reputation. Between 1625 and 1660 St Isidore's supplied more than seventy professors of philosophy and theology. As a positive contribution to the reawakening of interest in the thought of Duns Scotus, Wadding introduced at St Isidore's public scholastic debates and the defence of printed selected theses in philosophy and theology. These renowned disputes, which later were held in the aula maxima, were often attended by prominent figures, clerical and lay, such as Girolamo Cardinal Colonna (1628), Girolamo Cardinal Vidoni (1629), Francesco Cardinal Barberini (1635), brother of Urban VIII, Pietro Antonio Borghese (1644), and Pope Innocent X (1649).
Wadding also founded a small Roman seminary for Irish secular priests, with the patronage and munificence of Ludovico Cardinal Ludovisi, nephew of Gregory XV, whose successor, Urban VIII, appointed Ludovisi cardinal protector of Ireland. In November 1627 he agreed that Wadding should rent a small house opposite St Isidore's. These were the humble beginnings of what was to become the Pontifical Irish College, Rome. The Ludovisian seminary was directed by Wadding and his confrères until the Jesuits took possession on 8 February 1635 because of a surprise disposition in the will of Ludovisi, who had died in 1632. A third foundation of Luke Wadding was the novitiate friary of S. Maria del Piano at Capranica di Sutri, 54 kilometres north of Rome on the Via Cassia, which was authorised by papal brief by Alexander VII on 8 May 1656 during the Cromwellian persecution in Ireland.
Major works In 1623 Wadding published the first printed edition of the writings of St Francis of Assisi in a quarto volume of more than 600 pages. From then to the end of his life his publications averaged out at well over a volume a year. Significantly his greatest work is his history of the Franciscan order, the Annales minorum in eight very large volumes published between 1625 and 1654. Telling the story of more than three centuries of Franciscanism, it was a vast undertaking, which would have frightened a man of stronger health and weaker commitment. These annals, with generous quotations from sources and intelligent exposition, will not, in all probability, be completely superseded. As his researches progressed he received special permission for his work from Gregory XV and Urban VIII; the papal librarian, Cardinal Cobelluzzi, and the prefect of the Vatican Archives, Nicola Alemanni, gave him generous access to the archives to read and copy documents. His work was similarly facilitated by the order's general superiors, who also organised cooperation from the various provinces and thus enriched the archives of St Isidore's with priceless historical and literary treasures. Wadding amassed material for many scholarly works, some of which were never published. He had eighteen large volumes of transcripts of papal bulls and briefs, because he had planned a history of the six popes from Clement VIII to Innocent X and of the cardinals created by them, which had reached two manuscript volumes before his death.
Wadding published (1637) a volume on St Peter Thomas of Aquitaine, a Carmelite, because during his researches in the Vatican Archives he had discovered twenty-nine relevant documents. He had hoped to publish the acts of the general chapters of the Franciscan order, and a book on Franciscan associations with Urbina. In his last years he made great efforts to see many unfinished texts through the press. In 1655 there appeared at Viterbo his edition of the De oculo morali, which he attributed to the thirteenth-century Franciscan Johannes Wallensis (John of Wales), whose works enjoyed an enormous popularity; in the same year at Rome was published a volume of a little more than 500 pages containing his edition of two other tracts by the same medieval friar. In 1655 he also published a small octavo volume on the death of the Virgin Mary, the first volume of a Mariological trilogy, the other two appearing the following year. All three were a by-product of Wadding's work on the Spanish mission. In 1657 he had printed a biography of St Anselm of Lucca, to which he appended a number of Anselm's writings. His relentless industry gave the scholarly world many valuable volumes and saved for posterity much historical information that might otherwise have been lost. His Scriptores, a Franciscan bibliography published in 1650, remains in constant use after the passage of three and a half centuries.
Church offices and politics Wadding's successful scholarly researches and his numerous publications were a remarkable achievement for a dedicated man with so many other commitments. On four occasions he was appointed the guardian, or superior, of St Isidore's College. He held this office when he was working on the sixth volume of his annals, with the full weight of administration on his ageing shoulders, and after the cares of the day he settled down in the library to continue his monumental history. On 20 November 1632 he was appointed vice-procurator of the order, and in June 1645 he was named its vice-commissary at Rome. These assignments obliged him to take up temporary residence amid the bustling life at the Aracoeli, the order's Roman headquarters. In 1651 Pedro Manero, the minister general, entrusted certain affairs of the order in Portugal to his care.
Catholic prelates in Ireland were aware of Wadding's influence at the papal court and as early as 1631–4 the archbishops of Dublin, Tuam, and Armagh, and the bishops of Ossory and Elphin were seeking his advice and help. Later his services were used to secure the promotion of specified clerics to the episcopacy and of others to parochial and non-episcopal benefices. All this entailed travelling to various departments of the curia. Many doors were open to him, for his erudition and activity had advanced the interest and prestige of his country at Rome. Thanks to him there were two Irish seminaries there and he was responsible for having the feast of St Patrick commemorated in the universal church on 17 March. By the 1630s the outlook that had been his when he left Waterford as a young man of confirmed Old English background had broadened. While studying in Spain he quickly perceived, as did other Irishmen, that Spanish sympathy was on the side of the exiled earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, and in the Franciscan order he eventually came into close contact with the Old Irish world. He worked with two distinguished friar scholars of the Gaelic tradition, Aodh Mac Cathmhaoil (qv) (Aodh Mac Aingil) and Antony Hickey (qv), and he was in intimate correspondence with such others of the Louvain school as John Colgan (qv) and Aodh Mac an Bhaird (qv) (Hugh Ward).
It is not surprising, then, that many Irishmen, clerics and laity, from both sides of the political divide corresponded with him on a variety of interests. In 1641 the Irish catholics under severe pressure resorted to armed resistance and Old Irish and Old English for the first time made a rather uneasy common cause. The resultant Catholic Confederation of Kilkenny through its supreme council decided (1642) to appoint Luke Wadding its accredited agent at Rome, to obtain papal sanction and finance, and on 8 December issued him with specific instructions. It was a challenging and wearying assignment, for Wadding quickly learned that the autocratic and cautious Urban VIII, a confirmed Francophile, could more readily be persuaded to grant approval for the Irish catholic cause than to offer immediate support for Irish military action. The Barberini pope was not going to risk antagonising the great catholic powers during the thirty years war or strengthening the anti-catholic forces in England. Much depended on Wadding's efforts, who became a beggarman, and managed to send to Ireland sums of money from various sources. As a result of his diplomacy PierFrancesco Scarampi (qv), an Oratorian priest, was named papal representative in Ireland on 18 April 1643. He soon reported to Rome on the difficulties of keeping the Irish catholics united.
On 15 September 1644 Innocent X was elected pope. Within a few months, due to Wadding's efforts it is recorded, Innocent appointed as nuncio-extraordinary to Ireland GianBattista Rinuccini (qv), archbishop of Fermo. The nuncio found the situation in Ireland complicated and slowly worsening because of the secret negotiations of King Charles I through James Butler (qv), marquess of Ormond, to win over Irish support. The commission of cardinals set up by the pope to deal with Irish affairs relied on Wadding for advice. Under the strain caused by news of the war in Ireland, the aggravated rivalries, and the threat of disunity, his work increased immensely and he had a voluminous correspondence to deal with, as his extant papers reveal. Among these papers there is evidence that, as a reward for his dedicated service, the supreme council asked the pope to create him a cardinal; but at Wadding's request the original letters were not presented at the Vatican and remained with him. He appreciated the paramount need for unity among the Irish catholics, as some of his letters show. Unhesitatingly he approved the stand taken by the pope's nuncio, who demanded certain safeguards for catholicism before the approval of any truce. After the uneasy partnership within the confederation between the Old Irish and the Old English ended in a complete rift, there were some among the Old Irish who claimed that Wadding's impartiality was suspect. From Canice Mooney's detailed examination of the evidence, his reputation as a disinterested patriot emerges untarnished and even enhanced (Father Luke Wadding: commemorative volume, 15–92).
The curia During those trying years and while he still attended to his scholarly interests he was consultor to different ecclesiastical congregations and commissions in the Roman curia. He was a close friend of Francesco Ingoli, the first secretary (1622–49) of the congregation of Propaganda Fide. Father Luke's petitions on business relating to Ireland first appear in the official minutes in 1626. In January 1631 he was appointed to a congregatio particularis dealing with the division of parishes in Connacht, and three years later to another one, together with five other Irish clerics; the latter met at St Isidore's on 11 October 1634 to discuss the congregation's new decrees for the orderly government of the church in Ireland. In the autumn of 1634 when the congregation was discussing the recovery of the holy places from the Greeks, Urban VIII named Wadding one of the seven theologians deputed to assist the cardinals in finding a solution to the associated thorny problems. Then in 1640 he became a member of a congregatio particularis set up to examine the possibility of bringing the Armenians of Leopoli and Persia into communion with the holy see. The cardinals at Propaganda availed themselves of his expertise as a linguist and theologian: in January 1644 for the proposed revision of the Arabic Bible, and in October of the same year for the revision of the euchologium (ritual) of the Greek church.
He was also a consultor of the Congregation of Rites. There he assisted the group that Urban VIII appointed in 1629 for the reform of the breviary. His extant papers have his notes on this and other work. Later he became a member of the holy office and of the Congregation of the Index. When the Augustinus of Cornelius Jansen was attacked by the Jesuits, who clamoured for its condemnation, the first Jansenists were advised in 1641 by Hugh Burke (qv), later bishop of Kilmacduagh, to approach Wadding. They did so and merely wished him to examine the text and to defend its teaching against calumny. Among Wadding's friends in Rome was Hilarion Rancati, Cistercian abbot and theologian. He and Wadding were fully conversant with the intricacies of the earlier complicated de auxiliis controversy. Neither favoured a condemnation of the Augustinus. Later, in 1653, when they were among the theologians at the holy office who had to give a judgment on the five propositions extracted from Jansen's writing, their opinion had not changed and others shared their views. A conscientious censor, Wadding gave his verdict in the face of considerable opposition. After the condemnation of the five propositions he humbly accepted the decision but retained his courage and integrity. He never worked for praise, honours, or the acquisition of offices, and his reputation in Rome was untarnished. He had attended to his work at the holy office despite declining health, having recovered from a very severe and prolonged illness, which began in September 1650. In his last years he continued to be preoccupied with St Isidore's College and with the affairs of the order, especially those of the persecuted Irish province, from which many friars were exiled and homeless and where the minister provincial was put to death in June 1653. For many years he suffered from occasional severe headaches and chronic bronchitis. In his last years his legs were weak and he suffered from chronic sinusitis. Despite the limitations of poor health Wadding surprised everyone with his tireless drive. In everything he was quiet, temperate, well-disciplined.
Reputation and legacy As early as 1630 Patrick Comerford (qv), bishop of Waterford, penned these lines to him:
I am sorry for you when I think of you, now in the congregation of the breviary, now in the inquisition, now in the congregation for the index, now writing your annals, now the lives of the popes and cardinals, now contending with your brothers the Capuchins, now with your confrères. O unconquerable Briareos, O Giant of the Hundred Hands. (from original Spanish; Wadding papers, 344)
On 19 October 1657, out of a sense of loyalty to the preacher, he went to the Franciscan church at the Aracoeli to hear a sermon in Spanish, and developed a severe cold. From about 25 October he became progressively weaker. On Sunday morning 18 November 1657 he quietly died. He was buried at St Isidore's on the following Wednesday, after a solemn requiem mass sung by the Dominican Giacinto Libelli, secretary of the index, at which another Dominican preached the panegyric. In attendance was the Dominican master general, John Baptist de Marinis, who had been a fellow student of Luke at the university of Salamanca. As well as a strong Franciscan and Dominican representation and many prominent members of the papal curia and Roman nobility there was such a great conflux of devout lay people who held the dead friar in great affection and reverence that they could not get into the small church.
In a century that produced many outstanding Irishmen in various walks of life, Luke Wadding was the best known internationally, and probably the most distinguished. A portrait of Wadding painted in his last years by Carlo Maratti is preserved in St Isidore's; a copy is in the Franciscan friary in Dublin. There is a fresco of him in the aula maxima of the college, by Emanuele da Como, OFM (1672). The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, has another contemporary portrait, attributed to José Ribera. A death mask is also preserved at St Isidore's. A modern bust by Umberto Bruni (1957) is in the vestibule of St Isidore's and also in the vestibule of the Pontifical Irish College.
Wadding's papers, including letters to him, are preserved in the archives of St Isidore's College, Rome, and in the Franciscan manuscripts at UCD archives. Other papers can be found in the archives of those congregations in the papal curia for which he worked. His extant letters, of the very many which he penned, must be located in various libraries and archives in Europe. Besides those in St Isidore's (MSS 2/10, 2/22, W 8, W 12, W 13) and UCD (MSS D 3, D 4, D 8), there are at least forty-eight in the Vatican Library MSS Barb. lat. (see Archiv. Hib., xviii (1955)); there are eight in the Biblioteca Landiana, Piacenza (see Bolletino Storico Piacentino, v (1910), 108–16); in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Naples there are eleven letters to Antonio Caracciolo, Theatine, on liturgical reforms; the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan has one letter (MS B 264); and there is at least one in the Archives of the Bollandists, Brussels (Correspondance I, 40), and one in the Archives Générales de Royaume, Brussels (Secrétaire d'État et de Guerre, portfolio 574); there are some in the Von Harrach family archives, Vienna, and in the archives of the Franciscan friary of St Jerome, Vienna (Miscellanea). Three letters of his are edited in B. O'Ferrall and D. O'Connell, Commentarius Rinuccinianus, ed. J. Kavanagh, IMC (6 vols, 1932–49), ii and iv; Archiv. Hib., xiv (1949), 49; and B. Jennings (ed.), Wadding papers, 1614–1638 (1958), 624–8.