Saint Clement Maria Hofbauer, Confessor

March 15

Today is the feast day of Saint Clement Maria Hofbauer.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Clement born at Tasswitz in Moravia, 26 December, 1751; died at Vienna 15 March, 1821. The family name of Dvorak was better known by its German equivalent, Hofbauer. The youngest of twelve children, and son of a grazier and butcher, he was six years old when his father died. (2)

He was a servant in the Premonstratensian monastery of Bruck from 1771 to 1775, then lived for some time as a hermit. He made three pilgrimages to Rome, and during the third, accompanied by a good friend, he entered with the same friend the Redemptorist novitiate at San Giuliano. The two were professed in 1785 and ordained a few days later. (1)

They were sent, towards the end of the same year, to found a house north of the Alps, St. Alphonsus. who was still alive, prophesying their success. It being impossible under Joseph II to found a house in Vienna, Clement and Thaddäus turned to Warsaw, where King Stanislaus Poniatowski, at the nuncio’s request, placed St. Benno’s, the German national church, at their disposal. Here, in 1795, they saw the end of Polish independence. The labours of Clement and his companions in Warsaw from 1786 to 1808 are wellnigh incredible. In addition to St. Benno’s, another large church was reserved for them, where sermons were preached in French, and there were daily classes of instruction for Protestants and Jews. Besides this Clement founded an orphanage and a school for boys.  (2)

His chief helper, Thaddäus Häbl, died in 1807; In the next year, on orders from Paris, the house at Warsaw and three other houses which Clement had founded were suppressed, anti the Redemptorists were expelled from the Grand Duchy. Clement with one companion went to Vienna, where for the last twelve years of his life he acted as chaplain and director at an Ursuline convent. During these years he exercised a veritable apostolate among all classes in the capital from the Emperor Francis downward. Unable to found a regular house of his congregation, which was however established, as he had predicted, almost immediately after his death, he devoted himself in a special way to the conversion and training of young men. “I know but three men of superhuman energy”, his friend Werner had said, “Napoleon, Goethe, and Clement Hofbauer.” “Religion in Austria”, said Pius VII, “has lost its chief support.” Indeed it was to Clement Hofbauer perhaps more than to any single individual that the extinction of Josephinism was due. He was beatified by Leo XIII, 29 January, 1888. (2)

Image: St. Klemens Maria Hofbauer als Schutzpatron Wiens, Gemälde von August Wörndle von Adelsfried (5)

Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff.


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