Susana Taurozzi is a well-known
Argentine historian and a respected scholar, having
spent many years teaching. She has written widely, with books
and many articles to her name, specifically in relation to the
history of the Catholic Church in Argentina. Taurozzi’s
primary and secondary education was at the Passionist Fathers' Colegio San Gabriel in Vicente López,
Buenos Aires province, and her involvement with
the Congregation continues as she teaches at that institution.
During the 1980s she was involved with the Passionists' pastoral
youth work. She commenced work on this book in 2001 using
letters, documents, house chronicles, mission books, chapter
acts and confraternity acts - all from the Holy Cross archive.
She also conducted sixteen interviews between 2001 and 2005 with
members of the Province and seven with parishioners from the
parishes of Holy Cross and Santa Gema. The book, published in
Spanish, is divided into four parts: 1874-1901 (53 pages),
1901-1934 (93 pages), 1934-1970 (199 pages), and 1970-2002
The scene is
set with the arrival in Argentina of Fr Pius Devine in 1874,
the first Passionist to visit the country. Devine was on what
became a worldwide begging jaunt to raise funds for the
building of Mount Argus Church in Dublin. Devine was in the country
for seventy-four days and his Adventures and Misadventures
of a Jolly Beggar provides a graphic account of his stay.
Devine was followed five years later by Fr Martin Byrne. His
efforts to establish the Passionist Congregation in Argentina
would bring him into conflict with Bernardo Silvestrelli, his Rome-based Superior General. The Byrne-Silvestrelli and Kent-Silvestrelli
correspondence highlights the tension between those who would
maintain a close relationship with the Irish community and
those in Rome who were not in agreement. In no uncertain terms, Silvestrelli reminded Byrne that what was proposed (the
founding of a mission to the 'Irish Colony', implicitly assuming
the care of parishes, churches, hospitals, orphanages and so
“would be a radical exception to the rule of our Institution
which I cannot permit” (Silvestrelli to Byrne, 1880). These
were strong words. Byrne was suspended a divinis by his Superior
General. He took his case to Rome and in due course the
suspension was lifted. A somewhat tetchy relationship with the
Irish community would continue. With the death of the Irish
chaplain Fr John B. Leahy in 1882, the Archbishop of Buenos
Aires Monsignor Federico Aneiros requested that the Passionists
take over the Irish chaplaincies, taking in the locations of Carmen de Areco, Salto, Rojas and other newly-founded towns towards
the province of Santa Fe.
highlights the missionary work that the Passionists undertook -
missions preached in towns, at gatherings in the camp, at
estancias and twice on the Falkland Islands - in 1910 and 1916.
The Province of the Immaculate Conception was canonically
erected in 1901. She notes the thirty-two Provincial Chapters
held between 1902 and 2002 and how the Congregation set down
its organisational framework and evangelisation strategy.
Confrontation with the Peronist government was almost
unavoidable, and some events are related with not a little
humour. There then occurred a challenge of a different nature; the implementation, commencing in 1962, of the reforms of the
Second Vatican Council (Vatican II). It was inevitable that there
would be further confrontation following the military coup in March 1976. Families of the
started to meet at Holy Cross from 1977. The religious
community was targeted when the church walls were daubed with
slogans such as Curas montoneros, Cueva de comunistas,
Santa Cruz, and arsenal del E.R.P. Fr Federico
Richards was the editor and director of The Southern Cross
in 1969-1988, with one year of absence in 1978. His editorials
were hard-hitting and caused disquiet among certain sections of
the hierarchy. Richards criticised the passivity of the
bishops. This was treading on dangerous ground. Cardinal Raúl
Primatesta was not amused and made known his displeasure.
Richards was unforgiving and by letter of 31 May 1977 penned a
(pp. 413-423) contain a series of boxes detailing the
chronology of principal events in the life of the Province and
the houses in Capitán Sarmiento, Santa Cruz, Salto, La Calera,
Colonia Caroya, San Gabriel, Montevideo, Vicente Casares, San
Miguel, La Teja, and the continuing mission in Formosa that
in 1971, yet curiously there is no single unified list of the
Provincials. There are a few minor spelling and/or
typographical errors, such as non-adherence to the convention of denoting
membership of a religious order or congregation in the upper case
- for example, 'Federico J. Soneira c.p.' instead of 'Federico J. Soneira C.P.' (page 8); The Standard newspaper is The
Standart (427); the title of E. Gellner’s book Nations
and Nationalism is noted as Nations and Natinalism,
while José María Ghio’s work The Argentine Catholic Church
from 1880 to 1945 is referred to as The Argentin
Catholic Church (430). These are minor peccadilloes, but
it is unfortunate that the quality of the forty-one photos is
poor. There is a plethora of fascinating footnotes, 703 in
total, but strangely no person and/or place index.
A book of
this kind is often written by somebody as an insider looking
out, as per the case of works by Vincent Laffan C.P. and the
celebrated Victor Carolan C.P. Susana Taurozzi writes
as an outsider looking in and her expose and scrutiny are
excellent. This is a genre of work which, although unlikely to
top the list of best-sellers and not an easy read, is
nonetheless an interesting book. Taurozzi has made a valuable
and scholarly contribution with this up-to-date history of the Passionist Congregation in Argentina.
- Devine, Pius. 'Adventures & Misadventures of a Jolly Beggar'
in Passionist Historical Archives 3:3 (Summer 1995).
Available online (http://cpprovince.org/archives/heritage/summer95/summer95-2-1.php),
accessed 1 August 2007.
- Silvestrelli, Bernardo to Martin Byrne (Rome), 14 May 1880,
letter. Manuscript in the Holy Cross archive, Buenos Aires.
I consider Edward Walsh's
evaluation very positive and I appreciate his comments.
Perhaps it is difficult with such an extensive work to
summarise the central points in a few lines. Edward Walsh
focuses on aspects linked to the origins of the order and the
relationship of the Congregation with the political
development of the country. The book presents other possible
readings in relation to the construction of a model of the
Church and to the connection that developed between the
religious and the lay people, which should not be
under-estimated. I am immensely grateful for the consideration
and kindness which he had towards my book and towards my