FERRARA (JESUIT PRIEST)
A retreat given at the Bendictine [sic] Convent Hammersmith for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 1852.
MANUSCRIPT NUMBER 190
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CITATION: Ferrara (Jesuit Priest) A retreat given at the Bendictine [sic] Convent Hammersmith for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, MSS 190, Archives and Manuscripts Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University.
The author of this text, Father Ferrara, identifies himself as belonging to the Society of Jesus, a religious order founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in the first half of the sixteenth century. Members of this order, also known as Jesuits, are missionary priests of the Roman Catholic Church.
The volume is approximately 100 pages long and contains the handwritten transcription of meditations given by Ferrara at the Hammersmith Convent for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This particular religious feast celebrates the Catholic belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was preserved, by the grace of God, from the stain of original sin. Perhaps what is most interesting about this particular document is its date, 1852, since the notion of the Immaculate Conception was not officially recognized by the pope until 1854. Previously, the feast had been entitled simply the Feast of the Conception of Mary, and no mention was made of her sinlessness. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, "before 1854 the term 'Immaculata Conceptio' is nowhere found in the liturgical books, except in the invitatorium of the Votive Office of the Conception." The fact that this manuscript was thus entitled in 1852-two years before the pope's declaration of the Immaculate Conception-is, accordingly, rather unexpected.
As the title of the volume indicates, the retreat was given at a Benedictine convent-the Benedictine Order being a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church, marked by its adherence to the Rule of St. Benedict. Since Ferrara addresses his listeners as "sisters," the convent at Hammersmith was probably restricted to Benedictine nuns, though there were and are monks in the Benedictine Order.
The volume also bears a bookplate with the inscription "Ex Libris Monasterii,
Sanctæ Scholasticæ. O. S. B. Teignmouth," with
the "O. S. B." presumably indicating the Order of St. Benedict since Teignmouth
was also a Benedictine monastery.