Report on the controversy around the Trinitarians in Barbary, [Rome]


Report on the controversy around the Trinitarians in Barbary, [Rome]




The Trinitarian procurator states that his order always has mantained hospitals in Algiers, founded at their own expense. From the Holy See they received privileges to find churches and administer the sacraments. They had been doing this for 16 years, when Gio Levacher [Jean Le Vacher] the vicar apostolic, wanted to change the title of the Church of the Holy Trinity to S. Louis; he also wanted to change the name of S. John of Malta to S. Roch. Because the priests protested against this, Le Vacher decided to remove the cross that was painted on the main altar, and the arms of the king of Spain on the door outside. Moreover, he also wanted to take the Holy sacrament from the churches. They ask PF not to harass the Trinitarian priests, and not to change their privileges because of the following problems: a) the hospitals are in the bagnos whose doors close at midnight, and it might be that during the night one of the patients needs the viaticum; b) the slaves want to confess and receive the eucharist, before going to the houses of their masters; c) there are 10,000 slaves, and in the chapel of the vicar there is only room for 12 people; d) during the day when the vicar is not at home the viaticum might be needed; and e) there could occur an incident with the sacrament, when bringing it from the house of the vicar, to the hospital. The Trinitarian Fathers base their priviliges on a breve from Clemens VIII of 31 August 1596, of Paul V of 8 February 1608 and on a confirmation of Pope [Innocens XII] of 27 June 1693. The first two popes gave the priests faculties for ten years. From Paul V onwards however they are without an extention, and not contain the privilege for celebrating mass twice a day. The breve of the pope gives the priests some faculties, but limits them by stating that they may not be contrary to the Holy canonics, and to the decrees of the council of Trento; according to the council, they should be submitted to the jurisdiction of the vicar apostolic. Moreover, when Clemens VIII and Paul V granted the faculties, they added a clause that shows that they did not want to undermine the ordinary authority. PF secretary adds that on 9 September 1652 they decided that Gio' Leuacher [Jean Le Vacher] could submit everyone (priests or captives) to his authority, with the faculty to punish them if necessary, in order to remove the abuses from the city of Tunis. [Philippe Le Vacher] then on 28 June 1660 reported the scandals commited by many priests (both slaves and free), pretending not to be submitted to his authority. That is why the vicar in Algiers, got the same faculties as those in Tunis. This was not yet enough to settle the conflict against the Trinitarians. On 28 February 1673 it was necessary to forbid the priests for some time (in particular one of the administrators Bartolomeo Da Serrano), to use the sacraments without the license of the vicar. Eventually Bartolomeo was recalled from Algiers. On 11 September 1679 the Trinitarians complained that first of all, the vicar apostolic [Jean Le Vacher] took their coat of arms from the hospital. Secondly, he forbade them to keep the Holy sacrament and thirdly, he forced them to accept heretic patients in the hospitals. For the first it was decided that the vicar should not do this again. For the third it was decided that the heretic patients should be kept apart from the Catholics. For the second PF wanted to know why the vicar decided to forbid this. PF forbade the Trinitarians, administrators, or any other priests of this order, to stay or exercise jurisdiction in that city without the permission of the vicar apostolic. On 3 February 1688 it was written to the Trinitarian superiors and the nuncio to Spain, that whilst the vicar had suspended some priests, the Father Antonio d'Espinosa (administrator of the hospital), had given the Trinitarians permission to celebrate mass in his chapel, and administer the sacraments. One of the priests was questioned about this, and said that he was free and not dependent on anyone. He said that the priests had their own privileges and could do whatever they wanted. The new vicar apostolic, D. Lorenzo, reported the same complaints against the Trinitariansto PF. The order however kept persisting in their independency from the vicar. The vicar consequently asked for a decree, ordering that the Trinitarians would be subjected to his authority despite their privileges. On 11 May [1644?] it was decided to renew this decree. After this, the Trinitarians sent letters to PF complaining about the new decree.
Additional comments
The document says that Jean Le Vacher brought the scandals to PF on 28 June 1660. There is no such document of his to be found. There is however (on this date), a discussion of complaints by Philippe Le Vacher (Jean's brother) see: APF ACTA 29, 157r, 162v-163r, issue 8 (database item 476).




APF SC Barbaria 1, 54r-58v


no date










Origin: [Rome]


[PF], “Report on the controversy around the Trinitarians in Barbary, [Rome],” Early Modern Documents: Sources and Resources for Historical Research, accessed December 18, 2018,

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