(Stained Glass Window, Holy Cross, Ardoyne, Belfast)
Father Anthony O’Leary c.p. has sent me a link for an online text of Father Pius Devine’s Life of Saint Paul of the Cross, first published in 1867, the year of Saint Paul’s canonisation. I first read this book when I was a novice and remember it well. Father Pius was only five years ordained when he wrote what I believe was the first biography of Saint Paul of the Cross to be written in English, rather than translated from an Italian original – although I don’t know if he thought it in English or not as his native language was Irish and he had learned Latin and Greek before he could speak English, which was, therefore, his fourth language. As well as telling the life story of the new saint, Pius makes some interesting digressions of his own; here is one of my favourites:
In the summer of 1737 our first brethren took possession of the first Retreat of our Order. This was a great boon, when we recollect the way in which they were lodged in the old hermitage. A life such as they led is hard enough, without having its hardships aggravated by every species of privation. In the Retreat of the Presentation (so it was called) their life took a regular monastic shape, and that was a great matter. It is only those who have lived in old secular houses which have been knocked about and put into a sort of shape for religious, that can understand the immense difference between them and houses built for the purpose. In the one case every thing is askew. The refectory is where the chapel ought to be, and the kitchen might do perhaps for a sacristy. The choir is out of proportion, and the cells are irregular both in shape and position. There must be always some half-a-dozen things which look as if they had lost their vocation ; and that is only natural, since a house built for one purpose can never be fit for another so different from it as a religious life is from the purely secular. There is an ease and a harmony about a properly-built monastery the very air of the place makes one feel he is not in the world, and its arrangement seems as if it were intended to reproach one for breach of discipline by its very regularity.
You can find the full text of the book here. The download is quite slow but, in spite of that, I hope you enjoy it.