Wizytatorzy klasztorów w Królestwie Polskim w latach 1864-1914
Visitors of monasteries in the Kingdom of Poland in 1864–1914
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After the dissolution of monasteries carried out in the Kingdom of Poland in 1864 the tsarist authorities established a new church office, unknown in canon law – visitor or inspector of monasteries. On behalf of bishops visitors were to carry out an annual inspection of monasteries (the bishops would do that only on exceptional occasions); acted as intermediaries in the transfer of money from the authorities to the monastics; maintained registers – updated every year – of monks and nuns in the various monasteries; presented candidates for superiors to the administrators of dioceses or put forward motions to dismiss the incumbent superiors; put forward other personnel motions, e.g. to translocate monks; gave their opinions on the monks’ requests in this respect, as well as opinions on the monks’ requests for temporary leave, enforced discipline in the monasteries, especially with regard to divine service; and usually also oversaw the annual jurisdiction exams taken by monastic priests. In addition, they could assist at monastic professions, though this was only a theoretical right, because after 1864 monastic professions were extremely rare. The visitors would submit more serious cases to diocesan bishops, dealing with minor matters – which included imposition of summary penalties – themselves by virtue of their own authority. Finally, they kept the bishops informed about everything going on the monasteries. Two visitors, Rev Józef Rzewuski in the Diocese of Kujawy and Kalisz, and Rev Józef Dynakowski in the Diocese of Płock, performed their function in a way suggesting that they supported the tsar’s anti-monastic laws. Others devotedly tried to take care of the monasteries that survived the dissolutions.
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