Anselm Eckart (1721-1809)

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Missionary, born at Bingen, Germany, 4 August, 1721; died at the College of Polstok, Polish Russia, 29 June, 1809. Entering the Society of Jesus at nineteen, he was sent as a missionary to Brazil. Two years after his arrival in that country, he and his brethren were seized like felons and carried to Portugal, where they languished in prison till death released them or till the king, in whose name it was all done, was summoned by his own Judge. Father Eckart was confined for eighteen years in the underground dungeons of Almeida and St. Julian. He wrote the story of his own sufferings and those of his companions in prison. Upon the death of Joseph I of Portugal in 1777, Pombal fell into disgrace, and those of his victims who survived were released from their loathsome dungeons. The Society of Jesus, which had been suppressed four years earlier by the Brief of Clement XIV, had continued to exist in Russia. Father Eckart applied for readmission, and for thirty-two years following had the consolation of wearing the habit of the proscribed order. After filling the office of master of novices at Dünaburg, he was sent to the College of Polstok, where this venerable confessor of Jesus Christ, the last survivor, perhaps, of the cruelties of Pombal, preserved in extreme old age the same vigour of soul which had sustained him in the missions and in captivity. He died full of days and merits in the eighty-eighth year of his age and the sixty-ninth after his admission to the Society. [Spillane, Edward. "Anselm Eckart." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909]

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