December 13th 1942 - Ledóchowski Vladimir Dionysius
† in Rome
He came from Loosdorf near St. Pölten in Lower Austria. There he was born on October 7th 1866. To the family belonged nine children; two of them became nuns and were beatified. The father, Count Anton, came of the Polish high aristocracy, his mother, Countess Josephine, of a Swiss noble family. The family Ledóchowski returned in 1883 to Poland and settled on its landed property in the proximity of Kracow.
Vladimir began his education in St Pölten and continued it at the High School 'Theresianum' in Vienna. For law studies he went to the university in Kracow. After the death of his father he switched to theology and became seminarist in the seminary in Tarnów. After two years he was sent to the Germanicum to Rome. He studied philosophy at the Gregoriana and finished the study with the doctorate. After his return to his homeland he entered on September 24th 1889 the Society of Jesus. During his theological studies in Kracow he was ordained priest on June 10th 1894. After his tertianship in Tarnopol (in today's Ukraine) and an editorial task, he was appointed superior of the writer house in Kracow, and in 1900 rector of the Jesuit College. There followed his appointment as vice-Provincial of the Galicia Province and one year later as Provincial (1902-1906).
During the 25th General Congregation in 1906 he was elected as Assistant of the German Assistency. From Rome he undertook many journeys through the countries of the Assistency, to learn know the houses and the works. The 26th General Congregation in 1915 elected him on February 11th in the second ballot as General. Because of the war turmoil he went as Austrian citizen in May 1915 to Switzerland and settled in Zizers near Chur, where he called his Assistants. They remained there up to the end of 1918.
His main concern as General was the education of the rising generation. He accomplished a study reform. In 1918 he established at the Gregoriana a chair for ascetic and mystic theology, 1932 the faculties for church history and mission science. The magazine 'Gregorianum' was created, and a printing shop established. The new building of the Gregoriana followed. In 1928 the Biblicum and the Orientale were attached to the university. In 1929 the Russicum was entrusted to the Society of Jesus.
Ledóchowski cared also for the adjustment of the particular law to the general church law. The Epitome Instituti, his classical work, was accepted by the 27th General Congregation in 1923.
The General was very anxious about the mission activity of the Order, particularly in Japan. The number of mission areas rocketed from 8 in the year 1915 to more than 100.
In 1930 he founded the Historical Institute in Rome, where he had shifted from Madrid the collection of the 'Monumenta'. For the Curia he established a new building, which in 1927 was inaugurated in the Borgo Santo Spirito. Many of his circulars have ascetic topics. The retreat movement and the Sodalities of Our Lady received a fresh impetus.
During his Generalate fifty beatifications and canonizations came to a close, e.g. Petrus Canisius, Robert Bellarmin, Andreas Bobola, the Canadian and English martyrs, Claude de la Colombière, Ogilvie, Pignatelli and many others.
Father Inglot writes about Father Ledóchowski: 'His certainly outstanding work shows his unusual intellectual and organizational abilities, his strong character, his authority in acting, and the determination of his decisions. And all this in a weedy body. He was from small stature, from tender constitution and limped.'
He enjoyed the full confidence of Pope Pius XI and also the best relations to Benedict XV and Pius XII.
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