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Sigrid Undset


The Venerable
Karl M. Schilling, C.R.S.P.

Preface ........... _.. _.............•..... 4
Romae. 17-VII-1967
Amalus Petrus Frutaz. Subsecrelarius Introduction .. , ............ _.............. 6
S.R.C. pro Causls Sanctorum A Handsome Young Norwegian ........... 8
IMPRIMATUR Falling in Love? ... , .. , .................. 12
Rt. Rev . Giovanni M . Bernasconi The Return of the " Prodigal Son" ........ 14
Superior General of the Barnabites A Different Love ......................... 17
Rome. October 11 , 1967
The Barnabite Fathers in Norway ......... 20
Farewell ................................. 23
A Series of Difficulties ..... . ... . .. . ...... 26
The Priesthood ....... , .... . ............. 28
In Exi le ............. . ..... . ... . .. . .. . ... 32
"Le Bon Pere" .. , . , ............. . .. , ..... 35
The Holy Man of Mouscron .. . ....... . ... 37
Prayer and Penance ..................... 40
Charity ...... , ........................... 42
The End .................. . . • .. •........ 45
Bibliographical Note ....... . ............. 47
Prayer ........... • .. , ..... . . •. • •. . ...... 48
North American Edition and Publication by The Barnabite Fathers ............ . ...... 49
Youngstown. New York 14174
July 1 976

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The Nobel Prize proclaimed her famous as a
productive writer, and as a religious personaHty.
With magnanimous gesture, she donated the entire
Preface amount of the prize to three charitable institutions,
and she set on the altar of the Blessed Vi rgin, in a
Church of Oslo, the symbolic laurel received on that
occasion .
Sigrid Undset (1882-1949) is one of the greatest During the last world war. Undset went through
Scandinavian writers of the modern time; in 1928. heartbreaking events and family sorrows and she
she won the Nobel Prize for literature . had to abandon her country. From the United States,
Daughter of an archeologist, and artistically she inspired the Norwegian resistance with articles
talented , she studied with enthusiasm the history and speeches, and in 1947 , she was awarded the
and the anc ient customs of Northern Europe . She Great Cross o f St. Olav "because of eminent literary
was the author of autobiographic novels ("Jenny", activity and exceptional services to her country".
1911): she skillfully wrote com positions inspired by On June 10, 1949 Sigrid Undset, exhausted by
the medieval Catholic Norway, as the masterpiece the sufferings that always accompanied her
"Kristin Lavransdatter", 1920-22, and "Olav existence, died of a brain tumor.
Andunsson", 1925-27. a best seller.
On April 29. 1967 , during an audience g iven by
In 1912, Undset married A . Svarstad, a painter, the Pope to His Majesty Olav V, King of Norway, Paul
and in 1925 , she left him, search ing in Catholicism a VI with admiration commemorated "the great
certainty and a reason for life. She then devoted novelist Sigrid Undset, whose writings surpassed
herself exclusively to the education of her four the frontiers of her coun try for a worldw ide
children and to her art . recognition and for an enrichment of the human
After a few trips to Italy , where she had a chance cultu ra l patrimony".
to approach truth and the beauty of her dreams, in The following pages on the Venerable Karl
1926 at Montecassino she converted to Catholicism. Schilling are taken from the eighth chapter of
Since then, her literary production was inspi red by a Undset's "Saga of Saints",
vivid Catholic concept ion o f the world and it I am grateful to the Very Reverend Umberto M .
included many controversial themes, modern Fasola , Postulator General of the Barnabite Fathers
novels. instructive books, and personal thoughts, for his assistance in preparing the present edition .
that made her internationally known.

Milan, September 1967


At the beginning of the eighth chapteraf "Saga

of Saints", Sigrid Undset briefly delineates the
historic events that caused the flo urishing of
coun try : groups of people "so innocent" that they
Lutheranism in the Scandi navian co untries (1537) .
did not even know that a religious revolution had
After a description of the economic, pOlitical taken place; and the "Jesuit scares" which affected
and social condit ions of No rway during the XVI the general pub lic in such a way that people began
century . the aut hor affirms that the "Church had to conceive the Catholic Church as something
become fettered to the State" through secularization terrible and terrifying .
and the confiscation of her estates. With extreme
The process of "protestantizing" could be
abi lity. the writer describes the events of that epoch
considered accomplished with the peace treaty of
and with reference to historical documents, she
Westfalia (1648) ; in fact, after that treaty the
vividly recounts moving episodes of Catholic faith,
conve rsions to Cathol icism we re extremely rare.
which survived among persecutions; she narrates
those incidents full of evangelical piety and charity Howev er , in the 1700's, a phe nomenon called
in which the " poor people" were the protagonists "pietism " aroused in many a deep feeling of God ,
and she describes those heroic moments in which genera t ing various rel igious sects in opposition to
the pastors of souls lost their lives. On the other the State Church, which by that time was a mere
hand , Undset does not igno re the errors and the formalism and without any authentic spirituality .
defections of those who advantageously abandoned Almost as a reaction "people became earnestly
their beliefs for the Reformation . Protestant" and "fopery" became for them a name
of terror.
Undoubtedly that was a tragic and dramatic
period full of serious consequences: provocations " Against this backg round ", Undset wr ites,
on one side and rebellions on the other; churches "s tand s the personality of Karl Schilling".
falling in to despair; suspicious conflicts among
Catho lics , faithful to and sym pathizers with the old
religion ; underground groups spreadi ng allover the

and the young people in the house, especially in
regards to their religious feelings. Actually , there
was a great deal in t he Catholic religion which he
respected ; and he was not ungratefu l for the
A Handsome sympathy which he had received from the Eilels and
Young Norwegian from so many pleasant German people in the
c harm ing town where he himself was known as the
"handsome young Norwegian " .
It was w ith a superior smile that a tal l and good
looking Norw egian stood watch in g the procession The old people did not say very much when
which moved slowly through the streets of Schilling came home, but one of the young
Dusseldorf on the day of Corpus Christi in 1654. daughters of the house explained to him both
courageously and tactfully Whom he had
The lights , the canopies, the priest who carried dishonored. Schilling apologized .
the Host , clothed in gold-embroidered silk
garments - it was, of course, very picturesque, and He was nineteen years old , a good natured
young Schitling had come to Dusse ldorf to paint. young man , well educated religiously. and therefore
But when the crowd fell on their knees and the men the affair made a stro ng impression on him . Karl
took off the ir hats, Schilling could not but smi le from Schilling and one of Eite l's sons, who w ished to
where he stood, so straigh t and tall with his big black become a priest , were of the same age and good
artist's hat, planted firmly on his long, fair. waving friends . Schilling had , of course, learned long before
hair. The next moment the men around him had that much of what was general belief in Norway
risen and his hat received a blow which sent it right regarding Cathol ic priests was nonsense. However,
across the street. Schilling was embarrassed and a now he began to ask William Eitel about his religion .
little self-conscious when he went home to his William would not say a great deal , but he suggested
quarters. The Eitels with whom he lived were that Karl should attend Mass with him in the
extremely devout Catholics, and good people whose mornings so that it might become easier to explain
opinion he valued very m uch . matters.

He realized now that as a resu lt of his early Karl Sch illing's father was a cavalry officer and
religious education. he had been more uncivil than his children had been brought up to fear and honor
he had meant to be when he stood gaz ing at the God, to go to church o n Sundays and to live in an
procession, and he certain ly did not wish to upright manner. Also they had been taught to be
embarrass the old sausage-maker, and his kind w ife , honest and fair-minded . However, they worshiped
God, as it were, at a distance. The conception of the

8 9
actual presence of Our Lord in the Blessed
Sacra ment of the Altar sent a thrill through the
Norwegian young man . How wonderfu l it would be if
this were ac tua ll y possi ble, and If so, how could
people ever honor and thank God enough for the
wonder of such love! Hestill could not believe such a
thing. It was altogether too good to be true. It was as
if Karl Schilling felt a trembling ant ic ipation of t he
burning love o f Christ in the Blessed Sacrament,
which was laterto fill his life. It was after Witliam Eite l
had expla ined all about th e Sacrament of Penan ce
that he definitely declared that hewished to bec ome
a Catholic. William rest rained him. The th ing could
not be done so quickly as he must receive
instruction: however, on the seco nd Sunday after
the famous procession day, on the feast of the fiord. 01 No. way, a "harlCI,.I.II" of the no.lhem counlflu.
Precious Blo od, Karl Sch illing drew his f riend with
him into one at the chu rches of the town and there
he vowed solemn ly, "I will become a Catholic".
Two weeks laler, he went to a priest and begged
him for instruction. The priest was cautious, but
Schi ll ing swept aside enqu iries as to whether his
parents would agree, and whether he could go back
to Norway if he had become a Cath olic. He was
convinced that the Catholic Church was the right
church, and he wished to become a Catholic .
He began his instruction and Frau Eitel, die gute
Mutter Eitel , did what she could. She went to the
convent o f the Holy Cross Sisters and comm itted the
wellbeing of the young Norwegian both here and in
eterni ty, to the Reverend Mother, Sister Emily,
whose canonization is now in the preparatory

Through Sister Emily , Schilling joined a club of
Fallin g in Love? Catholic painters in Dusseldorf. William Schadow,
the director of the Academy. was himself a convert.
Schilling's countrymen living in Dusseldorf, Around him was a little band of friends , Achenbach ,
who were also studying art, were thunderstruck until Ernst Deger, the Muller brothers, Jansen from
they found a natural explanation for Karl's Antwerp, and several others. Each morning they
extraordinary conduct. He was, of course, in love went to Ho ly Mass; they never began their work
with one of the charm ing young Eitel girls, and she wi thout prayer and all they did was dedicated to the
would not marry him unless he became a Catho lic. honor of God . In 1849, they had formed a local
One of his fe llow studen ts , the most talented of them branch 01 the Society of S1. Vincent de Paul. and it
all, Olaf [sachsen, was also very much interested in was through this work that they became the friends
Catholicism . When his mother heard of this, she 01 Sister Emily . Schilling was welcomed into their
wrote to him at once and told him that he must flee club and he em braced the new life with zeal and
from this temptation immediately. and forbade him happiness.
to go to Catholic churches with Karl Schilling. His reception into the Catholic Church took
Captain Schilling wrote a long letter to his so n. place on the 11 of November, 1854, and on the
He was naturally far froflll pleased, but he desired same day he received Our Lord for the first time in
nothing but his son's happiness. If it were definitely the Sacrament of the Altar. From the church , the
his conviction , he would not hinder him from young man went for a long walk in the country. So
becoming a Catholic. With regard to the economic full of joy was he that he danced and sang aloud as
side of the question, he had given his bankers orders he went along the roads. It was un believable that
that Karl was to be allowed any money he needed. anyone cou ld be so happy .
The way was clear. The last o f the inhibitions of his
Now he could begin to live in earnest. He wou ld
childhood, the fear of the convent. had disappeared
try to do all that God wished him to do, to give Him
when he made his acquaintance with Sister Emi ly o f
his soul, his heart, his work, his thoughts, and do all
the Cross. Her untiring work among the sick and the
the good he could for his fellowmen. He longed to
poor, her burning love lor souls, her mystical life receive all th at God offered him in His Church ;
with he r Savior, made a very deep impression on the ind efatigably hewen! to Massand to the Sacraments
young man from Norway , Unti l his death, Ka rl and took part in all the devotions and religious
Schilling could say 01 Sister Emily , "she has he lped exercises in which the good folks of Dusseldorf
me more than anyone else in this world", delighted. The worthy Catholic Rhinelanders were
exceedingly edified and touched by the young

Norwegian artist, who only six months before had
insulted the Most Holy One, and who was now so
zealous in prayer. When the time came for the
Catholics of Dusseldorf to go on their yearly
pilgrimage to Our Lady of Kevelaer , the handsome
Norwegian. dressed in garbs of his national custom,
wa lked at the head of the SI. Vincentde Paul Society,
carrying its banner with the inscription , " His yoke is
easy , and His burden is light" which was certainly
the experience of t his twenty-year-old young man .

The Retu rn of
the" Prodigal Son"

His countrym en, on the other hand , were

sorrowfully concerned , and in Christiania the
reports of young Schilling's convers ion to Popery
and his relig ious practices caused very great
distress. Karl Sc hilling prayed for his family and his
friends , and for the wh ole of Norway that they might
all find the happiness that he had found. The letters
he wrote at th is time show that he was not quite
certain whether his family wished him to return. His
father wrote reassuringly ; he said that although he
found it difficult to understand his son 's action , and
to him it was a great sorrow , it would make no
difference in his affection . The fo llowing year, he
sent Karl's younger brother to fetch him home. The Caplaln GOlllieb Schilling. falhe. of OIl' Venerable.
yo uth stayed with Karl at the Eitels , and it did not
take him long to understand how it was that his

brother had become a Catholic . In the summer of
1855, they journeyed home together. Captain A Different Love
Schilling was as good as his word and received the
prodigal son with unaltered affection.
At that time in Christiania , the first Catholic During the following years, Schilling used to go
church since the Reformation was being built. The to Dusseldorf for the winter, but he spent his
Catholics had received permission to carry out their su mmer holidays in Norway. He painted a great deal ,
religious services in public , and a priest from but most of his pictures have been lost because he
Sirasbourg , M. Lichtte, had been given charge of the signed very few of them. There are only one ortwo of
litUe flock. Queen Josephine. the wife of King Oscar them in Norwegian museums. The paintings display
I. also helped them with her sympathy and strength , refined taste and deep sensitivity, but
generosity. rarely any strong original talent. Possibly it had
In 1856, the Church of SI. Olav in Christiania already dawned on Karl Sch illin g that God did not
was dedicated. Karl Schill ing had returned to his old intend him to be a painter. During his later visits to
master Ecke rsberg and painted with him regularly, Dusseldorf, he had become attached to the
and every morning on his way to the studio he youngest of the Eitel girls in a very intimate
attended Mass. friendship . They no doubt spoke of marriage , but
both of them seemed to have felt uncertain about it.
One day, as he came out of church, he met one They were both deeply religious, both zealously
of his artist friends. young Krogh-Tanning. They interested in charitable works and both of them
walked along together and began to talk about visited the sick and the poor. She cared for them in
Catholicism . Later on , Krogh-Tonning gave up his their homes and he gave her money forthis purpose,
painting and became a pastor and a doctor of but the bond between them was not the love which
theology. one of the most learned theologians of the desires to find its fulfillment in a home and home life.
northern State Church and much loved in his parish. One summer when Karl was in Norway, the young
In 1900, he became a Catholic and his conversion girl went to their jOint confessor - the same priest
caused in Norway a consternation similar to that of who had received Karl into the Church - and
Newman 's conversion in England . disclosed to him that she felt Karl was destined for

16 17
something other than to be her husband. The priest
concurred with her , and the young couple agreed to
drop the matter.
It seems that from then on Schilling gave up
more and more of his painting caree r. Prayer,
meditation, and a loving service to all mankind filled
his life unceasingly. His Norwegian family became
apprehensive when they realized that he had begun
to practice asceticism . His old nurse shed bitter
tears when she found out that Karl no longer cared
whether he lived comfortably .
In Norway , much happened In th ose years from
the Cathol ic viewpoint, although ot her people did
not pay much attention 10 these events. Christiania
was visited by a Norweg ia n-bo rn Catholic priest,
Father HolfeJdt-Houen. He stayed in the city for a
time before going to his home in Bergen. where he
founded a small parish . Pope Pius IX had instituted
the so-called North Pole Mission, a somewhat
fantastic undertaki ng with headquarters at Alten.
Finmarken , embracing not only Norway but districts
all round in the polar reg io n. A chapel was built in
Tromso as well as a church in Altagaard. However. it
soon became evident that these arrangements were
inadequate and in 1869, Norway was made an
Apostolic Prefecture.
Karl·Halfdan Schilling. the young paint er Ihat in Ge,many was
called .. the handsome Norweglln."

he had been accustomed to a country life, and he
was an excellent rider and sportsman. He therefore
The Barnabite Fathers went with his brother on all his long journeys, going
in Norway from one forest farm to another and visiting the
Lapps far up in the North.
He hunted reindeer and bears and painted
Father Holfeldt-Houen was not the only several large pictures. Hewas often obliged to ski for
Norwegian born Catholic priest. Another native of two or three days to get to Mass at the small chapels
Bergen, the young Paul Stub, was sen t to Genoa to in Alten and Tromso where the priests long
finish his business training. He received an remembered him with affection. In the ir parish
overwhelming impression of Catholicism from the wilderness, they had found in him at least one eager
devout Italian family with whom he lodged. It soul.
differed altogether from all that he had heard in his In 1864, Schilling was again in Christiania. At
own home town. He then converted to Catholicism this lime, he founded together with Father Stub the
and later he entered the Order of the Barnabite Christiania (later Os lo) branch of the Society of St.
Fathers. This meant exi le for Paul Stub. He worked Vincent de Paul whose first president he was.
for a number of years in northern Italy, where he was remaining so until he left Norway for good.
known as a devout priest and a good preacher. One
day, that for which he had always hoped, but which One day he had invited Father Tondini, one of
he had thought was scarcely possible in his lifetime, the Barnabites , up to his studio . He wished to show
came to pass - Catholic priests were again allowed him a picture which he was painting for the yearly
to work in Norway. So Father Stub came home, and o fficial art exhibition. The Italian criticized it rather
after some time St. Olav's Church was given to the sharply . He thought that the figures were lifeless and
Barnabites. As pastor, with the help of two Italian stiff . "Th is is not your vocation," said FatherTondini
finally . Karl Schilling said nothing.
pr iests, Father Stub took over the care of Catholics
throughout the whole of southern Norway. But at last one day he had the opportunity to talk
things over with Father Stub. The latter had asked
Having given up the idea of marriage, Schilling
him whether he did not intend to get married .
lived for the most part in Norway. His brother had
Schill ing answered "No" so violently that the priest
become a forester in Finmarken, and it was no doubt was surprised and said, "Are you then thinking of
according to his father's wish that he went up and becoming a religious?" "Yes, yes, a religious and
stayed with him for several months. From childhood, nothing else," was Karl's response .

20 21
It was not easy for the son to speak of this to his
father. His son's Catholicism had been a sorrow to
Captain Schilling but he had taken the matter with
kindness and simplic ity. It would have been another Farewell
and a greater sor row when he would hear that his
son was considering the religious life. It was with the
Father Stub's Superior was very willing to
greatest difficulty that Karl Schilling broke the news receive the postulant and in June of 1868, Karl
to his family.
Schilling went by boat to his novitiate.
His father had always been so generous; he had He had brought his easel and painting box with
always given him the opportunity of following his
him , and when the steamer was right out in the
inclination and of becoming a painter once he
Christiania fjord, he threw it all overboard.
thought that was his vocation. When Karl told his
family that he firmly believed God had given him a His itinerary was via Dusseldorf. His first visit in
religious vocation and emphasized that he had not that city was to S1. Lambert's Church where ,
been influenced by the priests, his father gave his fourteen yea~ before, he had been received into the
consent once again. His son must follow his Church . From there he went to the convent church
conscience even if it took him far away from home of the Sisters oflhe Cross . While he knelt before the
and fam ily. Tabernacle, one of Eitel 'ssonscame in and saw him .
Together they went to the house which for so many
Since Schilling believed that he was called to be years had been a second home to Karl. William. his
a priest, it was only natural for Father Stub to invite friend. was now a parish priest in a little village near
him to become a Barnabite. ThisOrd erhad entered by. and Karl Schilling went out to see him . With that
Norway and by join ing them, Schilling might later on visit he had said good-bye to all that he held most
have an opportunity of working in his own country.
dear in his whole life.
He recommended his penitent in the warmest way to
his Provincial in France, and while they were waiting He arrived at the 8arnabite monastery in Paris
for the decision, he began to instruct Schilling in on July 2 and a few weeks later he began his
Latin and French . novitiate at Aubigny-sur-Nere.
It was only human that the good Fathers would
be rather elated at receiving this postulant from a

22 23
foreign land vag ue ly known to the majority of them .
The tall, good-look ing foreigner, who had
renounced the Lutheran Church and who had given
up a brilliant career as an artist (for it was naturally
believed that Schill ing had been on the way to world-
wide fame as a painter) was considered a romantic
figure . This attitude is clearly shown in the letters


written at that time by his Superiors . Karl, himself,
had a very attractive personality everyone was
impressed by. The purity and kindness of hissoul by
his simplicity, by the se ri ousness of his devotion to I
obedience and work , and by his glowing devotion to
Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. " An angel, a true ~
angel," is the expression which we find again and
again in letters written by the French priests in
regard to the Norwegian novice. Dom Charles-Marie ~
Joseph (his new name) was himself radiantly happy. :E
He wrote to his father as often as he was permitted •
and he always tried to express to those at home how ~
happy he was , and how wonderfu l was this life of ~
prayer, obedience and work . If only they could
understand that now, for the first time , he was able to
return to them someth ing of the love they had shown
him! In fact, every day he could speak of them to his ~
Savior before the Tabernacle . Karen , his old nurse, .~
must be su re that he remembered her every single •
day. He asked his father to go and see Father Stub !
and sometimes to visi t the Catholic church. He let •
the captain know, as ta ctfully and carefully as he
could, his long ing that his father might become a

unable to work and even recreation became a
burden for him since he was obliged to speak
A Series of Difficu Ities He wrote to Father Stub to explain the matter,
and added: "In spite of everything, I have a feeling
that one day I shall be allowed to say Mass ", He
wrote this at a time when it seemed hopeless for him
The novitiate, however, was not without ) to continue in the novitiate, however, never had he
difficu lties for Dam Charles. The services, his himself felt the call to the consecrated life more
prayers and meditations , were all sources of great ) strongly. There were other reasons why he decided
happiness for him . but the amount of bodify work against returning home - he was afraid that his
req uired was not enough for the former hunter and friends in Christiania would take this as a
sportsman. The sedentary life and the corroboration of their judgment on the monastic life .
circumscribed su rroundings in which he was now He made novenas to St. Teresa and to 5t.
obl iged to move were precarious for his health. He Alphonsus de Liguori, and at last his Superior found
suffered from insomnia , fever and headaches. He a new doctor who did him much good. Little by little,
was thirty-four years old and it was difficult for him he recovered his health . They told him , however,
to learn the language; in fact, he never mastered that he could never seriously hope to become a
French well enough to be able to preach . Book priest, but they were quite willing to keep him in the
learning did not come easy to him . His training as a Order as an oblate. Schilling made no objection -
painter and a hunter, his life in the open air , had "God's will be done" - and on November 19, 1869,
trained his eye; now, however, he had to adapt Dam Charles took the vows to live in poverty ,
himself to an entirely different way of living and he j chastity and obedience "for three years" - "and for
had to learn from books and lectures . He put all his ever" he added in his heart.
energies into the work, with the result that he
became seriously ill. His Superior, Father Piantoni, ? In the meantime, he took each day as it came,
and fulfilled his duties scrupulously as sacristan and
was quite worried. He had written to Father Stut),
"Schilling is a very saintly novice and will certainly manual worker and teacher of German to the
become a priest" . But now it seemed as if he would novices.
be obliged to give up altogether. Charles was During the Franco-Prussian War, he was able ,
confined to his bed for long periods of time: he was more than once, to help the people in the little village

26 27
of Aubigny. He could speak German with the Father Stub wrote to Schilling regularly. He was
invading troops and he induced them on several in Bergen now at S1. Paul's Church; he rejoiced at
occasions to forego their unreasonable demands. the thought that he would soon be joined by a
His health was good on the whole, but as time Norwegian priest to help him. He expected that great
went by he could not but suffer from the thought that things would happen - especially in the schools
the th ree years were almost up. What would happen among the children.
to him then? Would they allow himtobeordained? On December 20, 1873, Charles was to be
ordained sub-deacon at Bourges. On the morning of
the 19 , he rose at four o'clock, received
Communion in the chapel and set off. He had to walk
The Priesthood a few kilometers over desolate country and through
a little woods before he met the mail-coach. The
district was asleep, sunk in snow and darkness, and
bitterly cold. Dom Charles, full of joy and
thankfulness at the thought of the life which , God
His Superior took the matter in hand and on willing, laid before him, walked swiftly along.
December 18, 1872, Schilling took his final vows. He Suddenly he became aware of a dark shape
was naturally overjoyed and seemed to have no fOllowing him, half behind and half beside him ,
further wish on earth . A couple of months later came hiding itself among the trees. Instincts almost
a letter from the Superior General of the Order fo rgotten rose up in Schilling's mind, and he turned
saying that Schilling was to take up his studies quickly, advancing with bent knees towards the
again. so that later on he might be ordained. wolf. The creature turned and fled. When he finally
reached the stopping place, there was no sign of the
The French language was still a great difficulty coach. He waited patiently, whispering to himself as
for him, but he had learned to leave everything in a prayer, "Volo, volo ordinari" ("I want, I want to be
God's hands and therefore he did not worrywhether
ordained"). At last, he was certain that the coach had
he would be able to carryon his studies. He had been held up on account of the weather. Eventually.
given up evelYthing he had owned in this world and
he walked back to the nearest coaching station
he devoted himself to the consecrated life. This
where he found the coach and managed to persuade
caused him a velY great happiness. Finally, without
the driver to take him to his destination ; at last, many
difficulty he passed the different exami nations and
hours later, he arrived at Bourges in the evening.
received minor orders.

He wrote to the Eitels, to Father Stub and to hi describe to them the wilderness and the open space
home . He longed and rejoiced at the thought tha of Finmarken, t he northern light over the snow
one day he would be allowed to turn his step, fields, and the extraordinary customs of the Lapps.
ho meward as an ordained priest in the Order afthe Or he wou ld tell them about the fjords, and the forest
Barnabiles. so as to work with Father Stub in hi ' regions in the south of the country , the bear and seal
homeland . hunting. Sometimes he expressed himself rather
comically, but it was always obvious to his listeners
On December 18. 1875, he was ordained a pries that he had looked at everything with the eye of an
in Bou rges . The following day he celebrated his firs
Holy Mass at home in the monastery.
One night in March 1876, a fire broke out in the
"He is a mode l priest," wrote his Su perior. The' monastery church. The flames had reached the
made h im sacristan and novice· master and allow choir and one of the Fathers rushed up to the allar
him to look after the sick , and undertake th,
and rescued the Blessed Sacrament. It looked
religious instruction of the lay brothers . Fathe hopeless to save the altar furnishings or to reach the
Schilling seemed to be overjoyed at every task whic sacristy where the vestments were kept, but Father
was given him . He would strive fo r perfection . A Schilling, after he had begged a blessing from his
home, he had been taught that it was presumptuou Superior, rushed into the choir, going in and out
to dream of reaching perfection . But O ur Lord ha between the burning rafters which fell around him ,
said, "Be perfect" . It must therefore be a possibl and carried out load after load in his long arms, until
goal to be attained w ith H is h elp . There were als all the objects of value belonging to the church had
indulgences , about which at ho me in Norway t he' been brought to safety.
had such a wro ng conception . Father Schil lin
co llected indulgences - prayed ali the prayers an A few years passed and Father Schilling had
carried out all the devotions to which indulgence heard nothing of being sent back to Norway; he
were attached . But he explained to one o f hi himself never asked for it. " It looks as though they're
confreres with his cha rming and restrained smile go ing to keep me here, and I will stay here if God
tha t all the indu lgences he gained he gave to th wishes so. It is He Who decides the matter through
Mother of God, so that she migh t distribute the our Father General. I am quite happy here; I study
where they were most needed. and I work. I am useful and make progress in the life
of the Order," he wrote to Fathe r Stub.
He never spoke of his own earlier life. However
during recreation his novices would sometime Then came the blow of March 29, 1880, when all
induce him to tell them about Norway, and hewoul religious orders and congregations who had not
received special authority were banished from

30 31
France. In the autu mn of the same year , the
His ru dimental. awkwa rd Italian gave to the tall ,
Barnabites were o bl iged to leave A ubigny . O n
stately priest, who was now becomi ng gray-haired , a
Septem ber 5. in the mo rni ng , the Fathers said
mark of almost ch ildlike innocence.
Mass for the last ti me in their little c hu rch. It w as full
of weeping and embittered peop le from Aub ig ny In Monza , it was not possi ble forall the priests to
and th e surro undi ngs . In th e evening . the police celebrate daily Mass. If it happened that the priest
ca me to bar the church and to escort the Fathers who was appo inted to say Mass was incapacitated,
th ro ugh th e crowds of peo ple who shouted , "Long Fathe r Schilling. who otherwise never expressed a
live Ih e Fathers, long live reli gion, long live w ish for himself. alw ays begged . "Oh . Father, allow
freedom" . me, I would like so much to say Mass."

The next day the little comm unity was scattered Little by little, the foreign priest , who neve r
to the winds. Father Schilling an d a nov ice from the preached because he spoke such poor Italian,
Tyrol went to Turin . became a well-k nown figure in the neig hborhood .
When he met another priest he always knelt down
Still he hea rd no word about Norway .
and asked his blessing . One day when a monk from
one of the out lying monasteries came to give a
Lente n address to the brothers, he met Schilling in
In Ex ile o ne of the corridors of the monastery , and the two
priests knelt simultaneously so that it was the m ost
natural thing in the world for each to give the other
his blessing .
T he Barnabites had a novil iate in Monza and
Falhe r Schilling was sent there . As soon as he had His father d ied in 1886, a good Protestant , as he
learned a little Italian , he was made a vice-m aster of had lived . Father Schill ing had now given up all hope
novices . As time went by . year alter year. we hear of of retu rn ing to Norway. The Barnabites ' mission in
him from his confreres i n the Order who always say No rway was at th is time experiencing great
the same thing until it becomes almost monotonous: diffic ulties, but Father Schi lling continued to hope
"Fa the r Sch illing is an example in all he does: in the that eventually these might be overcome . He tried to
love fo r Our Lord, in c hild li ke devot ion to t he Mot her interest the novices in his country, and began to
of God. in t rust in the saints. in compassio n fo r souls,
both living and dead. He is a ve ry saintly pri est. He instruct one or two of them in the Norwegian
neve r tires. he is modest and humble, and his lang uage. He had composed a prayer for the return
obedience is most edifying ." of Norway to the Catholic faith , and received the

32 33
permiSSion of Pope Leo XII I to have it printed,
together with 300 days indulgence for those who "Le Bon Pere"
said it. It is to be found to this day in the
Scandinavian prayerbooks:
"Good Jesus, I humbly fall at Your feet and pray
You by Your Holy Wounds and by the Precious Ever since the novitiate at Aubigny had been
Blood which You have shed for the who le world , to c losed, the Barnabites of the French province had
look in mercy on the Scandinavian peoples . Led been seeking a new home. They found Mouscron
astray hundreds of years ago, they are now quite close to the French border - an ancient village
separated from Your Church and denied the on the fertile Flemish plain , which had developed
inestimable benefit of the Sacrament of Your Body into a manufacturing town . It was a poor town and
and Blood, and also, the many other means of grace from the religious point of view, the inhabitants were
which You have instituted for the consolation of the neg lected . A couple of old parish churches , one or
faithful in life and in death. two convents and whatever else was found for
Remember, 0 Sav ior of the world, that for these religious instruction, were quite insufficient now
souls also You have shed Your Precious Blood and that the village had become a kind of industrial
have endured untold sufferings. center.
Good Shepherd, lead these You r sheep back to
the wholesome pastures of Your Church, so that The Barnabites were able to buy a piece of
they may be one flock together with us under Your property and to make it liveable and they regrouped
Vicar here on earth - the Bishop of Rome, who in as many as possible those Fathers who had been
the person of the H oly Apostle Peter was expelled from Bourges. Father Schilling arrived in
commissioned by You to care both forthe lambs and Mouscron in 1887 .
for the sheep. He found new and difficult tasks awaiting him.
Hear, 0 merciful Jesus, these our petitions , The villag e, for many centuries, had had a nucleus of
which we make to You with full trust in the love of old and faithful Catholic families. The farmers in the
Your Sacred Heart towards us, and to Your Holy neighborhood were on the whole very devout, but
Name be glory, honor, and praise for all eternity." they were superstitious and poorly instructed in the
Seven years went by, then Father Schi lling faith . The rest of the migrant population had in the
received orders to break camp again , and to go to majority of cases sprung from Catholic homes.
Belgium - to Mouscron.

Many were opposed to religion, but many of them he said showed such a marvelous love of God and
had preserved from their childhood Catholic such a tenderness towards all mankind . The
customs and teachings often oddly unorthodox. simplest things he said , the most ordinary counsel
Father SchWing faced everything with a which he gave became somethi ng new - " Many had
boundless generosity. He came from the pure and already told me this , but when Father Schi lli ng
happy surroundings of the novitiate in Monza. For spoke of it I understood what it meant." Through
him, all these people, howeve r gravely they had contact with him, many people received their first
sinned. were poor sinners, who "knew not what they insig ht into the real wonders of holiness - they saw
had done". He could never think that anyone could it alive in him .
sin from 111 will . He was certain that all wished to act
rightly, and he explained their wrongdoings as
caused by ignorance or human frailty ,
The Ho ly Man
As he believed , so it came to pass. The
Norwegian Fatherwho spoke such very poor French of Mouscron
found his confessiona l crowded from early
morning - as soon as he had sai d Mass - with
people who wanted his advice and help. All day long Father Sch ill ing was chosen as confessor for
the bell of his confessional was ringing. There was several convents. a coup le of hospitals. and
always someone wh o sought him . It might happen boarding schools. Many of the priests from the town
that a single penitent would keep him for a whole and from the neighborhood , as well as many from
hour. Others came several times a day before they the other side of the French border. wished to
were able to see him . to tell him their needs and their confess to him. Hewas known among the people as
difficulties and to obtain his counsel. Father the "ho ly man of Mouscron" - "the tall saint" .
Sch illing 's patiencewas quite inexhaustib le ; Heaven People sought him out to talk to him: t hey stopped
rejoiced more over eac h sinner who was comforted , him on the streets. Many came to him w ith the most
over each laborer who came at the eleventh hour, extraord inary requests; they wanted him to foretell
over each lost sheep who was found again than over the future , or to remove the cu rse that "witches and
the ninety-n ine who had never gone astray. wicked people had pu t upon them." to bri ng them
Innumerable pen itents testified that when "Ie luck in business t ransactions , cure illnesses by the
bon pere " spoke about our Savior. it was impossible laying-on of hands, restore peace in unhappy
to remain cold and indifferent. because every word homes. Father Schilling looked upon it all quite

36 37
simply, saying that the poor folk had not been
properly instructed regarding the priestly power -
they had conceptions which were certain ly
superstitious. He helped everyone as best he
could - they had to prepare themselves really well
to receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and
tell Him all about their sorrows and difficulties . He
himself would pray for them and remember them in
his Mass.
He aged very quick ly . The life in Belgium , the
mo rtifications which he practiced, his work which
increased from day to day , as he was sought more
and more even during the night, weakened his
power of resistance. His feet were sore, for he had
always taken the boots which we re given out to him
without a word as to whether they fitted him or not.
When he was ill , he said not a word to his Supe rio rs.
Mothers sent fo r him when their small children were
dying, and he watched and prayed beside the little
o nes until the peril was over, or the ch il d died. He
was often sent for when a fallen away Catholic was
near death 's door, and refused to see a pr iest. Then a
mother or wife in her anxiety would send for the
" No rwegian priest", Kneeling in a corner of the
rOQm , he prayed unceasingly, losing himself in
prayer, while the sick man's cries and curses were
directed towards him , In the end , the priest often
won - "Well , anyway , you might come over here
LUI pholO 01 the Karl Schil!ill9· and talk to me ," and Father Schilling would get up
and sit beside the sick man and begin to tell him
about " Ie bon Oieu" . There we re not many people

No matter how cold it was, he would not have
who co uld resist Father Schilling , once he had been any heat in his room . He accustomed himself to
allowed to ment io n th e name 01 God . sleep on bare boards which he hid under his sheet
and carried out as well all the mortifications which
He reaped hi s g reat reward whenever he was we re not actually forbidden him by his Superior . It
allowed to carry the Sacrament to any of the sic k. was all he could do for his fatherland - offering all
Somet imes, his Superior wis hed to send another that he had to God , praying to Him grac iously to
pr iest so th at Father Schilli ng cou ld rest , bu t he receive his offering.
always beg ged , "Let m e go, Father, it is to me suc h
wond rous g race w hen I am al lowed to ca rry my He had given up every idea of seeing Norway
Lo rd". again . An ordinary tawdry picture postcard from his
ho me wo uld bring tears to his eyes , but when his
Superior told him that he could go home for a visit ,
he only shook his head .
Father Stub had died in Bergen in 1892, and he
Prayer and Penance had been buried ' in SI. Paul's Church . The
Ba rnabites had given up their last house, and for
so me years only secular priests had worked in
Norway, which had become an apostolic vicariate
Any f ree time that he was ab le to hav e, he spe nt
under a titular bishop , the Most Rev. Msgr. Fallitze
in the choir. He not on ly prayed and meditated t here,
from Luxembourg .
but he studied and w rote lette rs. He used t o say that
everything was better done befo re t he Tabernacle. In 1895. he received a visit from fellow
He even made himsel f a kind of little office with countrymen. a school prinCipal , Sorensen. and a
books and everythin g he mig ht need in his cho ir friend of Dr. Krogh-Tanning . Both of these men
stall. At the end his Superio r had to ask hi m to carry were feeling their way towards the Church, but they
all his th ings bac k to his room forit wo uld have been were still uncertain. The first meeting between
quite ina ppropriate if all the Fathers w ould have Sorensen and Father Schilling was far from happy .
followed his example and set themselves up in t he The dialogue w ith the Norwegian pedagogue
choi r. Fath er Schilling listened without saying a disturbed Father Schilling 's usually mild and gentle
w ord . He arranged, however, to spend every free disposition . He wanted Sorensen to become a
mo ment he had on his knees before the altar, and he Catholic immediately. and only managed to rouse
was particularly hap py when he could be qu ite alo ne the school principal's latent ill-feeling about
in th e chu rch .

fanatical monks . "When I meet a Lutheran
c lergyman from Norway," burstout Father Schilling , In the winter of 1902 to 1903. Mouscron was very
" I feel stirred in my innermost heart, for I think - you badly ravaged by an epidemic of small-pox . The
misled me when Iwasyoung , you have misled all my scourge claimed many victims . especially among
family, you have misled the whole Norwegian the child ren . Father Schilling worked untiringly day
nation ." He willingly acknowledged that the and night. obtaining help for the poverty-stricken
Protestant clergy did not mislead their people homes. watching over the sick and comforting those
knowingly or willfully, but the school principal was who were frightened or bewildered: and in a great
nevertheless very much upset by t he Father's many cases people said that it was Father's prayers
remarks regarding their fatherland and its state that brought their children back 10 life. People were
religion , However, they corresponded from t ime to whispering that God had answered his prayers in a
time , and when Sorensen finally became a Catholic miracu lous way . Mental cases had been cured when
in 1900, Father Schilling was one of the first towhom he had placed his hands on them, and it was quite
he wrote saying that he had decided to take the final useless for anyone to keep back sins from him in the
step . confessional. Many a t ime he knew all there was to
be known about a soul before a word had been
spo ken . One glance from his eyes was enough to
affect a hardened sinner. Those who came to him in
Charity distress and temptation received from him
wondrous help. And if he should at any time
condemn, not the sinne r, but the sinful action. his
words and his holy grief would affect the penitent
Sometimes during recreation , the other Fathers
would prevail on Father Schilling to speak to them most deeply. One day a working woman wished to
about Norway. Then he would forget himself in spea k to him . Sobbing. she told him that her little
describing the beauty of the summe r nights and the boy. her only child, had died . Father Schilling stood
thrills of hunting. "Oh , Father, that must be different still as if lost in his thought, then he said. "Do not
from Belgium , we have only these flat plains which grieve, the child is not dead , but he is sleeping.
we have saved from the sea , and the smoke of the Come. we wil l praylogether." They prayed . and then
factories." The old Father Schilling shook his white he said aga in . "Go home, your child is not dead."
head . "No, no , it is good here , and it is also quite The mother went home and found the child sleeping,
charming . God has made this land also and the alive and well. T his story is not included in the
climate - do not let us grumble about the climate dossier which has been forwarded for Father
it is as God wishes it to be." SChi lling 's beatification, for the child 's death was not
certified by a doctor, but the story is known in

The End
Mouscron . Father Sch illing him se lf did not care to
speak of the occurrence; he always repeated , "The
boy was not dead. God Himself told me so."
During the summer of 1906, it became clear to Three days later, when he came out of his
those near him that the end was not far off. One day confessional, he COllapsed and had to be helped to
on his way home from the death-bed of one of his his bed . He took his illness as a gift from God ; now he
penitents , he rang the bell of the house of one of his would have t ime to prepare himself before his Lord
friends . They were obliged to help him into the and Master called him to Himself . Then his strength
living room where he sat on the first chair - a returned to him little by little, in spite of the
rocking chai r - and gratefully took and emptied a harshness with which he had treated his body. He
glass of wine which they gave him . No one had ever never got up again , but from his sick bed he was able
seen him do such a thing - sit on a rocking chair
to carry on a great deal of his work. He received visits
and drink wine with his friends. from priests whose spiritual director he had been for
Troubled , his friends followed him home and many yea rs , and he wrote letters to his penitents and
saw him dragg ing himself towards the monastery old friends.
seeking support from the walls of the houses as he He lived through Christmas , but on Janua ry 3,
went along. 1907, in the afternoon , it was apparent that his end
was imminent. Some of his students from the
seminary of Mouscron were allowed to visit him. He
gave them his blessing and said with his kind smile ,
"You must become saints , great saints." He had
received the Last Sacraments , and shortly after the
young boys had gone , he sank rapidly. He held his
Rosary in his hand, and kissing the crucifix said , " My
Jesus . make me love You more and more." Those
we re the last words he ever spoke . After this he
breathed his last quite peacefully, and without a
struggle. Two days later, he was buried in the

44 45
monastery church, and the sick and the sorrowfu l,
the distressed and the poo r, who could no longer Bib liographical Note
seek h im as before, came to his grave with their
anxieties and troub les, sure that his love for them
and his desire to help were still as great as ever.
Later on, there were many who said that they
had rece ived supernatural blessings through the Albert Schmerber, Une Arne de Saint, Brussels
dead priest's intercession. 1907; Ita lian translation by L. Montevecchi-Almerici,
Rome 1910.
In 1924, the Barnab ites in Mouscron w rote to
Bishop Waffelaert asking that the process for Father Silvestre Declercq, Le reverend Pere Schilling
Schilling's beatification be opened . bamablte, (Un artiste norvegien convertl) , Brussels
1928; Italian translation by Salvatore De Ruggiero,
Since that time, a stream of witnesses of Rome 1931 .
supernatu ra l answers to prayer which have been
ascribed to the intercession of Father Schilling have S. Declercq - V. Colciago, La rinasc ita
been added to the dossier submitted to Rome. His caltollca In Norvegia nel secolo XIX (Mlssione del
g rave is constantly visited by pilgrims from Belgium Barnabltl nel Paesi scandivavi), eig ht installments in
and northern France. The Norwegian Catholics turn Paglne dl cultura (1934-1935), I BarnablU-studi
to Father Schilling in their prayers, begging him to (supplement 1936-1937), Eco dei Barnabiti-studi
hasten the "second spring " in Norway, so earnestly (supplement 1938-1939-1941).
desi red and hoped for.
Felice M . Sala , P. Carlo M. Schilling , artlsta
no rvegese convertito e bamabita, Torino 1951.
Un converti norvegien : Karl-Halfdan Schilling,
:s£::>i .. 8 S ,.. >< ><X
S.J., 1962.
Gabrie l Campo, Karl H. Schilling , Barcellona
1962 (span is h).

It is the edito r's understanding that all that has

been written in this publication has a mere human
significance and that he does not desire to forestall
the judgment of the Chu rch .

The Barnab ite Fath ers

o merciful and eternal God , Who on calling to THE BARNABITE FATHERS are Clerics
the True Faith Your Venerable Karl M . Schilling, Regular, that is, clerics doing any priestly work , but
have made him a model of Christian virtues and an living together under a special Rule, bound by
apostle of good, we supplicate You to deign to solemn vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
glorify him on earth by granting us the grace ... which
SAINT PAUL is the Patron Saint of the Order
we ardently implore , through the merits of Our Lord
fr o m whom the Barnabite religious inspire
Jesus Christ . Amen .
themselves in spreading the devotion to Christ
Crucified and to the Holy Eucharist.
THE ORDER WAS FOUNDED 400 years ago by
Saint Anthony M. Zaccaria (1502-1539), a learned
and charitable Doctor of Medicine. Believing that
souls were more in need than bodies, he became a
priest .
commonly called Barnabites from their first major
Church in Milan, Italy, which was dedicated to S1.

Th ose who rece ive favors through the intercession EVERY SIX YEARS, a General Assembly in
of the Venerable Karl M. Schilling , are kindly asked Rome elects the Superior General , his four
to communicate with : The Barnabite Fathers, ASSistants , the Provincial Superiors , and the
1023 Swan Road, Youngstown, New York 14174 Superiors of the local Communities.

Founder, every Barnabite adds to his name that of
THE BARNABITE ORDER cons ists of two
branches : the priests and th e brothers. The
Barnabites are in: Afghanistan, Argentina, Belgium ,
Braz il. Canada , Chile, France, Italy, Spain. the
United States, and Zaire .