Franciscan historian and Scotist scholar; b. Water-ford, Oct. 16, 1588; d. Rome, Nov. 18, 1657. Wadding, from a family profoundly Catholic and prolific in vocations, in 1603 entered the Irish College, Lisbon, and in 1604 became a Franciscan at Matozinhos. After studying philosophy at Leiria and theology in Lisbon and at Coimbra University, he was ordained at Vizeu, Portugal (1613). He then studied theology at Salamanca. In 1618 he went to Rome as theologian on the special Spanish mission requesting the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception. Its work has been recorded in his Legatio
Philippi 111 et IV. In 1625 Wadding took over the new friary of St. Isidore, Rome, which he developed into a college for Irish Franciscans. The establishment of the Ludovisian College for Irish secular clerics came in 1627. A novitiate for Irish Franciscans was founded by him at Capranica in 1656. He served as consultor at the Congregation of Rites and also at the Holy Office and the Index, where he became involved in the contemporary Jansenist disputes. His work for his order in Rome included a short period as its vice procurator-general and another as its vice commissary. Besides benefitting from his two new foundations in Italy, the Irish province availed itself to no small extent of his advice and his position at the Roman Curia. His services were in demand at the new Congregation de Propaganda Fide, where he helped considerably to forward the cause of the Catholic reorganization in Ireland. He corresponded regularly with many Irish clerics, especially the bishops, to whom he was guide, counselor, and in some cases procurator. After the 1641 revolt in Ireland he persuaded many influential cardinals and others, and eventually the Pope, to interest themselves in the Irish Catholic confederation. He personally obtained papal approval, financial aid, and ships and arms for the Irish cause and secured the sending of the papal nuncio, Giovanni Battista rinuccini. Wadding himself became the confederation's accredited agent at Rome. The confederation split, largely on racial lines, because of the Ormond peace and the Inchiquin truce; despite all he had done, Wadding was then blamed by the Old Irish for being partisan, even for furthering Anglo-Irish interests by cunning deception and shameless scheming. But from an impartial historical analysis of the facts, his reputation as a noble, disinterested patriot emerges untarnished and even enhanced. Devoid of ambition, he resisted all efforts to promote him to the episcopate or the cardinalate. Of the many writers that the Franciscan order has produced, Wadding was one of the most prolific, scholarly, and profound. His interest in writing can be traced to his student days in the Iberian Peninsula. It was then that he conceived that deep love, so evident in his later writings, for things Franciscan and for the Franciscan doctor John duns scotus. His first publication was an edition of the writings of St. Francis, which he had begun when a student in Portugal. Between 1625 and 1654 he published the Annales Minorum, a monumental history (8 v.) of the Franciscan Order from the birth of St. Francis to 1540. This work, perhaps his greatest literary achievement, won him an international reputation as a historian. An equally ambitious project was realized in 1639 with the publication of the first critical edition of the opera omnia of Scotus. This edition and the school of Scotist studies organized by Wadding at St. Isidore's initiated a new epoch in the history of Scotism. His Franciscan bibliography, Scriptores Ordinis Minorum, appeared in 1650. Though defective and unwieldy by modern bibliographical standards, it has proved itself an invaluable work. He published many other scholarly volumes and had many others on hand, in various stages of completion, when he died. His memory is held in benediction not merely because of his saintly life but also because of his constructive, unselfish work for the Irish Church and nation and his formidable scholarship in the domains of history and theology.
Bibliography: l. eyssens, "Les Cinq Propositions de Jansenius a Rome," Revue-d'Histoire Ecclesiastique 66, no. 2 (1971) 449–501. franciscan fathers (province of ireland), Father Luke Wadding: Commemorative Volume (Dublin 1957). p. j. corish, "Father Luke Wadding and the Irish Nation," The Irish Ecclesiastical Record 88 (1957) 377–395. c. mooney, "The Letters of Luke Wadding," The Irish Ecclesiastical Record 88 (1957) 396–409. c. murphy, "The Wexford Catholic Community in the Later Seventeenth Century," in Religion, Conflict, and Coexistence in Ireland (Dublin 1990) 78–98. "The Writings of Father Luke Wadding, O.F.M.," Franciscan Studies 18 (1958) 225–239.