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Oratorians

The name of two associations of secular priests:

(1) Italian Oratory, founded by Philip Neri* in Rome out of an informal association of priests (1564). He was the first religious leader to add social and artistic aspects to devotional exercises. Palestrina,* one of his penitents, composed music for his external brotherhood, or “little oratory,” thus giving the name to the art-form “oratorio.” Formally approved in 1575, they spread through Italy, France, and Spain. J.H. Newman* introduced them to England at Old Oscott, 1847. They live in community without vows, supported by private means.

(2) French Oratory, founded by Pierre de Bérulle* at Paris (1611), approved as the Oratoire de Jésus-Christ (1613). Though inspired by the Italian Oratory, it is a separate institute, a centralized organization governed by a superior-general. Its principal activity was training priests in seminaries. During 1672-1733 it was dominated by Jansenism.* Dissolved in 1790, it was reestablished (1852) by L.P. Pététot and A.J.A. Gratry.*