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Will

(Latin voluntas, Greek boúlesis, "willing" German Wille, French volonté ).

This article treats of will in its psychological aspect.

  • Will and Knowledge
  • Will and Feeling
  • Education of Will
  • Will and Movement
  • Experimental Will-Pyschology

The term will as used in Catholic philosophy, may be briefly defined as the faculty of choice; it is classified among the appetites, and is contrasted with those which belong either to the merely sensitive or to the vegetative order: it is thus commonly designated "the rational appetite "; it stands in an authoritative relation to the complex of lower appetites, over which it exercises a preferential control; its specific act, therefore, when it if in full exercise, consists in selecting, by the light of reason, its object from among the various particular, conflicting aims of all the tendencies and faculties of our nature : its object is the good in general (bonum in communi); its prerogative is freedom in choosing among different forms of good. As employed in modern philosophy, the term has often a much wider signification. It is frequently used in a loose, generic sense as coextensive with appetite, and in such a way as to include any vital principle of movement ab intra, even those which are irrational and instinctive. Thus Bain makes appetency a species of volition, instead of vice-versa. We cannot but think this an abuse of terms. In any case--whatever opinion one holds on the free will controversy--some specific designation is certainly required for that controlling and sovereign faculty in man, which every sane philosophy recognizes as unmistakably distinct from the purely physical impulses and strivings, and from the sensuous desires and conations which are the expressions of our lower nature's needs. And custom has consecrated the term will to this more honourable use.

Will and Knowledge

The description of will, as understood in Catholic philosophy, given above, refers to the will in its fullest and most explicit exercise, the voluntas deliberata or voluntus ut voluntas, as Saint Thomas speaks. There are, however, many manifestations of will that are less complete than this. Formal choice, preceded by methodical deliberation, is not the only or the most frequent type of volition. Most of our ordinary volition takes the form of spontaneous and immediate reaction upon very simple data. We have to deal with some narrow, concrete situation; we aim at some end apprehended almost without reflection and achieved almost at a stroke; in such a case, will expresses itself along the lines of least resistance through the subordinate agencies of instinctive action, habit, or rule of thumb. Will, like the cognitive powers, originates in and is developed by experience. This is expressed in the well-known Scholastic axiom, "Nil volitum nisi præcognitum" (Nothing can be willed which is not foreknown), taken in conjunction with the other great generalization that all knowledge takes its rise in experience: "Nil in intellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensu". All appetition, according to this theory, emerges out of some conscious state, which may be anything from a clear and distinct perception or representation of an object, to a mere vague feeling of want or discomfort, without any direct representation either of the object or the means of satisfaction. The Aristotelean philosophers did not neglect or ignore the significance of this latter kind of consciousness (sometimes called affective). It is true that here, as in dealing with the psychology of other faculties, the Schoolmen did not attempt a genetic account of the will, nor would they admit continuity between the rational will and the lower appetitive states; but in their theory of the passions, they had worked out a very fair classification of the main phenomena--a classification which has not been substantially improved upon by any modern writer; and they showed their appreciation of the close connection between will and emotions by treating both under the general head of appetition. It is still a debatable question whether modern psychology, since Kant, has not unnecessarily complicated the question by introducing the triple division of functions into knowledge, appetites and feeling, in place of the ancient bi-partite division into knowledge and appetite.

The doctrine that will arises out of knowledge must not be pressed to mean that will is simply conditioned by knowledge, without in turn conditioning knowledge. The relation is not one-sided. "The mental functions interact, i.e. act reciprocally one upon another" (Sully) or, as Saint Thomas expresses it: "Voluntas et intellectus mutuo se includunt" (Summa theol., I, Q. xvi, a. 4 ad 1). Thus, an act of will is the usual condition of attention and of all sustained application of the cognitive faculties. This is recognized in common language. Again the Schoolmen were fond of describing the will as essentially a blind faculty. This means simply that its function is practice, not speculation, doing, not thinking (versatur circa operabilia). But on the other hand they admitted that it was an integral part of reason --according to the Scotists indeed, the superior and nobler part, as being the supreme controller and mover ("Voluntas est motor in toto regno animæ", Scotus ). It is also represented as ruling and exercising command (imperium) over the lower faculties. St. Thomas, however, with his usual preference for the cognitive function, puts the imperium in the reason rather than the will (imperium rationis). Hence arose disputes between the Thomists and other schools, as to whether in the last resort the will was necessarily determined by the practical judgment of the reason. The point, so hotly debated in the medieval schools , concerning the relative dignity of the two faculties, will and intellect, is perhaps insoluble; at all events it is not vital. The two interact so closely as to be almost inseparable. Hence Spinoza could say with some plausibility: "Voluntas et intellectus unum et idem sunt".

Will and Feeling

An act of will is generally conditioned not only by knowledge, but also by some mode of affective consciousness or feeling. The will is attracted by pleasure. The capital error of the Hedonist school was the doctrine that the will is attracted only by pleasure, that, in the words of Mill, "to find a thing pleasant and to will it are one and the same". This is not true. The object of the will is the good apprehended as such. This is wider than the pleasant. Moreover, the primary tendency of appetency or desire is often towards some object or activity quite distinct from pleasure. Thus in the exercise of the chase, or intellectual research, or the performance of acts of benevolence, the primary object of the will is the accomplishment of a certain positive result, the capture of the game, the solution of the problem, the relief of another's pain, or the like. This may probably awaken pleasant feeling as a consequence. But this pleasure is not the object aimed at, nay the "Hedonistic paradox", as it is styled, consists in this, that if this consequential pleasure be made the direct object of pursuit, it will thereby be destroyed. Thus, an altruistic act done for the sake of the pleasure it brings to the agent is no longer altruism or productive of the pleasure of altruism.

Indeed, the objects of many of the passions which most powerfully impel the will, are ordinarily not pleasures, though they may include relief from pain. Emotions or feelings associated with certain ideas tend to express themselves in action. They may dominate the field of consciousness to the exclusion of every other idea. Thus, the sight or the thought of extreme suffering may carry with it emotions of pity so intense that considerations of justice and prudence will be brushed aside in the effort to bring relief. Such action is impulsive. An impulse is essentially the forcible prompting of a single, strongly affective idea. The will is, in this case, as it were, borne down by feeling, and action is simply the "release" of an emotional strain, being scarcely more truly volitional than laughter or weeping. Bain's description of voluntary action as "feeling-prompted movement", therefore, destroys the essential distinction between voluntary and impulsive action. The same criticism applies to Wundt's analysis of the volitional process. According to him, "impulsive action" is "the starting-point for the development of all volitional acts", from which starting-point volitional acts, properly so called, emerge as the result of the increasing complication of impulses; when this complication takes the form of a conflict, there ensues a process called selection or choice, which determines the victory in one direction or another. From this it is clear that choice is simply a sort of circuitous impulse. "The difference between a voluntary activity (i.e. a complex impulse) and a choice activity is a vanishing quantity." Compare with this the dictum of Hobbes: "I conceive that in all deliberations, that is to say, in all alternate succession of contrary appetites, the last is that which we call the Will".

The essential weakness of both these accounts and of many others lies in the attempt to reduce choice or deliberation (the specific activity of will, and a patently rational process) to a merely mechanical or biological equation. Catholic philosophy, on the contrary, maintains, on the certain evidence of introspection, that choice is not merely a resultant of impulses, but a superadded formative energy, embodying a rational judgment; it is more than an epitome, or summing-up, of preceding phenomena; it is a criticism of them (see FREE WILL ). This aspect the phenomenist psychology of the modern school fails to explain. Though we reject all attempts to identify will with feeling, yet we readily admit the close alliance that exists between these functions. St. Thomas teaches that will acts on the organism only through the medium of feeling, just as in cognition, the rational faculty acts upon the material of experience. ("Sicut in nobis ratio universalis movet, mediante ratione particulari, ita appetites intellectivus qui dicitur voluntas, movet in nobis mediante appetitu sensitivo, unde proximum motivum corporis in nobis est appetitus sensitivus", Summa theol., I, Q. xx, ad 1.) Just as the most abstract intellectual idea has always its "outer clothing" of sense-imagery so volition, itself a spiritual act, is always embodied in a mass of feeling: on such embodiment depends its motive-value. Thus if we analyze an act of self-control we shall find that it consists in the "checking" or "policing" of one tendency by another, and in the act of selective attention by which an idea or ideal is made dynamic, becomes an idée-force, and triumphs over its neglected rivals. Hence control of attention is the vital point in the education of the will, for will is simply reason in act, or as Kant put it, the causality of reason, and by acquiring this power of control, reason itself is strengthened.

Motives are the product of selective attention. But selective attention is itself a voluntary act, requiring a motive, an effective stimulus of some kind. Where is this stimulus to come from in the first instance? If we say it is given by selective attention, the question recurs. If we say it is the spontaneous necessary force of an idea, we are landed in determinism, and choice becomes, what we have above denied it to be, merely a slow and circuitous form of impulsive action. The answer to this difficulty would be briefly as follows:

(1) Every practical idea is itself a tendency to the act represented; in fact, it is a beginning or rehearsal of the said act, and, if not inhibited by other tendencies or ideas, would in fact pass into execution at once. Attention to such an idea affords reinforcement to its tendency.

(2) Such reinforcement is given spontaneously to any tendency which is naturally interesting.

(3) The law of interest, the uniform principles governing the influence of the feelings upon the will in its earlier stages, these are an enigma which only an exhaustive knowledge of the physiology of the nervous system, of heredity, and possibly of many other as yet unsuspected factors, could enable us to solve. Leibniz applied his doctrine of petites perceptions to its solution, and certainly unconscious elements, whether inherited or stored up from personal experience, have much to do with our actual volitions, and lie at the very bottom of character and temperament; but as yet there is no science, nor even prospect of a science, of these things.

(4) As regards the determinist horn of the dilemma proposed above, the positive truth of human liberty drawn from introspection is too strong to be shaken by any obscurity in the process through which liberty is realized. The facts of consciousness and the postulates of morality are inexplicable on any other than the libertarian hypothesis (see CHARACTER and FREE WILL ). Freedom is a necessary consequence of the universal capacity of reason. The power of conceiving and critically contemplating different values or ideals of desirableness, implies that detachment of will in selection (indifferentia activa), in which, essentially, freedom consists.

Education of Will

As we have said, control of attention is the vital point in the education of will. In the beginning, the child is entirely the creature of impulse. It is completely engrossed for the time by each successive impression. It exhibits plenty of spontaneity and random action but the direction of these is determined by the liveliest attraction of the moment. As experience extends, rival tendencies and conflicting motives come more and more into play, and the reflective power of the rational faculty begins to waken into existence. The recollection of the results of past experience rises up to check present impulses. As reason develops, the faculty of reflective comparison grows in clearness and strength, and instead of there being a mere struggle between two or more motives or impulses, there gradually emerges a judicial power of valuing or weighing those motives, with the ability of detaining one or other for a longer or shorter period, in the focus of intellectual consciousness. Here we have the beginning of selective attention. Each exertion of reflection strengthens voluntary, as distinguished from merely spontaneous, attention. The child becomes more and more able to attend to the abstract or intellectual representation, in preference to urgent present feeling which seeks to express itself in immediate action. This is furthered by human intercourse, injunctions from parents and others in regard to conduct, and the like. The power of resistance to impulse grows. Each passing inclination, inhibited for the sake of a more durable good or more abstract motive, involves an increase in the power of self-control. The child becomes able to withstand temptation in obedience to precepts or in accordance with general principles. The power of steady adhesion to fixed purposes grows and, by repeated voluntary acts, habits are formed which in the aggregate constitute formed character.

Will and Movement

The structure of the nervous system of man, it has been well said, prepares us for action. Long before the will, properly so called, comes upon the scene, a whole marvellous vital mechanism has been at work; thus it happens that we find ourselves at the very outset of our rational life possessed of a thousand tendencies, preferences, dexterities--the product partly of inheritance and partly of our infantile experience working by the laws of association and habit. The question, therefore, as to how this early organization and co-ordination of movement take place, though an essential preliminary to the study of will, is nevertheless only a preliminary, and not a constituent, branch of that study. Hence we can deal with it here only briefly. Bain's theory is perhaps the best known--the theory of random or spontaneous movement. According to this account, the nervous system is in its nature an accumulator of energy, which energy under certain obscure organic conditions breaks out in tumultuous, purposeless fashion, without any sensible stimulation either from without or from within. The result of such outpourings of energy is sometimes pleasurable, sometimes the reverse. Nature, by the law of conservation, preserves those movements which produce pleasure while she inhibits other movements. Thus "nature" really works purposively, for these pleasant movements are also for the most part beneficial to the animal. The process is very much the same as "natural selection" in the biological field. As regards this theory we may briefly note as follows:

(1) It is true, as modern child-psychology shows, that movements are learnt in some way. The child has to learn even the outlines of its own body.

(2) There is a good deal of apparently purposeless movement in children and all young animals, which, no doubt, constitutes their "motor-education".

(3) At the same time, it is not so clear that these movements are simply a physical discharge of energy, unattended by conscious antecedents. Some vague feeling of discomfort, of pent-up powers, some appetition or conscious tendency to movement in short, may very well be supposed. There would thus be the germ of a purpose in the creature's first essays at realizing the tendency and satisfying a felt need.

Experimental Will-Psychology

One of the least promising departments of mental life for the experimental psychologist is will. In common with all the higher activities of the soul, the subjection of the phenomena of rational volition to the methods of experimental psychology presents serious difficulties. In addition, the characteristic prerogative of the human will--freedom--would seem to be necessarily recalcitrant against scientific law and measurement, and thus to render hopelessly inapplicable the machinery of the new branch of mental research. However, the problem has been courageously attacked by the Würzburg and Louvain Schools. Different properties of choice, the formation and operation of various kinds of motives, the process of judging values, the transition from volition to habit or spontaneous action, the reaction-time of acts of decision and their realization and other incidental will-phenomena have been made the subject of the most careful investigation and, where possible, calculation.

By the multiplication of experimental choices, and the taking of averages, results of an objective character have been, it is contended, secured. The psychological value of these researches, and the quantity of new light they are likely to shed on all the more important questions connected with the human will, is still a subject of controversy; but the patience skill, and ingenuity, with which these experiments and observations have been carried out, are indisputable.

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A state of the American Union, bounded on the northeast by Pennsylvania and Maryland, on the ...

Westcott, Sebastian

English organist, born about 1524, was a chorister, under Redford, at St. Paul's Cathedral, ...

Westeraas, Ancient See of

(AROSI, AROSIENSIS). Located in Sweden. The Catholic diocese included the lands of ...

Western Schism

This schism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries differs in all points from the Eastern ...

Westminster Abbey

This most famous of all English abbeys is situated within the precincts of the Royal Palace of ...

Westminster Cathedral

As a national expression of religious faith given by Roman Catholics to England since the ...

Westminster, Archdiocese of

(WESTMONASTERIENSIS). Erected and made metropolitan in 1850, comprises the Counties of ...

Westminster, Matthew of

The name given to the supposed author of a well-known English chronicle, the "Flores Historiarum". ...

Weston, William

Jesuit missionary priest, born at Maidstone, 1550 (?); died at Valladolid, Spain, 9 June, ...

Westphalia

A province of Prussia situated between the Rhine and the Weser. It is bounded on the northwest ...

Wettingen-Mehrerau, Abbacy Nullius of

A Cistercian abbey near Bregenz, Vorarlberg, Austria. The Cistercian monastery of Wettingen ...

Wetzer, Heinrich Joseph

Learned Orientalist, born at Anzefahr in Hesse-Cassel, 19 March, 1801; died at Freiburg in ...

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Wh 23

Wharton, Ven. Christopher

Born at Middleton, Yorkshire, before 1546; martyred at York, 28 March, 1600. He was the second ...

Wheeling, Diocese of

(WHELINGENSIS). Comprises the State of West Virginia except the following counties, which are ...

Whipple, Amiel Weeks

Military engineer and soldier, born at Greenwich, Massachusetts, 1818; died at Washington, D.C., ...

Whitaker, Venerable Thomas

Born at Burnley, Lancashire, 1614; martyred at Lancaster, 7 August, 1646. Son of Thomas ...

Whitbread, Venerable Thomas

( Alias HARCOURT). Born in Essex, 1618; martyred at Tyburn, 30 June, 1679. He was ...

Whitby, Abbey of

(Formerly called Streoneshalh). A Benedictine monastery in the North Riding of Yorkshire, ...

Whitby, Synod of

The Christianizing of Britain begun by St. Augustine in A.D. 597 was carried on with varying ...

White Fathers

(MISSIONARIES OF OUR LADY OF AFRICA OF ALGERIA). This society, known under the name of ...

White, Andrew

Missionary, b. at London, 1579; d. at or near London, 27 Dec., 1656 (O.S.). He entered St. ...

White, Charles Ignatius

Editor, historian, born at Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. 1 February, 1807; died at Washington, ...

White, Edward

Grandfather of Stephen Mallory White , born in County Limerick, Ireland, in the latter part of ...

White, Eustace, Venerable

Martyr, born at Louth, Lincolnshire, in 1560; suffered at the London Tyburn, 10 December, 1591. ...

White, Richard, Venerable

( Vere GWYN). Martyr, born at Llanilloes, Montgomeryshire, about 1537; executed at Wrexham, ...

White, Robert

English composer, b. about 1530; d. Nov., 1574; was educated by his father, and graduated Mus. ...

White, Stephen

Antiquarian and polyhistor; b. at Clonmel, Ireland, in 1574; d. in Galway, 1646. He belonged to a ...

White, Stephen Mallory

American statesman; born at San Francisco , California, 19 January, 1853; died at Los Angeles ...

White, Thomas

( Alias BLACKLOW, BLACLOE, ALBIUS, ANGLUS). Born in Essex, 1593; died in London, 6 July, ...

Whithorn Priory

Located in Wigtownshire, Scotland, founded about the middle of the twelfth century, in the reign ...

Whiting, Blessed Richard

Last Abbot of Glastonbury and martyr, parentage and date of birth unknown, executed 15 Nov., ...

Whitsunday

A feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the ...

Whitty, Ellen

In religion Mary Vincent, born at Pouldarrig near Oylgate, a village seven miles form the town of ...

Whitty, Robert

Born at Pouldarrig near Oylgate, 7 January, 1817; died 1 September, 1895. In 1830 he entered ...

Whitty, Rose

Born at Dublin, Ireland, 24 November, 1831; died 4 May, 1911. Of her two sisters one became a ...

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Wi 121

Wibald

Abbot of Stavelot ( Stablo ), Malmedy, and Corvey, b. near Stavelot in Belgium in 1098; d. ...

Wichita Indians

A confederacy of Caddoan stock, formerly dwelling between the Arkansas River, Kansas, and the ...

Wichita, Diocese of

(WICHITENSIS). Erected in 1887, from the Diocese of Leavenworth . The territory of the new ...

Wichmans, Francis

In religion AUGUSTINE, born at Antwerp, 1596; died 1661. Having finished his classical studies, ...

Widmer, Joseph

Catholic theologian, born at Hohenraim, Lucerne, Switzerland, 15 Aug., 1779; died at ...

Widow

I. Canonical prescriptions concerning widows in the Old Testament refer mainly to the question ...

Widukind

Saxon leader, and one of the heads of the Westphalian nobility. He was the moving spirit in the ...

Widukind of Corvey

Historian who lived in the tenth century in the Benedictine Abbey of Corvey, Germany. He was a ...

Wiener-Neustadt, Diocese of

(NEOSTADTIENSIS). A suppressed see in Lower Austria. Upon the request of Frederick III it was ...

Wiest, Stephan

Member of the Order of Cistercians, b. at Teisbach in Lower Bavaria, 7 March, 1748; d. at ...

Wigand, Saints

( Also rendered VENANTIUS). Three saints of this name are mentioned in the Roman ...

Wigbert, Saint

Companion of St. Boniface, born in England about 675; died at Hersfeld about 746. Positive ...

Wigbod

(WICBODUS, WIGBOLD, WIGBALD). Theological writer of the eighth century. Of his works there is ...

Wigley, George J.

Died in Rome, 20 January, 1866. By profession he was an architect, but subsequently devoted ...

Wilberforce, Henry William

Born at Clapham, 22 September, 1807; died at Stroud, Gloucestershire, 23 April, 1873. He was third ...

Wilberforce, Robert Isaac

Born at Clapham, 19 December, 1802; died at Albano, near Rome, 3 Feb. 1857. He was the second son ...

Wilcannia, Diocese of

(WILCANIENSIS). Located in New South Wales, one of the six suffragan sees of Sydney; consists ...

Wilcox, Robert, Venerable

English martyr, born at Chester, 1558; suffered at Canterbury, 1 October, 1588. He arrived at ...

Wild, Johann

Scriptural commentator and preacher, better known by his Latin name FERUS, b. in Swabia, 1497; d. ...

Wilfrid, Saint

Bishop of York, son of a Northumbrian thegn, born in 634; died at Oundle in Northamptonshire, ...

Wilgefortis

A fabulous female saint known also as UNCUMBER, KUMMERNIS, KOMINA, COMERA, CUMERANA, HULFE, ...

Wilhelm of Herle

Painter, born at Herle in Dutch Limburg at an unknown date in the fourteenth century; time and ...

Wilhelm V

Son of Duke Albrecht V. Born at Munich, 29 September, 1548; died at Schlessheim, 7 February, ...

Wilhering, Cistercian Abbey of

(HILARIA). Situated on the right bank of the Danube, in the Diocese of Linz, Austria. Ulric ...

Will

(Latin voluntas, Greek boúlesis, "willing" German Wille, French volonté ). ...

Will and Testament of Clerics

Roman law allowed clerics to dispose of their property by will or otherwise. Bishops, however, ...

Will, Free

RELATION OF THE QUESTION TO DIFFERENT BRANCHES OF PHILOSOPHY HISTORY Free Will in Ancient ...

Willaert, Adrian

Composer and founder of the Venetian school, b. at Bruges, or, according to other authorities, ...

Willehad, Saint

Bishop at Bremen, born in Northumberland before 745; died at Blecazze (Blexen) on the Weser, 8 ...

Willems, Pierre

Philologist, born at Maastricht, 6 January, 1840; died at Louvain, 23 February, 1898. Following ...

William

Born in Brittany, died at Marmoutiers, 23 May, 1124. For a time he was Archdeacon of Nantes, ...

William

Abbot of Saint-Bénigne at Dijon, celebrated Cluniac reformer, b. on the Island of ...

William Carter, Venerable

English martyr, born in London, 1548; suffered for treason at Tyburn, 11 January, 1584. Son of ...

William Exmew, Blessed

Carthusian monk and martyr ; suffered at Tyburn, 19 June, 1535. He studied at Christ's ...

William Filby, Blessed

Blessed William Filby Born in Oxfordshire between 1557 and 1560; suffered at Tyburn, 30 May, ...

William Hart, Blessed

Born at Wells, 1558; suffered at York, 15 March, 1583. Elected Trappes Scholar at Lincoln ...

William Lacy, Blessed

Born at "Hanton", Yorkshire (probably Houghton or Tosside, West Riding); suffered at York, 22 ...

William of Auvergne

Bishop of Paris, medieval philosopher and theologian. Born at Aurillac in Auvergne towards ...

William of Auxerre

A thirteenth-century theologian and professor at the University of Paris . William's name ...

William of Champeaux

A twelfth-century Scholastic, philosopher, and theologian, b. at Champeaux, near Melun, in the ...

William of Conches

A twelfth-century Scholastic philosopher and theologian, b. about the year 1100. After having ...

William of Digulleville

(DEGULLEVILLE). A French poet of the fourteenth century. Nothing is known of his life, except ...

William of Ebelholt, Saint

(Also called WILLIAM OF PARIS and WILLIAM OF THE PARACLETE.) Died on Easter Sunday, 1203, and ...

William of Gellone, Saint

Born 755; died 28 May, c. 812; was the second count of Toulouse, having attained that dignity in ...

William of Jumièges

(Surnamed CALCULUS.) Benedictine historian of the eleventh century. Practically nothing seems ...

William of Maleval, Saint

(or ST. WILLIAM THE GREAT). Died 10 February, 1157; beatified in 1202. His life, written ...

William of Malmesbury

Born 30 November, about 1090; died about 1143. He was educated at Malmesbury, where he became a ...

William of Moerbeke

Scholar, Orientalist, philosopher, and one of the most distinguished men of letters of the ...

William of Nangis

(GUILHELMUS). A medieval chronicler, who takes his name from the City of Nancy, France. ...

William of Newburgh

Historian, b. at Bridlington, Yorkshire, 1136; d. at Newburgh, Yorkshire, 1198, where he went as ...

William of Norwich, Saint

Born 1132; died 22 March, 1144. On Holy Saturday, 25 March, 1144, a boy's corpse showing signs of ...

William of Ockham

Fourteenth-century Scholastic philosopher and controversial writer, born at or near the village ...

William of Paris, Saint

Abbot of Eskill in Denmark, born 1105; died 1202. He was born of a noble French family, and ...

William of Perth, Saint

(Or ST. WILLIAM OF ROCHESTER). Martyr, born at Perth ; died about 1201. Practically all that ...

William of Poitiers

Norman historian, born of a noted family, at Préaux near Pont Audemer, Normandy, about 1020. ...

William of Ramsey

Flourished about 1219. Nothing is known of his life except that he was a monk of Crowland Abbey ...

William of Sens

A twelfth-century French architect, supposed to have been born at Sens. He is referred to in ...

William of Shoreham

( Or de Schorham.) An English religious writer of the Anglo-Norman period, born at ...

William of St-Amour

A thirteenth century theologian and controversialist, born in Burgundy in the first decades of ...

William of St-Thierry

Theologian and mystic, and so called from the monastery of which he was abbot, b. at ...

William of Turbeville

(TURBE, TURBO, or DE TURBEVILLE). Bishop of Norwich (1146-74), b. about 1095; d. at Norwich ...

William of Tyre

Archbishop of Tyre and historian, born probably in Palestine, of a European family which had ...

William of Vercelli

(Or WILLIAM OF MONTE VERGINE.) The founder of the Hermits of Monte Vergine, or Williamites, ...

William of Ware

(William de Warre, Guard, Guaro, Varro or Varron.) Born at Ware in Herts; the date of his ...

William of Wayneflete

Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England, b. towards the end of the fourteenth century; ...

William of Wykeham

Bishop of Winchester, Chancellor of England and founder of Winchester College ; b. between ...

William Perault

(PERAULD, PERALDUS, PERALTUS). Writer and preacher, b. at Perault, France ; d. at Lyons ; ...

William the Clerk (of Normandy)

French poet of the thirteenth century. Nothing is known of his life except that he was a clerk of ...

William the Conqueror

King of England and Duke of Normandy. William was the natural son of Robert, Duke of ...

William the Walloon

Date of birth unknown; d. (probably) 22 Dec., 1089. He became Abbot of St. Arnoul at Metz in ...

William, Blessed

Abbot of Hirschau, monastic reformer, born in Bavaria ; died at Hirschau, 5 July 1091. He ...

William, Saint

(WILLIAM FITZHERBERT, also called WILLIAM OF THWAYT). Archbishop of York. Tradition ...

William, Saint

Bishop of St-Brieuc, born in the parish of St. Alban, Brittany, between 1178 and 1184; died ...

Williamites

There were two minor religious orders or congregations of this name: (1) a Benedictine ...

Willibald and Winnebald, Saints

(WUNIBALD, WYNNEBALD). Members of the Order of St. Benedict, brothers, natives probably of ...

Willibrord, Saint

Bishop of Utrecht, Apostle of the Frisians, and son of St. Hilgis, born in Northumbria, 658; ...

Willigis, Saint

Archbishop of Mainz, d. 23 Feb., 1011. Feast, 23 February or 18 April. Though of humble birth ...

Williram

(WALTRAM, WILTRAM). Scriptural scholar, b. in Franconia (near Worms), Germany ; d. in 1085 at ...

Wilmers, Wilhelm

Professor of philosophy and theology, b. at Boke in Westphalia, 30 January, 1817; d. at ...

Wilmington, Diocese of

(WILMINGTONIENSIS). Erected 3 March, 1868. It includes what is known as the Delmarvia ...

Wilton Abbey

A Benedictine convent in Wiltshire, England, three miles from Salisbury. A first foundation was ...

Wilton, Richard

Died December 21, 1239. He was a medieval scholar of whom little is known except that he was an ...

Wimborne Minster

( Also WIMBURN or WINBURN). Located in Dorsetshire, England. Between the years 705-23 a ...

Wimmer, Boniface

Archabbot, b. at Thalmassing, Bavaria, 14 January, 1809; d. at St. Vincent Archabbey, Beatty, ...

Wimpfeling, Jakob

Humanist and theologian, b. at Schlettstadt, Alsace, 25 July 1450; d. there, 17 Nov., 1528. He ...

Wimpina, Konrad

(WIMINAE, WIMINESIS). Theologian, b. at Buchen in Baden, about 1465; d. at Amorbach in Lower ...

Winchester, Ancient See of

(WINTONIA, WINTONIENSIS). This diocese came into existence in 635 when the great ...

Winckelmann, Johann Joachim

Archaeologist and historian of ancient art, born at Stendal near Magdeburg, in 1717; assassinated ...

Windesheim

An Augustinian monastery situated about four miles south of Zwolle on the Issel, in the Kingdom ...

Winding Sheet of Christ, Feast of the Holy

In 1206 one of the (supposed) Winding Sheets used at the burial of Christ was brought to ...

Windischmann, Friedrich Heinrich Hugo

Orientalist and exegete, b. at Aschaffenburg, 13 December, 1811; d. at Munich, 23 August, ...

Windischmann, Karl Joseph Hieronymus

Philosopher, b. at Mainz, 25 August, 1775; d. at Bonn, 23 April, 1839. He attended the gymnasium ...

Window, Rose

A circular window, with mullions and traceries generally radiating from the centre, and filled ...

Windows in Church Architecture

From the beginning Christian churches, in contrast to the ancient temples, were intended to be ...

Windsor

A town of great antiquity, on the Thames, in Berkshire, England ; quaintly rendered Ventus ...

Windthorst, Ludwig

Born near Osnabrück, 17 January, 1812; died 14 March, 1891. He came from a family of ...

Wine, Altar

Wine is one of the two elements absolutely necessary for the sacrifice of the Eucharist. For valid ...

Winefride, Saint

Born at Holywell, Wales, about 600; died at Gwytherin, Wales, 3 Nov., 660. Her father was ...

Wingham, Thomas

Born in London, 5 January, 1846; died there, 24 March, 1893. He studied music at Wylde's London ...

Winnebago Indians

A tribe of Siouan stock closely related in speech to the Iowa, Missouri, and Oto, and more ...

Winnebald and Willibald, Saints

(WUNIBALD, WYNNEBALD). Members of the Order of St. Benedict, brothers, natives probably of ...

Winnoc, Saint

Abbot or Prior or Wormhoult, died 716 or 717. Three lives of this saint are extant: the best of ...

Winona, Diocese of

(WINONENSIS). Established in 1889, suffragan of St. Paul, comprises the following counties in ...

Winslow, Jakob Benignus

(WINSLOW). Physician and anatomist, b. at Odense, Denmark, 27 April, 1669; d. in Paris, 3 ...

Winwallus, Saint

Abbot of Landevennec; d. 3 March, probably at the beginning of the sixth century, though the ...

Winzet, Ninian

Benedictine abbot and controversial writer, b. at Renfrew, Scotland, 1518; d. at Ratisbon, 21 ...

Wipo

(WIPPO). Apparently a native of Burgundy, lived in the first half of the eleventh century. He ...

Wireker, Nigel

Satirist, lived about 1190. He describes himself as old in the "Speculum Stultorum", which was ...

Wirt, Wigand

Theologian, born at Frankfort about 1460; died at Steyer, 30 June, 1519. He entered the ...

Wisconsin

Known as the "Badger State", admitted to the Union on 29 May, 1848, the seventeenth state ...

Wisdom, Book of

One of the deutero-canonical writings of the Old Testament, placed in the Vulgate between the ...

Wisdom, Daughters of

(LES FILLES DE LA SAGESSE). Founded at Poitiers by Blessed Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort ...

Wise Men (Magi)

(Plural of Latin magus ; Greek magoi ). The "wise men from the East" who came to adore ...

Wiseman, Nicholas Patrick

Cardinal, first Archbishop of Westminster ; b. at Seville, 2 Aug., 1802; d. in London, 15 ...

Witchcraft

It is not easy to draw a clear distinction between magic and witchcraft. Both are concerned with ...

Witness

One who is present, bears testimony, furnishes evidence or proof. Witnesses are employed in ...

Witt, Francis Xavier

Reformer of church music, founder of the St. CeciliaSociety for German-speaking countries, ...

Wittenberg

The city is in Prussian Saxony and was founded by Albert the Bear (d. 1170). He had conquered ...

Wittman, George Michael

Bishop-elect of Ratisbon, b. near Pleistein, Oberpfalz, Bavaria, 22 (23?) Jan., 1760; d. at ...

Wittman, Patrizius

Catholic journalist, b. at Ellwanger, Würtemberg, 4 January, 1818; d. at Munich, 3 ...

Witzel, Georg

(WICELIUS). Theologian, b. at Vacha, Province of Hesse, 1501; d. at Mainz, 16 Feb., 1573. He ...

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Wl 1

Wladislaw, Diocese of

(Polish WLOCLAWEK; Latin VLADISLAVIENSIS ET POMERANLAE). The historical origin of this ...

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Wo 23

Wolff, George Dering

Editor, b. at Martinsburg, West Virginia , 25 Aug., 1822; d. at Norristown, Pennsylvania, 29 ...

Wolfgang, Saint

Bishop of Ratisbon (972-994), born about 934; died at the village of Pupping in upper Austria, ...

Wolfram von Eschenbach

Generally regarded as the greatest of Middle-High-German epic poets, date of birth unknown; d. ...

Wolgemut, Michael

Painter and engraver, b. at Nuremberg, 1434; d. there, 1519. He was the most prominent artist of ...

Wolowski, Louis-François-Michel-Reymond

Born at Warsaw, 31 Aug., 1810; d. at Gisors, Eure, 15 Aug., 1876. His father, a member of the ...

Wolsey, Thomas

Cardinal, Archbishop of York, b. at Ipswitch, the usually accepted date, 1471, being probably ...

Wolstan, Saint

Benedictine, and Bishop of Worcester, b. at Long Itchington, Warwickshire, England, about 1008; ...

Woman

Of late years the position of woman in human society has given rise to a discussion which, as part ...

Wood, Thomas

Priest and confessor, b. about 1499; d. in Wisbech Castle before 1588. After being prebendary ...

Wood-Carving

In general, the production from wood of objects of trade or art by means of sharp instruments, as ...

Woodcock, Venerable John

English Franciscan martyr, b. at Leyland, Lancashire, 1603; suffered at Lancaster, 7 August, ...

Woodhead, Abraham

Born at Almonbury, Yorkshire, about March, 1609; died at Hoxton, Middlesex, 4 May, 1678. This ...

Woodhouse, Blessed Thomas

Martyr who suffered at Tyburn 19 June, 1573, being disembowelled alive. Ordained in Mary's ...

Woods, Julian Edmund Tenison

Priest and scientist, b. at Southwark, London, 15 Nov., 1832; d. at Sydney, New South Wales, 7 ...

Worcester, Ancient Diocese of

(WIGORNIENSIS.) Located in England, created in 680 when, at the Synod of Hatfield under ...

Words (in Canon Law)

To give the right value to words is a very important factor in the proper interpretation of ...

World, Antiquity of the

Various attempts have been made to establish the age of the world. Two groups of scientists have ...

Wormwood

( Hebrew la'anah .) Wormwood, known for its repulsive bitterness ( Jeremiah 9:15 ; 23:15 ; ...

Worship, Christian

NOTION AND CHARACTERISTICS The word worship (Saxon weorthscipe , "honour"; from worth , ...

Worsley, Edward

Born in Lancashire, England, 1605; died at Antwerp, 2 Sept., 1676. He is said to have been ...

Worthington, Thomas, D.D.

Third President of Douai College , b. 1549 at Blainscough Hall, near Wigan, Lancashire; d. at ...

Wounds, The Five Sacred

Devotion The revival of religious life and the zealous activity of St. Bernard and St. ...

Wouters, G. Henry

Historian, b. at Oostham, Belgian Limburg, 3 May, 1802; d. 5 January, 1872. In 1829 he became ...

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Wr 2

Wright, Venerable Peter

Martyr, b. at Slipton, Northamptonshire, 1603; suffered at Tyburn, 19 May, 1651. After spending ...

Wright, William

Born at York, 1562; died 18 Jan., 1639. Though he came late (23) to his studies, he then made ...

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Wu 2

Wulfen, Franz Xaver Freiherr von

Botanist, b. at Belgrade, 5 November, 1728; d. at Klagenfurt, 17 March, 1805. He was the son of ...

Wulfram, Saint

(VULFRAMNUS.) Bishop of Sens, missionary in Frisi, born at Milly near Fontainebleau, probably ...

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Wy 5

Wyart, Théophile-Louis-Henri

(In religion DOM SEBASTIAN). Abbot of Cîteaux and Abbot-General of the Order of ...

Wyche, Saint Richard de

Bishop and confessor, b. about 1197 at Droitwich, Worcestershire, from which his surname is ...

Wyclif, John

(WYCLIFFE, or WICLIF, etc.). Writer and "reformer", b. probably at Hipswell near Richmond, ...

Wyntoun, Andrew of

Scottish chronicler, born (as we know from the internal evidence of his writings) in the reign ...

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