Translation of the Article THE FRIARS PREACHERS from the Dictionnaire de Spiritualité:


1. 13th & 14th centuries.
2. 15th century.
3. 16th century.
4. 17th & 18th centuries.

1. THE 13th AND 14th CENTURIES.

1. Radiation of the Dominican Spirit. -- Before speaking of reforming movements and authors who expressed the spiritual life of the Order, we must briefly recall the facts of the extension of Dominican influence and its historical framework, so as to be able to place the spirituality of the Friars Preachers in correct perspective.

From the beginning, the Dominican spirit exerted its influence in France from the intellectual and spiritual center which was Saint-Jacques of Paris, where the first friars arrived in September, 1217.

The work of 13th century doctors, especially Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas, is sufficiently well known so that there is no need to emphasize them. Their philosophy and their theology, vivified by a return to Greek thought, are the foundation of a spiritual life strongly rooted in what is human. Less familiar is the return to scriptural sources. About 1230 Hugh of Saint-Cher undertook the first biblical concordance, A team from Saint-Jacques was working in 1236 on a revision of the Bible drawn from the original texts; Hugh of Saint-Cher published a "Postillae" or continuous interpretation of Scripture which would maintain its prestige for three centuries. The masters commented habitually on one or other of the books of the two Testaments (cf. M.-D Chenu, Le convent de Saint-Jacques et les deux renaissances du 13e et du 16e siècles, in Cahiers Saint-Jacques 26, Paris, no date, pp. 15-16).

Dominican activity remained profoundly marked by the apostolic and missionary spirit of its beginnings. One of the concerns of the friars of Paris was the Moslem world. In 1256, at the General Chapter of Paris, Humbert de Romans, Master General, congratulated the friars on their zeal for the study of the Arab language and culture; it is in this missionary context that we must place the Summa contra gentiles. Efforts toward union with the eastern church are evidenced by the facts: in 1234, Peter of Sezanne was one of four theologians sent by Gregory IX to Contantinople.

At the second Council of Lyons (1274) Dominicans made a remarkable contribution (cf. the role of Humbert de Romans, then of Peter of Tarantaise when he became Innocent V, in Chenu, pp. 17-18).

Saint-Jacques was not the only spiritual center in France. Other convents played a similar role in various regions. The present state of research does not permit the gathering of precise data as yet; we are just beginning to find some indications for the later centuries.

In the 14th century the Order continued to fulfill the tasks of teaching and preaching. But life in the convents was often hindered and disturbed by the Hundred Years' War which began in 1347 and by the Black Plague and the Great Schism (1378).

Refer to the article on FRANCE, 13e-14e siècles, DS, vol. 5, col . 855ff, especially col. 857-860, 863-864.


The 15th century rose from the ruins; attempts at reform prepared for the renaissance of the following century. The Preachers kept on in positions of prominence in the intellectual and spiritual world. Three provinces shared the territory of France at the beginning of the century: Toulouse, the first one constituted by St. Dominic, Provence, detached from it in 1301 and the immense province of France, extending from Angouleme to Liege, from Metz to Quimper, and as far as Grenoble and Annecy.

The theologians of the Order played a significant part at the Council of Constance (1414; cf. Mortier, vol. , 4, p 95; on the role of the Inquisitor, Jéan Polet, see p, 100), at Basle (1431; Mortier, vol. 4, pp. 282ff), at Ferrara and Florence. The French provinces produced two of the most outstanding Masters General of the century, Bartholomew Texier (1426-1449) and Martial Auribelli (1453-1462 and 1462-1473). For, after the barren 14th century, a renewed spiritual life blossomed under the first attempts at reform. In the south there were the efforts of Stephen Lacombe, Provincial of Toulouse from 1378-1383 (cf. G. Meersseman, Etude sur l'ordre des freres prêcheurs au debut du Grand Schisme, AFP, vol. 25, 1955, pp. 231-234), and of Bl. Michael Pages (+1436), at Castres (Mortier, vol. 4, pp. 189-190). The convents of Renel, Bordeaux, Agen, Montauban initiated a reform movement (ibid., p. 537-538). Through two letters of cardinal legates and one of Master General Texier, we know that the convent of Lyons was already reformed in 1433 (Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, ms GG 115). Among the nuns of Prouille, uniformity of observance was flourishing by 1430 (Mortier, vol. 4, p. 190).

Outside the convents, the Preachers carried the word of God everywhere. St. Vincent Ferrer's extraordinary influence at the beginning of the 15th century spread throughout the southwest of France and Britanny (cf. Saint Vincent Ferrier, Saint-Alban-Leysse, 1956). In this latter province, the saint, whose body reposes at Vannes, exerted an enduring influence, renewed in 1455 by his canonization. In the 15th century also the popular preaching of the rosary flourished with Alain de la Roche (cf. above, pp. 22 and below, 168).


The French Dominicans took part in the great debates of the 16th century, The most clear-sighted, like St. Thomas before them, labored to Christianize the new Renaissance, but they came up against a great deal of misunderstanding.

Several of them, aware of contemporary problems, tried to solve them. First of all there was the assimilation of antiquity. William Petit, Master in theology at Saint-Jacques, influential adviser to Francis I, proposed in 1517 an appeal to the humanists, Erasmus and Budé. Peter Crockaert (+1514), who came from Montaigu, and A. Meygret (+1524) were rather more scholastic in their commentaries on Aristotle (between 1510 and 1519). One of the best philologists of Italy, A. Giustiniani (+1536), was a professor for five years at Saint-Jacques. Giocondo of Verona (+1517), summoned to Paris by Louis XII (1495), was not only the technical engineer of the bridge of Notre Dame, but also a humanist greatly esteemed by Budé.

When it came to a return to the Gospel, William Petit protected men such as Reuchlin and Lefèvre d'Etaples, Giustiniani published in 1516 a Psalter in Hebrew, Greek, Arabic and Chaldean. Meygret, in a resounding sermon in Rouen, tried to separate the Gospel from spurious traditions.

But especially from the north came a great surge toward reform: within the Order it took shape in the Congregation of Holland (cf. below), outside the Order in the devotio moderna. One of the supports of Standonck was John Clerée, who joined the Congregation of Holland, was appointed by the Master General in 1501 to reform Saint-Jacques, and himself became Master General in 1504.

Shortly afterwards, a powerful theological renewal crystallized about Francis de Vitoria who resided in Paris from 1507 to 1522. His disciples occupied the chairs of Paris for two generations. Among others were Matthew Ory (+1557) and John Benoit, whose lectures were attended by Ignatius Loyola and his companions. About the same time appeared the first Parisian edition of the Summa of St. Thomas. See R.G. Villoslada, La Universidad de Paris durante los estudios de Francisco de Vitoria, coll. Analecta gregoriana 14, Rome, 1938.

The first half of the century was filled with controversies against innovators. There again, the Dominicans were very aware of current trends. To the names of William Petit and Matthew Ory must be added Peter Dore, one of the most read of the spiritual writers. Stephen of Paris answered Calvin with his Christiani hominis institutio (Paris, 1552), Peter Godebille became, at the conferences at Poissy, one of the sharpest adversaries of Theodore de Bèze (1561). See M.D. Chenu, L'humanisme et la réforme au college de Saint-Jacques de Paris , in Archives d'histoire dominicaine, vol. 1, Paris, 1946, pp. 130-154.

By preaching at court and directing royal consciences, the Preachers influenced the highest spheres of society: John Clerée and Yves Mahyeuc were royal confessors; Matthew Ory, Prior of Saint-Jacques, had the confidence of Francis I. The king trusted to him his sister, Renée de Valois, who was leaning toward Luther's ideas. James le Hongre preached in 1563, the funeral oration of Francis de Guise. John of Guiencourt (+1553) was Francis I 's preacher; James Foure (+1578), preacher to Henry II and Charles IX.

The episcopate was worthily represented among Dominicans: William Petit, who became Bishop of Troyes, Stephen of Paris auxiliary bishop of Rouen to Cardinal de Vendome, and especially Yves Mahyeuc of the reformed Congregation of Holland., who in his diocese of Rennes (1507-1541) carried on an admirable apostolate of devotion to the poor, of clerical renewal and of defense of the faith (Henri Poisson, Une lumiere de l'Ordre des Freres precheurs, Yves Mahyeuc, place not indicated, 1957).

For the context of the reform movement in France, see DS, vol. 5, col. 896-910, and the bibliography, col. 891-892.


  1. Movements.
  2. The reforming movement.
  3. Spiritural Leaders.
  4. Revolutionary Crisis.
1. Movements

In the course of the 17th and 18th centuries, Dominicans continued to confront contemporary problems. Sometimes they went too far, and got involved in politics. They intervened in movements which were disturbing public opinion: Jansenism, Quietism, Gallicanism. The Janesinists often attempted to compromise them under the pretext that they were not Molinists. If some of them, like Noel Alexandre (+1724), were not strictly orthodox, many were great theologians: Francis Vermeil (+1657), Vincent Baron (+1674), Vincent Contenson (+1674), Antoninus Reginald (+1676), Mortier, vol. 7, pp. 57-61), Alexandre, like many of his confreres, undertook the defense of Gallicanism in his Historia ecclesiastica (Quetif-Echard, vol. 3, pp. 380-398; Mortier, vol. 7, p. 131). Antoninus Massoulie became the uncompromising adversary of Quietism while Louis Chardon and Alexander Piny were much more balanced on questions dealing with mysticism. In the 18th century) Dominicans, such as Bernard Lambert (+1813), were particularly absorbed in controversies with the Encyclopedists and philosophers. In the scientific field, James Goar (1601-1653) and especially Michael Lequien (1661-1733) continued by their important studies the return to Christian antiquity.

At that period, as in the preceding century, Dominican bishops (between 1623 and 1676, in the entire Church there were only 5 cardinals and 152 bishops) made an effort to exert a profound pastoral influence; some by their writings, for example, Nicholas Coeffeteau, Bishop of Marseilles. Others, like Noel Deslandes (1569-1645) in his diocese of Tréguier, were accomplishing a task like Mahyeuc's in the preceding century.

Dominicans stepped aside for no one in apostolic activity. They joined in the movement of preaching to the people. The General Chapter of Rome in 1677 enacted an ordinance in favor of such missions (MOPH, vol. 13, pp. 164-165). The Master General, Antoninus Cloche, in his first circular letter seriously discussed the subject (1686). He especially encouraged the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, one of whose special objectives was the missions. In Britanny as in Provence, convents became centers of this type of apostolic preaching. Devotion to the rosary took on a new impetus; almost every parish, at least in the rechristianized areas, then possessed its confraternity of the rosary. In still another way Dominican spirituality penetrated the world by means of pious groups, and particularly by lay fraternities of the Third Order, attached to various convents.

At Toulouse, for instance a fraternity which encompassed all classes of society was revived by Sebastien Michaelis, This Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena, whose Règlement (1595), he wrote, took over important charitable services in the city; cf. M,-TH. Porte, Esprit social et charité: le Tiers-Ordre dominicain a Toulouse au XVIIe siècle, in Annales du Midi, vol. 70, 1958, pp. 161-180, Likewise in Clermont in Auvergne, where the Tertiary, Marie Paret, died in the odor of sanctity on July 16, 1674, Richard Guillourou, her director, collected her very beautiful letters (R. Guillourou, La Vie de Soeur Marie Paret du TiersOrdre de saint Dominique, Clermont, 1678). In the whole central plateau the Third Order was widespread. Was it the enduring fruit of St. Vincent Ferrer's preaching? In the Vivarais (Languedoc), the Tertiaries were known as the "beatified.". In Auvergne they were very popular under the name of "menettes" (equivalent to nun) and devoted themselves to all manner of charitable works. At the end of the 18th century, one of them, Catherine Jarrige (1754-1836), "Cathinon," played an extraordinary part in the Mauriac region during the Revolution by aiding proscribed priests in their ministry and thus contributing to the preservation of the faith (M.-C. de Ganay, La menette des prêtres, Catherine Jarrige, VS, vol. 6, 1922, pp. 374-393; V. Marmoiton, La vie héroïque de.., Toulouse, 1956).

In Brittany, "houses of tertiaries" taught catechism to children, applied themselves to needlework and attended the sick.

All of these achievements and still others contributed to forming a humble and broad spiritual atmosphere to which, much earlier, Julienne Morell, a nun of Avignon, (1594-1653), bore witness in her commentary on St. Vincent Ferrer's Traite de la vie spirituelle (Lyons, 1617). With such a heritage the irreligion of the 18th century would accomplish little, and the Revolution could not shake the loyalty.

Dominicans also participated in the eremitical movement of the 17th century and up until the Revolution, particularly in Savoy and the Tarentaise. Auguste de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, entrusted to them the hermitage of Voiron. Among the hermits was Peter Molliet (+1637). A certain Paul Molliet is mentioned at the hermitage of Notre-Dame des Chateaux in Beaufort. Theophilus de Chevron-Villette, Archbishop of Moutiers, entrusted to the Dominicans of the hermitage of Mont-Saint-Anne at Villette the formation of some clerics, who, as a matter-of fact, did not put in an appearance.

2. The reforming movement.


A separate destiny affected the reform coming from the north through the Congregation of Holland because of its profound influence on the spiritual life of the French Dominicans. This movement originated in Italy under the influence of Saint Catherine of Siena and was propagated by Raymond of Capua. By the end of the 15th century, convents of the Order extended over the greater part of France. This movement is described in the acts of the Chapters of the congregation and in the treatise De reformations, published by John Uyt den Hove in 1471, in reply to a request for information by Charles the Bold (A. De Meyer, La Congrégation de Hollande, Liege, no date, pp. 321-323; below, pp. ).

The reform revitalized certain religious observances intended to produce real detachment and to awaken souls to the contemplative life. Primitive poverty and austerity were revived.

"No second habit and none made of fine London fabric; no change of habit for summer and winter... Twice a year superiors will make the rounds of the cells, and whatever he finds stored there or superfluous will be brought to the common clothes-room (p. cx) " Total abstinence from meat was again in force; there must have been some difficulty about this, since they made a special point of it. No pocket money or savings of any kind was permitted, even to cover the expenses of travel for studies or degrees to be obtained.

An abuse attached to the existence of boundaries was also suppressed; this name (termes)was applied to the territory reserved to each preacher, where he observed the fruits of his preaching. The "territorial" preachers were henceforth subject, in their activity outside the convent, to minute regulations: "They should be two and they should remain together.., they should present themselves at the convent every two weeks for confession. They could only lodge with persons who were entirely worthy and irreproachable (p. cxvii)." The "territories" could not serve as an asylum for fugitive religious.

It seems that there was also a desire to liberate the Fathers from material responsibility by reviving St. Dominic's attempt which had not been carried out: "The duties of procurator, syndic, vestiarian and infirmarian were entrusted to lay brothers or lay people who were oblates or tertiaries... The lay brothers, sometimes sufficiently well educated or even professionals, seem to have been quite aware of their value and usefulness, if not of their necessity. Over and over again at convocations it was found needful to put them in their place and remind them of the respect and service they owed to priests (pp. x-cxi)."

The contemplative life is impossible without silence. This point was constantly mentioned in the capitular acts. Many convents at that time were open to every comer. Cloister was re-established (p. cxi).

The acquisition of university degrees also led to abuses: men were ambitious for academic degrees and their privileges. The Congregation of Holland reacted energetically. Not that they were satisfied with elementary education, but documents prove that they did not force students into universities without good reason; as a matter of fact, the Congregation had many masters of theology or men who possessed other university degrees. (pp. cxiv-cxv).

Finally, liturgical life was flourishing. Requirements regarding the choral life manifested a deep religious sense: "Attendance at the Office, both by night and by day, is required of all... When the Office has begun, the prior should look to see if any are missing and have them sent for. It is forbidden to leave the choir without permission. The Office should be intoned majestically, then there must be unison in the psalmody (p. cviii)." All that smacks of worldliness was forbidden in the playing of the organ and in the singing (pp. cxv-cxviii).

Thus, the atmosphere was conducive to development of the spiritual life. In general, these measures produced a detachment from creatures, liberating the soul and favoring a life more closely united with God, as well as more zealous for the salvation of souls. They were not, however, innovations: the General Chapters were recommending at that very time what the Congregation of Holland accomplished.

This spirit, at the height of its development in the 15th century, was encountered again, with increased austerity, in Sebastian Michaelis, who inaugurated a second reform at the end of the 16th century in the south and in Paris; and even more in Anthony Le Quieu and his Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, the reformed branch of Provence.


To situate these spiritual currents more precisely, let us indicate the bonds of filiation among the various reform movements in France from the beginning of the 15th century up to the Revolution.

1) The Congregation of Holland. -- The first reformed convent in the north was in The Hague, founded in 1403 by Conrad of Prussia, faithful disciple of John Dominici, himself at the head of the reform in Italy. A little later, some religious who had lived as students in the reformed milieu of Bologna returned to Rotterdam, where they instituted the reform. It spread from there to the recently founded convent of Calcar. But the great artisan of reform in the Netherlands was John Uyt den Hove (+1489). He also, it seems, witnessed the reform in Bologna and persuaded his brothers at Gand to adopt it. Shortly before, in 1455, the Provincial of France, John Louvrier, appointed Uvt den Hove vicar of the "nation" of Picardy, a position of great influence. In 1457, the Master General, Auribelli, approved the constitution of the Congregation of Holland. Modeled on that of Lombardy, it comprised the convents of Lille and Gand (Province of France), Rotterdam, The Hague, Calcar (Province of Saxony), and a new foundation in Brussels. On October 8, 1464, the Congregation was juridically erected. It spread constantly throughout Europe during the 15th century. In France, convents extended from Nantes to Annecy.

2) The Congregation of France. -- In the south, Blessed Andrew Abellon was named vicar of the reform at the convent of Arles (1432). However, representatives of the Congregation of Holland had to come to the rescue. On May 6, 1497, Master General Toriani, at the injunction of Cardinal Carafa, protector of the Order, erected the reformed Congregation of France, grouping together four convents of the Province of Toulouse (Albi, Castres, Auvillars, Auch) and four of the Province of Provence (Aries, Marseilles, Béziers, Clermont-de-Lodeve). The reformed Congregation of France lasted until 1569, at which date it was transformed into the Province of Occitaine.

3) The Congregation of Holland spread and was divided. In 1502 the Convent of Saint-Jacques in Paris was reformed and became the leader in uniformity of observance. At Louis XII's request to Leo X in 1514, the French convents of the Congregation of Holland were erected into an autonomous congregation called Gallican, with 22 convents; by 1573 it numbered 27. The Congregation of Britanny became autonomous at about the same period.

4) The 17th century. -- The primitive spirit did not endure and again the need for reform was felt. Sebastian Michaelis undertook the work. Having entered the convent of Marseilles of the Congregation of France in 1560, after years of effort he obtained from the Master General, Galamini, thanks to the intervention of Henri IV, the erection of the reformed Congregation of Occitaine (September 22, 1608), grouping together the convents of Toulouse, Albi, Béziers, Clermont-l'Herault, Saint-Maximin with the vicariate of Sainte-Baume, Castres and Montauban. The definitive impetus to reform came only with the foundation in Paris of the reformed convent of the Annunciation in Faubourg Saint-Honoré (1613). Michaelis died in 1618. At the request of Louis XIII, the Congregation assumed, in 1629, the name of Saint-Louis and included 18 convents.

Upon that Congregation a more rigorous reform was grafted by Anthony Le Quieu, with the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, Father Anthony entered the convent of the Annunciation in 1622 and founded his first reformed convent in 1636 at Lagnes, near Avignon. He died in 1676. The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament spread in the Comtat-Venaissin (Avignon of the Popes) and in Provence.

A third convent, under the patronage of St. Dominic, was founded in Paris in 1631. The Master General, Turco, intended it as a general novitiate to extend the spirit of reform throughout France. The plan failed principally through the opposition of John Baptist Carré, the first prior of that convent, who wanted to develop it into an autonomous congregation.

The Congregation of St. Louis did not continue as a unit. Rivalries obliged the Masters General to further separations. The convents south of the Loire in 1646 joined the reformed Province of Toulouse while the Congregation claimed the convents situated in the north. As for the Gallican Congregation, it became about the same time the Province of Paris.

In 1650, at the accession of Master General John Baptist de Marinis, the Order in France numbered five provinces: Toulouse (reformed), France, Provence, Occitaine, and Paris; three Congregations: Saint-Louis, Brittany (with 7 convents), and Blessed Sacrament. To these we must add a group of non-reformed convents of the Province of Toulouse, under a vicar general, and the convent of Saint-Dominic of Paris, the general novitiate, immediately under the direction of the Master General.

Such divisions were not propitious for the future. Moreover, they went counter to the original organization into provinces conceived as ed.territories to be evangelized. Nevertheless, the reform movement had time to produce abundant fruits, especially during the 17th century.

3. Spiritual Leaders.

15th AND 16th CENTURIES.

Few names are outstanding among the French Dominicans of the 15th century. This is not surprising, if one considers that during the first part of the century the country was devastated by the Hundred Years' War and the convents destroyed. It was only gradually that the results of the reform became apparent,

In the south, Blessed Andrew Abellon (+1450), Prior of St. Maximin's in 1419, then vicar of the reform at the convent of Arles, introduced observance at Aix, then at Marseilles and Avignon. In the north, John Clerée (1455-1507), vicar general of the Congregation of Holland in 1499, introduced the reform at Saint-Jacques. A friend of Standonck, and austere, he gave the reform in France an enduring impetus. His Sermones quadragesimales (Paris, 1520) and De adventu (Paris, 1522) have a simple, evangelical style. -- William Pepin (+1533) was a preacher of renown: Sermones dominicales.., 2 vol., Paris, 1529-1530; etc., William Petit (1480-1536), one of the leaders of the religious-and academic reform at Saint-Jacques, produced some works in the style of the morelists of the beginning of the century: Jardin de la foi, Paris, 1537; La formation de l'homme et son excellence.., with the Viat de salut, Paris, 1538; etc.

The rosary devotion, promoted by Alain de la Roche (+1475) (DS, vol. 1, colt 269-270), found a propagator in Michael François (+1502) (See DS, vol. 5, col. 1107-1115); it inspired a number of devotional works, especially in the 17th century.

In the course of the 16th century certain spiritual trends appeared in France, in which, while preserving their originality, the Dominicans became involved. Among them, Peter Doré (+1569) was a prolific and widely read author, He developed the themes of conversion, the desire and love of God, His style, replete with imagery, placed him among Dominicans at the head of the devout humanists, He was not, however, a first-rate writer; his style is heavy and verbose. See DS, vol. 3, col. 1641-1645.

Spirituality could also have learned something from the preachers and controversialists. We merely indicate a few names: John Reynard (+before 1515), sermons De peregrinatione generis human) and De infirmitatibus generis human) (Lyons, 1515). -- Peter Divole (+1568), Dix sermons de la sainte Messe et ceremonies... and Instructions et sermons pour tous les jours de carême (preached at Chartres in 1558). Paris, 1577). -- Anthony Abelly, La manière de bien prier avea la vertu et efficace de l'oraison.., Paris, 1564; Sermons sur les Lamentations du saint prophète Hierémie, Paris, 1582. -- Etc.


1) Among those in the front ranks of the reform, Sebastian Michaelis held first place, both in time and in influence. The reformer appeared as a somewhat exclusive personality; he took over the customs inaugurated by the Italian or Spanish reformers, adding a rigidity and seriousness which anticipated the French grand siecle. He was not exempt from a certain narrowmindedness which led him, for example, to disperse the splendid library of Saint-Maximin. Another trait of the man was his taste for the marvelous; hence his Admirable histoire de la possession et conversion d'une pénitente, supported by his discours or Traité des esprits (Paris, 1613) which went through a number of editions. Francis Dooms (+1635), a specialist in exorcisms, whom Michaelis summoned to his side, was one of his dearest companions and helped him to found the convent of the Annunciation.

More attractive and also better balanced was, it seems, the personality of Michaelis' disciple, Peter Girardel (+1633). We know him through the account of his life written by his nephew, Francis Girardel, a priest. About 1595, he was associated with a pious group in Paris, directed by Carthusians. He was induced by a certain Father Bourguignon to teach humanities to the Dominican novices in Toulouse. Attracted by the reform of Michaelis, then Prior of Toulouse, he took the habit. What was outstanding in him was a great devotion to the Passion and the Wounds of Christ. Extant is his Ascetica orationis dominicae commentatiuncula, a sort of exercise of the presence of God for the seven days of the week, valuable enough to be long attributed to St. Teresa (ed. in Arnauld d'Andilly, Oeuvres, vol. 7, Paris, 1670, pp. 627-647). Most of the religious we shall encounter were formed by Girardel or lived within his sphere of influence.

A notion of the ideal of the reform can be grasped by reading the brief biography of Brother Simon Balièvre (+1622), written by Louis Chardon (in Année dominicaine, March 26). Especially noteworthy were his modesty of demeanor, respect for superiors and his obedience, assiduity in choir attendance and spiritual reading (cf. introduction of F. Florand to La Croix de Jésus by Louis Chardon, Paris, 1937, pp. xxvi-xxvii).

2) The principal spiritual authors of the century were all marked by contemporary spiritual currents: the undeniable influence of Francis de Sales, Bérulle and his school. Nevertheless, as F. Florand has said of Chardon (ibid., p. cxlvii), they cannot be said to belong to those schools.

a) Louis Chardon (1595-1651; DS, vol. 3, col. 498-503) recalled the mystical current proceeding from the Rhinelanders; his translation of the Divines Institutions des leçons de la perfection (Paris, 1650), a compilation of texts from Eckhart, Tauler, Ruyebroeck, etc. give evidence of the enturing influence of the Nordic mystics (DS, vol. 5, col. 920-921), The doctrine of abandonment found in Chardon an original development in his great work La Croix de Jésus (Paris, 1647). Its essential theme is that Christians are all the more tried by suffering as they are more united to Christ by grace. This doctrine rests upon the dogma of the Mystical Body; the importance which the latter assumed in the mysticism of the Rhineland is well known, in Eckhart, for example. But here this doctrine accentuates to excess the suffering aspect of the life of Christ. The austere reform of Michaelis, based upon afflictive penances, perhaps oriented the thinking of Chardon in this direction.

The spirituality of Chardon held a rather important place at this period. True, neither Massoulie nor Piny mentioned it their silence was perhaps motivated by certain overtones of Quietism. But a relationship cannot be denied between Chardon and some passages of John de Rechac and de Billecoq. It should be remarked that John de Rechac and Francis Penon were censors for the Divines Institutions and approved them.

b) Alexander Piny (1640-1709-) moved in the same milieu as Chardon. After sixteen years at Saint-Jacques, beginning in 1690 he found strict observance once again in the convent of the general novitiate, St. Dominic's. His spirituality was centered in abandonment and pure love. If at times quietist expressions appear under his pen, his explanations are satisfactorily orthodox.

For example: "Perfection," he wrote, "is acquired not so much by doing as by letting be done." But, as H. Bremond observed (vol. 8, p. 104) one never wills more intensely, more voluntarily, than when one wills "to be done unto." Piny was precise about it: "We do much more by accepting peacefully the powerlessness into which God sometimes casts us, so as to make us unable, for instance, to pray (ibid., p. 105)."

Spiritual works:

See H. Bremond, Histoire littéraire.., vol. 8, pp. 78-178; Quétif-Echard, vol. 3, pp. 117-120.

c) Next to Piny we should place John Fracis Billecoq (1631-1711); DS, vol. 1, col. 1619; Bremond, vol. 8, pp. 424-433). More of a mystic than has sometimes been claimed, certain of his traits resemble closely those of Chardon. Among Les Voyes de Dieu (Amiens, 1693), there are two principal courses: the way of consolation and the way of interior trials. The first takes account of a certain experience of God in a conscious union. The soul is joyful because its whole life is in harmony with the divine order. More than in itself, this consolation is recognized by its effects, among others, recollection. Nevertheless, Billecoq seems to have a preference for the second way, as less subject to illusion. Interior trials result from an unsatiated desire, the interior rending of the soul which does not yet belong entirely to God and especially from the resistance caused by defects and traces of sin. Here again, the author seems to be speaking from experience. The Instructions familières sur les ratiques de la vraie dévotion (Abbeville, 1673) , is worth consulting.

d) Anthony of the Blessed Sacrament Le Quieu (1601-1676); DS, vol. 1, col. 719) produced a work which was quite individual in the spiritual as well as the apostolic field. Sent in 1631 to the convent of Avignon as Master of Novices, he aimed at founding convents of strict observance. His plan aroused a storm of opposition. In 1636, however, he managed to begin his work and soon became vicar general of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.

In the villages he founded very poor, small convents destined to rechristianize the rural areas by means of missions. The conventual religious life was distinctly marked by devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, a congregation founded by Le Quieu in 1659, maintained perpetual adoration. This Congregation is still in existence. He also insisted upon devotion to the rosary. Many paintings of that period illustrating the rosary, in all the churches of Provence, recall his memory such as the chapel of the mysteries of the rosary, attributed to Mignard, at Bédouin, Vaucluse.

His spirituality was oriented toward total abandonment to the will of God or the "ecstasy of the will" for which one prepares by progress in detachment. It resembles the Ascent of Mount Carmel of John of the Cross and perhaps even more the Nordic mystics (La véritable voie pour arriver bientôt a la plus haute perfection par les exercices de dix jours. The Aviignon edition, 1685, is worthless. The authentic text is that of ms 574 in the municipal library of Avignon, a ms which may well be written by Le Quieu). He had a great devotion to the person of Christ especially in the Eucharist, but also in his infancy and in the mysteries of his redemptive love. La Vie cachée et divine jeunesse de Jésus, depuis la douzieme année de son âge jusqu'à la trentième (Avignon, 1659) is the only work published by Anthony Le Quieu. A good portion of his works was edited in a single volume by M.-A. Potton (Lyons, 1864 ; etc.), unfortunately with a good deal of alteration. In addition Discours sur les grandeurs du Saint Nom de Jésus, (published in Vie dominicaine, Fribourg, Switzerland, vol. 19, 1960) and some letters, partly unpublished, contain beautiful pages on conformity to the will of God and on the Eucharist.

The most important source is the life published by Archangel Gabriel of the Annunciation Turdan (+1695) (Avignon, 1682) in two volumes. Turdan, in unpublished correspondence, developed the teaching of Anthony Le Quieu, especially on the Eucharist, in a somewhat bombastic style.

3) A final group of Dominicans, who reacted against the mystics, was represented principally by Antoninus Massoulie and Vincent Contenson, each quite distinct from the other.

Antoninus Massoulie (1632-1706) occupied important posts during the reform: Master of Novices at the general novitiate, elected Provincial at Toulouse (1679), named Prior of the general novitiate (1684), inquisitor at Toulouse, etc. Throughout the year he had to concern himself with Quietism and Jansenism and to engage in the controversy over Molinism. It was perhaps due to those circumstances that he acquired the reputation for being anti-mystical. In a rather dull style his work presents a very classical, one might say almost matter of fact, doctrine: teaching on the virtues and methodical meditation. But this portrait would be incomplete were we to fail to observe that he recommends devotion to the presence of God and the desire for union with God; the affective aspect is indeed present in the prayer he he recommends. On the other hand, any boldness of expression frightens him, Perhaps this is why he does not mention either Chardon or Piny, He does bear a certain relationship, nevertheless, to those "spirituals," notably in the emphasis placed on suffering: according to him, "the whole life" of Christ "was a continual agony" (Traité de l' amour de Dieu, Paris, 1703; 1866 ed., p. 489) and the love of the cross is the most assured sign of our love for God. Rather than in the Traité de la véritable oraison (Paris, 1699) or the Traité de l'amour de Dieu, both essentially polemic works against the quietists, we must look for his spiritual doctrine in the Méditations de saint Thomas sur les trois voies purgative, illuminative et unitive pour les exercices de dix jours (2 vols., Toulouse, 1678), which served as a manual of spirituality for generations of novices.

That title is somewhat questionable, for Massoulie depended too often on inauthentic texts. Although the plan is classical, the last chapters are the most original. Massoulie also published a Traité des vertus, but Echard, relying on the evidence of E.-T. Soueges, attributes it to John He Senarens (+1645) (Quétif-Echard, vol. 2, pp. 575-576). Massoulie was one of the authors who exerted the greatest influence in the Order until the end of the 19th century.

Vincent Contenson (1640-1674; DS, vol. 2, col. 2193-2096) was a friend of Massoulie, with whom he became associated in the general novitiate. In his only work Theologia mentis et cordis, Contenson tried to steer a course between speculation and piety; the book therefore sometimes assumes an affective quality. That is the sole originality of Contenson. He rarely speaks of mystical states. His tender devotion to Mary in a treatise placed at the end of the 10th book, where his expressions sometimes recall St. Bernard. -- See his notice in the Dictionnaire de spiritualité.

4) In the entourage of these leaders, other spiritual authors, not of the first rank, are nevertheless worthy of note.

a) Christian Humanists:

b) The group at the convent of Faubourg Saint-Honoré:

To these may be added the historians Thomas Soueges (+1698), initiator of the Année dominicaine, James Quétif (+1698) and James Echard (+1724) (cf. Mortier, vol. 7, pp. 329-339).

c) Authors from other convents:

Let us point out the paucity of spiritual writings in the west of France, where Preachers produced only a few works of devotion, mostly on the rosary.


The Dominican 18th century in France may not be considered as a period clearly distinct from the 17th. The authors who published in the first fifty years followed the example of their predecessors who were still being read. But spiritual works were infrequent. Interests lay elsewhere: debates on the subject of Jansenism, replies to the attacks of the Encyclopedists and philosophers, disturbances arising in the Order through, the commission of regulars (1768; cf Mortier, vol. 7, pp. 399-406). Writers dealt with apologetics and controversy; even the preachers directed their sermons to such topics.

4. The Revolutionary Crisis.

Certain it is that the work of the reform accomplished in the 17th century was not continued into the following century. We have indirect evidence of this in published spiritual literature, scarce as it west end likewise in statistics.

It is generally admitted (Walz, p. 423) that the French provinces lost a third of their personnel in the 18th century; the commission of regulars, even in 1768, claimed no more than 1432 Dominicans (cf. L. Lecestre, Abbayes, prieurès et couvents d'hommes... d'apre's les papiers de la commission des réguliers, Paris, 1902, pp. 113-119; P. Chevallier, Lomenie de Brienne et l'ordre monastique (1766-1789), 2 vols., Paris, 1959-1960). In 1790, there were still 1173 Dominicans in the provinces and congregations of France (Walz, p. 424). The numerical decline therefore took place previous to 1768. Should we speak of decadence? A too general acceptance of this would be unjust; a distinction must be made according to provinces and convents.

The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament experienced a real decadence. It dropped from 85 in 1758 to 55 in 1768 and 26 in 1790. In a series of letters to the Master General (1776-1777), the Novice Master, John Louis Arnaud, deplored the swift decline, the continuance in office of an unworthy vicar general, a sort of intriguing "philosopher," and requested to be allowed to join the Trappists. In 1789, three letters from members of the Congregation asked the National Assembly for its suppression, rather than its reunion with a province. They showed great concern to assure the religious, materially, of a tranquil life.

The attitude of the religious when confronted by revolutionary procedures could be perceived as a sign of the quality of spiritual life that was maintained.

Xavier Faucher explored this subject at the beginning of the 20th century in the archives of Santa Sabina in Rome and the French national archives; we make use of his notes (ms, convent of Eveux sur l'Arbresle).

1) Replies of the religious to the representatives of the Assembly who came to "liberate" them from their vows (decree of February 15, 1790). In Paris, on the 19th March, 1790, each member of the general novitiate declared firmly to the delegates his intention of remaining, with the exception of one lay brother novice. At Saint-Jacques (May 10), of 23 religious, 12 wished to stay, 2 to leave; 6 were undecided and 3 Savoyards departed for Savoy. At Saint-Honoré, of 26 religious, 16 wished to leave, one withdrew to the convent on the Rue du Bac, and one was expelled.

In the provinces, the attitude of the religious most often indicated their fidelity. For Annecy, an official report of 7 fructidor, 2nd year, mentions 4 expelled and 6 settled elsewhere. According to one list, Arras had 7 expelled. At Bergues (April 28, 1790), 19 choir religious and 7 lay brothers out of 8 declared their wish to remain together in their Order and live according to the rule of their institute; 18 of them were expelled. At Lille (May 11, 1790), 3 renounced common life; 12 choir and 3 lay brothers decided to remain. At Bordeaux (April 26, 1790), 12 wished to live and die in the Order; 6 could not make up their minds at the moment; 9 wished to leave. Among those in Toulouse, 3 were expelled, 8 incarcerated; this convent seems to have preserved a certain fervor, at least until the middle of the century; in 1755-1756 professions are indicated as having taken place at one or two o'clock in the morning, a sign that the night office was still maintained. The Dominicans of Nantes took refuge in Spain; those of Alsace in Switzerland, after the law of August 26, 1792; 16 are mentioned at Einsiedeln; however, two religious went into hiding to service the faithful.

2) From 1793 on, all community life disappeared and the Reign of Terror began its depredations. Some of the religious emigrated (for the Pontifical States, see the list in the Actes des martyrs et des contesseurs de la foi pendant la Revolution, vol. 1, Tours, 1918, p. 415). The greatest number, it seems dispersed in France itself and it is difficult to trace them. But the Preachers figure honorably in the martyrology of those detained in prison-ships and strongholds (Mortier, vol. 7, pp. 421424).

On the island of Re were 7 Dominicans. Anthony Belin died there; Joseph Charles Garret died at Guiana; 4 were held at Oleron; John George Thomas was on the ship Deux-Associés, laid up in the Island of Aix, where he died; 12 Dominicans in the region of Bordeaux; etc.

Sister Rose (Barbara Jago), a Third Order religious, was executed at Brest on July 30, 1794 (P. Armel, Une fournee du tribunal revolutionnaire de Brest, in Etudes franciscaines, vol. 22, July-December 1909, pp. 26-46).

There is extant the Journal des prêtres insermentés du diocèse de Tarbes (Bagnères-de-Bigorre, 1905) by Joseph Laspales (1730-1808). This Dominican, confessor to the Sisters of Prouille, was incarcerated from August, 1793, until March, 1794; after that he took care of the parish of Laborde and was again imprisoned at Tarbes from February, 1796, until January, 1797.

Add to the general bibliography the following:

The Inventaire des Jacobins (ms, departmental archives of the Rhone), drawn up by the Dominican, Simeon Andrew Ramette (1685-1772), presents in its last volume (vol. 4, part 2, fol. 236-283) notices about Preachers of the convent of Lyons; the first ones are copies of Quetif-Echard, but the last ones concerning Ramette's contemporaries are most interesting.

Raphael-Louis OECHSLIN


1. The Renaissance of the Order.

Henry Dominic Lacordaire (1802-1861) took the habit in Rome in 1839 and vigorously began the restoration of the Order of Preachers in French-speaking countries. Dominicans reappeared in France after fifty years of absence (1843); the province of France was reestablished (1850); the teaching Third Order was founded (1852), transformed (1923) into a teaching Congregation. The province of France gave rise to those of Lyons (1862), Toulouse (1865), Canada (1911). The province of Belgium was reorganized (1860). This impulse, brought to a halt by the expulsions of 1880 and 1903, then by the war of 1914, was renewed each time with fresh vigor.

Although we are dealing only with the Order here, we must say a word about Dominican congregations of women, revived in France earlier; the teaching Dominicans of Toulouse were organized by 1800. The 19th century saw more than thirty congregations, of either diocesan or papal jurisdiction, most of them in the third quarter of the century (R. Zeller, Les congrégations dominicaines du Tiers-Ordre régulier, collection Les ordres religieux, Paris, 1924; A. Duval, art. Dominicaines in Catholicisme, vol. 3, 1952, col. 984-993). On Thérese Dominique FARRE, see DS, vol. 5, col. 100-102.

A constant recurrence in the history of the Preachers, this renewal of profound and observant religious life was manifested by an intense production of spiritual writings.

2. Lacordaire's teaching.

Lacordaire's teaching was entirely supernatural. For him, the Christian life proceeds from faith, a living faith which-exercises its vitality by close union with Jesus Christ, especially with Jesus crucified. This life demands the practice of austere virtues, humility and penance; it requires maganimity and filial abandonment to the will of God. The great preacher expressed this doctrine in his conferences, his historical works, and above all in his copious correspondence, of which only a part has been published up to now.

His influence was very great. With an informed sense of history and a courage explainable only by his practicality as a restorer, he reestablished in Dominican life the great traditions of the Order. His sons lived by his spirit. He enriched and deepened the latter by the most intimate contact with the Order's past and the theology of St. Thomas.

Bibliography of works and studies: G. Ledos, Morceaux choisis et bibliographic de.., Paris, 1922; DTC, vol. 8, 1925, col 2422-2424.

Since then have appeared:

Some reviews have dedicated a special number to the centenary of the death of Lacordaire: VS, vol. 104, 1961 (February); Cahiers Saint-Dominique, September-October 1961; etc.

3. Return to the Sources.

Good historical studies brought details to light, and even the practice of the observances has familiarized us more intimately with the spirit. Henry Cormier (+1916), restorer and thrice Provincial of the province of Toulouse, then Master General, contributed in a special way to this progress by directly influencing the formation of the young religious. He published (1872) an Instruction des novices, composed on the lines of the reform of Michaelis. Moreover, from the beginning of the restoration, Dominican spiritual writers of the preceding century were the object of new editions or translations. This work has never since been interrupted. Thus the French reading public has available all or part of the works of Jordan of Saxony, Humbert de Romans, Venturion of Bergamo, Tauler, Suso, Catherine of Siena, Antoninus of Florence, Savonarola, Melchior Cano, Louis of Granada, Catherine de Ricci, L. Chardon, Julienne Morell, Thomas Vallgornera, Anthony Le Quieu, Massoulie, Piny. Several of the works are critical and accompanied by learned introductions: thus, in recent years, that of Tauler's Sermons (ed. Hugueny-Thery-Corin, 1927-1935), abd of La Croix de Jésus by Chardon (ed. F. Florand, 1937).

4. Thomism.

In Dominican spirituality, St. Thomas is much more than one author among others: he is the theologian. It is to the angelic doctor that Dominican spirituality faithfully adheres.

After the restoration, studies were organized and developed. Gradually, professors elucidated the spiritual value of Thomism. Among the best workers in this field two theologians must be mentioned who succeeded one another as regents of the province of France, Ambrose Gardeil (+1931) and A. Lemonnyer (+1932). Both reliable Thomists, and in direct contact with souls through the preaching of priestly and religious retreats, they dedicated a good part of their intellectual labors to works of spirituality. Edward Hugon, Professor in Rome (+1929), and Thomas Pègues, regent of the province of Toulouse (+1936), seconded this movement, the former by clear summaries of Thomistic thought, the latter less by his writings than by his fervent devotion to such thought. At the same time, preachers such as J,-M.-L. Monsabre (+1907) and M.-A. Janvier (+1939), who occupied the pulpit of Notre Dame of Paris for more than forty years, imbued a vast public with an appreciation of St. Thomas' spirituality.

Especially after the war of 1914, an interest in mystical questions increased. The Thomist school made an effort to identify the mystical life with the doctrine of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They considered it, at least in its essence, as an excellent but normal form of the expansion of charity in us. Thus, while A.-M. Meynard (+1904), in his Traité de la vie intérieure, which appeared in 1885, considered mysticism as an extraordinary way, R.-G. Gerest, in the re-edition which he produced (1924), modified the original version on this point. He made use of the works of R. Garrigou-Lagrange (+1964) (Perfection chrétienne et contemplation selon S. Thomas d'Aquin et S. Jean de la Croix, 2 vol, Saint-Maximin, 1923), to whom we later owed the important Traité de théologie ascétique et mystique. Les trois âges de la vie intérieure (2 vol., Paris, 1938-1939), etc. Another evidence of interest in spiritual questions, the Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques of the Saulchoir began in 1920 a bulletin of mystical theology, transformed in 1930 into a bulletin of spiritual theology.

See the notice on R. GARRIGOU-LAGRANGE, DS, vol. 6.

5. Spiritual Authors.

Dominican spirituality gave rise in France to many publications. We cite here authors who died before 1950, with one or other of their works and without returning to writers already mentioned.

Mention must also be made of some Dominican periodicals. The Revue de la jeunesse (1909-1914), founded by P.M. Barge, became in 1915 the Revue des jeunes. Directed at its inception by A.-D. Sertillanges it gave special attention to spiritual questions. The Revue dominicaine of Montreal, the Revue de la vie chrétienne (Lyons) are less important than La vie spirituelle (1919ff) and its Supplements (1922ff), of which M.-V. Bernadot was the founder and for a long time the leading spirit (see VS, vol. 65, 1941, pp. 97-107; vol. 71, 1944, pp. 218-233; Catholicisme, vol. 1, 1948, col. 1472-1473). In addition to periodicals intended for a wide public, other more specialized ones correspond to the needs of Dominican apostolates, foreign missions, confraternities of the rosary and the Third Order.


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