Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Dictionary of Basilian Biography: Lives of Members of the Congregation of Priests of Saint Basil from Its Origins in 1822 to 2002

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Dictionary of Basilian Biography: Lives of Members of the Congregation of Priests of Saint Basil from Its Origins in 1822 to 2002

Article excerpt

Dictionary of Basilian Biography: Lives of Members of the Congregation of Priests of Saint Basil from Its Origins in 1822 to 2002. Second edition. Revised and augmented by E Wallace Platt. (Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press. 2005. Pp. xsviii, 715. $125.00.)

"Let us now sing the praises of those great men." Although the dedication begins and the dust jacket ends this immense tome with Sirach, these 649 biographies are not eulogies. This is yet another reference work to join a growing list of Canadian religious biographical dictionaries-notably the Canadian Jesuit, Oblate, and Sulpician dictionaries. The Basilian dictionary requires a review, because it has several points in its favor.

First, it is published by a university press and, while that is not an automatic guarantee of better quality than other Catholic biographical dictionaries (although it does reach university standards of research, writing, editing, and publishing), it will reach a different audience through its own distribution network, guaranteeing a wider impact.

Second, it is a dictionary that includes every deceased Basilian priest, even those who left the Congregation of Saint Basil. Only professed students who left before ordination are omitted. Other dictionaries rarely aspire to such comprehensiveness. Either the challenge is too great for very large Congregations, forcing a selection of more noteworthy individuals, or the compilers ignored those who left religious life. Few multi-volume efforts attempted comprehensiveness, even before legal worries of confidentiality, and they include only the briefest of entries. Not this one.

Third, it is a dictionary than crosses national boundaries, and includes French, English, Canadian, American, and a few other nationalities, as well as careers that go even farther, into Mexico and the Caribbean. Researchers and historians interested in the Catholic religious history of-in chronological order-France (the Ardeche); Toronto, Windsor, and the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario; Louisville, Kentucky; Algeria; Plymouth, England; Detroit, Michigan; Waco and Houston, including Hispanic ministry in Texas; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Rochester, New York; Gary (now Merrill ville), Indiana; St. …

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