Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Aspects De L'érudition Hagiographique Aux XVII^sup E^ et XVIII^sup E^ Siècles

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Aspects De L'érudition Hagiographique Aux XVII^sup E^ et XVIII^sup E^ Siècles

Article excerpt

Aspects de l'érudition hagiographique aux XVII^sup e^ et XVIII^sup e^ siècles. By Bernard Joassart. [École pratique des Hautes Études. Sciences historiques et philologiques- V; Hautes Études médiévales et modernes, 99] (Geneva: Librairie Droz. 2011. Pp. x, 171. $72.00 paperback. ISBN 978-2-600-013604.)

The European Renaissance presumed the myth of the golden age. Whatever was good was located in a remote and pristine past. The Jesuits as "Renaissance men" approved of the recovery of texts, cleaner texts (reconciling the many variants) and corrected ancient texts- an early form of "historical criticism"- delving into the glorious past alongside other Renaissance scholars, religious or "secular," Protestant or Catholic. Even so, criticism of the lives of the saints formed just a small part of the textual recovery of the era.

Joassart writes that Jean Bolland (1596-1665) worked alone in compiling the Acta Sanctorum until he was joined by Godefroid Henschen (1601-81) and later by Daniel Papebroch (1628-1714). There is scant reference to hagiography in the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum. Even though it grew into a legend, as did the small mission to Quebec recounted in the Relations jésuites, the Bollandist hagiographical work was a numerically insignificant apostolate of the Society.

Not surprisingly, "friendly rivalry" developed between the older and established Benedictines and the Jesuits. Dom Jean Mabillon (1632-1707), a monk of the Congregation of St. Maur and student of Luc d'Achery (1609-83), gained fame for his profound study of the Acta of the Benedictine saints. The Maurist scholars were numerous, but only Mabillon distinguished himself in hagiography, although he did not work alone and was active in other areas of study. Mabillon's masterpiece was the De re diplomatica (Paris, 1681; and supplement, Paris, 1704). Joassart asserts that Bolland and Mabillon were "twins" in the work they did for their respective communities. He likewise asserts that the Bollandists eagerly followed the numerous publications of the Maurists to stimulate their own research (p. 53)The two communities did not organize or present their material in the same way. The Maurist hagiography was intended primarily for internal consumption, whereas the Jesuits were writing apologetics for the whole world. …

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