(religious name Marie-Joseph) Lagrange
7 March 18 55 - 10 March 1938.
A brief biography.
(religious name Marie -Joseph) Lagrange, was born in Bourg-en-Bresse
(Ain), France on March the 7th, 1855.
The young Albert Lagrange had a varied career before becoming a Dominican. He studied law for five years and received his law degree, then spent a year in military service before entering the major seminary at Issy.
While there, he decided to become a religious. He went to the Dominican convent of St. Maximin (Var), near Marseilles, and received the habit and the religious name Marie-Joseph (1879). The day after his profession in 1880, religious orders were once more expelled from France. He was sent to finish his studies at Salamanca (Spain), where he managed to get in extra work in Hebrew. He was ordained a priest on 22 December 1883 In Zamora (Spain). «Je dis ma première messe le dimanche 23 à l’autel du Saint-Rosaire, avec la joie ineffable de donner la communion à ma mère et à ma sœur Thérèse. » (Souvenirs personnels)
He taught Church History and Holy Scripture for a while, then was sent to the Vienna University (1889-1890, Österreich) to hone his oriental languages skills, and to study Egyptian hieroglyph. In the priory of Vienna, he was a friend of prior Andreas Frühwirth, later the 75th Master of the Order (1891-1904).
To Jerusalem, 1890.
On February the 5th, 1889, he was ordered to leave for Jerusalem. Right away, he sketched a working programme, and on November the 15th, 1890, he opened in a former Turkish slaughterhouse, in which the rings the animals were to be hung from were still to be seen, l’École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem (EBAF). He founded la Revue biblique en 1892, and the series Études bibliques en 1898.
Marie-Joseph Lagrange was a partisan of the encyclical ‘Providentissimus Deus’ (18 November 1893) of Pope Leo XIII, inviting scholars to solve the difficulties created by a rationalist analysis of the Bible through an exegesis that would be at the same time rooted in tradition, but progressive. However, some disliked his scientific approach and, as he was working doggedly to refute those who were questioning the essential data of Christian faith, he was censored and had to leave Jerusalem for a year, in 1914. Neither formally condemned nor rehabilitated, had Lagrange remained heroically faithful to the Church. From 1918 until 1935, he was again scholar of the École Biblique of Jerusalem with great scientific rigour; he put his intelligence to the service of the Gospel and the truth.
The relation of
Jean Marie-Joseph Lagrange
with Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney.
From the article of Manuel Rivero, O.P., vice-postulator of the cause of beatification of Marie-Joseph Lagrange, O.P. International Dominican Information (IDI), volume 473, June 2009, p. 178-179.
“The life of
Albert Lagrange was marked by the holy Curé d’Ars since his early childhood, as
he recalls in his ‘Journal Spirituel’. His mother
Elisabeth, who already lost two babies, feared for the live of her child and
took him to Ars.
‘I was born on the 7th March, the day of Saint Thomas. I was baptized on the 12thm, feast of Saint Gregory and, according to custom was surely consecrated to Mary at the altar of the Black Virgin. Therefore, since the beginning I found myself under the protection of Saint Joseph. My mother had made a promise and for three years, she made me wear blue and white in Mary’s honour. What a sweet thought, and is not this at the origin of her loving care for me? My parents took me on a pilgrimage to Ars. The holy Curé blessed me and perhaps cured me of an intestinal dysfunction.”
L.-H. Vincent, O.P., who was for forty years disciple, confidant and friend of
Lagrange, the Curé d’Ars told his mother: “The child will not die. One day he
will be a light for the Church.” The sister of Lagrange, Thérèse Lagrange,
stated that she had heard her mother say these words some time before her death.
During the summer of 1879, before joining the Order of Saint Dominic, Albert Lagrange, then a seminarian at Issy-les-Moulineaux, made a pilgrimage to Ars with his mother in order to ask the holy Curé Jean-Marie Vianney the gave of discernment. “During the holidays, I went to Ars with my mother, and I was much moved.’
In the priory of Saint-Maximin, near Marseille, Lagrange, a novice, asked for the intercession of the Curé d’Ars to obtain humility.
When the cornerstone of the Biblical School of Jerusalem was placed on the 5th of June 1891, Jean-Marie Joseph Lagrange deposited in it a fragment from the cassock of the Curé of Ars.
His active life.
During his whole
life, Lagrange worked for the salvation of souls through the interpretation of
the Word of God. Following the Curé of Ars, he worked for the sanctification of
the People of God.
The Dominican friars who lived with him give testimony of his availability when he was asked to hear the confession of a priest, while the priory's porter was afraid to upset a friar who was so occupied with his research and his publications.
Following the example of the Curé of Ars, Lagrange profoundly loved the priesthood and the priests.”
His death and beatification.
years in Jerusalem, Father Lagrange was forced by ill health to return to
France. He had been a warrior for historical and scientific truth not all of his
long life, and it was easy to settle down to a quiet life in the priory of St.
On the day before his death, he was sitting up in bed correcting proofs of his latest book, his keen mind undimmed and his fighting spirit persevering. While one critic shouted that he was "too conservative" and another thundered that he was "too advanced," he serenely finished his last article for the Revue Biblique, and said peacefully, "I abandon myself to God," and murmured "Jerusalem, Jerusalem" as he passed into unconsciousness. He died on March 10, 1938.
He was buried there in the Dominican cemetery, and in November 1967, his remains were then brought to Jerusalem and buried in Saint Stephen's, where they now rest.
The cause for Beatification.
The cause for the Beatification of the Founder of the Ecole Biblique was introduced in 1988, fifty years after his death. On the 25th of March 1992, on the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, Mgr. Guy Bagnard, bishop of Belley-Ars, petitioned Pope John Paul II for the beatification of Fr Lagrange.
<<Most Holy Father,
The French bishops of the Central-Eastern Apostolic Region are gathered in front of Your Holiness for their ad limina visit. They take the opportunity to submit to Your Holiness a wish they unanimously share. Together with the friars of the Order of St. Dominic, they will be particularly happy with the beatification and the canonization of Bro. Marie-Joseph Lagrange o.p. This religious brother is very well known in our Region because he was born and he lived his youth in Bourg-en-Bresse, in the diocese of Belleys-Ars.
The bishops will be delighted to see his sanctity officially recognized. In fact, during his priestly and religious life, he was able to combine, with rare equilibrium, intellectual rigour and evangelical life. He contributed to the renewal of biblical studies in the Catholic world, and published scientific works, which, even in our days, are universally acknowledged. He has also given a magnificent example of freedom and humility in his search for the truth. Lastly, he has left us a heroic testimony of obedience to the Church who was constituted the guardian of truth.
Those who knew him pointed to Bro Lagrange's commitment to the Word of God, above all, both in his life and in his teaching. We can say that through study and prayer it had become the light of his life. We think that his example deserves to be recommended to the Church today. His beatification would certainly encourage many Christians to nourish themselves more with the biblical Word, to receive it in the spirit of the Church and to make it bear fruit in their daily life.
Most Holy Father, the bishops happily await the favour that could be thus accorded to them, for the good of their apostolic mission, and they offer their heartfelt gratitude together with their profound respect.
Fr. Guy Bagnard,
Bishop of Belley-Ars.
In agreement with the bishops of the Central-Eastern Region.
O.P., Vice-postulator of the cause of beatification of Bro Lagrange.
Dorcy, Marie Jean. St. Dominic's Family. Tan Books and Publishers, 1983, p. 595-597.
Rome: International Dominican information (IDI), Vol. 473, June 2009, p. 178-179.
Internet: Wikipedia, Ëcole Biblique and many others.
anniversary of the birthday of Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney,
Curé of Ars (France), 1786-1859), patron of the priests.
Also the church in Arles and the presbytery.
France 1986, Mi 2548, Sc 1986.
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