13 May 1802 - 21 November 1861
A brief biography.
Jean-Baptist-Henri Dominique Lacordaire was born near Dijon on 13 May, 1802.
When he was only four years old he lost his father, and was thenceforth under the care of his mother, "a brave Christian" but no devote. She came of a family of lawyers, and brought her son up for the bar. While still at school he lost his faith. From Dijon he went to Paris, to complete his legal studies under M. Guillemain. Meantime, however, he regained his faith, and resolved to devote himself entirely to the service of God.
He entered the seminary of Issy on 12 May, 1824, and was ordained by Mgr de Quélen, Archbishop of Paris on 22 September 1827.
He was chaplain to a convent and at the Collège Henri IV. When Mgr. Dubois, Bishop of New York, visited Paris in 1829 in search of priests for his diocese, he found a ready volunteer in the young Abbé Lacordaire. All arrangements were complete, but before a start could be made the Revolution broke out on July, 1830, and he stay at France.
The Abbé de Lamennais offered him the post of collaborator in "L'Avenir", a newspaper intended to fight for the cause of "God and Freedom". Lacordaire accepted the offer, and abandoned his proposed journey to America.
In the first sixteen numbers the leading article on seven occasions was from Lacordaire's pen. When the paper was condemned by the Bishops of France, it was Lacordaire who suggested the appeal to Rome and drew up the memoir to be presented to Gregory XVI. But the redaction received the formal condemnation of the whole policy of "L'Avenir" (Encyclical "Mirari Vos", 15 Aug., 1832).
Lacordaire went to stay at La Chênaie, in Brittany, where Lamennais had established a house of higher studies for ecclesiastics. He remained there for three months.
Lacordaire left La Chênaie, 11 Dec., 1832, and returned to Paris, where he was admitted to the circle of Madame Swetchine, who exercised a restraining influence over him as long as she lived. As the press was no longer open to him, he began to give religious lectures (conferences) at the Collège Stanislas (Jan., 1834).
The Archbishop of Paris offered Lacordaire the pulpit of Notre-Dame, and there, in the beginning of Lent, 1835, the first of the famous conferences was delivered. Their success was astonishing from the very outset.
After the second series Lacordaire announced his intention of retiring from the world for a time and was in the Jesuit house of St. Eusebius in Rome.
He had thought of becoming a Jesuit, but had been prevented by Mgr de Quélen to enter the Dominican Order.
Meantime he preached a course of conferences at Metz in the Lenten season of 1838. His "Mémoire pour le Rétablissement des Frères Prêcheurs" was preliminary to his reception of the habit at the priory Santa Sabina in Rome on 9 April 1839. Next year he made his vows on 12 April, 1840.
From Rome he returned to France. The first house of the restored order was established at Nancy in 1843, a second at Chalais in 1844; a novitiate at Flavigny in 1848, and finally a French province was erected with Lacordaire as first provincial.
Meantime, in the Advent of 1843, the conferences were resumed at Notre-Dame, and continued with one break until 1852.
In 1861 (24 Jan.) he take his seat in the Academy -- an honour which cast a gleam of brightness over his last days. It was at this time that he uttered the famous words: " J'espère mourir en religieus pénitent et en libéral impénitent." Towards the end of the year (21 Nov.) he passed away at Sorèze, after a long and painful illness, in his sixtieth year. He died at Sorèze, 21 Nov., 1861.
Henri-Dominique Lacordaire after the portrait by Théodore
Chassériau (1819-1856), friend and soul of Lacordaire, painted
some months after his profession on 12 April 1840 in the priory
of Santa Sabina, Rom. Now preserved in the Musée du Louvre,
(École Francaise), Paris.
At the bottom the cloister of the priory in Dyon.
France 1961, Mi 1341, Sc 988. Maximum card.
The Archbishop of Paris offered Lacordaire the
pulpit of Notre-Dame, and there took place the
first of the famous conferences delivered in the
beginning of Lent 1835.
France 1961, Mi 1341, Sc 988. FDC
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