LAMENNAIS, Hughes Felicite Robert de, French religious and political au thor: b. Saint Malo, 19 June 1782; d. Paris, 17 Feb. 1854. His father was ennobled in 1788 for public services. His mother died when the boy was five years old, and he was sent to live with his uncle at Dinan. There he found ample opportunity for study in the splendid library of his uncle, where he became steeped in the philosophy of the century. With his elder brother Jean-Marie, he published in 1808 'Reflexions sur l'etat de l'Eglise en France pendant le XVIIIeme siecle et sur sa situation actuelle,' which caused wide dis cussion and was suppressed by the police. In 1809 he entered the priesthood, but it was not until 1816 that he finally accepted ordination at Vannes. In the intervening years, he had written an effective treatise on (La tradition de l'institution des eveques en France' in which he advocated the creation of bishops without papal sanction. During the Hundred Days he escaped to England, fearing the Im perial police, and there became familiar with the policies and thought of that country. After his ordination, Lamennais devoted himself with great energy and zeal to the service of the Catholic Church. In 1817 he began the pub lication of his monumental work cEssai sur l'indifference en matiere de religion' (4 vols., 1817-24; English trans. by Stanley, London 1898). With the fervor of intellectual conviction he advocated a strict restoration of the original Catholic doctrine. He denounced the spirit of individual inquiry which Des cartes, Rousseau and Luther had stimulated to the detriment' of the church and the state. Politically he favored the submission of tem poral to spiritual authority and advocated a form of democracy deriving its power from a theocracy. Pope Leo XII at first approved of his religious philosophy, and invited Larnennais to visit Rome where he was graciously received and offered a place in the Sacred College. He preferred, however, to return to France, where he already had a large following, especially among the younger clergy, and with Chateau briand he soon became known as a political power. His essays appeared in the Conserva
teur for a time, but the monarchical tendencies of de Villele, one of the 'chief owners of the paper, soon alienated his sympathies, and he began to publish two independent jour nals, La Drapeau blanc and La Memorial Catholique. From 1825-26 he was also occu pied with the publication of 'De la religion consider& dans ses rapports avec l'ordre civil et At La Chenaie, Lamennais with a brilliant following, including among its ranks Lacor daire, Gerbet, Rohrbacker, Salmis, de Carrie, and later de Guerin, worked enthusiastically for his great reforms. The organ of this group was the journal L'Avenir, which took as its motto, 'Dieu et LiberteD; and the body of active sympathizers and workers for the' cause of theocratic democracy was known as the uAgence generale pour la defense des interets catholiques." The liberal tone of the paper offended a great number of the conservative clergy, and Lamennais resolved to go to Rome to take the matter up with the Pope. Accord ingly, he suspended publication, and with Lacordaire set out for the Holy City in 1831 to meet Gregory XVI. They were, to their surprise, coolly received by the Pope, who asked them to drop the matter. All obeyed promptly except Lamennais who still hoped for a favor able reception; but when further letters of the Pope indicated clearly his concessions to tem poral authority, Lamennais abandoned hope. Shortly after his departure, the encyclical aMirari vos" was sent out by Rome in which Gregory formally denounced the theories set forth in L'Avenir and propagated by the aAgence." Broken-spirited, the party returned to La Chanaie where, in 1834, Lamennais wrote his stirring answer, 'Les Paroles d'un croyant,' which he sent to Sainte-Beuve for publication. Gregory made reply in the ency clical uSingulari nos" (1834).