Miracles, Convulsions, and Ecclesiastical Politics in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris

Miracles, Convulsions, and Ecclesiastical Politics in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris

Copyright Date: 1978
Pages: 504
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    Miracles, Convulsions, and Ecclesiastical Politics in Early Eighteenth-Century Paris
    Book Description:

    In the midst of the fierce controversies raging in France over the papal bullUnigenitus, worshipers at the tomb of a revered Jansenist deacon in Paris's Saint-Médard cemetery witnessed a variety of miraculous occurrences. These well-publicized events led to the emergence of a cult that came to affect and be affected by the most furious religious debate of the eighteenth-century. Professor Kreiser provides a full and objective account of the conflicts surrounding this unsanctioned cult, which remained a majorcause célèbrein ecclesiastical politics for nearly a decade.

    The author details the intricate relationships between Church and State and broadens our awareness of the political implications of popular religion during theancien régime. His wide-ranging book is the first account of the Saint-Médard episode to deal with this affair in its multiple contexts. At stake was more than acceptance of the papal bull, whose political history the author discusses. Also involved, as he shows, were fundamental questions about the nature of miracles, conflicts between episcopal and priestly authority, the unwelcome intrusions of the papacy in the affairs of the Gallican Church, and struggles among the crown, the Parlement of Paris, and the French episcopate for control over ecclesiastical affairs.

    Originally published in 1978.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6991-6
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. CHAPTER I Jansenism and the Problems of Ecclesiastical Politics in the Gallican Church, 1713-1729
    (pp. 3-69)

    Of all the many religious struggles which preoccupied the authorities under theancien régime, the Jansenist controversy was perhaps the most serious and vexing, for it was one which not only created a profound spiritual division within French Catholicism, but gradually came to engage all the traditional forces of early-modern ecclesiastical politics. Jansenism originated as but one manifestation of the intense, sometimes feverish religious revival which took place in France in the first half of the seventeenth century.¹ Save for Port-Royal, which served principally as a place of retreat, housing no more than a few dozen individuals at any one...

  7. CHAPTER II Jansenist Miracles: From the Holy Thorn to the Origins of the Cult to François de Pâris
    (pp. 70-98)

    The appeal to, and ideological exploitation of, miracles in times of political adversity had a long history in the Jansenist controversy, dating back to the mid-seventeenth century.¹ Throughout this stormy period there had been a large number of miraculous cures as well as a variety of other “supernatural” signs and portents associated with Port-Royal, all of which served to sustain the Jansenists’ sense of themselves as a specially chosen religious elite. Recourse to the miraculous and appeal for supernatural aid—whether for cures of specific physical disabilities or out of a need for celestial comfort in the face of official...

  8. CHAPTER III Ecclesiastical Politics in the Diocese of Paris and the Miracles of François de Pâris, 1730-1731
    (pp. 99-139)

    Although by the summer of 1930 François de Pâris and other appellant thaumaturges all over France had already been credited with working dozens of miraculous cures, the number ofanticonstitutionnaireswho paid them much attention remained relatively small. The opponents of the Bull continued to turn out their numerous and tirelessly repetitious polemics and theological tracts, with scarcely a reference to the events going on in public forums at Saint-Médard and elsewhere.¹ Save for an occasional passing mention of specific miracles, theNouvelles ecclésiastiquesevinced little abiding interest in the popular observances that were daily taking place around the grave...

  9. CHAPTER IV From Miracles to Convulsions
    (pp. 140-180)

    While theanticonstitutionnaireparty—lawyers and judges, priests and theologians—was raising serious questions about Vintimille’s treatment of the Anne Lefranc case and attempting to combat hismandementin various ways, a strong and unfavorable public outcry against the decree was beginning to be heard in the streets of Paris. Beyond the world of erudite controversy, legalistic maneuvering, and polemical encounters, scurrilous satires and vicious lampoons were appearing which attacked the archbishop for his alleged insensitivity to the spiritual needs of the Paris faithful, for his failure to provide true pastoral care. Sarcastic songs and verses were recited or posted...

  10. CHAPTER V The Closing of the Cemetery at Saint-Médard and the Political Aftermath
    (pp. 181-242)

    These immortal lines of graffiti penned by some anonymous wit constitute perhaps the most lasting commentary to have survived from the history of the Pâris cult. Though most historians of theancien régimequote this memorable epigram with relish, their knowledge of the Saint-Médard episode rarely extends beyond an awareness of the fact that a royal ordinance shut down a Parisian cemetery in which a popular religious cult of allegedly “Jansenist” inspiration had previously been observed. Few of them have shown any sympathetic understanding of the cult in question. Fewer still have demonstrated any familiarity with the important, indeed urgent,...

  11. CHAPTER VI Beyond Saint-Médard: The Emergence of the Convulsionary Movement
    (pp. 243-275)

    Insofar as Cardinal Fleury’s government had intended the closing of the cemetery at Saint-Médard to be accomplished without exacerbating the perennial tensions of ecclesiastical politics, the carefully calculated maneuver had largely been a success. In all the prolonged and involved struggles of 1732, many issues had been heatedly debated, but the question of the royal ordinance of January 27 had never been very seriously joined.¹ To the extent, however, that the cardinal-minister had promulgated the edict with a view toward putting an end to the cult to M. Pâris, the strategy quickly proved a dismal failure. Indeed, the government’s action...

  12. CHAPTER VII Mounting Persecution, Growing Divisions
    (pp. 276-319)

    The year 1732 had been a time of serious challenges to established authority in both Church and State. In Paris the stormy confrontations which resumed in early spring between thecurésand their archbishop, on the one hand, and the Parlement and the Fleury administration, on the other, had by late summer reached crisis proportions. By December, however, though the issues so hotly debated in the course of the year still remained fundamentally unresolved, tempers on all sides had apparently cooled—at least temporarily. Developments in the Saint-Médard affair, in the meantime, had produced quite a different result. The attempted...

  13. CHAPTER VIII Parlementary and Jansenist Repudiations
    (pp. 320-351)

    Adramatic and irreversible turn in the political fortunes of the convulsionary movement and the Pâris cult occurred in 1735, when expressions of parlementary and Jansenist disenchantment with convulsionary activity grew more vocal than ever. The year began with a judicial investigation of the dissident sect of Augustinistes. Authorized by the royal government and conducted under the auspices of theGrand’ Chambreof the Paris Parlement, this investigation had far-reaching consequences for all the convulsionaries, “orthodox” and “fanatical” alike. The opening of the Parlement’s inquest was followed almost immediately by the publication, under somewhat unusual circumstances, of the highly controversialConsultation...

  14. CHAPTER IX Miracles and Religious Politics: A Last Reprise
    (pp. 352-394)

    For several years the turmoil surrounding the convulsionaries had overshadowed the separate, though related, issue of the Pâris miracles, which had nevertheless remained a subject of lively contention in its own right during this period. Although the advent of the convulsionaries, and especially of the Augustinistes, had occasioned widespreadanticonstitutionnairedefections from theoeuvre, the lines of debate over the miracles were still drawn essentially between proponents and opponents of the bullUnigenitus. This renewed controversy, which had been raging since early 1733, was to continue for more than four years and would once again draw all the contending forces...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 395-402)

    The bitter doctrinal and ecclesiastical quarrels associated with the bullUnigenitus—still left unresolved by the end of the 1730s—contributed in no small measure to a growing sense of religious confusion and uncertainty as well as to a gradual erosion of public faith and confidence in the authority and prestige of the clerical establishment. These prolonged and acrimonious controversies not only weakened and exhausted the Church but also brought considerable discredit to the institution, at a time when Enlightenment critics were already beginning to take the offensive and to point ever more accusingly at the antisocial and dysfunctional character...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 403-468)
  17. Index
    (pp. 469-485)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 486-486)