Theologian and mystic, and so called from the monastery of which he was abbot, b. at Liège about 1085; d. at Signy about 1148. William came of a noble family, and made his studies at the Benedictine Monastery of Saint Nicaise at Reims, together with his brother Simon. Here both embraced the religious life, and were raised to the abbatial dignity, Simon of St. Nicolas-aux-Bois, Diocese of Laon, and William at St-Thierry near Reims in 1119. Prior to this William had known St. Bernard, and had formed with him a close intimacy, which lasted for life. His greatest desire was to live with the saint at Clairvaux, but the latter disapproved of the plan and imposed on him the duty of remaining in charge of the souls which xxyyyk.htm">Providence had confided to him. However after having assisted (1140) at St-Médard near Soissons at the first general chapter of the Benedictines, where he suggested wise regulations, William, on the pleas of long infirmities and more and more attracted to a life of retirement, resigned his dignity as abbot (1135), and withdrew to the Cistercian abbey at Signy (diocese of Reims ); he did not venture to retire to Clairvaux lest his friend Bernard would refuse to accept his abdication. Here, amid almost constant suffering, he divided his free time between prayer and study. According to a contemporary annalist his death occurred about the time of the council held at Reims under Pope Eugenius; this council took place in 1148, and his death should be placed in this year or the preceding. The necrology of his abbey dates it 8 September., in any case it was prior to that of St. Bernard (20 August, 1153).
Besides his letters to St. Bernard, William wrote several works which he himself enumerates, somewhat incorrectly, in one of his letters. Among them are: "On the solitary life" (De vita solitaria); "On the contemplation of God" (De Deo contemplando), modelled on the "Confessions" and "soliloquies" of St. Augustine; "The nature and dignity of Divine love" (De natura et dignitate amoris), the sequel to the preceding; "The Mirror of Faith" (Speculum fidei); "The Enigma of Faith" (Aenigma fidei); "On the Sacrament of the Altar" (De sacramento altaris liber), setting forth against the monk Rupert his views on the manner of the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; "Commentaries on the Canticle of Canticles" (complete), the first according to the conferences of St. Bernard, the second according to St. Ambrose, the third according to St. Gregory the Great ; "Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans".
William was the first to deal with the errors of Abelard and to urge St. Bernard against him. He wrote "The Dispute against Abelard" (Disputatio adversus Petrum Abelardum), in which are arranged under twelve heads the errors which were condemned by the Council of Sens ; the "Disputation of the Fathers against the dogma of Abelard" (Disputatio catholicorum Patrum adversus dogmata Petri Abelardi) was a reply to Abelard's apology; "On the errors of Guillaume de Conches" (De erroribus Guillelmi de Conchis) was a defence of the true idea of the Trinity. To these works should be added a life of St. Bernard, of which William wrote only the first chapters. His works were first printed by Tissier in "Bibliotheca Cisterciensis", IV (Bonofonte, 1669), and republished in P.L., CXXX (Paris, 1885).
St Pio Holy Card
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online