Theologian, born 1637 at Montel in Auvergne, France ; died 13 Oct., 1676, at Landevenec in Normandy. He joined the Order of St. Benedict when he was seventeen years of age, and made his solemn profession at the Abbey of St. Allire, 2 May, 1656. He was a profound student of the Fathers of the Church and the history of the councils. Constant application to study speedily matured the powers of his exceptionally keen and brilliant mind, and he soon came to be looked upon as a foremost authority on all questions connected with patristic theology. When the Congregation of St. Maur in 1670 determined to undertake a critical edition of the works of St. Augustine, Delfau was commissioned by his superiors to prepare it. The task was a difficult one, but together with six other members of the order, among them his intimate friend Dom Robert Guérard, he began with energy and courage this great labour of love, and prosecuted it with an ardour truly Benedictine. In 1671 he prepared an elaborate prospectus, setting forth the general scope and character of the new edition and the principles by which the editors were to be guided. Manuscripts came to the learned Maurists from various countries, and Pope Clement X even sent them priceless codices of the Vatican Library together with all the materials that had been gathered there under Clement VIII for a projected edition of the Opera Augustini. When the first two volumes were about to be printed, the work was suddenly arrested, 18 Sept., 1675, by two lettres de cachet from Louis XIV , decreeing the banishment of both Delfau and Guérard from Paris. The occasion for this drastic measure seems to have been Delfau's book "L'abbé commendataire", published at Cologne, 1673, in which the young monk had severely commented on the abuses connected with the system of commendam as it was then shamelessly carried on in France to the great detriment of the Church. The fearless work greatly aroused the king's anger, of which the enemies of the Maurists did not fail to take advantage. Delfau was obliged to withdraw to the monastery of Landevenec; he lived there but little more than a year when, at the early age of thirty-eight, he was drowned as he was crossing to the Carmelite convent at Brest, where he was to deliver a eulogy on the feast-day of St. Teresa. Delfau's works are: "Apologia Cardinalis Fürstenbergii"; a masterly epitaph on Casimir, King of Poland, who died as Abbot of St. Germain des Prés; and a dissertation on the authorship of the "Imitatio Christi", in his edition of that book (Paris, 1673).
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