One of the authors of Jansenism, b. at Bayonne, France, 1581; d. in Paris, 1643. After studying the humanities in his native place, and philosophy at the Sorbonne, he went to Louvain, not to the university but to the Jesuit college, where he graduated, 1604, with a brilliant thesis admired by Justus Lipsius. His acquaintance with the future theologian of the Jansenist sect, Cornelius Jansen (Jansenius), a young disciple of the Baianist Jacques Janson, probably began at Louvain. In 1605 the two were in Paris, attending together the lessons of the Gallican, Edmond Richer, and studying Christian antiquity with a view to restoring it to its place of honour, usurped, as they claimed, by Scholasticism. These studies of patristic and especially Augustinian literature were pursued with incredible energy for wellnigh twelve years, at Paris, till 1611, and then at Campiprat (Cantipré), the home of Hauranne, under the protection of Bertrand d'Eschaux, Bishop of Bayonne, who made Duvergier canon of his cathedral, and Jansen principal of a newly-founded college. Owing, no doubt, to the translation of d'Eschaux from Bayonne to Tours, the two friends left Bayonne in 1617, Jansen returning to Louvain and Duvergier going to Poitiers where Bishop de la Rocheposay, a disciple of Scaliger and an enthusiastic humanist, received him as a friend, appointed him to a canonry and the priory of Bonneville, and later, 1620, resigned in his behalf the Abbey of Saint-Cyran-en-Brenne. The new commendatory prelate resided little in his abbey. In 1622 he returned definitively to Paris, the metropolis affording him better opportunities to further his plans. During the years 1617-1635 an assiduous correspondence was kept up between Duvergier and Jansen, of which there remain only "Lettres de Jansénius à Duverger de Hauranne", seized at the time of Saint-Cyran's incarceration. These letters, wherein conventional ciphers are frequently used, constantly mention the affaire principale, projet, cabale, that is, first and foremost, the composition of the "Augustinus" by Jansen, Saint-Cyran employing himself to enlist patrons for the so-called Augustinian system (see J ANSENISM ).
For greater security the two innovators occasionally met to discuss the progress of their joint work. One of these meetings probably gave rise to the much-debated Projet de Bourg-Fontaine . In his "Relation juridique de ce qui s'est passé à Poitiers touchant la nouvelle doctrine des Jansénistes" (Poitiers, 1654), Filleau stated on the authority of one of the conspirators then repentant, that six persons had secretly met in 1621 at the chartreuse of Bourg-Fontaine, near Paris, for the purpose of overthrowing Christianity and establishing deism in its stead. The names of the conspirators, only initialled by Filleau, were given in full by Bayle (Dict., s. v. "Arnauld"); that of Saint-Cyran heads the list. The Jansenists always protested against this story. Arnauld called it a "diabolical invention", and Pascal ridiculed it in his "Seizième lettre à un provincial". The Jesuit Father Souvage's argument in his "Réalité du projet de Bourg-Fontaine démontrée par l'exécution" (Paris, 1755) was refuted by D. Clémencet in "La verité et l'innocence victorieuses de la calomnie ou huit lettres sur le projet de Bourg-Fountaine" (Paris, 1758). Although Clémencet's book was burned by order of the Parliament of Paris, still it never was answered. Guizot's remark that "the adepts of Jansenism passed insensibly from the tenets of Saint-Cyran and Montgeron to atheism and the worship of reason " (Civilisation en Europe, Lec. xii) may apply to some of the later Jansenists, but the charge of rationalism is obviously untenable when brought against the Jansenists of the first generation. Stripped of unsupported details and deductions, Filleau's narrative and Sauvage's arguments show, what is borne out by the letters of Jansenius and other documents of the time, a covert yet definite purpose, as early as 1621, to deeply modify the dogmas, moral practices, and constitution of the Church, St. Augustine being made responsible for such changes.
As noticed above, Duvergier's share was to win high influence in favour of the religious revolution. While at Poitiers he had met Richelieu, de Condren, and Arnauld d'Andilly. At Paris he sought out such men as Vincent de Paul, founder of the Congregation of the Mission ; Olier, founder of Saint-Sulpice; Bérulle, superior of the French Oratory ; Tarisse, superior of Saint-Nicholas, and many more. It cannot be denied that these men were at first attracted by Saint-Cyran's affected asceticism, but when they understood his true aim they recoiled from him. The terse expression applied in the Roman Breviary to St. Vincent de Paul, Sensit simul et exhorruit (he shuddered on hearing), could be said of them all, with the exception of Bérulle and Arnauld d'Andilly. Bérulle never shared the errors of Duvergier and Jansen, but, being indebted to these two for the establishment of the French Oratory in the Netherlands, he failed to detect their real purpose and gave them a hold on his order which they never released. Owing to his Gallicanism and strong prejudices against the Jesuits, Arnauld d'Andilly fell an easy prey to Saint-Cyran's wiles and declamations, and even brought with him the whole Arnauld family, along with the Bernardine nuns of Port-Royal. Adroitly and persistently Saint-Cyran pushed his way into this celebrated monastery, till, in 1636, he became its sole director. Not only were his innovations and rigorism eagerly accepted by the nuns, but Port-Royal became the centre of Jansenism, drawing a host of ecclesiastics, lawyers, writers, etc., all vying with one another to place themselves under the "spiritual domination" of the Abbé de Saint-Cyran. His incredible success and nefarious work are well described by M. Sépet (in Rev. des quest. hist., xlv, 534): "Taking advantage of the moral enthusiasm aroused by the religious awakening, an ardent and sombre sectarian, Saint-Cyran undertook to win souls over for the proud doctrine of absolute predestination to either salvation or damnation, also to an excessive rigorism to which the initiated easily accommodated themselves, while simple-hearted folk like Pascal risked life and reason in its practice."
Saint-Cyran was at the summit of his influence when an order of Richelieu sent him (1638) to the donjon of Vincennes. His incarceration has been variously explained both by friends and enemies. Richelieu gave the true reason when he said: "Saint-Cyran is more dangerous than six armies. … If Luther and Calvin had been arrrested when they began to dogmatize, much trouble would have been spared the nations." (See Marandé, "Inconvénients d'etat procédant du Jansénisme", Paris, 1653.) Jansenist writers unduly insist on the rigour of Saint-Cyran's captivity. As a matter of fact, he was given liberty enough to receive his friends, to read the first printed copy of "Augustinus", to collaborate with Antoine Arnauld on the "Fréquente Communion", published in 1643, to write his "Théologie familière" and the voluminous "Lettres chrétiennes et spirituelles", and even to make new recruits. In 1643, after Richelieu's death, Saint-Cyran recovered his liberty and returned in triumph to Port-Royal. The triumph, however, was clouded by the announcement that the "Augustinus" had been condemned at Rome. When the author heard of the condemnation he angrily protested that "Rome was going too far and ought to be taught a lesson"; a stroke of apoplexy, however, carried him off before he could execute his threat. Pierre de Pons, parish priest of Saint-Jacques du Haut-Pas, in a note quoted by Rapin (Hist. du Jans., p. 305), testified that Saint-Cyran died while being anointed, but had asked for neither absolution nor Viaticum, notwithstanding a certificate to the contrary, delivered by Mulsey, when importuned and bribed by the Jansenists.
Saint-Cyran was a prolific writer. His manuscripts, seized at the time of his arrest, formed no less than thirty-two thick folios. Amid the numerous writings ascribed to him by the "Dictionnaire des livres Jansénistes" (Antwerp, 1755), it is difficult to distinguish his genuine works, for he generally wrote anonymously, or under a false name, or in collaboration with others. Apart from two frivolous pamphlets written by Duvergier in his youth, "Question royale" (Paris, 1609), an apology for suicide under certain circumstances, and "Apologie pour … de la Rocheposay" (Poitiers, 1615), a thesis intended to show that bishops have a right to use arms, his principal works are: (1) "Somme des fautes … du P. Garasse" (Paris, 1626), with several additional pamphlets in support of it; the book itself was a vile attack on the Jesuits on occasion of a somewhat incautious book written by one of them, the heroic Father Garasse; (2) "Petrus Aurelius de hierarchiâ ecclesiasticâ" (Paris, 1631), written in collaboration with Duvergier's nephew, Barcos, and others. This book purports to be a defence of Richard Smith , vicar Apostolic in England, against the alleged machinations of the English Jesuits ; in fact it aims at winning over to the Jansenist error the Catholic hierarchy whose prerogatives it exaggerates to the detriment of the Roman See. The scientific portion of it is taken from the "De republicâ christianâ" (1617) of the apostate Marc’ Antonio de Dominis ; the rest consists mainly of abuse of the Jesuits. By a singular inconsistency, Saint-Cyran bases the episcopal power not so much on the Sacrament of Orders as on the interior spirit. The Evêque intérieur , remarks Sainte-Beuve, is simply the Directeur, a name and office much coveted by Saint-Cyran. The clergy of France, taken by surprise, paid the expenses of the book but later ordered Sainte-Marthe's eulogy of Duvergier expunged from the "Gallia Christiana" . (3) "Chapelet secret du très Saint-Sacrement" (Paris, 1632), a series of Quietist remarks on the attributes of Christ. This booklet, having become a kind of storm-centre, was prudently repudiated by Saint-Cyran who nevertheless wrote several tracts in its defence. (4) "Théologie familière" (Paris, 1642), a series of theologico-devotional tracts, the Jansenists' catechism, teeming with errors on nearly every subject, condemned by the Holy Office, 23 April, 1654. (5) "Lettres chrétiennes et spirituelles" (Paris, 1645); another series (Paris, 1744). Bossuet calls them dry and overwrought ( spiritualité sèche et alambiquée ). With the "Théologie familière" they exhibit a fair specimen of Saint-Cyran's galimatias and obscure asceticism. Saint-Cyran's writings were collected in his "Œuvres" (Lyons, 1679).
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