Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Cardinal Archbishop of Tours, French apologist and Scriptural exegete, b. at Chauvigné, France, 12 April, 1817; d. at Tours, 20 January 1896. Having ascertained his vocation to the priesthood, on the completion of his academic studies at the Angers lycée and at Château-Gontier, he studied philosophy in the seminary of Le Mans , where he received the subdiaconate in 1839. From this institution he passed to the Collège de Tessé, which belonged to the Diocese of Le Mans, where, while teaching in one of the middle grades, he continued his own ecclesiastical studies. All through his career he seems to have been blessed with the friendship and sympathetic counsel of the most eminent men among the Catholics of his time and country. The Abbé Bercy, an Orientalist of some distinction, whose notice he attracted at Le Mans and later at Tessé, advised him to make scriptural exegis his special study. Mgr Bouvier ordained him priest (14 June, 1840) and sent him to Paris for a further course in philosophy under Victor Cousin. Meignan made the acquaintance of Ozanam, Montalembert, and others like them, who urged him to prepare for the special controversial needs of the day by continuing his studies in Germany. Following this advice, he became the pupil at Munich of such teachers as Görres, Döllinger, and Windschmann; and when his earlier attraction for Scriptural studies was thoroughly reawakened under the stimulus of the then fresh Tübingen discussions, he repaired to Berlin where he attended the lectures of Neander, Hengstenberg, and Schelling. In, or soon after May, 1843, Meignan returned to Paris to be numbered among the clergy of the archdiocese, but was soon (1845) obliged to visit Rome for the good of his health, which had become impaired. He seemed to recover immediately, and was able to prosecute his sacred studies so successfully that he won a Doctorate of Theology at the Sapienza (March, 1846). Here again he was helped by the friendly interest and advice of many eminent men, of Perrone and Gerbet, as well as by the teaching of Passaglia, Patrizzi, and Theiner. Between this period and 1861, when he became professor of Sacred Scripture at the Sorbonne, he filled various academical positions in the Archdiocese of Paris, of which Mgr Darboy made him vicar-general in 1863. In 1864 he was elevated to the Bishopric of Châlons, in 1882 transferred to the See of Arras, and in 1884 to the Archbishopric of Tours.

By the logic of circumstances he was one of the chief antagonists of Ernest Renan. In his work he aimed to enlighten the lay mind on current topics of controversy and, while giving a knowledge of the assured results of criticism, to supply his readers with the Christian point of view. His aggressive and triumphant career as an apologist began as early as 1856 with the publication of "Les prophéties messianiques. Le Pentateuque" (Paris). In 1860 appeared "M. Renan réfuté par les rationalistes allemands" (Paris) and "Les Evangiles et la critique au XIXe siècle" (Paris); in 1886 "De l'irréligion systématique, ses influences actuelles" (Paris); in 1890 "Salomon, son règne, ses écrits" (Paris); in 1892 "Les prophètes d'Israël et le Messie, depuis Daniel jusqu'à Jean-Baptiste" (Paris). He wrote many other works on kindred topics. His treatment of Messianic prophecy extends far beyond mere verbal exegis, and includes a critical examination of historical events and conditions. Like other great Catholic controversialists of his time, he had to suffer adverse criticism; these criticisms were finally answered by the action of Leo XIII , who raised him to the cardinalate, 15 Dec., 1892.

More Encyclopedia

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 between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

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


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:7-16
7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in whatever way Christ ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they said to me, 'Let us go ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
1 It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 22nd, 2016 Image

St. Pope John Paul II
October 22: Karol J. Wojtyla, known as John Paul II since his ... Read More