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Jean Hessels

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A distinguished theologian of Louvain ; born 1522; died 1566. He had been teaching for eight years in Parc, the Dominican house near Louvain, when he was appointed professor of theology at the university. Like Baius, who was his senior colleague, Hessels preferred drawing his theology from the Fathers, especially from Augustine, rather than from the Schoolmen, without, however, ever swerving from traditional doctrine. In 1559 he accompanied the elder Jansen (later Bishop of Ghent, died 1576) and Baius to Trent and took an active part in the council, e.g. he prepared the decree "De invocatione et reliquiis sanctorum et sacris imaginibus". Even at Trent the Scholastic party found fault with his departure from the beaten tracks of learning; after his return the attacks continued. Hessels, however, used his energy against the Protestants instead of wasting it in dogmatic quarrels. He upheld the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (impugned by Baius ), and he is a protagonist of papal infallibility in his "De perpetuitate Cathedræ Petri et ejus indefectibilitate", which is an appendix to his polemical work "Confutatio novitiae fidei quam specialem vocant, adv. Johannem Monhemium" (Louvain, 1565) His other polemical works are: "De invocatione sanctorum . . . censura" (1568); "Probatio corporalis præsentiæ corporis et sanguinis dominici in Eucharistia (Cologne, 1563); "Confutatio confessionis hæreticæ, teutonice emissæ, qua ostenditur Christum esse sacrificium propitiatorium" (Louvain, 1565); "Oratio de officio pii viri exsurgente et vigente hæresi" (Louvain, 1565); "Declaratio quod sumptio Eucharistiæ sub unica panis specie neque Christi præcepto aut institutioni adversetur" (Louvain). He also wrote commentaries: "De Passione Domini" (Louvain, 1568); "de I Tim. et I Petri" (Louvain, 1568); "Com. de Evang. Matthæi" (Louvain, 1572); "Com. de Epp. Johannis" (Douai, 1601). His chief dogmatic work is an excellent "Catechism", first published in 1571, by Henry Gravius, who removed from it all traces of Baianism. Hessels is not a brilliant writer, but his judgment is accurate and all his work most conscientious.

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