Alan de la Roche

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A.k.a. Alanus de Rupe, founder of the modern rosary devotion and of the Confraternities of the Rosary; b. somewhere in Brittany, date unknown; d. Zwolle (Holland), Sept. 8, 1475. Although called blessed, he was never officially beatified. Little information about his life is historically certain. He entered the Dominicans probably at an early age at Dinan in Brittany. After his profession he was sent to the convent of St. Jacques in Paris for his philosophical and theological studies, and subsequently he lectured there. The date of his ordination is not known. He filled professorships in different convents of his order: from 1462 he was at Lille, where, from 1464, the Dominican convent belonged to the Congregatio Hollandica ; in 1464 he was at Douai, and in 1468, at Ghent. It is questionable whether he went to the University of Rostock (Germany) in 1470. In 1474 he went to Zwolle. Along with his teaching he may have preached often, though there is no solid historical information on this point.

Alan's works on the rosary were printed after his death by J. A. Coppenstein, OP (B. Alanus de Rupe Redivivus, Freiburg 1619), but this edition exhibits a worked-over text and is uncritical and incomplete. Alan gave the Hail Mary, which existed in various forms, the precise form in which it became popular. He divided 150 Ave's into three series of 50, introduced the Our Father before each 10, and treated in accompanying articles or statements the mysteries of the birth, Passion, and glory of Christ. In 1470 he founded at Douai the first Confraternity of the Rosary. His fantastic visions, in which, for example, it was said that the Blessed Virgin commissioned St. Dominic to institute the rosary, should be regarded as a quite normal means of religious propaganda in Alan's period.

Bibliography: Beatus Alanus de Rupe Redivivus, ed. j. a. coppenstein (Naples 1630), the most accessible ed. and later reprints. r. coulon, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, 1:130612. j. quÉtif and j. Échard, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum, 1.2:849852. b. de boer, "De Souter van Alanus de Rupe," Ons Geestelijk Erf 29 (1955) 358388; 30 (1956) 156190; 31 (1957) 187204; 33 (1959) 145193, best study to date, with detailed bibliog.

[c. brakkee]