Becanus, Martin

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Jesuit theologian and controversialist; b. Hilvarenbeek (northern Brabant), Holland, Jan. 6, 1563; d. Vienna, Jan. 24, 1624. He received his degree in philosophy at the Jesuit college in Cologne, and in 1583 he entered the Society of Jesus. After teaching philosophy at Cologne, he taught theology for many years at Würzburg, Mainz, and Vienna. During these years he enjoyed great respect for his teaching and produced most of his important writing. In 1620 he became royal confessor to ferdi nand II, and he spent his remaining years in Vienna. There he advised the emperor on the difficult problems concerning relations with the Holy See and toleration of Protestants within the realm.

Becanus was one of the most highly esteemed theologians in Germany in his time and was a prolific writer. He devoted a large part of his work to refuting calvinist teachings and to presenting Catholic doctrine in a clear, logical fashion. In this respect his writing was unsurpassed, and the bitterness that characterized so much polemical writing of the day was singularly lacking in his work. His chief theological study, the Summa theologiae scholasticae (4 v. Mainz 1612), is for the most part a compendium of the commentary of suÁrez on St. thom as aquinas. The Controversia anglicana de potestate regis et pontificis (Mainz 1612) was placed on the Index in 1613, apparently not because it contained any gross error, but rather to prevent the faculty of the University of Paris from condemning it and at the same time adding their own declarations against papal authority. A short time later, the Controversia was published again in a corrected edition with a dedication to paul v. Another important work of Becanus was the Manuale controversiarum (Mainz 1623), which went through many editions and was translated into several languages.

Bibliography: c. sommervogel et al., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus (Brussels-Paris 18901932) 1:10911111; 8:178990. h. hurter, Nomenclator literarius theologiae catholicae (Innsbruck 190313) 1:293294. e. lamalle, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1912) 7:341344. j. brucker, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (Paris 190350) 2.1:521523.

[j. t. kelleher]