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Binet, Étienne


Jesuit preacher and spiritual writer; b. Dijon, 1569;d. Paris, July 4, 1639. He entered the Society of Jesus at Novellara, Italy. After Henry IV had authorized the reestablishment of the society within his realm in 1603, Binet returned to France, where he played an important part in Jesuit affairs. He was rector of the Jesuit colleges at Rouen and Paris and provincial of the provinces of Paris, Champagne, and Lyons, successively. He had a widespread reputation as a preacher, and his finest writing from a literary point of view, Essai des merveilles de la nature (Rouen 1621), was written as an aid for preachers.

He is remembered chiefly as an important figure in the renewal of religious life in France in the 17th century. A close friend of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Binet had a cheerful sort of piety closely resembling that of the Salesian school. He was the author of many popular spiritual works that went through countless editions in various languages. One of the most striking is La Grand chef-d'oeuvre de Dieu et les souveraines perfections de la sainte Vierge (Paris 1634). He also wrote the lives of various saints, including SS. Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, and Louis Gonzaga. Binet's testament as an eminent religious superior was contained in Quel est le meilleur gouvernement, le rigoureux ou le doux? (Paris 1636). He was one of the outstanding religious figures of his day, one who contributed notably to the popularization of the devout life among the people.

Bibliography: c. sommervogel, Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus 11 vol. (Brussels-Paris 18901932; v. 12 suppl.1960) 1:14871506. m. olphe-galliard, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 1:162023. r. daeschler, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 8:150405.

[j. t. kelleher]

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