Liturgist; b. Namur, Belgium, Feb. 8, 1884; d. Louvain, Oct. 12, 1961. Born to a family of magistrates and baptized Paul, he followed the course of studies at the Collège Notre Dame de la Paix at Namur. In 1906 he was ordained for the Diocese of Namur and for six years served as assistant pastor at Gembloux. He then went to Rome, where he earned doctorates in philosophy and theology at the Gregorian University, and in 1912 he received the first doctorate bestowed by the Biblical Institute. His dissertation concerned the text of the Latin psalter in Africa. On Oct. 14, 1918, he entered the Abbey of Maredsous and made his profession on Oct. 15, 1919. He was immediately given the direction of the library and charged with editing the Revue Bénédictine. In 1922 he was assigned by his Abbot, Dom Columba Marmion, to teach dogmatic theology at the Abbey of Mont-César in Louvain. So great was the enthusiasm with which the monks there received the new professor that they chose him on Jan. 23, 1923, as coadjutor abbot to Abbot Robert de Kerchove (1846–1942).
Mont-César had retained since 1909 the leadership of the liturgical movement in Belgium. Capelle strengthened this leadership by his energetic collaboration on the abbey's review, Questions liturgiques et paroissiales, and through the influence he exercised over many liturgical study weeks and circles. From 1936 to 1956 he occupied the chair of liturgy at the University of Louvain and later taught for the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie at Paris. He was consultor for the Congregation of Rites, a member of the Henry Bradshaw Society and the preparatory liturgical commission of Vatican Council II.
An erudite historian of ancient Christian liturgies, he was also a popular writer and preacher. Most of his writings have been gathered into three volumes of Travaux liturgiques de doctrine et d'histoire (Louvain 1955).
Bibliography: f. vandenbroucke, Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 56 (1961) 1024–25; "Dom Bernard Capelle," Ephemerides liturgicae 76 (1962) 43–49. a. g. martimort, Maison-Dieu 68(1961) 203–207. Revue Bénédictine 71 (1961) 231–232.
[n. n. huyghebaert]
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