Chardon, Louis

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Dominican mystical theologian and spiritual director; b. Clermont (Oise), March 12, 1595; d. Paris, Aug. 17, 1651. As a member of a well-to-do family, he pursued his higher studies at Paris, where, attracted by the order's intellectual apostolate, he became a Dominican in the Annunciation Priory, taking the habit and the name Louis in May 1618. In 1632 he went to Toulouse as "ordinary preacher," but in 1645 returned to Paris where he devoted his remaining years to writing and spiritual direction. All his works were written during the last four years of his life. His French translations of the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena (1648) and the Institutiones divinae of John Tauler (1650) were followed by his most popular work, Meditations on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ; another treatise on the art of meditation is extant. His principal work, The Cross of Jesus (1647), is a precise theology of Christian suffering, especially of fervent souls; its main theme is the spiritual progress of the Christian through the cross. It is both a speculative and practical work, a perfect blend of the theologian's knowledge and the mystic's experience. Though some consider his spirituality Carmelite, owing to his emphasis on the way of negation, his doctrine is in complete harmony with the teachings of Dominican spiritual theology (unity of the spiritual life, the mystical state as a development of the life of grace and virtue) especially of the German Dominican school with its doctrine of purification, all of which Chardon explains by means of the Thomistic doctrine concerning the nature and function of sanctifying grace.

Bibliography: h. brÉmond, Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France, 11 v. (Paris 191633) v.8. l. chardon, The Cross of Jesus, tr. r. t. murphy and j. thornton, 2 v. (St. Louis 195759). f. florand, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 2.1:498503.

[c. hahn]