Chaumont, Henri

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Ascetical theologian and spiritual director; b. Paris, Dec. 11, 1838; d. Paris, May 15, 1896. While attending the seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, Chaumont constantly studied the works of St. francis de sales and after his ordination in 1864 made the teaching and spirit of the bishop of Geneva the basis of his preaching and direction. His major work, Directions spirituelles de Saint François de Sales, (Paris 187079), a series of small treatises, proved tremendously successful, and Chaumont was soon in constant demand as a preacher and spiritual director. He founded three societies dedicated to St. Francis de Sales, which had as their chief objective the sanctification of their members within the framework of their particular ways of life. The women's organization, founded in 1872 with the co-operation of Mme. Carré de Malberg, grew rapidly and soon included many of the highest social class. The society of priests, begun in 1876, to which that of the laymen was soon amalgamated, spread more slowly; but it proved very effective in instilling in the diocesan clergy the spirit of Francis de Sales, and within a few years it numbered in its ranks the elite of the French clergy. For all three groups, Chaumont provided spiritual direction by a priest of the society; a carefully worked-out method of probation during which a regular plan of meditations, readings, and religious exercises was followed; and spiritual reading lists, monthly meetings, and the study of the works of Francis de Sales, which helped to maintain a high level of spirituality. The diocesan groups were autonomous, but a director general and a general council elected by the total membership preserved unity within the organization.

Bibliography: h. debout, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 2:813818; Le Chanoine Henri Chaumont et la sanctification du prêtre (Paris 1930). a. laveille, LAbbé Henri Chaumont, fondateur des trois sociétés salésiennes (Tours 1919). s. hecquet, Catholicisme. Hier, aujourd'hui et demain, ed. g. jacquemet (Paris 1947) 2:102930.

[m. j. barry]