Cheffontaines, Christophe de

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Theologian; b. near Saint-Pol-de-Léon, Brittany, 1512; d. Rome, May 26, 1595. He was born to the noble Breton family Penfentenyou, joined the Franciscan Observants in 1532 at Cuburien, near Morlaix, and studied in Paris. In both preaching and writing he quickly became a powerful adversary of the Huguenots. After having been guardian at Cuburien and provincial of Brittany in 1565, he was elected minister general of his order (157179). This was a critical period in the history of the Franciscan Observants, for the triumph of Protestantism in northern Europe had inspired a move toward independence among religious of weakened fervor. In accordance with Pius V's (d. 1572) program of reform, Cheffontaines dedicated his eight years as general to visiting the houses of his order with the hope of leading his confreres back to a better observance of the religious spirit. Upon the expiration of his term of office as minister general in 1579, he was named auxiliary bishop of Sens. His theological activity was considerable. So vigorous was his opposition to the errors of the day, that he fell into error himself or at least came close to it. The novelty of some of his opinions caused him to be denounced at Rome. Three of his works were put on the Index, while the rest were prohibited until corrected. His principal work, Deffence de la foi de nos ancêtres (Paris 1570), concerned the Eucharistic Presence.

Bibliography: e. d'alenÇon, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 190550) 2.2:235253. É. longprÉ, Catholicisme. Hier, aujourd'hui et demain, ed. g. jacquemet (Paris 1947) 2:103233.

[j. cambell]