Bishop, man of letters, orator, one of the first members of the Académie Française; b. Dreux, Sept. 24, 1605;d. Vence, April 21, 1672. While still in his early 20s Godeau settled in Paris, where he eventually became one of the favorite habitués of Hôtel Rambouillet. He was known as "le nain de princesse Julie, " and his wit, good cheer, and literary criticism generally overcame his physical unattractiveness. Surprisingly, Godeau turned to the Church and was ordained in 1636. That same year Richelieu appointed him to the rather small but strategically located Diocese of Grasse. Godeau became also bishop of Vence in 1644, but he relinquished the See of Grasse in 1653 to quiet the dissatisfaction of the clergy of Venice. From 1636 to his death, Godeau was a pious and model bishop. By sermons, synods, visitations, and publications he sought the welfare of his entire flock. Godeau's pastoral outlook followed closely the theology of the Council of Trent. As a layman and as a prelate, Godeau demonstrated remarkable literary productivity. Among his better known works are Discours sur les oeuvres de Malherbe (1629), Oeuvres chrétiennes, vers et prose (1633), and Histoire de l'Église (2 v., 1653).
Bibliography: g. grente Dictionnaire des letters françaises (Paris 1954–60) a. adam, Histoire de la littérature française au XVII 5 v. (new ed. Paris 1958–62). p. broutin, La Réforme pastorale en France au XVII 2 v. (Tournai 1956). k. hofmann, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche 4:1034. p. sage, Catholicisme 5:78. g. doublet, Dictionnaire de thèologie catholique 6.2:1470–71.
[r. j. marion]