Hélinand of Froidmont

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Noted Cistercian writer, chronicler, and poet; b. Pronleroy (Diocese of Beauvais), France, c. 1160; d. monastery of Froidmont, after 1229 (feast, May 28). A trouvère at the court of Philip II (Augustus) and member of the nobility, Hélinand entered the monastery of Froidmont c. 1194, and eventually became prior there. His many works include 28 lively sermons (Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne, 212:481720), some of which he preached to the students of Toulouse; though often more curious than profound, they reveal the author's grasp of theology, psychological penetration, and familiarity with Scripture and the classics. De cognitione sui (ibid. 721736) deals with a favorite Cistercian themeself-knowledge. De bono regimine principis (ibid. 735746) is drawn wholly from john of salisbury's Policraticus. His Epistola ad Gualterum seu Liber de reparatione lapsi (ibid. 745760), written to a former novice, contains an exposé of the singular theory that novices are not free to leave their orders. Hélinand's Vers de la mort [ed. F. Wulff and E. Walberg, Les Vers de la Mort par Hélinand de Froidmont, Paris 1915; idem. (including modern Fr. tr.), ed. J. Coppin, Paris 1930], written in Old French, enjoyed immense popularity and belongs to the earliest of the "Danse macabre" literature. A Chronicon in 49 books, of which only the last five are extant (Patrologia Latina 212:7711082), covers the period 634 to 1204. Drawn in large part from sigebert of gembloux, it was a primary source for vincent of beauvais. A major commentary on the Canticle of Canticles, discovered by Jean Leclercq, OSB, has not yet been published.

Bibliography: m. dumontier, "Hélinand de Froidmont et la liturgie," Collectanea ordinis Cisterciensium Reformatorum 14 (1952) 133139, 213215, 295300; 17 (1955) 4956, 118125.

[c. waddell]