This expression, though used earlier, was given currency by H. Brémond, who employed it as the title of the first volume of his Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France (11 v. Paris 1915–33). The movement was a conscious effort to wed humanism's favorable attitude toward the "goodness" of human nature to Christian teaching on original sin and predestination. The problem was to avoid both the rigorous views of human fallibility inherent in augustinianism (and much more in calvinism) and the canonization of human perfectibility espoused by pelagianism and proclaimed by some of the more secular-minded humanists.
The movement's great theological proponent was L. lessius, professor at the University of Louvain, who opposed the doctrines of M. baius; Baius's teaching was condemned by Pope St. Pius V in 1567 [H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer (32d ed. Freiburg 1963) 1901–80] and by Gregory XIII in 1579. Lessius's theological bases were welcomed and put into practical use especially by St. francis de sales in his Introduction to the Devout Life and The Love of God. Through him, perhaps more than through anyone else, humanism responded to the needs of the interior life and opened to all the principles and spirit of Christian humanism (Brémond, op. cit. 1:17). St. Jane Frances de chan tal, the disciple of St. Francis de Sales, was instrumental in the diffusion of devout humanism through her Visitation foundation. Others who popularized the movement were É. binet and Jean Pierre Camus (1584–1652), Bishop of Belley.
The spirit of devout humanism is now part of the authentic humanism represented by such thinkers as J. Maritain, G. Marcel, Christopher Dawson, M. D'Arcy, John Courtney Murray, and many others, both Catholic and non-Catholic.
See Also: humanism; humanism, christian.
Bibliography: p. pourrat, Christian Spirituality, tr. d. attwater, v.4 (Westminster, Md. 1955) 1–30. g. jacquemet, Catholicisme, 5:1077–78.
[h. c. gardiner]