Leclercq, Jean

views updated


Benedictine, monastic scholar; b. Jan. 31, 1911, Avesnes, France; d. Oct. 27, 1993, Clervaux. In 1927 he sought admission to the Abbaye Saint-Maurice in Clervaux, Luxembourg, but was initially refused because he asked to be a simple monk rather than a priest. He was finally received into the community in 1928 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1936. From 1933 to 1937 he studied theology at the Collegio S. Anselmo in Rome where he was influenced by Anselm stolz, whose work Theologie der Mystik contained themes that Leclercq eventually developed and disseminated to a wide audience in his numerous books and articles. He completed his dissertation, begun in Rome, at the Institut Catholique in Paris in 1940. During the Second World War he lived at the motherhouse of French monasticism at Ligugé. By 1944 he had published his dissertation on John of Paris as well as nineteen articles. With the encouragement of Étienne Gilson, he turned his attention away from scholastic theologians to the medieval monastic authors, including peter of celle, peter the venerable, and john of fÉcamp. In 1948 the procurator general of the cistercian Order commissioned Leclercq to prepare a new critical edition of the works of St. Bernard, a project that occupied him for many years, brought him into close contact with Cistercian houses, constituted his most important contribution to medieval studies, and inspired numerous other books and articles. He was the most prolific medievalist of the second half of the twentieth century. He taught at both S. Anselmo and the Gregorian University in Rome. Following the Second vatican council, while not relinquishing his scholarly research, he devoted himself to monastic renewal as he traveled to numerous monasteries throughout the world, even to Africa, Asia, South America, and the South Pacific. He was as much loved in monastic cloisters as he was admired in academic circles for his keen intellect, prodigious memory, and an enthusiastic and joyful personality.

Bibliography: j. leclercq, Memoirs: From Grace to Grace (Petersham, Mass. 2000). e. r. elder, ed., The Joy of Learning and the Love of God: Studies in Honor of Jean Leclercq (Kalamazoo, Mich. 1995). m. martin, "A Bibliography of the Works of Jean Leclercq," in The Joy of Learning, 415 498. e. jeauneau and m. sheehan, "Hommage à dom Jean Leclercq," Studia Monastica 33 (1991) 379388. a. limage conde, "Dom Jean Leclercq y las letras monásticas," Studia Monastica 32 (1992) 315359.

[r. k. seasoltz]