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Maurists

MAURISTS

French Benedictine Congregation of St. Maur that flourished from 1621 to the time of the French Revolution (1792), and devoted itself to strict observance of the Benedictine Rule, education, preaching, and especially to ecclesiastical and historical scholarship. The Maurists, founded in 1621 as part of the reform movement initiated at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Vanne in Lorraine in 1589, established their superior general at saint-germain-des-prÉs in Paris. Their name goes back to the Benedictine Abbey founded as saint-maur-des-fossÉs in 638.

Maurist Congregation. Most French Benedictine monasteries joined the Maurist Congregationthere were 178 by 1675. A superior general with two assistants presided over the congregation. Each of the six provinces had a visitor, and every cloister had a prior. A general chapter of 33 members, meeting every three years, held legislative and executive power and appointed men to all offices. The superior general could be elected for an indefinite number of three-year terms. Priors held office for six years and were assisted by a council of four seniores. Every province had a novitiate and a house of study. Monks could transfer from one monastery to another but only within the same province. There was a general procurator for the congregation in Rome from 1623 to 1733.

Piety and Scholarship. Under the guidance of Dom Gregory Tarisse (163048) a project was inaugurated for publishing the history and glories of the Benedictine Order; it was intended primarily to edify the monks them-selves through the renewal of a discipline combining piety with scholarship. Tarisse's plan gave the first evidence that the Maurist school followed a uniform method. The Maurist ideal, pursued (16301725) by Abbots Tarisse, Audebert, Marsolles, and Ste-Marthe, fashioned many outstanding scholars: J. mabillon, E. Martène, B. de montfaucon, T. Blampin, J. Martianay, L. d' Achéry, R. Tassin, and C. Toustainwhile others remained anonymous.

The Maurists produced such monumental publications as the Gallia Christiana (10 v., Paris 171565), Acta SS. Ordinis S. Benedicti (9 v., Paris 16681701; Venice 173340) Annales Ordinis S. Benedicti (6 v., Paris 170339; Lucca 173945), and the Spicilegium veterum scriptorum et monumentorum ecclesiasticorum (9 v., Paris 172433). The Maurist Histoire littéraire de la France (12 v., Paris 173368) is being continued by the École des Chartes. Many of their other publications were continued by learned societies during the 19th century. They likewise edited the works of Fathers of the Church, such as Basil, John Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Augustine (11 v.), most of which were incorporated into migne's Latin and Greek patrologies. Much of their work remains in MS in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

In all, some 220 Benedictines working in close collaboration, though scattered in six monasteries, produced 710 scholarly works on asceticism (L. bÉnard, C. Martin), the history of the Benedictine Order (D'Achéry, Mabillon, T. ruinart, Martène), patrology (J. Garnier, Mabillon, Montfaucon, Touttée), secular history (Bouquet, Vuisette), and the auxiliary sciences of diplomatics (Mabillon), chronology (Carpentier), numismatics, and paleography (Montfaucon).

Scholarly Precision. The essentially edifying and apologetic intent of their research did not interfere with their devotion to truth and scholarly precision. In the edition of ancient documents, particularly the theological writings of the Fathers, and in the deciphering of ancient monuments, they achieved success by a careful search for all available MSS, the scrupulous collation of variant readings, and an objective citation of traditions and testimonies. For each of their editions they provided informative introductions, notes, and indexes.

Despite their conviction that the publication of unadorned historical truth would help do away with the religious controversies of their age, they frequently had to enter disputes concerning the authenticity of their work. The famous Maurist edition of the works of St. Augustine, attacked by the Jesuits, had to be vindicated by papal intervention (letter of Clement XI, April 19, 1706, to Abbot Boistard).

The Maurist school of scholarship proved a turning point in the inauguration of modern philological and historical methods by attempting to achieve a complete accounting of all the materials available; a thorough study of documents using the auxiliary sciences of paleography, diplomatics, chronology, and archeology; and a meticulous citation of sources. Though in general they failed to attain a broad view of the historical process, their research and methods made possible the consideration of history on a world scale.

Aftermath. While some of the Maurists were afflicted with the rigorist ideas of the Jansenists, as a group they combated the propositions condemned by innocent xi in 1679, and despite the inroads of gallicanism and a certain worldliness after 1750, they preserved a vigorous observance of the Benedictine Rule down to the French Revolution. On Sept. 2, 1792, the last superior general, Dom Antoine Chevreux, beatified in 1926, marched to the guillotine followed by 40 monks. The Congregation of St. Maur was formally dissolved by Pius VII in 1818.

Bibliography: e. martÈne and f. fortet, Histoire de la congrégation de Saint-Maur, ed. g. charvin (Annales de la France Monastique 3135, 42, 43, 46, 47; Ligugé 19281943). r. p. tassin, Histoire littéraire de la congrégation de Saint-Maur (Brussels 1770), with suppls. by u. robert (Paris 1881) and h. wilhelm and u. berliÈre (Paris 1908). j. de ghellinck, Patristique et Moyen Âge, v.13 (Gembloux 1946) v.3. j. baudot, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique 10.1:405443. g. heer, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d new ed. Freiburg 195765) 7:190192. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. carroll, h. leclerq, and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 190753). 10.1:427724; Mabillon, 2 v. (Paris 195357).

[f. x. murphy]

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