Merkelbach, Benoît Henri

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Dominican moral theologian; b. Tongres, Belgium, Jan. 6, 1871; d. Louvain, July 25, 1942. He entered the diocesan seminary at Liège and was ordained in 1894. He continued his studies at the University of Louvain and received the licentiate in theology in 1898. He then acquired pastoral experience for seven years as a curate at Hasselt, after which he was recalled to Liège, where he taught dogmatic theology until he became a Dominican in 1917. He received the doctorate in theology at Liège in 1918 and then was assigned to teach moral and pastoral theology at the Dominican studium in Louvain. The master general called him to Rome in 1929 to teach at the Collegio Angelico, as it was then known, where he remained for seven years. In 1936 poor health forced him to return to Louvain, where he continued to teach until his death. Merkelbach wrote many articles for ecclesiastical journals on subjects in dogmatic, moral, and pastoral theology, as well as in sacred scripture. His best-known work, Summa Theologiae Moralis, was published in three volumes from 1931 to 1940. This work not only embodied Thomistic principles but also marked a departure from the casuistic method in moral theology and a return to that of St. Thomas. Merkelbach also had a deep interest in Mariology. He formed a pontifical commission, by order of the Holy See, to study the problem of the mediation of Mary in the economy of grace and produced many erudite studies in Marian doctrine. The most outstanding of these studies is Mariologia: Tractatus de Beatissima Virgine Maria Matre Dei atque Deum inter et homines Mediatrice, published in 1939.

Bibliography: g. m. vostÉ, Analecta Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum 25 (194142) 258262.

[c. lozier]