Migne, Jacques Paul
MIGNE, JACQUES PAUL
Patrologist and ecclesiastical publisher; b. Saint-Flour, near Orléans, France, Oct. 25, 1800; d. Paris, Oct. 24, 1875. After studying in Orléans, he was ordained there in 1824. His pamphlet, De la Liberté, on the revolution of 1830, caused difficulties with his bishop, and in 1833 he was permitted to leave Orléans for Paris, where he turned to ecclesiastical journalism. He helped found three unsuccessful newspapers before he brought out L'Univers religieux (later L'Univers ), which he abandoned in 1836 to publish a universal library for the clergy. In 2,000 volumes in handy format, he hoped to publish at a moderate price the whole of Christian writings from the beginnings to his own day. He had canonical difficulties over financial matters with Archbishop Quelen of Paris but enjoyed the favor of the bishop of Versailles. To avoid difficulties of censorship, he founded in 1836, at Petit-Montrouge near Paris, his own publishing house (Ateliers Catholiques). Here he had all the facilities he required, and employed more than 300 persons. He brought out successively a Theologiae cursus completus (25 v.), a Scripturae sacrae cursus completus (24 v.), a collection of Christian apologetics (20 v.), a collection of French sermons (99 v.), three theological encyclopedias (52, 53, and 66 v.), a course of Church history (27 v.), and a collection of writings on the Blessed Virgin (13 v.). The aid of J. B. pitra and many scholars made possible his Patrologies, modeled especially on La Bigne's Maxima bibliotheca (Lyons 1677) and gallandi's Bibliotheca (Venice 1765–88). The Series latina (221 v. 1844–64) covered Latin authors from Tertullian to Innocent III (a.d. 200–1216). The Series graeca included 161 volumes (1857–66) comprising Greek and Latin texts of authors from the Pseudo-Barnabas to the Council of Florence (a.d. 120–1438) and 81 volumes (1856–67) of the Latin text only of the Greek Fathers. In 1868, a fire destroyed Migne's presses and stores. Insurance recovered after long litigation permitted him to build again, but his efforts to finance the new enterprise by the use of Mass stipends caused the archbishop of Paris to suspend him. He died almost blind.
His accomplishment is a phenomenon in the world of erudition. His genius for organizing, directing, and financing a vast publication was unique in his age. He personally solved problems in the use of Greek type and invented many devices that saved time and money. He used texts already in print, especially those of the maurists, but urged his collaborators to emend or even re-edit texts from the manuscripts. His texts were accompanied by the best introductions and notes available, and great care was taken with proofreading of the volumes issued before the fire. Only gradually are his texts being replaced by better editions, and they are still indispensable for almost every field of ecclesiastical study. H. leclercq called him one of the most useful priests in the Church of France in the 19th century.
Bibliography: f. de mely, "L'Abbé Migne," Revue archéologique, 5.1 (1915) 203–258. a. c. cotter, "Abbé Migne and the Catholic Tradition," Theological Studies 7 (1946) 46–71. p. glorieux, "Pour revaloriser Migne: Tables rectificatives," Mèlanges de science religieuse 9 suppl. (1952) 1–82. l. c. sheppard, "The Abbé Jacques-Paul Migne," American Benedictine Review 7 (1956–57) 112–128. l. marchal, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–), 10.2:1722–40. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq and h. i. marrou, 15 v. (Paris 1907–53) 11.1:941–957. r. h. bloch, God's Plagiarist: Being an Account of the Fabulous Industry and Irregular Commerce of the Abbe Migne (Chicago 1995).
[f. x. murphy]