Monsabré, Jacques Marie

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Dominican preacher; b. Blois, France, Dec. 12, 1827; d. Le Havre, Feb. 22, 1907. Baptized Louis, he attended the Grand Seminaire, Blois, and was ordained there in 1851. At once he sought an exeat in order to join the Dominicans, which was refused. He was successively curate at the church of St. Vincent de Paul, Blois; curate at a chapel in Mer, where his brother was curé; and tutor with a private family. In 1855 he was released from the diocese, and on May 31 he joined the Dominicans at Flavigny. A year later, after profession, he went to the priory at Chalais des Alpes, where he studied the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

In 1857 he began his preaching career with a series of sermons at Saint-Nizier's, Lyons, whence he was invited to preach at the cathedral. Later in the year, in the chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas in Paris, he commenced a series of conferences that continued until 1865. Meanwhile he developed an international reputation, filling pulpits in Paris, Brussels, and London, as well as in the French provinces. In 1867 he became the regular preacher in the Dominican church in Paris.

In 1869 Monsabré was invited to preach the Advent course in Notre Dame to replace Père Loyson, who had been excommunicated that fall. His success won him an invitation to preach the Lenten course at Notre Dame, succeeding the famous Jesuit Père Felix. There, during Lent of 1872, he preached a course on Christianity in society. The next year he began a series devoted to the exposition of Christian dogma that he continued to its completion in 1890. That year he retired to the priory at Le Havre but continued to do some preaching. In 1890 he gave an Advent course in Rome and, in 1891, at Toulouse. At Le Havre he began a series of Lenten courses in 1897, a series that continued until 1903 and was published as the Petits câremes.

Apart from his priorship in Le Havre (188184), Monsabré had not been involved in administrative positions, but he represented the province of France at general chapters of the order in 1871 at Ghent and in 1891 at Avila. His life was devoted to study and the preparation of his sermons. In 1873, at the age of 40, he had set himself the task of placing in a French setting everything in the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas that could be effectively preached. In the history of the pulpit of Notre Dame, he is not renowned, as are Lacordaire and many of his successors, for his appeal to the heart. Rather, he followed the classic formulas of Bossuet and Bordaloue. He aimed at instructing the intelligence in order that the heart be left with lasting motivation, and to this end he discovered the secret of melding into classic French oratory the strength of Aquinas. His collected sermons fill 35 volumes (8th ed. Paris 190104).

Bibliography: m. m. gorce, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, 15 v. (Paris 190350) 10.2:23232335. g. gieraths, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, 10 v. (Freiburg 1957) 7:573. j. schroeder, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 16 v. (New York 190714) 10:508509. p. fernessole, Les Conférenciers de Notre Dame, v. 2 (Paris 1936).

[r. m. coffey]