Mourret, Fernand

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Ecclesiastical historian; b. Eygalières (Bouche-du-Rhône), France, Dec. 3, 1854; d. Paris, May 28, 1938. Fernand Maria Émile Mourret completed his classical education and studied law at Aix-en-Provence. After the obligatory military service, he practiced law for a short time and in 1879 entered the seminary of St. Sulpice at Issy, near Paris. In 1883 he joined the sulpicians and was sent to study in Rome, where he was ordained on Dec. 22, 1883. Severe illness forced him to interrupt his graduate studies in Rome after one year. Too frail for seminary work, he devoted the next ten years to less arduous tasks. He taught in the major seminary in Avignon (189496) and was then appointed to teach philosophy in the seminary of St. Sulpice in Issy. In 1898 he was transferred to the Sulpician theological school on the Rue de Regard, Paris, where he taught apologetics, dogmatic theology, and sacred eloquence. In 1902 he began to teach ecclesiastical history, the subject with which his name remains associated. His principal works, all published in Paris, are La Vénérable Marie Rivier (1898); Leçons sur l'art de prêcher (1909); Le Mouvement catholique en France de 1830 à 1850 (1917); Les Directions politiques, intellectuelles et sociales de Léon XIII (1920); and La papauté (1929). Le Concile du Vatican, d'après des documents inédits (1919) made use of the papers of M. Icard, former superior of St. Sulpice. In conjunction with J. Carreyre, Mourret published Précis d'histoire de l'Église (3 v. 1924). Mourret's best-known work is Histoire générale de l'Église (9 v. 191427), written to provide his students with an up-to-date textbook. Essentially it represents the history courses conducted by Mourret, but for the contemporary period it constitutes an original work that remains authoritative, especially for French history. The first eight volumes (to 1878) have been translated into English by Newton Thompson as A History of the Catholic Church (193157). Mourret was an eminent professor, noted for his extensive knowledge, vivacity, and clarity, and he won renown, too, as a professor of homiletics and a spiritual director. He was extraordinarily kind and accessible.

Bibliography: Bulletin Trimestriel des Anciens Elèves de S. Sulpice (Paris 1903).

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