Nicolas, Jean Jacques Auguste
NICOLAS, JEAN JACQUES AUGUSTE
French lay Catholic apologist; b. Bordeaux, Jan. 6, 1807; d. Versailles, Jan. 17, 1888. He was a lawyer in Poitiers and Bordeaux, then head of a division under the minister of cults Frédéric de Falloux (1849–54), inspector of public libraries (1854–60), judge in the tribunal of the Seine (1860–67), and counselor at the court in Paris (1867–77). After this he lived in retirement at Versailles until his death. Almost all his numerous writings were in the field of apologetics and were inspired by contemporary circumstances. His principal work, Études philosophiques sur le Christianisme (4 v., 1842–45; 26th ed.,1885), was composed to resolve the doubts of his father-in-law, who desired to return to the faith; it was very successful, brought the author to the attention of Falloux, and was honored with a letter from Pius IX. In reply to the Méditations by the Protestant François Guizot, Nicolas wrote Du Protestantisme et de toutes les hérésies dans leur rapport avec le socialisme (1852). After the cure of his daughter, which he attributed to the Blessed Virgin, he published an original work, Nouvelles Études philosophiques sur le Christianisme (4 v., 1855–60), whose three parts examined Mary's role in the divine plan, in the Gospels, and in the Church. When renan wrote his Vie de Jésus, Nicolas published in refutation La Divinité de Jésus-Christ (1864) and L'Art de croire (2 v., 1866). After the Franco-Prussian War he denounced the social evils of his homeland in L'État sans Dieu (1872). As a remedy he proposed the alliance of throne and altar in La Révolution et l'ordre chrétien, Jésus-Christ, introduction à l'Évangile étudié et médité à l'usage des temps nouveaux (1875), La Raison et l'Évangile (1876), and Études sociales sur la Révolution (2 v., 1890). Subsequent to a visit to Rome, he defended papal temporal sovereignty in Rome et la papauté (1882). His final work, Étude historique et critique sur le P. Lacordaire, was not at all favorable to the celebrated Dominican. The writings of Nicolas were not notable for theological profundity or critical historical sense, but their popularity made him one of the century's leading apologists.
Bibliography: p. lapeyre, A. Nicolas, sa vie et ses oeuvres (Paris 1892). e. birÉ, Études et portraits (2d ed. Paris-Lyon 1913) 289–311. j. carreyre, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 11.1: 548–555.