Veuillot, Louis François
VEUILLOT, LOUIS FRANÇOIS
French Catholic journalist and writer; b. Boynes (Loiret), Oct. 11, 1813; d. Paris, Apr. 7, 1883. Son of a cooper, he received little formal education but succeeded by educating himself and acquiring a broad cultural knowledge. At age 13 he was a lawyer's clerk; at age 17 he became a journalist, wrote for L'Écho de Rouen, later for Mémorial de la Dordogne, and began to manifest his polemical talents. In Paris he contributed to La Charte de 1830, La Paix, and Moniteur parisien. In 1839 during a visit to Rome, he returned to practicing Catholicism, and later he retraced his spiritual odyssey in two works: Pèlerinages en Suisse (1839) and Rome et Lorette (1841). Thereafter he dedicated himself to defending ultramontanism, even to extremes, in journalism. He began to contribute to L'Univers in 1840, and he became its chief editor in 1843. This newspaper, founded in 1833 by Abbé Migne, was then stagnating. Veuillot soon made it the leading French Catholic organ. He battled mainly to win freedom for Catholic education. So ardent were his polemics that he became involved in lawsuits, and he was even sent to prison. Catholics sometimes disliked his anti-liberal positions and his aggressiveness. On at least three occasions within seven years, ravignan, montalembert, and dupanloup tried in vain to found another newspaper to avoid identifying the Catholic cause with the spirit of L'Univers.
Veuillot accepted the Second French Republic (1848–52) in the hope that it would serve his ideal better than had the July Monarchy (1830–48); but he did not adhere to the new regime as completely as did L'Ére nouvelle, inspired by lacordaire, and he soon developed fears about the government's tendencies. His thought during this period was revealed in two works: Les libres penseurs (1848) and Dialogues socialistes (1848–52). He combatted the Falloux law (1850), which accorded freedom of teaching, because it seemed to him insufficient. It required the advice of Pope Pius IX to change his view.
After 1850 Catholics in France divided into two opposing groups. The "Romans" or ultramontanes were intransigent on doctrines and on total submission to papal directives, and looked especially to Bishop Pie of Poitiers for leadership. Veuillot supported them in L'Univers. He became a kind of director of conscience for an important segment of the French clergy, particularly the country priests. In the other camp were the Catholic liberals, more or less addicted to gallicanism, more reticent in regard to Rome, and desirous above all of having Catholic teachings accepted by contemporaries. Their leaders were Bishop Dupanloup of Orléans and Montalembert; their organ was Le Correspondant. Lively polemics engaged the two groups concerning such matters as the study of the pagan classics in schools, the coup d'état (1851), and the proclamation of the Second Empire (1852), which Veuillot supported with all his strength. So violent was his criticism of the bishop of Orléans that the latter induced the archbishop of Paris to suppress L'Univers; but Pius IX, who had complete confidence in Veuillot, intervened, and the journal reappeared. Veuillot did not turn against napoleon iii until the emperor's Italian policy favored the unification of Italy and menaced the states of the church. In 1860 Napoleon III suppressed L'Univers, which did not reappear until 1867.
Veuillot then collected his articles written between 1842 and 1860 in two series of Mélanges (1860–62), each in six volumes. On the roman question he wrote: Le Pape et la diplomatie (1861) and Le Guêpier italien (1865); and on the Catholic liberals he wrote: L’Illusion libérale (1866), which was especially critical of Montalembert's speech at the Catholic congress in Mechelen (1863). In addition he wrote literary criticisms against Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and Émile Augier, among others. His mordant irony against adversaries appeared in other writings of this period, such as Çà et Là (2 v. 1859) and in two productions in verse, Satires (1863) and Les Couleuvres (1869). As a reply to the life of Christ by renan, he composed Vie de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ (1864). Le Parfum de Rome (1861) attested his loyalty to the Holy See, while Les Odeurs de Paris (1866) revived his battle against irreligion.
L'Univers was allowed back in print in 1867. Numerous articles, printed therein by Veuillot, were gathered in a third series of Mélanges (3 v. 1876). Derniers Mélanges, grouping later articles (1873–77), was published in four volumes by François Veuillot, a nephew, in 1908; they dwelt especially on vatican council i, during whose sessions Veuillot resided in Rome, and combatted vigorously those opposed to the definition of papal infallibility. The same topic preoccupied Veuillot in Rome pendant le Concile (2 v. 1872). Meanwhile the Franco-Prussian War and the Commune gave him the opportunity to bolster French courage and hope through his articles. Paris pendant les deux sièges (1871) united his recent recollections and appeals. His pen then took up the Roman question, the pope's status after losing his temporal power, the construction of the basilica of Sacré-Coeur in Paris, and the struggle for Catholic liberty in higher education. He fell ill in 1877 and wrote no further articles for L'Univers, save for a final article in 1880 on Cardinal Pie, who had recently died.
Veuillot also wrote novels, such as Pierre Saintive (1840), Agnès de Lauvens (1845), L'Honnête femme (1844), and Corbin et d'Aubecourt (1850). His historical and biographical works include Étude sur saint Vincent de Paul (1854), Vie de la bienheureuse Germaine Cousin, bergère (1854), and De quelques erreurs sur la papauté (1859). Molière et Bourdaloue (1878) and Oeuvres poétiques (1878) belong among his literary productions. Many other writings, including 12 volumes of correspondence, appear in his collected works: Oeuvres complètes de Louis Veuillot (40 v. 1924–40).
Impelled by strong faith and ardent love for the Church and the pope, Veuillot vigorously faced the attacks of unbelievers and sustained Catholics in defense of their rights. His belligerence and satiric verve won him considerable influence, much less among the laity than the clergy, especially the lower clergy in rural districts. It was unfortunate, however, that his writings so often contained excessive, violent expressions that went beyond the limits of truth or offended against charity. Eager for the fray, he was not always sufficiently careful in making the necessary preparations, but his sincerity was beyond question. In several genres he merited renown as a true writer.
Bibliography: e. and f. veuillot, Louis Veuillot, 4 v. (Paris 1899–1913), apologetic. e. tavernier, Louis Veuillot, l'homme, le lutteur, l'écrivain (Paris 1913). p. fernessole, Bio-bibliographie de la jeunesse de Louis Veuillot (1813–1843) (Paris 1923). m. m. macdevitt, Louis Veuillot d'après sa correspondance (Paris 1935). f. veuillot, Louis Veuillot, sa vie, son âme, son oeuvre (Paris 1937). e. gauthier, Le vrai Louis Veuillot (Paris 1938); Le Génie satirique de Louis Veuillot (Lyon 1953). w. gurian, in American Catholic Historical Review 36 (1951): 385–414. p. h. spencer, Politics of Belief in Nineteenth-Century France (London 1954). a. dansette, Religious History of Modern France, tr. j. dingle, 2 v. (New York 1961). j. morienval, Louis Veuillot (Paris 1941). É amann, Dictionnaire de theologie catholique, 15 v. (Paris 1903–50) 15.2:2799–2835.