Yves de Paris

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Capuchin theologian, humanist and spiritual writer; b. 1588 as Charles de la Rue; ordained to the priesthood 1630 or 1632; d. 1678. While there are few definite facts about his secular life, it is known that he was born into the lesser nobility (petite noblesse de robe ) in Paris, he studied law at the University of Orléans and was admitted into the bar of the Parliament of Paris in 1608. While in Italy, he discovered the Neoplatonism of Marsilio ficino (14331499), the chief scholar of the Platonic Academy founded by Cosimo de' Medici. In addition to Ficino, he appeared to have absorbed the writings of Ramón lull (c.12321316), the Stoics, and the French Humanists.

After the collapse of his family's fortune and much soul searching, Charles de la Rue entered the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins in 1619 and took the name of Yves after St. Yves (13011347), a priest and lawyer. During the years of his formation for the priesthood (16201630), Yves studied scholastic theology according to the Capuchin synthesis of Aquinas and Bonaventure. He combined this scholastic training with the reading of Augustine and other spiritual authors, especially Francis de Sales (15671622).

The writings of Yves de Paris can be classified under four major headings: apologetical, philosophical-theological, spiritual, and moral. Among his apologetical works are Les Heureux succèss de la piété (1632)a defense of religious priests as spiritual directorsand three antiJansenist writings: Très humble remonstrance faite à la reyne (1644), Les misericordes de Dieu dans la conduite de l'homme (1645), and Le souverain pontife (1645). In addition to these major headings, he coauthored two works on astrology under the pseudonym of François Allaeus, an Arab Christian. Of his philosophical-theological writings, two are noteworthy. The four volume Digestum sapientiae (16431674), written in Latin, attempts to unify all the sciences into one coherent system by making use of Platonic and scholastic categories. A more accessible text is Yves' four-volume La théologie naturelle (16331638), which seeks to answer the arguments of the radical fideists, skeptics, and learned freethinkers (libertins érudits ) of his day. Yves' natural theology employs elements of reason and rhetorical persuasion in an effort to show the logical coherence of God, divine providence, and the truths of the Christian religion. His fundamental thesis is that human beings have a natural awareness of God (un sentiment naturel de Dieu). In this, he shows many affinities with the Augustinian tradition of divine illumination and the Neoplatonic theology of Ficino.

Two spiritual writings of Yves deserve mention: Traité de l'indifference (1638) and Les Progrès de l'Amour divin (4 vol., 1642 and re-edited in 1675). Yves' treatise on indifference points to total submission to the will of God as the key to human happiness. His integration of "indifference" with a complementary commitment to the moral life avoids the dangers of antinomianism that would later emerge in the Quietist controversy of the 1680's and 1690's. Yves' four-volume study of the progressions of divine love (beginning love, suffering love, active love and joyous love) combines elements of humanism, Stoicism, and Platonic illuminationism in an effort to counter the hyper-Augustinian pessimism of the Jansenists.

In his moral writings, Yves shows himself to be a Molinist in his emphasis on human freedom's cooperation with divine grace. His four-volume treatise, Les morales chrétienne (16381642) is later followed by a book on the cultivation of Christian virtues entitled Le gentilhomme chrétien (1666). His 1661 work on the "vain excuses of sinners" (Les vaines excuses des pécheurs [1661]) is more austere in tone.

Although Yves de Paris was a well-known apologist of the mid-to late-17th century, he fell into oblivion from the 18th century until the 20th century when Henri Bremond's L'histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France (19161933) assigned him a prominent place as one of the best representatives of "devout humanism." From 1936 to 1970, numerous articles and books on Yves de Paris were published by the Capuchin scholar, Julien-Eymard d'Angers.

Bibliography: yves de paris, Les oeuvres françoises du P. Ives de Paris, capuchin, 2 vols. (Paris 16751680); D'indifférence, édition critique, renÉ bady, ed. (Paris 1966). h. bremond, L'histoire littériare du sentiment religieux en France, t. 1, l'Humanisme dévot (Paris 1916), 421512, Eng. tr. k. l. montgomery, A Literary History of Religious Thought in France (New York 1928), vol. 1, 331396. b. chÉdozeau, "Yves de Paris" in Dictionnaire de Spiritualité, vol. 16 (Paris 1994) 15661576. charles chesneau (Julien-Eymard d'Angers, O.F.M. Cap.), Le Père Yves de Paris et son temps (15901678), 2 vols. (Paris 1946). L'apologétique en France de 1580 à 1670, Pascal et ses précurseurs (Paris 1954). Yves de Paris: introduction et choix de texts (Paris 1965). L'humanisme chrétien au XVIIe siècle: Saint Francois de Sales et Yves de Paris (La Haye 1970). r. fastiggi, The Natural Theology of Yves de Paris (Atlanta 1991). i. gorby, ed., Mystiques franciscaines (Paris 1959). c. vasoli, "Il digestum sapientiae di Yves di Parigi," Rivista di filosofia Neo-Scholastica (Gennaro-Giugno, 1978) 247265.

[r. fastiggi]