Saint Vincent’s Reading List: LXXII

Regle et Constitutions Des Religieuses de l’Ordre de N. Dame du Mont-Carmel, selon la reformation de Saincte Therese. Pour les Monasteres de son Ordre en France. A Lyon Chez Jaques Gavdion En rue Merciere, 1626 SpC. 255.97106 D611r 1626

Bref Discours De L’Abnegation Interieure Par Monsiegneur le Cardinal de Berulle, Superieur general de la Congregation de l’Oratoire de Jesus Christ nostre Seigneur. A Paris Chez Sebastien Huré Rue Sainct Jacques au Cœur bon M.DC.XXIX

Voeux Ou Elevations a Dieu Sur Le Mystere de l’Incarnation Pour adorer les grandeurs supremes de Jesus, & s’offrir à luy en l’estat de l’humble servitude & absolue dependence qui luy est deue en suite de l’union ineffable de la Divinité avec l’humanité. Par Monseigneur le Cardinal de Berulle, Superieur General de la Cong. de l’Oratoire de Jesus Christ N. Seigneur. A Paris Chez Sebastien Huré, Ruë sainct Jacques, au Cœur bon. M.DC.XXX

Abrege de la Perfection Chrestienne Ou sont contenus & compris plusieurs beaux enseignements, preceptes,& advertissements touchant la saincte & sacree Theologique mystique. Revue et corrigé de nouveau. A Paris Chez Sebastien Huré, Ruë S. Jacques, au Cœur bon M.DC.XIX

Poincts Notables Pour un Religieux, desireux d’acquerir une profonde humilité. A Paris Chez Sebastien Huré, Ruë S. Jacques au Cœur bon M.DC.XXIX.

Image showing the title page of Regle et constitutions des Religieuses de l'Ordre de N. Dame du Mont-Carmel, selon la reformation de Saincte Therese: pour les monasteres de son ordre en France, 1626. There is a woodcut of two nuns in prayer.
Title page of Regle et constitutions des Religieuses de l’Ordre de N. Dame du Mont-Carmel, selon la reformation de Saincte Therese: pour les monasteres de son ordre en France, 1626.

One of the signal events of the long-delayed Reformation of the French Catholic Church was the introduction into France of the monasteries of the Discalced Carmelite order as reformed by Saint Teresa of Avila (b. 1515, d. 1582, canonized 1622).  With royal and papal assent, the first monastery of the order was established in Paris between 1602 and 1604 near the Faubourg Saint-Jacques. The first six sisters arrived from convents in Spain.  The intent was for French vocations to quickly supplant the Spanish sisters.  The order was wildly successful in France. The first convent in Paris led to the foundation of seventy-three other convents throughout the kingdom during the course of the 17th century.

The key figures in bringing Carmel to France were Barbe Acarie (Blessed Marie de l’Incarnation), Michel de Marillac, Pierre de Berulle, Andre Duval, and Jacques Gallemant.  Their intention was to make Carmel in France a thoroughly Gallican affair.  The founding spirit of the Spanish Carmel from Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross was adapted with a heavy dose of the theology and spirituality of the famed L’Age d’Or in France.  From this perspective, the theology and spirituality of Cardinal de Berulle played a key role.  Michel de Marillac, and his companions were all Dévots, and saw in the establishment of Carmel in France an opportunity to highlight the theological and spiritual principles, at once Tridentine and Gallican, that would guide the reformation of the French Church.

Vincent de Paul did not arrive in Paris until around 1609, when the success of the French foundation of the Carmel reform was already assured. Vincent de Paul knew Cardinal de Berulle[1] and Andre Duval[2] personally since both served at different points as his spiritual director. He also knew Michel de Marillac[3] and Jacques Gallemant, although not as well.[4]

Vincent was also well acquainted with the life of Teresa of Avila published in its French translation by Dom de Cheur in 1601. There are ten biographical references to Teresa scattered through Vincent’s extant writings, conferences, and documents.  For example, in a conference to the Daughters of Charity in 1641 he said: “For twenty years Saint Teresa persevered in waiting for God to grant her the gift of prayer, and she received it so fully that her writings are admired by the greatest doctors.”[5] He also would become well acquainted with many of the French Carmels such as those located in Paris, Pontoise, Troyes, Mâcon, Marseilles, Rouen, Château-Thierry, and Neufchâteau. He described the discalced Carmelite nuns as “one of the holiest and most perfect orders.”[6]  As much as he admired the Carmelites, he went to pains to remind the Daughters of Charity that just as the perfection of the Carmelites was to be found in their great austerity and spirit of prayer, the perfection of the Daughters of Charity was to be found in their selfless service of the poor.[7]

Image showing the spine of the pocket-sized Regle et Constitutiones..., 1626
Spine of the pocket-sized Regle et Constitutiones..., 1626

The present volume was published in a small (2 ¼” by 4 ½“) edition designed to be hand-held for easy reference and personal devotion by a sister.  Two of the brief spiritual treatises included in the volume do not credit an author. However, further bibliographic research suggests that Abregé de la perfection chrestienne… was written by Achille Galiardi (1537?-1607) and translated into French by Étienne Binet (1569-1639). The work was first published in Paris in 1604.  Also, the treatise Poincts notables pour un Religieux…is credited to R.P. Dom Sans de Sainte Catherine, Religieux Feuillantin. This was first published in Paris in 1631. Finally, the volume closes with twenty-four pages of prayers and litanies.

[1] See biographical note in Pierre Coste, C.M. Pierre Coste, C.M., Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents, ed. and trans. Jacqueline Kilar, D.C., Marie Poole, D.C., et al., vols. 1–14 (New York: New City Press, 1985–2014). Hereafter cited as CCD, 1:19.

[2] See biographical note in ibid., 1:113.

[3] Ibid., 11:233.

[4] Ibid., 2:365.

[5] Ibid., 9:42

[6] Ibid., 8:406.

[7] For example, Ibid., 9:457.

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