Francois-Xavier de Feller
Author and apologist, b. at Brussels August 18, 1735; d. at Ratisbon May 22, 1802
Feller, FRANCOIS-XAVIER DE, author and apologist, b. at Brussels August 18, 1735; d. at Ratisbon May 22, 1802. He received his primary scientific education in the Jesuit College at Luxemburg, studied philosophy and the exact sciences at Reims, 1752-54, after which he joined the Society of Jesus at Tournai. Appointed professor of humanities soon after, he edited the “Musae Leodienses” (Liege, 1761), a collection of Latin poems in two volumes composed by his pupils. Later he taught theology in various institutions of the order in Luxemburg and Tyrnau (Hungary). After the suppression of the order he was active as preacher in Liege and Luxemburg until, at the approach of the French army in 1794, he emigrated to Paderborn and joined the local college of the ex-Jesuits. After staying there two years, he accepted the invitation of the Prince of Hohenlohe to come to Bavaria and join the court of the Prince-Bishop of Freising and Ratisbon, Joseph Konrad von Schroffenburg, with whom he remained, dividing his time between Freising, Ratisbon, and Berchtesgaden.
Feller was very amiable and talented gifted with prodigious memory; and combined diligent study with these abilities. His superiors had given him every opportunity during his travels of cultivating all the branches of science then known, and the wealth and diversity of his writings prove that he made good use of his advantages. All his writings attest his allegiance to the Jesuit Order and his untiring zeal for the Catholic religion and the Holy See. Although he became prominent as a literary man only after the suppression of his order, he had previously contributed articles of note to the periodical “La clef du cabinet des princes de l’Europe, ou recueil historique et politique sur les matieres du temps” (Luxemburg, 1760). During the years 1773-1794 he was the sole contributor to this journal, which comprised in all sixty volumes and was, from the first mentioned date (1773), published under the title “Journal historique et litteraire”. Because he publicly denounced the illegal and despotic attempts at reform on the part of Joseph II, the journal was suppressed in Austrian territory and was, consequently, transplanted first to Liege and then to Maastricht. Its principal articles were published separately as “Melanges de politique, de morale chretienne et de litterature” (Louvain, 1822), and as “Cours de morale chretienne et de litterature religieuse” (Paris, 1826). His next work of importance is entitled “Dictionnaire historique, ou histoire abregee de tous les hommes qui se sont fait un nom par le genie, les talents, les vertus, les erreurs, etc., depuis le commencement du monde jusqu’a nos jours” (Augsburg, 1781-1784), 6 vols. He shaped this work on the model of a similar one by Chaudon without giving the latter due credit; he also showed a certain amount of prejudice, for the most part lauding the Jesuits as masters of science and underrating others, especially those suspected of Jansenistic tendencies. This work was frequently revised and republished, e.g. by Ecuy, Ganith, Henrion, Perennes, Simonin, Weiss, etc.; from 1837 it appeared under the title of “Biographie universelle”. His principal work, which first appreared under the pen-name “Flexier de Reval”, is “Catechisme philosophique ou recueil d’observations propres a defendre la religion chretienne contre ses ennemis” (Liege, 1772). In his treatise, “Jugement d’un ecrivain protestant touchant le livre de Justinus Febronius” (Leipzig, 1770), he attacked the tenets of that anti-papal writer. Many of his works are only of contemporary interest.