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Honore Fabri

Jesuit, theologian, b. about 1607 in the Department of Ain, France; d. at Rome, March 8, 1688

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Fabri (LEFÈVRE), HONORÉ, Jesuit, theologian, b. about 1607 in the Department of Ain, France; d. at Rome, March 8, 1688. He entered the Society of Jesus at Avignon, in 1626, and distinguished himself by a life of continuous mental work. He excelled especially in mathematics and physics, but he was also a formidable controversialist. For eight years he taught philosophy and for six years mathematics in the Jesuit college at Lyons, attracting many pupils by the fame of his learning. Called to Rome, he became the theologian of the court of the papal penitentiary in the Vatican Basilica, a position he held for thirty years. His duties did not prevent him from writing a number of learned works on various subjects in keeping with the needs of his time. Sommervogel mentions thirty-one titles of published works in connection with Fabri’s name; besides, there are fourteen of his productions in MS., now kept in the Library of Lyons.

The following are the more important of his publications: “Pithanophilus, seu dialogus vel opusculum de opinione probabili,” etc. (Rome, 1659). This work was attacked by Stephanus Gradius, Prefect of the Vatican Library, in his “Disputatio de opinione probabili” (Rome, 1678; Mechlin, 1679). “Honorati Fabri, Societatis Jesu, apologeticus doctrinae moralis ejusdem Societatis” (Lyons, 1670; Cologne, 1672). This treats, in eleven dialogues, of probabilism, explaining its true nature, and refuting the charges of its opponents. The Cologne edition was considerably enlarged but did not meet with ecclesiastical approbation; it was placed on the Index of forbidden books soon after its appearance. “Una fides unius Ecclesiae Romanae contra indifferentes hujus saeculi tribus libris facili methodo asserta” (Dillingen, 1657). “Summula theologica in quae quaestiones omnes alicujus momenti, quae a Scholasticis agitari solent, breviter discutiuntur ac definiuntur” (Lyons, 1669). The principles on which this work constructs its theological conclusions are far different from those of Aristotle. “Euphiander seu vir ingeniosus”, a little book, which may be useful to the student of literature (Lyons, 1669; Vienna, 1731; Budapest, 1749; Ofen, 1763). Most of Fabri’s other works deal with philosophy, mathematics, physics, astronomy, and even zoology. In his treatise on man he claims to have discovered the circulation of the blood, prior to Harvey; but, after investigating this question, Father Bellynk arrives at the conclusion that, at best, Father Fabri may have made the discovery independently of Harvey (cf. Bellynk, Cours de Zoologie, 1864, p. 23).

A. J. MAAS


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