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Jean Grancolas

Doctor of the Sorbonne, theologian, liturgist; b. 1660; d. 1732

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Grancolas, Jean, Doctor of the Sorbonne, theologian, liturgist; b. near Chateaudun, about 1660; d. at Paris, August 1, 1732. Having received the degree of Doctor of Theology of the faculty of Paris in 1685, he became chaplain to the brother of Louis XIV. He pronounced the funeral oration of this prince, but his panegyric displeased the son of the deceased, the Duke of Orleans, future Regent of France, who dismissed him from his house. His unfortunate essay caused Grancolas to abandon official eloquence, and, having devoted much time to studying liturgical ceremonies and comparing the various usages with the text of the ancient writers who have given an account of them, he undertook to communicate to the public his observations on this head. His first work dealt with the antiquity of the ceremonies of the sacraments. The favorable reception accorded this endeavor led Grancolas to publish the next year a study of the custom of dipping the consecrated bread in the wine. However, the author was desirous of participating in less severe questions, and wished to engage in theological polemics. At that time the matter of Quietism was creating a great stir in the world, and Grancolas conceived the idea of plunging into the quarrel by a refutation of the heresy which he entitled “Le Quietisme contraire au doctrine des sacraments” (Quietism contrary to the doctrine of the Sacraments), and which appeared in 1693.

This work contains a history of the life, doctrine, and condemnation of Molinos. Grancolas herein sets forth the principles of the Spanish mystic and of his followers, which principles he proceeds to refute from Scripture and the tradition of the Fathers. This new work attracted little attention, and shared the fate of so many other theological demonstrations called forth by the Quietist heresy and scarcely remembered today. However, from his own point of view, Grancolas is master of his subject and handles it firmly, but he displays the usual qualities and defects found in his other works, namely, an erudition of the first order derived directly from original sources, a profound and wide acquaintance with the question he treats and germane topics, a too evident rudeness of expression and lack of culture, as well as an obvious disdain for composition. His works offend chiefly in this last particular. Grancolas scarcely took the trouble to arrange and connect the points of an argument, being satisfied to throw them into a heap, and deprived them by this disorder of a part of their demonstrative value. Despite these defects all the works of Grancolas retain their value as books of reference. His collections of texts do not do away with the necessity of having recourse to originals, although the translations he gives are generally exact and very clear, but he is useful, inasmuch as he omits nothing essential and also, if necessary, in determining the sense of a word. An original mind, he belongs to the theological school of Thomaasin and Petau who readily replace discussion by the exposition of traditional opinions in chronological order, but he scarcely troubles to develop the sense of his texts. His real originality is as a liturgist, although even here he does not rise above the second rank. Ingenious without being systematic, imaginative without being adventurous, the commentary in most of his works is valuable, especially in the “Ancien sacramentaire de l’Eglise” and in the “Commentaire sur le Breviaire romain”.

His principal writings are: “Traits de l’antiquite des ceremonies des sacrements” (Paris, 1692); “De l’Intinction, ou de la coutume de tremper le pain consacre dans le vin” (Paris, 1693); “Le Quietisme contraire a la doctrine des sacrements” (Paris, 1693); “Instructions sur la religion tirees de l’Ecriture sainte” (Paris, 1693); “La Science des confesseurs ou la maniere d’administrer le sacrement de Penitence” (Paris, 1696); “Histoire de la communion sous une seule espece, avec un Traits de la concomitance, ou de la Presence du Corps et du Sang de Jesus Christ sous chaque espece” (Paris, 1696); “L’ancienne discipline de l’Eglise sur la Confession et sur les pratiques les plus importantes de la Penitence” (Paris, 1697); “Heures sacrees ou exercice du chretien pour entendre la messe et pour approcher des sacrements, tire de l’Ecriture Sainte” (Paris, 1697); “Tradition de l’Eglise sur le peche originel et sur la reprobation des enfants morts sans bapteme” (Paris, 1698); “L’ancien penitentiel de l’Eglise ou les penitences que l’on imposait autrefois pour chaque peche et les devoirs de tous les etats et professions presents par les saints Peres et par les conciles” (Paris, 1698); “Les anciennes liturgies ou la maniere dont on a dit la sainte Messe dans chaque siecle dans les Eglises d’Orient et dans celles d’Occident” (Paris, 1697); “L’ancienne sacrementaire de l’Eglise, sont toutes les pratiques qui s’observaient dans Padministration des sacrements chez les Grecs et chez les Latins” (2 vols., Paris, 1690-99); “La morale pratique de l’Eglise sur les preceptes du Decalogue: ou la maniere de conduire les Ames clans le sacrement de penitence” (2 vols., Paris, 1701); “La tradition de l’Eglise clans le soulagenient des esclaves”) [J.G.] (Paris, 1703) ss Traite de la Messe e de loffice divin” (pairis 1713) “Dissertations sur les messes goidiennes et sur la confessiones, 17l’5) “Le Breviaire des laiques ou l’Office Divin abrege” (Paris, 1715); “Les catechismes de Saint Cyrille de Jerusalem avec des notes et des dissertations” (Paris, 1715); “Commentaire historique sur le Breviaire romain” (Paris, 1700, and Venice, 1734); “La critique abregee des ouvrages des auteurs ecclesiastiques” (2 vols., Paris, 1716); “Instruction sur le Jubile avec des resolutions de plusieurs cas sur cette maniere” (Paris, 1722); “Histoire abregee de l’Eglise, de la Ville et de l’Universite de Paris” (Paris, 1728); “L’Imitation de Jesus Christ, traduction nouvelle precedee d’une Dissertation sur l’auteur de ce livre” (Paris, 1729). Grancolas favors the claims of Ubertmo of Casale, a Franciscan who lived shortly before the fourteenth century, to the authorship of the Imitation.



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