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Jerome-Hermes Bolsec

Carmelite monk, theologian, and physician (d. ca. 1584)

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Bolsec, JEROME-HERMES, a theologian and physician, b. probably at Paris, date unknown; d. at Lyons c. 1584. He became a Carmelite monk at Paris. A sermon which he preached there aroused misgivings in ecclesiastical circles regarding the soundness of his ideas, and Bolsec left Paris. Having separated from the Catholic Church about 1545 he took refuge at the Court of Renee, Duchess of Ferrara, who was favorably disposed towards persons holding Protestant views. Here he married, and began the study of medicine, about 1550 settling as a physician at Veigy, near Geneva. A theological controversy with Calvin, whose doctrine of predestination he deemed an absurdity, soon ensued. In 1551, at one of the religious conferences or public discussions, then held at Geneva every Friday, he interrupted the orator of the day, Jean de Saint Andre, who was speaking on predestination, and argued against him. As the triumph of his ideas would have meant the ruin of Calvin’s influence in the Swiss city, Bolsec was arrested, and through the influence of the reformer banished forever from Geneva (1551). In 1555 he was also driven from Honan, in the Bernese territory, whither he had retired. He went to Paris and sought admission into the ministry of the Reformed Church. But his opinions were not found sufficiently orthodox, from a Reformed point of view, for one wishing to hold such a position. He was asked for a declaration of faith, but refused. He went to Lausanne (c. 1563), but as the signing of the Confession of Bern was made a condition of his residence here, he preferred to return to France. Shortly after this, he recanted his errors, was reconciled with the Catholic Church, and published biographies of the two Genevan reformers, Calvin and Beza (1519-1605). These works are violent in tone, and find little favor with Protestant writers. Their historical statements cannot always be relied on. They are “Histoire de in vie, des moeurs … de Jean Calvin” (Lyons and Paris, 1577; published in Latin at Cologne in 1580; German tr. 1581); “Histoire de in vie et des moeurs de Th. de Beze” (Paris, 1582). The life of Calvin was edited by L. F. Chastel in 1875 with extracts from the life of Beza.


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