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Joseph-Epiphane Darras

Church historian, b. at Troyes, France, 1825; d. at Paris, Nov. 8, 1878

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Darras, JOSEPH-EPIPHANE, church historian, b. at Troyes, France, 1825; d. at Paris, November 8, 1878. He completed his classical training and his theological studies in the Petit Seminaire and the Grand Semi-mire of Troyes, in the former of which he became a teacher after his ordination to the priesthood, but had to resign apropos of a panegyric on the Bishop of Troyes, Etienne-Antoine de Boulogne (1809-1825), disgraced by Napoleon I, for his firm attitude on the occasion of the assembly of the French bishops in 1811. He then became tutor of Prince Eugene de Bauffremont, devoted himself to historical studies, and after the education of his pupil continued to live with the de Bauffremont family. He was a zealous antagonist of Gallicanism and devoted to the honor and the rights of the Holy See. He was at Rome during the Vatican Council as secretary to the meetings of the French bishops. His first literary work was the translation of Pallavicino’s “Storia del Concilio Tridentino” for the Migne collection. To the same period belongs the “Legende de Notre-Dame” (Paris, 1848), written under the influence of Montalembert. The early theological studies of Darrar did not include a good foundation in ecclesiastical history; this defect he sought to make good by private studies. His “Histoire generale de l’Eglise” in four volumes appeared at Paris in 1854 (14th ed., 1890). It follows the reigns of the popes, but betrays in the author a lack of methodical training and critical skill, defects noticeable also in his other works. In the following years Darras published a “Histoire de St. Denis l’Areopagite, premier eveque de Paris” (Paris, 1863); a “Histoire de Notre Seigneur Jesus-Christ” (Paris, 1864), two volumes, and a “Notice biographique de Msgr. Jager” (Paris, 1868). He collaborated with Collin in the “Grande Vie des Saints” (Paris, 1873-75) twenty-five volumes. In the meantime he had prepared the material for his chief work: “Histoire de l’Eglise depuis la creation”, the first twenty-five volumes of which appeared before his death (Paris, 1875-77). They brought the narrative down to the twelfth century. After his death, J. Bareille continued the work to the pontificate of Clement VII (volumes XXVI-XXXII, Paris, 1879-84). It was completed by J. Fevre to the pontificate of Leo XIII, inclusive (volumes XXXIII-XLIV, Paris, 1884-1907, with two volumes of Index). This work discloses the defects mentioned above. For a sharp criticism of it by the Bollandist Charles de Smedt, S.J., see the latter’s “Principes de la critique historique” (Liege, 1885), 137 sqq., 285.


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