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Louis-Charles Couturier

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Couturier, LOUIS-CHARLES, Abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Pierre at Solesmes and President of the French Congregation of Benedictines; b. May 12, 1817, at Chemille-sur-Dome in the Diocese of Tours; d. October 29, 1890, at Solesmes. He was educated at the petit seminaire of Combree in Anjou and at the grand seminaire of Angers, and was ordained priest March 12, 1842. After teaching history at Combree from 1836 to 1854, he entered, in the latter year, the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Pierre at Solesmes, then newly restored by Dom Cueranger.

His religious zeal and ascetical learning endeared him to the latter, who appointed him master of novices one month after his profession, and towards the end of 1861 made him prior of the monastery. As prior, Couturier was so esteemed that on the death of Gueranger he was unanimously elected Abbot of Saint-Pierre (February 11, 1875). Pius IX appointed him consultor of the Sacred Congregation of the Index, and granted him and his successors the privilege of wearing the cappa magna.

Couturier was a worthy successor of the great Gueranger. Despite the persecutions of the French Government, which turned the reign of Couturier into a veritable martyrdom for the abbot and his community, the monks of Solesmes not only upheld but even enhanced the high prestige for piety and learning which they had gained during the rule of Gueranger. Couturier and his monks were forcibly expelled from their monastery by the French Government on November 6, 1880, and, having attempted to reoccupy it, they were driven out a second time on March 29, 1882. During the remainder of Couturier’s life the community lived in three separate houses in the town of Solesmes, using the parochial church as their abbey church. Nevertheless the community continued to flourish. By word and example Abbot Couturier encouraged the numerous learned writers among his monks, and contributed to the spread of the Benedictine Order by restoring old and deserted monasteries and by fostering the foundations made by Gueranger. On March 28, 1876, he raised the priory of St. Mary Magdalene at Marseilles to the dignity of an abbey; in 1880 he restored and repeopled the monastery of Silos in Spain; in July, 1889, he established the priory of Saint-Paul at Wisques, in the Diocese of Arras; and on September 15, 1890, shortly before his death, he reopened the ancient monastery of Glanfeuil in the Diocese of Angers, deserted since the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. His literary labors are confined chiefly to his collaboration in the publication of “Les Actes des Martyrs”, a French translation of the Acts of the martyrs from the beginning of the Christian Era to our times. The third edition of the work appeared in four volumes (Paris, 1900).


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