Skip to main contentAccessibility feedback

Dear visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

Dear visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

Marie Dominique Bouix

French canonist (1808-1870)

Click to enlarge

Bouix, MARIE DOMINIQUE, one of the best known and most distinguished of modern French canonists, b. May 15, 1808, at Bagneres-de-Bigorre, in the diocese of Tarbes; d. at Montech, France, December 26, 1870. In 1825, on the completion of his college course in an institution of his native town, he entered the Society of Jesus at Avignon, with his brother Marcel, and later taught the classics and occupied chairs of philosophy and theology in houses of the order. In 1842, when he was on the eve of his solemn profession, the precarious condition of his health rendered a continuance of the religious life impossible, and he obtained permission to retire from the Society. This necessary withdrawal was a great disappointment to Bouix, who to the end of his life maintained the most cordial relations with his former brethren in religion, and received from them many evidences of a reciprocal regard. Father Roothan, General of the Jesuits, created him Doctor of Theology in 1851, in virtue of a power delegated by the Holy See to Jesuit generals; and Bouix’s work, “Du Concile Provincial“, published in 1850, was dedicated to members of the order with whom he had previously been associated in scholastic work. The first two years of his life as a secular priest were spent in a curacy at the church of Saint Vincent de Paul, in Paris. Here he interested himself especially in the soldiers garrisoned at the capital, and founded in their behalf the Society of Saint Maurice, which later spread throughout France. In 1847 he was named to a chaplaincy, and became editor of the “Voix de la Verite”, to which he had already been a frequent contributor. In spite of the fact that all self-seeking was entirely foreign to his character, he now became a prominent figure in the political and ecclesiastical life of Paris and was a member of the educational commission with Montalembert and Monsignor Parisis. General Cavaignac, who aspired to the presidency of the republic, thought it wise to endeavor to enlist the sympathies of Bouix. It was at this time, in 1848, that his first book appeared, combating an heretical organization known as the Oeuvre de la Misericorde. In 1849 his zeal impelled him to abandon for a time all other pursuits to minister to the victims of the cholera, which was then epidemic in Paris. Up to this time he had stood high in the favor of the ecclesiastical authorities of the diocese, but now an event occurred which was destined to affect seriously his ecclesiastical status and to give a new direction. to his life work. Monsignor Fornari, the Nuncio at Paris, desiring to further the restoration of provincial councils, held a conference with Bouix and the Bollandist Van Hecke, at which it was decided that the best means of influencing public opinion aright would be the preparation of a book explaining the law of the Church on provincial councils. Bouix was charged with this important work, and first published in the “Univers” four articles, setting forth the salient features of the question and preparing the public for the complete treatise, “Du Concile Provincial“, which appeared in 1850. A fifth article in the “Univers”, simply reaffirming the canon law on synods and combating therefore, in the judgment of some, the tendencies of Gallicanism, was followed immediately by the loss of his chaplaincy. This event determined him to devote his life to dispelling the prejudices and errors which he believed had largely infected the clergy of France in regard to matters of law and discipline. To equip himself for this work he turned his steps towards Rome, where, with no other means of support than the stipend of his daily Mass, he passed the next four years (1851-55) in study and in the preparation of the several works on canonical topics. In 1854, the degree of Doctor of Both Laws was conferred upon him by order of Pius IX. Returning to Paris in 1855, he continued his studies, and added to the series of treatises which established his fame as a canonist. To further the great purpose to which he had consecrated his life, he founded at Arras, in 1860, the “Revue des sciences ecclesiastiques”, of which he was for one year the editor, and in which during the next nine years many important articles appeared from his pen. In 1864, just as his anti-Gallican opinions were about to subject him to new rigours at the hands of Monseigneur Darboy, Bouix was named Vicar-General of the Diocese of Versailles, a sufficient commentary on the division of opinion in the French episcopate as to the character of his teaching. The next year, when the royal exequatur came up for discussion in the French Senate, and Archbishop Darboy advocated there the Gallican view, Bouix answered with a publication which contested the correctness of the archbishop’s contentions. The wonderful activity of his pen continued until 1870. Then, when he was broken by labor and disease and was really too weak to undertake a long journey, he went to the Vatican Council as theologian of the Bishop of Montauban, and was able to witness what appeared to him a signal triumph of the principles to which his life had been devoted. He returned with difficulty to France, where with undaunted spirit he endeavored to complete a work on the Church, which he had already planned. It was while engaged on this work that death overtook him at Montech, in a religious house of which his sister was superior. His life was a long battle with Gallicanism, but always remained singularly free from bitterness and discontent, in spite of the difficulties by which he was beset and the atmosphere of combat which his zeal forced him to breathe. As to his reputation as a canonist, while all must acknowledge his wonderful productivity and his high purpose, and while he has been justly called the restorer of the science of canon law in France, it must nevertheless be said that he falls short of being a great canonist; he is too often a compiler rather than a genuine author, and he too frequently betrays a lack of that juridical sense which comes more from practice than from theory, and which begets the ability to pronounce justly on the lawfulness and unlawfulness of existing practices. However, the value of his works cannot be questioned, and is proved by the general favor which they still enjoy. Besides many articles, contributed to newspapers and reviews, especially to the “Revue des sciences ecclesiastiques”, we owe to the pen of Bouix the following works: “Du concile provincial” (published also in Latin translation, De Concilio Provinciali); “Tractatus de Principiis Juris Canonici”; “Tractatus de Capitulis”; “Tractatus de Jure Liturgico”; “Tractatus de Judiciis Ecclesiasticis”, 2 vols.; “Tractatus de Parocho”; “Tractatus de Jure Regularium”, 2 vols. (an abridged translation of which appeared in German); “Tractatus de Episcopo”, 2 vols.; “Tractatus de Curia Romana”; “Tractatus de Papa”, 3 vols.; “La verite sur l’assemblee de 1682”; “Le pretendu droit d’exequatur”; “La verite sur la faculte de theologie de Paris, de 1663 a 1682″; “L’Oeuvre de la, misericorde”; “Meditations pour tous les jours de l’annee”, 4 vols.; “Le solitaire des rochers”; “Histoire des vingt-six martyrs de Japon,” 2 vols. Several of his works were honored with pontifical letters of commendation, and most of his canonical treatises have gone through three editions.


MARCEL, author, editor, and translator, brother of Marie Dominique Bouix, was born at Bagneres-de-Bigorre, France, June 25, 1806; d. at Paris, December 28, 1889. He entered the Society of Jesus at the age of nineteen and taught in the colleges of the Society in Spain and Switzerland. He spent some years of his life in the exercise of the sacred ministry, but the work to which he devoted himself for nearly forty years was the translation, revision, and publication of new editions of the great spiritual writers. These he enriched with introductions, commentaries, and historical notes of great value. His various editions of the life and works of St. Teresa, to the study and translation of which he gave sixteen years of his life, from 1848 to 1864, caused a remarkable revival of interest in the great Carmelite reformer. His “Vie de Sainte Therese, ecrite par elle-meme” (Paris, 1852), passed through twelve editions, and was translated into German and Dutch. His “Oeuvres de Sainte Therese”, in three volumes (Paris, 1852-54-56), reached a third edition in 1860. “Oeuvres spirituelles du Saint Pierre d’Alcantara” (Paris, 1862), Father Caraffa’s “School of Divine Love” (Lyons, 1863), and a new translation of “The Following of Christ” (Poitiers, 1864) are three of the eight works issued in two years. Revised editions of Father Mumford’s “Purgatory” (Paris, 1863), of St. Francis de Sales’ “Treatise on the Love of God” (Paris, 1864), and of “The Spiritual Works of St. Francis Borgia” (Paris, 1869) are valuable contributions to ascetic theology. “Saint Joseph d’apres les saints et les maltres de la vie spirituelle” (Paris, 1863) is Father Bouix’s own original contribution to religious literature. One of his most valuable services was the publication, for the first time, of the “Memoriale” of Pierre Lefevre, (Bl. Peter Faber) one of the first companions of St. Ignatius Loyola, in the original Latin and in a French translation (Paris, 1873). This work was translated into English by Father H. J. Coleridge, S.J. (London, 1873). Father Bouix translated into French the letters of St. Ignatius (Paris, 1870) and Father du Pont’s “Life of Father Alvarez” (Paris, 1873). He published the “Oeuvres spirituelles” of Father Jean-Joseph Surin in three volumes (Paris, 1879-82). The translation of Leonard Lessius‘s “Les noms divins” (Paris, 1882) was one of the last works from the pen of this indefatigable writer, whose many years of labor enriched the literature of France with popular spiritual books of sound Catholic theology.


Did you like this content? Please help keep us ad-free
Enjoying this content?  Please support our mission!