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Peter Marchant

Theologian, b. in 1585; d. Nov. 11, 1661

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Marchant, PETER, theologian, b. at Couvin, a village in the principality of Liege, in 1585; d. at Ghent, November 11, 1661. His brother James was the author of the well-known work “Hortus Pastorum”. Peter entered the Franciscan Order in 1601. He led an austere life and was a strict observer of the Franciscan Rule. He acquired a profound knowledge of Scholastic philosophy and theology and for several years taught in the schools of his order. In 1625 he was elected definitor general of the order at the general chapter held in Rome; and in 1639 was appointed commissary general over the provinces of Germany, Belgium, Holland, Great Britain, and Ireland. His duties as commissary general brought him into contact with Irish politics during the troublesome times of the “Confederation of Kilkenny”. Unfortunately he allowed himself to be deceived by false reports on the true state of affairs in Ireland and he took sides with the Ormondists and gave encouragement to Peter Walsh and his supporters in their opposition to the nuncio Rinaccini. He was called upon by the authorities of the order to justify his conduct in connection with the Irish question, and in 1661 he addressed to the general chapter then assembled in Rome his apologia under the title of “Relatio veridica et sincera status Provinciae Hiberniae”, etc. This is a very rare book, as it was never widely circulated and was condemned by the general chapter and ordered to be destroyed.

Marchant was a voluminous author. His chief work is “Tribunal Sacramentale” (3 vols., Ghent, 1642; Antwerp, 1672), for the use of confessors. It contains a full exposition of moral theology. He puts aside all disputed opinions, and simply states the doctrinal teaching of the Church, drawing his proofs from Holy Scripture the decisions of councils, the constant tradition of the Church, and the writings of the saints. The treatise on Probabilism is lucid and complete. Its principles are in accordance with the restrictions placed on the doctrine later on by the decrees of Alexander VII and Innocent XI; and in many points is identical with the doctrine subsequently propounded by Daniel in his refutation of the “Lettres Provinciales”. Marchant wrote several works on the cultus of St. Joseph. His work entitled “Sanctificatio S. Joseph Sponsi Virginis in utero asserta” (Bruges, s. d.), was placed on the Index, March 19, 1633. He also wrote “Baculus Pastoralis sive Potestas Episcoporum in Regulares exemptos ab originibus suis exphcata” (Bruges, 1638); “Resolutiones notabiles variorum casuum et quaestionum a multis hactenus desideratae” (Antwerp, 1655). Many of his works are on the history and legislation of the Franciscan Order.


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