Louis Duchesne

Louis Duchesne, French priest and Church historian (1843–1922).

Louis Duchesne image

French priest and Church historian (1843–1922)

Louis Marie Olivier Duchesne (French::; 13 September 1843 – 21 April 1922) was a French priest, philologist, teacher and a critical historian of Christianity and Roman Catholic liturgy and institutions.



Louis Duchesne

Descended from a family of Breton sailors, he was born on 13 September 1843 in Saint-Servan, Place Roulais, now part of Saint-Malo on the Breton coast, and was orphaned in 1849, after the death of his father Jacques Duchesne. Louis' brother, Jean-Baptiste Duchesne, settled in Oregon City, Oregon in 1849.

Louis Duchesne, standing at right, l'Ecole Française de Rome, around 1873–1876.

Louis Duchesne was ordained to the priesthood in 1867. He taught in Saint-Brieuc, then in 1868, went to study at the École pratique des Hautes Études in Paris. From 1873 to 1876, he was a student at the École française in Rome. He was an amateur archaeologist and organized expeditions from Rome to Mount Athos, to Syria, and Asia Minor, from which he gained an interest in the early history of the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1877, he obtained the chair of ecclesiastical history of the Catholic Institute, but left the theological faculty in 1883. He then taught at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, where he influenced Alfred Firmin Loisy, a founder of the movement of Modernism, which was formally condemned under Pope Pius X. In 1895, he was appointed director of the École française.

In 1887, he published the results of his thesis, followed by the first complete critical edition of the Liber Pontificalis. At a difficult time for critical historians applying modern methods to Church history, drawing together archaeology and topography to supplement literature and setting ecclesiastical events with contexts of social history, Abbé Duchesne was... ...read more

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