Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Convulsionary Phenomenon: Unigenitus 1713-2013

François de Paris  (1690-1727)

François de Paris, né a Paris le 30 juin 1690, mort le 1er may 1727. [France? Not before 1727]
Mezzotint portrait of the popularly-venerated Parisian deacon. Since the mezzotint was the most laborious and expensive graphic process of its day, this print suggests that François’ popularity was not limited exclusively to the lower orders of society. 

The portrait is included in a volume of miscellanea, probably bound by the Albani family, with the title page and manuscript listing  of the volume’s contents shown below. 



Although the volume’s original spine title  
(Miracoli delli Appellanti) accurately 
reflected the contents, the book's title was later changed to the less descriptive but very dismissive Miracoli de Protestant[i], symptomatic of an imperfect understanding of the true nature of Jansenist/Appellant ideology, and a willingness to lump all heterodox movements into one.

This photograph of the spine's palimpsest title
provides an object lesson in the mutability of such bibliographic evidence.
Clementine 273.7 .S434



Montgeron: Apologist for the Convulsionaries


Louis Basile Carré de Montgeron (1686-1754). La Vérité des Miracles Opérés à l’Intercession de M. de Pâris et Autres Appellans, Démontrée contre M. l’Archevêque de Sens. [Utrecht? 1737]

Montgeron was a wealthy young lawyer when he visited St. Medard cemetery purely out of curiosity. There he experienced a conversion at the tomb of the deacon, and became an apostle of the convulsionary cause. In addition to funding other Jansenist printing enterprises, he wrote this work, which ultimately filled 3 volumes. He dedicated the first edition to King Louis XV, and, as depicted in the frontispiece shown here, personally delivered a copy in 1737 to the astonished monarch who promptly had the author arrested and imprisoned in the Bastille. There 5,000 copies of his book were burned beneath the window of his prison cell, but the author, having foreseen this move, had already commissioned a new edition that soon appeared in Utrecht. The author remained imprisoned until his death.
RBSC Folio BT97.A2 M7 1737

Madeleine Durand.
Two engravings after Jean Restout. In Vérité des Miracles[1737]

The success of Montgeron’s apologetic owed much to the striking double page engravings of individuals cured through the intercession of François de Paris. The left-hand image of the sick person usually includes an inset depicting their medical complaint, with the view on the right showing the person restored to health. The medical descriptions in the text, considered to be quite sophisticated for their time, are augmented by notarized statements of witnesses.

Mademoiselle Durand, seen in the above images, was aged 12 when diagnosed with an inoperable tumor in her mouth. She reportedly removed the cancer herself with the aid of a scissors and the intercession of Deacon François, and is known to have lived at least 4 years afterwards. Here she is seen in the first image about to perform her own surgery and later, presenting herself, fully cured, to an amazed doctor.
RBSC Folio BT97.A2 M7 1737

Anne Augier
Two engravings with etching, after Jean Restout. In Vérité des Miracles[1737]

As his title indicates, Montgeron documents other Jansenist “saints” responsible for cures, including Gerard Rousse, a Jansenist priest of Reims who died in 1727 and was credited with several miracles. The first of these was the restoration to health of Anne Augier after 22 years of paralysis. 

Jansenists viewed miracles as evidencing divine validation of their theological position, and their miracle-obsession can be seen as early as the cures attributed to the Holy Thorn at Port-Royal, miracles which were accepted by Pascal and other leading Jansenist intellectuals. Montgeron’s apologetic was meant to counter the works of Jean-Joseph Languet, Archbishop of Sens, the most prolific and articulate exponent of Unigenitus who was understandably skeptical of the purported miracles of Deacon Paris.  
RBSC Folio BT97.A2 M7 1737

Catherine Bigot
Two engravings with etching, after Jean Restout. In Verite des Miracles…[1737]

These images document the usual modus operandi of cures attributed to Deacon  François. The deaf-mute Catherine Bigot (impervious even to a pistol shot fired above her head) was one of hundreds if not thousands of pilgrims who flocked to the St. Medard cemetery in the 1730s. Many of the sick would be placed on the stone over the deacon's tomb in hopes of a cure. Madame Bigot was one of the first pilgrims whose cure was accompanied by convulsions (August 1731). Eventually, the violent nature of these manifestations, and the unruly crowds in the cemetery, led to its closure by royal decree in January 1732. The convulsionary movement and the miracles associated with it became a source of dissension among Jansenist thinkers, ultimately contributing to the demise of French Jansenism. 
RBSC Folio BT97.A2 M7 1737  

Le B.H. Francois Paris Diacre mort appellant et reappellant le 1r de may 1727 agé de 37 ans.
Etching with engraving. [France? Not before 1733]

This portrait depicts François surrounded by the names of people cured through his intercession, along with important dates in the struggle to gain official recognition for his cause, for instance the 2em. reqte. des curez de Paris a Mr. Vintimille (near top left of image) which likely refers to the October 1731 Seconde requeste presentée a Monseigneur l’archevêque de Paris… signed by 22 of Vintimille’s clergy and requesting the Archbishop’s certification of François’ miracle-working.  
Bound in Clementine 273.7 .C7

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