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Olympe-Philippe Gerbet



Gerbet, Olympe-Philippe, a French bishop and writer; b. at Poligny (Jura), 1798; d. at Perpignan (Pyrénées Orientales), 1864. He studied at the Académie and the Grand-Séminaire of Besançon, also at St-Sulpice and the Sorbonne. Ordained priest in 1822, he joined Lamennais at "La Chesnaie" (1825) after a few years spent with Salinis at the Lycée Henri IV. Although an enthusiastic admirer of Lamennais he nevertheless accepted the papal Encyclical "Mirari vos" of 15 Aug., 1832, and the "Singulari nos" of 13 July, 1834, which condemned the traditionalism of Lamennais; and, after fruitless efforts to convert the master, he withdrew to the "Collège de Juilly" (1836). The years 1839-49 he spent in Rome, gathering data for his "Esquisse de Rome Chrétienne". Recalled by Monseigneur Sibour, he became successively professor of sacred eloquence at the Sorbonne, Vicar-General of Amiens, and Bishop of Perpignan (1854). His episcopate was marked by the holding of a synod (1865), the reorganization of clerical studies, various religious foundations, and, above all, by the famous pastoral instruction of 1860 sur diverses erreurs du temps présent, which served as a model for the Syllabus of Pius IX. Gerbet has been called the Fénelon of the nineteenth century. Besides many articles in "Le Mémorial catholique", "L'Avenir", "L'Université catholique", and some philosophical writings ("Des doctrines philosophiques sur la certitude", Paris, 1826; "Summaire des connaissances humaines", Paris, 1829; "Coup d'oeil sur la controverse chrétienne", Paris, 1831; "Précis d'histoire de la philosophie", Paris, 1834; under the names of Salinis and Scorbiac), all more or less tinctured with Lamennais's errors, he wrote the following: "Considérations sur le dogme générateur de la piété chrétienne" (Paris, 1829); "Vues sur la Pénitence" (Paris, 1836) - these two works are often published together; "Esquisse de Rome Chrétienne" (Paris, 1843), previously mentioned. In the two former books Gerbet views the dogmas of the Eucharist and Penance as admirably fitted to develop the affections - nourrir le coeur de sentiments - just as he uses the réalités visibles of Rome as symbols of her essence spirituelle. Sainte-Beuve (Causeries de lundi, VI, 316) says that certain passages of Gerbet's writings "are among the most beautiful and suave pages that ever honoured religious literature". Gerbet's "Mandements et instructions pastorales" were published at Paris in 1876.

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J. F. SOLLIER








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