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Franciscus Sonnius



Theologian, b. at Zon in Brabant, 12 August, 1506; d. at Antwerp, 30 June, 1576. His real name was Van de Velde, but in later years he called himself after his native place. He went to school at Bois-le-Duc and Louvain, and afterwards studied medicine for a time, then theology; in 1536 he received the licentiate and in 1539 the doctorate in theology. After labouring for a short time as a parish priest at Meerbeek and Louvain, he became professor of theology at Louvain in 1544, and attended the Council of Trent in 1546, 1547, and 1551. He was sent to the council first by Bishop Karl de Croy van Doornik, then by Maria of Hungary, the regent of the Netherlands. In 1557 he also took an active part in the religious disputation of Worms. Not long after this Philip II sent him to Rome to negotiate with Paul IV in regard to ecclesiastical matters in the Netherlands, especially as to increasing the number of dioceses and separating the Belgian monasteries from the German, as in the latter heresy was rapidly spreading. In acknowledgment of his successful labours he was appointed Bishop of Bois-le-Duc in 1566, but he was not consecrated until two years later, by Cardinal Granvella. In 1569 he was appointed the first Bishop of Antwerp and in the following year came into possession of his diocese. He did much to strengthen the Church, founding an ecclesiastical court and personally visiting all the parishes of his diocese. He proclaimed at once the decisions of the Council of Trent and established regular meetings of the deaneries. As Bishop of Antwerp, he held two diocesan synods, setting an example that exerted influence far beyond the boundaries of the archbishopric of Mechlin. He showed particular zeal in combatting the errors of Calvinism and wrote for this purpose a clear summary of its teachings for the use of the clergy, under the title "Succincta demonstratio errorum confessionis Calvinistae recenter per has regiones sparsae" (Louvain, 1567). He also wrote a textbook of dogmatics: "Demonstrationum religionis christianae libri tres" (Antwerp, 1564), to which in 1577, after his death, a fourth book was added, "De sacramentis". In 1616 the cathedral chapter and the city erected a monument to him.

GILS AND COPPENS, Nieuwe beschrijving van het bisdom van's Bosch, I (Bois-le-Duc, 1840), 218; Allge. deutsche Biog., XXXIV.

PATRICIUS SCHLAGER








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