François de Salignac de la Mothe Fénelon

[Francois de Salignac de la Mothe Fenelon] Author and Archbishop of Cambrai, born Perigord, France, 1651; died Cambrai, 1715. He came of a noble family, and after studying at the College du Plessis; Paris, prepared for the priesthood at Saint Sulpice and was ordained in 1675. In 1678 he was appointed director of a community of convert ladies at Paris, and, on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, was sent to preach to the Protestants of Saintonge. On his return, at the inspiration of Bossuet, he wrote a refutation of Malebranche's theories about grace, and, shortly after, a treatise on the education of girls, at the request of the Duchess of Beauvilliers. In return the Duke of Beauvilliers secured Fenelon as tutor for the Duke of Burgundy, grandson of Louis XIV. This was the occasion of his writing his "Fables," "Dialogues of the Dead," and "Telemachus," through which he taught his royal pupil self-control and the duties of his state. Fenelon was rewarded with the Abbey of Saint Valery, and in 1695 with the Archbishopric of Cambrai. The young prelate's future now seemed bright, but suddenly a storm broke. Fenelon had signed the "Articles d'Issy," drawn up by a commission, including Bossuet, condemning the quietist ideas of Mademoiselle Guyon, and explaining briefly the Catholic teaching on prayer. Later Bossuet wrote an explanation of the "Articles," which Fenelon refused to sign, on the plea that his honor forbade him to condemn a woman twice. He then set forth his own views in his "Explication des maximes des saints." This work provoked a lengthy controversy between the two bishops. Fenelon asked Rome to decide the points at issue, and when certain of his propositions were condemned he submitted publicly and unreservedly. He had, however, incurred the displeasure of Louis XIV, who commanded him never to leave his diocese again, and thereafter he devoted himself to the interests of his flock. He opposed all attempts to revive the Jansenist controversies, and energetically defended the Bull "Unigenitus." His published correspondence reveals him as a great director of souls.

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