PASCAL, Blaise (1623–62), French scientist, polemicist, and Christian apologist. He was born at Clermont-Ferrand, and after the death of his mother when he was 4, was educated privately by his father together with his two sisters, Gilberte, his first biographer (b. 1620; in 1641 she married her cousin, Florin Périer) and Jacqueline (b. 1625). He showed great precocity, and engaged in various mathematical and physical experiments from an early age. He came into contact with the Jansenists at Rouen ,in 1646 (his ‘first conversion’), and later entered into direct communication with Port-Royal, although he was never formally to become a ‘solitaire’. In 1651 his father died, and shortly afterwards Jacqueline entered the convent of Port-Royal. Pascal continued his scientific pursuits (defending notably the possibility of the vacuum) and frequented the fashionable society of Paris. On 23 Nov. 1654 his ‘definitive conversion’ took place, when he discovered the ‘God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and not of the philosophers and men of science’; at the time he made a record of the experience (the ‘Mémorial’) which he carried on his person for the rest of his life. From 1655 he was a frequent visitor at Port-Royal-des-Champs. He was in bad health from 1658 until his death.

The condemnation of A. Arnauld by the Sorbonne in 1655 promoted his famous attack on the Jesuits in the Lettres écrites à un provincial, commonly known as the ‘Lettres Provinciales’ (18 in all). The first was printed on 23 Jan. 1656, the rest followed shortly afterwards (1656–7). The first four and the last two were directly concerned with the immediate issue, which they identified satirically as being a purely personal quarrel. The remaining 12, attacking the Jesuit theories of grace (Molinism) and moral theology (Probabilism), were intended to expose the immoral character of casuistry and to oppose to it the rigorist morality of the Jansenists, with its aim of restoring the disciplinary practices and austerity of the primitive Church. The work was condemned by the Congregation of the Index in 1657 but continued to provoke violent controversy. The literary history of the Pensées begins with the publication in 1670 of selections from the notes left at his death towards a Christian apology; the fragments have subsequently been frequently re-edited and a wide variety of possible arrangements proposed. The work had been intended as a vindication of the truth of Christianity against the indifference of free-thinking contemporaries; rather than depending on philosophical reasoning it seeks to persuade of the unique applicability of Christianity to the human condition as the apologist portrays it. Apart from its brilliant style, it owes its force to the wealth of psychological perception which it embodies.

Pascal’s religion was centred on the person of Christ as Saviour and based on his own experience. Here, as in his scientific investigations, his thought was deeply influenced by his interest in empirical knowledge. Nourished on the Augustinianism of Port-Royal, he stressed man’s tragic situation between greatness and wretchedness, to escape from which he plunges into distractions. From this state only faith can free him, since human existence is confronted with the necessity of making a decision for or against God. The element of risk in the adoption of belief (encapsulated in the notorious ‘wager’ argument), and an emphasis on the heart and custom are characteristic of Pascal, who confesses that ‘the heart has its reasons of which reason knows not’. He does not, however, thereby exclude the use of reasoned argument, and in particular biblical proofs, from demonstrating the truth of Christianity. Pascal was ridiculed by Voltaire and the Encyclopaedists of the 18th cent., but in the 19th cent. there came a revival of interest, which continues.

The standard edn. of Pascal’s Œuvres complètes is still that of L. C. Brunschvicg, F. Boutroux and F. Gazier (14 vols., Grands Ecrivains de la France, Paris, 1904–14); modern edn. by J. Mesnard (Bruges, 1964 ff.). There is also a convenient edn. by L. Lafuma (Paris, 1963). Good edns. of the Pensées by L. Lafuma (3 vols., ibid., 1951; Eng. tr. by A. J. Krailsheimer, Penguin Classics, 1966) and P. Sellier (Paris, 1976); and of the Lettres Provinciales by L. Cognet (ibid. [1965]; Eng. tr. by A. J. Krailsheimer, Penguin Classics, 1967) and M. Le Guern in his edn. of Pascal’s Œuvres complètes, 1 (1998), pp. 577–816, with notes pp. 1118–285. Photographic repr. of the original MS of the Pensées, with introd. by L. Lafuma, Paris, 1962. The large lit. incl.: J. Russier, La Foi selon Pascal (Bibliothèque de philosophie contemporaine, 2 vols., 1949); J. Mesnard, Les Pensées de Pascal [1976]; J. H. Broome, Pascal (London, 1965); J. Miel, Pascal and Theology (Baltimore and London [1969]); P. Sellier, Pascal et Saint Augustin (1970); H. M. Davidson, The Origins of Certainty: Means and Meaning in Pascal’s ‘Pensées’ (Chicago, 1979); D. Wetsel, L’Écriture et le Reste: The Pensées of Pascal in the Exegetical Tradition of Port-Royal (Columbus, Oh. [1981]); id., Pascal and Disbelief: Catechesis and Conversion in the Pensées (Washington, DC, 1994); R. Parish, Pascal’s Lettres Provinciales: A Study in Polemic (Oxford, 1989); V. Carraud, Pascal et la Philosophie [1992]. Introductory studies by A. [J.] Krailsheimer, Pascal (Past Masters; Oxford, 1980) and J. Cruickshank, Pascal: Pensées (Critical Guides to French Texts, 24; 1983). J. Mesnard in Dict. Sp. 12 (pt. 1; 1984), cols. 279–91, s.v. See also bibl. to port-royal.


Jansen, Cornelius Otto (1585–1638) (Jansenius), the author of the *Augustinus (q.v.). He is to be distinguished from his uncle, Cornelius Jansen the Elder (1510–76), who was Bp. of Ghent from 1564 (confirmed by *Pius V, 1568). After two years in the Collège du Faucon at Louvain, he migrated in 1604 to Paris. Here he met *Saint-Cyran, with whom, at Bayonne and Champré, he spent the years 1612–17 in unremitting study. In these years, as his later correspondence with Saint-Cyran reveals, he conceived an elaborate plan of concerted action against the theologians of the *Counter-Reformation. In 1617 he became the director of a newly founded college at Louvain, and in 1626–7 defended at Madrid the cause of the University of Louvain against the aspersions of the *Jesuits. In 1628 he began to write the Augustinus, for which purpose he read the whole of St *Augustine’s writings ten times and the anti-Pelagian writings thirty; but it was not published till 1640, after his death. In 1636 he was consecrated Bp. of Ypres. See also following entry.

J. Orcibal, Correspondance de Jansénius (‘Les Origines du jansénisme’, 1; Bibliothèque de la RHE 25; 1947). Id., Jansénius d’Ypres (1585–1638) (Études Augustiniennes, 1989). E. J. M. van Eijl (ed.), L’Image de C. Jansénius jusqu’à la fin du XVIIIe siècle: Actes du Colloque, Louvain, 7–9 novembre 1985 (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 79; 1987). H. de *Lubac, SJ, Augustinisme et théologie moderne (Théologie, 63; 1965), pp. 49–112; Eng. tr. (1969), pp. 34–96. J. Carreyre in DTC 8 (pt. 1; 1924), cols. 319–30 (Life, with bibl.) and 330–448 (full analysis of the Augustinus). See also bibls. to augustinus and jansenism.


RHE Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique (Louvain, 1900 ff.).

DTC Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, ed. A. Vacant, E. Mangenot, and É. Amann (15 vols., 1903–50); Tables Générales by B. Loth and A. Michel (3 vols., 1951–72).





Jansenism. Dogmatically, Jansenism is summed up in five propositions, derived in substance from the *Augustinus (1640) of C. O. *Jansen, and condemned as heretical by the *Sorbonne (1649) and *Innocent X (1653). The sense of these propositions is (1) that without a special *grace from God the performance of His commandments is impossible to men, and (2) that the operation of grace is irresistible; and hence, that man is the victim of either a natural or a supernatural determinism, limited only by not being violently coercive. This theological pessimism was expressed in the general harshness and moral rigorism of the movement.

The first generation of French Jansenists were all disciples of *Saint-Cyran (Duvergier), Jansen’s friend and collaborator. This party of ‘Cyranists’, which included the convent of *Port-Royal, was already in existence in 1638. After Saint-Cyran’s death in 1643, Antoine *Arnauld succeeded him as its leader, and in De la fréquente communion (1643), La Théologie morale des Jésuites (1643), and two Apologies pour M. Jansénius (1644–5) defined the directions of the movement. These were (1) the defence of St *Augustine’s theology of grace, as interpreted by Jansen, against *Molinism; (2) a rigorist tendency in all matters of ecclesiastical discipline; (3) hostility to *Probabilism. The unifying characteristic of the movement was antagonism to the *Jesuits. (2) and (3) remained unchanged throughout the whole history of Jansenism, and were exhibited in all its principal monuments, from the Lettres provinciales (1656–7) of *Pascal onwards.

In 1653 five propositions were condemned by Innocent X in the bull ‘*Cum Occasione’ as summarizing the Jansenist position. The supporters of the movement sought to evade the condemnation by their distinction of ‘fact’ (fait) and ‘law’ (droit). The five propositions were admitted to be heretical, but in ‘fact’ they were declared unrepresentative of Jansen’s doctrine, which the Jansenists held to be a fair presentation of the teaching of St Augustine. After this distinction had been disallowed by *Alexander VII (1656), attempts were made to compel the Jansenists to sign a formulary embodying the Papal anathema. In 1668 they were persuaded into a qualified submission, but the movement continued to gain sympathizers, particularly among the *Oratorians and *Maurists. P. *Quesnel’s Réflexions morales (1693), in which some tenets of Jansenism were reaffirmed, was condemned in the bull ‘*Unigenitus’ (1713). The bull was not accepted by the Jansenists, who consequently had to face sporadic persecution in France during much of the 18th cent. In their opposition to the Jesuits, however, they found support among the *Gallican members of the Parlements who in 1762 took steps to have the Jesuits expelled from France. In the Netherlands, where many prominent Jansenist clerics took refuge, Jansenism was tolerated or encouraged by successive *Vicars Apostolic, and in 1723 the Dutch Jansenists nominated for themselves a schismatic Bishop of Utrecht (see old catholics). In Tuscany, chiefly owing to the anti-Papal policy of the Grand Duke Leopold, Jansenism became so strong that the local Synod of *Pistoia (1786) promulgated one of the most comprehensive statements of Jansenist positions that exist. After Napoleon’s *Concordat of 1801, French Jansenism survived only as the secret conviction of a few Catholics and as the guiding spirit of a few pious institutions.

The principal primary docs. concerning Jansenism and the opposition to it are ed. by L. Ceyssens, OFM, lately in conjunction with S. de Munter, OFM: those covering the period 1640–3 (Bibliothèque de la RHE 31; 1957); 1644–53 (Bibliothèque de l’Institut historique Belge de Rome, 9–10; 1961–2); 1654–60 (ibid. 12–13; 1963–5); 1661–72 (Bibliothèque de la RHE 45; 1968); 1673–6 (Bibliothèque de I’Institut historique Belge de Rome, 17; 1968); 1677–9 (Bibliothèque de la RHE, 59; 1974); and 1680–82 (Bibliothèque de l’Institut historique Belge de Rome, 19; 1974). The ‘Five Propositions’ are conveniently pr. in Denzinger and Hünermann (37th edn., 1991), pp. 614 f. (nos. 2001–5); Eng. tr. in Bettenson (2nd edn., 1963), pp. 379 f.

There has been an immense lit. from the outbreak of the controversy onwards. Modern studies incl. A. Gazier, Histoire générale du mouvement janséniste (2 vols., 1922); E. Préclin, Les Jansénistes du XVIIIe siècle et la constitution civile du clergé (1928); L. Ceyssens, OFM, Jansenistica: Studien in verband met Geschiedenis van het Jansenisme (4 vols., Malines, 1950–62); id., Jansenistica Minora (1–10, Malines, 1951–68; 11–12, Amsterdam, 1973–5); cf., for details of arts. by Ceyssens, bibl. in Antonianum, 53 (1978), pp. 194–266 and in J. van Bavel and M. Schrama (eds.), Jansénius et le Jansénisme dans les Pay-Bas: Mélanges Lucien Ceyssens (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, 56; 1982), pp. 9 f., incl. his important art. ‘L’Authenticité des cinq propositions condamnées de Jansenius’, Antonianum, 55 (1980), pp. 368–424; P. de Leturia, SJ, and others, Nuove ricerche storiche sul giansenismo (Analecta Gregoriana, 71; 1954); L. Cognet, Le Jansénisme (1961). J. Orcibal and A. Barnes, Les Origines du jansénisme (5 vols., 1947–62). J. Orcibal, ‘Qu’est-ce le Jansénisme?’, Cahiers de l’Association Internationale des Études françaises, nos. 3–5 (1953), pp. 39–53. A. Adam, Du mysticisme à la révolte: Les Jansénistes du XVIIe siècle (1968). A. Sedgwick, Jansenism in Seventeenth-Century France (Charlottesville, Va., 1977). J. Carreyre, Le Jansénisme durant la régence, 1715–23 (Bibliothèque de la RHE, 2–4; 1929–33). D. [K.] Van Kley, The Jansenists and the Expulsion of the Jesuits from France 1757–1765 (New Haven, Conn., and London, 1975); id., The Damiens Affairs and the Unravelling of the Ancien Régime 1750–1770 (Princeton, NJ [1984]), passim. A. C. Jemolo, Il giansenismo in Italia prima della rivoluzione (Bari, 1928). É. Appolis, Les Jansénistes espagnols (Bordeaux [1966]). B. Neveu, L’Erreur et son Juge: Remarques sur les censures doctrinales à l’époque moderne (Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, Serie Studi, 19: Naples, 1993), esp. 505–746. W. Doyle, Jansenism (2000; introductory). Bremond, 4. List of Jansenist works in L. Patouillet (ed.), Dictionnaire des livres jansénistes (4 vols., Antwerp, 1752). L. Willaert, SJ, Bibliotheca Janseniana Belgica: Répertoire des imprimés concernant les controverses théologiques en relation avec le jansénisme dans les Pays-Bas catholiques et le Pays de Liège aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Bibliothèque de la Faculté de Philosophie et Lettres de Namur, 4, 5, 12; 1949–51). J. Carreyre in DTC 8 (pt. 1; 1924), cols. 318–529, s.v.; J. M. Gres-Gayer in NCE (2nd edn.), 7 (2003), pp. 715–20, s.v. See also bibl. to port-royal.


Bettenson H. Bettenson (ed.), Documents of the Christian Church (World’s Classics, London, 1943). [Also pub., with different pagination, in Galaxy Edition, New York, 1947]

NCE New Catholic Encyclopedia (14 vols. + index, New York, etc., 1967, + 3 supplementary vols., 16–18; 1974–89).




Port-Royal, Convent of, *Jansenist centre. A convent of *Cistercian nuns was originally founded at Port-Royal, a marshy site some 18 miles SW of *Paris (hence ‘Port-Royal-des-Champs’), in 1204. The appointment in 1602 of (Jacqueline Marie) Angélique *Arnauld as abbess at the age of 10 was the prelude to its emergence as a house of major importance. Converted (by a *Capuchin friar) to a new view of her responsibilities in 1608, she undertook far-reaching reforms and began to attract numerous novices (including several members of her own huge family). Owing to the unhealthy conditions, in 1625 the community reluctantly moved into Paris to a new house in the Faubourg St Jacques (‘Port-Royal-de-Paris’). Under the direction of Sébastien Zamet, Bp. of Langres (Bp. 1615–55), in 1627 the community was removed from the jurisdiction of Cîteaux and formed an autonomous Ordre du St Sacrement, adding a large red cross to their white habit to signify their independence. The initial spirituality of Port-Royal was largely *Oratorian, but in 1635 Zamet handed over direction to *Saint-Cyran, Jansen’s associate; his influence then became decisive, and was zealously maintained after his death in 1643 by Antoine *Arnauld, who became spokesman for what came to be called Jansenism. After 1637 some of Saint-Cyran’s converts came to live near the convent (at first in Paris, then in the derelict Port-Royal-des-Champs) as ‘Solitaires’, without taking vows, but devoting themselves to the interests of the nuns, the education of a few boys (including Racine), and literary pursuits. By 1648 their labours had rendered Port-Royal-des-Champs habitable enough to receive some of the nuns, and henceforward the two houses existed with a single conventual organization, increasingly openly and militantly associated with the Jansenist cause. Blaise *Pascal, though never a ‘Solitaire’, was closely linked with Port-Royal, and his sister, Jacqueline, was professed there as a nun. Among the most famous ‘Solitaires’ were Antoine Singlin, Claude Lancelot, and Le Maître de Sacy.

When in 1661 the nuns of Port-Royal refused to subscribe the condemnation of Jansenism, certain measures affecting the prosperity of the convent were taken by the civil power and in 1664 a real persecution began; but very few of the nuns were persuaded to sign the ‘formulary’ until after the *Peace of the Church (1668). In 1669 the two houses were legally separated, Port-Royal-de-Paris being given over to the nuns who had submitted before 1668, while the Jansenist majority were established in Port-Royal-des-Champs. A period of prosperity followed, cut short in 1679, after the recrudescence of the Jansenist controversy, when the convent was forbidden to take boarders or receive any more novices. Subsequently further measures were taken to the prejudice of its temporalities. In 1705 *Clement XI published a bull condemning those who, in signing the anti-Jansenist formulary of *Alexander VII, used mental reservations: the nuns of Port-Royal refused to accept this new definition, and, after a short persecution, were finally dispersed in 1709. The buildings were subsequently destroyed, and the site desecrated (1710–13).

A. de Dion (ed.), Cartulaire de l’abbaye de Porrois au diocèse de Paris plus connue sous son nom mystique Port-Royal, 1: 1204–80 [all pub.] (1903). The fundamental modern crit. work is that of C. A. Sainte-Beuve, Port-Royal (5 vols., 1840–59, and index, 1861; modern edn. by M. Leroy, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 93, 99, 107; 1953–5). The more important earlier works incl. [C. Clémencet, OSB] Histoire générale de Port-Royal (10 vols., Amsterdam, 1755–7); id., Histoire littéraire de Port-Royal, ed. [R. F. W.] Guettée (Paris, 1868); J. Racine (the poet), Abrégé de l’histoire de Port-Royal (1742–54; ed. A. Gazier, 1908); and C. *Beard, Port-Royal (2 vols., 1861). C. Gazier, Histoire du monastère de Port-Royal (1929); id., Les Belles Amies de Port-Royal (1930); id., Ces Messieurs de Port-Royal: Documents inédits (1932), and other works of this author. J. Laporte, La Doctrine de Port-Royal (1923; 2nd edn., enlarged, 2 vols., Bibliothèque d’Histoire de la Philosophie, 1951–2). L. Cognet, La Mère Angélique et son temps, 1: La Réforme de Port-Royal 1591–1618 (1950). F. E. Weaver, The Evolution of the Reform of Port-Royal: From the Rule of Cîteaux to Jansenism [1978]; id., La Contre-Réforme et les Constitutions de Port-Royal (2002). F. Delforge, Les petites écoles de Port-Royal 1637–1660 (1985). A. Maulvault, Répertoire alphabétique des personnes et des choses de Port-Royal (1902). L. Rea, The Enthusiasts of Port-Royal (1912). Bremond, esp. vol. 4. E. Préclin in Fliche and Martin, 19 (pt. 1; 1955), pp. 193–219. E. E. Weaver in Dict. Sp. 12 (pt. 2; 1986), cols. 1931–52; L. Cognet and J. M. Gres-Gayer in NCE (2nd edn.), 11 (2003), pp. 523–5, both s.v. See also bibl. to jansenism.


Bremond H. *Bremond, Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France depuis la fin des guerres de religion jusqu’à nos jours (11 vols., 1916–33, + index, 1936).

Sp. Spanish.




Saint-Cyran, Abbé de (1581–1643), Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, one of the authors of *Jansenism. A protégé of Justus Lipsius at the *Jesuit College at Louvain, and then a fellow-student at Paris (1604–10) and Bayonne (1611–17) with C. *Jansen, with whom he made a close friendship, he was attracted to St *Augustine’s writings, the theology of which he preferred to the prevailing scholasticism. In 1617 he settled for a time at Poitiers, where he was secretary to the Bishop, de la Rocheposay. In 1620 he was created commendatory Abbot of Saint-Cyran and thenceforward lived mainly in Paris, seeking out all the chief personalities of the time (*Vincent de Paul, J.-J. *Olier, G. Tarisse, P. de *Bérulle). He made it his object to reform Catholicism on Augustinian lines, largely in the hope of defeating Protestantism with its own weapons. From 1623 he became closely associated with the influential *Arnauld family and with *Port-Royal, and from 1633 as spiritual counsellor of the convent exercised an immense religious influence. Between 1617 and 1635 he was the recipient of a long series of letters from Jansen (pub. Louvain, 1654). His power led *Richelieu to consider him a dangerous character, and from 1638 until 1643 after Richelieu’s death he was incarcerated in the fortress of Vincennes, where he wrote his Lettres chrétiennes et spirituelles (pub. 1645). He was held in great veneration by later Jansenists, who looked up to him as a martyr. His writings include Somme des fautes … du P. Garasse (1626), an attack on the *Jesuits; Petrus Aurelius de Hierarchia Ecclesiastica (1631), a plea for the rights of the episcopate against the Papacy, partly based on M. Antonio *de Dominis’s De Republica Christiana; and Théologie familière (1642).

C. Lancelot, Mémoires touchant la vie de M. de S. Cyran (2 vols., Cologne, 1738). J. Lafferière, Étude sur Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, abbé de Saint-Cyran (Louvain, 1912). J. Orcibal, Les Origines du jansénisme (Bibliothèque de la RHE, 16), 2 and 3, Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, abbé de Saint-Cyran et son temps, 4, Lettres inédites de Jean Duvergier de Hauranne, abbé de Saint-Cyran, ed. A. Barnes, and 5, La Spiritualité de Saint-Cyran avec ses écrits de piété inédits (1947–62). J. Orcibal in DHGE 14 (1960), cols. 1216–41, s.v. ‘Duvergier de Hauranne (Jean-Ambroise)’; B. Chédozeau in Dict. Sp. 14 (1990), cols. 140–50, s.v. See also bibl. to jansenism and port-royal.


RHE Revue d’Histoire Ecclésiastique (Louvain, 1900 ff.).

DHGE Dictionnaire d’Histoire et de Géographie Ecclésiastiques, ed. A. Baudrillart and others (1912 ff.).


xcxxcxxc  F ” “ This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 1990....x....   “”.