Berengarius or Berenger
Berengarius or Berenger archdeacon of Angers, was born at Tours in the year A.D. 998, and studied first in the school of St. Martin, and subsequently at Chartres, under the celebrated Fulbert. Upon his death Berenger left Chartres and returned to Tours, where he taught publicly at St. Martin's. He very early manifested a liberal spirit of inquiry, and was distinguished for his piety as well as for his industry in study. He quitted this city again and repaired to Angers, where he was well received by Hubert de Vendome, who administered the church of Angers at that period, and who made Berenger archdeacon. Scholars flocked to him from all parts of France. Some time between 1040 and 1050
he began to publish his sentiments on the Eucharist, in which he opposed the doctrine of Paschasius on transubstantiation. Lanfranc, who was then in Normandy, and who had been the intimate friend of Berenger, entered into a controversy with him on the subject. Berenger answered Lanfranc in a letter (see Gieseler, Ch. Hist. per. 3, § 29), in which he blamed him for charging Scotus with heresy for his opinion that the bread and wine are not changed in substance by consecration in the Eucharist, and declared that in doing so he equally condemned Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and others of the fathers. This letter fell into the hands of Pope Leo IX, who convened a council at Rome in April, 1050, when Berenger was excommunicated. He was also, in this year, condemned in the synods of Brienne and Vercelli. In this last council, which was held in September, the books of Scotus were burned. In October in the same year he was synodically condemned, for the fourth time, at Paris. Berenger appears to have adhered to his views until 1055, when, being cited before a synod held at Tours, where Hildebrand acted as legate to Victor II, he signed a confession of faith, which, though not a complete retraction, was satisfactory to the prelates present, who accordingly received him into communion. He had not, however, changed his opinions, and still continued to defend in writing his real views, whereupon he was again cited before a council, held at Rome in 1059, where he again retracted, and signed a confession drawn up by Cardinal Humbertus. Upon his return into France he again retracted his recantation, and published another work in defense of his original opinion. This work Lanfranc endeavored to answer, but without any effect so far as Berenger was concerned, who also, by letter, assured Pope Alexander II that his opinion was unalterable. Thus another synod was held against him at, Rouen in 1063, another at Poitiers in 1073, another at St. Maixent in 1075, another at Rome in 1078, where he confessed the doctrine of transubstantiation to save his life, but withdrew his confession as soon as he was safe in France. He died in communion with the Church in the island of Come, near Tours, Jan. 5 or 6, 1088, at the age of ninety. Berenger was greatly in advance of his age both intellectually and morally, though he had not physical to equal his moral courage. The injustice with which he — was treated at Rome caused him to use the following language of Leo IX: "In him I found by no means a saint, by no means a lion of the tribe of Judah; not even an upright man. To be declared a heretic by him I account as nothing." He styled the doctrine of transubstantiation an inepta vecordia vulgi. From his great reputation as a teacher, his views were widely diffused, not only in France, but in other countries. Much light has been recently thrown upon the history and character of Berenger by the publication of Berengarius Turonensis, oder eine Sammlung ihn betreffender Briefe, herausg. von Dr. H. Sudendorf (Berlin, 1850). This collection of his letters shows him as a worthy man, a loving Christian, and a man of tender and placable nature. It shows also that his learning embraced a wide ran e: he was a most zealous student of the fathers, he practiced medicine as a physician, and was much admired as an orator. It shows farther, what was not before known, that he was in intimate relations with some of the foremost men in France; and that, in particular, Godfrey of Anjou was his friend and protector. We also learn a great deal from this book of Gregory's conduct during his stay in France, and find that a very general sympathy with Berengarius's views existed among the chief clergy of France and of the neighboring German border. Dr. Sudendorf's historical explanations are both acute and thorough. — Neander, Ch. Hist. 3, 503-522; Mosheim, Ch. Hist. 1, 285-291; Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, 2, 75-88; Landon, Eccl. Dict. 2, 180.