Espen Zeger Bernhard Van

Espen Zeger Bernhard Van, one of the most celebrated writers on the ecclesiastical law in the 18th century, was born at Louvain July 9,1646. He studied theology and philosophy at the university of his native city, and after having been ordained priest in 1673, lie was two years later made Doctor Juris (doctor of law), and appointed professor of canonical law at the Collegium Adrianum at the University. He lived very retired, devoting his whole time to study, but such became soon his reputation that he was consulted by a number of princes, bishops, tribunals and learned corporations. Many of his opinions, however, particularly on the Congregation of the Index. on dispensations, immunities, exemptions, the royal placet; and the appeal from the ecclesiastical to civil power, were note favorable to the pretensions of the popes, and in 1704 and 1734 all his works were put on the Index. His defense of the consecration of a Jansenist archbishop at Utrecht caused in 1728 his suspension from all priestly functions, as well as from his chair at the University. All demands made upon him by the archbishop of Malines to revoke his opinions he firmly refused. He fled to Amersfort, a common refuge of Jansenist exiles, where he died October 2, 1728, at the advanced age of 82 years. Van Espen is universally classed among the ablest writers on ecclesiastical law, and even pope Benedict did not withhold a recognition of his ability. The best edition of his works is the one published by Baren (Jus Ecclesiasticum Universum, 5 volumes, Louvain, 1753-65; also Cologne, 1777, 5 volumes; Mentz, 1791, 3 volumes). An abstract of this work was published by Oberhauser (Augsburg, 1782; Cilli. 1791). — Wetzer u. Welte, Kirch.-Lex. 3:711; Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Gener. 16:410; Herzog, Real-Encykl. 4:164; G. du Pac de Bellegarde, Vie de Van Espen (Louvain, 1767). (A.J.S.)

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