Poncet, Maurice

Poncet, Maurice a French prelate of the 16th century, flourished as curate of St. Pierre des Arcis. He was a divine of great eloquence and considerable learning, though not remarkable for refinement of taste or diction. He was a Gallican, and when Henry III pursued that imbecile policy which finally cost France the loss of her best citizens for conscience sake, Ponet ridiculed the Leaguers, SEE LEAGUE, and especially visited with the full power of his sarcasm the grotesque processions of the Confreries des Penitents. He made the walls of his church ring with denunciations of these hypocritical devotees, who, after parading the streets barefoot, arrayed in sackcloth, and displaying ostentatiously the outward signs of austere asceticism, were accustomed to pass the night in riotous feasting and gross debauchery. Henry, resenting this exposure, banished the offender to his abbey of St. Pere at Melun; but he was released after a brief confinement, and returned to Paris by the king's permission, his majesty remarking that "he had always believed the good doctor to have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge; and that there was much excuse for him, since he was not quick enough of apprehension to see through the artifices of those by whom he was instigated. He had plenty of scholarship, but was grievously deficient in judgment." Poncet, unsubdued by the king's leniency, resumed his usual incisive style of pulpit oratory, and persevered in it till his death, which happened in 1586. See Jervis, Hist. Church of France, 1, 181 sq. (J. H. W.)

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