Ravignan, Gustavus Francis Xavier Delacroix De

Ravignan, Gustavus Francis Xavier Delacroix De, one of the most celebrated of Roman Catholic preachers of our times, and also a distinguished member of the Jesuit Order, was born at Bayonne Dec. 2, 1795. IIe studied in the Lyce Bonaparte at Paris, and was by his parents intended for the legal profession, which hle also entered by obtaining his degree and being named auditor of the Cour Royale at Paris. In 1821 he received an appointment in the Tribunal of the Seine. The prospect thus opened for him, however, lost its attraction after a change of views in religion had made him serious about the future, and in 1822 he formed the resolution of relinquishing his career at the bar, and entering the Church. Having spent some time in the College of St. Sulpice, he soon passed into the novitiate of the Jesuits at Mlontrouge, and thence to Dole and St. Acheul for his theological studies, at the termination of which he was himself appointed a professor. The religious fervor of his soul found expression in many of the material forms which prevail so generally among the Romanists of his order. Thus, for example, he wore for a long time, as a mark of penance, a leather girdle stuck full of needles, around his waist, on the bare bodya. On the expulsion of the Jesuits from France in 1830, father Ravignan withdrew to Freiburg, in Switzerland, where he continued to teach in the schools of his own order; but after some time, when he was supposed to have gained sufficient notoriety by the afflictive discipline of his body, he was transferred to the more congenial duty of preaching, first in several of the Swiss towns, and afterwards in Savoy, at Chambery, at St. Maurice, and other places. At length, in 1835, he appeared in the pulpit of the cathedral of Amiens. In the following year he was chosen to preach the Lenten sermons at the church of St. Thomas d'Aquin in Paris; and finally, in 1837, was selected to replace Lacordaire (q.v.) at Notre Dame in the duty of conducting the special "conferences" for men which had been opened in that church. For ten years father Ravignan occupied this pulpit with a success which has rarely been equalled, and his Conferences are regarded as models of ecclesiastical eloquence. In 1842 he undertook, in addition, to preach each evening during the entire Lent; and it is to the excessive fatigue thus induced, as well as to the many trials imposed, that the premature break-down of his strength is ascribed. To the labors of the pulpit he added those also of the press. He published an Apology of his order in 1844; and in 1854 a more extended work with the same view. Clement XIII et Clement XIV (2 vols. 8vo), whicih was intended as a reply to tlhe Life of Clement XIV by the Oratorian father Theiner. These, with some occasional Sermons and Conferences, constitute the sum of the publications issued during his life. In 1855 he was invited by the emperor Napoleon I11 to preach the Lent at the Tuileries. He died Feb. 26, 1858, in the convent of his order at Paris. None of the Jesuit preachers of our times have so zealously labored among the Protestants as father Ravignan, but, alas! too frequently he employed measures in no way adding honor to the already overcast name of the Jesuitical order. His Memoirs have been published by his brethren, and a collected edition of his works and remains has been for some time in progress. The Memoir has been translated into English, under the title of The Life of Father Ravignan, by father De Ponlevoy (Dublin, 1869; N. Y. 1869).

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