The Changing Face of Jansenism

John McManners

in Church and Society in Eighteenth-Century France Volume 2: The Religion of the People and the Politics of Religion

Published in print July 1999 | ISBN: 9780198270041
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600692 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 The Changing Face of Jansenism

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Faced with repression, the Jansenist opponents of Unigenitus had to appeal to a wider public, notably through the clandestine Nouvelles ecclésiastiques, presenting a running chronicle of friends of the ‘truth’ and scandal about its enemies. Doctrinal divisions were now of little importance, but Jansenism tried to give the laity, including women, a new and leading role in the Church. Paris was the ‘fortress of Jansenism’, and it was here that the cult of the Jansenist ‘saint’, François de Pâris, began with miracles at his tomb in the cemetery of Saint‐Médard, a cult, which developed into the convulsionist movement. Convulsionism, and especially its sado‐masochistic lunatic fringe, divided the Jansenists, allowing Fleury to encourage moderate Jansenist scholars to denounce the cult of deacon Pâris, while police surveillance of the convulsionaries tightened in the 1740s.

Keywords: convulsionaries; Jansenism; miracles; press; women

Chapter.  14638 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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