“Profiting from the examples of Catholic preachers and above all those of Bossuet…” Gustave Lanson, History of French Literature, concerning the Reformed preacher Jaques Saurin.
“I did not take pen in hand to teach you the thoughts of men…” Elevations on the Mysteries, Continuation of the Mysteries of the Childhood of Jesus Christ: 3, Who are the Magi?
Until recent times it’s the rare Protestant preacher or theologian who would take inspiration from a Roman Catholic. Yet the works of Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704) stand by themselves, not only with some Protestants but in French literature, where no other preacher of the Gospel has a comparable place.
I discuss some of the reasons why this should be so in this piece on Bossuet. And yet he is neglected, not only by Protestants but even Roman Catholics. You seldom hear him mentioned even amongst the traditionalists. Part of the problem is that his greatest fans have, understandably, been the French, whose influence in Catholicism has generally waned with the trials the faith has experienced in that country. (We should be so foolish and arrogant to discount him on that account!)
And yet he remains the greatest preacher of them all. Eloquent, learned, entertaining but not silly like we see now, both Biblical and Augustinian in outlook, his sermons and works are a delight to those who really want to return to well-founded Christian preaching.
The purpose of this site is to present Bossuet in English in an accessible format. Most of the translations are my own; some are not. I also feature pieces of mine which are related to Bossuet’s work and theology.
His works, as now available, are as follows, linking to the starting installment or the link page, the later ones are linked there:
- Bossuet’s Works, and Some Commentary
- Sermon on the Profession of Mademoiselle de la Vallière
- Elevations on the Mysteries (the centrepiece of the site)
- Meditations on the Gospel (downloadable in pdf format)
- History of the Variations of the Protestant Churches, Vol. 1
- History of the Variations of the Protestant Churches, Vol. 2
- Other Pieces
- Reflections on “the Sacred Pledge of the Eucharist.” A favorite topic of Bossuet’s, and ours too