Paris, Francis

, usually called the Abbe Paris, would not have deserved notice here unless for certain impostures connected with his name, in which, however, he had no hand. He was born at Paris, and was the eldest son of a | counsellor to the parliament, whom he was to have succeeded in that office; but he preferred the ecclesiastical profession; and, when his parents were dead, resigned the whole inheritance to his brother, only reserving to himself the right of applying for necessaries. He was a man, says the abb UAvocat, of the most devout temper, and who to great candour of mind joined great gentleness of manners. He catechized, during some time, in the parish of St. Come; undertook the direction of the clergy, and held conferences with them. Cardinal de Noailles, to whose cause he was attached, wanted to make him curate of that parish, but found many obstacles to his plan; and M. Paris, after different asylums, where he had lived extremely retired, confined himself in a house in the fauxbourg St. Marcoul, where, sequestered from the world, he devoted himself wholly to prayer, to the practice of the most rigorous penitence, and to labouring with his hands, having for that purpose learnt to weave stockings. He was one of those who opposed the bull Unigenitus, and was desirous also to be an author, and wrote “Explications of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans,” to the “Galatians,” and “An Analysis of the Epistle to the Hebrews;” but acquired no reputation by these. He died May I, 1727, at Paris, aged thirty-seven, and was interred in the little church-yard belonging to St. Medard’s parish. Though M. Paris had been useless to the Jansenists while alive, they thought proper to employ him in working miracles after his death; and stories were invented of miraculous cures performed at his tomb, which induced thousands to flock thither, where they practised grimaces and convulsions in so ridiculous and disorderly a manner, that the court was at last forced to put a stop to this delusion, by ordering the church-yard to be walled up, January 27, 1732. Some time before, several curates solicited M. de Vintimille, archbishop of Paris, by two requests, to make judicial inquiry into the principal miracles attributed to M. Paris; and that prelate appointed commissioners who easily detected the impostnre, which would not deserve a place here had it not served Hume and some other deists with an argument against the real miracles of the gospel, the fallacy of which argument has been demonstrated with great acuteness by the late bishop Douglas, in his “Criterion.1


Dict. Hist. Douglas’s Criterion.