Colombiere, Claude De La

, a famous Jesuit, born at St. Symphorien, two leagues from Lyons, in 1641, acquired great reputation among his order by his extraordinary talents in the pulpit. He was preacher for two years at the court of James II. of England, who listened to | his sermons with great pleasure, and, as it is said by the Romanists, with edification; hut, falling under the suspicion, though not convicted, of being concerned in a conspiracy, he was banished England, and betook himself to Parai, in the Charolois, where he died, Feb. 15, 1682. In conjunction with Marie Alacoque, he recommended the celebration of the solemnity of the heart of Jesus, and composed an office for the occasion. The first inventor of this rite, however, was Thomas Goodwin, president of Magdalen college, Oxford, an Arminian, who excited great notice in England, in the middle of the seventeenth century, by his ascetical and theological writings. His book entitled “Cor Christi in ccelis erga peccatores in terris,” printed in 1649, comprises the whole system of this devotion and was intended to promote the spread of it in England. La Colombiere, who was sent to London as confessor and preacher to the duchess of York, afterwards queen, found there a numerous sect, who, after Goodwin’s example, paid adoration to the fleshly heart of Jesus, as the symbolical image of divine love. He was astonished at the novelty of so ravishing a devotion, which had so long escaped the fertile invention of his fraternity; and carried it in triumph back with him to France, where, under the influence of heavenly visions and miracles, it struck deep root, and was extensively propagated. Among other agents a nun of the name of Marie Alacoque, who, in her heavenly visions, pretended to have conversed familiarly with Christ, was employed by the Jesuits to aid the deception, and in one of her visions, asserted that she had received orders from heaven to acquaint father la Colombiere, that he should institute a yearly festival to the heart of Jesus, propagate this devotion with all his might, and announce to such as should dedicate themselves to it, the assurance of their predestination to eternal life. The Jesuits immediately and zealously complied with the celestial mandate. There appeared at once in all quarters of the world, and in all languages, an innumerable swarm of publications, manuals, copper-plates, and medals, with hearts decorated with crowns of thorns, with lambent flames, transpiercing swords, or other symbolical impresses. They distributed scapularies to be worn day and night upon the breast, and tickets to be swallowed for driving out fevers. In all Spain there was not a nun who had not a present from the Jesuits of a heart cut out of red cloth, to be | worn next the skin. In every catholic city and town, in all parts of the world, fraternities were erected, passionmasses and nine-day devotions were instituted, to the honour of the heart of Jesus; and panegyrical sermons delivered, exhorting the faithful to augment their zeal. The proselytes must vow, before the holy sacrament of the altar, an eternal fidelity to the heart of Jesus; and every soul was made responsible for the increase and growth of this new devotion; nay, the display of a burning zeal for making proselytes was regarded as the peculiar characteristic of the true worshipper of the heart. This devotion was represented in their sermons and writings, as a necessary means to the enjoyment of a blissful hereafter: it was no wonder, then, that the partisans of this devotion were in a short time as numerous in all catholic Christendom as the sands of the sea. The bishops approved and confirmed the brotherhoods, and consecrated churches, altars, and chapels, erected to the promotion of this enthusiasm. Kings and queens preferred petitions to the papal throne, that a proper office might be appointed in the breviary and choir, and a peculiar mass for the solemnization of the anniversary; and even at Rome fraternities arose and flourished that devoted themselves to the worship of the heart of Jesus. In recommendation of it the Jesuits were not wanting either in prophecies or miracles; among the foremost of whom was la Colombiere, who had an excellent taste in his compositions, and a noble delivery in the pulpit. His masterly eloquence displays itself amidst the extreme simplicity ofhis style, as we are told by the abbe Trublet, speaking of his sermons, published at Lyons 1757, in 6 volumes 12mo. He had an impetuous and lively imagination, and the warmth of his heart appears through all his discourses: it is the unction of pere Che’minaisr, only more ardent and glowing. All his sermons breathe the most gentle, and at the same time the most fervent piety: he has been equalled by few in the art of affecting his hearers, and no enthusiast ever fell less into the familiar. The celebrated Patru, his friend, speaks of him as the best skilled of his time in the refinements and niceties of the French language. There are likewise by him, “Moral Reflections,” and “Spiritual Letters.1

1 Moreri.—Dict. Hist. Varieties of Literature, 1795, 2 vol. 8vo.