Fronteau, John

, canon regular of the congregation of St. Genevieve, and chancellor of the university of Paris, was born at Angers in 1614. His father was a notstry of that place. He was first educated under a private | ecclesiastic in the neighbourhood of Angers, and is said to have made such rapid progress in these his early studies, that in less than five years he could readily translate into Latin and Greek. On his return to Angers he studied three years in the college of the oratory there, and was afterwards sent to that of La Fleche, where he completed his classical course. In 1630 he took the habit of a canon regular of the abbey of Toussaint, at Augers, and made profession the year following. Having dedicated his philosophical thesis to father Favre, this led to an acquaintance with the latter, by whose orders he came to Paris in 1636, and in 1637 was chosen professor of philosophy in the abbey of iSt. Genevieve. His first course of philosophical lectures being finished in 1639, he was employed to lecture on divinity, which he did with equal reputation, following the principles of St. Thomas, to which he was much attached; but his lectures were not dry and scholastic, but enlivened by references to the fathers, and to ecclesiastical history, a knowledge of which he thought would render them more useful to young students: and besides his regular lectures on theology, he held every week a conference on some subject of morals, or some part of the scriptures. Jansenius having published his “Augustinus,” he read it with attention, and thought he discovered in it the true sentiments of St. Augustine. Some time after, the Jesuits having invited him to be present at the theological theses of the college of Clermont, and having requested him to open the ceremony, he delivered a very learned and eloquent discourse, which was at first well received, but having attacked a proposition concerning predestination, he was suspected of inclining towards innovation. In a conference, however, with two fathers of the congregation, he explained his sentiments in such a manner as to satisfy them. In 1648 he was made chancellor of the university of Paris, although with some opposition from the members of the university, not upon his own account, but that of the fathers of the congregation in general, who had rendered themselves obnoxious to the university by the erection of a number of independent seminaries.

After passing some years in the quiet prosecution of his studies, he encountered some opposition in consequence of the five propositions condemned by the popes Innocent X. and Alexander VII. He was now suspected of | favouring the Jansenists, and of asserting that no one could sign the formulary without distinguishing the fact from the right. This induced him to quit his office of regent in 1654, and accept of the conventual priory of Betiay, in the diocese of Angers. Here, however, he did not constantly reside, but preached frequently in some cathedrals, and performed the duties of his office as chancellor of the university, until 1661, when happening to be at Benay, he received an order from the court to remain there until farther orders. This was occasioned by the approbation he had given to a French translation of the Missal of M. Voisin, which at first he did not choose to revoke. It does not appear, however, that while he ventured to express liberal notions, he had the courage to maintain them against the authority of his superiors, for he soon conceded every point, and offered to sign the formulary abovementioned, which he had hitherto refused, and accordingly was permitted to return to Paris in 1662, where the archbishop of Sens bestowed on him the office of priorcur6 of St. Mary Magdalen of Montargis; but this he enjoyed but a very few days, being seized with a disorder which carried him off, April 17, 1662, when only fortyeight years of age. He was a man of extensive reading in ecclesiastical and profane history; and as a preacher was lively and eloquent. He obtained much reputation for his discourses when bestowing the degree of master of arts, which was his province for fifteen years. He was an able linguist, not only in the modern, but ancient, and particularly the Eastern languages. Dupin, who gives him in other respects a very high character, observes, that he never attached himself so closely to any subject as to handle it thoroughly, but was always making discoveries, starting conjectures, and forming new ideas, and giving his subject a turn altogether uncommon.

His works were, 1. “Sumtna totins philosophise e D. Thomae Aquinatis doctrina,Paris, 1640, fol. 2. “Thomas a Kempis vindicatus per unuin e Canonicis regularibus congregationis Gallicanae,Paris, 1641, 8vo. The purpose of this is to prove that Thomas a Kempis, and not Gerson, was the author of the celebrated “Imitation,” &c. and it produced a controversy, of which some notice will be taken in our article on that writer. 3. “Ivonis Carnotens-is Episcopi opera,Paris, I 647, fol. This edition of the works of Ives de Chartres gave some offence to Souchet, | whose notes he had adopted; and he was obliged to defend himself in a letter addressed to the bishop of Puy. 4. “Dissertatio philologiea de virginhate honorata, erudita, adornata, fnecunda,” ibid. 1651. 5. “Antitheses Angustini et Calvini,” ibid. 1651, 16mo. In this he gives the parallel passages of St. Augustin and Calvin on the subject of grace. The general of the congregation, thinking it might make some noise in the world, suppressed all the copies except one, from which a friend of Fronteau had a new edition printed. 6. “Kalendarinm Romanum,” taken from an ancient ms. and illustrated by a preface and two dissertations, on festival days, and saints’ days, ibid. 1652, 8vo. 7. “O ratio in obitum Matthoei Mole”,“ibid. 1656, 4to. Mole was keeper of the seals. He published also various epistles and tracts on subjects of ecclesiastical history. His own life was published in 1663, 4to, under the titleJoan. Frontonis Memoria disertis per amicos virosque clarissimos encomiis celebrata." 1


Dupin.Niceron, vol. XXI. —Moreri.