- Pierre-François Chifflet, Charles Du Cange et les Bollandistes. Correspondance
The monumental hagiographical collection known as Acta Sanctorum has been in continual publication for over three centuries. It was inspired by the researches of the Jesuit, Héribert Rosweyde (1569-1629), but it was his successor, Jean Bolland (1596-1665), who recast the whole enterprise so as to encompass publication of every Life of every saint of the Church, ordered liturgically by calendar month. It was Bolland who turned a partnership of Jesuit scholars into a small, cohesive society devoted to this task, but from the first, the society made call upon the expertise of others who, although not of the community, were decisively in tune with its spirit and critical methodologies. The literary correspondence between the first Bollandists and two very notable French collaborators is the matter of this book. Pierre-François Chifflet (1592-1682) had joined the Jesuits in 1609 and was taken up by Rosweyde, his senior confrère, [End Page 331] after the publication in 1618 of his account of the antiquities of Besançon. The first surviving letter between them is dated 1624, a request from Rosweyde for transcriptions of Vitae from manuscripts accessible to Chifflet in France. A great quantity of transcriptions either commissioned by Chifflet or written in his own hand were found among Rosweyde's voluminous papers after his death in 1629, witnessing the beginnings of a collaboration that was to continue for the rest of Chifflet's scholarly life. The majority of the letters included in this edition, twenty-nine of them, belong to his correspondence with Jean Bolland, covering the period from 1624 to 1680 and the publication during that time of the volumes of Acta sanctorum for January to April.
The support and collaboration of the philologist and historian Charles Du Cange (1610-1688) belong to the later period, and to the Bollandist generation that succeeded the two pioneers. The surviving letters all belong to the correspondence between Du Cange and Daniel Papebroch, across the period from 1665 to 1686. Du Cange was well born and a man of position as well as a scholar of prodigious erudition. A reader of the first volumes of the Acta Sanctorum, from which he drew material for his Glossaries of late Latin and late Greek, Du Cange seems always to have remembered thereafter the needs of the Bollandists in the course of his own researches in Parisian libraries. He sent to Papebroch in 1683 a long 'mémoire' listing nearly six hundred hagiographical texts that he had found among the Greek manuscripts of the Bibliothèque Colbertine. In the quarrel over the true origins of the Carmelite order, which saw the Bollandists accused of heresy by the Spanish Inquisition for refuting the widely-held belief that the Carmelite rule dated back to the prophet Elijah, both Chifflet and Du Cange lent support to their friends, and an important part of Du Cange's correspondence concerns this dispute. The Introduction reprints an extract from the letter that he sent to his friend Wyon d'Hérouval in which he set down his esteem for the critical historical methods of the Bollandists, a letter which was subsequently circulated publicly.
The correspondence in this collection has been edited from a number of scattered letter-books, some now in Paris, some in Brussels, and others in the Bollandist archive. Père Joassart, a modern-day Bollandist, is himself heir to the papers he has so expertly edited and introduced, and is to be congratulated on the appearance of his fourth volume in as many years in the series "Tabularium hagiographicum."The series, which aims to publish all the surviving correspondence between the early Bollandists and their collaborators, is filling out at a rapid rate, and shows a commitment to coverage worthy of the first Bollandists themselves.