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The History of the Church 206 The Eagle of Meaux One of the most important religious arts, all but vanished in our day, was the art of sacred oratory—eloquence that put the subtleties of discourse at the service of preachers. At the end of the thirteenth century, Jacobus de Voragine compiled The Golden Legend precisely to help the first Friars Preachers (the Dominicans) polish their sermons. The work was a collection of stories depicting the lives of saints, in which Voragine did not hesitate to include the fantastic and miraculous, all the while citing his sources. The importance formerly given to preaching is illustrated by the career of the greatest master of the genre: Jacques Bénigne Bossuet. Ordained a priest in 1652, he soon gained such a following that he was appointed tutor of the dauphin, son of Louis XIV. He never hesitated to pronounce strongly critical sermons before the king himself, and his funeral orations for the greats of this world—Henriette of France, Henriette of England, the princess Palatine, the prince of Condé, and so on—have been included in literary anthologies. He came into conflict with another great preacher of his time, François Fénelon. Bossuet, styled the Eagle of Meaux (his diocese), had Fénelon—styled the Swan of Cambrai, tutor of the king’s grandson —condemned as the defender of the doctrine of Quietism, which advocated mystical union with God while spurning all activities of the soul. Hyacinth Rigaud (1659–1743) Jacques Bénigne Bossuet Musée du Louvre, Paris ...


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