Garrigou-Lagrange as a young priest
Gontran-Marie Garrigou Lagrange
21 February 1877
|Died||15 February 1964 (aged 86)|
|Other names||Gontran-Marie Garrigou-Lagrange|
|Education||University of Bordeaux (medicine), Sorbonne (philosophy)|
Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange [gaʁigu lagrɑ̃ʒ]; 21 February 1877 – 15 February 1964) was a French Catholic theologian and Dominican friar. He has been noted as a leading neo-Thomist of the 20th century, along with Jacobus Ramírez, Édouard Hugon, and Martin Grabmann. He taught at the Dominican Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, in Rome from 1909 to 1960. There he wrote his magnum opus, The Three Ages of the Interior Life (Les Trois Ages de la Vie Interieure) in 1938.(French:
In 1918 Garrigou initiated courses in sacred art, mysticism, and aesthetics at the Angelicum influencing future liturgical artists such as Marie Alain Couturier, who studied theology there from 1930 to 1932.
He was born Gontran-Marie Garrigou Lagrange on 21 February 1877 in Auch, near Toulouse, France. While studying medicine at Bordeaux he experienced what he described as a religious conversion after reading Life, Science, and Art by the Breton writer Ernest Hello (1828–85). He joined the French Dominicans and studied and taught at Le Saulchoir before moving to Rome, where he lectured at the Angelicum from 1909 until his retirement in 1960. In 1917 a special professorship in ascetical and mystical theology was created for him at the Angelicum, the first of its kind anywhere in the world.
He is best known for his spiritual theology. His magnum opus in the field is The Three Ages of the Interior Life (Les Trois Ages de la Vie Interieure), in which he propounded the thesis that infused contemplation and the resulting mystical life are in the normal way of holiness of Christian perfection. This influenced the section entitled "Chapter V: The Universal Call to Holiness in the Church" in the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium.
His great achievement was to synthesise the highly abstract writings of St Thomas Aquinas with the experiential writings of St. John of the Cross, attempting to show they are in perfect harmony with each other.
Father Garrigou-Lagrange, the leading proponent of "strict observance Thomism", attracted wider attention when in 1946 he wrote against the Nouvelle Théologie theological movement, criticising it as Modernist. He is also said to be the drafter of Pope Pius XII's 1950 encyclical Humani generis, subtitled "Concerning Some False Opinions Threatening to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine".
Garrigou-Lagrange taught many eminent Catholic theologians during his academic career at the Angelicum. He also supervised the doctoral research of Marie-Dominique Chenu, who was ordained in 1919 and completed his doctorate in theology in 1920 with a dissertation entitled De contemplatione. In the period between World War II and the Cold War Garrigou-Lagrange was the "torchbearer of orthodox Thomism" against Modernism. In 1926 he served as the definitive consulter to Pope Pius XI in declaring John of the Cross a doctor of the church.
He is commonly held to have influenced the decision in 1942 to place the privately circulated book Une école de théologie: le Saulchoir (Étiolles 1937) by Marie-Dominique Chenu, O.P., on the Vatican's "Index of Forbidden Books" as the culmination of a polemic within the Dominican Order between the Angelicum supporters of a speculative scholasticism and the French revival Thomists who were more attentive to historical hermeneutics.
Garrigou-Lagrange gave the retreat in Paris which attracted Yves Congar to leave the diocesan seminary in order to join the Dominicans. Later, Congar's methodology was suspected of Modernism because it seemed to derive more from religious experience than from syllogistic analysis.
Perhaps the most famous of his students was the future Pope John Paul II, who was supervised by Garrigou-Lagrange for his doctoral research in the mid-1940s at the Angelicum, and whose encyclical Fides et Ratio is attributed to his training under the learned Dominican.
He died on 15 February 1964 in Rome. The International Dominican Foundation (IDF) established Réginald de Rocquois Foundation in his memory at Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas where he taught most of his career, which grants annual Réginald de Rocquois scholarships.
He produced 28 books and hundreds of articles. Among the most famous works are: