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Francois Fenelon
1651-1715

      Francois Fenelon (specifically Francois de Salignac de la Motte-Fenelon) was born on August 6, 1651, at Fenelon Castle in Perigord. Fenelon studied at the seminary Saint-Sulpice in Paris, where he was ordained as a priest. Fenelon published his pedagogical work Traite de l'education des filles (Treatise on the Education of Girls) in 1681, which brought him much attention, not only in France, but abroad as well. At this time, he met Jacques Benigne Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux, who soon became his patron and through whose influence Fenelon was contracted by Louis XIV to carry out the re-conversion of the Hugenots in the provinces of Saintonge and Poitou in 1686 and was appointed in 1689 as educator of his grandson and potential successor, the Duc de Bourgogne. Because of this position, he gained much influence at the court.

      He was inducted into the Academie Francaise in 1693 and named Archbishop of Cambrai in 1695. During his time as the educator and teacher of the Duke, Fenelon wrote several entertaining and educational works, including the extensive novel Les Aventures de Telemaque, fils d'Ulysse (The Adventures of Telemachus, son of Ulysses), which depicted the ideal of a wise king. When this novel began circulating anonymously among the court, having been fragmentarily published in 1699 without his knowledge, Louis XIV, who saw many criticisms of his absolutistic style of rule in Telemaque, stopped the printing and banned Fenelon from court. Fenelon then retreated to his bishopric in Cambrai, where he remained active writing theological and political treatises until his death on January 17, 1715.

      In Church history, Fenelon is known especially for his part in the Quietism debate with his earlier patron Bossuet. In his work Explication des maximes des Saints sur la vie interieure (Explanation of the Adages of the Saints on the Inner Life) in 1697, he defended Madame du Guyon, the main representative of Quietistic mysticism. He provided proof that her "heretical" teachings could also be seen in recognized saints. In 1697, Fenelon called on the pope for a decision in the Quietism debate. After long advisement, the Pope banned the Explication in 1699. Fenelon complied with the pope's decision immediately and allowed the remaining copies of his book to be destroyed.

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Book
Christian Counsel - Table of Contents
       CHRISTIAN COUNSEL, ON DIVERS MATTERS PERTAINING TO THE INNER LIFE. BY FENELON. "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see."--Rev. iii. 18. ...read
ArticleFenelon's Maxims of the Saints
       ARTICLE FIRST. Of the love of God, there are various kinds. At least, there are various feelings which go under that name. First, There is what may be called mercenary or selfish love; that is, that love of God which originates in a sole regard to our own happiness. Those who love God with no other love than this, love Him just as the miser ...read
ExcerptFreedom from Self
      So long as we are centered in self, we shall be prey to the contradiction, the wickedness, and the injustice of men. Our temper brings us into collision with other tempers; our passions clash with those of our neighbors; our wishes are so many tender places open to the shafts of those around; our pride, which is incompatible with our neighbors', ri ...read
Book
Spiritual Letters - Table of Contents
       SPIRITUAL LETTERS. FENELON. "And I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them and I in them."--John xvii. 26. LETTER I. The advantage of humiliation. I pray often to God that He would keep you in the hollow of his hand. The most essential point is lowliness. ...read
Book
The Existence of God - Table of Contents
       THE EXISTENCE OF GOD By Francois Fenelon INTRODUCTION An ancestor of the French divine who under the name of Fenelon has made for himself a household name in England as in France, was Bertrand de Salignac, Marquis de la Mothe Fenelon, who in 1572, as ambassador for France, was charged to soften as much as he could the resentment o ...read

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