Alanus de Rupe

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Alanus de Rupe
Died1475 (aged 46–47)
Woodblock in the Alanus Psalter, 1492

Alanus de Rupe (also Alan, Alain de la Roche, or Blessed Alain de la Roche); (c. 1428 – 8 September 1475) was a Roman Catholic theologian noted for his views on prayer. Some writers claim him as a native of Germany, others of Belgium; but his disciple, Cornelius Sneek, says that he was born in Brittany. He died at Zwolle.


Born in Dinan, Brittany in around 1428, he entered the Dominican Order in 1459 at age thirty-one. While pursuing his studies at Saint Jacques, Paris, he distinguished himself in philosophy and theology. From 1459 to 1475 he taught almost uninterruptedly at Paris, Lille, Douay, Ghent, and Rostock in Germany, where, in 1473, he was made Master of Sacred Theology. During his sixteen years of teaching he became a most renowned preacher. He was indefatigable in what he regarded as his special mission, the preaching and re-establishment of the Rosary, which he did with success throughout northern France, Flanders, and the Netherlands.[1] He established a Confraternity of the Psalter of the Glorious Virgin Mary, around 1470 which was instrumental in disseminating the rosary throughout Europe. [2]

Alanus published nothing during his lifetime, but immediately after his death the brethren of his province were commanded to collect his writings for publication. These were edited at different times and have occasioned some controversy among scholars.[1] A list of writings attributed to Alanus was compiled by J. G. T. Graesse in Trésor des livres rares et précieux (1859).[3]

Alanus on Dominic and the Rosary[edit]

According to an old Dominican tradition, in the early 13th century, Dominic was distressed at his lack of success in his preaching against the Albigensians and prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. She reportedly appeared to him and told him to use her psalter in conjunction with his preaching. This psalter, a custom of praying 150 Hail Marys rather than Psalms, developed into the Rosary.

This traditional origin for the Rosary was generally accepted until the 17th century, when the Bollandists concluded that the account originated with Alanus, writing over two hundred years after Dominic's life. Alanus attributed his descriptions of Dominic to a 1460 vision; later authors have suggested that he may have invented them to enliven sermons. John T. McNicholas, a Catholic bishop, held that Alanus's accounts should not be regarded as historical.[1] Herbert Thurston, while describing Alanus as pious and earnest, argued that he was "a victim of the most astounding hallucinations" and that his revelations were based on the imaginary testimony of nonexistent writers.[4][5]

According to Alanus, Mary made fifteen specific promises to Christians who pray the rosary.[6] The fifteen rosary promises range from protection from misfortune to meriting a high degree of glory in heaven. A commonly printed pamphlet of the promises carries the imprimatur of Patrick J. Hayes, who was Archbishop of New York from 1919 to 1938. The pamphlet may possibly be an excerpt from an earlier work carrying Hayes' imprimatur.[7] Such an imprimatur would have been issued following the issuance of a nihil obstat ("nothing obstructs") by a censor who reviewed the material to determine if it contradicted Catholic teaching. Under the rules of canon law, neither a nihil obstat nor an imprimatur would necessarily reflect the personal opinion of either the censor or the archbishop regarding the document reviewed. It was Hayes' predecessor, John Cardinal Farley, who issued an imprimatur for the edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia which describes the rosary promises as ahistorical.[7]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Alanus de Rupe". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

Further reading[edit]

  • Winston-Allen, Anne. Stories of the Rose
  • Huizinga, Johan, The Waning of the Middle Ages, Chapter, "Religious Sensibility and Imagination"

External links[edit]