Jean-Pierre Camus

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Portrait of Jean Pierre Camus by Philippe de Champaigne.

Jean-Pierre Camus de Pontcarré (November 3, 1584 – April 26, 1652) was a French bishop, preacher, and author of works of fiction and spirituality.


Jean-Pierre Camus was born in Paris in 1584, the son of Jean Camus, seigneur de Saint Bonnet, who was governor of Étampes. As a young man he traveled about Europe, and following his theological studies he became a priest in 1608. Two years later Henry IV appointed him bishop of Belley (1609–1628), which required a dispensation from Pope Paul V as Camus was only twenty-six. Camus was consecrated bishop by the Bishop of Geneva, François de Sales. The two dioceses of Geneva and Belley bordered one another, which contributed to further that close friendship between the Bishops. Camus consulting the elder cleric in all important questions, and subsequently became a friend and disciple.[1] Camus gave three speeches at the États-Généraux of 1614. After the death of François de Sales, Camus remained in Belley for a five more years, and then resigned his post in 1628. He was briefly given a position at the Abbey of Aunay in 1629, and subsequently performed other duties for the archbishop of Rouen. In the last years of his life, he consecrated himself to working with the poor in Paris. In 1652, he was appointed bishop of Arras, but died shortly thereafter.

He was buried in the chapel of the Hospice des Incurables, at Paris.[1]


As an orator, Camus was a product of the 17th century Baroque school of preaching.[2] In form, he believed the sermon should exude good literary style, including ample illustrations and vivid examples designed to entertain the audience. In content, Camus' preaching focused primarily on doctrinal instruction, such as the defense of the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist against that of the Protestants. His sermons occasionally took the form of moral exhortation - which foreshadowed the practice of later Neoclassical preachers - and drew on the lives of the saints as moral exemplars, of whom Charles Borromeo and Ignatius of Loyola were favorite of his.[3]


Jean-Pierre Camus was one of the most prolific authors of the period 1620-1648. His prose is succinct, without the elaborate rhetoric of authors—such as Antoine de Nervèze—from the previous generation. He also shows a vast knowledge of poetry.

Camus's first works were strongly influenced by the Essays of Michel de Montaigne, albeit with more religious content. His spiritual works were directly inspired by François de Sales; he was critical of mendicant orders and wrote extensively on poverty, grace and spiritual reflection. His criticism led him into controversy with Jacques de Chevanes.[4][5]

His fictional works encompass both novels and short stories. His dark and violent stories, often based on contemporary anecdotes or criminal incidents (he wrote over 1000 such works) were in the tradition of the horrific tales ("histoires tragiques") of Matteo Bandello, popular in France in the late Renaissance and early seventeenth century. His longer works show the influence of ancient Greek novels (such as the works of Heliodorus of Emesa and Achilles Tatius), with their scenes of tempests and kidnappings. Much of his fiction has a moralistic intention, showing human folly, the unruliness of passions, the dangers of illicit love, and the saving grace of divine love. The 1631 La tour des miroirs shows the effects of vanity using a series of enchanted mirrors.


  1. ^ a b Sollier, Joseph. "Jean-Pierre Camus de Pont-Carré." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 23 November 2017
  2. ^ Thomas Worcester, "The Classical Sermon," in Preaching, Sermon and Culture Change in the Long Eighteenth Century, ed. Joris van Eijnatten, 134.
  3. ^ Worcester, 135-137.
  4. ^ Jean Irénée Depéry (bp. of Gap.) (1835). Histoire hagiologique de Belley, ou Recueil des vies des saints et des bienheureux nés dans ce diocèse, suivies de celles de quelques pèrsonnages morts en odeur du Sainteté et des actes des martyrs du 18e siècle (in French). P.-F. Bottier. p. 223. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  5. ^ Neil Kenny (8 July 2004). The Uses of Curiosity in Early Modern France and Germany. Oxford University Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-19-155658-6. Retrieved 7 April 2013.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Jean-Pierre Camus de Pont-Carré". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

External links[edit]

Works by Jean-Pierre Camus at Project Gutenberg


  • Dandrey, Patrick. Dictionnaire des lettres françaises: le XVIIe siècle. Collection: La Pochothèque. Paris: Fayard, 1996 ISBN 2-253-05664-2

Further reading[edit]

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