Jean Pierre de Caussade

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Jean Pierre de Caussade (7 March 1675 – 8 December 1751) was a French Jesuit priest and writer. He is especially known for the work ascribed to him, Abandonment to Divine Providence, and also his work with the Nuns of the Visitation in Nancy, France.


Jean Pierre de Caussade was born in Cahors, now in Lot, France. He was spiritual director to the Nuns of the Visitation in Nancy, France, from 1733 to 1740. During this time and after he left Nancy, he wrote letters of instruction to the nuns. Some material ascribed to him was first published in 1861 by Henri Ramière [fr] under the title " L’Abandon à la providence divine".

However, according to research on The Treatise on Abandonment to Divine Providence, discussed in a paper by Dominique Salin SJ, emeritus professor at the Faculty of Theology at the Centre Sèvres, published in The Way, 46/2 (Apr 2007), pp. 21–36, "it now seems almost impossible that the author was in fact the Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade" as "[n]othing in de Caussade's biography would suggest that this man was the author of a famous treatise" and the style of letters of spiritual direction that can genuinely be attributed to de Caussade "is far removed from the lyricism" marking it.

Whoever the author was, he or she believed that the present moment is a sacrament from God and that self-abandonment to it and its needs is a holy state – a belief which, in the theological climate of France at the time, was considered close to Quietist heresy. In fact, because of this fear (especially with the Church's condemnation of the Quietist movement), the works were kept unpublished until 1861, and even then they were edited by Ramière to protect them from charges of Quietism. A more authoritative version of these notes was published only in 1966.[1] In his writings, the author is aware of the Quietists and rejects their perspective.[2] Abandonment to Divine Providence has now been read widely for many years and is considered a classic in the spiritual life by Catholics and many others. Caussade spent years as preacher in southern and central France, as a college rector (at Perpignan and at Albi), and as the director of theological students at the Jesuit house in Toulouse, which is where he died.[3]


  • Instructions spirituelles en forme de dialogues sur les divers états d'Oraison, d'après le doctrine de M. Bossuet, évêque de Meaux, Perpignan 1741 (On Prayer: spiritual instructions on the various states of prayer according to the doctrine of Bossuet Bishop of Meaux)
  • Bossuet, maître d'oraison, ed. by Henri Brémond, Paris 1931
  • L'Abandon à la divine providence, Paris, 1966 (Abandonment to Divine Providence or The Sacrament of the Present Moment)
  • Traité sur l'oraison du cœur, Paris 1981 (A Treatise on Prayer from the Heart)
  • Lettres spirituelles, Paris 1962-1964 (Spiritual Letters)


  1. ^ Foster, xv-xvi.
  2. ^ Section VIII of Abandonment to Divine Providence
  3. ^ Richard J. Foster. Introduction. The Sacrament of the Present Moment, translated by Kitty Muggeridge. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1982. pp.xiii-xiv.

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