Jean-Baptiste Bouvier

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Jean-Baptiste Bouvier
Roman Catholic Bishop of Le Mans
Jean-Baptiste Bouvier.jpg
See Le Mans
Appointed November 22, 1833
Predecessor Philippe-Marie-Thérèse-Guy Carron
Successor Jean-Jacques Nanquette
Ordination 1808
Personal details
Born (1783-01-16)January 16, 1783
Saint-Charles-la-Forêt, Mayenne
Died December 29, 1854(1854-12-29) (aged 71)
Buried Le Mans
Denomination Roman Catholic

Jean-Baptiste Bouvier (16 January 1783 - 29 December 1854) was a French theologian and Bishop of Le Mans.


Bouvier was born at Saint-Charles-la-Forêt, Mayenne.

Having received merely an elementary education, he learned his father's trade of carpentry, but he gave his spare time to the study of the classics under the direction of the parish priest. In 1805 he entered the seminary of Angers, where he made rapid progress. He was ordained priest in 1808 and appointed professor of philosophy at the College of Château-Gontier. In 1811 he was transferred to the seminary of Le Mans, where he taught philosophy and moral theology. In 1819 he was made superior of that institution and vicar-general of the diocese, a position which he held until 1834, when he was raised to the episcopal see of Le Mans.[1]

Bouvier was a confidant of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, who left his diocese in 1840 to go to Indiana and begin the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. The two corresponded by letter frequently until his death.[2]

During his episcopate Dom Gueranger revived the Benedictine Order with his foundation at Solesmes.

Pope Pius IX invited him to be present at the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854. While in Rome for the Council, he fell ill and died three days later, December 29, in the presence of numerous bishops and staff. His body was returned to Le Mans, where final funeral rites were celebrated on January 23, 1856.[2]


The influence exerted by his Institutiones Theologicæ (in fifteen editions), which was in use in almost all the seminaries of France, as well as in the United States and Canada, gives Bishop Bouvier a position in the history of theology during the nineteenth century. His compendium had the distinction of being the first manual, and for many years the only one well adapted to that period of transition (1830–70), marked on the one hand by the death struggles of Gallicanism and Jansenism, and on the other by the work of reform undertaken by all departments of ecclesiastical learning.

At first, Bouvier published separate theological treatises, which formed a collection of thirteen volumes (1818–33), reduced in 1834 to six, and published in that form until 1852. The author endeavoured to improve his work in the successive editions, but his failure to remove from it all traces of Gallicanism provoked criticism. A Gallican, through prejudices derived from his early training rather than from personal conviction, Bouvier readily consented to submit his work to the corrections of the theologians appointed by Pius IX. Their revision resulted in the eighth edition (1853).

Bouvier died in Rome in 1854. Subsequently, the professors of the seminary of Le Mans eliminated many imperfections which had been overlooked by the revisers of 1853. The manual was shortly afterwards adopted in more than sixty seminaries. In his work, Bouvier took a decided stand against Jansenism and adopted the doctrines of Saint Alphonsus.

Commentary on Bouvier[edit]

Edward Westermarck writes in The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas, Vol.1 (1906)[full citation needed]:

As late as the nineteenth century the right of enslaving captives was defended by Bishop Bouvier.[3] However this was several years before Bouvier attained episcopal rank.


  • Sebaux, Alexandre-Léopold (1889). Vie de Mgr Jean-Baptiste Bouvier, évêque du Mans (in French). Paris: Retaut-Bray.
  • Manuel secret des confesseurs, ISBN 2-86959-486-0


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Jean-Baptiste Bouvier". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  2. ^ a b Guérin, Mother Theodore (2005). Journals and Letters of Mother Theodore Guérin. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods: Providence Press. ISBN 1893789004.
  3. ^ Bouvier, Institutiones philosophicæ p. 566.[full citation needed]

External links[edit]

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

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Philippe-Marie-Thérèse-Guy Carron
Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Le Mans
1954 - 1960
Succeeded by
Jean-Jacques Nanquette