Father René Laurentin (born October 19, 1917) is a French theologian. He is widely recognized as an expert in the field of Mariology and is the author of numerous books and scholarly articles on topics including Marian apparitions such as Lourdes and Medjugorje; visionaries and mystics including Bernadette Soubirous, Thérèse de Lisieux, Catherine Labouré, and Yvonne Aimée de Malestroit; as well as biblical exegesis, theology, and Vatican II.
Birth and family
Laurentin attended secondary school at Sainte-Marie de Cholet. In 1934 he entered the Carmelite Seminary at the Catholic University of Paris. In 1938 he obtained two degrees: a Licentiate of Philosophy with a focus on the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas and a Licentiate of Letters - Philosophy from the Sorbonne. Called to serve in the French army during World War II, he was taken as a prisoner of war in Belgium in May 1940 and spent five years in detention at Oflag 4D in Germany. After his return, he was ordained to the priesthood on December 8, 1946. He went on to obtain a Doctor of Letters from the Sorbonne in 1952 and a Doctor of Theology from the Institute Catholique in 1953 (cum laude singulari prorsus).
Teaching and Research
In 1955, Laurentin was nominated to serve in the Pontifical International Marian Academy (l'Académie pontificale mariale internationale). Also in 1955, he was appointed Professor of Theology at the Catholic University of Angers. In the early 1960s he served as a consultant to the Preparatory Theological Commission of the Second Vatican Council and authored parts of the Marian doctrine in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Vatican II. He also served as a correspondent for Le Figaro, where he contributed editorials on the Council and the election of Pope Paul VI. In 1981 the Vatican authorized Laurentin to study the writings of Yvonne Aimée de Malestroit (Yvonne Beauvais) who was under consideration by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Laurentin has served on the theology faculty at the University of Florence and the University of Milan and has served as a visiting professor at several universities in Europe and North America. From the 1970s through the early 2000s, he taught courses for the Marian Summer Institutes and the International Marian Research Institute (founded 1975) at the University of Dayton. Laurentin also served as Vice President of the French Mariological Society (Société française d’études mariales) from 1962-1997.
Laurentin is widely recognized as an expert in the field of Mariology and is the author of over 150 books and 1,000 scholarly articles. His writings, translated in many languages, cover a range of topics on Marian apparitions including Lourdes and Medjugorje; visionaries and mystics including Bernadette Soubirous, Thérèse de Lisieux, Catherine Labouré, and YvonneAimée de Malestroit; as well as biblical exegesis, theology, and Vatican II. Laurentin has written over 2,000 articles, primarily published in Le Figaro, and Chrétiens magazine.
He has written extensively on Medjugorje and many of his works have been translated into English by Juan Gonzalez. Some these include "Latest News of Medjugorje" (1987), "Scientific and Medical Studies on the Apparitions" (1988), and "Seven Years of Apparitions: Time for Harvest?" (1988). Laurentin’s latest book is entitled “Dictionary Characters from the Gospel According to Maria Valtorta”, published October 30, 2012.
Laurentin has received various awards and distinctions including the Marian Award of 1963 from the University of Dayton (1964), the Wlodzimierz Pietrzak Literary Award (1974), Italy’s National Catholic Culture Award (1996), Officer of the Legion of Honor (2002), and many other awards for his writing and contributions to Catholicism and Mariology.