In his earliest years he was confided to the care of his brother, a priest in the diocese of Chambéry. In 1810 he was sent to a pensionnat ecclésiastique at Paris. Thence he went to the seminary of St Nicolas de Chardonnel in 1813, and was transferred to the seminary of St Sulpice at Paris in 1820. In 1825 he was ordained priest, and was appointed vicar of the Madeleine at Paris. For a time he was tutor to the Orléans princes. He became the founder of the celebrated academy at St Hyacinthe, and received a letter from Gregory XVI eulogizing his work there, and calling him Apostolus juventutis.
His imposing height, his noble features, his brilliant eloquence, as well as his renown for zeal and charity, made him a prominent feature in French life for many years. Crowds of persons attended his addresses, on whom his energy, command of language, powerful voice and impassioned gestures made a profound impression. When made bishop of Orleans in 1849, he pronounced a fervid panegyric on Joan of Arc, which attracted attention in England as well as France. Before this he had been sent by Archbishop Aifre to Rome, and had been appointed Roman prelate and protonotary apostolic.
For thirty years he remained a notable figure in France, doing his utmost to arouse his countrymen from religious indifference. In ecclesiastical policy his views were moderate; thus he opposed the definition of the dogma of papal infallibility both before and during the Vatican Council, but was among the first to accept the dogma when decreed. He was a distinguished educationist who fought for the retention of the Latin classics in the schools and instituted the celebrated catechetical method of St Sulpice. Among his publications are De l'éducation (1850), De la haute education intellectuelle (3 vols., 1866), Œuvres choisies (1861, 4 vols.); Histoire de Jésus (1872), a counterblast to Renan's Vie de Jésus. He died on the 11th of October 1878.
See Life by F. Lagrange (Eng. tr. by Lady Herbert, London, 1885).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.