Monday, 7 March 2016

The Bull Unigenitus at the Bibliothèque Mazarine

Unigenitus:  Bull of pope Clement XI, dated 8th September 1713, condemning 101 propositions from Quesnel's Le Nouveau Testament en françois avec des Réflexions morales.  Presented to Louis XIV on 3rd October 1713
Text in English, Papal Encyclicals online

Bibliothèque Mazarine
8th September 2013 was the tricentenary of the publication of the Bull Unigenitus. To mark the occasion, the Société des Amis de Port-Royal held a Colloquium and the Bibliothèque Mazarine, in collaboration with the Bibliothèque de la Société de Port-Royal, mounted an exhibition of printed material relating to Jansenism.  The library has subsequently set up a very fine "virtual exhibition" on its website.  I don't want to infringe copyright by reproducing too many pictures - they are there to be seen - but here is a brief summary:

The virtual exhibition is divided into three sections:


This presents examples of most of the key texts and official documents:

- The Augustinus of Jansen and the 1653 papal constitution condemning five of Jansen's propositions.
- Quesnel's  Nouveau Testament;  Unigenitus in Latin and French
Mandement of Cardinal de Noailles and the formal registration of the Bull in France. Various protests and appeals.


Writings for and against Unigenitus, for example: Quesnel's Mémoires, 1714-7; the Hexaples, 1721 (a  refutation of Unigenitus so-named because of its format in six columns)

Le Jeu de la Constitution: c. 1721.  Variant on the popular Game of the goose ("Jeu d'oie"), a sort of Snakes and Ladders.  Square 58, which sends the player back to the beginning of the game, depicts the skeleton of Pope Clement XI, who died in 1721.(Waddesdon Manor has a coloured version of this same engraving).  The section  also contains various examples of writings for and against the Jansenist Convulsionaries.


The popular movement beyond the immediate clerical debate.

-  Satirical works, for example the Sarcellades, anticlerical poems from the early 1730s which purported to be penned by peasants from the Paris suburb of Sarcelles.
- Various engraved portraits of major figures of the Jansenist controversy.
- Copies of the Nouvelles ecclésiastiques. and the Jesuit Journal de Trévoux (left)
- Carré de Montgeron's, La vérité des miracles, illustrated by Jean Restout.


Bibliothèque Mazarine:  1713 : L'Affaire Unigenitus (exposition virtuelle).  Curated by Stéphanie Rambaud.

See also
Archives de France, Commémorations nationales 2013: "Publication de la bulle Unigenitus 3 Septembre 1713",

Bibliothèque de la Société de Port-Royal: "La bulle Unigenitus Dei Filius"

Société des Amis de Port-Royal:   Colloque 2013 : le choc de l’Unigenitus
Summaries in English:

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