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Lamennais

Lamennais, Felicite Robert de (1782-1854), a French religious writer, born at St. Malo, and educated with his brother by their uncle, M. des Saudrais. In 1805 he and his brother retired to their estate at La Chesnaie. Here he read much, and became after a time a free-thinker. In 1808, however, his Reflexions sur l'Etat de I'Eglise en France pendent le 18me Siecle was suppressed on account of its extreme Catholic views. Lamennais was in England during the Hundred Days, and soon after his return was ordained. Between 1821 and 1823 he attracted the attention of the religious world by the publication of his Essais sur l'Indifference en Matiere de Religion, which denounced toleration and attacked Gallicanism. In 1820 the author went to Rome, and is said to have been offered a cardinalate by Leo XII. He continued to produce works of an ultramontane character till the revolution of 1830, when a change in his views began to be apparent. He joined Lacordaire and Montalembert in conducting L'Avenir, a journal devoted to the cause of religious and political freedom, having for its motto "Dieu et Liberte." Their views were condemned by Pope Gregory XVI., and in 1834 Lamennais announced his change of attitude towards the Papacy in his Paroles d'un Croyant. Its author now gradually became a free-thinker, and an active sympathiser with revolutionary ideas. In 1840 he was condemned to a year's imprisonment for a political pamphlet, and he was a member of the Constituent Assembly in 1848. In these later years he produced Esquisses d'une Philosophie and a translation of the Divina Commedia. His Affaires de Rome, published in 1837, and condemned by the Pope, gives an account of his journey to Rome in 1824 to defend his Essais sur l'Indifference, which had offended even the orthodox.

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