The Church of the Classical Age: The Great Century of Souls


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By Henri Daniel-Rops

(NB: Product contains two individual volumes.)

How to work the new leaven into the mass of the baptized—that was the task to which the Church devoted her energies from now onwards; her history during the great “classical” age was that of a persevering effort to accomplish this work of reanimating the very soul of the Christian people. (Henri Daniel-Rops)

The Church of the Classical Age: The Great Century of Souls is the sixth installment in Henri Daniel-Rops’ grand History of the Church of Christ.

Volume 1 includes the first three chapters of that work, studying the heroic St. Vincent de Paul, whose charitable institutions and foundations for priests and religious opened wide the century’s doors to Christ; the “age of spiritual grandeur” (1600–1660), with its extensive litany of saints and immense outpouring of spirituality, the flourishing of the missions and of religious orders for women dedicated to charitable and educational work, and the sustained creativity of Christian art and music; and then the profound crises that beset Christian Europe—the Thirty Years War; the scandal of Christian disunity; the Treaties of Westphalia; the papacy versus rising absolutism—and the question they posed: Would this great century end in glory or ignominy?

Volume 2 includes the last three chapters of that work, studying the reign of King Louis XIV as illustrative of the age’s contradictions and the spiritual genius that triumphed over turmoil by its foundations in the Cross; the reality of Christian Classicism, which sustained both order and ardor, witnessed the rise of geniuses like St. Louis de Montfort, St. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, and J.-B. Bossuet, and secured a rich yield of sacred art; and the rise of Jansenism, Quietism, and their cast of audacious characters, including the Abbot of Saint-Cyran and the Abbess of Port-Royal, Madame Guyon and François Fénelon, and others. Yet even these crises “of sanctifying grace and pure love,” signaled the endurance of spiritual liberty—and thus do they serve as signs of the Church’s survival.

The strange phrase, “Great Century of Souls,” captures perfectly the spirit of that epoch of saints and sinners. Vividly detailed and unfailingly interesting, The Church of the Classical Age: The Great Century of Souls is the account par excellence of an age in which the Faith was the celebrated norm and the human soul the universally accepted seat of all ambition, passion, and achievement.


Henri Daniel-Rops (1901–1965), the nom de plume of Henri Petiot, was a French Catholic historian. His bibliography comprises seventy books—written over a span of just thirty years—and includes Sacred History, Jesus and His Times, and the monumental, ten-volume History of the Church of Christ. He also served as editor for the Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism, which consisted of one hundred and fifty volumes. Phenomenally successful in his own time, Daniel-Rops made religious history accessible and popular; in 1955, he was elected to the Académie française and in 1956 he received the Order of St. Gregory from Pope Pius XII.

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Paperback: 246pp. (Volume 1) and 324pp. (Volume 2)

ISBN: 978-1685952679 (Volume 1) and 978-1685952686 (Volume 2)