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see under Jansen, CornelisJansen, Cornelis
, 1585–1638, Dutch Roman Catholic theologian. He studied at the Univ. of Louvain and became imbued with the idea of reforming Christian life along the lines of a return to St. Augustine.
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an unorthodox current in French and Dutch Catholicism; part of the wave of individualistic mysticism that spread through Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, chiefly affecting the educated townspeople.

The stimulus for the emergence of Jansenism was the publication in 1640 of a work about Augustine by the Dutch theologian C. Jansen. True faith was sharply contrasted by Jansen to the masses’ formal acceptance of church doctrine; his assertion that Christ had not shed his blood for all people was in line with the Calvinist doctrine, of predestination. In 1642, Jansen’s book was condemned by Pope Urban VIII, and in 1653 a bull by Innocent X condemned some of Jansen’s theses; nevertheless, the “disciples of St. Augustine” continued their struggle while remaining within the Catholic Church.

In France, J. Duvergier de Hauranne, known as Abbé de Saint-Cyran, made the Abbey of Port-Royal de Paris a stronghold of Jansenism; the abbey became an important center of French culture in the second half of the 17th century. The repressions against the Jansenists, their staunchness in the face of royal despotism and Jesuit church policy, and their ethical uncompromisingness attracted B. Pascal and A. Arnauld; the latter headed the Port-Rȯyal community and was coauthor, with P. Nicole, of the theory known as Port-Royal logic. J. Racine was another author who leaned toward Jansenism.

Jansenism created a type of person who was intellectually developed, with a high sense of moral responsibility but also with a fanatical sectarian narrowmindedness. In France, the movement died out after the French Revolution. In the Netherlands, by 1723 the Jansenists had succeeded in establishing their own church, which in the 19th century drew close to the German Old Catholics; the various reforms enacted by the church in the 20th century, such as the elimination of fasting and of celibacy for the clergy, brought it closer to Protestantism. Jansenism survives to this day.


Gazier, A. Histoire générale du mouvement janséniste depuis ses origines jusqu’á nos Iours, 3rd ed. Paris, 1922–24.
Cognet, L. Le Jansénisme. Paris, 1961.



unorthodox Roman Catholic movement of the 17th and 18th centuries led by Cornelius Jansen. [Christian Hist.: EB, V: 515]
References in periodicals archive ?
Here, Prest notes the King's desire, under the influence of his Jesuit confessor, to destroy Jansenism.
Volker Reinhardt argues for the "fundamental opposition" (449) between an aesthetically simple and ethically frugal Jansenism and the baroque papacy dedicated to hierarchy, opulence, and dynastic politics.
At the same time, that grace is anathema to the "totalitarian" Jansenism produced by the need to displace the problem of evil entirely onto others: racketeers, big "organizers," men like Lime.
Gnosticism is actually a distant kindred of Jansenism, for this most ancient Christian heresy holds that the body as well as the will is hopelessly depraved.
Its spiritual wellspring was the mystical current of piety so influential in France at the time, whose extreme manifestation was repeatedly condemned as Jansenism.
Following in Louis Marin's footsteps, Kristine Schonert attempts to demonstrate that Jansenism not only informed Philippe de Champaigne's painting and thinking, but also deeply inspired another of his contemporaries, Eustache Le Sueur.
While the ultramontanist, orthodox revivalists took no interest in Pascal because of his close association with gallican, heretical Jansenism, the 20th century Catholic writers rediscovered Pensees, now appreciated for its consistent focus on the individual's inner faith experience.
In addition, Forestier rejects any idea of Racine falling into disgrace at Court over an accusation of Jansenism in 1698.
Many groups, such a Pietism or Jansenism, stood just outside of institutional control and responded to the social needs.
Although Jansenism was eventually condemned, it also largely succeeded as its anti-monarchical stance--based on a deep mistrust of humans and institutions--laid the groundwork for the French Revolution.
Jansenism appealed to him as a stronger and stricter version of the excessively tolerant Christianity he saw around him, and certain critics have made the case that Montherlant was a Jansenist at heart.
Abandoning the earlier, eighteenth-century pastoral images of nature, Leopardi describes the menacing cloud which "Enemy Nature" casts over life, reminding the poet of his infinite smallness in a harsh and dangerous universe, as if the infiniment petit of Pascalian Jansenism had returned to haunt nineteenth-century Italy.