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a heretical form of religious mysticism founded by Miguel de MolinosMolinos, Miguel de
, 1640–1697?, Spanish priest and mystic. He was the founder of quietism, which he adhered to in its most extreme form. From 1669 he lived principally at Rome.
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, a 17th-century Spanish priest. Molinism, or quietism, developed within the Roman Catholic Church in Spain and spread especially to France, where its most influential exponent was Madame GuyonGuyon, Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte
, 1648–1717, French mystic and author of writings dealing largely with quietism. Confined by the government (1688) in a convent because of her heretical opinions and her correspondence with Miguel de Molinos, she was released through
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. She preached her doctrines to members of the French aristocracy, winning a convert and friend in Madame de MaintenonMaintenon, Françoise d'Aubigné, marquise de
, 1635–1719, second wife of the French king Louis XIV. Her grandfather was Théodore Agrippa d'Aubigné, the Huguenot hero.
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, Louis XIV's second wife, and an ally in Archbishop FénelonFénelon, François de Salignac de la Mothe
, 1651–1715, French theologian and writer, a leader of the quietism heresy, archbishop of Cambrai. As tutor to the duke of Burgundy, he wrote Télémaque
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. Another quietist was Antoinette BourignonBourignon, Antoinette
, 1616–80, Flemish Christian mystic, adherent of quietism. In 1636 she fled from home to avoid a marriage urged by her father, spent a short time in a convent, and was in charge (1653–62) of an orphanage.
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. The essence of quietism is that perfection lies in the complete passivity of the soul before God and the absorption of the individual in the divine love to the point of annihilation not only of will but of all effort or desire for effort. Molinos talked about an entire cessation of self-consciousness, and Madame Guyon maintained that she could not sin, for sin was self, and she had rid herself of self. Molinos and his doctrines were condemned by Pope Innocent XI in 1687. A commission in France found most of Madame Guyon's works intolerable, and in 1699 Pope Innocent XII prohibited the circulation of Fénelon's book, the Maxims of the Saints.


See W. Backhouse and J. Janson, comp., Guide to True Peace … Composed Chiefly of Writings of Fénelon, Guyon, and Molinos (1946).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a religious and ethical teaching that propounds a contemplative mystical attitude toward the world, passivity, tranquility of spirit, complete subordination to the will of god, and indifference toward good and evil, heaven and hell. Quietism emerged at the end of the 17th century within Catholicism; it expressed the rise of moods of opposition to the pope and a hostile attitude toward the Jesuits. The ideas of quietism were developed by the Spanish priest M. de Molinos (1628–96), who published in Rome in 1675 the book A Spiritual Guide. According to the teaching the soul, having accepted all suffering and having renounced the world, plunges fully into god’s love.

The Catholic Church, and especially the Jesuits, reacted strongly to quietism. In 1685, Molinos was imprisoned, and 68 postulates of the teaching were condemned as heresy. Molinos’ ideas were developed by his follower in France, J. de la M. Guyon (1648–1717), who was defended by Bishop F. Fénelon. However, a special church commission headed by J. B. Bossuet condemned quietism as an immoral heretical teaching and brought about Guyon’s imprisonment in the Bastille. Elements of the teaching are also manifested in 18th-century Lutheran pietism.

The term “quietism” has acquired another, more general, meaning as a synonym for passivity, nonresistance, and abstention from any activity. In this meaning many see in it the characteristic peculiarity of many Eastern religions. Lenin, finding elements of quietism in Tolstoyism, sharply criticized attempts at idealizing them (see Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 20, p. 104).


Scharling, C. E. Michael de Molinos: Ein Bild aus der Kirchengeschichte des siebzehnten Jahrhunderts. Gotha, 1855.
Heppe, H. Geschichte der quietistischen Mystik in der katholischen Kirche. Berlin, 1875.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a form of religious mysticism originating in Spain in the late 17th century, requiring withdrawal of the spirit from all human effort and complete passivity to God's will
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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