Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

Pére Garrigou-Lagrange as a young priest
Born (1877-02-21)February 21, 1877
Auch, France
Died February 15, 1964(1964-02-15) (Aged 86)
Rome, Italy
Other names Gontran-Marie Garrigou-Lagrange
Education University of Bordeaux (medicine), Sorbonne (philosophy)
Ordained Dominican
Writings see below

Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (1877–1964) was a French Catholic theologian. He has been noted as a leading neo-Thomist of the 20th century, along with Jacobus Ramírez, Édouard Hugon, and Martin Grabmann.[1] He taught at the Dominican Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum in Rome from 1909 to 1960. Here he wrote his magnum opus, The Three Ages of the Interior Life (Les Trois Ages de la Vie Interieure) in 1938.

In 1918 Garrigou initiated courses in sacred art, mysticism, and aesthetics at the Angelicum[2] influencing future liturgical artists such as Marie Alain Couturier, who studied theology there from 1930 to 1932 [3]


He was born Gontran-Marie Garrigou Lagrange on February 21, 1877, in Auch, near Toulouse France. While studying medicine at Bordeaux he experienced what he described as a religious conversion after reading Life, Science, and Art by the Breton writer Ernest Hello (1828–85). He joined the French Dominicans, studied and taught at Le Saulchoir, before moving to Rome, where he lectured at the Angelicum from 1909 until his retirement in 1960. In 1917 a special professorship in ascetical and mystical theology was created for him at the Angelicum, the first of its kind anywhere in the world.[4]


He is best known for his spiritual theology. His magnum opus in the field is The Three Ages of the Interior Life (Les Trois Ages de la Vie Interieure),[5] in which he propounded the thesis that infused contemplation and the resulting mystical life are in the normal way of holiness of Christian perfection. This influenced the section entitled "Chapter V: The Universal Call to Holiness in the Church" in the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen gentium.[6]

His great achievement was to synthesise the highly abstract writings of St Thomas Aquinas with the experiential writings of St. John of the Cross, attempting to show they are in perfect harmony with each other.[7]

Father Garrigou-Lagrange, the leading proponent of "strict observance Thomism", attracted wider attention when in 1946 he wrote against the Nouvelle Théologie theological movement, criticising it as Modernist.[8] He is also said to be the drafter of Pope Pius XII's 1950 encyclical Humani generis, subtitled "Concerning Some False Opinions Threatening to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine".[9]


The Osservatore Romano, Dec. 9-10, 1950 lists Garrigou-Lagrange among the names of the preparatory commission for the definition of the Assumption of Mary.[10]

Garrigou-Lagrange taught many eminent Catholic theologians during his academic career at the Angelicum.

Garrigou-Lagrange also supervised the doctoral research of Marie-Dominique Chenu, who being ordained in 1919, completed his doctorate in theology in 1920 with a dissertation entitled De contemplatione.[11] In the period between World War II and the Cold War Garrigou-Lagrange was the "torchbearer of orthodox Thomism" against Modernism.[12] In 1926 he served as the definitive consulter to Pope Pius XI in declaring John of the Cross a doctor of the church.[13]

He is commonly held to have influenced the decision in 1942 to place the privately circulated book Une école de théologie: le Saulchoir (Étiolles 1937) by Marie-Dominique Chenu O.P. on the Vatican's "Index of Forbidden Books" as the culmination of a polemic within the Dominican Order between the Angelicum supporters of a speculative scholasticism and the French revival Thomists who were more attentive to historical hermeneutics.[14]

Garrigou-Lagrange gave the retreat in Paris which attracted Yves Congar to leave the diocesan seminary in order to join the Dominicans.[15] Later, Congar's methodology was suspected of Modernism because it seemed to derive more from religious experience than from syllogistic analysis.[16]

Garrigou-Lagrange also supervised the doctoral research of Maurice Zundel who completed his dissertation in 1927 with a dissertation entitled L'Influence du nominalisme sur la pensée chrétienne.[17]

Perhaps the most famous of his students was the future Pope John Paul II, who was supervised by Garrigou-Lagrange for his doctoral research in the mid-1940s at the Angelicum, and whose encyclical Fides et Ratio is attributed to his training under the learned Dominican.

He died February 15, 1964 in Rome. The International Dominican Foundation (IDF) established Réginald de Rocquois Foundation in his memory, at Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, where he taught most of his career, which grants annual Réginald de Rocquois scholarships.[18]


He produced 28 books and hundreds of articles. Among the most famous works are:

Commentaries on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas
Theological works
Marian works
Philosophical works
Works in Latin (originals)
Works in Spanish (translated)

See also


  1. Carrasquillo, Francisco J. Romero (2007-06-16). "Maritain's Thought and Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange". Ite ad Thomam: "Go to Thomas!". Retrieved 2013-06-17.
  2. Christopher J. Renz (September 2009). In This Light Which Gives Light: A History of the College of St. Albert the Great (1930-1980). Dominican School. pp. 44–. ISBN 978-1-883734-18-3.
  3. Accessed 4 Dec., 2014
  4. Michael L. Coulter; Richard S. Myers; Joseph A. Varacalli (2012). Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy: Supplement. Scarecrow Press. pp. 124–. ISBN 978-0-8108-8266-9.
  5. The Three Ages of the Interior Life Online text.
  6. Mullady, Brian, O.P.. "Rehabilitation of Garrigou-Lagrange". Retrieved 2012-07-26.
  7. "A saint in Heaven", by Fr. Thomas Crean, Accessed 4-10-2012
  8. See “Where is the New Theology Leading Us?.” See also his later article "The structure of the encyclical Humani generis" and
  9. Carrasquillo, Francisco J. Romero (2010-10-23). "Quaeritur: Who are the Post-Conciliar Traditional Catholic Thomists?". Ite ad Thomam: "Go to Thomas!". "Maritain's Thought and Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange". Retrieved 2011-06-19.
  10. Accessed 2-6-2013
  11. Praeambula Fidei: Thomism And the God of the Philosophers, Ralph McInerny, 2006, Accessed May 24, 2012; Nouvelle Théologie and Sacramental Ontology: A Return to Mystery, Hans Boersma, 2009, 136 Accessed May 24, 2012
  12.'Italia)/ Accessed 10 September 2013
  13. Accessed 17 Feb., 2014
  14.'Italia)/ Accessed 10 September 2013; Y. Congar, Chrétiens désunis. Principes d’un œcuménisme catholique, Paris 1937; The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, 304, Accessed November 13, 2012; Accessed 10 September 2013
  15. Fergus Kerr, Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians, (Blackwell, 2007), p10.
  16.'Italia)/ Accessed 10 September 2013; Y. Congar, Chrétiens désunis. Principes d’un œcuménisme catholique, Paris 1937; The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, 304, Accessed November 13, 2012
  17. Accessed 26 August 2013
  18. "IDF Serving the Dominican Order and the Church" (PDF). IDF News, International Dominican Foundation. July 2012. Retrieved 2014-07-23.
  19. The server is not always on, so if the link times out, try again later.

Further reading

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