Henri Leclercq (4 December 1869 – 23 March 1945) was a French
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
priest, theologian, and church historian who spent most of his adult life in the
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales and No ...
Tournai or Tournay ( ; ; nl, Doornik ; pcd, Tornai; wa, Tornè ; la, Tornacum) is a city and municipality of Wallonia located in the province of Hainaut, Belgium. It lies southwest of Brussels on the river Scheldt. Tournai is part of Eur ...
, Belgium, Leclercq attended the Catholic school there, but dropped out at the age of 17 when his mother moved him and his older sister to Paris; his father had died in 1874.
They became French citizens. He did voluntary military service in France from 31 October 1889 to 31 October 1892, ending as Sergeant-fourrier; later, as a reservist, he rose to Sous-lieutenant.
In the fall of 1893 Leclercq entered the
, image = Medalla San Benito.PNG
, caption = Design on the obverse side of the Saint Benedict Medal
, abbreviation = OSB
, formation =
, motto = (English: 'Pray and Work')
, found ... Solesmes Abbey
Solesmes Abbey or St. Peter's Abbey, Solesmes (''Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes'') is a Benedictine monastery in Solesmes (Sarthe, France), famous as the source of the restoration of Benedictine monastic life in the country under Dom Prosper G ...
, and made his vows on 15 January 1895. With Prior Fernand Cabrol
and other monks he was sent, in 1896, to Farnborough
, in the south of England, where former empress
Eugénie de Montijo
''Doña'' María Eugenia Ignacia Agustina de Palafox y Kirkpatrick, 19th Countess of Teba, 16th Marchioness of Ardales (5 May 1826 – 11 July 1920), known as Eugénie de Montijo (), was Empress of the French from her marriage to Emperor Napo ...
had founded Saint Michael's Abbey
. Here he was ordained as priest on 24 August 1898. Prompted by Cabrol and with his assistance (though the seeds were probably planted in Solesmes already) he began to write the substantial historical books he became known for, including the ''Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie'', which he edited by himself after the death of Cabrol. To complete these volumes he spent more and more time in London, in the reading room of the
The British Museum is a public museum dedicated to human history, art and culture located in the Bloomsbury area of London. Its permanent collection of eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence. It docu ...
. This in turn led to an appointment in the Italian hospital of Queen's Square; later he moved to the house of the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion
Bayswater is an area within the City of Westminster in West London. It is a built-up district with a population density of 17,500 per square kilometre, and is located between Kensington Gardens to the south, Paddington to the north-east, and ...
, and was canonically released from the Benedictines to join the clergy of the
Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster
The Catholic Diocese of Westminster is an archdiocese of the Latin Church of the Catholic Church in England. The diocese consists of most of London north of the River Thames and west of the River Lea, the borough of Spelthorne (in Surrey), and ...
He contributed several articles to the ''
The ''Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church'' (also referred to as the ''Old Catholic Encyclopedia'' and the ''Original Catholic Encyclopedia'') i ...
He died in London on 23 March 1945.]
His works are judged variously by scholars, though they are considered useful still because of their wealth of primary material. His final manuscripts weren't published until after the end of World War II.
See also Klauser, pp. 137–144.
* (with Fernand Cabrol) ''Relliquiae liturgicae vetustissimae'', 2 vols., Paris 1902. 1913.
* ''Les martyrs. Recueil des pièces authentiques sur les martyrs depuis les origines du christianisme jusqu’au XXe siècle'', 15 vols., Paris and Tours 1902–1924.
* (with Fernand Cabrol and others) ''Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie'', 15 double vols., Paris 1903–1953.
* ''L’Afrique chrétienne'', 2 vols., Paris 1904.
* ''L’Espagne chrétienne'', Paris 1906.
* Carl Joseph Hefele, ''Histoire des conciles d’après les documents originaux. Nouvelle traduction française corrigée et augmentée par un religieux bénédictin'' (after vol. 2.2, ''par Henri Leclercq''), 9 double vols., Paris 1907–1931.
* ''Manuel d’archéologie chrétienne depuis les origines jusqu’au VIIIe siècle'', 2 vols., Paris 1907.
* ''"Histoire du déclin et de la chute de la monarchie française"'' (this is the "working title, the individual volumes appearing under their own names), 11 vols., Paris 1921–1940.
* ''Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire. Les reliques, le monastère, l’église'', Paris 1925.
* ''La vie de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ'', Paris 1928.
* ''La vie chrétienne primitive'', Paris 1928.
* ''L’ordre bénédictin'', Paris 1930.
* ''A Chronicle of Social and Political Events from 1640 to 1914''. In: Edward Eyre (ed.), ''European Civilization. Its Origin and Development'', vol. 6, London 1937, pp. 1-717.
Dom Jean Mabillon, O.S.B., (; 23 November 1632 – 27 December 1707) was a French Benedictine monk and scholar of the Congregation of Saint Maur. He is considered the founder of the disciplines of palaeography and diplomatics.
Mabi ...'', 2 vols., Paris 1953. 1957.
* Theodor Klauser: ''Henri Leclercq, 1869-1945. Vom Autodidakten zum Kompilator großen Stils.'' Münster 1977. .
* Bernard Jossart: ''Henri Leclercq et les Bollandistes. Querelle autour des "Martyrs"''. In: Analecta Bollandiana 121 (2003) pp. 108–136.
Writers from Tournai
20th-century Belgian Roman Catholic theologians
Historians of the Catholic Church
Corresponding Fellows of the British Academy
Contributors to the Catholic Encyclopedia