Louis-Jacques Bataillon, OP: RIP (February 13, 2009)

Just in from Adriano Oliva, OP, of the Leonine Commission in Paris. Father Louis-Jacques Bataillon, OP, died last evening, Friday, February 13, 2009, at 6:45 p.m. He was 94 years old. This is a terrible loss for the whole community of medievalists, especially those interested in medieval sermons, for whom Fr Batallion was doyen. But it is especially hard for lovers of the life and works of St. Thomas, as Fr Louis worked assiduously on the Leonine Commission for a half-century.

At the time of his death the Leonine Commission had been working away hard to finish up volume 44 of the Opera Omnia Sancti Thomae Aquinatis, which contains Thomas’s sermons (edited by Fr Bataillon); when I last met with Fr Oliva last October (at Notre Dame and then here in Milwaukee) he told me that the Commission was at that time reviewing the proofs for volume 44 for the fifth time, with the expectation that volume 44 would see the light of day this year, in 2009. There would be some consolation in knowing that volume 44 is published in the same year as Fr Bataillon’s death.

On a personal note, Fr Bataillon was only ever kind and receptive of my inquiries. Last March, when I spent a week in Paris at the Couvent St. Jacques to work at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Fr Bataillon was able to give me an hour—no small chore—to discuss some manuscript questions I had. His giant spirit and knowledge overcame his laboring body, and his eyes twinkled as he sat in a recliner-chair, viewing my binder of manuscript images: “Now this manuscript was probably written in Le Marche, before mid-century (i.e., before the 1250’s).” Wow.

Having worked so hard for so many years Fr Bataillon’s death at 94 cannot have been a surprise, and he has earned his reward. Still, this one really hurts.

The people over at the Dominican History website already have a short article up about Fr Bataillon’s passing. More will follow.


on 2009-02-14 13:22 by Mark Johnson

Already a follow-up. I wrote the above after having gotten a Skype message from Fr Oliva, but before checking my e-mail. Fr Oliva had already sent out the following e-mail:

Hier, 13 février, à 18h45, le P. Bataillon s’est endormi dans la paix.

Hospitalisé le 12 après-midi aux urgences de la Salpêtrière, il avait été transporté hier dans une clinique chirurgicale à Saint-Cloud, où peu de temps après son arrivée, il est décédé paisiblement.

La messe des funérailles sera concélébrée à l’église du Couvent Saint-Jacques, 20 rue des Tanneries, Paris XIIIe, mardi 17 février à 14h30.

Il sera inhumé au cimetière du Montparnasse.


Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is an associate professor of Theology at Marquette University, and founded thomistica.net on Squarespace in November of 2004. He studied with James Weisheipl, Leonard Boyle, Walter Principe, and Lawrence Dewan, at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (Toronto, Canada).