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Dom Prosper Guéranger on the road to sainthood


Dom Guéranger © PUBLIC DOMAIN

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/18/23

The French bishops voted to open the cause for canonization of Dom Prosper Guéranger, an important figure in the 19th-century liturgical movement.

The bishops of France met in Lourdes on November 8, 2023, and voted to open the cause for canonization of Dom Prosper Guéranger, a 19th-century reformer of the Solesmes monastery and the author of the book The Liturgical Year.

The local bishops will now examine his life to determine if he lived a life of “heroic virtue,” before sending the cause for canonization to the Vatican.

Reformer and author

Originally ordained a diocesesan priest, Guéranger noticed the Benedictine monastery at Solesmes was up for sale in 1831. He was intent on seeing it inhabited by monks again and was able to purchase the monastery with the help of donors.

Guéranger was appointed the new abbot and five other priests joined him in this endeavor to reestablish the monastery.

While there, one of the biggest projects he embarked on was the writing of liturgical commentary. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains his original intent with these books:

Accommodating himself to the development of the liturgical periods of the year, the author labored to familiarize the faithful with the official prayer of the Church by lavishly introducing fragments of the Eastern and Western liturgies, with interpretations and commentaries.

He was also devoted to restoring Gregorian chant, and set his monastery on a trajectory that would bear much fruit, as the website of Solesmes explains:

At Dom Guéranger’s initiative from 1862 onwards, some of his disciples were sent out to look for the sources of the Church’s liturgical chant, thus setting Solesmes on a path that would lead to the restoration of Gregorian chant and the publication of its repertoire.

He died on January 30, 1875, and is buried at the Solesmes monastery.

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