Antoine Augustin Calmet

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Antoine Augustin Calmet, O.S.B.
Abbot of the Abbey of Senones
Dom Augustin Calmet.jpeg
1750 engraving of Dom Augustin Calmet
Other postsProfessor of Exegesis, Abbey of Moyenmoutier, and Abbot General of the Congregation of St. Vanne
Ordination17 March 1696
Personal details
Born26 February 1672
Ménil-la-Horgne, Duchy of Bar, Holy Roman Empire
Died25 October 1757 (aged 85)
Senones, County of Salm-Salm, Holy Roman Empire
Buried Abbey of Senones
Profession Abbot and exegete Historian; Scholar; Theologian; Philosopher, Occultist; Translator

Antoine Augustin Calmet, O.S.B. (26 February 1672 25 October 1757), a French Benedictine monk, was born at Ménil-la-Horgne, then in the Duchy of Bar, part of the Holy Roman Empire (now the French department of Meuse, located in the region of Lorraine).

French people are a Romance ethnic group and nation who are identified with the country of France. This connection may be ethnic, legal, historical, or cultural.

Monk member of a monastic religious order

A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism by monastic living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life to serving all other living beings, or to be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live his or her life in prayer and contemplation. The concept is ancient and can be seen in many religions and in philosophy.

Ménil-la-Horgne Commune in Grand Est, France

Ménil-la-Horgne is a commune in the Meuse department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.


Calmet was a pious monk as well as a learned man, and one of the most distinguished members of the Congregation of St. Vanne. In recognition of these qualities he was elected prior of Lay-Saint-Christophe in 1715, Abbot of St-Léopold at Nancy in 1718, and of Senones Abbey in 1729. He was twice entrusted with the office of Abbot General of the congregation. Pope Benedict XIII wished to confer episcopal dignity upon him, but his humility could not be brought to accept the honor.

The Congregation of St. Vanne or Congregation of St. Vanne and St. Hydulphe, sometimes also known as the Vannists (Vannistes) was a Benedictine reform movement centered in the Duchy of Lorraine. It was formally established in 1604 on the initiative of Dom Didier de La Cour, prior of the Abbey of Saint-Vanne near Verdun, a reformer of the Benedictine Order after the Council of Trent. The Abbey of St. Hydulphe at Moyenmoutier was a secondary centre of the reform.

Prior Ecclesiastical title

Prior, derived from the Latin for "earlier, first", is an ecclesiastical title for a superior, usually lower in rank than an abbot or abbess. Its earlier generic usage referred to any monastic superior.

Lay-Saint-Christophe Commune in Grand Est, France

Lay-Saint-Christophe is a commune in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department in north-eastern France.

Calmet was greatly admired by the philosopher Voltaire, who visited the abbey on several occasions.[ citation needed ]

Voltaire French writer, historian and philosopher

François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plumeVoltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, as well as his advocacy of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.

Calmet died at Senones Abbey, in the Vosges, near Saint-Dié, on 25 October 1757.

Vosges Mountain range in France

The Vosges are a range of low mountains in eastern France, near its border with Germany. Together with the Palatine Forest to the north on the German side of the border, they form a single geomorphological unit and low mountain range of around 8,000 km2 (3,100 sq mi) in area. It runs in a north-northeast direction from the Burgundian Gate to the Börrstadt Basin, and forms the western boundary of the Upper Rhine Plain.


Dom Augustin Calmet Calmet Augustin.jpg
Dom Augustin Calmet

Augustin Calmet was born on 26 February 1672, in Ménil-la-Horgne, near Commercy in the Lorraine, to the modest family of Antoine Calmet. His father was a blacksmith. After entering the Benedictine priory at Breuil at the age of 15, he attended the University of Pont-à-Mousson and studied rhetoric under the Jesuit father Ignace de L’Aubrussel (later the confessor Queen of Spain). [1] At the end of these studies, he joined the Benedictine order of the Congregation of Saint-Vanne and St. Hydulphe. His novitiate was made to the St. Mansuy Abbey Toul where he took monastic vows on 23 October 1689. He was then sent to study philosophy at St. Èvre Abbey and theology at Munster Abbey.

Commercy Subprefecture and commune in Grand Est, France

Commercy is a commune in the Meuse department in Grand Est in north-eastern France. The 18th-century Lorraine historian Nicolas Luton Durival (1713–1795) was born in Commercy.

Duchy of Lorraine former state

The Duchy of Lorraine, originally Upper Lorraine, was a duchy now included in the larger present-day region of Lorraine in northeastern France. Its capital was Nancy.

Blacksmith person who creates wrought iron or steel products by forging, hammering, bending, and cutting

A blacksmith is a metalsmith who creates objects from wrought iron or steel by forging the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut. Blacksmiths produce objects such as gates, grilles, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils and weapons. The place where a blacksmith works is called variously a smithy, a forge or a blacksmith's shop.

He was ordained into the Priesthood on 1 March 1696 in Arlesheim near Basel, and said his first Mass in the Abbey of Munster on 24 April 1696.

Arlesheim Place in Basel-Landschaft, Switzerland

Arlesheim is a town and a municipality in the district of Arlesheim in the canton of Basel-Country in Switzerland. Its cathedral chapter seat, bishop's residence and cathedral are listed as a heritage site of national significance.

Basel Place in Basel-Stadt, Switzerland

Basel or Basle is a city in northwestern Switzerland on the river Rhine. Basel is Switzerland's third-most-populous city with about 180,000 inhabitants.

He was commissioned to explain the holy scriptures in the Abbey of Moyenmoutier and Munster Abbey (1704), and was appointed prior to Lay-Saint-Christophe (1714–1715) [2] He became abbot of St. Leopold Nancy (1718). He went through the various monasteries of his order, devouring libraries and writing many historical compilations. In 1728, Calmet was called as priest of Senones Saint-Pierre Abbey, the capital of Principality of Salm. It is in the great abbey Vosges that he worked and lived the last part of his life, maintaining a correspondence with many scientists, and remaining there until his death on 25 October 1757.


There are squares which bear his name in Commercy and Senones. There is also a Dom-Calmet Street in downtown Nancy since 18673 and a street of Metz in the Sablon district bears his name since 1934.

His monument is erected in St. Peter's Abbey Senones and includes a list of his works.

Written Works


The work of Dom Augustin Calmet are eclectic and prolific. His main works are:

Original NameTranslatedDateSize/Other
Histoire de Lorraine, Nancy, M. DCC. LVII. [3] History of Lorraine
Abrégé de l'histoire de la Lorraine, NancyAbstract of the history of Lorraine1734
La Bible en Latin et en français, avec un Commentaire littéral et critique Paris The Bible in Latin and French, with a literal and critical Commentary1707–171623 vol. in-4
le commentaire a été reproduit à part sous le titre de 'Trésor d'antiquités sacrées et profanes'the commentary was reprinted under the title Treasury of sacred and profane antiquities1722 et ann.9 v. suiv.
Bibliothèque lorraine, ou histoire des hommes illustres qui ont fleuri en Lorraine Nancylorraine library, or history of famous men who flourished in Lorraine1751
Commentaires sur l’Ancien et le Nouveau Testament en latin puis en français A literal Commentary on all the Books of the Old and New Testaments(1707–1717) (Eng Translation published 1716)(26 volumes)
introductory prefaces published separately: Dissertations qui peuvent servir de prolégomènes à l'Écriture SainteDissertations that can serve as preliminaries to Scripture(Paris, 1720)
Dictionnaire historique et critique de la BibleThese two capital works have been printed several times, and received considerable increases, [4] ParisHistorical and Critical Dictionary of the Bible1722–17282 vol. m-fol.
Dissertation sur les grands chemins de Lorraine, NancyDissertation on the highways of Lorraine1727
Dissertations sur les apparitions des anges, des démons et des esprits, et sur les revenants et vampires de Hongrie, de Bohême, de Moravie et de Silésie, Paris : de Bure l'aîné,Dissertations on the Apparitions of Angels, of Demons and of Spirits, and on Revenants or Vampires of Hungary, of Bohemia, of Moravia and of Silesia1746 (Expanded and republished in 1751)
Histoire de l'Ancien et du Nouveau TestamentHistory of the Old and New Testaments
Histoire de l'abbaye de Munster, Colmar,History of Munster Abbey(posthumous, 1882)
Histoire de l'abbaye de Senones, Saint-DiéHistory of the abbey Senones Saint Die(posthumous, 1877–1881)
Histoire ecclésiastique et civile de la Lorraine, NancyEcclesiastical and civil history of Lorraine(1728)4 vol., in-fol.
Histoire généalogique de la maison du Châtelet, NancyFamily History of the House of Châtelet1741
Histoire universelle sacrée et profane, StrasbourgUniversal sacred and secular history(1735–1747)
Notice de la Lorraine, Nancy [5] Notice of Lorraine1756
Traité historique des eaux et bains de Plombières, de Luxeuil et de Bains, NancyHistorical Treaty of waters and bathroom Plombieres and of Luxeuil Baths1748
Traité sur les apparitions des esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Moravie, &c. (Expanded from 1746 Edition) [6] Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants of Hungary, Moravia, et al. 17522 tomes

Comments on the Bible

Calmet was educated at the Benedictine priory of Breuil in the town of Commercy, and in 1688 joined the same Order at the Abbey of Saint-Mansuy at Toul, where he was admitted to profession on 23 October of the following year. After his ordination, 17 March 1696, he was appointed to teach philosophy and theology at the Abbey of Moyenmoutier. Here, with the help of his brethren, he began to gather the material for his commentary of the Bible, which he completed at Munster in Alsace where he was sent in 1704 as sub-prior and professor of Biblical exegesis.

The first volume appeared in Paris in 1707 with the title Commentaire littéral sur tous les livres de l'Ancien et du Nouveau Testaments (A literal Commentary on all the Books of the Old and New Testaments); the last of the twenty-three quarto volumes, owing to various delays, was published only in 1716. To satisfy the demand for the work a second edition in twenty-six volumes quarto was issued 1714–1720, and a third, enlarged, edition in nine volumes folio 1724–1726. A Latin translation by J. D. Mansi was published at Lucca, 1730–1738, in nine folio volumes, with new editions at Augsburg (1756, eight volumes folio) and Würzburg (1789, nineteen volumes quarto); another Latin translation by F. Vecelli appeared at Venice and Frankfurt (1730, six volumes folio). This shows how much the commentary was esteemed. But while it was received with high praise, even by Protestants, critics were not wanting, among whom may be mentioned the Oratorian Richard Simon. It cannot be denied that in spite of its merits and great erudition it is in some respects open to criticism.[ citation needed ] Difficult passages are often passed over lightly, and too frequently different explanations of a text are set down without a hint to the reader as to which is the right or preferable one.[ citation needed ]

The work inaugurated a new method of exegesis. Its author departed from the custom of giving allegorical (mystical) and tropological (moral) interpretations besides the literal. The most valuable part of the commentary were the introductory prefaces to the several books and 114 learned dissertations on special topics. These he published separately with nineteen new ones in three volumes, under the title Dissertations qui peuvent servir de prolégomènes à l'Écriture Sainte (Paris, 1720). The collection met with such success that two editions were printed at Amsterdam in 1722, the title being changed to Trésors d'antiquités sacrées et profanes. It was translated into English (Oxford, 1726), Latin (by Mansi, Lucca, 1729), Dutch (Rotterdam, 1728), German (Bremen, 1738,1744, and 1747) and Italian.


In 1746 he wrote the first edition of his Dissertations sur les apparitions des anges, des démons et des esprits, et sur les revenants et vampires de Hongrie, de Bohême, de Moravie et de Silésie. It extensively studied apparitions of angels, demons and other spirits but also included dissertations on various topics of Magic, sorcery, witchcraft and instances of vampires, revenants and individuals returning from the grave. This study analyzed accounts of these various topics located in the bible, mythology, cultural legends and famous accounts of historically documented cases or claims. Although quite critical, Voltaire nevertheless consults the works of Calmet, frequently relied on his prodigious scholarship to develop his own writings, especially the Dictionnaire philosophique where it is mentioned:

Quoi ! C'est dans notre XVIIIe siècle qu'il y a eu des vampires ! C'est après le règne des Locke, des Shaftesbury, des Trenchard, des Collins ; c'est sous le règne des d'Alembert, des Diderot, des Saint-Lambert, des Duclos qu'on a cru aux vampires, et que le RPD Augustin Calmet, prêtre, bénédictin de la congrégation de Saint-Vannes et de Saint-Hydulphe, abbé de Senones, abbaye de cent mille livres de rente, voisine de deux autres abbayes du même revenu, a imprimé et réimprimé l'Histoire des Vampires, avec l'approbation de la Sorbonne, signée Marcilli !

What! It's in our eighteenth century and there are vampires! It was after the reign of Locke of Shaftesbury of John Trenchard of Collins; it was under the reign of d'Alembert of Diderot of Saint-Lambert of Duclos that believed in vampires, and that the Rev Priest Dom Augustin Calmet, priest of the Benedictine congregation of St. Vannes and St. Hydulphe, abbot of Senones Abbey hundred thousand francs, neighbor two other abbeys of the same income, printed and reprinted the history of vampires, with the approval of the Sorbonne, signed Marcilli!

Calmet was given much praise for his work and received many letters and dissertations regarding the subject which prompted him expand his work in two-volumes and published it again in 1751 under a new title Traité sur les apparitions des esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenans de Hongrie, de Moravie, &c. (i.e. "Treatise on the Apparitions of spirits and Vampires or Revenants of Hungary, Moravia, et al"). It included further studies of his own as well as several letters and dissertations sent to Calmet as a response to the first publication, and ambiguously considered the possibility of the existence of vampires, although not stating it explicitly. [7] [8]

Other works

In the meanwhile he had prepared two other works closely connected with Biblical exegesis: (1) Histoire de l'Ancien et du Nouveau Testament et des Juifs (Paris, 1718), which went through several editions, and was translated into English (London, 1740), German (Augsburg, 1759) and Latin (ib., 1788); (2) Dictionnaire historique, critique, chronologique, géographique et littéral de la Bible (Paris, 1720, two vols. folio), a supplement (also folio) was added in 1728. An improved and enlarged edition in four folio volumes was published in 1730, which has several times been reprinted, the last time in Migne, Encyclopédie théologique, I-IV. It, too, was translated into Latin and the principal European languages. The English translation by D'Oyley and John Colson (1732), revised and with additions by Taylor (1795), went through many editions in a larger and compendious form.

In his later years Calmet published some further Biblical dissertations in the Bible de Vence (1742). Among his other published works may be mentioned: (1) Histoire universelle sacrée et profane, (Universal History, Sacred and Profane) depuis le commencement du monde jusqu'à nos jours (Strasbourg, 1735, quarto), in which he follows the ideas enunciated in Bossuet's Discours sur l'histoire universelle; (2) Histoire ecclésiastique et civile de la Lorraine (Ecclesiastical and Civil History of Lorraine) (Nancy, 1728), of great value for the history of that province; (3) Bibliothèque lorraine (A Catalogue of the Writers of Lorraine) (Nancy, 1751), containing his autobiography (pp. 209–217); (4) Commentaire littéral historique et moral sur la règle de Saint Benoît (A Literal, Moral, and Historical Commentary on the Rule of Saint Benedict) (Paris, 1734).

Calmet wrote a noted history of the Duchy of Lorraine, as well as a history of the Abbey of Senones, which was still in manuscript form at the time of his death.

Dissertations in the Bible de Vence

  • Histoire universelle sacrée et profane, depuis le commencement du monde jusqu'à nos jours (Strasbourg, 1735, quarto)
  • Histoire ecclésiastique et civile de la Lorraine Nancy, (1728), 4 vol., in-fol. ;("Ecclesiastical and Civil History of Lorraine") (Nancy, 1728)
  • Bibliothèque lorraine (A Catalogue of the Writers of Lorraine) (Nancy, 1751)
  • Commentaire littéral historique et moral sur la règle de Saint Benoît ("A Literal, Moral, and Historical Commentary on the Rule of Saint Benedict") (Paris, 1734)



  1. Senones, Moyenmoutier, Étival country abbeys in Lorraine. O.T. country abbeys, 2007, pg.62. ISBN   978-2-9529604-0-3.
  2. "Dom Calmet bâtisseur, administrateur ses rapports avec la Principauté de Salm" (in French). Entreprise et culture en Lorraine. Archived from the original on 4 January 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  3. Calmet, Augustin (1757). "dom-julien" voges.
  4. "456-bible".
  5. Calmet, Augustin (1 January 1840). "Notice de la Lorraine" via Google Books.
  6. Calmet, Augustin (1672–1757) Auteur du texte; Maffei, Scipione (1675–1755) Auteur du texte (1 January 1751). Traité sur les apparitions des esprits et sur les vampires ou les revenants de Hongrie, de Moravie, etc.. Avec une lettre de M. le marquis de Maffei sur la magie. Tome 1 / par le R. P. Dom Augustin Calmet,... via
  7. Calmet, Augustin (1751). Treatise on the Apparitions of Spirits and on Vampires or Revenants: of Hungary, Moravia, et al. The Complete Volumes I & II. Translated by Henry Christmas & Brett R. Warren. 2015. ISBN   1-5331-4568-7.
  8. " – Translator". Retrieved 1 December 2013.

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