Jean Daniélou

His Eminence
Jean-Guenolé-Marie Daniélou
Cardinal-Deacon of San Saba

Giorgio La Pira and Daniélou in Florence, 1953
Church Roman Catholic Church
In office 30 April 1969 - 20 May 1974
Predecessor Augustin Bea
Successor Joseph Schröffer
Ordination 20 August 1938
Consecration 19 April 1969
by François Marty
Created Cardinal 28 April 1969
by Pope Paul VI
Personal details
Birth name Jean-Guenolé-Marie Daniélou
Born (1905-05-14)14 May 1905
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Died 20 May 1974(1974-05-20) (aged 69)
Paris, France
Previous post Titular Archbishop of Taormina (1969)
Motto Fluvium aquæ vitæ ("River of life")

Jean-Guenolé-Marie Daniélou, S.J. (French: [danjelu]; 14 May 1905 – 20 May 1974) was a French member of the Jesuit order and a Roman Catholic cardinal. He was also a theologian and historian and a member of the Académie française.


Early life and studies

Jean-Guenolé-Marie Daniélou was born on 14 May 1905 in Neuilly-sur-Seine. He was the son of Charles Daniélou and Madeleine Clamorgan. His father was an anticlerical politician who served in the French government several times as a minister while his mother was an educator and the founder of institutions for women's education. His brother Alain (19071994) was a noted Indologist and a renowned historian.

Daniélou studied at La Sorbonne and passed his agrégation in grammar in 1927. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1929 and became a teacher where he initially taught at a boys' school in Poitiers. He taught there from 1934 to 1936. He subsequently studied theology at Fourvière in Lyon under Henri de Lubac, who introduced him to patristics, the study of the Fathers of the Church. He was ordained as a priest on 20 August 1938.[1]

Priesthood, episcopate and cardinalate

During World War II, Daniélou served with the Armée de l'Air (Air Force) in 19391940. After the fall of France to Nazi Germany, he was demobilised and returned to civilian life. He completed his doctoral thesis on the spiritual doctrine of St. Gregory of Nyssa and received a doctorate of theology in 1942. At that time, he was appointed chaplain to the ENSJF, the female section of the École Normale Supérieure, at Sèvres. He then began full-time research in the field of patristics, and became one of the founders of the Sources Chrétiennes collection.

In 1944 Daniélou was named Professor of Early Christian History at the Institut Catholique de Paris, and later became dean. Beginning in the 1950s, he produced several historical studies which included The Bible and the Liturgy, The Lord of History, and From Shadows to Reality, that provided a major impetus to the development of Covenantal Theology.

At the request of Pope John XXIII, he served as a peritus (expert consultant) to the Second Vatican Council. He was appointed a bishop by Pope Paul VI in 1969 for which the titular see of Taormina was created. He received episcopal consecration on 19 April 1969 in Paris. A week later, on 28 April, he was named a cardinal by Pope Paul VI who made him the Cardinal-Deacon of San Saba.[2]

Paul VI had offered him the elevation twice before but he refused. He accepted the third time because the pope told him: "I need you to be a cardinal so that you might suffer with me for the Church".

He was elected to the Académie française on 9 November 1972, to succeed Cardinal Eugène-Gabriel-Gervais-Laurent Tisserant.

Death and legacy

His unexpected death occurred in 1974 in the home of a woman who was alleged to be a prostitute. The Society of Jesus, after an investigation, determined that Daniélou was bringing money to pay for the bail of the woman's husband.

His brother has never doubted Daniélou's charity:

"His death and the scandal provoked by it, when he had become one of the leading figures of the Church, was a sort of posthumous vendetta, one of those favors that the gods bestow on those whom they love. If he had died just a little while sooner or later, or if he had been visiting a lady of the sixteenth arrondissement under the pretext of works of charity, instead of bringing the revenue of his theological writings to a poor and needy woman, there would have been no scandal.

"Jean had always dedicated himself to disregarded people. For a certain period he had celebrated a Mass for the sake of homosexuals. He tried to help prisoners, criminals, troubled young people, prostitutes. I deeply admired this ending of life similar to that of the martyrs, whose fragrance rises to heaven amid the opprobrium and sarcasm of the crowd. He died as true saints die, in ignominy, in mockery, in the disdain of a spiteful and vile society."[3]


A number of his works on the early Church abridged for a popular audience remain in print.

French works, with English translations

Other works

Other English translations


  1. "Jean Guénolé Louis Marie Cardinal Daniélou, S.J.". David M. Cheney. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  2. Salvador Miranda. "Daniélou, S.J., Jean". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
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