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Berengar of Tours

c.1000-1088. French theologian. Student of Fulbert of Chartres, he was canon and director of the cathedral school at Tours (1031) and later archdeacon of Angers (1041). A man of learning and piety, he came (1040-45) to question the eucharistic interpretation of Paschasius* Radbertus (a ninth-century monk who taught transubstantiation). A series of controversies resulted from Berengar's teachings, which prompted the development of the Roman Catholic teaching about the Eucharist. In the course of these arguments Berengar was forced to sign several statements, one even asserting that when a believer partakes of the element he actually masticates the body of Christ. He maintained that one cannot literally eat and drink Christ's body and blood, but that nevertheless by faith the Christian can have real spiritual communion with the flesh, that is, the glorified humanity of Christ in heaven. In his teaching, the elements remain in substance as well as appearance, after the consecration. They are, however, endowed with new value, for whatever is consecrated is lifted to a higher sphere and transformed. Perhaps if Berengar had been willing to die for his convictions he would have won more adherents. As it was, his repeated recantations served to prompt men such as Lanfranc* to articulate in a more detailed manner the teaching of transubstantiation.

See A.J. MacDonald, Berengar and the Reform of Sacramental Doctrine (1930).

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