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Dionysius Petavius

1583-1652. French Jesuit scholar. Born Denis Pétau, native of Orléans, he took his master's degree at sixteen and lectured in philosophy at Bourges (1603-5), became a Jesuit, and read theology at the Sorbonne. He then lectured in rhetoric in the Jesuit colleges at Reims (1609- 12), La Flèche, and the Collège de Clermont in Paris (1618), taking the chair of dogmatic theology there in 1621 and continuing as librarian after retirement. The editions he produced included works of the fourth-century bishop Synesius (1612), three orations of Julian the Apostate (1614), and the complete works of Epiphanius of Constantia (1622). He attacked Calvinists and Jansenists; the latter had resented his Dogmata theologia (4 vols., 1644-50), unfinished at his death. He upheld frequent confession and Communion, found the patristic tradition not infallible, and believed in the progressive development of doctrine.