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Nicholas of Lyra

c.1265-1349. Franciscan scholar. Born in Lire (now Vieille-Lyre, Eure), he entered the Franciscan Order at Verneuil (c.1300). He studied theology at Paris, becoming a doctor (c.1308) and a regent master at the university. From 1319 he was provincial of his order in France, being present in that capacity at the general chapter of Pérouse (1321). In 1325 he was provincial of Burgundy. As executor of the estate of Jeanne of Burgundy, widow of Philip VI, he founded the college of Burgundy at Paris, where he died. The best-equipped biblical scholar of the Middle Ages, knowing Hebrew and acquainted with Jewish commentaries, notably Rashi, he was especially concerned to expound the literal sense of Scripture as against the current allegorical interpretation. He wrote two commentaries on the whole Bible, one being the first biblical commentary printed. He wrote a treatise on the Beatific Vision, directed against Pope John XXII, and other works.