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Martin Becan

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(Verbreck, van der Breck).

Controversialist, born at Hilvarenbeck, Brabant, Holland, 6 January, 1563; died at Vienna, 24 January, 1624. He entered the Society of Jesus, 22 March, 1583, taught theology for twenty-two years at Wuerzburg, Mainz, and Vienna, and was confessor to Emperor Ferdinand II from 1620 until the time of his death. He possessed a style clear and dignified, and noticeably free from the bitterness which marked the polemical literature of the day. His writings were directed principally against Calvin, Luther, and the Anabaptists; of these, his "Manuale Controversarium," Mainz, 1623, treating of predestination, free will, the Eucharist, and the infallibility of the Church, passed through several editions. For a complete list, see Sommervogel, Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus" (I, col. 1091-1111), wherein are mentioned by title forty-six volumes. His chief theological work, "Summa Theologiae Scholasticae (4 vols. 4to, Mainz, 1612) is in great part a compendium of Francisco Suárez's Commentary on St. Thomas Aquinas. By a decree of the Congregation of the Index, 3 January, 1613, his book "Controversia Anglicana de postestate regis et pontificis" was put on the Index donec corrigatur, not so much to condemn certain exaggerations it contained as to prevent the faculty of theology at Paris from condemning it and at the same time adding some declarations against papal authority. The "Controversia" was corrected and published somewhat later with a dedication to Pope Paul V. Becan, in 1608, published at Mainz, "Aphorismi doctrinae Calvinistarium ex eorum libris, dictis et factis collecti," in reply to Calvin's "Aphorismi doctrinae Jesuitarum." Aphorismus XV, Jesuiti vero qui se maxime nobis opponunt, aut necandi aut si id commode fier non potest, ejiciendi, aut certe mendaciis ac calumniis opprimendi sunt" (The Jesuits, our chief adversaries, ought to be put to death, or if that cannot easily be done, they ought to be banished, or, at any rate, overwhelmed with lies and calumnies), has been misconstrued so as to make it appear than Becan wished to say that Aphorismus XV contained the very words of Calvin. That such was not Becan's intention is clear from the title of the book, "Aphorismi ex eorum libris dictis et factis collecti" and the development shows that the author was only drawing what he considered to be a logical conclusion from the action of the Calvinists of the time. A lengthy discussion about this aphorism was carried on by A. Sabatier in the "Journal de Genève" (26 January, 1896; 10 May, 1896) and the "Revue Chrétienne" (1 March, 1896; 1 June, 1896), and by J. Brucker in the "Etudes" (15 April, and 15 July, 1896).


Sommervogel, Bibliothèque de la c. de J., I, 1091-1111; De Backer, Bibl. des escriv. la c. de J., I, 56; Bruckner, in Dict. de theol. cath., s.v.; Hurter, Nomenclature, I, 293.

About this page

APA citation. O'Laughlin, F. (1907). Martin Becan. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. O'Laughlin, Francis. "Martin Becan." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. <>.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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