Lives of Christ


The number of Lives of Christ is so great that it is necessary to restrict the following list to those by Catholic authors and by other writers who are deserving of special mention on account of their past or present services. Ludolphus of Saxony (c.1300-c.1370), a Dominican who became a Carthusian, wrote “Vita Christi” in Latin which was famous for centuries after his death. It appeared in Strasbourg in 1374, and a beautiful folio volume of the work was published at Paris in 1865. The work of Ludolphus has a certain resemblance in style and ideas to the “Imitation of Christ,” which has sometimes been attributed to him. The Jesuit Father de Ligny published at Avignon before 1788, his “Histoire de la Vie de Notre Seigneur Jesus Christ,” which was again published in Paris, 1830. A famous German work, translated into French, was “Das Leben Christi,” by J. N. Sepp of the University of Munich (Ratisbon, 1843). One of the most useful of a number of French Lives which appeared in the following generation was that of Louis Veuillot, the famous publicist. Another was that written by Monsignor Dupanloup. Henry J. Coleridge, S.J., wrote copiously on the life of Our Lord, among other works, “The Life of our Life, Introduction, Harmony and Notes” (London, 1869).

There are good English translations of four useful French Lives: the Abbe Fouard’s “The Christ, the Son of God,” translated by George F. X. Griffeth (Longmans, 1891); “The Life of Christ,” by Monsignor Le Camus, translated by Father (later Bishop) Hickey (New York, 1907); “Jesus Christ,” by Pere Didon, O.P. (D. Appleton & Co., 1893); and finally the “Life of Christ” by the late Father L. C. Fillion, S.S., translated by the Reverend Newton Thompson (Herder), the eleventh edition of which appeared in 1925. A more recent French Life, not yet translated, is that of Father Lagrange, O.P., entitled “L’Evangile de Jesus Christ” (Paris, 1928). Another French work which may be classed as a Life of Christ is that by the late Father Uonce de Grandmaison, S.J., “Jesus Christ, Sa Personne, Son Message, Ses Preuves” (Paris, 1928). It is chiefly concerned with the defense of the Catholic position on the Gospels and their teaching.

The text of the “Life of Jesus Christ” by the late Father Maas, S.J. (Saint Louis, 1891), is “entirely framed out of the words of the Gospels, in such a manner that nothing is omitted and nothing added.” The principal contribution of this learned scriptural scholar was his methodical explanatory notes, which make the Life a valuable commentary on the Gospels. The “Life of Christ” by the late Father Walter Elliott (New York, 1901), is “a contribution to the devotional study of our Redeemer’s teaching and example.” Professedly for devotional use, too, is the excellent work of Father Maurice Meschler, S.J., “The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Meditation” (Herder, 1909). Giovanni Papini, a novelist who respects Catholic tradition, but whose training hardly fitted him for his task of writing a history of Our Lord, has succeeded, thanks to his literary skill, in producing on the subject a best-seller. His “Storia di Cristo” (Florence, 1921) has been translated ably, but not with sufficient fidelity, by Dorothy Canfield Fisher under the title “Life of Christ.” The preface of Papini betrays insufficient concern about the historical reliability of the Gospels; in the course of the work Saint John’s Gospel is neglected. While the interpretation of Our Lord’s words is orthodox, it is frequently too subjective. A careful study of Catholic commentators should precede such a composition. The books we have spoken of are for adults; the needs of younger people are provided for by Mother Loyola’s “Jesus of Nazareth,” Father Cornelius Holland’s “The Divine Story,” and Mother Imogen Ryan’s “Come and See.”

MLA Citation

  • “Lives of Christ”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 September 2012. Web. 13 December 2018. <>