To my bretheren of Le Saulchoir
Foreword by Marie-Humbert Vicaire, O.P.
Father Mandonnet died January 4, 1936, bearing away with him the treasure of knowledge he had amassed on the thought, the men, and the institutions of the thirteenth century ….. It was not by chance that Father Mandonnet died without achieving this work. For a long time those about him were aware, and he was aware – because he knew himself – that he would not write it. At the close of his life, talking with some of his “petits fréres,” he accused himself of idleness. His bibliography dispenses us from having to absolve him of this accusation. As a matter of fact, he had even physically a kind of distaste, which age had deepened, for the toil of writing. What is meant would be appreciated if only he could have been seen at his desk manipulating a heavy fountain pen in his awkward fingers. One day on a slip of paper he wrote the whole secret: “To read, joy; to think, delight; to write, torture.”
It was all that. If he detested writing – each of his books was forced from him – he loved to read and think. When his Siger de Brabant appeared, critics praised, among other features, the bibliographical knowledge revealed in it. Father Mandonnet had not acquired that knowledge on school benches, but in reading with industry and intelligence. One day a brother who brought some books from a library found him in bed sick. Passing through the room again some minutes later, he saw the sick man seated at the table in his bathrobe, reading in spite of a fever. Father Mandonnet examined whole collections from end to end. Never did he open a book merely to look for a reference; he read it completely, or rather he had already done so. In this way, going straight to the point, he read and annotated the numerous volumes of medieval history which he had collected, one by one, from all the rare-book dealers of Europe.
From the foreword to the book St. Dominic and His Work by Pierre Mandonnet, O.P., an English translation published in 1944 of the original St. Dominique, l’idée, l’homme, et l’oeuvre by Pierre Mandonnet, O.P., (1858-1936) with notes and critical studies by Marie-Humbert Vicaire, O.P., (1906-1993) and Reginald Ladner, O.P., published posthumously in 1938 by Desclée de Brouwer & Cie, Bruges, Belgium. Photo courtesy of the University of Fribourg, Les professeurs d’histoire de l’Eglise de la faculté de théologie de l’Université de Fribourg.