Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Pierre François Xavier de Ram

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 12
Pierre François Xavier de Ram

by Victor Léopold Jacques Louis Brants


Born at Louvain 2 Sept., 1804; died there 14 May, 1865; Belgian historian and rector of the Catholic University of Louvain. He belonged to an ancient family, originally from the Province of Zealand. De Ram entered the seminary at Mechlin, where he was ordained in 1827. During the trying period when King William I of the Netherlands was carrying on his campaign against the Catholic faith and traditions of the Belgians, and whilst de Ram was still young, he took an active part in the struggle maintained by the Belgian clergy against the government of the Netherlands, republishing eighteenth-century works, in which, in a series of historical studies refuting the doctrines of Joseph II, he combated the latter's disciple, King William I. He was next appointed keeper of the diocesan records and professor in the episcopal seminary at Mechlin. In order to stay the spread of Protestantism in the Netherlands he collaborated with a movement for the publishing of religious works, bringing out "Levens von de voornaemste Heyligen en roemweerdige peersonen der Nederlanden" (Lives of the most prominent saints and celebrities of the Netherlands). His chief study for many years was hagiography, and he published an edition of Butler's "Lives of the Saints" (Louvain, 1828-35). Between 1828 and 1858 appeared the "Synodicon Belgicum", a collection of unpublished documents upon the ecclesiastical history of the Netherlands since Philip II (Louvain, 4 vols., in quarto). These books met with a warm appreciation and showed remarkable ability. His position as keeper of the records facilitated his researches to a great extent.

Then came the Belgian Revolution of 1830. Nothing need be said of the political and philosophical opinions of de Ram, as they are but secondary features of his career. He is best known as a prolific writer upon history and the restorer and first rector of the Catholic University of Louvain. He showed a remarkable talent for organization and administration during his tenure of office. He still continued his historical researches, and the history of the university was treated by him in numerous monographs. For this purpose he had at his disposal the material in the National Archives at Brussels. Upon the reorganization of the Bollandists, de Ram ceased his work upon hagiography, but still continued to produce works upon ecclesiastical and University history. De Ram was an active member of the "Académie Royale de Belgique" and a foreign associate of the Bavarian Academy. The complete list of his works given in the "Bibliographie de l'Universite' Catholique de Louvain" (Louvain, 1880) comprises 205 volumes. Many of these are of considerable length, and the majority contain hitherto unpublished papers of great value. Among the many tributes paid to the historian, that of Gachard, the renowned keeper of the national records, is remarkable for its sincerity and warmth. No complete biography of de Ram has as yet appeared, although such, considering his influential position and important work, would awaken no inconsiderable interest.

Review Cath., XXII (Louvain, 1865), 317-30; DE BUCK, Mgr de Ram (Paris, 1865); THORRISSEN in Annuaire de l'Académie royale de Belgique (Brussels, 1866); NAMECHE in Annuaire de l'Université de Louvain (Louvain, 1866).

Victor Brants.