Great figures of Saint-Sulpice

Louis Tronson (1622 – 1700)

Third Superior General of the Society of Saint Sulpice (1676 – 1700)

Born in Paris in 1622, Louis Tronson came from the distinguished upper crust of the Faubourg Saint-Germain, to which quite a few French revivalist Catholics of the seventeenth century belonged. Both sides of his family were close to royal power.


Etching of Father Tronson

The history of Tronson’s priestly vocation and formation are poorly known, but one can scarcely doubt that he soon came into contact with Father Jean-Jacques Olier, the spiritual director of his mother, under whose direction he also quickly placed himself. Chaplain to the king and a well-appreciated preacher in various churches in Paris, Tronson frequently heard confessions at the Church of Saint Sulpice. He decided to enter the Society in 1656. It was a great joy for Olier, who at the time was gravely ill. On hearing the news, Olier asked that the community chant the Te Deum in the seminary chapel.

Father Jacques-André EMERY, pss (1732-1811)

Sulpicians consider Emery a “second founder” of the Society, as he found the ways to save the Society in the wake of the French Revolution and its violent aftermath.

Did Father Emery’s family roots already orient him toward the open and expansive ministry that he fulfilled from the viewpoint of both religion and politics? Emery was a native of Gex, a little city that lies at the juncture of several types of territory and diverse cultural and religious influences. The Geneva of John Calvin is only a short distance away!

What aspects of his personality made the General Consultors choose Emery as Superior General on 10 September 1782 after the resignation of Father Pierre Le Gallic? His family, tied to the nobles of the area, decided first to entrust Emery’s education to the Carmelites, who were established in Gex, and then later to the Jesuits at Mâcon. Noted for his refined manner and intelligence, he entered the Seminary of Saint-Irénée in Lyon, then presented himself to the competitive exams at the Robertins College in Paris, a house of formation maintained by the Sulpicians. Emery was ordained a deacon on 4 June 1757, entered the Sulplician Solitude, and then was ordained a priest on 11 March 1758. We should emphasize that Emery did not obtain his clerical formation at Le Grand Séminaire of Paris but at Robertins College. This explains, in part, the problems of governance during the early years of his being Superior, about which we will have more to say later.

John Baptist Hogan, pss (1829-1901)

His Role in Biblical Studies in the Second Half of the 19th Century

Bernard Montagnes, O.P. , in his biography of Dominican Father Marie-Joseph LAGRANGE underlines just how much the last year in seminary formation at the Seminary of Saint Sulpice influenced the exegetical vocation of the future founder of the famous Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem. He, among others, such as Pierre Battifol, Henry Hyvernat and E.-I. Mignot, future Archbishop of Albi, benefitted from the instruction of several Sulpicians, especially Father John Baptist Hogan.

The life of this last named is rather exceptional. Born of an Irish father and French mother from Périgord, Hogan’s uncle, a priest of the Diocese of Périgueux and Sarlat, invited him to do his ecclesiastical studies in France, first at Bordeaux and then at Séminaire de Saint Sulpice in Paris. Ordained a priest at nearly 23 years of age on 5 June 1852, he decided to enter the Society of Saint Sulpice. His numerous abilities were quickly noted, such as a facility with languages and a well formed personality, with an exceptional ability to listen. His psychological makeup quickly earned him the esteem of several significant people of the day: Charles de Montalembert, Felix Dupanloup, Albert de Mun, among others.

Adolphe-Alfred Tanquerey, pss (1854-1932)

On 21 February 1932 the seminary world lost one of the great spiritual writers of the early twentieth century, Sulpician Father Adolph TANQUEREY. Born in Blainville-sur-Mer, France in 1854, Father Tanquerey was ordained a priest in 1878 and entered the Society of Saint Sulpice the following year. He was then sent to Rome to study Thomistic theology and canon law, after which he served on the faculty of the Sulpician seminary in Rodez for a time.


In 1887 he was assigned to teach in the United States, as he was a Frenchman who was open to learning English and willing to adapt to the different orientation of seminarians and priests in the New World. Thus Father Tanquerey became a faculty member at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore, Maryland, the first seminary in the U.S. (1791). It was during these years (1887-1902) that he developed his theological acumen and composed numerous works in spiritual and ascetical theology, moral theology, and dogmatic theology.