Cornelius a Lapide

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Cornelius Cornelii à Lapide (Cornelis Cornelissen van den Steen, 18 December 1567 – 12 March 1637) Flemish Jesuit and exegete. He was born at Bocholt, in Flemish Limburg, and died in Rome at the age of 69. He studied humanities and philosophy at the Jesuit colleges of Maestricht and Cologne, theology first, for half a year, at the University of Douai, and afterwards for four years at Louvain; he entered the Society of Jesus, 11 June 1592, and, after two years' novitiate and another year of theology, was ordained priest 24 December 1595. After teaching philosophy for half a year, he was made professor of Holy Scripture at Louvain in 1596 and next year of Hebrew also. Twenty years later, in 1616, he was called to Rome in the same capacity, where, on the 3rd of November, he assumed the office which he filled with such renown for many years after. The latter years of his life, however, he seems to have devoted exclusively to finishing and correcting his celebrated commentaries. With his brother Jesuits at Rome he enjoyed so high a reputation for sanctity that, when he died, they gave him a separate burial place, in order to be the more certain of finding his bones when eventually, as they hoped, he should receive the honor of beatification.

The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide

Cornelius à Lapide wrote ample commentaries on all the books of the Catholic Canon of Scripture (including the Deuterocanon), with the exception only of the Book of Job and the Psalms.[1] The complete series, with Job and the Psalms added by other hands, appeared at Antwerp, 1681, 1714; at Venice, 1717, 1740, 1798; at Cologne, 1732; at Turin, 1838; at Lyons, 1839-42, 1865 and 1866; at Malta, 1843-46; at Naples, 1854; at Lyons and Paris, 1855 and 1856; at Milan, 1857; at Paris, 1859-63. All these commentaries are on a very large scale. They explain not only the literal, but also the allegorical, tropological, and anagogical sense of the sacred text, and furnish a large number of quotations from the Fathers and the later interpreters of Holy Writ during the Middle Ages.

G. H. Goetzius (Leipzig, 1699) wrote an academical dissertation, Exercitatio theologica de Cornelii a Lapide Commentariis in Sacram Scripturam, in which he praises the Jesuit author as the most important of Catholic Scriptural writers.

An English translation of the complete commentaries was undertaken by the Rev. Thomas W. Moseman, an Anglican clergyman, under the title, The great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide (London, 1876-).

A manuscript in the Vatican Library contains an Arabic translation of the Commentary on the Apocalypse, by Yusuf ibn Girgis (beginning of the eighteenth century). The same Maronite writer is said to have translated the Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul.

The best-mentioned edition of the Great Commentary of à Lapide has been enriched by Crampon and Péronne with annotations from more recent interpreters.


  1. The Great Commentary of Cornelius à Lapide (8 vols.) by Cornelius à Lapide • John Hodges, John Grant 1887–1908

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