Humbert de Romans

Infobox Saint
name=Blessed Humbert of Romans
birth_date=c. 1200
death_date=14 July 1277
feast_day=14 July
venerated_in=Roman Catholic Church (Dominican Order)

birth_place=Romans-sur-Isère, France
death_place=Valence, France
titles=Master General of the Dominican Order

Humbert of Romans ("c." 1200 – 14 July 1277 in Valence, France) was the fifth master general of the Dominican Order from 1254 to 1263. [CathEncy|url=|title=Humbert of Romans]

Early career

Humbert of Romans studied both Arts and then Canon Law at the University of Paris, and subsequently, although he had thought about joining the Carthusians (whom his brother joined), entered the Dominican order on 30 November 1224. He was appointed lector of theology at the Dominican convent in Lyon during 1226 and by 1237 he had become prior of the Lyon convent. During the following year, he was elected provincial of the Roman province of Dominicans. His presence in Rome led to support for his candidature in the 1241 papal election (although the Orsini and other Roman families would seem to have opposed his election).

Humbert returned to France in 1244 or 1245 as provincial of the whole of the country, replacing Hugh of Saint-Cher, who had been made a cardinal in 1244. During his time as provincial, Humbert was charged with producing a lectionary for use by the whole Order. [Simon Tugwell, Early Dominicans: Selected Writings, The Classics of Western Spirituality (Paulist Press, 1982), p. 32]

Master general

Humbert became Master General of the Dominican Order in 1254. His first achievement was the re-organization (and consequent standardisation) of the Order's liturgy. A new edition of the Order's constitutions was prepared and measures taken to improve discipline in the Order's houses.Further, he issued new constitutions for all nuns associated with the Dominican Order, based on those he himself had drawn up whilst Provincial of France.He instituted the formal collection of information of two of the Order's saints, Dominic, the founder, and Peter Martyr; in relation to this search for information, Geraldo de Fracheto produced his Vitas fratrum or Lives of the Brethren. In 1255, he was called to adjudicate a dispute on the constitutions of the Carthusians; in 1256, he became the godfather of one of the children of Louis IX of France; and in 1258, the same king asked for his advice regarding the settlement of a dispute between various noble families. Humbert further encouraged the missionary activities of the friars, and schools to teach oriental languages were established in Spain.

Opposition to the presence of both Dominicans and Franciscans at the University of Paris during the mid-1250s led to his issuing a joint encyclical with the Franciscan Minister General, urging that the two Orders - often in bitter dispute - should work together for their survival and the maintenance of their university chairs.

Humbert resigned his position as Master of the Order in 1263 at the General Chapter in London, probably on account of his failing health. [Simon Tugwell, Early Dominicans: Selected Writings, The Classics of Western Spirituality (Paulist Press, 1982), pp. 33-34]


His literary production was geared mainly to the demands of his Order. He composed a Letter on Regular Observance and a commentary on the Rule of Saint Augustine (the Rule which had been adopted by the Dominicans in 1220); and a work On the Formation of Preachers, which had some success as a collection of exempla but few manuscripts survive with its initial suggestions regarding the formation of the preacher himself.

Humbert also composed the Opus tripartitum, one of a number of texts by leading intellectuals commissioned by Gregory X to be presented at the Council of Lyon in 1274. This document defended church reform, promoted the philosophy of crusades, discussed the relationship of the Church to Arabs, analysed the causes and effects of the Greek Schism, proposed ways to go about the re-establishment of Christian unity, and the promoted the mission to the heathens.


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