Christopher O. Blum

Christopher O. Blum is Professor of History & Philosophy and Academic Dean of the Augustine Institute. He is the editor and translator of St. Francis de Sales' The Sign of the Cross: The Fifteen Most Powerful Words in the English Language (Sophia Press).

recent articles

Aristotle and the God of Creation

“Heraclitus once said that ‘Nature loves to hide.’ Not from Aristotle. He writes as though nature is living next door and running a taverna.” This summary judgment—at once engaging, elegant, and thoughtful—typifies Armand-Marie Leroi’s The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science (Viking-Penguin, 2014). Equal parts pilgrimage, idyll, and polemic, The Lagoon is a marvelous invitation to … Read more

Gothic’s Genius: Abbot Suger

“To me, I confess, one thing has always seemed preeminently fitting: that every costlier or costliest thing should serve, first and foremost, for the administration of the Holy Eucharist.” If one were able to compare the great churches of France in the year 1100 to those standing a century and a half later, the marked … Read more

What Every Catholic Should Know

We are an unsteady people. Even an hour of watching the Olympics on NBC suffices to show it. Is it sacrifice and teamwork to which we aspire, or the satisfaction of our animal desires? Do we hold perseverance and moderation to be virtues, or cleverness and bold self-presentation? Is it owning that BMW that we … Read more

Life’s Paladin: Jérôme Lejeune

“Merci, mon professeur, for what you did for my father and my mother. Because of you, I am proud of myself.” These words, spoken by a young man with Down’s syndrome, were most fitting praise for the scientist who had discovered the genetic cause of his condition. It had long been thought to be due … Read more

The Founder of the First Catholic College

 “Master Robert, I should like to be known as a prudent man, but above all let me be one, and you may have the rest, for prudence is such a great and good thing that the word itself savors.” Thus spoke the great St. Louis IX to one of his chaplains, Robert de Sorbon. To … Read more

Holiness in Photographic Negative: The Life of Blessed Junipero Serra

The 24th of November this year will afford a significant opportunity for North Americans to reflect upon their common past: the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bl. Junipero Serra. In commemoration of the founder of the California missions, the Huntington Library has assembled an exhibition devoted to his life and work, co-curated by … Read more

A Lesson in Three Conversions

The Year of Faith began with a challenge from the Holy Father Emeritus: “We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or that light be kept hidden.” During this last intense year of renewal, Catholics have been reminded again and again that our age calls for vigilance. For the embers of Western Civilization glow but … Read more

The Hidden Life of Wisdom

Edith Stein was an unlikely saint. A former Jewish-atheist bluestocking who died for the Faith as a Carmelite nun in the gas chamber at Auschwitz, Stein was impelled by a quenchless thirst for truth. God in His Mercy placed in her life friends who were themselves, in one way or another, “hidden with Christ in … Read more

Léon Harmel: Pioneer of the Just Wage

You could call the nineteenth century stupid, but hardly dull. At its birth, it was the stage for Napoleon’s antics and for the heroism of the captains of wooden ships; at its death, the old Europe itself was giving way before the hard, cold era of aluminum, centralized planning, and the IRS. Sure, it was … Read more

The Primacy of the Spiritual: Saint Nicholas of Flue

Although our minds are limited in their ability to attain God in this life, we are capable of “greater desire, and love, and pleasure in knowing divine matters” than we are able to find in “the perfect knowledge of the lowest things.” Thus far Aquinas, who taught as one who knew. Saint Nicholas of Flue … Read more

Finding God with Basil, Gregory, and Newman

The advantage that tragic poetry has over historical narrative seems to lie in the way individual deeds are portrayed: they are enacted. The confrontation of Angelo by Isabella in the second act of Measure for Measure, culminating in her speech against “man, proud man,” does something far better than naming the heroine’s courage, it invites … Read more

Sing we Noël!

Speaking of his medieval ancestors and ours, d’Alembert once said that “Poetry for them was reduced to a puerile mechanism.” James Madison, echoing him, judged the result of fifteen centuries of Christian civilization to be little more than “pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and … Read more

All the Saints and Good Souls of Chartres

In this season of elections and of holy souls, it is fitting to recall one of the loveliest monuments to true democracy: the windows of the trades at Chartres Cathedral. The stained-glass windows at Chartres are famous the world over, and rightly so. Thanks to the foresight of the town’s mayors and the determination of … Read more

Teacher of Teachers: Blessed John Henry Newman

If John Henry Newman should be declared a Doctor of the Church, the honor will be in large part due to his work as an educator. As Benedict XVI has pointed out, the “definite service” that he gave to the Church was to apply “his keen intellect and prolific pen to many of the most … Read more

Charity, Truth, and a Dash of d’Artagnan: Vincent de Paul

Cynicism seems to come all too easily to the French. The anticlerical cry of “crush the wretched one” came forth from the sumptuous bourgeois comfort—with its viper’s tangle of adultery—of Voltaire’s estate near Lake Geneva. Two centuries later, Sartre’s bleak atheism won him plenty of disciples on the shabby-chic Left Bank of the Seine. Even … Read more

The Sculptor of the Beau Dieu

He lived in an age when artists were beginning to make names for themselves. The master-mason Hugues Libergier, whose funerary slab may be seen today in the cathedral of Reims, was his contemporary. Robert de Luzarches and Thomas de Cormont, the masters of the work at Amiens, were his collaborators. The century before, one who … Read more

The Key to the Bastille: Learning from the Past with Benedict XVI

“Show me what a man remembers of his past,” the late Fritz Wilhelmsen once said, “and I will tell you what kind of man he is.”  Like Friedrich Nietzsche, Wilhelmsen was inclined to bold affirmation and even bolder denial, and was wont to frame his statements in the irrefragable terminology of metaphysics. The gallant Thomist … Read more

A Sculptor of the Interior Life

Tilman Riemenschneider may not have had the full complement of five talents, but however many he was given, none did he bury. Father, master sculptor, entrepreneur, civic leader: his was the busy life of the successful late-medieval artisan. Yet for all of his immersion in the affairs of this world, his sculpture remains as a … Read more

Investment and the Common Good

It is now twenty years since the publication of Centesimus Annus, yet only halting steps have been made towards an adequate reception of it. In his concluding remarks to that great encyclical, the Holy Father warned that the Church’s social teaching was no mere theory, “but above all else a basis and a motivation for … Read more

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