Biography of Madam Guyon
Madam Guyon - French quietist author
Jeanne Marie Bouvières de la Mothe Guyon was the leader of the Quietist movement in France. The foundation of her Quietism was laid in her study of St. Francis de Sales, Madame de Chantal, and Thomas a Kempis. At age 16, she married Jacques Guyon, a wealthy man of weak health, 22 years her senior. Until his death in 1676, her life was an unhappy one, partly due to the difference in their ages, and partly due to a tyrannical mother-in-law. Her public career as an evangelist of Quietism began soon after her widowhood.
Her first labors were spent in the diocese of Geneva, at Anecy, Gex, and Thonon, and in Grenoble. In 1686 she went to Paris, where she was at first imprisoned for her opinions, in the Convent of St. Marie in the Faubourg St. Antoine; she was released after eight months at the insistence of Madame de Maintenon. She then rose to the zenith of her fame. Her life at all times greatly fascinated those around her; the court, Madame de Maintenon, and Madame de Maintenon’s College of Ladies at Cyr, came under the spell of her enthusiasm. But the affinity of her doctrines with those of Michael Molinos, who was condemned in 1685, soon worked against her.
Her opinions were condemned by a commission, of which Bossuet was president. She then incurred Bossuet’s displeasure by breaking the promises she had made to him to maintain a quiet attitude and not return to Paris. She was imprisoned at Vincennes in December 1695, and the next year moved to Vaugirard, under a promise to avoid all receptions and correspondence, except by special permission. In 1698, she was imprisoned in the Bastille for four years. She spent the remainder of her life in retirement with her daughter, the Marquise de Bois, at Blois. She had numerous visitors of all ranks, some from foreign countries, and had a considerable correspondence. Her works fill some 40 volumes.