Benedictine scholar, archeologist, and historian of the early Church; b. Tournai, Belgium, Dec. 4, 1869; d. London, March 23, 1945. A naturalized French citizen, Henri Leclercq d’Orlancourt entered the Benedictines and was professed in the Abbey of Solesmes in 1896. With Dom Fernand CABROL, he transferred to Farnborough, England, and was ordained in 1898. In 1924 he was incardinated into the Diocese of Westminster and became an oblate of the Abby of St. Mary, Paris, and chaplain to the Sisters of Sion in London.
This indefatigable scholar, who spent the major part of his career in the British Museum, was the assistant and heir to the great editions inaugurated by his mentor, Dom Cabrol. He collaborated on the first volumes of the Monumenta Ecclesiae liturgica, 4 v. (Paris 1904–12) and Les Martyrs: Recueil des pièces authentiques sur les martyrs, 15 v. (Paris 1903–24) and wrote L’Afrique chrétienne, 2 v. (Paris 1904) and L’Espagne chrétienne, 2 v. (Paris 1906), Manuel d’archéologie chrétienne, 2 v. (Paris 1907) and Histoire du déclin et de la chute de la monarchie française, 10 v. (Paris 1921–40). All these works are remarkable for the author’s ability to synthesize the latest results of scholarship on these subjects. This talent he utilized in carrying on almost alone the edition of the Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, 15 v. (1907–53), which he inherited from Dom Cabrol and for which he had prepared the final articles for volume 14. The work was completed by H. I. Marrou. While his archeological scholarship has been severely criticized as being a not always accurate compilation, particularly in the description of monuments, and while his prejudices are obvious, the Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie is an invaluable source for studies of Christian antiquity.
Leclercq also translated and revised C. J. von HEFELE's monumental history of the councils, Histoire des conciles, 10 v. (Paris 1907–38), and published Saint-Benoît sur Loire (4th ed. Paris 1925), S. Jérôme (Louvain 1927), L’Ordre Bénédictine (Louvain 1930), La Vie chrétienne primitive (Louvain 1928), Ferdinand Gaillard, ‘‘maître-graveur’’ (Paris 1934), and A Chronicle of Social and Political Events from 1610 to 1914 (Oxford 1937).
Bibliography: G. DRIOUX, Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique 40 (194–45): 384. E. KIRSCHBAUM, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche, 10 v. (Freiburg 1957–65) 6:872. L. BROU, Ephemerides liturgicae, 60 (1946): 198–199. A. FERRUA , ‘‘Il Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie,’’ La civiltà cattolica 89.1 (1938): 67–72; 90.4 (1939): 172–175.