ELIÆ (HELGESEN), PAULUS: Danish humanist; b. at Varberg (on the Cattegat, 40 m. s. of Gothenburg), Holland, then a Danish province, about 1480; d. in 1535 (?). Educated in Skara, Vestergötland, he appears in 1517 as a monk in the Carmelite monastery in Elsinore, and it was probably from the patron saint of the Carmelites the prophet Elijah that he chose the name "Paulus Helie" (Heliæ, Eliæ). Imbued with the spirit of humanism, he hailed with joy the appearance of Luther, but when the latter broke completely with the Roman Church, he looked upon him as a dangerous revolutionist. In 1519 Eliæ was appointed lecturer in the Carmelite college at Copenhagen, and also lecturer in theology at the university there. In the beginning of his career he sympathized with King Christian II., who displayed an active interest in the promotion of public schools, but the massacre of Stockholm changed his opinion of this king and he came to regard him as a godless tyrant. When, therefore, the king sent him a Latin pamphlet with a request to translate it, and he found it to be "an evil book, more calculated to teach sin than to improve mankind," he substituted for it Erasmus' writing on the duties of a Christian monarch, which he sent to the king. The result of this act as well as of his subsequent bold sermons in the royal chapel, taking Herod for his text, was that the king became enraged and Eliæ was compelled to flee to Jutland. Here he prepared a Latin pamphlet setting forth his accusations against the king (cf. Mon. hist. Dan., i. 121 sqq.), and this was used later for framing the obligations to be assumed by King Frederick II.


After the flight of Christian II. Eliæ again became lecturer at the university, and for a time he officiated as provincial of the Carmelites as the successor of Anders Christensen. In 1526 he published a Danish translation of Luther's prayer-book, in the preface to which he defends himself against the accusation of having been a pupil of Luther, and he also states his opinion of the German Reformer. During the following years Eliæ proceeded with great zeal against the Reformation, publishing pamphlet upon pamphlet against those who had joined that movement, including several of his former colleagues from the Carmelite college. In 1530 he began an attack upon Hans Tausen and had to leave Copenhagen in consequence; three years later, however, he returned and renewed his attacks, causing Tausen to be branded as a heretic on account of his teachings regarding the Lord's Supper. Having accomplished this, Eliæ went to Roskilde where he published his aforementioned pamphlet on the duties of Christian rulers. During the feud among the nobility he endeavored to mediate between the factions by publishing a "Brief Instruction in Christian Union and Reconciliation," which was partly an adaptation of Erasmus' commentary on Psalm lxxxiii (De amabili ecclesiæ concordia). Besides a brief Latin history of the Danish kings, Eliæ wrote a chronicle of the first four kings of the house of Oldenburg, generally called the "Skibby-Chronicle." It is a remarkable attempt in the pragmatic method of historiography, and is filled with bitter one-sided opinions of the opponents of the Roman Church. This work closes in the middle of a sentence (Dum hæc aguntur . . .), from which it would appear that its author lived until the end of 1534 or the beginning of 1535. An unconfirmed report says that Eliæ joined the reform party and became pastor somewhere. Schmitt is of the opinion that he may have fallen victim to violence, but this is highly improbable; it is more likely that he fled to Holland, to the birthplace of his beloved Erasmus.



Bibliography: The "Skibby-Chronicle" and some of the letters of Eliæ were published in H. Roerdam, Monumenta historiæ Daniæ, vol. i., Copenhagen, 1873. Consult further: C. Olivarius, De vita et scriptis Pauli Eliæ, Copenhagen, 1741; L. Schmitt, Der Karmeliter Paul Eliæ, Freiburg, 1893.