Pierre Hélyot (1660–1716), Franciscan friar and historian, was born at Paris in January 1660, of supposed English ancestry.
After spending his youth in study, he entered in his twenty-fourth year the convent of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, founded at Picpus—near Paris—by his uncle, Jérôme Hélyot, canon of St-Sepulchre. There he took the name of Père Hippolyte.
Two journeys to Rome on business of the Order afforded him the opportunity of travelling over most of Italy; and after his final return he saw much of France, while acting as secretary to various provincial superiors of his Order. Both in Italy and France he was engaged in collecting materials for his great work, which occupied him about twenty-five years, L'Histoire des ordres monastiques, religieux et militaires, et des congregations séculières de l'un et de l'autre sexe, qui ont été établis jusqu'à présent, published in 5 volumes in 1714—1721.
Hélyot died on January 5, 1716, before the fifth volume appeared, but his friend Maximilien Bullot completed the edition. His only other noteworthy work is Le Chritien maurani (1695).
The Histoire is a work of first importance, being the great repertory of information for the general history of the religious orders up to the end of the 17th century. It is profusely illustrated by large plates exhibiting the dress of the various orders, and in the edition of 1792 the plates are coloured. It was translated into Italian (1737) and into German (1753). The material has been arranged in dictionary form in Migne's Encyclopedie thiologique, under the title Dictionnaire des ordres religieux (5 vols., I 858).
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