Chateau_Sarcenat.jpgBorn on May 1, 1881 in Auvergne, at the family estate of Sarcenat, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is the fourth child of a Catholic family of eleven children.

He entered the Jesuit college of Mongré, in Villefranche-sur-Saône in 1892, and passed his baccalaureate in philosophy in 1897. Then he started a religious career by joining the Jesuit novitiate in Aix-en-Provence in 1899, and was ordained as a priest twelve years later, in 1911, in Hastings, Sussex since the Jesuit novitiate had been transferred to England under the Third Republic. In the meantime, he spent three years in Egypt from 1905 to 1908 to accomplish his “Regency” by teaching physics and chemistry.




In 1912, he joined the paleontology laboratory of the Museum of Natural History in Paris, under the direction of Professor Marcellin Boule, where he took his first steps as a researcher in human paleontology by working on excavations at Altamira in Spain.



But war soon broke out and Teilhard was mobilized in December 1914, as a nurse and stretcher-bearer in a regiment of Moroccan riflemen. He refused to be a chaplain because he would have been appointed as an officer and would not have remained close to the men, so he was only a corporal. In the tragic context of the First World War, when he experiences “his baptism into reality”, his philosophical thought will blossom. It will be expressed in his letters to his cousin Marguerite Teilhard-Chambon – see the book “Genesis of a thought” and her first essay “The cosmic life” in “The writings of the time of the war”, 1916.
Back in Paris, he resumed his studies at the Sorbonne and obtained three degrees in natural sciences: geology, botany and zoology. He became a lecturer at the Institut Catholique de Paris and earned his doctorate in 1922 with a dissertation entitled “Les Mammifères de l’Eocène inférieur français et leurs gisements”.
1923, marks a turning point in the life of Teilhard because it is his first contact with China, where he will reside then more than twenty years between 1926 and 1946. It was during this first trip, during a stay in Mongolia in the Ordos desert, in 1923, that Teilhard wrote the mystical text
“The Mass on the World”
In 1931, he took part in the famous Croisière Jaune Haardt-Citroën. The “Chinese” years of this tireless globe-trotter are particularly rich in terms of his research in geology and paleontology. He studied the history of the Mammals of North China and collaborated closely with the excavations of Choukoutien, where he discovered evidence that the Peking Man, the Sinanthrope – a Homo erectus – is faber, that is to say that he used to cut stones and could make fire. Moreover this trip to China, will be the first of a long series that will lead him to Ethiopia, India, Burma and Java.
1936 is marked by two ordeals: his mother and his sister Marguerite’s deaths. In both  cases he felt an even more intimate sense of suffering than the one he experienced during the war. He will write for his sister who was the president of the Patients’ Union, “The Spiritual Energy of Suffering”..
In 1937, Teilhard received the Mendel Medal at the Philadelphia Congress in recognition of his work in human paleontology. In 1940, he founded the Institute of Geobiology in Beijing, which published a scientific journal on a regular basis. Teilhard returned to France permanently in 1946. From 1951, Teilhard moved to New York, but he went to South Africa several more times to participate in the excavations of the Australopithecus deposits. Noting that Africa is the only continent to present a complete “collection” of different levels of lithic industry, he then put forward the hypothesis, confirmed today, of an African origin of man. On his return from Africa, he went to the United States and stayed there permanently, he was hosted in the offices of the Wenner-Gren Foundation in New York.
That’s where he died at the age of seventy-four, following a heart attack, on Easter Day, April 10, 1955.
If Teilhard was internationally recognized by his scientific peers who elected him to theteilhardmedaillon.jpg‘Académie des Sciences in 1950, he maintained throughout his life a more conflicting relationship with the Roman religious authorities. His philosophical thought, combining science and faith and based on a global approach to the place of Man in the universe, was disturbing and none of his books, apart from the purely scientific publications, were published during his lifetime. They will all be published posthumously thanks to the work of his secretary Jeanne MORTIER who will create the Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Foundation in 1964, Teilhard having bequeathed to her by will all his non-scientific writings in 1951.
“The Human Phenomenon”
(completed in 1940, published in 1955), “The Divine Environment” (written in 1927, published in 1957), “Human Energy” (1957), “Man’s Place in Nature” (1965) and
“The Future of Man”
(1958). The entire collection of Teilhard’s works has been published by Le Seuil in 13 volumes.
Extract from the book by Claude CUENOT – “Teilhard de Chardin”. – Coll. Writers of all time,
Éd. du Seuil, 1962.
For more information, please refer to “Teilhard de Chardin” by Edith de la Héronnière, an excellent book published in 2002.
The most complete work is the book published by Claude Cuénot in 1958 (500 pages), but there are many other interesting works.
Some ancestors of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1325 An act proves the existence of a Pierre Teilhard, notary in Dienne (Auvergne).
1686 Birth of Marguerite-Catherine Arouet, sister of Voltaire and ancestor of Berthe-Adèle de Dompierre d’Hornoy, Pierre Teilhard’s mother.
1816 Louis XVIII grants letters of confirmation of nobility to Pierre Teilhard, grandfather of Pierre-Cirice Teilhard.
1841 Pierre-Cirice Teilhard marries Marie Marguerite Victoire Barron de Chardin, hence the acquisition of the name Chardin by the sons of Pierre-Cirice.
1844 Birth of Emmanuel Teilhard de Chardin, son of Pierre-Cirice and father of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
1853 Birth of Berthe-Adèle de Dompierre-d’Hornoy, mother of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin,
1875 Emmanuel Teilhard de Chardin marries Berthe-Adèle de Dompierre d’Hornoy.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
1881 Birth of Marie-Joseph Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (May 1) in Sarcenat (Puy-de-Dôme.)
1883 Birth of Marguerite-Marie, Pierre Teilhard’s favorite sister.
1892-1897 Teilhard is a student at the Jesuit college of Notre-Dame de Mongré.
1896 First baccalaureate.
1897 Second baccalaureate (Philosophy).
1898 Passed the baccalaureate in elementary mathematics.
1899 Enters the Society of Jesus at the novitiate in Aix-en-Provence.
1900-1901 First year of the juniorate in Laval.
1901 First vows (in Lava!).       Expulsion of the Jesuits (beginning of the anti-religious laws).
1901-1902 Second year of juvenile life at Bon-Secours House (Jersey).
1902-1905 Three years of philosophy at the Saint Louis House (Jersey).
1905-1908 Lecturer in chemistry and physics at the Jesuit secondary school of the Holy Family in Cairo.
1908-1917 Four years of theology at Ore Place (Hastings, Sussex).
1911 Pierre Teilhard is ordained as a priest.
1912 First interview with Marcellin Boule.
1913 Tour of the caves adorned with prehistoric paintings in the north-west of Spain, with Abbé Breuil.
1914 Canterbury begins its Third Year.
1915 stretcher-bearer in the 4th mixed regiment of zouaves and riflemen.
1916 Awakening of Teilhard’s genius..
1918 Takes his solemn vows in Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon.
1919 Demobilized.
1919-1920 Passes bachelor’s certificates in natural sciences at the Sorbonne.
1920 Takes on his doctoral dissertation: Mammals of the French Lower Eocene and their deposits. Lecturer in paleontology and geology at the Institut catholique de Paris. Beginning of his friendship with Édouard Le Roy.
1922 After defending his dissertation,  became an assistant professor of geology at the Catholic Institute.
1923 Departure for China and exploration of the Ordos with Fr.
1924 Spring campaign at the eastern edge of the Gobi.
1924-1926 Parisian interlude.
1925 Strongly defends transformism against L. Vialleton.
1926-1927 Three campaigns in China (Kansou, Sang-Kan-ho valley, Eastern Mongolia).
1927-1928 Stay in France.
1928-1929 Two-month stay in Somalia and Harrar with Henry de Monfreid.
1929-1930 Stay in China, various campaigns (Shansi, Manchuria).
1929 Became an advisor to the Geological Survey of China. Takes more and more in charge the direction of the geology and the non-human paleontology of the fossiliferous deposit of Choukoutien.
1930 Begins to participate in great expeditions : Central Asia expedition (Mongolia), of the American Museum of Natural History (with Roy Chapman An d rews),
1930-1931 Stays in France and the United States.
1931 Breuil and Teilhard discover that Sinanthropus, the Arehanthropian of Choukoutien, close relative of the Pithécanthrope of java, is faber (stone cutting, use of fire).
1931-1932 He is the Geologist of the Yellow Cruise.
1932-1936 Various campaigns in China (Shansi, Honan, Shantoung).
1932 Death of Emmanuel Teilhard de Chardin.
1932-1933 Four-month stay in France.
1933 Beginning of the Sino-Japanese war. Two months stay in the United States.
1934 Beginning of the explorations towards the south, to establish connections with Choukoutien. Shooting in the valleys of the Yangtze and Szechuan.
1935 Tour in Kwang-Si and KwangTong (South China).
Stay in France.
Participates in the Yale-Cambridge expedition to northern and central India.
1936 Short stay in Java.
Death of Berthe-Adèle de Dompierre d’Hornoy, his mother and Marguerite-Marie Teilhard de Chardin, his sister.
1937 Stays in the United States.
Stay in France, where he is immobilized by the disease.
Departure for China.
1937-1938 Participates in the Harvard-Carnegie Expedition to Burma.
1938 Brief stay in Java, then return to China.
1938-1939 Stays in the United States, then in France, which he leaves for China via the United States.
1939-1946 Is immobilized in Peking by the second world war.
1940 Creates with Pierre Leroy s.j., the Institute of Geobiology of Beijing.
1943 Launches, with Pierre Leroy, the review “Geabiologia”.
1946 Repatriated to France.    Becomes Sir Julian Huxley’s friend.
1947 Debate with Gabriel Marce on the following question: To what extent does the material organization of humanity lead it to a point of spiritual maturation? Heart disease.
1948 Stays in the United States. Connects with the Viking Fund. Reconnects with American science.
Stay in Rome.
1949 Simple pleurisy.
1950 Elected to the Institute (Academy of Sciences).
1951 Stays in South Africa, then moves to New York,
1952 Trip to the American West, visit to the large cyclotrons at UC Berkeley, stop on the way back at Glacial Park (Montana).
1953  Trip to South Africa and Rhodesia.
Includes cybernetics in his phenomenology.
1954 Two-month stay in France.
1955  Sudden death in New York, Easter Day – April 10.
Posthumous publication of the Human Phenomenon. Beginning of the intellectual and spiritual fortune of Teilhard.
1959 R. Garaudy: La Phénoménologie de la nature et le R. P. Teilhard de Chardin, in: Perspectives de l’homme (début du dialogue entre ” teilhardiens et marxistes).
1961 G. Crespy: La Pensée théologique de Teilhard de Chardin (the Reformed theologians discover Teilhard’s religious contribution).
1962 At the Venice Colloquium on Teilhard de Chardin organized by Pax Romana, the Catholic elite recognized him as one of its greatest thinkers.
1963 Madeleine Barthélemy-Madaule successfully defends at the Sorbonne the first State doctoral thesis centered on Teilhard: Bergson and Teilhard de Chardin, and asserts herself as the best interpreter of Teilhardian philosophy.
1964 The American Jesuit Christopher F. Mooney, successfully defends his thesis at the Faculty of Theology of the Catholic Institute of Paris: Teilhard de Chardin and the mystery of Christ, Christian revelation in an evolutionary system of thought.
1965 Opening of the Teilhard de Chardin Foundation, created by Jeanne Mortier (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle38, rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Paris-V) and which tries to gather all documents concerning Teilhard or emanating from him.