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Adolf Daens

Adolf Daens (18 December 1839 – 14 June 1907) was a Flemish priest from Aalst. Daens was a Jesuit from 1859 to 1871 but is especially known for his socio-political involvement after he joined the diocesan clergy. He created the Daensist movement from which originated in 1893 the Christene Volkspartij inspired by Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum novarum. The Christene Volkspartij forced the radicalisation and democratisation of the Catholic party.

Adolf Daens was elected member of the Belgian parliament in 1894. Rightist groups in the Catholic Church obtained his condemnation by his bishop (1898), which did not prevent him from being reelected M.P. (1902–1906). He contributed much to the growing social awareness among Catholics in Belgium, and is a major figure of the Flemish movement as well as in the history of Belgian trade unions. He died in Aalst.

In 1971, Louis Paul Boon published the novel Daens (full title: Pieter Daens of hoe in de negentiende eeuw de arbeiders van Aalst vochten tegen armoede en onrecht, i.e., "Pieter Daens or How the workers of Aalst fought poverty and injustice in the 19th century") in which Adolf's brother Pieter Daens is the narrator. This book served as basis for a theatre adaptation for Nederlands Toneel Ghent by Frans Redant and Walter Moeremans (1979) and Stijn Coninx's film Daens in 1992 (with Jan Decleir as Adolf Daens).

In 2005 he ended fifth place in the Flemish version of the election of De Grootste Belg ("The Greatest Belgian").

A dramatised musical based on the Coninx film, and starring Lucas Van Den Eynde, Jo De Meyere, Jelle Cleymans and Free Souffriau, ran in Antwerp from October 2008 to February 2009 to much critical acclaim.[1]

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