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Joseph-Pierre Louis David was the son of Joseph Pierre David and Euphanie de la Combe but the various biographical accounts tell us nothing about the socio-economic status of his family. After completing his secondary studies at the La Côte (Saint-André) Seminary, he enrolled in 1899 in the University of Grenoble, the capital of the department where he was born. There he studied Medieval History and Provençal Literature, later transferring to the Sorbonne where he graduated in Letters in 1900. He was a student of the great masters, Paul Fournier and Ulysses Chevalier. In 1903 he entered the Grenoble Theological Seminary, but this was closed in 1905 as a result of the Law on the Separation of Church and State. As he was the librarian, Pierre David managed to save some notable works from being pillaged. In 1905 he went to the Gregorian University of Rome, where he completed his ecclesiastical training, taking courses in Philosophy, Theology, Canon Law and Holy Scripture.