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Charles-Emile Freppel

Bishop of Angers, France b. at Ober-Ehnheim, Alsace, June 1, 1827; d. at Paris, Dec. 22, 1891

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Freppel, CHARLES-EMILE, b. at Ober-Ehnheim, Alsace, June 1, 1827; d. at Paris, December 22, 1891. He was Bishop of Angers, France; and deputy from Finistere. He began his studies at a school in this little town; and at seventeen he had received his baccalaureate degree, and entered the seminary of Strasburg, where he received the subdiaconate at the hands of Msgr. Roess in 1848, and was at once appointed to the chair of history. Subsequent to his ordination to the priesthood in 1849, he took a noteworthy part in the discussions of Bonnetty and Maret on the subject of traditionalism. He passed a brilliant examination which secured for him the degree of doctor at the Sorbonne, and after a competitive examination he was named chaplain of the church of Ste-Genevieve at Paris. Here he delivered a course of sermons on the “Divinity of Jesus Christ” which have since been published in book form. He conducted the Advent and Lenten exercises at the Madeleine and afterwards at the churches of St-Roth, Ste-Clotilde, St-Louis d’Antin, at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, and St-Germain l’Auxerrois. His early discourses were published in 1869, in two volumes. Having been appointed to the chair of sacred eloquence at the Sorbonne, he conducted a series of scholarly studies on the Apostolic Fathers and the Christian apologists. They fill ten volumes (4th ed., Paris, 1885). In 1867 Napoleon III invited him to preach the Lenten sermons at the Tuileries, and these discourses have been published in a volume entitled “La Vie Chretienne”.

It was about this time that Renan’s “Vie de Jesus” provoked such a storm of controversy. Msgr. Freppel published a reply to the work, his “Examen critique de la Vie de Jesus de M. Renan” (Paris, 1863), which was perhaps the best refutation of the theories expounded by the French free-thinker. Pius IX, who was then making preparations for the Council of the Vatican, summoned the Abbe Freppel to Rome to assist in the work of drawing up the schemata (drafts of decrees). The pope thus showed his appreciation of Freppel’s learning and accomplishments, and appointed him to the Bishopric of Angers, rendered vacant by the death of Msgr. Angebault. He received the episcopal consecration at Rome, April 18, 1870. Later there was shown a disposition to elevate him to the metropolitan See of Chambery; but he declined with the same modesty which, in 1885, caused him to implore those, who, with M. Jules Ferry, desired his elevation to the dignity of the cardinalate, to discontinue their efforts on his behalf. Upon his return from Rome he proved himself, by his defense of his country, as good a patriot as at the council he had shown himself an able theologian.

In 1871, he accepted the candidature for one of the electoral divisions of Paris. He was defeated because of the ill will which the liberals had borne him since the council, at which, according to them, he had shown himself too ultramontane. In 1880, the electors of Finistere asked him to act as their representative; he was elected by a large majority to this position of trust. His first speech in the French Chamber was a vigorous protest against the expulsion of the Jesuits. For eleven years the bishop-deputy (eveque depute) was the most attentively-heard orator in the Chamber, treating with equal authority the most diverse subjects, and such as would seem farthest removed from his ordinary studies. While he did not bring about the triumph of justice to the extent he desired, he defended it nobly though running violently counter to the prejudices of that assembly. He won even the esteem of his enemies, and M. Floquet was one day able to reecho the plaudits not only of the Chamber but of the whole of France. His “Oeuvres polemiques” and his “Oratoires” have been collected in seventeen volumes (Paris, 1869-88). Almost all the great religious, political, and social questions which engaged men’s minds at that time are here treated. Amongst his numerous other writings should be mentioned his work on the French Revolution (Paris, 1889), and “Bossuet et l’eloquence sacree au XVIIeme siecle” (Paris, 1894).

LOUIS LALANDE


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