Denis de Frayssinous
1765-1841, Bishop of Hermopolis in partibus infidelium, is celebrated chiefly for his conferences at Notre-Dame de Paris
Frayssinous, DENIS DE, 1765-1841, Bishop of Hermopolis in partibus infidelium, is celebrated chiefly for his conferences at Notre-Dame de Paris. He was one of the first orators and apostles who accomplished so much towards the restoration of the Faith in France after the Revolution. He was born at Curieres in Rouergue, France, and died at St-Geniez in the department of Aveyron. His earliest sermons were delivered at Paris, first in the church of the Carmelites, and later at Saint-Sulpice, where he continued them for seven years. He was compelled to interrupt his preaching at the order of Napoleon in 1809, but resumed in 1814, and continued, with the brief interruption of the Hundred Days, until 1822. Despite his severity towards the preacher, Napoleon esteemed the Abbe Frayssinous and had made him a councillor of the university, of which he later became grand master. He was elected to membership in the French Academy, and in 1817 pronounced there a panegyric of St. Louis which is still famous. In 1817 he was named almoner to the court of Louis XVIII, and later consecrated Bishop of Hermopolis. He had been raised to the French peerage when, in 1824, he pronounced the funeral oration of Louis XVIII. It was at this time that the Society of Jesus, which had been reestablished by Pius VII, wished to return to France. A number of former Jesuits, reunited under the name of Fathers of the Faith, addressed themselves, in 1824, to Msgr. de Frayssinous, the minister of public worship, and obtained his protection of their project.
His political career came to an end with the revolution of 1830. After acting as tutor to the Duc de Bordeaux until 1838, he went to live at St-Geniez in Provence, where he died three years later. His conferences had been published some years before, and form, under the title “Defense du Christianisme” (4 vols.), the chief work by which he is known. He published also, in 1818, his slightly Gallican work “Les vrais principes sur les libertes de l’Eglise gallicane”. His conferences lack the vibrating warmth and the brilliancy of style which marked those of Lacordaire and his successors in the pulpit of Notre-Dame. But Msgr. de Frayssinous possesses the distinction of having inaugurated a great movement of restoration and of having made the word of God acceptable to both the indifferent and the incredulous, owing to the clearness with which he explained dogmatic truths, his judgment in the choice of his proofs and his loyalty in discussion. He was the first in the nineteenth century to sow, in this manner, the apostolic seed, and he assured an abundant harvest to those who followed him.