Beauvais (BELLOVACUM), Diocese of, a suffragan of the archiepiscopal See of Reims. The Dioceses of Beauvais, Noyon, and Senlis having been suppressed by the Concordat of 1802 for the benefit of Amiens, a see was reestablished at Beauvais in 1822, having within its jurisdiction the former Diocese of Beauvais and a large portion of the ancient Dioceses of Noyon and Senlis. A pontifical Brief of 1851 authorizes the incumbents of the See of Beauvais to call themselves Bishops of Beauvais, Noyon, and Senlis.
Diocese of Beauvais.—Tradition looks upon St. Lucianus, sent to Beauvais by Pope Fabianus and martyred, about 275, with his companions Maxianus and Julianus, as the founder of Christianity in that place. The martyrdom of St. Romana under Diocletian, of St. Just during the atrocious persecution by the legendary Rictiovarus (about 410), of St. Maxentia, daughter of the King of Scotland, who, about 450, preferred to die rather than follow her fiance, render the primitive Church of Beauvais illustrious. The exact date of the foundation of the episcopal see is obscure, but we know that the bishop who occupied it from 632 to 660 was the thirteenth incumbent. Among its bishops Beauvais counts Odo (860-881), charged by Nicholas I in 867 to answer with Hincmar the grievances of Photius; Gui (1063-85), who founded St. Quentin of Beauvais, the great school of theology; Pierre Cauchon (1420-32), identified with the condemnation of Joan of Arc; Jean Juvenal des Ursins (1433-44), author of the Chronicle of Charles VI; Cardinal Odet de Chatillon (1535-62), nephew of Coligny, who turned Protestant at the Reformation; Francois-Joseph de la Rochefoucauld (1772-92), martyred in the Carmelite prison in 1792; and Feutrier (1825-30), minister of ecclesiastical affairs in the Martignac cabinet.
Diocese of Senlis.—The Church founded at Senlis by St. Rieul (Regulus) about 300, had its ninth bishop, St. Levangius, in 511. Saints Sanctinus, Agmarus, and Autbertus were bishops in the sixth and seventh centuries.
Diocese of Noyon.—The headquarters of the city of the Veromandui, who undoubtedly had a bishop from the beginning of the fourth century, having been destroyed by the barbarians, the bishops were without a residence until St. Medard (530-545), fourteenth bishop, installed himself at Noyon. This city counted among its bishops the goldsmith St. Eloi (Eligius, 640-659), Dagobert’s prime minister; St. Mummolenus (second half of seventh century), and St. Eunutius (eighth century). The Belgian See of Tournai was cut off from Noyon in 1146.
These sees played an important part in the history of France during the Carlovingian, and at the beginning of the Capetian, period. A council convoked at Beauvais by Charles the Bald, in 845, elected Hincmar (Archbishop of Reims). At Compiegne where, next to his hunting-lodge, Charles the Bald had built the great Abbey of Notre Dame, placing therein the bodies of Sts. Cornelius and Cyprian, and where Kings Louis the Stammerer and Eudes were crowned and buried, there were held, in the course of the ninth century, numerous councils which regulated the political and religious questions of the time. A council at Compiegne in 1092 forced the heretic Roscelin to retire, and one at Senlis in 1310, condemned nine Templars. Being Count of Beauvais from 1013, and Peer of France from the twelfth century, the Bishop of Beauvais bore the royal mantle at the coronation of the Kings of France; it was he, who, with the Bishop of Langres, was wont to raise the king from his throne to present him to his people. The Bishop of Noyon was both duke and peer. The monastic life was established in this region by St. Evrost in the sixth, and St. Germer in the seventh, century.
The medieval Cathedrals of Beauvais and Senlis are inferior in point of interest to that of Noyon, which is one of the most beautiful monuments of the twelfth century. During the Middle Ages, on each recurring 14th of January, the Feast of Asses was celebrated in the Beauvais Cathedral, in commemoration of the flight of the Virgin into Egypt (see Feast of Asses), and every year, on June 27, there is a religious procession through the streets of Beauvais to perpetuate Jeanne Hachette’s opposition to Charles the Bold in 1472. John Calvin was a native of Noyon, and Cardinal Pierre d’Ailly was born in Compiegne. The places of pilgrimage are: Notre Dame de Bon Secours at Compiegne, a shrine erected in 1637 as an expression of gratitude for the raising of the siege of the city by the Spaniards; Notre Dame de Bon Secours at Gannes; Notre Dame de Bon Secours at Feuquieres; Notre Dame du Hamel at L’Hamel Notre-Dame; Notre Dame de Bon Secours at Montmelian; Notre Dame de Senlis at Senlis; Notre Dame des Fleurs at Ville-en-Braye.
In 1899 the following institutions were found in the diocese: 6 infant asylums, 44 infant schools, 14 girls’ orphanages, 1 free industrial school, 2 patronages, 2 charity kitchens, 9 hospitals and hospices, 1 house of retreat, 12 homes for the aged, 9 communities devoted to care for the sick in their homes, all conducted by nuns; and 2 patronages under the care of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. In 1900 there were the following religious orders for men: Marists at Senlis, Redemptorists at Thury in Valois, and Fathers of the Holy Ghost at Beauvais. Among the orders for women there were no congregations belonging exclusively to the diocese. At the close of 1905 the Diocese of Beauvais had 407,808 inhabitants, 39 pastorates, 501 succursal parishes (mission churches), and 10 curacies.