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Diocese of Dijon

Comprises the entire department of Cote-d'Or and is a suffragan of Lyons

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Dijon, Diocese of, comprises the entire department of Cote-d’Or and is a suffragan of Lyons. According to the Concordat of 1801 it also included the department of Haute-Marne, which, however, it was called upon to relinquish in 1821, owing to the reestablishment of the Diocese of Langres.

Between the years 506 and 540 it was revealed to St. Gregory, Bishop of Langres, and an ancestor of St. Gregory of Tours, that a tomb which the piety of the peasants led them to visit contained the remains of St. Benignus. He had a large basilica erected over it, and soon travellers from Italy brought him the acts of this saint’s martyrdom. These acts are part of a collection of documents according to which Burgundy was evangelized in the second century by St. Benignus, an Asiatic priest and the disciple of St. Polycarp, assisted by two ecclesiastics, Andochius and Thyrsus. The good work is said to have prospered at Autun, where it received valuable support from the youthful Symphorianus; at Saulieu where Andochius and Thyrsus had established themselves; at Langres where the three brothers, Speusippus, Eleusippus, and Meleusippus, were baptized, and finally at Dijon. In the meantime the persecution of Marcus Aurelius broke out, and St. Benignus and his companions were put to death. The doubts first raised by Boulliau and Tillemont in the seventeenth century concerning the authenticity of these acts seem justified by the conclusions of Pere Van Hooff and Monseigneur Duchesne, according to which the Acts of St. Benignus and the martyrdom of the three brothers of Langres, on which the aforesaid traditions are based, are apocryphal and copied from Cappadocian legends. This controversy, however, does not alter the fact that before the fifth century a saint named Benignus was venerated by the Christians of Dijon; nor does it dim the splendor of the saint’s miracles, as related by Gregory of Tours and by the “Book of the Miracles of St. Benignus”. During the last generation no question has given rise to more animated polemics among the Catholic scholars of France than the apostolate of St. Benignus.

Under the Merovingians and Carolingians most of the bishops of Langres resided at Dijon, e.g. St. Urbanus (fifth century), St. Gregory, and St. Tetricus (sixth century), who were buried there. When, in 1016, Lambert, Bishop of Langres, ceded the seigniory and county of Dijon to King Robert, the Bishops of Langres made Langres their place of residence. In 1731, Clement XII made Dijon a bishopric. The Abbey of Saint-Etienne of Dijon (fifth century) long had a regular chapter that observed the Rule of St. Augustine; it was given over to secular canons by Paul V in 1611, and Clement XI made its church the cathedral of Dijon; during the Revolution it was transformed into a forage storehouse. The abbatial church of Saint-Benigne became the cathedral of Dijon early in the nineteenth century. Cardinal Lecot, later Archbishop of Bordeaux, was Bishop of Dijon from 1886 to 1890. Pope Pius X‘s request in 1904 for the resignation of Monseigneur Le Nordez, Bishop of Dijon since 1899, was one of the incidents which led to the rupture of relations between France and the Holy See.

Romanesque architecture was very popular in Burgundy; its masterpiece is the Cathedral of Saint-Benigne of Dijon, consecrated by Paschal II in 1106 and completed in 1288. The Gothic style, although less used, characterizes the churches of Notre-Dame de Dijon (1252-1334), Notre-Dame de Semur, and l’Abbaye Saint-Seine; it was also the style of the Sainte-Chapelle of Dijon, which is no longer in existence. Under the dukes of Burgundy, at the close of the fourteenth and beginning of the fifteenth century, Burgundian art flourished in a surprising degree. The Chartreuse of Champmol, on which Philip the Bold had Claus Sluter, the sculptor, at work from 1389 to 1406, and which was the acme of artistic excellence, was almost totally destroyed during the Revolution; however, two superb traces of it may still be seen, namely the Puits des prophetes and the portal of the church. The Beaune hospital (1443) is a fine specimen of the Gothic style, and the church of Saint-Michel in Dijon (1497) has sixteenth- and seventeenth-century porches covered with fantastic bas-reliefs. The Abbeys of Citeaux, Fontenay, and Flavigny (where in the nineteenth century Pere Lacordaire installed a Dominican novitiate) were all within the territory of the present Diocese of Dijon. (See Cistercians and Abbey of Citeaux.)

The following saints are specially honored: Saint Sequanus (Seine), b. at Magny, d. 580, founder of the monastery of Reomais around which sprang up the little town of Saint-Seine; St. William (961-1031), a native of Novara, Abbot of Saint-Benign at Dijon in 990, and reformer of the Benedictine Order in the eleventh century; St. Robert of Molesme, joint founder with Sts. Alberic and Stephen Harding of the monastery of Citeaux in 1098; St. Stephen Harding, who died in 1134, third Abbot of Citeaux, under whose administration the monasteries of La Ferte, Pontigny, Clairvaux, and Morimond were established; St. Bernard (1090-1153); St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1572-1641), b. at Dijon, who, having heard St. Francis de Sales’ Lenten discourses at Dijon in 1604, conceived a holy friendship for him; the Venerable Benigne Joly, canon of Saint-Etienne de Dijon (seventeenth century); and the Venerable Sister Marguerite of the Blessed Sacrament (1619-48), surnamed the “little saint of Beaune”, noted for the apparitions of the Infant Jesus with which she was favored, in consequence of which the pious association known as the Family of the Holy Child Jesus was organized and later raised by Pius IX to the dignity of an archconfraternity. Among the famous persons of the diocese the Seneschal Philippe Pot (1428-94) is remembered for his exploits against the Turks in 1452 and his miraculous deliverance from his captors. The illustrious Bossuet was a native of Dijon. Hubert Languet, the Protestant publicist (1518-81), was born at Vitteaux.

The chief places of pilgrimage are: Notre-Dame de Beaune, at Beaune (antedating 1120); Notre-Dame du Bon-Espoir at Dijon, dedicated in 1334; Notre-Dame du Chemin, near Serrigny (twelfth or thirteenth century); Notre-Dame de Citeaux (end of the eleventh century), visited by many famous rulers of urope and the East; Notre-Dame d’Etang at Velars (fifteenth century), visited by St. Jane Frances de Chantal, St. Francis de Sales, Louis XIV, and Bossuet; and Notre-Dame de Lee (tenth or eleventh century) visited by St. Benedict Labre. The room in which St. Bernard was born was transformed into chapel at Fontaine-les-Dijon and visited by Louis XIV, Anne of Austria, Conde, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, St. Francis de Sales, and M. Olier. St. Regina (Reine), who was martyred at Alise in the third century and whose body was transported to Flavigny in 864, is honored by pilgrims; formerly it was customary to hold a theatrical procession in which the saint and her persecutors were represented.

In 1905, prior to the enforcement of the law against congregations, there were in the diocese Trappists, Jesuits, Dominicans, Sulpicians, and diocesan missionaries, also the following local congregations of women: Sisters of the Good Shepherd, founded at Dijon in the seventeenth century by Venerable Benign Joly; Sisters of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; Sisters of Providence, whose mother-house is at Vitteaux, and who conduct a great many schools; the Ursulines, with mother-house at Dijon; the Sisters of St. Martha, devoted alike to hospital work and teaching (founded in 1628) at Dijon. In 1899 the following institutions were conducted by religious: 32 infant schools; 3 orphanages, with agricultural training; 9 orphanages for girls, 5 industrial schools; 1 institution for penitent women; 1 servants’ guild; 18 hospitals or hospices; 25 houses for nursing sisters; 3 houses of retreat; and 1 insane asylum. In 1905 (end of the Concordatory period) the Diocese of Dijon had a population of 361,626; 38 parishes (cures), 447 succursal parishes (mission churches), and 13 curacies subventioned by the State.



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