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Diocese of Evreux

In the Department of Eure, France; suffragan of the Archbishopric of Rouen

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Evreux, Diocese of (EBROICENSIS), in the Department of Eure, France; suffragan of the Archbishopric of Rouen. A legend purporting to date from a certain Deodatus, who is said to have been converted and then later ordained by St. Taurinus, makes the latter first Bishop of Evreux. According to this legend St. Taurinus was baptized at Rome by St. Clement and sent into Gaul as a companion to St. Denis. According to Msgr. Duchesne this legend arose about the ninth century, when Abbot Hilduin of Saint-Denis was intent on proving the identity of Dionysius the Areopagite with Dionysius (Denis), first Bishop of Paris. It is certain that in the time of Charles the Bald (ninth century) St. Taurinus was held in high esteem at Evreux; still earlier, Bishop Landulphus, who seems to have occupied the See of Evreux at the beginning of the seventh century, had built the basilica in his honor.

It is also impossible to fix the date of the reign of St. Gaud, who died a hermit at St. Pair, in the Cotentin. The first historically known Bishop of Evreux is Maurusio, who was present at the Council of Orleans in 511. Other bishops of Evreux are: St. Landulphus, St. Eternus, and St. Aquilinus (seventh century); Gilbert (1071-1112), sent by William the Conqueror to Alexander II, who preached the funeral oration over the Conqueror; Gilles de Perche (1170-79), sent by Henry II of England as ambassador to Rome; Jean (1181-92), a friend of Henry II, who in Cyprus (1190) crowned Berengaria Queen of England; Guillaume de Contiers (1400-18), an active member of the Council of Constance; Jean de la Balue (1465-67), who later became a prisoner of Louis XI; Claude de Saintes, the Apologist (1575-91); Du Perron (1593-1606), a great factor in the abjuration of Henry IV. Thomas Lindet (1743-1823), a member of the Convention, was appointed constitutional Bishop of Evreux from March, 1791, to November, 1792. The following saints are venerated in the diocese: St. Maximus and St. Venerandus, martyrs, at Acquigny on the Eure; St. Leufroy (Leufredus), founder of the Benedictine monastery at La-Croix Saint-Ouen (Audoenus), who died June 21, 738, and his brother St. Aifroy (Agofredus), who succeeded him.

The cathedral of Evreux is one of the oldest in France; its octagonal dome was built at Cardinal Balue’s expense; the church of Gisors has fine sculptures, among them a statue by Jean Goujon. There are pilgrimages to the shrine of Notre-Dame de la Couture at Bernay (since the tenth century); to that of Notre-Dame des Arcs at Pont de l’ Arche; and to a relic of St. Clotilda venerated at Andelys. Previous to the anti-Congregations law of 1901, there were Jesuits and Lazarists at Evreux. Communities of nuns devoted to teaching and the relief of the poor were: the Dominicans of St. Catherine of Siena, an institute founded in 1878 at Etrepagny, which has three houses in the English West Indies; and especially the Sisters of Providence of Evreux, an order founded in 1700 by Justine Duvivier and her brother Father Duvivier in a small hamlet called Caer. It was organized by Father James, an Eudist missionary, and reestablished in 1804 by Charlotte Le Mesle; it had several houses in the diocese. The charitable institutions in charge of religious orders were in 1900: 2 creches, 10 day-nurseries, 1 orphan asylum for boys, 12 for girls, 3 workrooms, 19 homes for the aged, 11 dispensaries, 2 houses of retreat, and 1 insane asylum. The Diocese of Evreux comprised in 1905 (close of the Concordat period) 334,781 inhabitants, 37 parishes, 545 succursal parishes (mission churches), and 25 vicariates paid by the State.


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