Gap, Diocese of (VAPINCENSIS), suffragan of Aix, includes the department of the Hautes-Alpes. Suppressed by the Concordat of 1801 and then united to Digne, this diocese was reestablished in 1822 and comprises, besides the ancient Diocese of Gap, a large part of the ancient Diocese of Embrun. The name of this last metropolitan see, however, has been absorbed in the title of the Archbishop of Aix.
Diocese of GAP.—Ancient traditions in liturgical books, of which at least one dates from the fourteenth century, state that the first Bishop of Gap was St. Demetrius, disciple of the Apostles and martyrs. Father Victor de Buck in the Acta Sanctorum (October, XI) finds nothing inadmissible in these traditions, while Canon Albanes defends them against M. Roman. Al-banes names as bishops of Gap the martyr St. Tigris (fourth century), then St. Remedius (394-419), whom the Abbe Duchesne makes a Bishop of Antibes and who was involved in the struggle between Pope Zosimus and Bishop Proculus of Marseilles, finally St. Constantinus, about 439. According to Duchesne the first historically known bishop is Constantinus, present at the Council of Epaone in 517. The church of Gap had, among other bishops, St. Aregius (or Arey, 579-610?), who established at Gap a celebrated literary school and was held in great esteem by St. Gregory the Great; also St. Arnoude (1065-1078), a monk of Trinite de Vendome, named bishop by Alexander II to replace the simoniac Ripert, and who became the patron of the episcopal city.
Archdiocese of EMBRUN.—The Archdiocese of Embrun had as suffragans, Digne, Antibes and Grasse, Vence, Glandeves, Senez, and Nice. Tradition ascribes the evangelization of Embrun to Sts. Nazarius and Celsus, martyrs under Nero. The first bishop was St. Marcellinus (354-74). Other bishops of Embrun were St. Albinus (400-37); St. Palladius (first half of the sixth century); St. Eutherius (middle of the seventh century); St. James (eighth century); St Alphonsus (eight century); St. Marcellus (end of the eighth century), whom Charlemagne sent to evangelize Saxony; St. Bernard (805-25), under whose episcopate Charlemagne enriched the Diocese of Embrun; St. Benedict (beginning of the tenth century), martyred by the Saracen invaders; St. Liberalis (920-40); St. Hismide (1027-45); St. Guillaume (1120-34), founder of the celebrated Abbey of Boscodon; St. Bernard Chabert (1213-35), Henry of Segusio (1250-71), known as Ostiensis, i.e. Cardinal–Bishop of Ostia, an orator and canonist of renown; the Dominican Raimond of Mevolhon (1289-94), who defended the doctrine of St. Thomas against the attacks of English theologians; Bertrand of Deaux (1323-38), who as the legate of Clement VI at Rome did much to bring about the downfall of Rienzi; Jacques Gelu (1427-32), one of the first prelates to recognize the supernatural vocation of Joan of Arc; Giulio de’ Medici (1510-11), later pope under the name of Clement VII; Cardinal Francois de Tournon (1517-26), employed on diplomatic missions by Francis I, and founder of the College de Tournon; Cardinal de Tencin (1724-40), who in September, 1727, caused the condemnation by the Council of Embrun of the Jansenist Soanen, Bishop of his suffragan See of Senez. St. Vincent Ferrer preached several missions against the Vaudois in the Diocese of Embrun. Besides the bishops named the following are honored as saints in the present Diocese of Gap: Vincent, Orontius, and Victor, martyrs in Spain in the fourth century, the anchorite Veranus (sixth century), afterwards Bishop of Cavaillon, and the anchorite St. Donatus (sixth century).
The Diocese of Gap possesses two noted places of pilgrimage, Notre-Dame d’Embrun at Embrun, where Charlemagne erected a basilica, visited by Pope Leo III and Kings Henry II and Louis XVIII. Louis XI was wont to wear in his cap a leaden image of Notre-Dame d’Embrun. The other is that of Notre-Dame du Laus, where during fifty-four years (1664-1718) the blessed Virgin appeared “an incalculable number of times” to a shepherdess, Venerable Benoite Rencurel. Three orders of women had their origin in the diocese. The Sisters of Providence, a teaching and nursing or-der, established in 1823 from the Sisters of Portieux (Vosges) and after 1837 an independent congregation; the Sisters of Saint Joseph, founded in 1837 for teaching and nursing; the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary, founded in 1835 for teaching. The Diocese of Gap, numbering 109,510 inhabitants, had in 1906 at the cessation of the Concordat, 26 parishes, 218 missions, and 15 curacies, paid by the state. During the Middle Ages there were in the mountainous region which forms the present diocese more than seventy hospitals, maladreries, lazarettoes, or houses of refuge, administered by two congregations of the vicinity, the Brothers of La Madeleine and the Brothers of Holy Penitence. About half of these asylums disappeared during the religious wars of the sixteenth century. The others with the exception of half a score were suppressed by royal command about 1690, and their goods given to the large hospitals of Gap, Embrun, and Briancon. In 1900, before the Law of Associations was enforced, there were in the Diocese of Gap five maternity hospitals, a school for deaf mutes, one orphan-age for boys and two for girls, seven hospitals or asylums, two institutions for the care of the sick in their homes, all under the direction of religious orders.