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Diocese of Montauban

Suffragan of Toulouse, comprises the entire department of Tarn and Garonne

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Montauban , Diocese of (MONTIS ALBANI), suffragan of Toulouse, comprises the entire department of Tarn and Garonne. Suppressed in 1802 and divided between the three neighboring dioceses of Toulouse, Agen, and Cahors, Montauban was reestablished by imperial decree of 1809, but this measure was not approved by the Holy See. reestablished by the concordat of 1817, it was filled only in 1824.

In 820 the Benedictine monks had founded the Abbey of Montauriol under the patronage of St. Martin; subsequently it adopted the name of its abbot St. Theodard, Archbishop of Narbonne, who died at the abbey in 893. The Count of Toulouse, Alphonse Jourdan, took from the abbey in 1144 its lands on the heights overlooking the right bank of the Tarn, and founded there the city of Montauban; a certain number of inhabitants of Montauriol and serfs of the abbey formed the nucleus of the population. The monks protested, and in 1149 a satisfactory agreement was concluded. Notwithstanding the sufferings of Montauban during the Albigensian wars, it grew rap-idly. John XXII, by the Bull “Salvator” (June 25, 1317), separated from the ecclesiastical province of Narbonne, the See of Toulouse, made it an archiepiscopal see, and gave it as suffragans four dioceses created within its territory: Montauban, St.-Papoul, Rieux, Lombez. Bertrand de Puy, abbot at Montauriol, was first Bishop of Montauban. Montauban counts among its bishops: Cardinal Georges d’Amboise (1484-1491), minister of Louis XII, and Jean de Lettes (1539-1556), who married and became a Protestant. Despite the resistance of Jacques des Pros-Montpezat (1556-1589), a nephew of Jean de Lettes who succeeded him as bishop, the Calvinists became masters of the city; in 1561 they interdicted Catholic worship; the destruction of the churches, and even of the cathedral, was begun and carried on until 1567. In 1570 Montauban became one of the four strongholds granted the Protestants and in 1578, 1579, and 1584 harbored the synods held by the deputes of the Reformed Churches of France. For a short time, in 1600, Catholic worship was reestablished but was soon suppressed; Bishop Anne Carrion de Murviel (1600-1652) withdrew to Montech during the greater part of his reign and administered thence the Church of Montauban. In spite of the unsuccessful siege of Montauban by Louis XIII (August—November, 1621), the fall of La. Rochelle (1629) entailed the submission of the city, and Richelieu entered it on August 20, 1629. Other bishops of note were: Le Tonnellier de Breteuil (1762-1794), who died during the Reign of Terror in the prison of Rouen, after converting the philosopher La Harpe to Catholicism; the future Cardinal de Cheverus (q.v.), 1824-26.

The Church of Moissac, whose portal built in 1107 is a veritable museum of Romanesque sculpture, deserves notice; its cloister (1100-1108) is one of the most remarkable in France. Legend attributes to Clovis the foundation of the Abbey of Moissac in 506, but St. Amand (594-675) seems to have been the first abbot. The abbey grew, and in a few years its posses-sions extended to the gates of Toulouse. The threats and incursions of the Saracens, Hungarians, and Northmen brought the monks of Moissac to elect “knight abbots” who were laymen, and whose mission was to defend them. From the tenth to the thirteenth century several of the counts of Toulouse were knight-abbots of Moissac; the death of Alfonso II (1271) made the King of France the legitimate successor of the counts of Toulouse, and in this way the abbey came to depend directly on the kings of France, henceforth its “knight-abbots”. Some of the abbots were saints: St. Ausbert (663-678); St. Leotadius (678-691); St. Paternus (691-718); St. Amarandus (718-720). The union of Moissac with Cluny was begun by Abbot Stephen as early as 1047, and completed in 1063 under Abbot Durand. Four filial abbeys and numerous priories depended on the Abbey of Moissac. Among the commendatory abbots were Louis of Lorraine, Cardinal de Guise (1556-1578); Charles of Lorraine, the Cardinal de Vaudemont (1578-1590). In 1618 Moissac was transformed into a collegiate church which had, among other titulars, Cardinal Mazarin (1644-1661), and Cardinal de Lomenie de Brienne, minister of Louis XVI (1775-1788). On July 25, 1523, fifteen inhabitants of Moissac, after they had made a pilgrimage to Compostella, grouped themselves into a confraternity “a I’honneur de Dieu, de Notre Dame et Monseigneur Saint Jacques”. This confraternity, reorganized in 1615 by letters patent of Louis XIII, existed for many years. As late as 1830 “pilgrims” were still seen in the Moissac processions. In fact Moissac and Spain were long closely united; a monk of Moissac, St. Gerault, was Archbishop of Braga from 1095 to 1109. The general synod of the Reformers held at Montpellier, in May, 1598, decided on the creation of an academy at Montauban; it was opened in 1600, was exclusively Protestant, and gathered students from other countries of Europe. In 1632 the Jesuits established themselves at Montauban, but in 1659 transferred the Academy to Puylaurens. In 1808 a faculty of Protestant theology was created at Montauban and still exists.

The principal pilgrimages of the diocese are: Notre Dame de Livron or de la Deliverance, visited by Blanche of Castille and Louis XIII; Notre Dame de Lorm, at Castelferrus, dating from the fifteenth century; Notre Dame de la Peyrouse, near Lafrancaise. Before the application of the law of 1901 as to associations, the diocese counted Jesuits, Redemptorists, Marianists, and various orders of School Brothers. Among the congregations of women which originated in the diocese we mention: Sisters of Mercy, hospitallers and teachers, founded in 1804 (motherhouse at Moissac); Sisters of the Guardian Angel, hospitallers and teachers, founded in 1839 at Quillan in the Diocese of Carcassonne by Pere Deshayes, Superior of the Daughters of Wisdom, whose motherhouse was transferred to the chateau of La Molle, near Montauban in 1858. At the beginning of the twentieth century the religious congregations had charge of: 1 creche, 24 day nurseries, 10 girls’ orphanages, 1 refuge (oeuvre de rehabilitation), 2 houses for the relief of the poor, 11 hospitals or asylums, 30 houses for the care of the sick in their own homes. In 1908 the Diocese of Montauban counted 188,563 inhabitants, of whom 7000 were Protestants; 31 parishes; 296 succursal parishes; 58 vicariates.


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