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Diocese of Nancy

Comprises the Departments of Meurthe and Moselle, France, suffragan of Besancon

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Nancy, Diocese of (Nanceiensis Et Tiillensis), comprises the Departments of Meurthe and Moselle, France, suffragan of Besancon. The See of Nancy is the heir, so to speak, of the celebrated See of Toul.

St. Mansuetus, Apostle of the Leuci and first Bishop of Toul, and according to some a disciple of St. Peter, cannot have been anterior to the fourth century. The dates of his saintly successors, Amondus, Alchas, and Celsinus, cannot be determined. Among the bishops of Tout should be mentioned: St. Auspicius (about 470); St. Ursus (Ours), from whom Clovis in 496 requested an ecclesiastic to instruct him in the teachings of Christianity; St. Epvre (Aper) (500-505), brother of St. Evronie (Apronia); St. Alband (about 508), established a community of ecclesiastics from which originated the Abbey of St. Epvre; St. Leudinus Bodo (second half of the seventh century), founder of the monastery of Bon Moustiers and brother of St. Salaberge, foundress and first abbess of the monastery of Laon; St. Jacob (756-65); St. Gauzelin (922-62), who reformed the monastery of St. Epvre and founded that of Notre-Dame de Bouxieres; St. Gerard (963-94); Bruno of Dagsbourg (1026-51), eventually St. Leo IX; Guillaume Fillatre (1449-60); Cardinal John of Lorraine (1517-43), who held twelve sees and six large abbeys; Charles of Lorraine, cardinal of Vaudemont (1580-87); Cardinal Nicholas Francois of Lorraine (1625-34); Andre du Saussay (1649-75), author of “Martyrologium Gallicanum”.

The title of count and the rights of sovereignty of the medieval Bishops of Toul originated in certain grants which Henry the Fowler gave St. Gauzelin in 927. The See of Toul was disturbed by the Conflict of Investitures in 1108. The chapter was divided; the majority elected Riquin of Commercy bishop; the minority chose Conrad of Schwarzenburg. Henry V declared for the latter; Pascal II for the former, but nevertheless he granted Conrad the title of bishop, provided he performed no episcopal office. In 1271 grave differences broke out again in the chapter of Toul; after seven years’ vacancy the Holy See rescinded the four elections made by the chapter, and in 1278 Nicholas III personally appointed as bishop Conrad of Tubingen. Thenceforth it was generally the Holy See which appointed the bishops, alleging various reasons as the vacancies arose, hence the many Italian prelates who held this important see until 1552, when Toul was occupied by France. In 1597 Charles III, Duke of Lorraine, impatient of his dependence on a diocese henceforth French, asked Clement VIII for the dismemberment of the See of Toul and the creation of a see at Nancy; this failed through the opposition of Arnaud d’Ossat, Henry’s ambassador at Rome. Clement VIII, however, decided that Nancy was to have a primatial church and that its prelate would have the title of primate of Lorraine and wear episcopal insignia, but should not exercise episcopal jurisdiction.

In 1777 and 1778 Toul lost territories out of which were formed two new dioceses: Saint Die and Nancy, both of them suffragans of Trier. The Concordat of 1802, which suppressed Toul, made Nancy the seat of a vast diocese which included the three Departments of Meurthe, Meuse, and Vosges; the latter two were detached from Nancy in 1822 on the reestablishment of the Dioceses of Verdun and Saint Die. When France lost Alsace Lorraine in 1871, Nancy lost the arrondissements of Sarrebourg and Chateau Salins which, having become German, were united with the Diocese of Metz. Nancy however annexed the arrondissement of Briey which remained French, and was detached from the Diocese of Metz (consistorial decrees of 10 and July 14, 1874). Since 1824 the bishops of Nancy have borne the title of Bishops of Nancy and Toul, as the ancient Diocese of Toul is almost entirely united with Nancy. It has had some illustrious bishops: Forbin-Janson (1824-44); Darboy (1859-63); the future Cardinal Lavigerie (1863-67); and the future Cardinal Foulon (1807-82). Since 1165, whenever the Bishop of Toul officiated pontifically, he wore an ornament called surhumeral, or rationale, a sort of pallium covered with precious stones, which decoration he alone of all the bishops of the Latin Church wore. A brief of March 16, 1865, restored this privilege to the bishops of Nancy and Toul. Concerning the insinuations of the Old Catholics in 1870 àpropos of this Brief, see Granderath, “Geschichte des Vatikanischen Konzils”, II, 589, and III, 748. St. Sigisbert, III (630-54), King of Austrasia, and founder of twelve monasteries, is patron of the City of Nancy. On December 5, 1572, Gregory XIII signed the Bull for the erection of a university at Pont-à-Mousson; the faculties of theology and arts were entrusted to the Jesuits; the learned Father Sirmond made his profession there, and in 1581 Queen Mary Stuart established a seminary for twenty-four Scotsmen and Irishmen. St. Peter Fourier was a pupil of this seminary. Cardinal Mathieu (d. 1908) was for many years parish priest of Pont-à-Mousson. The congregation of Our Lady of Refuge was founded at Nancy for penitent women in 1627, by Elizabeth of Ranfaing, known as Sister Mary Elizabeth of the Cross of Jesus. This congregation had numerous houses throughout France. Mattaincourt, the parish of St. Peter Fourier, belonged to Toul when the saint established his important foundations in the seventeenth century. The chief pilgrimage centers are: Notre-Dame de Bon Secours, at Nancy, dating from the fifteenth century, and for which King Stanislaus built (1738-41) a large sanctuary on the site of the humble chapel erected by King Rene; Notre-Dame de Sion, at Saxe-Sion, dating from the episcopate of St. Gerard, and whose Madonna, broken during the Revolution, was replaced in 1802 by another (miraculous) statue of the Blessed Virgin; and St-Nicolas du Port, in honor of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, patron saint of Lorraine. Prior to the enforcement of the Associations Law of 1901, there were in the diocese, Carthusians, Jesuits, Dominicans, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Redemptorists, and several orders of teaching brothers, one of which, the Brothers of the Christian Doctrine (founded in 1822 by Dom Fréchard, former Benedictine of Senones Abbey), had its motherhouse at Nancy. Orders of women: the Canonesses Regular of St. Augustine of the Congregation of Notre Dame, a teaching order founded at Vezelise in 1629, and transferred to Lunéville in 1850; Sisters of St. Charles, a nursing and teaching order, the foundation of which in 1651 was due to the zeal of two laymen, Joseph and Emmanuel Chauvenal; Sisters of the Christian Doctrine, called Vatelottes, a nursing and teaching order founded about 1718 by the Duke of Lorraine and Father Jean-Baptiste Vatelot; Sisters of the Holy Childhood of Mary, a nursing and teaching order which Canon Claude Daunot took thirty-five years to establish (1820-55); Sisters of the Holy Heart of Mary, a teaching order founded in 1842 by Bishop Manjaud and Countess Clara de Gondrecourt; Daughters of Compassion, a nursing order of Servite tertiaries, established in 1854 by Abbé Thiriet at St-Firmin. The religious congregations of the diocese conduct 6 crèches, 57 day-nurseries, 2 institutions for sick children, 1 school for the blind, 1 school for deaf-mutes, 3 boys’ orphanages, 23 girls’ orphanages, 12 sewing rooms (industrial), 3 schools for apprentices, 32 hospitals or asylums, 17 houses for visiting nurses, 16 houses of retreat, 1 insane asylum. In 1909, the Diocese of Nancy had 517,508 inhabitants, 29 deaneries, 482 succursal parishes, and 91 vicariates.


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