NEVERS, Diocese of (NIVERNUM), includes the Department of Nièvre, in France. Suppressed by the Concordat of 1801 and united to the See of Autun, it was reestablished in 1823 as suffragan of Sens and took over a part of the former Diocese of Autun and a part of the former Diocese of Auxerre (see Archdiocese of Sens). The “Gallia Christiana” mentions as first Bishop of Nevers St. Eladius, restored to health in the reign of Clovis by St. Severinus, Abbot of St. Maurice. According to Duchesne the first authentic bishop is Tauricanus, present at the Council of Epaon in 517. A number of former bishops of Nevers are venerated as saints: St. Arey (Arigius) 549-52); St. Agricola (580-94); St. Jerome (800-16) who rebuilt in honor of the martyrs Quiricus and Julitta, the cathedral until then dedicated to Sts. Gervasius and Protasius. It is possible that in the seventh century three other saints occupied the See of Nevers: St. Diè (Deodatus), the same perhaps who died a hermit in the Vosges; St. Nectarius and St. Itier (Itherius). The following bishops of Nevers were notable: the future cardinal Pierre I Bertrandi (1320-22) who, in 1329-30, defended ecclesiastical immunities against barons in the clebrated conferences of Paris and Vincennes presided over Philip VI; Charles de Bourbon (1540-47) subsequently cardinal and whom the leagures wished to make King of France under the name of Charles X; Spifame (1548-58) who became a Calvinist in 1559, and was afterwards accused of forgery and beheaded at Geneva in 1556; the polemist Sorbin de Ste Foi (1578-1606) a voluminous writer. Among the saints of this diocese must be mentioned: Sts. Paul, priest; Péreux and Pélerin, martyrs between 272 and 303; St. Paroze (patritius), Abbot of Nevers in the sixth century; the hermit St. Franchy (Francovaecus); the priest St. Vincent of Magny in the ninth century; Blessed Nicholas Applaine, canon of the collegiate church of Prémery (fifteenth century) whose cassock Louis XI claimed as a relic. Claude Fauchet, constitutional Bishop of Calvados during the Revolution, was a native of the diocese.
In 1168, William IV, Count of Nevers, willed to the Bishop of Bethlehem in Palestine the small town of Pantenor near Clamecy, also the hospital at Clamecy founded by his father William III in 1147. In 1223, owing to the incursions of the Mussulmans in Palestine, the Bishop of Bethlehem settled at Clamecy, and exercised jurisdiction over the hospital and the faubourg of Pantenor; his successors were chosen by the counts, later by the dukes of Nevers, with the approval of the pope and the king. In 1413 Charles VI tried to obtain for the titular bishops of Bethlehem the privileges enjoyed by the other bishops of the realm, but the French clergy were opposed to this and the titular of Bethlehem was always considered a bishop in partibus infidelium. The assembly of the clergy of France in 1635 granted the bishops of Bethlehem an annual pension. Christopher d’Authier of Sisgau, founder of the Missionary Priests of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and celebrated for his sermons to the galley-slaves of Marseilles was Bishop of Bethlehem 1651-63. The Abbey of La Charité sur Loire, founded in 1056, and known as the “eldest daughter” of Cluny, was inaugurated in 1106 by Pascal II; the celebrated Suger, then a simple cleric, has left an account of the ceremony. The Benedictine Abbey of Corbigny, founded under Charlemagne was occupied by the Huguenots in 1563, as a basis of operations. Bernadette Soubirous (see Notre-Dame de Lourdes) died in the Visitandine Convent of Nevers, December 12, 1878. The chief places of pilgrimage in the diocese are: Notre Dame de Pitié at St. Martin d’Heuille, dating from the fourteenth century; Notre Dame de Fauboulvin at Corancy, dating from 1590; Notre Dame du Morvan at Dun-sur-Grand Ry, dating from 1876. Prior to the enforcement of the law of 1901, the Diocese of Nevers counted Marists, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Oratorians, and several orders of teaching brothers. Among the congregations for women which originated in the diocese must be mentioned: the Ursuline nuns, a teaching order founded in 1622 at Nevers by the Duke of Gonzaga and the Nevers aldermen; the Hospitallers, founded in 1639 at La Charité-sur-Loire by Sister Médard-Varlet; the great congregation of Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction, founded in 1680, with motherhouse at Nevers. At the beginning of the twentieth century the religious congregations of the diocese had charge of 22 day nurseries, 5 orphanages for girls, 2 sewing rooms, 18 hospitals or asylums, 1 house of retreat, 1 home for incurables, 1 insane asylum, 2 religious houses for the care of the sick in their own homes. In 1908 the Diocese of Nevers had 313,972 inhabitants, 95 parishes, and 272 succursal parishes.