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Diocese of Orleans

Comprises the Department of Loiret, suffragan of Paris since 1622, previously of Sens

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Orleans, Diocese of (AURELIANUM), comprises the Department of Loiret, suffragan of Paris since 1622, previously of Sens. After the Revolution it was reestablished by the Concordat of 1802, when it included the Departments of Loiret and Loir et Cher, but in 1822 Loir et Cher was included in the new Diocese of Blois. The present Diocese of Orleans differs considerably from that of the old regime; it has lost the arrondissement of Romorantin which has passed to the Diocese of Blois and the canton of Janville, now in the Diocese of Chartres. It includes the arrondissement of Montargis, formerly subject to Sens, the arrondissement of Gien, once in the Diocese of Auxerre, and the canton de Chatillon sur Loire, once belonging to Bourges. To Gerbert, Abbot of St. Pierre le Vif at Sens (1046-79), is due a detailed narrative according to which Saints Savinianus and Potentianus were sent to Sens by St. Peter with St. Altinus; the latter, it was said, came to Orleans as its first bishop. Before the ninth century there is no historical trace in the Diocese of Sens of this Apostolic mission of St. Altinus, nor in the Diocese of Orleans before the end of the fifteenth. Diclopitus is the first authentic bishop; he figures among the bishops of Gaul who (about 344) ratified the absolution of St. Athanasius. Other bishops of the early period are: St. Euvertius, about 355 to 385, according to M. Cuissard; St. Aignan (Anianus) (385-453), who invoked the aid of the “patrician” Aetius against the invasion of Attila, and forced the Huns to raise the siege of Orleans; St. Prosper (453-63); St. Monitor (about 472); St. Flou (Flosculus), d. in 490; St. Eucherius (717-43), native of Orleans and a monk of Jumieges, who protested against the depredations of Waifre, a companion of Charles Martel, and was exiled to Cologne by this prince, then to Liege, and died at the monastery of St. Trond.

Of the eighth-century bishops, Theodulfus was no-table. It is not known when he began to govern, but it is certain that he was already bishop in 798, when Charlemagne sent him into Narbonne and Provence as missus dominicus. Under Louis le Debonnaire he was accused of aiding the rebellious King of Italy, was deposed and imprisoned four years in a monastery at Angers, but was released when Louis came to Angers in 821. The “Capitularies” which Theodulfus addressed to the clergy of Orleans are considered a most important monument of Catholic tradition on the du-ties of priests and the faithful. His Ritual, his Penitential, his treatise on baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist, his edition of the Bible, a work of fine penmanship preserved in the Puy cathedral, reveal him as one of the foremost men of his time (see P.L., CV, 187). His fame rests chiefly on his devotion to the spread of learning. The Abbey of Ferrieres was then becoming under Alcuin a center of learning. Theodulfus opened the Abbey of Fleury to the young noble-men sent thither by Charlemagne, invited the clergy to establish free schools in the country districts, and quoted for them, “These that are learned shall shine as the brightness of the firmament: and they that instruct many to justice, as stars to all eternity” (Dan., xii, 3). One monument of his time still survives in the diocese, the apse of the church of Germigny modeled after the imperial chapel, and yet retaining its unique mosaic decoration. Other noteworthy bishops are: Jonas (821-43), who wrote a treatise against the Iconoclasts, also a treatise on the Christian life and a book on the duties of kings (for these texts see P.L., CVI, 117); St. Thierry II (1016-21); Blessed Philip Berruyer (1234-6); Blessed Roger le Fort (1321-8); Cardinal Jean de Longueville (1521-33), who received Queen Eleanor, sister of Charles V, in the cathedral of Or-leans, and King Francis I in the church of St. Aignan of Orleans; Cardinal Antoine Sanguin (1534-52), who received Charles V at Orleans in 1539; Bernier (1802-6); Fayer (1843-9), member of the Constituent Assembly of 1848; Dupanloup (1849-78). See Abbey of Fleury and Abbey of Ferrieres.

After his victory over the Alamanni, Clovis was bent on the sack of Verdun, but the archpriest there obtained mercy for his fellow-citizens. To St. Euspicius and his nephew St. Mesmin (Maximinus), Clovis also gave the domain of Micy, near Orleans at the confluence of the Loire and the Loiret, for a monastery (508). When Euspicius died, St. Maximinus became abbot, and during his rule the religious life flourished there notably, and the monastery counted many saints. From Micy monastic life spread. St. Liphardus and St. Urbicius founded the Abbey of Meung-sur-Loire; St. Lye (Lwtus) died a recluse in the forest of Orleans; St. Viatre (Viator) in Sologne; St. Doulchard in the forest of Ambly near Bourges. St. Leonard introduced the monastic life into the territory of Limoges; St. Almir, St. Ulphacius, and St. Bomer in the vicinity of Montmirail; St. Avitus (d. about 527) in the district of Chartres; St. Calais (d. before 536) and St. Leonard of Vendceuvre (d. about 570) in the valley of the Sarthe; St. Fraimbault and St. Constantine in the Javron forest, and the aforesaid St. Bomer (d. about 560) in the Passais near Laval; St. Leonard of Dunois; St. Alva and St. Ernier in Perche; St. Laumer (d. about 590) became Abbot of Corbion. St. Lubin (Leobinus), a monk of Micy, became Bishop of Chartres from 544-56. Finally Ay (Agilus), Viscount of Orleans (d. after 587), a protector of Micy, was also a saint. The monks of Micy contributed much to the civilization of the Orleans region; they cleared and drained the lands and taught the semi-barbarous inhabitants the worth and dignity of agricultural work. Early in the eighth century, Theodulfus restored the Abbey of Micy and at his request St. Benedict of Aniane sent fourteen monks and visited the abbey himself. The last abbot of Micy, Chapt de Rastignac, was one of the victims of the “September Massacres”, at Paris, 1792, in the prison of L’Abbaye.

The schools of Orleans early acquired great prestige; in the sixth century Gontran, King of Burgundy, had his son Gondebaud educated there. After Theodolfus had developed and improved the schools, Charlemagne, and later Hugh Capet, sent thither their eldest sons as pupils. These institutions were at the height of their fame from the eleventh century to the middle of the thirteenth. Their influence spread as far as Italy and England whence students came to them. Among the medieval rhetorical treatises which have come down to us under the title of “Ars” or “Summa Dictaminis” four, at least, were written or reedited by Orleans professors. In 1230, when for a time the doctors of the University of Paris were scattered, a number of the teachers and disciples took refuge in Orleans; when Boniface VIII, in 1298, promulgated the sixth book of the Decretals, he appointed the doctors of Bologna and the doctors of Orleans to comment upon it. St. Yves (1253-1303) studied civil law at Orleans, and Clement V also studied there law and letters; by a Bull published at Lyons, January 27, 1306, he endowed the Orleans institutes with the title and privileges of a University. Twelve of his successors granted the new university many privileges. In the fourteenth century it had as many as five thousand students from France, Germany, Lorraine, Burgundy, Champagne, Picardy, Normandy, Touraine, Guyan, Scotland. Among those who studied or lectured there are quoted: in the fourteenth century, Cardinal Pierre Bertrandi; in the fifteenth, John Reuchlin; in the sixteenth, Calvin and Theodore de Beze, the Protestant Anne Dubourg, the publicist Francois Hotmann, the jurisconsult Pierre de l’Etoile; in the seventeenth, Moliere (perhaps in 1640), and the savant Du Cange; in the eighteenth, the jurisconsult Pothier.

Among the notable saints of the diocese are: St. Baudilus, a Nimes martyr (third or fourth century); the deacon St. Lucanus, martyr, patron of Loigny (fifth century); the anchorite St. Donatus (fifth century); St. May, abbot of Val Benoit (fifth century); St. Mesme, virgin and (perhaps) martyr, sister of St. Mesmin (sixth century); St. Felicule, patroness of Gien (sixth century); St. Sigismund, King of Burgundy, who, by order of the Merovingian, Clodomir, and despite the entreaties of St. Avitus, was thrown (524) into a well with his wife and children; St. Gontran, King of Orleans and Burgundy (561-93), a confessor; St. Loup (Lupus), Archbishop of Sens, born near Orleans, and his mother St. Agia (first half of the seventh century); St. Gregory, former Bishop of Nicopolis, in Bulgaria, who died a recluse at Pithiviers (1004 or 1007); St. Rose, Abbess of Ervauville (d. 1130); Blessed Odo of Orleans, Bishop of Cambrai (1105-13); the leper St. Alpaix, died in 1211 at Cudot where she was visited by Alix of Champagne, widow of Louis VII; St. Guillaume (d. 1209), Abbot of Fontainejean and subsequently Archbishop of Bourges; the Dominicans, Blessed Reginald, dean of the collegiate church of St. Aignan, Orleans (d. 1220); the Englishman St. Richard, who studied theology at Orleans in 1236, Bishop of Chichester in 1244, a friend of St. Edmund of Canterbury; St. Maurus, called to France by St. Innocent, Bishop of Mans, and sent thither by St. Benedict, resided at Orleans with four companions in M2; St, Itadegonde, on her way from Noyon to Poi-tiers in 544, and St. Columbanus, exiled from Luxeuil at the close of the sixth century, both visited Orleans. Charlemagne had the church of St. Aignan rebuilt and reconstructed the monastery of St. Pierre le Puellier. In the cathedral of Orleans on December 31, 987, Hugh Capet had his son Robert (b. at Orleans) crowned king. Innocent II and St. Bernard visited Fleury and Orleans in 1130.

The people of Orleans were so impressed by the preaching of Blessed Robert of Arbrissel in 1113 that he was invited to found the monastery of La Madeleine, which he revisited in 1117 with St. Bernard of Thiron. The charitable deeds of St. Louis at Puiseaux, Chateauneuf-sur-Loire, and Orleans, where he was present at the translation of the relics of St. Aignan (October 26, 1259), and where he frequently went to care for the poor of the Hotel Dieu, are well known. Pierre de Beaufort, Archdeacon of Sully and canon of Orleans, as Gregory XI (1371-8), was the last pope that France gave to the Church; he created Cardinal Jean de la Tour d’Auvergne, Abbot of St. Benoit-sur-Loire. Blessed Jeanne de Valois was Duchess of Or-leans and after her separation from Louis XII (1498) she established, early in the sixteenth century, the monastery of L’Annonciade at Chateauneuf-sur-Loire. Etienne Dolet (1509-46), a printer, philologian, and pamphleteer, executed at Paris and looked upon by some as a “martyr of the Renaissance“, was a native of Orleans. Cardinal Odet de Coligny, who joined the Reformation about 1560, was Abbot of St. Euvertius, of Fontainejean, Ferrieres, and St. Benoit. Admiral Coligny (1519-72) (see Saint Bartholomew’s Day) was born at Chatillon-sur-Loing in the present diocese. At the beginning of the religious wars Orleans was disputed between the Guises and the followers of the Protestant Conde. In the vicinity of Orleans Duke Francis of Guise was assassinated February 3, 1562.

The Calvinist, Jacques Bongars, councillor of Henry IV, who collected and edited the chronicles of the Crusades in his “Gesta Dei per Francos“, was born at Or-leans in 1554. The Jesuit, Denis Petav (Petavius), a renowned scholar and theologian, was born at Orleans in 1583. St. Francis of Sales came to Orleans in 1618 and 1619. Venerable Mother Francoise de la Croix (1591-1657), a pupil of St. Vincent de Paul, who founded the congregation of Augustinian Sisters of Charity of Notre Dame, was born at Petay in the diocese. The Miramion family, to which Marie Bonneau is celebrated in the annals of charity under the name of Mme de Miramion (1629-96), belonged by marriage, were from Orleans. St. Jane de Chantal was superior of the Orleans convent of the Visitation in 1627. Mme Guyon, celebrated in the annals of Quietism (q.v.), was born at Montargis in 1648. France was saved from English domination through the deliverance of Orleans by Joan of Arc (May 8, 1429). On July 21, 1455, her rehabilitation was publicly proclaimed at Orleans in a solemn procession, and before her death in November, 1458, Isabel Romee, the mother of Joan of Arc, saw a monument erected in honor of her daughter, at Tournelles, near the Orleans bridge. The monument, destroyed by the Huguenots in 1567, was set up again in 1569 when the Catholics were once more masters of the city. Until 1792, and again from 1802 to 1830, finally from 1842 to the present day, a great religious feast, celebrated May 8 of every year at Orleans in honor of Joan of Arc, attracted multitudes (see Blessed Joan of Arc). The Church of Orleans was the last in France to take up again the Roman liturgy (1874). The Sainte Croix cathedral, perhaps built and consecrated by St. Euvertius in the fourth century, was destroyed by fire in 999 and rebuilt from 1278 to 1329; the Protestants pillaged and destroyed it from 1562 to 1567; the Bourbon kings restored it in the seventeenth century.

The principal pilgrimages of the diocese are: Our Lady of Bethlehem, at Abbey of Ferrieres (q.v.); Our Lady of Miracles at Orleans, dating back to the seventh century (Joan of Arc visited its sanctuary May 8, 1429); Our Lady of Clery, dating from the thirteenth century, visited by Philip the Fair, Philip VI, and especially by Louis XI, who wore in his hat a leaden image of Notre Dame de Clery and who wished to have his tomb in this sanctuary where Dunois, one of the heroes of the Hundred Years’ war was also interred. Prior to the Associations Law of 1901 the Diocese of Orleans counted Franciscans, Benedictines, Missionary Priests of the Society of Mary, Lazarists, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, and several orders of teaching Brothers. Among the congregations of women which originated in this diocese must be mentioned: the Calvary Benedictines, a teaching and nursing order founded in 1617 by Princess, Antoinette d’Orleans-Longueville, and the Capuchin Leclerc du Tremblay known as Pere Joseph; the Sisters of St. Aignan, a teaching order founded in 1853 by Bishop Dupanloup, with motherhouse in Orleans. At the beginning of the twentieth century the religious congregations of this diocese conducted: 1 creche; 77 infant schools; 2 institutions for the deaf and dumb; 10 orphanages; 2 houses for penitent women, 12 religious houses for the care of the sick in their own homes; 2 houses of retreat; 27 hospitals or asylums; 1 poor house. In 1905 (last year of the Concordat) the diocese had 371,019 inhabitants; 41 pastorates; 293 succursal parishes; 23 vicariates subventioned by the State.


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