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Diocese of Saint-Flour

Comprises the Department of Cantal, and is suffragan of the Archbishopric of Bourges

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Saint-Flour, Diocese of (FLOROPOLIS), Comprises the Department of Cantal, and is suffragan of the Archbishopric of Bourges. reestablished by the Concordat of 1802, by which the Department of Haute-Loire was brought into this diocese, this department was detached from it in 1823 by the reestablishment of the See of Le Puy. The traditions relative to St. Florus (Flour), who is said to have been the first Bishop of Lodeve and to have died at Indiciat (later Saint-Flour) while evangelizing Haute-Auvergne, have been the subject of numerous discussions. In two documents concerning the foundation of the second monastery of St-Flour, drawn up in 1013 and 1031, and in a letter written to Urban IV in 1261 by Pierre de Saint-Haon, prior of Saint-Flour, St. Flour is already considered as belonging to the Apostolic times, and the “Speculum sanctorale” of Bernard Gui in 1329 relates at length the legend of this “disciple of Christ”. M. Marcellin Boudet believes it more likely that St. Flour lived in the fifth century, and that it was he who attended the Council of Arles in 450 or 451.

At the close of the tenth century there was already a monastery at Indiciat. A local seigneur, Astorg de Brezons, surnamed “the Red Bull”, gave this monastery to Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, and the donation was confirmed by Gregory V (996-99). Amblard de Brezons, his nephew, surnamed “le Mal Hiverné”, seized the monastery and destroyed all of it except the church. Amblard and Astorg, from 1010 to 1013, gave this church and its fief to St. Peter’s at Rome, together with the monastery of Sauxillages, governed by Odilo; but later Amblard considered this donation as void, and constructed a fortress, a remnant of which is now the sacristy of the cathedral, upon the site of the old monastery; afterwards Amblard, seized with remorse at Rome, between 1025 and 1031 gave back to Odilo all he possessed, and a large monastery was again founded. Urban II, after the Council of Clermont (1095), consecrated the church of this new monastery. The church collapsed in 1396, and no remains of it exist. Pope Callistus II passed some time there. In August, 1317, John XXII detached Haute-Auvergne from the See of Clermont and raised St-Flour to the rank of a bishopric, the first ordinary of which was his chaplain Raymond de Montuejols. Among his successors were: Pierre d’Estaing (1361-67), afterwards Archbishop of Bourges and cardinal in 1370; Louis-Siffrein-Joseph de Salamon (1820-29), former counseiller-clerc to the Parliament of Paris, who during the Revolution had secretly acted in France as the pope’s agent, a role concerning which he has left very important memoirs.

The Abbey of Aurillac was celebrated: it was founded by St. Geraud, Count of Aurillac, who in 898 brought thither monks from Vabres; it soon became well known, according to John of Salisbury, as a center of literary and scientific studies: Gerbert (later Sylvester II), and Guillaume d’Auvergne, friend and confidant of Saint Louis, studied there. St. Odo, Abbot of Cluny, from 926 to 943, was at first a monk at Saint-Pierre de Mauriac, and, according to some, Abbot of Aurillac. St. Peter Chavanon, founder in 1062 of the monastery of Pebrac, in the Diocese of Le Puy, was for some time superior of the Abbey of Chazes, near Vic. The tragic poet, de Belloy (1727-95), author of the celebrated tragedy on the Siege of Calais, was born at Saint-Flour. Louis-Antoine de Noailles (1651-1729), Archbishop of Paris, was born at Laroquebrou in the diocese. Abbé Jean Chappe d’Auteroche (1722-69), astronomer, who in 1769 went to California to observe the transit of Venus and died there of a contagious disease, was a native of Mauriac. Abbé de Pradt (1759-1837) was born at Allanche. The Diocese of Saint-Flour is remarkable among the French dioceses for the great number of its sanctuaries and pilgrimages dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. There are sixty-five, of which the following are the more important: Notre-Dame de Claviers, at Moussages, the statue of which is the most ancient in the diocese; Notre-Dame des Miracles, at Mauriac, sixth century; Notre-Dame de Frodieres, at Saint-Flour, eleventh century; Notre-Dame de Laurie, at Laurie, an eleventh-century sanctuary; Notre-Dame de Bon Secours at Marmanhac; Notre-Dame de Quezac, which is visited annually by between 20,000 and 30,000 pilgrims; Notre-Dame de Vau Claire, at Molompise—these three dating back to the twelfth century; Notre-Dame de Valentines at Segur, belonging to the thirteenth century; Notre-Dame de Turlande at Paulhenc, Notre-Dame de Villedieu, both dating back to the fourteenth century; Notre-Dame de Pitie at Chaudesaigues; Notre-Dame de Puy Rachat, at Nieudan; Notre-Dame des Oliviers, at Murat, all three dating back to the fifteenth century; Notre-Dame d’Aubespeyre, at Aubespeyre; Notre-Dame de la Font Sainte, at St. Hippolyte, visited annually by between 10,000 and 12,000 pilgrims; Notre-Dame de Pailherols; Notre Dame aux Neiges, at Aurillac, all four dating back to the sixteenth century; Notre-Dame de Guerison, at Enchanet; Notre-Dame de Lescure, both dating back to the eighteenth century.

The “Revue catholique des eglises” published in 1905 an interesting monograph of the diocese; it shows that 50 per cent of the men go to Mass each Sunday, 25 per cent go every second Sunday, and 70 per cent fulfil their Easter duty. An interesting work is the “Euvre des bergers”, which assembles several hundred shepherds from the neighboring regions each year at Pailherols and La Font Sainte for a day’s religious exercises, the only one which they can have during the five months that they pass alone in the mountains. Before the application of the law of 1901 on the associations, there were in the Diocese of Saint-Flour Lazarists and various teaching orders of brothers. Some congregations of nuns have their motherhouses in the diocese, in particular: the Soeurs de Saint Joseph, with their motherhouse at Saint-Flour; the Petites Soeurs des Malades, with their motherhouse at Mauriac; the Soeurs de l’Enfant Jesus, dites de l’instruction; and the Soeurs de la Sainte Famille, with their motherhouse at Aurillac. At the close of the nineteenth century the religious congregations directed in the diocese, 1 crèche, 12 refuge halls, 1 school for the deaf and dumb, 1 boys’ orphanage, 6 girls’ orphanages, 1 home for honest poor girls, 1 hospice for incurables, 1 asylum for the insane, 1 dispensary, 1 house of retreat, 1 house of nuns devoted to nursing the sick in their own homes, 13 hospitals or hospices. At the time of the destruction of the concordat (1905) the Diocese of Saint-Flour contained 230,511 inhabitants, 24 parishes, 288 succursal churches, and 190 vicariates towards the support of which the State contributed.

GEORGES GOYAU


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