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Diocese of Versailles

Includes the Department of Seine-et-Oise, France

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Versailles, Diocese of (VERSALIENSIS), includes the Department of Seine-et-Oise, France. Created in 1790 by the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, this diocese was maintained by the Concordat of 1802; it included also the Department of Eure-et-Loir, detached from it in 1822 by the restoration of the Diocese of Chartres. It was made up of considerable parts of the ancient Dioceses of Paris, Chartres, Rouen, Sens, and some cantons belonging formerly to the Dioceses of Beauvais, Senlis, and Evreux. At the beginning of the seventeenth century Versailles was a mere village, whose seigneur was Antoine de Lomenie. Louis XIII bought it in 1632, and had a small chateau built there. The present chateau was begun under Louis XIV by Mansart (1661), the gar-dens were designed by Lenotre; the interior decorations were entrusted to Lebrun. Louis XIV lived there in 1672 and constantly from 1682. The residence was finished in 1684, and a town soon grew up. The French monarchs resided at Versailles for more than a century; here was signed (September 3, 1783) the treaty between France and England, acknowledging the independence of the United States; here took place (May 1, 1789) the opening of the States-General, and it was here too, in the hall of the Jeu de Paume, that the delegates of the Third Estate, and some members of the other two estates (nobility and clergy), constituted themselves a National Assembly. It was from Versailles that the Parisian populace took Louis XVI and his family (October 6, 1789), and brought them back to Paris. The Grand Trianon was built under Louis XIV by Mansart; the Petit Trianon was given by Louis XVI to Marie Antoinette. The chapel of the chateau was built 1699-1710; the Theophilanthropists worshipped there during 1794-95. “This chapel”, Perate says, “is, in the whole and its details, one of the most perfect monuments that Louis XIV ever built.”

Saint-Cyr, near Versailles, is famous for the educational institute that Madame de Maintenon founded there for young girls. The city of St-Cloud, whose chateau dates from Louis XIV, owes its origin to the Monastery of Novigentum, founded by St. Clodoald or Cloud, son of King Clodomir (d. about 560). At St-Cloud, Jacques Clement attempted the life of Henry III. There also Bonaparte executed against the “Assembly of the Five Hundred” the coup d’etat of 18 Brumaire. Nearby is Meudon, once the parish of Rabelais. The town of St-Germain-en-Laye, whose present chateau dates from Louis XIV, owes its origin to a convent founded during the eleventh century by King Robert; Louis XIII died there. Louis XIV was born there, and James II of England died there. The Benedictine Abbey of Morigny, near Etampes, was founded about 1102 by a nobleman called Anseau. He established in it monks from St-Germer de Flaix, a monastery in the Diocese of Beauvais. At the beginning of the eleventh century the abbey and revenues of St-Martin d’Etampes, said to have been founded by Clovis, were given to the monks of Morigny by Philip I. On October 3, 1120, Calixtus II consecrated the church of Morigny. In January, 1131, Innocent II consecrated an altar to St. Lawrence there; Abelard and St. Bernard were present at this ceremony. The Abbey of Morigny was United in 1629 to the Congregation of St-Maur, and has ceased to exist since the French Revolution. In 1091, 1099, 1130 councils took place at Etampes (in the latter of which, on the. advice of St. Bernard, the bishops sided with Innocent II, against the antipope Anacletus); also in 1147. At Poissy, St. Louis was baptized. The Dominican priory, founded at Poissy in 1304, was celebrated.

The “Colloquy of Poissy” took place (1561) between Catholic theologians under the Cardinal of Lorraine, and Montluc, Bishop of Valence, and Calvinist theologians under Theodore Beza. It opened on September 9, in the refectory of the abbey, before Charles IX and Catharine de’Medici. A second sitting took place September 16, and was followed by two conferences between the theologians of both sides. The colloquy had no result. The town of Isle-Adam, in the Diocese of Versailles, belonged, since the twelfth century, to the family of the Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, whose most famous member was Philippe de l’Isle-Adam (1464-1534), Grand Master of the Order of Jerusalem, who in 1522 held Rhodes for six months against 200,000 Turks. The monastery of Port-Royal was situated in the commune of St-Lambert, at the hamlet of Vaumurier. Among the natives of the present territory of the Diocese of Versailles may be mentioned: Duplessis-Mornay (1549-1623), surnamed the “pope of the Huguenots“, author of a treatise on “The Institution of the Eucharist“, and who was defeated by the Catholic theologians at the Conference of Fontainebleau (1600); Pierre du Moulin (1568-1658), a Calvinist theologian, who composed for James I of England several apologetic writings, and taught theology at Sedan; Abbe de l’Epee (1712-89), inventor of a method for teaching the deaf and dumb; Abbe Guenee (1717-1803), born at Etampes, author (1769) of the well-known “Lettres de plusieurs Juifs Portugais etc., a M. de Voltaire”; Marquise de La Rochejacquelein (1772-1857), author of memoirs concerning the War of La Vendee.

The chief pilgrimages of the diocese are: Notre-Dame de Bonne Garde, at Longpoint (ninth century); St. Bernard, Philip the Fair, and St. Jeanne de Valois visited this sanctuary; Notre-Dame de Pontoise (1226) to which St. Louis, Charles V, and Louis XIV were very generous; Notre-Dame des Anges, at Clichy l’Aunois (1212); the pilgrimage of the Holy Tunic of Christ that Charlemagne, who had received it from the Empress Irene, gave (August, 800) to his daughter Theodrade, Abbess of Argenteuil, and that was transferred (1804) from the priory, destroyed during the Revolution, to the parish church of Argenteuil. There were in the Diocese of Versailles before the Law of Associations (1901): Assumptionists; Capuchins; Cistercians of the Immaculate Conception; Jesuits; Missionaries of Notre-Dame of Africa; Resurrectionists; Salesians of Don Bosco; and several orders of teaching brothers. Several orders of women arose in this diocese: the Hospitaller Augustines of Etampes, founded in 1515; the Maid-Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (hospitals and teaching), founded in 1866 with mother house at Versailles; the Sisters of the Holy Childhood, with mother house at Versailles.—Religious congregations conducted in the diocese at the end of the nineteenth century: 7 infant asylums; 121 infant schools; 5 special homes for sick children; 2 mixed orphan asylums; 12 orphan asylums for boys; 54 orphan asylums for girls; 3 apprenticeship houses; 3 refuges and asylums for imperiled girls; a work-house for beggars; 29 houses of nuns for taking care of sick persons at home; 44 hospitals; 1 hospital for incurables. The Diocese of Versailles had (1905) 707,325 inhabitants, 64 first class parishes, 520 second class parishes, 38 curacies, recognized by the Concordat.

GEORGES GOYAU


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