Bishop of Orleans, France, b. June 2, 1802; d. October 11, 1878
Dupanloup, FÉLIX-ANTOINE-PHILIBERT, Bishop of Orléans, France, b. at Saint-Félix, Savoie, June 2, 1802; d. at Lacombe, Isère, October 11, 1878. His mother, Anne Dechosal, to whom he ever remained tenderly devoted, gave him his early education. The better to screen his future from the disgrace of his illegitimate birth, she took him when only seven years old to Paris where, by dint of work and privations, she succeeded in keeping him for some time at the College Sainte-Barbe. After various attempts in other directions, Félix chose the ecclesiastical career, studying grammar at the Petite Communauté, humanities at the preparatory seminary of Saint-Nicolas du Chardonnet, philosophy at Issy, and theology at Saint-Sulpice. Ordained priest December 18, 1825, he went as curate to the Madeleine where he founded the famous Catéchismes de l’Assomption and the Académie de St-Hyacinthe, being entrusted meanwhile with the religious education of the Due de Bordeaux and of the Princes d’Orléans. The novelty and success of his catechizing methods drew upon him the ill will of his pastor. Transferred to Saint-Roth (1834), he soon won a reputation as pulpit orator and director. As superior of the preparatory seminary of Saint-Nicolas (1837-45), he so completely transformed the institution that admission into it was eagerly sought by members of the best families of France. “During those few years”, says Renan, himself a pupil of Saint-Nicolas (Souvenirs d’enfance et de jeunesse), “the old house of the rue St-Victor became the school in France which sheltered the greatest number of historical or well-known names.” At Saint-Nicolas Dupanloup was truly the ideal educator later described in his famous book: “La haute éducation intellectuelle”. Absorbed as he was in his professional work, he did not completely give up the direction of souls. Through one of his penitents, Pauline de Périgord, he brought about the conversion of Talleyrand (1838). A course in sacred eloquence which he had brilliantly inaugurated at the Sorbonne was discontinued after the eleventh lecture, owing to the excitement occasioned by the lecturer’s severe criticism of Voltaire and Villemain’s unwillingness to enforce order. In 1844, in connection with the Villemain educational bill, which was scarcely more satisfactory to the Catholics than its numerous predecessors, Dupanloup inaugurated with Montalembert and Ravignan that long struggle for liberty of education which resulted in the loi Falloux. It was at his suggestion that Ravignan wrote “De l’existence et de l’institut des Jésuites”, in order to put down the still active bugbear of the hommes noirs called up by Bérenger. He also actively supported Montalembert in the formation of the Committee for the Defense of Religious Liberty, and when later Thiers spoke in favor of another unacceptable educational bill, Dupanloup wrote in reply “Des associations religieuses”, a pamphlet which became later the book “De la pacification religieuse”. A difference of views with Archbishop Affre, in connection with the above-mentioned polemics and the direction of Saint-Nicolas, ended in Dupanloup’s transfer from the seminary to a canonicate at Notre-Dame, 1845.
The four years of his canonicate were by no means years of leisure. In spite of his increasing activity in confessional and pulpit, he found time for public interests. The elections of 1846 sent to the French Parliament some 150 deputies friendly to liberty of education, and for these Dupanloup wrote “L’etat de laquestion”, a moderate but clear assertion of Catholic claims. As the Salvandy project of 1847 fell short of these claims, he again published a series of pamphlets, “Du nouveau prod et de loi”, “Des petits-séminaires”, among others; and the better to control public opinion, he undertook the work of a Catholic daily paper, finally purchasing “L’ ami de la religion”. In 1848 when Falloux, yielding to Dupanloup’s persuasion, accepted a portfolio under President Louis Napoleon, he appointed a commission to draft an educational bill, and made Dupanloup a member. Dupanloup’s courtesy and undeniable competence won over to the Catholic view such men as Thiers and Cousin, thus insuring the enactment of 1850. “He made me minister against my will”, said Falloux speaking of Dupanloup; “I have made him bishop against his will.” Appointed to the See of Orleans, he took possession of it December 11, 1849, and during the twenty-eight years of his episcopate showed incredible activity. His administration, minutely described by Cochard, touched on every vital interest of the diocese: the holding of synods, parish visitations, organization of catchismes and petitsséminaires along the lines adopted in Paris, development of charitable works, encouragement of ecclesiastical studies among priests, completion of the cathedral of Ste-Croix, introduction of the Roman Liturgy, etc. Still his energy was not exhausted. Wherever the interests of religion were at stake, he gave them vigorous support. In the question of the classics he stood for the broader view and entered upon a lively discussion with Louis Veuillot. Profiting by his membership in the French Academy, to which he had been elected May 8, 1854, Dupanloup prevented the award of the prix Bodin to Taine’s “History of English Literature” and opposed the admission of Littré into that body. The reorganization of “Le Correspondant”, with Falloux, Foisset, Cochin, and de Broglie at its head, was also largely his work. The Pucelle d’Orléans (Jeanne d’Arc) found in him an ardent champion; twice he pronounced her panegyric at Orléans, and it was he who introduced in Rome the cause of her beatification and raised the first funds towards a new monument in her honor.
Dupanloup was always held in high esteem by the Irish people. In 1862, on the occasion of one of the periodical Irish famines, he preached a charity sermon in the Church of St-Roth at Paris, which netted the sum of thirty thousand francs. The grateful Irish returned this with interest during the Franco-Prussian war when they remitted to the eloquent Bishop of Orléans the sum of two hundred thousand francs in response to his appeal for the needs of France. On the occasion of the centenary (1875) of Daniel O’Connell, whom he had always admired and often praised publicly, Dupanloup was formally invited by the centenary authorities to take part in the celebration. Though too ill at the time to accept the honorable invitation, he wrote in reply two letters, memorable for their eloquence, to the Lord-Mayor of Dublin and to Cardinal McCabe, and which were printed in “Le Monde”, 9 and August 10, 1875 (Lagrange, Vie de Dupanloup, Paris, 1894, II, 347-48; III, 317). His “Letter on Slavery“, written on the occasion of the Civil War in the United States, is another evidence of Dupanloup’s broad sympathy, and helps to account for his popularity in English-speaking countries.
Dupanloup’s main efforts, however, were directed towards the defense of the Holy See, menaced in its independence by the ambition of the House of Savoy and the ill-disguised connivance of Napoleon III. Salomon says (Msgr. Dupanloup, p. 58): “For eight years, he did not lay down his arms. From Villafranca to Mentana, he never took off his breast-plate.” During this phase of his life, besides endeavoring to enlist pontifical zouaves and to increase the Peter’s-pence, he wrote the “Protestation” against the impending spoliation of the pope; the “Lettre à un catholique sur la brochure `Le Pape et le congrès'”; “La souveraineté pontificale”, in which he cited a declaration made by Cousin in favor of the temporal power of the pope; two other pamphlets, one against the Convention of September 15, 1864, and the other in defense of the Encyclical of December 8 and of the Syllabus; several letters to Ratazzi, Minghetti, etc. The Vatican Council and the Franco-Prussian War exhibit Dupanloup in two very different lights. At the council he was the leader of that minority which for political reasons stood, if not against the papal infallibility itself, at least against the opportuneness of its definition. The papal Bull of indiction, in which no mention was made of infallibility, he welcomed with joy and transmitted to his flock in a dignified pastoral letter; but when the Catholic sentiment, voiced by such organs as the “Civiltà Cattolica” and the “Univers”, began to petition for the definition, he appended to his pastoral letter certain observations which, by making known in advance the position he intended to take, involved him in a petty controversy with Louis Veuillot. Once in Rome he never swerved from his position but used all the resources of his fiery nature to win others over to his views. It was he who, on the eve of the final vote, advised the minority to vote neither placet nor non-placet, but to abstain and withdraw. That he appealed to the secular arm and threatened the council with diplomatic intervention has been both asserted and denied. This much is vouched for by Ollivier, then minister of Napoleon III: “No bishop of the minority, Dupanloup or other, ever demanded the evacuation of the pontifical territory” (Le Correspondant, December 10, 1892). In justice to him it should be added that, once the dogma was defined, he was neither slow to acquiesce in what he called “the victory of truth and of God” nor half-hearted in declaring his adherence. During the Franco-Prussian War Dupanloup showed himself a worthy successor of Saint-Aignan and like him won the title of defensor civitatis. His prestige enabled him to have the severe conditions imposed by the victors on the city of Orléans either withdrawn or mitigated. In gratitude his people sent him to the National Assembly. As a member he took an effective part in securing the passage of the law which restored the military chaplains (1874) and of that which authorized the Catholic institutes (1875). He was made Senator in 1875, and one of his last public acts was to deter the French Government from officially taking notice of the centenary of Voltaire (1878). A malady which had long undermined his health resulted in his death while at the chaeteau de Lacombe. His remains were laid to rest in the cathedral of Orléans and his heart conveyed to Saint-Felix, his native place. As a clause of his last will forbade any funeral oration, Bishop Bougaud pronounced only a few words of eulogy, the oration being delivered in 1888 by Bishop Besson at, the unveiling of Dupanloup’s monument.
Dupanloup was without question one of the ablest French bishops of his day. He repeatedly refused higher positions. In many things a conservative and even a legitimist, he was one of the first who thought of appealing, in behalf of the Catholic cause, to common law and public liberties before a generation no longer able or willing to recognize the Divine right of the Church. The criticisms passed on him by Catholics of a different school were more than offset by numerous papal Briefs of encouragement and episcopal letters of approval from all parts of the world. A man of action, he was also a prolific writer. A complete list of his writings is given by Lagrange, his biographer. Some of his polemical pamphlets have already been noticed. In his educational writings Dupanloup enunciates some of the most important principles which are now generally accepted. Among these are his conception of education as a process of developing mental activity instead of injecting knowledge into the mind, and his insistence on the duty of the teacher to respect the freedom of the pupils and to cultivate in them a spirit of honor. He advocates physical education by means of games, and warns against the danger of forcing precocious children. Education, he holds, is intellectual, moral, religious, and physical; but it is essentially one, and to neglect any of its purposes would be fatal.
His more important works are: catechetical: “L’oeuvre par excellence” (1869); educational: “L’éducation en général”, “La haute éducation intellectuelle” (1850), “La femme studieuse” (1869), and “Lettres sur l’éducation des filles” (1878); historical: “Vie de Msgr. Borderies” (Paris, 1904): oratorical: panegyrics of Jeanne d’Arc (1855 and 1869), St. Martin (1862), and St. Vincent de Paul (1863); funeral orations of Père de Ravignan (1858), the volunteers (1860), Msgr. Menjaud (1861), and Lamoricière (1865); pastoral: “Lettres pastorales et mandeinents” (in the archives of the episcopal palace of Orléans).