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Francois de Bonal

Bishop of Clermont (1734-1800)

Bonal, FRANCOIS DE, Bishop of Clermont, b. 1734 at the castle of Bonal, near Agen; d. at Munich, 1800. He had been Vicar-General of Agen and Director of the Carmelite Nuns in France when he was made Bishop of Clermont, 1776. On the eve of the Revolution, as he was warning his diocesans against the license of the press, he foretold the visitations of God that were coming. He went as one of the deputies of the clergy to the Etats-Generaux of 1789, where he distinguished himself by his moderation and firmness. To Target who spoke of the “God of peace” he replied that the God of peace was also the God of order and justice. From his prison Louis XVI sent for his opinion as to whether he should receive Paschal Communion. The answer was full of sympathy, yet the unfortunate monarch was advised to abstain “for having sanctioned decrees destructive of religion”. Bonal was alluding chiefly to the civil constitution of the clergy. Having declined to take the constitutional oath, he was compelled to leave his diocese and country. He passed to Flanders and later to Holland, was captured and sentenced to deportation by the French, but succeeded in making his escape and spent the last years of his life in various cities of Germany. He is the author of a “Testament spirituel”.

J. F. SOLLIER


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