« Meath Diocese of Meaux Mecca »

Diocese of Meaux

Diocese of Meaux


Meaux comprises the entire department of Seine and Marne, suffragan of Sens until 1622, and subsequently of Paris. The Concordat of 1801 had given to the Diocese of Meaux the department of Marne, separated from it in 1821 and 1822 by the establishment of the archiepiscopal See of Reims and the episcopal See of Châlons. The present Diocese of Meaux is made up of the greater part of the former Diocese of Meaux, a large part of the former Diocese of Sens, a part of the former Diocese of Paris, and a few parishes of the former Dioceses of Troyes, Soissons and Senlis. Hildegaire, who lived in the ninth century, says in his "Life of St. Faro" (Burgundofaro), that this bishop was the twentieth since St. Denis. According to the tradition accepted by Hildegaire, St. Denis was the first Bishop of Meaux, and was succeeded by his disciple St. Saintin, who in turn was succeeded by St. Antoninus; and another saint, named Rigomer, occupied the See of Meaux at the close of the fifth century. In 876 or 877, Hincmar showed Charles the Bald a document which he claimed had been transcribed from a very old copy and according to which St. Antoninus and St. Saintin, disciples of St. Denis, had brought to Pope Anacletus the account of the martyrdom of St. Denis, and on their return to Gaul had successively occupied the See of Meaux. (For these traditions see PARIS.)

According to Mgr. Duchesne, the first Bishop of Meaux historically known is Medovechus, present at two councils in 549 and 552. Of the bishops of Meaux the following may be mentioned (following Mgr. Allou's chronology): St. Faro (626-72), whose Sister St. Fara founded the monastery of Faremoutiers, and who himself built at Meaux the monastery of St-Croix; St. Hildevert (672-680); St. Pathus, who died about 684 before being consecrated; St. Ebrigisilus (end of the seventh century); St. Gilbert (first half of the eleventh century); Durand de St-Pourçain (1326-1334), commentator on the "Book of Sentences", known as the "resolutive doctor"; Philippe de Vitry (1351-1361), friend of Petrarch and author of the "Metamorphoses d'Ovide Moralisées"; Pierre Fresnel (1390-1409), several times ambassador of Charles VI; Pierre de Versailles (1439-1446), charged with important missions by Eugene IV, and who, when commissioned by Charles VII in 1429 to examine Joan of Arc, had declared himself convinced of the Divine mission of the Maid of Orléans; Guillaume Briçonnet (1516-1534), ambassador of Francis I to Leo X, and during whose episcopate the Reformation was introduced by Farel and Gérard Roussel, whom he had personally called to his diocese for the revival of studies; Cardinal Antoine du Prat (1534-1535), who had an active share in the drawing up of the concordat between Francis I and Leo X; the controversial writer and historian Jean du Tillet (1564-1570); Louis de Brézé, twice bishop, first from 1554 to 1564, then from 1570 to 1589, during whose episcopate the diocese was greatly disturbed by religious wars; Dominique Séguier (1637-1659), the first French bishop to establish "ecclesiastical conferences" in his diocese; the great Bossuet (1681-1704); Cardinal de Bissy (1705-1737), celebrated for his conflict with the Jansenists; De Barral (1802-1805), later Grand Almoner of Empress Josephine and Archbishop of Tours, who took a prominent part in 1810 and 1811 in the negotiations between Napoleon and Pius VII. In 1562 most of the inhabitants of Meaux had become Protestants, and Joachim de Montluc, sent by the king, proceeded with rigour against them. They were still sufficiently powerful in 1567 to attempt to carry off, in the vicinity of Meaux, Catherine de Medici and Charles IX; and so for that reason, shortly after St. Bartholomew's day, Charles IX ordered the massacre of the Protestants of Meaux. At the château of Fontainebleau, built by Francis I, was held the theological conference of 4 May, 1600, between the Catholics (Cardinal du Perron, de Thou, Pithou) and the Calvinists (du Plessis Mornay, Philippe Canaye, Isaac Casaubon).

A number of saints are found in the history of this diocese: St. Autharius, a relative of St. Faro, who received St. Columbanus in his domain at Ussy-sur-Marne, and father of Blessed Ado, who founded about 630 the two monasteries of Jouarre, and of St. Ouen who founded the monastery of Rebais in 634 and subsequently became Bishop of Rouen; the anchorite St. Féfre or Fiacre, and the missionary St. Chillen, both Irishmen, contemporaries of St. Faro (first half of the seventh century); St. Aile (Agilus), monk of Luxeuil who became in 634 the first Abbot of Rebais; St. Telchilde, died about 660, first Abbess of Jouarre; St. Aguilberte, second Abbess of Jouarre, a sister of St. Ebrigisilus (end of seventh century); St. Bathilde, wife of Clovis II, foundress of the abbey of Chelles, died in 680; St. Bertille, first Abbess of Chelles, and St. Etheria, first Abbess of Notre-Dame of Soissons (658), both of them pupils at the abbey of Jouarre; finally, St. Vincent Madelgaire (or Mauger), founder of the monasteries of Haumont and Soignies; his wife, St. Waldetrude, foundress of the monastery of Mons; St. Aldegonde, sister of St. Waldetrude, first Abbess of Maubeuge; St. Landry, Abbot of Soignies, claimed by some as a Bishop of Meaux; St. Adeltrude and St. Malberte, nuns of Maubeuge, the last three being children of St. Vincent Madelgaire and St. Waldetrude (seventh century).

Eugene III stayed some days at Meaux in 1147. In 1664 Blessed Eudes preached for two months at Meaux, Mine Guyon passed the first six months of 1695 at the Visitation convent of Meaux, where Bossuet had frequent conferences with her, but failed to make her abandon her peculiar views. The celebrated Père Loriquet (1767-1845) was superior from 1812 to 1814 of the preparatory seminary of Châage, in the Diocese of Meaux. The Paris massacres on 2 and 3 September, 1792, at the prisons of the Carmes and the Abbaye had their counterpart at Meaux where seven priests were massacred in prison on 4 September. The Abbey of Notre Dame de Juilly of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine was established in 1184, and adopted the rule of the Abbey of St-Victor of Paris. Cardinal de Joyeuse was abbot from 1613-1615. In 1637 Père de Condren, Superior of the Oratory, took possession of it, and in 1638 the house of Juilly became a royal academy for the education of young men. The new order of studies approved by Richelieu marked a pedagogical revolution: the Latin grammars written in Latin were abandoned and French textbooks were used in the study of the dead languages. The college became national property in 1791, and was re-purchased in 1796 by a few Oratorians; in 1828 by Salinis, future Bishop of Amiens and Scorbiac, chaplain-general of the university; in 1840 by the Abbé Bautain; finally, in 1867, the college returned into the hands of the new Congregation of the Oratory founded by the Abbé Pétetot. In the salon of the Abbé de Salinis, at Juilly, was established in December, 1830, the Agence générale pour la défense de la liberté religieuse. Lamennais resided at Juilly while editor of "L'Avenir". It was at Juilly, in 1836, that the future bishop, Gerbet, founded the review "L'Université Catholique". Among the students at Juilly in the seventeenth century were the Marshals de Berwick and de Villars; in the nineteenth, Mgr de Mérode and the famous lawyer, Berryer.

A council convoked in 845 at Meaux by Charles the Bald adopted important measures for the re-establishment of discipline in the three ecclesiastical provinces of Sens, Bourges, and Reims. Other councils were held at Meaux in 962, 1082, 1204, 1229 (ended in Paris), where the Count of Toulouse was reconciled with the Church; in 1240 a council was held in which the sentence of excommunication was pronounced against Frederick II by Joannes of Palestrina, legate of Gregory IX; there was held an important council in 1523. Four councils were held at Melun, in 1216, 1225, 1232, 1300. The city of Provins was famous in the Middle Ages for its burlesque ceremonies (fête de fous, fête do l'âne, fête des Innocents) held in the church. The cathedral of St-Etienne de Meaux is a fine Gothic edifice begun about 1170. The church of Champigny has a magnificent crypt dating from the thirteenth century. The principal pilgrimages of the diocese are: Notre Dame do Lagny, dating from 1128; Notre Dame du Chêne de Preuilly, dating from the foundation of the Cistercian Abbey (1118); Notre Dame du Chêne at Crouy-sur-Ourcq, dating from the beginning of the seventeenth century; Notre Dame de Bon Secours near Fontainebleau (the pilgrimage was established in 1661 by d'Auberon, an officer of the great Condé); Notre Dame de la Cave at Champigny; Notre Dame de Pitié at Verdelot; Notre Dame de Melun at Melun; Notre Dame du Puy at Sigy. The head of St. Veronica at Pomponne has long been the object of a pilgrimage, greatly furthered by the Jesuits in 1670; the cloak (chape) of St. Martin of which a large portion is preserved at Bussy-St-Martin, also attracts pilgrims.

Before the application of the Associations Law of 1901 religious communities were represented in the diocese by the Lazarists, Oratorians, Little Brothers of Mary, Fathers and Brothers of St. Mary of Tinchebray, School Brothers of the Christian Doctrine. Of the congregations of women the following may be mentioned: the Celestine Sisters, a teaching and nursing order founded in 1839 (mother-house at Provins); the Sisters of St. Louis, a nursing and teaching order, founded in 1841 by the Abbé Bautain (mother-house at Juilly), the Carmelites of Meaux, called Carmel of Pius IX, founded 30 August, 1860. The Benedictines of the Sacred Heart of Mary, devoted to teaching and contemplation, restored in 1837 the ancient abbey of Jouarre. The religious congregations had under their care: 4 crèches, 52 day nurseries, 1 orphanage for boys, 15 orphanages for girls, 14 industrial rooms, 10 houses of mercy, 26 hospitals or asylums, 19 houses for the care of the sick in their own homes, 1 house of retreat. In 1908 the Diocese of Meaux had 361,939 inhabitants, 39 parishes, 402 succursal parishes, 8 vicariates.

Gallia Christiana (nova, 1744), VIII, 1596-1670, instrumenta, 547-574; DUCHESNE, Fastes Episcopaux, II, 471-475; DU PLESSIS, Histoire de l'Eglise de Meaux (2 vols., Meaux, 1731); CARRO, Histoire de Meaux et du pays Meldois (Meaux, 1865); ALLOU, Chronique des évêques de Meaux (Meaux, 1876); NÉRET, Martyrs et confesseurs de la foi du diocèse de Meaux, 1792 1795 (Meaux, 1905); HAMEL, Histoire de l'Eglise et du Collège de Juilly (3rd ed., Paris, 1888); THIERCELIN, Le monastère de Jouarre (Paris, 1861); CHEVALIER, Topo-Bibl., 1886-87.


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