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Archdiocese of Rouen

Archdiocese of Rouen


Revived by the Concordat of 1802 with the Sees of Bayeux, Evreux, and Séez as suffragans: it also includes the Department of the Seine Inferieure. The Archdiocese of Rouen was curtailed in 1802 by giving the Archdeanery of Pontoise to the Diocese of Versailles; the Deaneries of Pont Audemer and Bourgtheroulde, and a part of the Deanery of Périer, to the Diocese of Evreux; several parishes of the Deanery of Aumale were annexed to the Diocese of Beauvais. The Archbishop of Rouen bears the title of Primate of Normandy. Rouen, chief city of the Secunda Provincia Lugdunensis under Constantine, and later of Neustria, has been since 912 the capital of Normandy and residence of the dukes.

The episcopal catalogues of the ninth and tenth centuries and the "Liber Eburneus" of the cathedral of Rouen, which extends to 1068, indicate St. Mellon as first Bishop of Rouen; the "Liber Niger" of St. Ouen which comes down to 1079 and the episcopal lists dating from the twelfth century mention the episcopate of a certain Nicasius (Nicaise) as antedating that of St. Mellon. The legend of this Nicaise, based on Hilduin, makes him and his two companions, Quirinus and Scubiculus, disciples of St. Denis who came from Rome to Normandy but suffered martyrdom at their arrival on the banks of the river Epte. It was under the episcopate of William (Bonne Ame) the Good (1079-1110) that the name of Nicaise was placed at the head of the episcopal lists of Rouen. A number of saints were the successors of St. Mellon; according to the chronology of the Abbé Sauvage they were: St. Avitianus (about 314); St. Severus; St. Victricius, born about 330, a soldier in the beginning of his career and as such a confessor of the Faith under Julian the Apostate; made Bishop of Rouen about 380 and died, according to his biographer, Abbé Vacandard, before 409; famous for his friendship with St. Paulinus of Nola and St. Martin, also for going in 396 to England where he worked zealously for the conversion of the English people; his treatise "De Laude Sanctorum" is a strong plea in favour of the devotion to relics; Innocent I commissioned him in 404 to make known in Gaul the "Liber Regularum", which contains urgent instructions for ecclesiastical celibacy, for the respect due to the hierarchy, and Roman supremacy; St. Innocent; St. Evodius (about 430); St. Goldardus (490-525), brother of St. Medardus, one of the assistants at the baptism and coronation of Clovis; St. Flavius; St. Pretextatus (550-586), exiled in 577 by order of King Chilperic, was reinstated in the diocese in 584, and stabbed before the altar in 586 by order of Fredegonde; St. Romanus (631-641) former chancellor of Clotaire II; legend relates how he delivered the environs of Rouen from a monster called Gargouille, having had him captured by a liberated prisoner in commemoration of St. Romain in the Middle Ages the Archbishops of Rouen were granted the right to set a prisoner free on the day that the reliquary of the saint was carried in procession; St. Ouen (Audoennus) (641-684), previous to his appointment as bishop, was chancellor of Dagobert, and wrote a life of St. Eloy (Eligius); his episcopate was distinguished by the foundation of the monasteries of Fontenelle, Jumièges, and Fécamp, by the unceasing efforts he made to exterminate all traces of paganism in his dioceses, and by the arbitration effected through his influence between Austrasia and Neustria; his fame as a miracle-worker was great in the Middle Ages; St. Ansbert (684-92 or 93) chancellor of Clotaire III, and afterwards confined for political reasons by Pepin of Heristal in the Abbey of Hautmont; recently there was found in the library of Carlsruhe a curious little poem of the seventh century written by him on St. Ouen; this poem came originally from the Abbey of Reichenau; St. Hugh (722-30) was a monk of Jumièges before being made bishop; he subsequently combined the Sees of Rouen, Paris and Bayeux, also the abbeys of Jumiegès and Fontenelle; St. Remi (755-772), brother of King Pepin, was also archbishop of Rouen.

Guntbaldus who had played a certain part in the restoration of Louis the Pious, having become Bishop of Rouen, was commissioned in 846 by Sergius II to settle a dispute between Ebbo and Hincmar, and died in 849. The name of a certain St. Leo who suffered martyrdom at Bayonne sometimes appears incorrectly on the lists of archbishops of Rouen at the end of the ninth century and should be struck off. Among the more famous archbishops of Rouen were: Archbishop Franco (911-19), who baptized the Northman chief Rollo; St. Maurille (1055-67), who reformed his clergy and fought the heresy of Berengarius; John of Bayeux (1069-79), whose book on ecclesiastical services regulated religious devotions in Normandy; William I (Bonne Ame) (1071-1119), first a Benedictine and allowed St. Anselm to leave the Abbey of Bec to occupy the See of Canterbury; Hugh of Amiens (1130-74), author of numerous theological works; under his episcopate Rouen was honoured in May, 1131, by a visit from Innocent II, the only pope who ever entered Normandy; Gautier de Coutances called the Magnificent (1184-1207) the favourite companion of Richard the Lion Hearted; Eudes II Rigaud (1247-1274), one of the most eminent statesmen of the day; he accompanied St. Louis on his Tunis crusade and left a diary of his pastoral visitations which has the most important bearing on the ecclesiastical history of the province; Gilles Aycelin (1311-18), Chancellor of France; Pierre Roger (1330-39) became Pope Clement VI; Peter de la Foret (1352-56) was at first Bishop of Paris and became a cardinal in 1356 as Chancellor of France he was one of the most faithful adherents of the dauphin, afterwards Charles V.

During the Hundred Years War the English occupied Rouen from 1417-1449; the Duke of Bedford at his own request was formally made a member of the Chapter of Rouen in 1430. The English rule, so severe for the people, increased the privileges of the clergy but dealt rigorously with such ecclesiastics as were thought rebellious; especially with Archbishop Louis de Harcourt who was deprived in 1421 of his possessions for refusing to pay homage to Henry V. The following should be added to the list of archbishops: John of la Rochetaillée (1423-29), cardinal in 1426; Louis of Luxembourg (1436-42), cardinal in 1439, was the sworn agent in France of Henry VI, King of England; William of Estouteville (1453-83), cardinal in 1437 and commissioned by Nicholas V in 1453 to mediate between France and England, and to obtain from Charles VII certain modifications of the Pragmatic Sanction; Robert of Croismare (1483-93) and Cardinal Georges d'Amboise (1493-1510), both of whom played an important part in the Renaissance movement; the two Cardinals Charles of Bourbon (1550-90 and 1590-94), the first of whom was at one time a candidate for the throne of France; François, Cardinal de Joyeuse (1604-15) who negotiated peace in the name of Henry IV between Paul V and the Republic of Venice; the two François de Harlay (1615-51) and (1651-71); John Nicholas Colbert (1691-1707), son of the minister; Nicholas de Saulx Tavannes (1733-59), cardinal in 1756; Dominic de la Rochefoucauld (1759-1800), cardinal in 1778, president of the clergy at the States General, emigrated after 10 August, 1792, and died in exile at Münster; Etienne Hubert de Cambacérès (1802-18) brother of the archchancellor of Napoleon, cardinal in 1803; Prince de Croy (1823-44), chief almoner of France under the Restoration, and cardinal in 1825; Henry de Bonnechose (1858-83), cardinal in 1863; Léon Thomas (1884-94), cardinal in 1893; William Sourrieu (1894-99), cardinal in 1897.

It is not known exactly whether Rouen became a metropolitan at the time of St. Victricius or under Bishop Grimo, who in 744 received the pallium from Pope Zachary; in the Middle Ages it exercised metropolitan rights over Evreux, Avranches, Seez, Bayeux, Lisieux, and Coutances. It seems that in the seventh century Lillebonne (Juliobona) was for a short time the see of a bishop suffragan of Rouen. The Archbishop of Rouen assumed at an early date the title of Primate of Normandy and Neustria, to indicate the entire independence of his metropolitan see which was directly subject to the Holy See. In vain did Gebuin, Archbishop of Lyons, obtain from Gregory VII two Bulls in 1070 which recognized his primacy over Rouen; they remained unexecuted as well as a similar Bull of Celestine II given in 1144. On 12 November, 1455, Cardinal Dominic Capranica, papal delegate, recognized the independence of the Church of Rouen by giving a definite decision, confirmed in 1457 and 1458 by two Bulls of Callistus III. The Archdeacon of Rouen was known as the "grand archidiacre de la chrétienté". The Chapter, in virtue of a Bull from Gregory XI in 1371, was completely exempt from the archbishop's jurisdiction both spiritual and temporal. Nicholas Oresme (died 1382) was head master of the College of Navarre and Bishop of Lisieux; he translated Aristotle and was dean of the Church of Rouen; the famous Peter d'Ailly and the historian Thomas Basin, later Bishop of Lisieux belonged to the Chapter of Rouen. St. Remy, Bishop of Rouen, was after Chrodigang, Bishop of Metz, the principal initiator in the reform which under Pepin replaced the Gallican with the Roman liturgy. In 1729 the cathedral of Rouen accepted the breviary of Urbain Robinet, vicar-general of Rouen, who revised the liturgy in a Gallican sense. Later Cardinal Bonnechose insisted on the use of the Roman liturgy in the diocese. The Chapter of Rouen preserved the custom until the Revolution of chanting the Office by heart; it was forbidden even to bring a book into the choir. The faculty of Catholic theology of Rouen was founded in 1808 and organized in 1809; it was however suppressed in 1885.

No town of France has produced such marvels of religious architecture as Rouen. The oldest part of the Cathedral, which has survived all fires, is the belfry of St. Romanus's tower, which dates from about 1160; the construction of the nave began about 1200; the Calende portal, so called from an imaginary animal, and the portals of the libraries, famous for the richness of their ornamentation, were finished in the first quarter of the fourteenth century. The Butter Tower (la Tour de Beurre), so called because it was built with the alms derived from the Lenten dispensations, dates from the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century, and is one of the most famous edifices in the flamboyant style. The ninety-six choir stalls were carved in the fifteenth century under the direction of Philippot Viart and represent in their workmanship all the professions of the period. There are three celebrated tombs preserved in the cathedral; one, whether correctly or not, is said to be the tomb of Archbishop Maurille, and dates from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; that of the two cardinals d'Amboise dates from 1520 to 1525 and on it is the statue of George d'Amboise, the work of Jean Goujon; that of Louis de Brézé, attributed in part to Jean Goujon, was executed from 1535 to 1544 at the expense of Diane de Poitiers, widow of Louis de Brézé. The present Church of St. Ouen, where a small Roman apse is still preserved and some bases of Roman pillars dating from the eleventh century, is one of the rare examples that exists in France of a large and beautiful church of the fourteenth century, almost complete, and one of the most delicate pieces of architecture extant. The Church of St. Maclou dates from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries; the folding doors are attributed to Jean Goujon. On one side of the church is a monument unique in its way, the aitre st. Maclou. The word aitre is derived from Atrium. L'aitre St. Maclou, the old cemetery of the parish, is a large rectangular space surrounded by porticoes built in 1526-40, and shows the Renaissance style in all its purity. A Dance of Death (Danse Macabre) sculptured on its columns was unfortunately badly defaced by the Huguenots. The Palace of Justice in Rouen is one of the most celebrated buildings belonging to the end of the Gothic period.

Among the twelve Benedictine abbeys for men which the Diocese of Rouen possessed under the old regime must be mentioned, besides Fontenelle and Jumièges, the Benedictine Abbey of St. Ouen de Rouen, founded in 548, where a school of theology flourished which was recognized by Gregory IX in 1238; and the Abbey of Fécamp, dedicated to the Trinity in 658 by St. Waningus (Vaning), Governor of Neustria and Count of the Palace under Clovis II. This was first occupied by nuns under the direction of St. Hildemarche, was ruined by the Normans in 841, and reopened for priests by Richard, first Duke of Normandy, who had the present beautiful church dedicated in 990. St. William (1001-28) was the first Abbot of Fécamp; he had among his successors the future Pope Clement VI and Jean Casimir, King of Poland, who, after abdicating his throne, became Abbot of Fécamp in 1669. The Abbey of St. George de Boscherville was founded in 1060 by Raoul de Tancarville, chamberlain of William the Conqueror. The abbey of Tréport was founded in 1056-59 by Robert, Count d'Eu, companion of William the Conqueror. During the religious wars the Calvinists committed great ravages in Rouen; having become masters of the city 16 April, 1562, they devastated St. Ouen, made a pyre in the centre of the church with the stalls and fragments of the superb screen, and then burnt the body of St. Ouen and other relics of the basilica. Rouen was retaken 26 October, 1562, by François de Guise and Antoine de Bourbon; the majority of Charles IX was proclaimed there in 1563. Rouen, which had declared for the League, was ineffectually besieged by Henry IV from December, 1591, to April, 1592, and only surrendered in 1594 to the new Bourbon king.

In the eleventh century an association of distinguished men was founded at Rouen in honour of the Immaculate Conception. Its chief or president was called "prince". In 1486 Pierre Daré, lieutenant-general of the bailiwick of Rouen, was "prince" and converted the association into a literary society which awarded a prize for the best poems written on the Immaculate Conception. Every stanza of the poems, according to a special rule, must end with the same verse as the first; this repeated verse, which they called "palinodie", gave the name of "Palinod" to the confraternity. Malherbe took the prize in 1555; Pierre Corneille competed in 1633, but does not seem to have been crowned; Jacqueline Pascal received the prize in 1640; Thomas Corneille in 1641. The three-volume Bible, finished at the end of the twelfth century for the Chapter of Rouen, is one of the finest specimens of calligraphy of the Middle Ages. A copy of the "Chroniques de Normandie", made at Rouen about 1450 for the aldermen and given to Colbert in 1682 for the royal library, is illustrated with ten miniatures which are among the most beautiful productions of the fifteenth century., The finest copy extant of the "Chroniques de Monstrelet" was made at Rouen and contains drawings of the greatest importance for the history of the fifteenth century. The manuscripts, written in the sixteenth century by order of Cardinal George d'Amboise, who brought back with him the most beautiful manuscripts from the royal library of Naples, compare favourably with those of the best Italian masters.

Besides those already mentioned, many saints are connected with the history of the Diocese of Rouen or are the objects there of special devotion: St. Severus (sixth century) who perhaps was the Bishop of Avranches and whose relics are preserved at the cathedral of Rouen; St. Austreberta, Benedictine abbess (seventh century); St. Sidonius, of Irish origin (seventh century); the hermit St. Clair, of Vexin, martyr of the ninth century; St. Lawrence O'Toole, Archbishop of Dublin, died at Eu in the diocese 1180; Blessed Joan of Arc was imprisoned at Rouen in the tower constructed in 1206 by King Philip Augustus, and was burned in the old market place 31 May, 1431, after her so-called abjuration at the cemetery of St. Ouen; St. John Baptist de la Salle, who established the first novitiate of the Brothers of the Christian Schools at St. Yon near Rouen in 1705 and died at Rouen in 1719. The saints given to the diocese by Fontenelle and Jumièges must also be mentioned. The saints of Fontenelle are: the founder, St. Wandrille (Wandregesilus) (570-667); the abbots St. Bain (about 729), St. Wando (742-756); St. Gerbold (died 806); St. Ansegisus (823-833), who compiled the capitularies or statutes of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious; St. Gerard (1008-31); and the monks St, Gond (died about 690); St. Erembert, who became, about 657, Bishop of Toulouse; St. Wulfram, Archbishop of Sens and apostle of the Frisians (died in 720); St. Agatho; St. Désiré; St. Sindoard; St. Condé (second half of the seventh century); St. Erbland or Hermeland, who died in 715 after founding the monastery of Hindre (Indret) in the Diocese of Nantes; St. Erinhard (died 739); St. Hardouin (died 811). The saints of Jumièges are: the founder, St. Philcert (675); St. Aicadre (died 687), and St. Gontard (1072-95). The distinguished natives of the diocese should also be mentioned: the two Corneille brothers; the philosopher, Fontenelle (1657-1757); the Jesuit, Brumoy (1688-1742), famous for his translations of Greek plays; the Jesuit, Gabriel Daniel (1649-1728), whose three-volume "History of France", published in 1713, is considered the first reliable and complete history of France; Cavelier de la Salle (1640-87), explorer of the Valley of the Mississippi; the Protestant theologian, Samuel Bochart (1599-1677), a famous Oriental scholar; the numerous Protestant family of Basnage, the most distinguished member of which, Jacques Basnage (1653-1723), is well known as a historian and diplomat; the liberal publicist, Armand Carrel (1800-36); Boildieu, the composer (1775-1834) and pupil of the cathedral music school of Rouen.

The principal pilgrimages of the archdiocese are: Our Lady of Salvation (Notre Dame de Salut), near Fécamp, which dates from the eleventh century; Our Lady of Good Help (Notre Dame de Bon Secours) at Blosseville, a pilgrimage which existed in the thirteenth century; Our Lady of the Waves (Notre Dame des Flots) at St. Adresse, near the harbour of Havre, is a chapel built in the fourteenth century. Before the Law of 1901 directed against the religious orders, there were in the Diocese of Rouen, Benedictines, Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans, Picpusiens, Fathers of the Holy Ghost and of the Sacred Heart of Mary, and Brothers of the Christian Schools. Some religious orders for women originated in the diocese, of which the most important are the Sisters of Providence, a teaching order founded in Rouen in 1666 by the Minim Barré and the priest Antoine de Lahaye, and the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, hospitaliers and teachers, founded at Ernemont in 1698 by Archbishop Colbert. The religious owned in the Diocese of Rouen at the end of the nineteenth century 6 infant asylums, 43 infant schools, 1 asylum for deaf-mutes, 5 orphanages for boys, 1 orphanage for children of both sexes, 28 girls' orphanages, 3 schools of apprenticeship, 7 societies for preservation, 1 house of correction, 38 hospitals, 1 dispensary, 26 houses of religious who care for the sick in their homes, 4 houses of convalescence, 2 homes for incurables, 1 asylum for the blind. In 1910 the Diocese of Rouen had 863,879 inhabitants, 5 archdeaconeries, 45 deaneries, 16 first-class parishes, 47 second-class parishes, 599 succursal parishes, 53 curacies and about 800 priests.

Gallia Christ. (nova) (1759), XI, 1-121, instr. 58; FISQUET. La France pontificale (Rouen, Paris, 1866); DUCHESNE, Fastes épiscopaux, II, 200-11; SAUVAGE, Elenchi episcoporum Rotomagensium in Anal. Boll. VIII (1889); FALLUE, Histoire politique et religieuse de l'église métropolitaine et du diocèse 4e Rouen (Rouen, 1850); VACANDARD, St Victrice évêque de Rouen (Paris, 1903); IDEM, Vie de St Ouen, évêque de Rouen (Paris, 1902); CHÉRUEL, Histoire de Rouen sous la domination anglaise au XV e siècle (Rouen. 1840); THIERRY, Armorial des archevêques de Rouen (Rouen, 1864); LOTH, Histoire du cardinal de la Rochefoucauld et du diocèse de Rouen pendant la Révolution (Rouen, 1893); CLÉRAMBRAY, La Terreur à Rouen (Rouen, 1901); TOUGARD, Catalogue des saints du diocèse de Rouen (Rouen, 1897); IDEM, L'hagiographie Rouennaise in Revue catholique de Normandie, 1909; LONGNON, Pouillés de la province de Rouen (Paris, 1903); Palinods présentés au Puy de Rouen, ed. ROBLLARD DE BEAUREPAIRE (Rouen, 1896); GUIOT, Les trois siècles palinodiques ou histoire générale des palinods, ed. TOUGARD (Rouen, 1898); SARRAZIN, Histoire de Rouen d'après les miniatures des manuscrits (Rouen, 1904); COOK, The Story of Rouen (London, 1899); COLLETTE, Histoire du bréviaire de Rouen (Rouen, 1902); ENLART, Rouen (Paris, 1904); PERKINS, The Churches of Rouen (London, 1900); LAALAND, A Short Guide to Rouen (Rouen, 1907); CHEVALIER, Topobibl., 2618-28.


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