Roman Catholic Diocese of Belley-Ars

Diocese of Belley-Ars
Dioecesis Bellicensis-Arsensis
Diocèse de Belley-Ars

Country France
Ecclesiastical province Lyon
Metropolitan Archdiocese of Lyon
Area 5,554 km2 (2,144 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2012)
354,600 (60.7%)
Parishes 340
Denomination Roman Catholic
Rite Roman Rite
Established 5th Century
Cathedral Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Belley
Patron saint St John the Baptist
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Pascal Marie Roland
Metropolitan Archbishop Cardinal Philippe Barbarin
Emeritus Bishops Guy Claude Bagnard, Bishop Emeritus (1987-2012)
Website of the Diocese

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Belley-Ars is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church in France. Erected in the 5th century, the diocese was renamed in 1988 from the former Diocese of Belley (Bellicium) to the Diocese of Belley-Ars. Coextensive with the civil department of Ain, in the Region of Rhône-Alpes, the diocese is a suffragan see of the Archdiocese of Lyon. The seat of the bishop is at Belley Cathedral. The current bishop is Guy Claude Bagnard, appointed in 1987.

Although suppressed at the time of the Napoleonic Concordat (1801), the Diocese of Belley was re-established in 1822 and took from the Archdiocese of Lyon the arrondissements of Belley, Bourg, Nantua and Trévoux, and from the Archdiocese of Chambéry the Arrondissement of Gex.


Local tradition maintains that Belley was evangelized in the 2nd century by the martyrs Marcellus and Valerian, companions of St. Pothinus. The first bishop of historic certainty is Vincentius, mentioned in 552. Others who occupied the see were St. Hippolytus, Abbot of Condat (8th century); St. Anthelm (1163–78), seventh General of the Carthusian Order; St. Arthaud (1179–90), founder of the Carthusians at Arvières; Camus (1609–29), a noted preacher and romancist; and Monseigneur François M. Richard (1872–75), later Cardinal Archbishop of Paris.

Belley honours, in a special manner, St. Amandus, Bishop of Maastricht, who founded the Benedictine Abbey of Nantua about 660; Saint-Vulbas, a patrician of Bourgogne and a war companion of King Dagobert I; Saint Rambert, killed by order of Ebroin in the 7th century, whose name has been given to Saint-Rambert-en-Bugey, a city in the diocese; Saint Trivier, the solitary, who died about 650; Saint Barnard of Vienne (9th century), who founded the great Benedictine Abbey of Ambronay (destroyed during the French Revolution) and died the Archbishop of Vienna; St. Lambert (12th century), founder of the Cistercian Abbey at Chézery; St. Roland, Abbot of Chézery during the 12th century; Saint Stephen of Châtillon, who founded the Carthusian monastery at Portes in 1115, and died Bishop of Die; Saint Stephen of Bourg, who founded the Carthusian monastery at Meyria in 1116; and Saint Jean-Baptiste Vianney (1786–1859), parish priest at Ars.

The Diocese of Belley which, in the Middle Ages, had no less than eight Carthusian monasteries, was the birthplace of the Joséphistes, a religious congregation founded by Jacques Crétenet (1606–67), a layman and surgeon who became a priest after the death of his wife; of the teaching order of the Sisters of St. Charles, founded by Charles Demia of Bourg (1636–89); and of three teaching orders founded in the first half of the 19th century: the Brothers of the Society of the Cross of Jesus; the Brothers of the Holy Family of Belley, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Bourg. In 1858 a Trappist monastery was established in the deprived Dombes district.

Cardinal Louis Aleman (1390–1450) and Sister Rosalie (1787–1856), noted in the history of modern Parisian charities, were both native of the Diocese of Belley. Saint Pierre-Louis-Marie Chanel was born at Cuet near Bourg. For thirty years of its existence (1701–31), "Journal de Trévoux", a valuable repertory of the literary and religious history of the period, was published by the Jesuits at Trévoux (now a suburb of Lyon), in the diocese. The church at Brou, near Bourg, was built under the direction of Margaret of Austria, widow of Philibert II the Fair, Duke of Savoy.

Bishops of Belley

To 1000





Bishop Roland

See also


  1. C.W. Previté-Orton, Early History of the House of Savoy, (Cambridge University Press, 1912), 29.


Coordinates: 46°12′17″N 5°13′32″E / 46.20472°N 5.22556°E / 46.20472; 5.22556

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