Roman Catholic Diocese of Montauban

Diocese of Montauban
Dioecesis Montis Albani
Diocèse de Montauban

Country France
Ecclesiastical province Toulouse
Metropolitan Archdiocese of Toulouse
Area 3,717 km2 (1,435 sq mi)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2004)
160,000 (77.7%)
Denomination Roman Catholic
Sui iuris church Latin Church
Rite Roman Rite
Established 11 July 1317
Cathedral Cathedral of Notre Dame of the Assumption in Montauban
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Bernard Ginoux
Metropolitan Archbishop Robert Jean Louis Le Gall
Emeritus Bishops Jacques de Saint-Blanquat Bishop Emeritus (1975-1995)
Website of the Diocese

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Montauban, is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in France. The diocese is coextensive with Tarn-et-Garonne. Currently a suffragan of the archdiocese of Toulouse, the episcopal seat is in Montauban Cathedral.

Suppressed under the Concordat of 1802 and divided between the three neighbouring dioceses of Toulouse, Agen, and Cahors, Montauban was re-established by imperial decree of 1809, but this measure was not approved by the Holy See. Re-established by the Concordat of 1817, it was filled only in 1824.


In 820 Benedictine monks had founded Montauriol Abbey under the patronage of Saint Martin; subsequently it adopted the name of its abbot Saint Theodard, Archbishop of Narbonne, who died at the abbey in 893. The Count of Toulouse, Alphonse Jourdan, took from the abbey in 1144 its lands on the heights overlooking the right bank of the Tarn, and founded there the city of Montauban; a certain number of inhabitants of Montauriol and serfs of the abbey formed the nucleus of the population. The monks protested, and in 1149 a satisfactory agreement was concluded.

Notwithstanding the sufferings of Montauban during the Albigensian wars, it grew rapidly. Pope John XXII, by the Bull Salvator (25 June 1317), separated from the ecclesiastical province of Narbonne, the see of Toulouse, made it an archiepiscopal see, and gave it as suffragans four dioceses created within its territory: Montauban, the diocese of St.-Papoul, diocese of Rieux, and diocese of Lombez. Bertrand de Puy, abbot at Montauriol, was first bishop of Montauban.

Montauban counts among its bishops: Cardinal Georges d'Amboise (1484–1491), minister of Louis XII, and Jean de Lettes (1539–1556), who married and became a Protestant. Despite the resistance of Jacques des Prés-Montpezat (1556–1589), a nephew of Jean de Lettes who succeeded him as bishop, the Calvinists became masters of the city; in 1561 they interdicted Catholic worship; the destruction of the churches, and even of the cathedral, was begun and carried on until 1567. In 1570 Montauban became one of the four strongholds granted the Protestants and in 1578, 1579, and 1584 harboured the synods held by the députés of the Reformed Church of France.

For a short time, in 1600, Catholic worship was re-established but was soon suppressed; Bishop Anne Carrion de Murviel (1600–1652) withdrew to Montech during the greater part of his reign and administered thence the Church of Montauban. In spite of the unsuccessful siege of Montauban by Louis XIII (August–November, 1621), the fall of La Rochelle (1629) entailed the submission of the city, and Richelieu entered it on 20 August 1629. Other bishops of note were: Le Tonnelier de Breteuil (1762–1794), who died during the Reign of Terror in the prison of Rouen, after converting the philosopher La Harpe to Catholicism; the future Cardinal de Cheverus, 1824-26.

Legend attributes to Clovis the foundation of Moissac Abbey in 506, but Saint Amand (594-675) seems to have been the first abbot. The abbey grew, and in a few years its possessions extended to the gates of Toulouse. The church of Moissac, formerly the abbey church, has a portal built in 1107 which is a veritable museum of Romanesque sculpture; its cloister (1100–1108) is one of the most remarkable in France.

The threats and incursions of the Saracens, Hungarians, and Northmen brought the monks of Moissac to elect "knight abbots" who were laymen, and whose mission was to defend them. From the tenth to the thirteenth century several of the counts of Toulouse were knight-abbots of Moissac; the death of Alfonso, Count of Poitou (1271) made the King of France the legitimate successor of the counts of Toulouse, and in this way the abbey came to depend directly on the kings of France, henceforth its "knight-abbots". Some of the abbots were saints: Saint Ausbert (663-678); Saint Leotadius (678-691); Saint Paternus (691-718); Saint Amarandus (718-720). The union of Moissac with Cluny was begun by Abbot Stephen as early as 1047, and completed in 1063 under Abbot Durand. Four filial abbeys and numerous priories depended on Moissac Abbey. Among the commendatory abbots were Louis of Lorraine, Cardinal de Guise (1556–1578); Charles of Lorraine, the Cardinal de Vaudemont (1578–1590). In 1618 Moissac was transformed into a collegiate church which had, among other titulars, Cardinal Mazarin (1644–1661), and Cardinal de Loménie de Brienne, minister of Louis XVI (1775–1788).

On 25 July 1523, fifteen inhabitants of Moissac, after they had made a pilgrimage to Compostela, grouped themselves into a confraternity "à l'honneur de Dieu, de Notre Dame et Monseigneur Saint Jacques". This confraternity, reorganized in 1615 by letters patent of Louis XIII, existed for many years. As late as 1830 "pilgrims" were still seen in the Moissac processions. In fact Moissac and Spain were long closely united; a monk of Moissac, St. Gérault, was Archbishop of Braga from 1095 to 1109. The general synod of the Reformers held at Montpellier, in May, 1598, decided on the creation of an academy at Montauban; it was opened in 1600, was exclusively Protestant, and gathered students from other countries of Europe. In 1632 the Jesuits established themselves at Montauban, but in 1659 transferred the Academy to Puylaurens. In 1808 a faculty of Protestant theology was created at Montauban and still exists.

The principal pilgrimages of the diocese are: Notre Dame de Livron or de la Déliverance, visited by Blanche of Castile and Louis XIII; Notre Dame de Lorm, at Castelferrus, dating from the fifteenth century; Notre Dame de la Peyrouse, near Lafrançaise. Among the congregations of women which originated in the diocese were: Sisters of Mercy, hospitallers and teachers, founded in 1804 (mother-house at Moissac); Sisters of the Guardian Angel, hospitallers and teachers, founded in 1839 at Quillan in the diocese of Carcassonne by Père Deshayes, Superior of the Daughters of Wisdom, whose mother-house was transferred to the château of La Molle, near Montauban in 1858.



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Diocese of Montauban". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton. 

Coordinates: 44°00′37″N 1°21′31″E / 44.01028°N 1.35861°E / 44.01028; 1.35861

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