Roman Catholic Diocese of Rodez
|Diocese of Rodez-Vabres|
Diocèse de Rodez-Vabres
|Metropolitan||Archdiocese of Toulouse|
|Area||8,743 km2 (3,376 sq mi)|
(as of 2010)|
|Sui iuris church||Latin Church|
5th Century (As Diocese of Rodez)|
27 May 1875 (As Diocese of Rodez-Vabres)
|Cathedral||Cathedral Basilica of Notre Dame in Rodez|
|Patron saint||St Amandus|
|Metropolitan Archbishop||Robert Jean Louis Le Gall|
|Website of the Diocese|
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rodez (Latin: Dioecesis Ruthenensis) is an diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. The Episcopal seat rests in Rodez. The diocese corresponds exactly to the Department of Aveyron (formerly Rouergue).
Originally erected in the 5th century, the Diocese of Vabres was split off from the diocese of Rodez in the 13th century. In 1801, the diocese was suppressed and merged with the diocese of Cahors and the Diocese of Saint-Flour.
In 1817, the diocese was restored and given jurisdiction over the ancient diocese of Rodez, with the exception of the deanery of Saint Antonin, which was incorporated with the Diocese of Montauban; the ancient Diocese of Vabres; and a few scattered communes of the Diocese of Cahors.
The current bishop is François Marie Aimé Fonlupt, who was appointed in 2011.
Modern tradition attributes to St. Martial the foundation of the church of Rodez and the sanctuary of the Blessed Virgin at Ceignac, for according to Cardinal Bourret, the church of Rodez honoured St. Martial as early as the sixth century. There were bishops of Rodez before 675, as Sidonius Apollinaris mentions that the Goths left it at that date without bishops.
Amantius, who ruled about the end of the fifth century, is the first bishop mentioned. Among others are:
- S. Quintian of Rodez (Quintianus) who assisted at the Councils of Agde (508) and Orléans (511), afterwards Bishop of Clermont
- S. Dalmatius of Rodez (524-80)
- Saint Gausbert (eleventh century), probably a Bishop of Cahors
- Jean de Cardaillac (1371-9), Patriarch of Alexandria, who fought against English rule
- Blessed Francis d'Estaing (1501–29), ambassador of Louis XII to Pope Julius II
- Louis Avelly (1664-6) who wrote the life of St. Vincent of Paul
- Joseph Bourret (1871–96), made Cardinal in 1893.
The Benedictine Abbey of Vabres, founded in 862 by Raymond I, Count of Toulouse, was raised to episcopal rank in 1317, and its diocesan territory was taken from the southeastern portion of the Diocese of Rodez. Some scholars hold that within the limits of the modern Diocese of Rodez there existed in Merovingian times the See of Arisitum which, according to Louis Duchesne, was in the neighbourhood of Alais.
During the Middle Ages the Bishop of Rodez held temporal dominion over that portion of the town known as the Cité while in the eleventh century the Bourg became the County of Rodez. The cathedral of Rodez (thirteenth and fourteenth centuries) is a beautiful Gothic building, famous for its belfry (1510–26) and unique rood-beam. It was spared during the Revolution for dedication to Marat.
The Cistercian Abbeys of Silbanès, Beaulieu, Loc-Dieu, Bonneval, and Bonnecombe were model-farms during the Middle Ages. Attacked by brigands in the Rouergue country on his way to Santiago di Compostella, Adalard, Viscount of Flanders, erected in 1031 a monastery known as the Domerie d'Aubrac, a special order of priests, knights, lay brothers, ladies, and lay sisters for the care and protection of travellers. At Milhau, Rodez, Nazac, and Bozouls, hospitals, styled "Commanderies", of this order of Aubrac adopted the rule of St. Augustine in 1162.
Early modern period
The town of Milhau adopted Calvinism in 1534, and in 1573 and 1620 was the scene of two large assemblies of Protestant deputies. In 1629 Milhau and Saint-Afrique, another Protestant stronghold, were taken and dismantled by Louis XIII.
In 1628 a plague at Villefranche carried off 8000 inhabitants within six months; Father Ambroise, a Franciscan, and the chief of police Jean de Pomayrol saved the lives of many little children by causing them to bo suckled by goats.
The Diocese of Rodez is famous also through the Abbey of Conques and the cult of Saint Faith (Sainte Foy). Some Christians, flying from the Saracens about 730, sought a refuge in the "Val Rocheux" of the Dourdou and built an oratory there. In 790 the hermit Dadon made this his abode and aided by Louis the Pious, then King of Aquitaine, founded an abbey, which Louis named Conques. In 838 Pepin, King of Aquitaine, gave the monastery of Figeac to Conques. Between 877 and 883 the monks carried off the body of the youthful martyr Faith or Foy from the monastery of Sainte Foy to Conques, where it became the object of a great pilgrimage.
Abbot Odolric built the abbey church between 1030 and 1060; on the stonework over the doorway is carved the most artistic representation in France of the Last Judgment. Abbot Begon (1099–1118) enriched Conques with a superb reliquary of beaten gold and cloisonne's enamels of a kind extremely rare in France. Pascal II gave him permission for the name of Ste-Foy to be inserted in the Canon of the Mass after the names of the Roman virgins. At this time Conques, with Agen and Schelestadt in Alsace, was the centre of the cult of Saint Faith which soon spread to England, Spain, and America where many towns bear the name of Santa Fe. The statue of St. Faith seated, which dates from the tenth century, was originally a small wooden one covered with gold leaf. In time, gems, enamels, and precious stones were added in such quantities that it is a living treatise on the history of the goldsmiths' art in France between the eleventh and sixteenth centuries. It was known during the Middle Ages as "Majesté de Sainte Foy". The shrine enclosing the relics of the saint, which in 1590 was hidden in the masonry connecting the pillars of the choir, was found in 1875, repaired, transferred to the cathedral of Rodez for a novena, and brought back to Conques, a distance of 40 km, on the shoulders of the clergy.
Among Saints specially honoured in the Diocese of Rodez and Vabres are:
- S. Antoninus of Pamiers;
- Apostle of the Rouergue (date uncertain);
- S. Gratus and S. Ansutus, martyrs (fourth century);
- S. Namatius, deacon and confessor (end of fifth century);
- St. Tarsicia, granddaughter of Chlothar I and of Radegunda, who retired to the Rouergue to lead an ascetic life (sixth century);
- Saint Africanus, wrongly styled Bishop of Comminges, who died in the Rouergue (sixth century);
- S. Hilarian, martyred by the Moors in the time of Charlemagne (eighth and ninth century);
- S. George, a monk in the Diocese of Vabres, afterwards Bishop of Lodève (877);
- S. Guasbert, founder and first abbot of the monastery of Montsalvy in the modern Diocese of St. Flour (eleventh century).
The chief shrines of the diocese are: Notre Dame de Ceignac, an ancient shrine rebuilt and enlarged in 1455, which over 15,000 pilgrims visit annually; Notre Dame du Saint Voile at Coupiac, another ancient shrine; Notre Dame des Treize Pierres at Villefranche, a pilgrimage dating from 1509.
Among natives of the diocese are:
- Cardinal Bernard of Milhau, Abbot of St. Victor's at Marseilles in 1063, and legate of Gregory VII
- Theodatus de Gozon (d. 1353) and John of La Valletta (1494–1568), grand masters of the order of St. John of Jerusalem; the former is famous for his victory over the dragon of Rhodes, the latter for his heroic defence of Malta
- Frassinous (1765–1841), preacher and minister of worship under the Restoration
- Bonald (1754–1840) and Laromiguière (1736–1837), philosophers
- Affre (1793–1848), born at St. Rome de Tarn and slain at the Barricades as Archbishop of Paris.
- Georges d'Armagnac † ( 1529 Appointed - 1536 Appointed, Bishop of Vabres)
- Hardouin de Péréfixe de Beaumont † (22 Apr 1648 Appointed - 30 Jul 1662 Appointed, Archbishop of Paris)
- Gabriel de Voyer de Paulmy d'Argenson † ( 1666 Appointed - 11 Oct 1682 Died)
- Paul-Louis-Philippe de Lézay de Lusignan † ( 1683 Appointed - 25 Feb 1716 Died)
- Jean d'Yse (d'Ize) de Saléon † ( 1734 Appointed - 1747 Appointed, Archbishop of Vienne)
- Charles de Grimaldi d'Antibes † (22 Jan 1747 Ordained Bishop - 10 Mar 1770 Died)
- Jérôme-Marie Champion de Cicé † (24 Jun 1770 Appointed - 28 Jan 1781 Appointed, Archbishop of Bordeaux)
- Charles Colbert Seignelay de Castle Hill † (2 Apr 1781 Appointed - 1801 Resigned)*
- Charles-André-Toussaint-Bruno de Ramond-Lalande † (8 Aug 1817 Appointed - 9 Jan 1830 Appointed, Archbishop of Sens)
- Pierre Giraud † (9 Jan 1830 Appointed - 2 Dec 1841 Appointed, Archbishop of Cambrai)
- Jean-François Crozier † (22 Feb 1842 Appointed - 2 Apr 1855 Died)
- Louis-Auguste Delalle † (30 Aug 1855 Appointed - 6 Jun 1871 Died)
- Joseph-Christian-Ernest Bourret, C.O. † (19 Jul 1871 Appointed - 10 Jul 1896 Died)
- Jean-Augustin Germain † (14 Apr 1897 Appointed - 7 Dec 1899 Appointed, Archbishop of Toulouse)
- Louis-Eugène Francqueville † (7 Dec 1899 Appointed - 9 Dec 1905 Died)
- Charles du Pont de Ligonnès † (21 Feb 1906 Appointed - 5 Feb 1925 Died)
- Charles Challiol † (15 May 1925 Appointed - 11 Mar 1948 Died)
- Marcel-Marie-Henri-Paul Dubois † (8 Jul 1948 Appointed - 10 Jun 1954 Appointed, Archbishop of Besançon)
- Jean-Ernest Ménard † (23 Jan 1955 Appointed - 28 Jun 1973 Died)
- Roger Joseph Bourrat † (30 May 1974 Appointed - 1 Jun 1991 Resigned)
- Bellino Giusto Ghirard † (1 Jun 1991 Appointed - 2 April 2011 Retired)
- François Marie Aimé Marius Fonlupt (2 April 2011 - Appointed- )
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Rodez". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Gallia Christiana, Nova (1715), I, 195-234
- Instrumenta, 49-55, 203
- Louis Duchesne, Pastes Episcopaux, II, 39-41
- Sicard, Ruthena Christiana, ed. Maisonable in Mémoires de la société des lettres, sciences et arts de V Avyron, XIV (Rodez, 1893), 331-447
- Bourret, Documents sur les origines chrétiennes de Rouergue. Saint Martial (Rodez, 1902)
- Servières, Les Saints du Rouergue (Rodez, 1872)
- idem, Histoire de l'Eglise du Rouergue (Rodez, 1875
- Bouillet and Servières, Sainte Foy merge et martyre (Rodez, 1900)
- Grimaldi, Les Benefices du Diocese de Rodez avant la Revolution de 1789 (Rodez, 1906)
- De Marlavagne, Histoire de la cathedrals de Rodez (Rodez, 1876)
- Bocsquet, Tableau chronologique et biographiqu des cardinaux, archevéques et évêques originaires du Rouergue (Rodez, 1850)
- Calmet, L'abbaye de Vabres et son erection en évêché in Ann. de St. Louis des Français (1898).